Dance on TV This Week

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June 26, 2014 by Nicole

So You Think You Can Dance
So You Think You Can Dance revealed their top 20 dancers this week and it felt like they crammed a lot into a 2-hour episode. We saw the entire “callback” process in one show….and it was a lot! Round after round of choreography, the dreaded group competition and then a final solo for the judges panel.

And what a panel! Along with series regulars/producers Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphey, the judges table also included former contestant Twich, Olympic gold medalist Tara Lipinski, ABT ballerina Irina Dvorovenko and choreographer/director Adam Shankman. It was a fabulous collection of diverse perspectives and I thought they did a great job critiquing and making tough (but necessary) cuts.

The one round I’m half & half on is the group choreography round. I don’t necessarily think dancer and choreographer are interchangeable….and they aren’t auditioning to be on So You Think You Can Choreograph….and yet, this round brought some of the harshest criticism from the panel and of course, the drama. I understand its usefulness in showing who the “smart” dancers are – there is certainly something to be said for dancers who know their strength and weaknesses and how to showcase the former without exposing the latter. I just always find this round a bit tedious and usually a little painful to watch.

Speaking of painful, as the episode progressed, the cuts got even tougher to watch. At this point, it’s not like anyone is “bad” – it’s more a question of fit and timing. Our hearts probably broke a little for Caleb, the dancer who left the callbacks in tears, telling us “I guess I didn’t look as good as I thought I did.”

That sentiment stuck with me because I actually think he missed the point. Sometimes, and this is the hardest thing to really learn and understand, it doesn’t matter. He could have looked exactly as good as he thought he did…..and get cut anyway. Sometimes you‘re just not what they’re looking for. Or you don’t fit the need. Or they think you need more time. Etc. There are a ton of reasons to get cut that have NOTHING to do with you. And that’s really hard to accept. But I hope it’s one thing that this show helps teach dancers who are watching. There are plenty of stories of dancers who got cut year after year, until they make it. Not because it was “their turn” or they were finally perfect….but because the timing was right. They were at the right place with their dancing at the exact time the judges were looking for something like them. If the auditions/callback episodes demonstrate anything to aspiring dancers, I hope it’s that.

By the end of the show, the finalist were revealed. Again, with so much packed into the episode, I had a hard time tracking which dancers we’d seen and who we’ve hardly gotten to know at all. The real fun starts next week and I can’t wait to see what our choreographers have in store.

Just in case you missed it, the top 20 (with specialty):

Rickey, contemporary
Jessica, contemporary
Jacque, ballet
Teddy, hip-hop
Stanley, contemporary
Carly, contemporary
Emilio, hip hop
Bridget, contemporary
Valerie, tap
Zack, tap
Jourdan, ballet
Casey, contemporary
Emily, contemporary
Ryan, ballroom
Tanisha, ballroom
Marcquet, ballroom
Serge, ballroom
Marlena, ballroom
Brooklyn, ballroom

Abby’s Studio Rescue
A new dance-themed show premiered this week on Lifetime – Abby’s Studio Rescue. It’s starting to look like Lifetime thinks it’s just not summer without Abby Lee Miller. This is the 3rd show she’s done for the network, including Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition and the original hit, Dance Moms.

If nothing else, I have to credit Abby with bringing dance and dance education to the forefront of the pop culture conversation. I’m not sure a major cable network would have green-lit a show about ailing dance schools just a few short years ago.

I was actually looking forward to seeing Abby do her best Gordon Ramsey impression (the format of Studio Rescue being obviously similar to Kitchen Nightmares and its ilk). I would imagine that many studio owners didn’t open schools because they were dying to run a business…my guess is that a love of dance was the original inspiration, the business part came second. And as any small business owner will tell you, it comes with its own set of challenges and specific skills. So what happens when that balance (love of dance & studio running) gets out of whack? Abby’s Studio Rescue will ostensibly show us these kinds of cases and have her offer her expertise, as a fellow studio owner, on how to turn things around.

I think this concept works and could be really interesting, even if I found myself wanting more from the pilot episode. I felt like Abby could have dug deeper with the studio owner for more meaningful conversations, especially around how serious it is to maintain your facility and have proper flooring. For dancers, that’s NOT cosmetic. The wrong floor can be injury-causing (or at least contributing). I think there should have been a little more tough love there. Not the screaming woman on reality TV kind – the kind that sits down with the studio owner and says your actions (or inactions) could directly cut short your own dancer’s careers. That they’re holding her dancers – and herself as a dance educator – back. I liked how Abby wasn’t dismissive about the dance moms’ chatter in the waiting room. Instead, she showed how that could be a valid business concern, tying the relationship to your clients with the word of mouth they would be providing about your business. This is what I wanted to see more of – thoughtful conversation about what was going on & why it should be addressed.

It also would have been interesting to hear Abby speak a little more directly from her own experiences, as I’m sure she’s also faced challenges with the issues that were brought up in the episode. Regardless, I’m in for at least one more week. I’m curious to see how the show progresses.

What dance-related shows are you watching? Have I missed one? What did you think of this week’s episodes? Favorites out of the SYTYCD Top 20?

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