Monday, August 20, 2007

So You Think You Can Dance - Final Week, Final 4 (3x22, 3x23)

Congratulations to Sabra. As her reign of terror commences, I'm sure that Danny's supporters are a little disappointed, at which point I'd like to say...

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Haha just kidding. I didn't vote at all.

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Third year in a row!



As much hoopla went into Sabra's coronation, the last show underscored the anticlimactic nature of reality finales, which in turn plays out yet again the reality tv's ongoing battle (in my head, at least) between narrative and spectacle. In most if not all reality programs, individually spectacular moments outshine how the season's narrative is resolved (i.e. who the winner is). Not to say that Sabra's victory doesn't matter or that we won't remember it, but the show offered more than the single "Who will win?" metanarrative; it entertained, arrested, and sometimes moved us with pure and simple WOW, and the finale foregrounded its own spectacle with the pageantry that formed the bulk of the show at the expense of Sabra's win.

While SYTYCD explicitly drives towards a final culminating moment of who is America's favorite dancer, the show over the course of the season generated a lot of performances that don't fit into the official metanarratives born on the program -- Sara and Jesús's "Cabaret Hoover" is the exemplar where it was unadulterated spectacle, since they performed it before the show could seriously entrench them into packaged narratives. Moreover, think about any of your favorite dances and how you appreciate it more for its purity of movement than any "Danny's getting in touch with his human side" or "Dominic Sabra is really becoming a dancer" stories.

Even if a memorable performance fits into a metanarrative, it graduated or returned to spectacle on the finale: "Here's a great dance! Let's see it again!" Even when Cat, following the reprise of the disco number with Neil, asked Sara about being in pink satin again -- which tapped back into the b-girl b-comes hottie arc -- the moment still focused on the WOW of the dance (and the UGH of those bangs). The same goes with any dancer in any season; Travis lost to Benji, but we didn't lose the bench routine. Similarly, Jamile's third-place finish doesn't overshadow the best hip-hop routine we'll likely see on this show. And so on.

Which is all a roundabout way of saying, "If you wanted Danny to win, take heart, because the show already provided you with the sublime."



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All in all, the finale was pretty tightly produced -- the biggest disappointment (or relief, depending on how you look at it) being the hyped Cat-Nigel pas de deux. Emphasis on the pas, n'est-ce pas? Even if she were to stink it up (and judging by her self-assessment, she probably would have), I presume I can speak for most people in saying that we would've enjoyed seeing her make the effort.

Because, clearly, Cat isn't worried about looking like a doofus.







To my surprise, I warmed to Lacey even more during the lindy hop rehearsal, and for once my attitude towards her had nothing to do with hair. She's gotten flak because she constantly plays to the camera -- which bothers me none, admittedly, even if from the very beginning she emphasized the skank thing.

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However, seeing that she's pretty much always "on" and that she seems naturally inclined towards garrulousness endeared her to me. Like, she's not mugging so that people will vote for her, she's mugging because, simply, that's how she do.

Also:


Take your pick: either Lacey's head is extremely hard, or Danny's goodies are. How else do you explain that *thunk*?

Even more on the WTF side was Lacey's squeaky voice which she produced when goofing with Sabra in the fox dance rehearsal. Does she hide a helium tank in her weave or something? (So I snuck in a Lacey hair joke after all.)



Foxes of the Week
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Speaking of foxes, I'm at a loss to think that certain people -- notably a couple of people (and I use the term "people" loosely here, especially since one of them is 90% botox now) in particular -- complained that they didn't get Wade's fox dance. Animal-like movements, one tentative dancer, the other supportive -- what's so abstruse about that? To show what an advanced thinker he is, Nigel dusted off the same criticism he had for Hok and Jaimie's "Mr. Bojangles" piece, that if he hadn't been told about the piece's conceit prior to its performance, he wouldn't have known that Hok was a geezer, or that Sabra and Lacey (I'm abbreviating them as Saucey) were of some vulpine persuasion; in either case, this criticism is bunk. (It wishes it was Bunk Moreland.)

First of all, they were told, so they should have dealt with it, no changing the past and all. Second, once they knew, they should have run with it and evaluated the piece from there. Instead, Nigel persisted in complaining about the piece's supposed obscurity, lazily copping out from an honest critique. What's more, why didn't the judges complain about Mia's paean to her father. (The answer is pretty easy to suss out, but bear with me.) Thank god we had that rehearsal footage, or else I wouldn't have known Neil was supposed to be the late Joe Michaels, and that Lacey was Mia Michaels.

Which goes back to the beginning of this specific argument, that the precise details hardly matter (Some kind of animal -- a rabbit?) (Some kind of departed loved one -- a husband?), because the overarching narrative spine is evident.



If you read this site, then you're probably smarter than me and would already know that the fox dance took on the Japanese folkloric foxes, also known as kitsune, and how Wade -- sorry, WADE -- engaged in cross-cultural intertextuality, between folktale and (modern?) dance, and you can correct any errors in the following. (If you don't know, prepare to be schooled and ignore any qualification.)

