Tuesday, June 10, 2008

So You Think You Can Dance Auditions: Charleston

We’re traveling… we’re traveling. Welcome to Charleston, SC, my home state. Join me, won’t you, as my people embarrass me on national television... again.

Cat Deeley looks frightened, but not nearly frightened enough…

Sheila is a biological engineering student from Georgia whose father is an unsupportive prick. She doesn’t say that exactly, but the tears in her eyes betray years worth of LifeTime moments about “getting an education” and “building a competitive resume” rather than pursuing her dreams of high-kickin’ it at the Roxy. Her contemporary routine is one of my favorites so far; excellent lines, great choreography, and it seems truly honest (Good Lord, I sound just like a judge). Nigel tells Sheila’s dad to SHOVE IT, because his little girl is going straight to Vegas. Mary Murphy bellows shrilly (she’s the only person capable of such an oxymoronic thing as bellowing shrilly), and Sheila cries. I’m really pulling for this girl to win because she’ll need that prize money for all the therapy coming her way.

Erin has only been teaching dance for eight hours, but that doesn’t stop her from putting “dance teacher” on her fact sheet. The bad news is she’s awful, and so is her (supposedly much more proficient) partner. The good news is she graces us with such old school staples as the cabbage patch and the running man. The only problem is she performs those moves in a ballroom dress, so the results are incongruous. Needless to say, the judges do not respond warmly, going so far as to say, “That was truly an embarrassment.” Why can’t these judges just look on the bright side: it was frikkin’ HILARIOUS!

Following in the sexy foot-steps of Jonathan Anzalone is no easy task, but Jeremiah is here to give it a shot. The thing about Jonathan: he was incredibly hot, but also incredibly dense, especially when he talked. Can Jeremiah outdo him? Before taking the stage, he lays some wisdom on us.

“Getting prepared for So You Think You Can Dance was… uh… a little scary. Because you see everybody go through and people say you’re good, but you never know if you’re… like… living in an ignorant society.”

[Those people, Jeremiah, are not ignorant. They’re just lying straight to your face. Or, more likely, they’re kissing up to you so you’ll sleep with them.]

“I’m just one of those guys who’s just extremely lucky, so when I’m on stage, my most negative feature should be that I happen to be human. So you’re seeing someone who has the flaws of every human being but with the spiritual… divinity… as high as you can get for an art.”

[Um… what?]

“I ask myself every once in a while, like, why am I dancing? And if I don’t have an explanation at the time, then… I won’t dance.”

[I wish he felt the same way about talking]

He dances better than he talks, that’s for sure, but just like his sentences, his routine lacks polish, content, and control. After calling him out for his bad improvisations and his lack of dynamics, the judges unanimously praise his technique and his potential (and I assume his hot bod, they just don’t say it out loud). Anyway, he’s going to Vegas.

Syiddah, the Black Shirley Temple, proudly proclaims, “I’m just me,” after she is universally panned by the judges. Someone should tell her, though, that her fierce individualism means nothing if everything she just did was copied straight out of Ciara’s videos.

TWINS! Anthony and Antwain are from somewhere in North Carolina and they are instantly (and doubly) fabulous, in my opinion. Anthony goes first, and while he isn’t outstanding by any means, I think he shows an obvious adeptness for street dancing, and his tricks are athletic enough to assume he could do the stuff required by the show. The judges, however, find him rather one-dimensional and in need of training and pass on him. Next up is his brother, Antwain. Before he performs, though, Cat Deeley talks to Anthony outside, and Anthony is very sweet about hoping his brother makes it through even though he didn’t. Antwain, meanwhile, is having a much better audition. His leaps are bigger, his moves are sharper, and the audition is far more dynamic and impressive than Anthony’s. Afterwards, the judges are confused, because how could it be possible that one twin would be good and the other one bad? Twins share talent and motor skills, right? Anyway, Antwain tries to explain that his brother was just nervous and didn’t show them the right stuff. So Nigel invites both brothers to perform together, and in a very sweet, very Awwwww moment, both brothers are invited back to the choreography round, and brilliantly, they both make it to Vegas!

I want to be Abigail’s friend because she knows she sucks but she wants to try out anyway. After a painful performance, she self-deprecates all over the stage so much that Nigel and Co. can’t help but love her. That doesn’t mean she’s getting through, though.

B.J. is from New York, and his performing arts high school had a fund raiser to send him down to Charleston to Audition. As an aside, this was the point of this whole process when I realized that there wouldn’t be any auditions in New York. What’s up with that? I mean, I support the idea of going to less obvious cities to find talent, but why would you skip New York? If the point of this show is to discover talent than why wouldn’t they go to the one city where the vast majority of undiscovered talent washes up? Leaving off New York seems counter-intuitive, counter-productive, counter-everything. Ok, I’m finished. B.J. is obviously very talented as a breaker. His tricks are impressive and unique, and he’s got the stage presence to back it up. He’s really fun to watch. All of the judges agree with that assessment, but they need to make sure he can do everything else, so B.J. will do the choreography. Sadly, he crumbles during the routine and doesn’t make it through to Vegas.

