Wednesday, August 16, 2006

So You Think You Can Critique Dance

Go Benji! He was definitely the most entertaining of the performers, and as a swing dancer, I'm thrilled he won. The other contestants were amazing too, and we really enjoyed watching "So You Think You Can Dance" as our chosen passive entertainment* for weeks.

The dancing was simply amazing, from hip hop to contemporary to Broadway. I think that we learned just as much about what a difference a top notch choreographer makes, and also a lot more about dance critique. Nigel, the executive producer and senior judge, had some insightful and useful comments for the performers, and it was fun to see where we'd agree with his assessment.

He'd tell some dancers they needed to express themselves through their faces to the audience more, others that their extension didn't reach all the way through the tips of their fingers and toes, and some received good marks for owning their movement instead of looking like they'd simply been told to move a certain way.

The most annoying description of the final two contestants was that "Benji's performance trumped Travis' technique." I loved Travis' dancing and agree that he had beautiful classical and contemporary technique. I loved his jumps and spins. However, he had pretty lame Latin technique.

Benji sold every number, giving it an energy and humor that caught the eye of the audience. He doesn't have a ballet background, but it's worth noting that while he showed great partnering technique, particularly in the Latin dances, he never actually got to show his certainly impeccable swing technique once the final 20 dancers were selected. Viewers never got to vote on him performing his specialty, and he still won. So, pretty impressive stuff all around.

We hired Benji's father, Buddy Schwimmer (nicknamed "Man of a Thousand Moves"), to teach at one of the Stanford dance weeks several years ago, and I was his teaching assistant for a series of West Coast Swing classes. He was very funny and knew his stuff, although his tough-guy style alarmed some of the students (and other instructors). It was neat to see him in the audience, holding a sign for his son, tears streaming down his face at the victorious moment.

*The "passive entertainment" phrase was coined at a time when we were dancing almost every night, either socially, teaching or performing. We decided that we should have one night per week where we were not actually the entertainment ourselves and instead watched others. Mmmm, couch potato time!


Jenny said...

I am so jealous.

I totally want to learn how to dance (desperately) but I have two left feet. sigh... I need a foot transplant.

Momma to LG said...

I voted for Travis. Benji is a performer for sure but I thought Travis was an amazing dancer.

Mayberry said...

I'm so glad you posted about this. In fact I meant to ask you what you thought. We have been hooked on this show all summer. I'll miss them now... *sob*

Lady M said...

I'm going to miss watching the show too! We looked into tickets for the tour, but the tickets sold out the first day. The show would have been a long drive from our house during a busy week anyway, so I guess it's a sign it wasn't meant to be. We'll just have to hope they make guest appearances on next season's show!

I had a bunch more thoughts on the show, so maybe it's another post.