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Thread: This season vs. previous seasons - WOW

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    This season vs. previous seasons - WOW

    I am re-watching Season 1 right now, and will be re-watching the other seasons as well. I want to revisit the dances and maybe put together my own compilation DVD of my favorites.

    WOW.

    I've only gotten through the first 2-hour premiere audition show of season 1 so far.

    Many of the people they're putting through to Hollywood probably wouldn't even be put through to choreography today. My husband, who isn't near as obsessed with all things "dance" as I am, is even boggling at the obvious lack of talent of many of the dancers Nigel and the other judges were raving at back then.

    AMAZING how the show is now attracting such a high caliber of skill.

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    Re: This season vs. previous seasons - WOW

    ITA about the caliber of dancing....I don't remember many, but do remember Blake (jerk), Melody, Nick (winner) and wasn't there a big guy who sort of did hip hop? And OF course, Artem!!

    Huge difference in talent for the most part....but first season, many "serious" dancers probably didn't want to risk getting caught in a cheesy trainwreck!
    There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats. A. Schweitzer

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    Re: This season vs. previous seasons - WOW

    i didn't think they were terrible in season 1. it was the format that was terrible

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    Re: This season vs. previous seasons - WOW

    Quote Originally Posted by jacobson00;3567041;
    i didn't think they were terrible in season 1. it was the format that was terrible
    Thusfar, I'm not talking about the finalists who make the top 16.

    I'm talking auditions. If you re-watch it, compared to the auditions this year, it's really amazing what Nigel and the other judges are wowed by. Lots of flailing attempts at Britney Spears video moves, etc.

    The hip-hop talent has gotten notably more exciting, too. Back then, if a guy did the worm for 45 seconds then spun on his head for 15, he was sent through.

    Gala, you might have a point there about "serious" dancers being shy of the new idea of the show.

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    Re: This season vs. previous seasons - WOW

    FierceCritter - where are you finding auditions from S1?? that would be cool to watch.

    S1 did have some very talented dancers, but no where near the depth of talent that later seasons have had. And while I totally agree that the production quality was iffy, I didn't mind them changing partners every week. I thought it made for a more balanced voting result. (no power couples like Benji/Donyelle, Ivan/Allison, Joshua/Katee, etc). I just think there are better ways to distribute the assignment of partners/dances without the hokiness of pulling from the hat.

    On a side note, who was the host of S1? I remember she was a brunette, but that's about it.
    There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats. A. Schweitzer

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    Re: This season vs. previous seasons - WOW

    I didn't start watching until Season 2, so I will take your word for the uneven quality of the auditions - but it makes perfect sense. Those folks didn't know what they were getting into yet.

    Four seasons later, anyone that is serious about the show knows that they have to both excel in their style and be able to handle hip-hop, contemp, and ballroom as well. You can see the result of that in this year's crop. Even Phillip had obviously been working hard in the studio because he adequately partnered Jeanine through Jive, Waltz and Broadway. (Not great, mind you - but he avoided the trainwreck most expected.)

    I think the controversy de jure is what has happened to the top tier dancers: people like Beji, Heidi, Pasha, Dimitri in ballroom and Danny, William, and Travis in contemporary. We don't have that level of talent this year. Is it because the show is percieved as a popularity contest - so folks at that level don't see the point? Is the national TV exposure (which is by far the biggest "prize" a show like this gives) not very helpful? Is it the nearly year-long committment (auditions + show + tour)?

    What do you think?

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    Re: This season vs. previous seasons - WOW

    Quote Originally Posted by TopCatDC;3567577;
    I think the controversy de jure is what has happened to the top tier dancers: people like Beji, Heidi, Pasha, Dimitri in ballroom and Danny, William, and Travis in contemporary. We don't have that level of talent this year. Is it because the show is percieved as a popularity contest - so folks at that level don't see the point? Is the national TV exposure (which is by far the biggest "prize" a show like this gives) not very helpful? Is it the nearly year-long committment (auditions + show + tour)?

    What do you think?
    I'm not totally understanding where a lack of talent is coming in - not saying there isn't a lack, just that maybe I'm missing something.

