Tuesday, June 10, 2008

So You Think You Can Dance Auditions: Washington DC

Where’s Cat Deeley now? Why, the nation’s capitol, Washington D.C. Let us frolic gaily in front of the White House to freak out those repressed, stodgy Republicans.

More Cat Deeley goes to Washington after the jump…

In the grand tradition of starting each audition episode with someone who doesn’t suck, here’s Megan. In her very hard-hitting contemporary routine, she flings her body around like she’s made of taffy, especially when she jumps in the air and falls flat on the ground. It’s almost slap-stick, if I’m being honest, but I think (??) I get what she’s going for. Her hair is everywhere, though. I love it when the judges see the same stuff I do, because Nigel says the same thing.

Awwww, craaaaap. It’s Dancing Derrick (what it do, what it be, what a moron). Seriously… this guy… I don’t understand why this show insists on bringing back some of these dancers, and I use the word “dancers” very loosely. I think it’s great when someone comes back with a makeover, or if they are somehow drastically better dancers, or something, but we watched this exact same scene last year. Were the auditions so dull that Dancing D. was the best we could do? Anyway, Derrick took some classes since last year (namely jazz and African), and yet, he performs an audition that is most certainly not Jazzy or Africany, but rather… mime… or charades, whatever you want to call it. It’s funny, and if you’re hard-pressed, it could even be considered entertaining, but it really isn’t dancing. But don’t tell that to Dancing D. After a verbal skirmish with Nigel over the actual definition of dance and the purpose of this show, Dancing D. is let loose upon the populace once again. He isn’t sure whether or not he will return next season. And I really wish someone would just ask him nicely to, you know, not… because otherwise we will never be rid of him.

Marcus is wearing a T-shirt bearing the portrait of his deceased mother, and while I normally find that kind of thing to be tacky, I don’t get anything but sincerity from Marcus. There is an air of sadness about him, and he’s obviously rather intense, but his dancing is expressive and polished and creative. Nigel will spend the rest of the episode trying to get Marcus to smile, and thankfully, Marcus does so, but only after hearing he is going to Vegas.

Have you ever heard of D.C. swing? Yeah, me neither. Thank God for Markus and Deonna, for they have come to help us rise from the festering pits of our own ignorance so that we, too, may know the glory and power of D.C. swing. I don’t know if it was the editing or the vague, undetailed way Markus and Deonna described it, but I’ve watched the playback at least three times and I still can’t tell you what D.C. swing is. I guess it’s theoretically related to all other manner of swing in that it’s a partner dance with fast steps and tricks, but that’s as specific as I can be. Anyway, they call it “hand dancing” as well, but… somehow that doesn’t help me, either. In any event, their routine is very fun to watch, with some cheekiness and some sass, and a couple of creative tricks. The judges are complimentary, because why not, and pass both through to choreography. Surprisingly (or not, maybe), both swingers are dropped after the choreography round, but they’ve done what they came to do, which was introduce the nation to D.C. Swing. Sort of.

Brandon Bryant is absolutely gorgeous and a new favorite of mine, even if he’s a dirty, dirty liar. He tried out for Season 1 even though he was three years under the age requirement. Obviously, he got caught, or confessed, I can’t really tell from what he says, but it doesn’t matter, he wasn’t on the show. Now he’s back, and like… Thank GOD, because this boy is beautiful. I’m not even talking about the skimpy outfit he wore to the audition; I’m actually talking about the dancing. Dan Karaty wraps it up nicely when he says that Brandon has, “flexibility, strength, and technique.” Mary isn’t nearly as eloquent, so she just screams.

Also, as good as he is, he has a lovely, humble personality. I expect guys as young and talented as Brandon to be pompous dickweeds, but Brandon is refreshingly not so.

The unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your sense of humor, named Phucdat (HA!) is Korean and a huge dork. Apparently, break-dancing and acting goofy saved him from countless years of bullying and misery. Before he could dance, they used to spit on him and throw him in lockers, but now he gets mad respect because of his skillz. This sounds like a bad movie. Anyway, his routine is fun and he’s got some good moves, but like all the breakers who rely on tricks to make their dancing interesting, he’ll have to make it through choreography. And he doesn’t, which surprises no one.

Remember RibbonGate? Two seasons ago, Anthony came to the SYTYCD auditions with a ribbon and a dream. But then he got blasted for being too feminine. This is such a weird thing to talk about because the gender issues are so complex and I’m not sure there will ever be an easy answer, but here goes. It’s no secret that quite a few, and by quite a few I mean A LOT of, males in the Performing Arts are gay. It’s unfair to assume they are ALL gay, of course, but I’m even guilty of assuming they are until I’ve see proof otherwise, and by proof I mean a sex-tape, or a wedding ring, or a red-eyed brood of kids, or a poster of Jena Jameson hanging up in their room, but EVEN THEN, one can never really be sure. Anyway, it has always been a sticking point with choreographers and directors and managers that male performers shouldn’t be too wispy, or flaming, or sissy, or what have you, because they are still MEN and it’s important that they are able to be Graceful and Beautiful and Expressive while also maintaining their masculinity. Basically, no girlie men allowed. So while Anthony was obviously a very good dancer, the ribbon and the posing and everything else was all just too effeminate. I can’t say I agree with the judges’ mentality on principle, but it IS a real aspect of the industry that all dancers, straight and gay, must face.

So, Anthony shows up to these auditions having taken the criticism to heart. He claims his audition piece is more butch and he’s wearing a camo onesie (yeah, mission to be butch = FAIL) just to bring his point home. As he dances, it is clear that his technique is immaculate, a fact that Nigel acknowledges in his comments. But the judges, as a group, still don’t like the kid, and they only pass him through to choreography, despite the fact that they have handed tickets to hundreds of contemporary dancers already.

During the brief snippet of the choreo round shown, it is obvious that Anthony is perfectly capable, so I was just as surprised as Anthony when the judges rejected him AGAIN. I mean, here’s a kid who is obviously well-trained and experienced in dance, a fact we know from his constant credibility checks (he graduated a year early from Julliard). The only criticisms he has ever heard were personality based: too feminine, and this year, no spark. The only conclusion I can draw with the little bits I’ve seen is that there is something about his personality that the judges find intensely unlikeable, which makes them feel OK about not taking him to Vegas. That’s fine, I suppose, because the likeability factor is always present in any kind of audition or interview, and I can’t deny the possibility that the kid is just wrong for the show, but that doesn’t stop me from looking askance at Nigel in company, which I do only because the kid is so obviously an incredible talent. What harm could it possibly do to recognize the kid’s very apparent skills and take him to Vegas, and then just cut him loose after a few rounds? If the point of showing these audition rounds is to communicate the process and criteria for getting on the show, why throw everything into a tizzy by rejecting such a talented dancer? If Nigel wants these auditions to actually seem like auditions rather than an elaborately staged series of castings, then taking Anthony to Vegas would have been the only correct thing to do.

It makes me wonder, though, based on everything that follows: do you think Nigel cut Anthony because he anticipated the epic meltdown that would erupt right after? If so… well played, Nigel. Anthony sure enough delivers, as only a queen scorned can. And poor Cat Deeley… she gets a whole lot of Anthony’s allegedly non-existent personality. Right in the ear.


Erin G said...

you know, I thought the same thing about anthony. he knows what he's doing, even if it doesn't have much heart in it. I don't LIKE him (he's kind of a brat, though decidedly more mature this season than a couple of years ago), but I think he's better than a lot of the people they put straight through.

Reeva*Dubois said...

Yeah... and I thought he was really professional with the judges this time, too. All the bratty behavior happened off-stage. I think the camo was what did him in... lol..