One of the things we have loved about So You Think You Can Dance is watching young dancers mature as people and as artist. That personal development was a by-product of the structure of the competition: competitors were paired with other competitors. When the structure changed (competitors partnered with “All-Stars” from past episodes), the entire dynamic of the competition changed too. Though we won’t know how the new format will effect the show down the road, here are some of my early concerns.
1. As co-competitors, the dancers in each pairing share a common bond. They share in the outcome of their performance; they both have stakes. What happens to the dynamics of the couple when one person has no stake in the outcome?
2. As co-competitors, relationships emerge from layers of cooperation and challenge that come from partnership. In each pairing, the individuals are competing against each other but have to cooperate as a couple. In each new pairing, relationships are discovered, developed, work or don’t work. With the newbees in rehearsals only with the Star and the professional choreographers, I can’t see how they can have an experience of shared cooperation and competitive spirit.
3. As co-competitors, you were assured that your partners, for the most part, had dance experiences roughly equivalent to your own. It was a relatively equal playing field. Seems to me, when one is an All-Star and the other a beginner, the professional can easily overshadow the less mature dancers. Their flaws show more starkly against the professional and that seems unfair.
The old competition structure offered a range of challenges to the character of the dancers as well as to their adaptive artistic abilities. Even Adam Shankman admitted to one of the contestants, with a top 11 instead of a top 20, you miss out on the learning period. What else does the new format do to or for the contestants “journey,” a term the judges are fond of using? Stay tuned.
Next week we will see at least one change: the “All-Stars” will stay on-stage with their competition partner instead of being dismissed. Go here to read a great review and YouTube video interview with Nigel Lythgoe.
National Dance Day July 31. Seems that Lythgoe’s DizzyFeet Foundation is attempting to follow the lead of the internationally beloved Thriller performances. Go here to learn the choreography.