    I tried to think hard about this and see if I get what you're getting at and if I have a response. And what snapped into my mind kinda quickly was that maybe these people just aren't getting many dances in their background/style.

    I don't memorize people's backgrounds or even the dances they did all that well, but let me take a stab at some examples.

    Evan - background in Broadway style. Isn't the only straight Broadway number he's gotten sofar been the Fosse-inspired frug? Hardly straight Broadway, and I still can't get over the doubtful, "these two are too short and fat to dance" vibe I got from the choreographer on that number (that feeling was somewhat confirmed for me when she gave off a similar, disdainful "expect too much too quick too soon" vibe from Kayla & Kupono). Now, if he had gotten the sofa routine, again I think he would have KILLED it and perhaps it could have been choreographed even more spectacular if aimed toward his talent.

    Melissa - bad use of an example because she's done stellar in everything she's done. But she is a ballerina - and how many times is she going to get ballet? I'm not much for conspiracy theories, really. But I do believe that pas des deux wasn't an accident.

    Kayla - I think she's done really, really well. She's not a favorite of mine, but I don't share the opinion of people who think she's got an ego problem. If anything, with her, I might blame the judge's praise-a-thons for the criticism she gets from viewers - and maybe people are seeing her through judgmental eyes. And this is a minor point, but I thought it was a HUGE mistake in aesthetics having her barefoot for the West Side Story piece. I could see that waltz earlier, maybe. But I'm really not big on barefoot Broadway. There's a sharpness of hit that comes with a shoe-clad foot that you don't get from a bare foot. Shrug.

    Philip -Ya know, I really like Philip. And I thought his style of hip hop was unique. And I sure as heck can't do it myself. But I always did think he was a bit of a gimmick. I was won-over when they showed how he'd been dancing off-season with a partner and broadening his experience/style. But I'm somehow not surprised he's not quite cutting it the way Joshua did last season. Joshua just had "versatile" cut into him like a finely carved statue. Philip never has for me. And, again, I really like him and was rooting for him.

    Randi - Ya know, these days, I'm having trouble distinguishing the difference between Jazz and Contemporary. I think "Contemporary" I immediately think "Mia Michaels" type choreography. I think "Jazz" my mind is a little more fuzzy. I'm not quite sure what Randi's SUPPOSED to be good at. Yeah, she's a little less the typical "sharp lines, upwardly mobile" build. I don't like her the way I like Evan. So I'm a little more objective with her than I am with him. I do see her muddiness in moving sometimes. But has she ever had a straight Jazz routine with with to "show her stuff?" I don't remember.

    I could go on with this with every dancer. But rather than write an epic and still possibly be totally off-point, I'll sew it up with basically what I just said about Randi, as applied to everyone - how many times has each of them actually had a chance to do their own style? Did they rock their specific style when they did get it? Could they shine outside of their own style?

    Where that's concerned, no matter how much I overly-favor Evan, I'd have to say the ones who have done the best in the most "not-their-specialty" dances have been Brandon, Janette, Ade, Jeanine and Melissa. It's about to become even more of a popularity-vs-skill contest, however, so I don't know how much that will matter.

    Wow. That's a lot of typing for possibly being really off-base of what you are trying to say, TC.

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    Re: This season vs. previous seasons - WOW

    Quote Originally Posted by Fierce Critter;3567754;
    Ya know, these days, I'm having trouble distinguishing the difference between Jazz and Contemporary. I think "Contemporary" I immediately think "Mia Michaels" type choreography. I think "Jazz" my mind is a little more fuzzy.
    I understand where you're coming from, because on this show a romantic story dance from Tyce or Mandy might be categorized as Jazz, Contemporary, Pop or Broadway. And it all comes from a common family tree.

    My understanding (and I welcome input here from others) is that "Contemporary" is a somewhat elastic category, but it mostly comes from what we used to call "Modern Dance". Modern was a reaction at the beginning of the twentieth century to the strict ballet rules and confining positions. It was free form and paralleled the rise of modern music. Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham are the two big early choreographers (and dancers) in Modern Dance. Those traditions are still carried on by companies like Alvin Aily, Twyla Tharp and Merce Cunningham. Mia is very much in that tradition.

