Monday, June 06, 2011

So You Think You Can Dance - 8x02 "Salt Lake City / NYC Auditions", 8x03 "LA Auditions"

One of the good developments of this season's auditions is the burgeoning number of solos that I've taken to describing as industrial contemporary (i.e. dancers with jazz/modern/classical training performing a cold, mechanistic, angular routine, often to industrial (not quite full-on NIN, which would scare the tweenies who watch) or electro (again, not quite fully electro) music), which I like to imagine Billy Bell having invented (but I'll settle on him having planted the style on the show), so I'm happy to see a few girls getting industrial. Mind you, none of them came close to matching Billy's stone-cold swagger, but nine times out of 10, I'm going welcome seeing them rather than the umpteenth earnest contemporary flailfest. So, good on you, Chyna Smith and Arielle Coker.

Chyna Smith
She says that people think she looks like Joy Spears from season two, but I don't know that I'd take that as a compliment, since she was infamously shown begging off practicing a routine with Dmitry to expectedly underwhelming results.

Arielle Coker

Apparently, Phillip Chbeeb went all the way to the Czech Republic to recruit one of his I aM mE-mates, I assume at the exclusion of Arielle, so apparently this is like a bit of revenge for her? There, that's the best obligatory I aM mE reference I could manage. Anyway, my yoga teacher demonstrated that exact same toe move once, though he did it better -- his torso was more upright, and his butt tucked in more.

And a bonus -- because she danced to a chunky, quasi-industrial song, I'm going to include a non-contemporary dancer in this section:

Hiro McCrae (I'm going with "Hiro," not "Hero")

My thought process when I first saw Hiro audition:
  • Huh, you don't see a lot of Japanese folks with "McCrae" as a surname.
  • In fact, "McCrae" is occupying so much of my attention that I've already forgotten her first name.
  • Oh, it's Hiro.
  • Wait, isn't "Hiro" a guy's name?
  • Well, the crew of fierce female poppers that won the fourth season of ABDC, We Are Heroes, has a member named Hiro, so that's two different women I can think of named "Hiro."
  • Wait a minute.

Anyhow, she's a lot chattier and more ribald than she was on ABDC, not to mention even better than before.

Samantha Hiller
She's from Atherton, and I was about to joke that maybe she forgot that Atherton is in the Bay Area, but then I realized that the accident she had may have directly led to her missing the Oakland auditions, so let me preemptively apologize for that.

Kent Boyd must really be a goober if he thinks a dye job and a pair of Twitch glasses will let him try out for the show again.

Princess Lockerooo
Why isn't she called Princes Wackerooo? (I think, perhaps, wacking is a sub-style of locking, so it's not too far off.) And was there any legal reasons why she couldn't out and out say that she was vibing off of Trinity (hair pulled back, all black costume/leather pants, shades)? Anyway, I think she's better when she's battling, as so:

But: I see that in that Youtube, her name is spelled "Lockeroo," so maybe "Lockeroo" and "Lockerooo" are archenemies locked in an ugly, ongoing trademark dispute.

Kristen Dobson

I.e. the Latin ballroom dancer with the gratuitous developpe, after which Nigel asks, "Why would she do that?" and Mary just looks hopelessly exasperated (or as close as she can get to an expression of exasperation), all of which cracked me up. As for the rest of the non-gratuitous parts of the routine, I thought it was good for a relative noob, but as far as the level of ballroomers this show has featured, she falls short (I didn't like her lines or shapes, which tended to be too hesitant and under-committed). Given her developpe, I assume her pre-Latin background is in classical, and so I expected she'd do a lot better in the choreography round; instead, I had the same complaints about her lines that I did in her ballroom number. Yet, she went to VEAGS all the same, and I feel that the asset that got her there is how smoking hot she is her engaging personality, so there you go.

And now, a real ballroomer:

Iveta Lukosuite

Every year that Iveta comes back is another year where everybody asks if she isn't already too old for the competition. (Looking through my archives, she was 29 when she auditioned for season 6, but maybe she's like Jenna Maroney, i.e. eternally 29.) But hey, as long as she keeps on pulling out huge lifts like the one that we glimpsed in her waltz audition, then she has no expiry date in my book. Incidentally, note the improvement in her auditioning makeup since her season 6 look.

Check out the botox twins:

One-and-a-half facial expressions between the two of them.

I compiled and crunched some numbers pertaining to the auditions and the styles of the auditioners and put them into this Google Doc, with a few further breakdowns along gender and whether they made it to Vegas or not. A note on method: The only auditions I counted were ones in which we saw the whole audition, so people who were shown only in a montage (e.g. Lilly Nguyen, Iveta) were NOT included, mostly because it was just easier to count the "full" auditions. I also make no claims about this list being comprehensive, so take the following with a grain of salt.

Along general gender lines, most of the auditioners we saw were women, though not by an overwhelming degree, 56% to 44%. What's a little more interesting is what happens when we break down according to style.

To no one's surprise, fully half of the auditions fall under "contemporary" (I'm using that as a catch-all term for classical-derived styles), and it's interesting to see that hip hop is nearly as prevalent (interesting because of the short shrift it gets during the competition, so in effect there's a bait-and-switch going on here -- show lots of rad hip hop in the auditions when it matters less, then start denigrating it in favor of contemporary in the competition). What's stunning is that ballroom has receded to the point that we barely saw more ballroom than Irish Step (which represents the lone "other"). Is SYTYCD trying to distinguish its brand from DWTS and ceding the ballroom to the C-listers?

The next two charts show separate male/female breakdowns for contemporary and hip hop, almost perfect mirror images of each other.

Very Save the Last Dance, i.e. the show's coding contemporary as female, and hip hop as male. I also want to point out that among the three female hip-hop auditions (Princess Lockerooo, Patty Anne Miller, and Hiro McCrae), one of them was dressed as a boy, further positing hip hop as male territory. Curiously and conversely, of the four contemporary guys we saw (Marko Germar, Jess LeProtto (whose name, I should add, I originally wrote down as "Jesso Prado" -- I blame Cat's brummie accent), Chase Thomas, and Brandon Jones), we saw a lot of a half-naked contemporary-dancing guy, and a lot of the time spent on him was to establish him as straight.

Last but not least, how the hip hoppers and the contemporary dancers fared in terms of advancing to the next part of the show (c means they made it to choreography, v means they made it to Vegas, and c,v means that they went to choreography before going onto to Vegas):

So, three-quarters of the hip hoppers we saw made it to Vegas. Not a bad rate, yeah? But then:

94% of the contemporary dancers made it to Vegas. That is, 17 of the 18 contemporarists made it to Vegas. Two-thirds went straight to Vegas, which alone is almost the same as the percentage of total hip hoppers who got to Vegas (whether or not they first detoured through choreography). If you ever needed evidence for the show's bias in favor of contemporary, we can see it in its feeder stages here.

Anyway, food for thought (considering I'm writing this on Sunday night), and I'm curious how these stats trend over past seasons as well (i.e. is hip hop gaining at ballroom's expense? Or is contemporary becoming the 800-pound gorilla and squeezing all the other styles out?).


Anonymous said...

I'd be really curious about the trends for previous seasons. My perception is that they were more willing to send hip hop dancers straight through this year than they have been in previous years -- you never saw the judges wondering if contemp dancers could work in hip hop styles, but that used to be the common thread in hip hop auditions. This year? Not as much. Or maybe I'm imagining things.

Jacob said...

Iveta's Audition routine, in competition!