Don't Act Like You Think You Can Dance

I sometimes watch So You Think You Can Dance with my roommate. It is always a mistake -- I can't get through an episode without railing against their perversion of my favorite performance art. But this post is not about how crass or banal the choreography is, or the disservice done to a generation of movement artists by enforcing narrativity on something purer and more primal. Their insistence that dance must "tell a story" betrays the ability of dance to show a feeling, underline a concept or deconstruct the discourse of bodies and space. But this is not about that or the linked insistence for all dance to be heterosexual duets, with an insistence on the gender norms and "chemistry." Their "dance" is really porn for tweens, a desexualized, defanged, societally-appropriate erotic moment. The underlying "story" here being one of adherence to classical forms of dance and relationship, resolving in marriage and waltzes. But I will also let that slide, like Shauna through the legs of Cedric in the Mambo.

This post is about Adam Shankman, Ayn Rand, and arrogance. Danny and Anya both do amazing physical performances to a "Contemporary" piece set to a not very good hiphop song about relationships ending. Danny jumps through the air with a freedom that suggest he was meant to fly, not walk. Anya shows precise control of her every motion. The flaw in the performance was its "story" -- the nature of the piece is separation, which eliminates any chance at the chemistry the judges fetishize and at the end Danny pushes Anya away and walks off, a crude, unsubtle ending to what was an otherwise impressive performance. Adam Shankman (a guest judge to pimp his remake of Hairspray) who has gushed about every other dancer so far says to Danny "Your performance was arrogant. You dance as if you've already won the competition." The other dancers pander. They make exaggerated comical expressions, give Bob Fosse spirit fingers and do everything but wink at the audience. Danny moves with grace and precision and has a look of pride. He knows what his body can do and is impressed with its strength and himself for realizing its potential. To quote Ayn Rand [I left my Fountainhead at home! Will add! Sorry!]. When I one day create the Broadway adaptation, he will be in the running for my Howard Roark. Danny's crime, like Icarus's, was to fly (literally) too close to the sun. Is this hubris or a call to all of us to realize our potential? Watch below and see if you think Danny deserves to value his achievements:

1 comment:

Elata said...

Good for people to know.