I am sure I do not need to tell you how really freaking excited I am at the return of my favorite reality show ever, So You Think You Can Dance. For the past few weeks I have been gleefully watching the rounds of auditions that culminated in Vegas Week, where the dancers who made the initial cut were tried and tested to see which of them would make it into the Top Twenty. While I do love watching the auditions and trying to predict which of my favorite dancers will make the show, my enthusiasm doesn’t really ratchet up to full force until the Top Twenty start to perform. I’m sure the producers (same as American Idol, or related, anyway) think that we love to watch the horribly bad auditions, but honestly that shit makes me uncomfortable. I have no taste for Schadenfreude (unless, of course, the misfortune is that of my enemy). I sometimes just can’t bear watching those earnest-yet-clueless dancers getting eviscerated by the judges.
Anyway, let’s move on to more positive things! Like the fact that the show’s first performance episode aired Wednesday, and it was chock full of good dancing! I won’t recap the whole show, or anything, but I will give you my favorite dancers so far:
This is Twitch, aka Stephen Laurel Boss. (Not only a cool nickname, but a cool real name too. When we marry I shall become Dr. Boss!) He auditioned last year and made it to Vegas, where he lost out to Hok (another of my all-time favorites) and didn’t make the Top Twenty. This year he did — and just in the nick of time, because, as he told the camera, if he hadn’t made it, he was signing up for the Navy. (When he said that, I was all, “Twitch, noooooo!”) Luckily it didn’t come to that. He’s an amazingly talented popper and just generally a likable guy. He seems passionate about dance and also humble and willing to work. This week he had to dance a Tyce Diorio broadway number, which might be the death of a hip hop dancer – he totally pulled it off and looked commanding and hot and graceful. I shall make him mine.
This is Joshua Allen, another talented hip hop dancer. He used to play football and certainly has the body type for that, which makes it a wonderful surprise when he lifts himself up off the ground effortlessly or does an incredible stage-crossing leap in the manner of a gazelle or some supernatural being. The dimples and braces make him pretty near impossible to resist, too. This week he got to dance a hip hop routine by Tabitha & Napoleon (SO rare when a hip hop or other “untrained” dancer gets to dance his/her style the first week!) with Katee and he was amazing. Here’s their routine on youtube. Please ignore the first few seconds where his partner dances solo – overwrought and silly. Wait for the moment where he falls to the side and she flips him back up by his foot. It’ll take your breath away with the grace and the synchronicity and the hard hitting.
This is Gev, aka Gevorg Manoukian (another awesome name), who is another hip hopper. I don’t love him as much as Twitch and Joshua yet, but he is clearly talented and really fun to watch. This week he did a disco routine that the judges basically called cheesy. Um, hello judges, it’s disco. Cheesy by definition. Also, shut up judges. I’m eager to see him either draw a hip hop routine or dance a solo in his own style (aka “dance for your life”) – so long as he isn’t eliminated!
This is William Wingfield, an amazing contemporary dancer. He’s a protegé of the awesome Debbie Allen, who is occasionally a guest judge on the show. She’s not going to be participating in the show so long as he remains a contestant — since he seems destined to go far, that may mean we won’t see much of Debbie this season. I do love Debbie’s commentary when she judges — she’s forthright and graceful and encouraging — but I’d be fine with not seeing her much if it means Will’s sticking around! He’s powerful and athletic, and dances with fluidity and musicality and is just a pleasure to watch.
This is Comfort Fedoke, whom the judges called the best female hip hop dancer they’ve had on the show so far. She’s one of the ones whose audition we only saw a 2-second clip of, and this week she danced a jive routine by Tony Meredith (which she did ably and well despite a dislocated shoulder), so I haven’t gotten to see her do her hip hop thang yet. I can’t wait to get the chance! I love a B-Girl (Sara last year was, I believe, the first B-Girl to make the Top Twenty, and she was great), and I am rooting for her to go far.
This is Kourtni Lind, and while I disapprove heartily of the spelling of her first name, she is a very talented and cool contemporary dancer. She’s the one whose audition piece was danced to a spoken-word Ani Difranco track — a move that is suspect at best. Let me tell you, though, she made that shit work. She’s one of the few contemporary dancers who doesn’t seem to be aimlessly flailing about*, but rather seems purposeful and thoughtful and lyrical. She’s the tallest female dancer at 5’9″, and dances with a 6’3″ partner – hooray for tall people! Like her.
*OK, I don’t necessarily understand contemporary dance – it’s very hit-or-miss with me, and I never have much of substance to say about it. I have a strong preference for the hip hop (which, duh, you can see represented here), and almost zero to say about ballroom. That may change as the show goes on, depending on the routines we get to see.
I have also really liked watching Courtney Galliano (left) and Chelsea Traille (right), who are both contemporary dancers as well. They are both gorgeous and compelling to watch, and neither of them look like the cookie-cutter blonde dancers who all seem like variants of the general model of female student who populates New Wye. I’d like to see each of them do their own style, and I’d like to see how well they can handle some hard-hitting hip hop, then I’ll let you know what I think!
It looks like this is going to be another great season! Luckily I won’t have much of a problem catching the episodes despite my cable-less existence: my friends are all watching it too, so I’ve been able to watch it at a friend’s house (much fun! but also too much girl screaming to hear the judges…) and it has been fairly easy to acquire through other means. Either way, I’ll be tuning in all summer, so be prepared for a lot of dance talk on this site! If you watch it too, please join in!