The kitsune, in addition to being cuuuuuute, is a trickster figure in Japanese folklore (not unlike the Coyote in aboriginal American folklore), and often takes the form of a woman to trick some poor schmuck into some uncomfortable situation. I'm certainly no expert on Japanese folktales, though if they're like any other folktales, then the kitsune would at best be two-dimensional characters as most tricksters are, but sometimes they mine some affecting area, like the fox-cum-lady who falls in love with her seductee.

WADE meanwhile reorients the kitsune trope around two foxes (as opposed to a seductress and a man) who are related; instead of trickery, we've got maternal support, like, "We all of us -- be it tricksters or humans -- come ultimately from the same place, that is, our mommies." (A lot more effective an anti-war piece than the solos, nicht wahr?) And what's more, the routine's conceit allows its themes to resonate more than does the typical folktale which involves foxes. Now, WADE maybe wasn't thinking the kitsune specifically, but the fox in general does resonate in Japanese culture (from which he was unmistakably referencing (cf. the makeup, the costuming)), and if he didn't actively have the folklore in mind, he was still engaging it at least tangentially through folk-devices (e.g. anthropomorphized animals enacting a basically human story), and more importantly, giving his choreography greater emotional affect than goes into your average folktale.



Some observers have wondered if one or both of Nigel and Mary understood the piece but said otherwise because they underestimated the lay-viewer's capacity to understand a piece as "abstract" as this dance supposedly is. But why would the two of them feel compelled to dumb themselves down? To not make Joe and Jane Six-Pack at home feel like the show is leaving them behind?



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Speaking of abstract choreographers, Mia Michaels brings the gnarly!


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I have to chalk up part of my enthusiasm for the music -- loud, noisy, distorted electro -- but I'd have to be an insensate imbecile to miss the routine's manic energy and aggro. However, I'd have left out the swordfight *ahem* because that was the most tentative part of the routine, and I kept thinking about Zhang Ziyi's sword work in Crouching Tiger.

Whatever the case, Danny was at his most masculine this week...

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Never change, Dominic.



When the judges picked their favorite routines from the season, their autonomy seemed compromised and it didn't take long for them to raise red flags. Mia Mary was first to name her favorite, which was a middling Shane Sparks routine. Whether she sincerely enjoyed the piece can be debated, but what's hard to look past is that it conveniently got Pasha and Lauren on the stage together at the same time, which allowed them to be properly sent off by the audience. A couple other picks smacked of diversity-by-committee, particularly when Jean-Marc Genereaux picked the Dom-Sabra hip hop and when Shane picked the Sara-Pasha West Coast Swing in a "Look how we can appreciate routines outside of our comfort zones!" back-patting maneuver.

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The LOLCATDEELEY Moment of the Week
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Last but certainly not least, Sara!!!

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Great seeing her in something like 6 routines in the finale -- which probably explains her breathlessness at the end of "Cabaret Hoover," though I don't know what Jesús's excuse was -- obviously the judges and choreographers all loved her. But seeing those curly bangs in the disco routine, barf. Authentic or not, they're one thing retro that should stay buried in the '70s.

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And with that, I'm pulling a Sabra and ending things abruptly. What better place to end? Fun season, got my crush on, got my tickets for the tour, finally got a real readership, and articulated the ineffable through image macros and deliberate grammatical and spelling errors. But if you're like me, you'll want to drag things out as long as it's profitable, so I'll be doing a Google-bait post masquerading as a season wrap-up which might include things like my 10 favorite (downloadable) routines, deleted scenes, and lolsytycds rejected because they were too hot for the internets!

Indie rating: Ghost - "Daggma"

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8 comments:

Anonymous said...

LOL dude that was hilarious!

did anyone think that on neil and dannys routine that it was pretty much "danny's dance" with neil "acting" hacked off whilst dannys off pirouetting around the stage showing how fantastic he is?

danny was favoured alot from choreographers throughout the competition, every group dance there was he was either the lead or was right at the front of the stage, dont get me wrong he was the best dancer but id be well hacked off if i was one of the others lol

Anonymous said...

a great write up, funny and thoughtful.

Beckylooo said...

Oh Leeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

So worth the wait it was. Danke.

"A lot more effective an anti-war piece than the solos, nicht wahr?"

Mais oui!

momo said...

Your Lolcatdeelies are priceless! Did you notice how Ricky positioned himself to be more visible in the group shot where Dominic was mugging his way in?
Thanks for the last recap. I'm going to miss this show!

Anonymous said...

This level of wit and smarts makes you a very sexy man, it just does.
Layla

Anonymous said...

Love your reviews about the show. =) And your LOLCATS are so witty.

Oh, might I point out that you wrote Mia was the one who chose the Pasha/Lauren hip-hop routine, but it was actually Mary.

Leee said...

Thanks one and all for the kind comments. Anon 9:02, chin up dear, got one more post coming up, mostly to dump unused/forgotten images, but also with a top 13 or so routines.

Anon 9:05, good catch! I was wondering why I was so set on complaining about Mia's supposedly pedestrian taste in hip hop when I don't have much problem with her; I really can't believe I messed up a chance to bag on Mary again.

And I have to admit, "Layla" is just me logged in under a different name. ^_^ j/k!!

Varsha said...

Keep doing what you're doing! It's awesome. You should recap the tour! lol.