10 suggestions for So You Think You Can Dance

First, I should say that I LOVE this show, and want it to continue on into eternity. That being said, having watched the show from the very first episode, I have a couple (well, 10) suggestions to make it even better. I should also add that this list is in no way comprehensive, just what I’ve been thinking about today.
Warning: This post was written in full snark mode. Proceed accordingly.

1) What is it with the bottom dancers simply repeating the solos they did the night before? LAME! The solos done on results night might not change anything, but honestly people, show us what we’re going to miss if you leave! Make us regret the votes if you get sent home. To paraphrase Mia Michaels- Step into your glory! Shine! And while I’m on solos, can they please be a little longer? The show is so chock full of filler, surely we could cut a couple minutes of Mary screaming in order to actually, you know, watch people dance?

2) Stop the emotional extortion. If the choreographer wants to take on a weighty subject in their routine, fantastic. I’m all for dance expressing deep things. But leave it at “This dance is about a woman suffering from breast cancer”, “This is about a father and daughter reuniting in Heaven”, not “This dance is about my own, personal friend who is going to die” or “My daddy just died and this dance is what I picture reuniting with him will be”. Because those second examples are just plain manipulative. How do you say “Wow, I really didn’t like that dance” without sounding like a total jerk?

Case in point- Mia Michael’s piece which has come to be known as the “dead daddy dance”. It was nice, but there wasn’t much actual dancing in it, just a lot of running around and jumping and flowers. But how do you say, “Mia, your vision of reuniting with your father is kinda stupid” ? Or the waltz that that one guy (whose name I can’t remember at present, was it Jean-Marc? I think it was Jean-Marc) created for his daughter who can only vaguely see movement? It wasn’t all that great, but just thinking about this poor little girl straining to see Kherington dance made everyone all teary. (As did the fact that if she was going to see anyone dance it was going to be Kherington. Ooooh, that was mean! Who said that?)

In comparison, look at Mia’s addiction number. Spectacular. It completely stood on it’s own merits, and the merits of the people dancing it. But if she’d started in on how this was about her own experience or the experience of someone near her it would have killed it for me. In the worst case, you have bad dancing and bad choreography given a pass because the story behind it makes people cry. In the best case, you have fantastic choreography, and gorgeous dancing, which is hard to complain about, except…

3) Stop overbooking the choreographers so that some lucky souls get the aforementioned, heartwrenching dances of pain and woe, and the rest get some random cha cha. If you’re going to try for Emmys (which is what the cynical side of me thinks a lot of the choreographers are trying for now with the hard hitting numbers), bring in a bunch more choreographers and let each one pour their heart and soul into the one or two numbers they do that season. Seriously, there have (HAVE!) to be more people choreographing hip hop in the world than Tabitha and Napoleon. Give them a break, for goodness sake! In previous seasons when they over booked Wade Robson and Shane Sparks, the quality of their numbers really varied over the season, which you can only expect from people asked to come up with 7 or 8 pieces. But this season we’ve had maybe 2 numbers and a group number each from those two, and all of them have been spectacular.

At some point in the season, Mary Murphy said to Janine (I think), who was in the bottom 3, that she couldn’t think of anything to tell her to do differently. My response? Luck out and get Wade or Mia next week. Because if you draw Mia, or Wade, or (most of the time) Shane out of that hat, you’re golden. Unless you really can’t dance, and then you’ll flop horrendously. But then you kind of deserve it.

I want to see spectacular dancing. I want to see pieces that make me think and feel and cry. But it’s just not fair to have dancers competing for votes when one partnership is dancing about the horrors of genocide (no, they haven’t actually done that one) and another is dancing about an alien trying to impregnate the last man on Earth (yes, yes they did).

4) Stop, just stop, trying to be an After School Special. Just because you feature a dance (and, again, a really really good dance) about breast cancer does not mean that you’ve shined a light on it and can now hail yourselves as activists. You’ve shared perhaps a piece of what someone’s experience might be, but there was no information about breast cancer prevention, testing, anything, not even a website or phone number. And really, as dumb as you might think your viewership is, (Thank you so much for introducing us to ballet! We’d never seen it before. Nutcracker? Never heard of it! Or Bollywood!), I can guarantee you they are not watching it saying, as B so perfectly expressed, “PEOPLE CAN GET BREAST CANCER? WHAT? NO WAY!”.

5) Just get rid of the ballroom dances already. They’re boring and no one likes them. I know they’re keeping them on because Mary Murphy is a producer, and there wouldn’t be a point to her being a judge if ballroom was gone (like there’s really a point now…), but they drag the whole show down. Keep Latin for variety, cha cha and jive and paso doble are fun (or is it tango that’s latin and paso doble is ballroom? I always forget), but the waltz, quickstep, foxtrot, etc. have GOT to go.

6) And speaking of Mary, can we change up the judges please? If you must have Nigel there then fine, seeing as he is in charge of the show. But Mary hardly ever says anything useful, she just repeats what the person before her said. I have it on good authority that Adam Shankman is at almost all the tapings, put him on the panel. He actually says things that are constructive and specific, and he doesn’t scream and make me skip past what he’s saying. The third judge can continue to rotate, but please, never again have Toni Basil as a judge. Please? I get tired of hearing how the rhumba is actually “street”.

7) Stop claiming the results of previous contestant’s talent, skill, and years of work and dedication as due to your influence. All of the judges were falling over themselves as they patted themselves on the back for making Travis into the choreographer he is today. His mother is an award winning choreographer and teacher. I’m sure he was doing just fine before he was on the show, and would still be choreographing (and just as brilliantly and professionally) if he’d never been on the show. Perhaps he’d even be choreographing for the show. So just stop. If you’d like to pat yourselves on the back for giving unknown dancers like Twitch or Joshua a forum to be seen and cast in movies, then that’s ok. Because, see, you actually did that.

8 ) And speaking of former contestants, DON’T EVER BRING BACK LAUREN TO CHOREOGRAPH. Just don’t. Travis? Marvelous. Benji? Fantastic. Pasha and Anya? Bliss. Dimitri? Wonderful. Dude even got nominated for an Emmy. But Lauren? Don’t even think about it. If you must have her choreograph for auditions because of whatever pact you have with the devil, then fine. But leave her there. Seriously.

9) The fact that the “highlights” reel from the past 5 seasons includes horrible dancers and a good 5-10 seconds of the dancer known as Sex speaks volumes about what the producers think we want to see on this show. THEY ARE WRONG. This is why delusional and or crappy dancers audition, and if you’re going to glorify them then stop complaining about them.

10) I understand that people want to win Emmys, and you want to have great routines to get people to shell out the big bucks for tickets to the tour, but I miss the old days of choreographers sticking to the style they were assigned, coming up with a representative dance, and holding the dancers to the choreography. I’m all for using a dancer’s particular skill if it fits within the confines of the dance genre, but changing a Waltz into a lyrical contemporary piece or dumbing down the choreography isn’t fair. The point of the show is for the contestants to show that they can pull of any kind of dance, not to choreograph around them to hide their flaws. If Melissa gets ever gets hip hop, I have no doubt it would be choreographed by Tabitha and Napoleon to Sk8ter Boi by Avril Lavigne (“He was a punk. And she did ballet. What more can I say?”) with Melissa as a literal ballerina. And that is stupid. And wrong. And unfair.

and I know I said 10, but lastly,

11) Never, and I do mean never, have the rhumba on the show again. Ever.

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