So You Think You Can Dance isn’t all bad: 10 positives about the show

In my last post, I focused on the negative aspects of the hit reality dance show, So You Think You Can Dance, with 15 reasons why dancers don’t like the show. But as I noted in my conclusion, there are also positives about the show and some things that SYTYCD does very well. So for this post, I’m diving into glass-half-full mode and noting 10 positive qualities about the show. (Though, the fact that there are less items in this list should be telling.) Without further ado, let’s look at the sunny side of So You Think You Can Dance.

1)  Yes, the show has flaws, BUT it does conquer the huge tasks of introducing people to dance and educating them about dance. Millions of people that would not otherwise have a connection to the form are now welcoming dance into their living rooms. And in doing so, they’re also gaining an education, learning about technique, various dance styles, what makes a good dancer, etc. I mean, the show averages 5 million viewers an episode. Go dance!

2)  Yes, SYTYCD focuses on pursuing commercial dance, BUT at least it shows dance as a valid career. Perhaps now when young people say they want to pursue dance, they are met with slightly more understanding and encouraging responses from others. And perhaps there are actually more jobs created for dancers as people come to recognize its potential and popularity.

3)  Yes, there are skewed aesthetic preferences made about the dancers, BUT a positive preference of the show is the way it rewards good personalities. For the most part, a contestant will not go far by being arrogant and rebellious. The judges literally promote those who are good-natured and mindful of corrections (and the audience typically follows suit), which teaches dancers that acting professional is just as important in having a successful career.

4)  Yes, many pieces are just about entertaining and tricks, BUT some are actually really creative and even artistic. It’s always a special moment when some enlightened choreographer teeters on that edge of art, abstractly using the dance as a tool for expression and lifting the form to a slightly higher place. To me, one of those dances this season was the Billy & Adé contemporary routine from Week 7 – if you haven’t seen it, you can check it out here. These rare gems alone could make the show worth watching (or at least watching the video clip the following day after hearing all the buzz).

5)  Yes, it’s somewhat strange to have previous contestants back on the show, BUT having All-stars perform with the current contestants and voting off one dancer at a time seem to be suitable changes to the show. Now, the dancers are judged more individually and a strong dancer isn’t unfairly eliminated for having a weak partner. Working with the All-Stars also seems to make for more creative and interesting routines, perhaps because more same-gender pairings have occurred or because there is less pressure to highlight both dancers at the same time. Whatever it is, I welcome the change.

6)  Yes, there are oddly many singing guest performers, BUT there are also a few included guests from the world of concert dance, like ABT and Alvin Ailey. These provide a rare but welcome crossover into other dance realms. Plus, the pop singers that perform are usually joined by back-up dancers, at least making their appearances seem more legitimate.

7)  Yes, the judges say some ridiculous things, BUT they are also good at providing constructive criticism when they see fit. The judges are usually quite honest with their feelings and even harsh when they think it’s necessary, which shows that they care about preserving the integrity of the form.

8)  Yes, the voting public has a lot of power, which can lead to some mistakes, BUT sometimes the viewers actually get it right, choosing quality over popularity. And when they mess it up a bit, at least the judges get the last say about who goes home. Which is how a fair competition should be – mostly in the hands of the experts.

9)  Yes, SYTYCD may be cheesy and schmaltzy, BUT it does a great job being cheesy and schmaltzy. With its appealing camera work, funky costumes, and focus on personal stories, the show really knows how to grab people and keep them interested. If you’re going to put dance on TV, then you better take full advantage of the medium. And they absolutely do.

10)  Yes, some may still be disappointed by the dancing done on the show, BUT those people should at least find some peace in the fact that SYTYCD uses its popular platform for other good things. From shedding light on the Dizzy Feet Foundation to promoting National Dance Day, Nigel Lythgoe does a nice job providing air time to worthy causes involving dance.

I completely admit that while watching So You Think You Can Dance for the past several weeks, there were many times that I just gave in to the fabulousness of it all, throwing all dance snobbery to the wind and simply enjoying the fun routines and pretty dancing. There are certainly many reasons why the show is insanely popular. But, as I hopefully demonstrated through this list, there are also many reasons why the show is legitimately doing a good job at showcasing dance to the public. Though the show has many flaws, its positive qualities deserve to be commended as well as equally noted when discussing the huge impact of the show (which I plan on exploring in my next post). So to end on the positive, I’d like to thank SYTYCD for simply sharing dance with so many people and making such discussions about the form even possible. Go dance!

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  1. Assessment of American concert dance world: Needs Improvement « The Hidden Language of the Soul

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