The dancers have arrived, smack dab in the middle of prime time television. This is a special moment for all the movers and shakers of the world and the ones who love them. Our world gets displayed on a plate weekly, in all its guts and glory, for all to see. I look forward to it every year.
When I was pregnant with my first born, Lady H, and beginning my life of domesticity, a positive force in the dance community was born, So You Think You Can Dance. Tentative at first, I watched purely out of curiosity, thinking to myself, “What kind of Velveeta dip are they going to serve us this time?” All of you know, especially those close to me, that I am a dance snob and have huge opinions about choreography. To cut to the chase, I was hooked from the first moment.
This show, the dance equivalent to American Idol, gives the nation an entertaining look at the audition process where we get the gamut from goofy to sublime. The Greats, in all genres, move straight on through to the Vegas auditions and the Good get to do choreography later that day and face judgment again. You get the picture. Now take a wild guess as to where the adventure began this year. We entered one of my favorite venues, the fabulous Fox Theater in Atlanta, Ga.
I was talking to my baby sister this morning, who still resides in the Big Apple, about life, art, and potty training. She mentioned she had run into some old college buddies of mine. The fact that I am now living in Atlanta came up casually in conversation, and they seemed to have this spurious idea that our fair city has nothing going on in it. I am here to tell you that they are dead wrong. I was incredibly proud to see that Atlanta has so much technical talent; the editors couldn’t accommodate it all. They had to smooch the experience into a montage of fabulous moments.
We got to meet Melanie Moore, a cute little painter chick from Fordham University, who had amazing walking sticks. She was able to facilitate an arabesque penchée, to a full on split which took her into a somersault without using her hands. She saved to her arms to create movement poetry. We also met lady killers Deon Lewsa and Damon Bellmon, clad in their red tennis shoes, performing an entertaining Hip Hop pas de duex spotted with some really brilliant moments. Like in the Matrix, they engaged in a slow mo fight scene where a punch was missed by a deep hinge. Like the silly boys they are they ended up doing the cha cha together.
Then modern dancer Marko German came on stage. It turns out that he was a shooting victim. Fully recovered with the bullet still in his arm, he defied gravity. Now, what I didn’t understand was why the judges sent him to choreography and not straight to Vegas. Maybe they just couldn’t get enough, because he was brilliant. I know the creators of the show want to keep the contestants as diverse as they possibly can. What the general population doesn’t really understand is that when the B-boys, ballet and ballroom dancers fall by the wayside, today’s modern dancer can do it all. A force to be reckoned with, we are in it to win it and creating high art while we’re doing it!
The second half of the show took place in San Francisco at the Paramount Theater. They opened the gate at warp speed with the introduction of wild thing, Amber Williams. She looked like a quirky, hyper Tinkerbell with fierce modern technique. I wasn’t surprised at all when creator, producer and judge, Nigel Lithgow, handed her an airplane ticket. We also met B-boy Jeffrey “The Machine” McCann, who has been on the streets since he was 15 years old. He shared his love story with dance and how it kept him strong through all hard times.
Welcome back Ryan Ramirez, one of my favorite dancers who auditioned last year. She truly moved me but became a casualty when too many incredible modern dancers were up for the show. I thought they made a huge mistake when they cut her last year. The judges said, “she dances with controlled abandon” and she has a…,”great little voice inside.” I agree and I’m glad to see her back.
What I really love about the show is that we get to learn about some of the street styles out there. You lose touch when you are trapped in Suburbia. Last Thursday we got a taste of a new Bay Area style called TURFing. It stands for Taking Up Room on the Floor and its signature move is called the “insect”. They crawl around, feet planted with the belly button facing upwards, but the torso is twisted around so that the chest is facing forwards. Lithgow was afraid of nightmares. The TURFers were entertaining and some made it to the choreography phase, but we will not be seeing any more TURFing this year.
So who will it be? Have we met America’s favorite dancer yet. I would love to know your thoughts and I encourage your comments. Keep in touch, stay tuned and check in with me, Dancer with an Attitude, every week. Until next time…