Pop Culture Junkette

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Friday, July 21, 2006

So You Think You Can Judge?

I caught up on So You Think You Can Dance last night, and was impressed that Holt picked the dancers who would be kicked off.

But as I watched, I got to thinking that I am really not a very good judge of dancing. When I watch American Idol I feel very confident that my opinion is, well, right. Yeah, yeah, I know an opinion can't be right, but at the very least I feel that it is a valid opinion, that it is rooted in reality and that others whose taste I respect might agree with me (most often those "others" are Gobo and Simon Cowell--not so bad). Not so much with Dance. I watched Wednesday's episode and have come to realize that I just don't know enough about dance to reliably know what is good and what isn't.

A prime example was Donyelle dancing the lindy hop I kept thinking to myself "her body really isn't right for this style of dance, the extension of her legs doesnt' look that impressive, everything seems too grounded and heavy and this should be a lot more light and spry." Then the judges spoke and everyone unanimously loved everything she had done. Similarly, when Alison and Ryan danced their contemporary routine I wasn't blown away--I thought a lot of their transitions seemed awkward, and that it wasn't only Ryan's fault, but that Alison carried some of the blame as well. When the judges spoke, they uniformly praised Alison.

Is this just because I'm not a dancer? Because I don't understand the proper positioning for every step? I hate feeling like an uninformed critic, or like I need the judges to help me understand who danced well and who didn't. Part of me thinks that, as Ivan said during his critique, the dancing should be about entertaining the audience and so therefore my opinion is just as important and valid as anyone else's. But then I hate being the type of person who has an opinion but doesn't know what she's talking about!

My solution is to just watch the show and enjoy, but not phone in for anyone or get super opinionated about anything (so unlike my personality during Idol!). And it is a lot of fun to watch. And of course, this doesn't stop me from making predictions. So with that in mind, I'm choosing Travis and Benji for the final two men and Donyelle and Alison for the final two women. Let's see if I'm right!


Blogger Laura Holt said...

I have my moments where I totally am not seeing what the judges are seeing at all. But I think in the examples you gave here it's more about the judges understanding better the choreography that the dancers are working with and making allowance for both that and the physical condition and background of the dancers.

In the Ryan and Alison contemporary routine for example, all of the judges commented on how phenomenally difficult the choreography was (see my post from earlier in the week), and I agreed with the judges that Alison performed it better than Ryan did. That's not to say that she was perfect, but comparatively she was.

And in the Donyelle example, everyone knows that Donyelle is working with an injured foot, and I'm guessing that the judges took that into account in their praise. They also all mentioned how great her facial expressions are and I think that carries her a long way and distracts the judges from always looking at her feat. They also tend to be kinder to people who are dancing far outside their genre. With Donyelle and Dmitry's Lindy Hop, I agree that it wasn't nearly as spry as it should have been ideally, and I think Nigel said something about that to Dmitry. Something about wishing that Dmitry had given more of the double hop, and I think he gave that comment to Dmitry because this is a genre that someone from the ballroom field should pick up a lot faster than someone from Donyelle's hip hop background. My two cents.

7/21/2006 1:47 PM  
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