If So You Think You Can Dance had set out to deliberately sabotage their own show they could not have done a better job. This season the format has lost its edge. I feel robbed of the excitement and anticipation of who goes home and who does not. And it gets worse.
Not only has the format lost its edge, so has the choreography. There have always been some routines in the past years that were either totally lame or merely mediocre, no matter how much the judges tried to pump them up. But in every show there was always one or two that stood out like Cinderella in the ash bin. It’s what kept me coming back for more. This year, I keep a book or crossword puzzle at hand while waiting for something good to crop up. One dance was so busy and convoluted the dancers could barely move without putting themselves in harm’s way, much less interpret the, uh, “story”.
Okay. Let’s pause here a moment and let me answer the question that has gone begging. Where in the world am I getting all this “critical expertise”. I make no claim to anything like it. But I do know when something makes me “feel” and when it does not. In a dance that “works”, there is a bonding between the one watching the dance, the story of the dance, the movement of the dance, and the dancers who interpret the dance. With the great ones I get lost in them and will watch them over and over. And, guess what? Most of them turn out to be the most popular everywhere — the most talked about.
Last night? They decided to recycle the Mia Michael classics. It was about as bad as watching Jerry Lewis dance Singing in the Rain instead of Gene Kelly. It was painful.
Cyrus Spencer was the best of the lot, doing his own interpretation of Twitch’s movements in “The Door” routine, originally done by the consummate dance partners Twitch and Katie. Cyrus’s partner, Eliana Girard, came across looking clunky and heavy-footed compared to the effortless Katie. That’s what’s wrong with recycling classics. You can’t help but compare, and it’s not fair to the new dancers.
The worst of the lot was — though he is one of my top favorites — Cole Horibe. It wasn’t even a good interpretation of the dance “Addiction” that Kupono and Kayla made so famous. Kupono exuded such an aura of insidious evil that he mesmerized his audience about as much as he did his “victim” and partner Kayla, who wrenched my heart out with her struggles. Here is the original again. And there is absolutely no comparison.
For me, this season even started out on a wrong note. Of all the dancers in that line-up to be put through a “dance for your life”, I was astounded to see Amelia Lowe, the girl with the Roaring Twenties look — the one my brother-in-law Randy calls “the beautiful porcelain doll”. No matter what lousy choreography they gave her, she was always worth watching. She sparkled. And she almost didn’t make it through. I was gnashing my teeth.
Then, last night the judges let go my favorite so far this year. You guessed it. Amelia Lowe. And for the last dance between Amelia and her great partner, Will Thomas, what do they give them but the worst dance to ever win an Emmy, a singularly raunchy choreography that was so disgusting my husband (whom I had finally gotten to sit down and watch the show with me) threw up his hands and went to play a computer game where he could zap some monsters. I almost joined him.
They also sent Dareian Kujawa home, the one they kept complaining about how he held his feet. I didn’t give a fig or a flip about his feet. He had personality and was an entertaining, inspired dancer who was better than some of the ones they kept, feet or no. Some of Amelia Lowe’s critics said she “tried too hard”. Maybe some of the ones still on the show should try that hard.
The whole program last night was a singularly bad idea in a season that, so far, is the worst ever. And I love this show. It has raised my awareness of dance to a whole new level. I hate to see it chugging along like an old T-model with bad spark plugs. I hope somebody gives it a tune-up soon.