When readers had encouraged me to watch So You Think You Can Dance, I was skeptical.
When I watched it for the first time, nothing changed.
It looked as if the man who bears no resemblance to the Tooth Fairy was making a lot of money on the backs and feet of America’s dancers.
Of course that must be true.
May I confess, however, to have been mesmerized by last Thursday’s Las Vegas auditions?
A chap whose body performed more contortions than a politician’s mouth took one look at what was required in these auditions and quit because he knew he would have been asked to perform in a pair and he didn’t want to adversely affect his partner’s chances.
Altruism from an artist? That’s like a free crown from a dentist.
Yet the longer the auditions went on, the more I began to realize that because the prize is, in the vast schemata of entertainment greed, relatively insignificant, So You Think You Can Dance exhibits a radical honesty.
The auditions occur with all the other competitors watching. You know when they think someone is good.
You know when they appreciate when someone has great artistry. They stand and applaud like a drunken (but knowledgeable) New York audience on a Saturday night.
There is something really quite soothing about the fact that the other competitors clearly influence the judges by the sheer decibellicosity of their applause.
For some reason that, as an innocent bysitter to this spectacle, I do not entirely grasp, there seemed to be more judges than Teethy, Tia and Maria.
I suspect the others represented different dance disciplines, but, for all I know, they could have been the sexual partners of Teethy, Tia and Maria.
In any case, they seemed to reflect an endearing honesty too. I could not imagine one of them canoodling with Paula Abdul.
Which makes me think this show is a deliberately constructed catharsis for Nigel Lythgoe.
While he goes along with the venality and twistiness of American Idol, he dons sackcloth and ashes made of silk in producing SYTYCD.
On American Idol, when the singers work together, that work means less than the cork on an empty bottle of wine.
In this peculiarly seductive dance show, the fruits of group performance mean everything. Both in the joy of the dance itself and in the prospects for the individual dancer.
Even Debbie Allen, a judge and former handmaiden of The Kids From Fame from the last century, had leave her judge’s leggings behind because one of her proteges made it through to the final twenty.
Does Randy Jackson have any proteges?
I must admit that I have even come to appreciate Cat Deeley’s understated warmth. Cat was brought up a couple of miles from me. But, whisper it now, she comes from the posh part of town.
This is not a girl who rose from the depths of poverty like some of the dancers.
This is not a girl who had to cut her own hair.
The only rollers in her neighborhood had Royce at the end of their names.
Yet she exudes a worldly air that doesn’t cloud the performances that are happening around her. On and off the stage.
This show is behaving like a stealth bomber dropping essential emotional supplies to my living room.
What happens in Vegas is not staying there.
This is weird.
The Pond thanks Marcin Wichary for his singular evocation of honesty.