The Problem with So You Think You Can Dance

Last night since season 9 of So You Think You Can Dance started, I was emotionally invested in the show and it was because they were doing classic Mia Michaels routines from the past.

This season, I’ve flipped on SYTYCD for a few minutes and always ended up turning it off, frustrated. There are a lot of reasons, the lack of diversity in the top 20, the same dance styles, the same tired, over used choreographers and judges. It’s just become boring. But last night, with the tribute to Mia Michaels, it showed the weakness of this season and how it will never measure up to the glory days of the past.

Last night each couple had to perform a classic Mia Michael’s routine from a previous season. They were dances that every SYTYCD fan knows and loves: the “Mercy” door routine, “Hometown Glory” and the bed routine  from season 4, the addiction piece from season 5 (my favourite Mia piece of all time), the routine about Mia meeting her father in heaven from season 3, the timeless bench routine from season 2 and the French booty routine from season 5. It was a great idea and I was reminded of how much I’ve loved all those dances. But watching the season 9 dancers do this choreography, it quickly became clear that it wasn’t living up to the original. That was the problem. Either the dancers were trying to recreate the original and failing miserably, or they tried too hard to put their own spin on it. The best couple of the night were Cole and Lindsay who did the addiction piece. They stayed faithful to the original and also brought something completely new to it. It made me cry.

SYTYCD has had so many amazing dancers on the show over the years, but now with the ratings on the decline and the results show cancelled so the entire format has changed, if they want to come back for an engaging and exciting season 10, they’ve got to change things up.

Here are my suggestions:

1) Go back to the roots – This is my suggestion for every long running show that’s lost its way. The first 4 seasons of SYTYCD were about people excelling in different styles of dance. There was nothing greater than seeing Travis Wall kill it in a krump routine or watch Joshua do a waltz or D-Trix do an amazing contemporary routine. Ivan and Allison’s contemporary piece from season 2 is one of the most loved dances because no one thought Ivan could do contemporary and he did. That was the joy of the show. Now, almost every dancer who makes the top 20 is either a contemporary dancer or a ballroom dancer. The one hip hop dancer who has made the top ten this season, Cyrus, has come under so much criticism on the blogs and Twitter because he’s not trained. When in the past Joshua and Russell won seasons 4 and 7 being untrained hip hop dancers.

2) Bring in all new choreographers – The major thing about this show that has become stale is the choreography. In the early seasons there were people like Mia and Wade Robson who were doing things completely out of the box, things we’d never seen before. Now every episode its the same thing, a Napoleon and Tabitha hip hop routine, a Tyce Diorio Broadway number, a Mandy Moore jazz number, a Sonya Tayeh contemporary piece. It’s so boring! Get rid of all of them and bring in some fresh talent, young talent who do different things. Especially in hip hop. It’s become so watered down, so story driven. In the early seasons Shane Sparks or Dave Scott would just do routines with hard-hitting music and choreography, there was no storyline. It was just about the dancing. I miss that.

3) New judges – I don’t want to see actors on that judges panel. Some of the best judges have been the choreographers themselves like Wade or Mia. I want to see judges who know what they’re talking about and are able to give constructive criticism. Mary Murphy has got to go. Nigel is the only one on the panel who makes any kind of sense.

I barely watch the show anymore. I’m not invested in any of the dancers and the choreography has become so stale. However, I want SYTYCD to survive. It’s important to the dance world.

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1 Comment

Filed under Dance, Television

One response to “The Problem with So You Think You Can Dance

  1. Having not watched an episode ever, this post gave me a pretty good idea of what I’m not missing. 😉 Your three points could probably be applied to pretty much all reality shows.

    For what it’s worth, Neil Haskell, who placed third in the 2007/8 season of SYTYCD, is the little brother of one of my friends. He’s done quite well in his career after SYTYCD.

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