View all of Stephen Koester’s SYTYCD posts.
I am an avid viewer, fan and supporter of the Fox TV network show SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE (SYTYCD). There is much to admire in this show. Dance as an art form has been struggling recently in terms of audience attendance, financial support and public interest. There’s a general lack of understanding for most as to what it’s all about, particularly since dance is no longer a part of our education, upbringing or daily life experience as we become more sedentary as a population and more specialized in our careers and interests. With sports, movies, the Internet and other entertainment possibilities, there’s a lot of competition for our attention. Therefore, any show that can expose a greater segment of the general public to dance, can excite and educate people, and popularize dance, can only help those of us in the dance profession. Aided by SYTYCD, people are becoming more aware of and interested in dance. Those who may have never thought of attending a live dance concert may now want to do so; SYTYCD viewers may be our future audiences/supporters.
The show may even excite people enough to get them to dance themselves or think of dance as a viable career option. As a professor in the Department of Modern Dance and an active choreographer, I believe I’m already starting to see this happen. The numbers of students auditioning to enter our dance program has grown in the past few years, particularly the number of men who want to study dance. SYTYCD has certainly helped to legitimize men in dance just by showing so many talented young males dancing. It is often the men who capture the most attention on SYTYCD (fairly or unfairly), having won the title of America’s favorite dancer more times than women. I have real respect for the dancers on SYTYCD, who I see as incredibly talented and gifted, and whose work ethic, motivation and dedication are simply off the chart. I am weekly astounded by the versatility of the dancers who must constantly adapt to new, alien styles of dance, and do so with enthusiasm and appetite. These dancers can serve as real role models for students in our own department.
I also have great respect for the judges, particularly the regulars, Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy. They obviously take dance serious. They see their roles as not only judges but also educators. Their comments are meant to provide insight into dance for those who are unfamiliar with the particularities of each dance form or style, and most often they succeed. They help make dance more understandable. I also appreciate the judges’ relationship to the dancers. They are honest (which at times can feel a bit brutal), but their comments are always given with a genuine desire for each dancer to succeed and grow. Though we get a manicured version of reality, the dancers, judges and Cat Deeley as host, all seem to be real people. Cat appears to have a genuine caring, warm and supportive concern for all the dancers and the dancers themselves all seem humble and fairly chilled given all the pressures placed upon them.
Next week, before the 6th season kicks off September 9, I’ll comment on what I see as perhaps some negatives of the show.
Follow the New Season of SYTYCD with Stephen Koester, Choreographer & University Professor of Dance
“So You Think You Can Dance” launches its first fall season next Wednesday on Fox. Happily for RedThread blogheads, Stephen Koester will be watching, commenting, and answering questions about the show—its dancers, choreography, judges, costumes, lighting, and anything else you’re dying to talk about. Koester, who is the director of graduate studies in the Department of Modern Dance, has a long list of accomplishments: He was the co-artistic director of Creach/Koester, an all-male dance company based in New York City; he has received five consecutive choreographic fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts; his recent work has appeared in the repertories of the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, Repertory Dance Theatre, Pittsburgh Dance Alloy, Dance Forum, Taipei, among others, including his own company Dance Koester Dance, which has presented several Salt Lake City seasons. Koester regularly choreographs and teaches improvisation, composition, technique, and graduate seminars at the U. In 2002, he received the College of Fine Arts Faculty Excellence Award for creative research.