One thing I like really like about SYTYCD is the range of styles presented. The judges genuinely seem to be enthused and equally appreciative of all forms of dance, without any sense of hierarchy. There’s a democratization of dance. I’m right there with them. Good dance is good dance, and that’s what I crave to see. I don’t care if it’s contemporary, hip-hop, ballroom, jazz, ethnic or ballet. When we start to privilege one form of dance as superior over another, we become narrow-minded, unable to see the dance for what it is – each form with its individual uniqueness and strengths. By being open to all forms, dance styles today are cross-pollinating, influencing each other to create new artistic possibilities, excitement and whole new dance techniques. We learn from each other. It’s how dance progresses and keeps it alive and interesting. We honor our histories and roots while championing the new.
While SYTYCD has always been democratic in the range of dance shown, I feel the show has become more open to dancers who do not represent stereotypic expectations. In this week’s show, dancers whom I think would not have been before considered were given second chances, including an obese dancer, a deaf dancer and same sex/openly homosexual dance partners. While not all made it to Las Vegas, at least they had a full chance before the judges. We all lose out when we instantly dismiss others because of differences. In dance and in life it is our unique attributes that make us interesting. Give me an interesting dancer anytime over a generic pretty or nice dancer doing dance moves I’ve seen a thousand times; it’s playing it safe – it’s boring. The women in particular I feel fall victim to this. It may be a part of their dance training and cultural indoctrination. Reality TV, including SYTYCD, is changing society by openly presenting people from different walks of life, particular gays. With increased visibility of all types comes greater understanding, acceptance and ultimately change. This is the power of art. It can strongly influence the way we see our world and change it. It can also provide voice and affirmation to those who may otherwise be marginalized or unable to express themselves and excel through other means.
In saying give me an interesting dancer, what about the final B-Boy to audition last week? He was beyond spectacular. While I fully appreciate dance that most people could aspire to, given enough training, I am simply blown away by what appears to be impossible feats of physical prowess. It takes dance into the magical, and we all need a bit of magic in our lives. The sideways crawl the B-Boy did on his hands, prone to the stage, was unforgettably brilliant. There was a whole physics lesson in his dancing in how momentum, weight distribution, gravity, and cause and reaction all played out. I wish him good luck in the show, though if he doesn’t make it, it doesn’t make him any less a dancer in his own right or lessen my appreciation of his tremendous talents.