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Monday, 20 July 2015

Review: So You Think You Can Dance?

'Please put this show out of its misery by calling it quits'

'So You Think You Can Dance?' is one of the longest running series and reality shows on US television. 

This was a show that I enjoyed way back in 2005 when it first started out and back then, it was fresh, exciting with great performances, choreography, entertaining and amusing comments & witty banter from the judges and for the array of dance styles. One of my favourite moments of the show was towards the end of the show, 2 dancers would face-off against each other and they would have 30 seconds or so to impress the judges by pulling off as many quick moves as they can. That was exciting, that was cool. 

For those who haven't seen the show, 'So You Think You Can Dance?' pits dancers of various styles (in pairs) to adapt to and compete in tasks where they perform to different dance numbers. Each week has a different challenge, theme and style and their aim is to assimilate towards that style. In comparison to other dance-based shows or shows that feature dancers (i.e. America's Got Talent, America's Best Dance Crew) performing with their signature style of dance that they are most used to doing, SYTYCD challenges dancers by making them think outside of their comfort zone. 

Nowadays and 10 years on, the show has become overdrawn and quite frankly stale and boring as a spectacle. I know dance is something that doesn't appeal to every single person, but as a show and through its performers, you have got to go out of your way to make it appealing, exciting and interesting as possible to people, in order to maintain their interest. 

The main problem I have with this series to date and which has been occurring for the past - goodness knows - 4 or 5 seasons, (other than the constant reliance on celebrities appearing as judges, and yet of who many of them have no prior or formal knowledge of and training in dance themselves through being an ex-dancer), is the show's obsession with contemporary and hip hop dance. There is only so much contemporary dance that I can take - or be it so little that as skillful and intricate as it is - without me switching off and losing interest in the show. TV wise, contemporary dance isn't the most interesting or exciting dance style; nonetheless, it is when it is done in a way that makes non- fans of contemporary dance stand up and take notice that we clap our hands in enjoyment and gasp in awe, afterwards at the wonderful moves and graceful performances. 

And having just contemporary, street dance and tap whilst ignoring all the other dance styles, pretty much defeats the purpose of this show. They might as well rename it as 'So You Think You Can Street Dance, Contemporary, Tap', because those are the main dance styles they choose to focus on and not give equal billing to the other styles. I don't mind street dancing, hip hop dancing; it's actually my favourite dance style but this is not America's Best Dance Crew: a show, which predominately focuses on hip hop and street dance. It is called 'So You Think You Can Dance?' for a reason, and that reason being the term 'dance' alone refers to all forms of dance, not one. 

Sky One series 'Got to Dance' - arguably the only dance reality TV series that rivals SYTYCD (and in my opinion was the much superior show) - met its fate and was unceremoniously cancelled last year. I still shake my head as to why a series as entertaining, as 'Got To Dance' is and was, - with more variation in dance styles and techniques that showcases all levels of dance from beginners and novices to professionals of all ages, not to mention more entertaining performances-, was axed, whilst the likes of 'So You Think You Can Dance?', which has been on for far longer in comparison & has seen its quality dip over the last few seasons, is still on TV. 

If the past 4, 5, 6 seasons are to go by, 'So You Think You Can Dance?' has been more about street dancing, as well as contemporary/modern. 

The producers of this series have taken out the most interesting and entertaining aspects and dance styles such as ballroom & salsa - which made the earlier seasons such a treat, and turned it into a bore fest, in addition to its sheer biased ness towards contemporary and hip hop. Quite literately, the series has ultimately turned its back on the things that viewers of this show loved about it in the first place, as well as going back on its word about encouraging people to take an interest in dance, regardless of whether or not they were dancers themselves by focusing on having dreary performances, and at times lacklustre choreography. 

One of the few bright sparks from the show though, is British presenter Cat Deeley; she has proven to be a good host and she has made a name for herself over in the States with her likable personality and easy going manner. 

I will give credit to this programme for being the first series to introduce dance on mainstream TV, which is an achievement. But the truth of the matter is the longer this show remains on air, the quicker So You Think You Can Dance is going to fall victim to reality TV mediocrity. All TV shows have a shelf-life, and 'So You Think You Can Dance' is no exception. 

Like The Simpsons, Fox's other long running show, it appears the network and its producers are in no hurry to suck the living life out of this once great series by keeping it on air, and yet not doing enough to maintain audience interest, whilst resting on its laurels. It's clearly working sadly. 

I don't know what else they have to do to keep the show relevant to viewers, other than to make it more exciting and less boring. 

Yet their efforts are proving to be less fruitful. 

The 'So You Think You Can Dance' of yesteryear is long gone, and that is a damn shame. 

To save face, and for the sake of the series, SYTYCD needs to end for good. 


5.5 out of 10 

'So You Think You Can Dance?' has officially jumped the shark

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