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So You Think You Can Dance

Professional Dancers Criticize SYTYCD for “Distorting” the Art

What happens when you bring together some of the nation’s most respected professional dancers and ask them to watch an episode of So You Think You Can Dance? Well, here’s some of their thoughts on how television portrays the professional dance world.

On July 27, New York City Ballet principal dancer Tiler Peck, Michelle Dorrance from STOMP, Mark Morris Dance Group’s Dallas McMurray, hip hop artist Anthony Rue II, and former Rockette now Broadway dancer Brittany Marcin all assembled to watch a Wednesday episode of SYTYCD. Their reactions ranged anywhere from excitement to “What the …?”

Overall, the dancers are happy for the exposure the dance reality competition gives to their profession, which can often lack public awareness. “It’s exciting that it’s bringing it into living rooms,” Ms. Marcin told the New York Times. However, they also expressed concern about how the show is portraying the art form. In their opinion, SYTYCD is often a "watered-down" representation of dance. “Because it has that kind of power, I think they have the responsibility to educate,” Ms. Dorrance said.

Each pro dancer agreed that the show is seriously lacking in certain fundamental styles of dance such as tap, ballet, and modern. “Have every couple do the same pas de deux and the same tap duet,” Ms. Dorrance said. “That would be a show.”

Another item they all agreed on was that Melanie Moore was their favorite. Ms. Peck said, “She’s not as showy.” The overabundance of high kicks, splits, and spinning made all of the dancers groan. “You want someone to be excited about dance and then be able to go sit through a ballet where they’re not doing flips and tricks and appreciate that as well,” Ms. Marcin said.

Damian Woetzel, artistic director of the Vail International Dance Festival, is trying to find common ground between the commercial dance and concert dance worlds. For the first time, the famous Colorado festival will host “Dance TV,” a performance series featuring dancers from SYTYCD, Dancing With the Stars, and America’s Best Dance Crew. Season 2’s Allison Holker is scheduled to perform. "I thought: 'Don't act like it just exists [on TV],'" Woetzel told the Denver Post. "These are performers. They dance. Let's put them on stage and let's see what we can make."

What are your thoughts of reality TV’s portrayal of the dance world? Does it make you want to go see more live dance? If so, then what do you expect from these performances? Are you disappointed in what you see? And, can there be a harmonious blending of the TV and concert dance world?

Source: NYTimes / Denver Post

08.15.2011 / 08:06 PM EDT by Stephanie Wolf
Related: So You Think You Can Dance, Gossip

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