And then there’s Claire. She gets the award for the most undeserved screen-time for this episode. Long story short: she made it to Vegas (it was Hollywood then) two seasons ago, but got injured early on and had to leave the competition. She was going to try out the next year, but found herself with child. She has returned to audition with baby in tow, and for some reason, we’re supposed to love her. Her audition is underwhelming – she doesn’t do much above rudiments, and the judges admit they are disappointed. The bar has been raised significantly since she last auditioned, and this audition didn’t prove she’s going to be able to compete. So they send her to the choreography round, and after a satisfactory performance, she is passed to Vegas. She cries and cries, and she’s got the kind of cry that is hard to listen to because she’s gasping and choking on every word, but I’m not completely heartless, she’s had a rough road. But the consensus is: she has to bring it in Vegas, for real.

Finally, we have to sit through the most awkward, most outrageously uncomfortable, most unnecessarily confrontational audition I’ve ever seen on this type of show. First thing you have to know, there’s this guy that comes on stage, and he has longish hair and a beard… and he’s wearing some thick lipstick and glitter. He’s got on a sparkly black shirt and purple pants and he dances badly to Paula Abdul. Is he a hot tranny mess? Of course. But does he deserve what goes down?

Here’s my thinking. These judges probably sit through some really awful auditions. I wouldn’t be surprised if 90% of the auditions are just as bad as this one dancing-wise, if not worse. Out of that 90%, I would assume that at least half of those dancers know they stink, but are doing this to get on T.V. What I’m saying is: the person who thinks they are awesome, but clearly isn’t, is a rare person indeed. That kind of delusion doesn’t grow on trees. So this guy, Jason, isn’t being serious, I mean, he can’t be. This is all for screen-time. It isn’t particularly clever, or cute, or funny, it’s just meant to be a little goofy and maybe a little shocking.

So what was it about Jason and his performance that got under Nigel’s skin so much? We may never know. I appreciate when Nigel lays into someone for wasting his time, because even though this is a T.V. show, it’s nice that there is at least the illusion of a real dance audition. Time-wasting doesn’t fly in real life, so it shouldn’t fly here. So I have no problem with the spirit of Nigel’s reaction. My problem is with the verbal exchange that takes places. Nigel says, “You are one of the reasons why so many fathers don’t like their sons dancing.” My reaction was just like Jason’s.

I mean, whoooooaaaa… where did that come from? For the record, fathers who worry about their sons dancing are homophobic, insecure, ignorant cavemen, who will have problems with dance and music and cosmetology whether idiots like Jason exist or not. I guess I get what Nigel is saying, but it was so strongly worded that it veered close to inappropriate. Tyce’s comments made a little more sense, especially when he mentioned how disrespectful it is to show up and behave like this when there are many people in the room who actually can dance and desperately want to be on the show (nevermind that the producers were just as involved in the insult as Jason for letting him on the stage to begin with). But why be so nasty to this guy? Compared to Jason, they treated fools like Sex, or the guy in the wrestling mask, or that chick in Salt Lake who could barely keep time much less dance, with dignity and respect, even though they wasted time and stunk up the stage just as much. And if he’s so repugnant, if he’s such a disgusting stain, why let him through the screening process at all? I’ll tell you why… good T.V. If fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a shot of Nigel shaking Jason’s hand afterwards saying, “Thanks for the ratings.”

I’ve seen Nigel brush off many bad auditions with relatively good humor. This Jason character wasn’t the first person to try to grab his 10 minutes by acting idiotic, and he won’t be the last. I hope it wasn’t the fact that he put on lipstick and danced like an 80’s pop princess that offended Nigel so, because frankly, that makes Nigel very similar to those fathers of whom he spoke.

And while I’m talking about it (I know, I promise I’ll stop in a minute), did it seem to anyone else like Jason was just as taken aback by the reaction of the judges? Granted, he was in character, but in some of the reaction shots, I thought I could see something real in his eyes… like shame mixed with fear mixed with indignation.

I’m tempted to believe that Jason thought this little stunt was harmless. He probably thought the judges would tell him he was a crappy dancer, and maybe criticize his wardrobe or whatever, but I don’t think he was expecting any of what happened.

As usual, I’m over-analyzing, and after all is said and done, Jason was a time-waster and a bad dancer and maybe he was mildly offensive. But I still can’t get over the impression I got from the judges. It was like they were going to stone him or something. There was real revulsion in their words and faces, and I’m a little sensitive about it because they directed it at a guy in lipstick. At first I thought they were hating on him because they interpreted his performance as mocking transvestites or feminine men, which I can understand, but then Nigel made the fathers comment, and… I just don’t know. Ok, I’m really done.

A good many Southern folks made it to Vegas, so Charleston did me proud. But, GOD, I wish we knew how to spell it!

Where to next, Cat Deeley!?


Erin G said...

I LOVED the twins, too.

Jeez how long did it take you to recap all these auditions? I could barely stomach all those dancers the first time around... even with your humorous spin, I'm not ready to relive them. Bring on the real show!

Reeva*Dubois said...

Girl, it took WAY TOO LONG! But I like to do it. And it gives me something to do at work.

Erin G said...

and after watching last night's first dance show, I have decided I don't like the SC girl. Not so much her dancing or personality. Oh well. Did you watch? I guess I should go check to see if there's a new post before I ask that question. :)