There are two main dance competition shows on TV, Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You can Dance. The level of dance between the two is night and day. In Dancing with the Stars, a Star is paired with a professional dancer. Usually the star is out of the lime light and is looking to make a comeback. So we are talking B and C list actors and actresses.
Some of the stars can actually dance and the few who make it to the finals are pretty good. An example would be the Olympic gold medal ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White. In the Olympics Meryl Davis gave off an aura of toughness. In Dancing with the Stars, she was incredibly lithe and exuded an amazing sexuality. But many of the Stars are not particularly coordinated. They do improve as they continue on the show. The show is popular and the appeal is probably that the Stars come off as an Everyman and we can envision ourselves attempting what they are doing.
The judges are probably more important in this show because they need to carry the performers. They are a show unto themselves in a way and are vital to the flow of the show.
So You Think You Can Dance auditions hundreds of dancers and the ones they end up with are amazing. In past years the street dancers were at a disadvantage because they had to dance a wide variety of dances, many of which they had never done and possibly never seen before. The stage dancers did have to do other types of stage dance that weren’t their specialty and had to do street dance forms but it seemed like an easier transition.
This year the competition changed format. Stage and Street were separated and each had to compete at first in their own forms. Later, they started pairing a stage and a street dancer in random styles of dance. That gave the street dancers a bit more lead time to start learning choreography and start learning about other types of dance. It also gave the stage dancers a chance to get down and start working of forms of street dancing.
Some of the stage dancers still look very stiff when trying to do street and the street dancers often don’t have the extension and form and pointed toes and flexibility. But the choreographers work to show off the best of each performer and as in past seasons there have been some amazing performances. It is hard to believe they can move and jump the way that they do.
The judges are less important on this show because of the talent of the dancers. They are probably more important to the dancers than the audience because of the advice and critiques they give that can help the dancer going forward. It is a relief not to have Mary, the screaming judge, any more, although when she stopped screaming and actually gave advice, it was often good. Her replacement Paula Abdul has been a surprise. Her comments are often insightful and show a great knowledge of dance. It is quite a contrast to her time as a judge on American Idol where she often came off as a ditz and was always the one taking the edge off Simon’s biting comments.