The newest season of “So You Think You Can Dance” has started. . . .
I love dance.
I danced for all of my childhood, eventually moving into competitive dance, and then to teaching.
I watch the show with a longing for that time so long ago, and a wonderment to where dance has come since I was in the thick of it all.
The “Vegas” week was this week, it is the equivalent of “Hollywood Week” on American Idol where they widdle down the gold ticket holders to the top 20 contestants.
The two weeks prior were the usual auditions, and this year I felt they were super harsh. I cringe when I hear the would-be contestants say “I’m a dance teacher” – the age old proverb “those that can’t teach” isn’t always true for dance. If you can’t feel the correct posture and alignment, how can you possibly expect your students to develop proper technique in the art????
Nothing about the audition process urks me more than that. But given that, Nigel Lithgow was perhaps a little to extreme with his comments, there is putting people down and then there is crushing every bit of life and joy someone has. He did the latter. I suppose that makes for better TV.
Thats probably why David Kenneth “Sex” Soller was allowed back to audition. In his defense, he HAS improved since last year.
Watching this show made me think about how the modern studio works. . . . .
“Back in the day”, competitions showcased the best of the best, only the more dedicated and talented dancers had the chance to compete. It was a privilege and an honor to represent your studio and go for the gold.
Today there are hundreds of competitions, its not a privilege anymore, its a right – and subsequently the over all quality of the dancers, the dances and even the competitions themselves are no where what it was 15 years ago.
Sure, the kids themselves are able to perform more difficult steps and combinations – but very few have the panache and polish they did “back in the day” when I competed. (why do I keep saying “back in the day”??? – I’m not that old)
Competitions now aren’t about 1st, 2nd and 3rd. Winners & losers. Its about High Golds, Diamond, Platinum and High Platinum. WTF?
I remember the glorious joy filled feeling of winning, being first, being the best. I also remember the ache in the pit of my stomach when we lost. These were experiences, the feelings and the emotions of the sport. These are the experiences of a well lived life.
I recently went to a competition to see some of my sisters students compete in a competition in Niagara Falls.
I was surprised by the overall lack lustre feel of it all. When I competed the doors to the auditorium was closed while others were performing on stage – now they swing freely during numbers.
Food or drinks in the auditorium? NEVER! But now, people set up little picnics and chow down in during performance.
Clapping & standing ovations have been replaced with hooting and cats calls. Arsenio Hall would be proud. . . .
The low level mur-mur of whispers, and the gentle reminder of the announcer to keep respectful and quiet are no more, making way for full on conversations with backs to the stage and performers. No gentle reminders. . . .
I never taught competitive numbers during my time as a teacher, I taught the little guys and I also taught a few of the technique classes the competitive students took. These were my fortes. The studio I came from were masters of technique – and because I had good technique I was able to bring that to this new generation of dancers.
At the time I could see the ‘fruits of my labours’ as the students got positive comments from the adjudicators at the various competitions about technique. I was satisfied. And still now, a lot of the students I’ve taught still dance now and some have even moved on to art schools and more competitive dance schools.
The other thing that floored me was the music selections, I prided myself on choosing age appropriate music. A lot of songs have great beats and melodies – but when you listen to the lyrics or learn about the background of a piece of music they become inappropriate to use.
Love Shack by the B52s is certainly a fun sounding song, but its about a whore house. 10 year olds should not be dancing to it.
Endangered Species is about rape, female genital mutilation and persecution by gender – great themes for an under12 jazz group!
I could go on. . . . .
I used Pink’s “Get the Party Started” one year, and it took me 5 hours to work with the music guy to cut out, splice together and add car horn sound effects to that song to make it appropriate to use. Why did I spend this time, because that was the piece of music the kids wanted. And I wanted a version they could take home and let mom listen to.
There are so many options – with Chipmunks, Mini-Pops and High School Musical versions of new popular music – choosing an inappropriate piece of music is simply unacceptable. Music cutting software is much more advanced and easy to use, the computer savvy might be able to cut their own music.
I might just be old fashioned, set in my ways, or holding onto memories of a time almost forgotten – but I am happy to see dancing on TV and I’m pleased to see an interest in dance by a whole new generation of people.
get out there and dance. . . . . and Dance like no one is watching.