I’ve been catching up on episodes of Fox’s "So You Think You Can Dance" and MTV’s "America’s Best Dance Crew" on this super-hot weekend. I love that there are all these popular dance-oriented shows on TV right now. (Heck, I’ll even give props to "Dancing with the Stars" even if I can’t stand actually watching the show.)
Both SYTYCD and ABDC are entertaining and inspiring in their own rights. And they have their own strengths and weaknesses.
What I love about "So You Think You Can Dance" is the surprise
factor, seeing dancers at the top of their genre being tasked to embody
a style that isn’t theirs. I get to learn something new about other forms
of dance, like contemporary or modern or rhumba or even… Bollywood.
Sometimes it hurts — nothing like bad hip hop or jive to make me
want to throw things at the TV. But at their best the performances are
quite moving and beautiful. This contemporary piece performed by Katee
and Joshua, choreographed by the amazing Mia Michaels, makes me tear up
What is so great about "America’s Best Dance
Crew" is that it serves up whole teams of hip-hop dancers doing really
amazing choreography. They have weekly challenges — like having to
try and match the dancing of a well-known music video or embody the
title of song. But the producers are not trying to stump the teams —
they want them to serve up better and more entertaining performances
Here’s Super Cr3w from Las Vegas doing their James Brown thing:
What I like about both these "reality" shows is that they aren’t
about embarassing or humiliating the participants. The judges seem to
want to draw out of the dancers their best and even in their criticism
try and encourage them to do better.
What drives me nuts about both shows is that in the end, it isn’t about the best dancer, its about the most popular
dancer. The dancers are winnowed down over the season based on their
popularity, assessed using a phone call-in system. Which basically
means that the winner is decided by 13-year old girls using up their
cell phone minutes.
"America’s Best Dance
Crew" seems to be a more
region-based contest, with teams representing particular cities and
their fans and supporters drumming up support virally. Several of the teams have their own hand signs, and their fans sport tee-shirts and signs like at a sporting event. It’s a bit crude, but gives it more of a "street" feel.
The other thing that kills me about these shows is the camera work. These are all trained amazing dancers. Hold the damn camera still so I can see what they are doing! I don’t need pans and closeups and weird angles and special effects to make them more entertaining. Rrrrg.
But these are minor quibbles compared to the awesomeness of seeing great dancers do their thing on broadcast TV.
For those that don’t get MTV, full episodes of "America’s Best Dance Crew" are viewable online. Thanks, MTV! For those that don’t get Fox, you will have to come up with your own "creative" ways to view "So You Think You Can Dance."