The FOX Network phenomenon “So You Think You Can Dance”, now in its ninth season, opened up a whole new world for many people, myself included. I have always loved dance musicals, and could never get enough of Gene Kelly in “Singing in the Rain”. That, and American Bandstand were about the extent of my education in the dance area of “the arts”.
Not anymore. Now I sit up and take note of each dancer. I listen intently when the judges pass on their pearls of expertise. I even pretend I halfway know what they’re talking about. After all, I now have nine years of experience in what to look for. I scream and yell and stamp my feet and call my sister, and we just have a great time booing, laughing, agreeing, disagreeing, and generally creating mayhem in our households.
But just over the horizon of the fun and entertainment the show brings, there breaks the dawn of understanding about dance itself. We who are johnny-come-latelies learn that each dance has its own unique story to tell. Life and love and fear and death — each, or all, are conveyed in the dancer’s expression and movement to the music.
At first there were dances that made me cry, and I didn’t really know why. There were those that made my heart swell with unnamed emotions, and some that made me see and feel beyond my own pedestrian power to do so. And though I lack the gift myself, the dancer can take my heart and sweep it onto the dance floor and into his or her story.
I will never forget those early dances that first swept me up and away. The surprise I felt when I “got it”, when I understood what the choreography was all about, was the opening up of a whole new world.
One of those early dances was from season four (2008) — Bleeding Love with Mark and Chelsie. On the dance floor was a young, upwardly mobile couple, Mark in a business suit with a briefcase, Chelsie in at-home casual. As time goes by there are wounds as he turns away, and the young wife tries desperately to hold on to his love and attention. She kicks the briefcase. They are “bleeding love”. Then, as they continue the dance, at one point they face in opposite directions. The most wrenching moment is when he places his hand over her heart and, as her heart beats with one last slow beat, “pulls” it out. At the end he retrieves his briefcase, and with a one backward glance, walks away. Here is the clip. Enjoy.