So you think you can dance


May 28th 2012

The new season started last week. I warned Jim that I was going to engage in my yearly wallow in popular culture. He made some reference to the ending of the current seasons of Dancing With the Stars and American Idol. They’re really all the same show,he said. But they’re not. To me they’re not. These other two shows are about celebrity. They feed the cult of celebrity. And I get that in some way my show does too. My show. There’s plenty of glitz. And I know that it’s carefully edited to maximize drama, to pull my strings.
And sometimes the judges drive me crazy; they can be so mean and condescending. I feel like sometimes they put someone on stage, or edit them in, just to humiliate them.

But then people start to dance. Really dance. I have never been a “dancer,” though I dance all night at weddings given the opportunity. On the show people start to dance and I think, you can’t fake this. This blending of body, heart and soul that shines through when someone is really good. I can’t help it. In response to that movement I think there, there, that’s what it means to be alive. That’s one of the ways that alive looks. It’s a helpful reminder. What does alive look like, or more important perhaps feel like, for me? 

I think it helps in a weird way that not many dancers go on to become celebrities. I hope that they do get to go on to wonderful careers in dance, but rarely do they cross my radar screen again like the winners of those other shows do.

There were many wonderful dancers on display last week. It was fun to speculate who would make it all the way to the real competition. Clues are no doubt built into the editing. In the second hour one young man moved the judges to tears. Nigel said he just might be a genius, dancing his self-conceived exorcism dance. I doubt that he will be there in the end but it felt like such a gift to see him do his thing, right there in that moment, right there in the middle of the mess of commercialism called reality tv. I am hooked. Again.

[If you see that same aliveness in those other shows, I’d love to hear about it. And feel free to poke holes in my love of this show. But I don’t promise to listen.]