    Jazz came a bit later and was inspired by jazz and big band swing rhythms and music. Jack Cole is the first big jazz choreographer I remember from his work in the 1940's and 50's. Jack came out of the modern tradition and choreographed for Broadway and movies (like Marilyn Monroe's Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend, which Madonna later copied). So you could say Jazz is also a sub-genre of Broadway (i.e. not all Broadway dance is jazz; there's tap and other styles like Foxtrot). Jazz was especially prevalent on TV variety shows in the 1960's and 70's.

    Jack Cole trained/inspired Gower Champion (Hello Dolly, 42nd Street), Jerome Robbins (West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof) and Bob Fosse (Cabaret, Chicago), who in turn trained Michael Bennett (A Chorus Line, Dreamgirls), Tommy Tune (Grand Hotel, My One and Only), and Wayne Cliento (Tommy, Aida). And today's Broadway choreographers learned from them.

    What is billed on the show as "Pop" refers to music video choreography which came from the Broadway jazz style and incorporated bits of street dance. Paula Abdul and Michael Jackson advanced the pop genre in the 80's. Wade Robson is a master of Pop Jazz and it's easy to see the Jackson, Abdul, and Fosse influences in his movement.

    So, it's all very incestual. But in short, Contemporary tends to be more "arty" - less about beats and steps and more organic movement; Jazz is more percussive, rhythmic and "show biz"; Pop is Jazz with some street cred; and Broadway is often Jazz based, but it can really incorporate any style that helps characters express their feelings.

    So when it comes to a specific number, the distinctions can be small. For example, last week Tabitha and Napolean's hip-hop for Randi and Evan was so soft and character based, it could almost pass for Broadway. On the other hand, Wade's Pop routine for Brandon and Jeanine was so hard hitting and street-based it could have been hip-hop. But it was also very character-based so you could imagine it coming from a Broadway show as well. In those cases the underlying music is usually the tip-off as to what style they are going for.

    Ha! I've probably made it more confusing, huh?
    Last edited by TopCatDC; 07-14-2009 at 06:10 AM.

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    FORT Fogey Gala62's Avatar
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    Re: This season vs. previous seasons - WOW

    I honestly think at this point in the evolution of the genres, it all depends on the choreographer's vision of what they think should happen. ITA about Randi and Evan's "hip hop" last week. Seriously...what about this was hip hop?!

    And to expand a bit in the Broadway category, it seems to me that this genre calls for broader movements (i.e. the couch dive) so the audience can see and appreciate the number. Other genres such as contemporary don't have that sensibility, they're more intimate and internal.

    Just my random thought of the day, I love it all!
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    Re: This season vs. previous seasons - WOW

    TC

    No, you didn't confuse me at all. I actually knew about 89% of what you said there - my sister is 18 years older than me and I'm no spring chicken. She was/is a MAJOR broadway/MGM musicals fanatic, and I was raised exposed to everything you mentioned and more.

    I can't quote it elequently like you can. But I know it through exposure.

    You did clear it up in my mind well, too. Thanks.

    I'm still not sure I hit on what you were supposing, however, as far as the quality of the dancers.

    But I do agree with Gala as far as it all depending on the choreographer.

    I wanted to say but hesitated because I'm not an expert per se, but I thought some of the choreography this year was somewhat lackluster. I do like it when a choreographer somewhat molds a routine of their style to the dancers - observes their strengths and weaknesses and molds the moves to highlight them and yet stretch their skills into styles outside their comfort zones. I think many of the more regular choreographers are good at this - Tabitha & Napoleon, Mia, Sonya, Jean-Marc Generet (forgive the absolute massacred spelling), etc. I saw what I thought was a lot of newer choreographers not giving a rats' ass about the dancers themselves this year and expecting the dancers to just "realize their vision" and I thought it was pretty unfair. Joey 6-feet-tall for one, the alien dance guy (even though I thought Caitlin & Jason did that number very well, it was doomed from the start and murdered by costuming), a few others that I thought, "ya know, it's not that it wasn't danced well, it's that the choreography just seems... off..."

    Add to that some other missteps in aesthetics such as costuming (too much bare feet, the alien costume, etc), song choice (Carmina Burana for the paso doble? COME ON -what dance could measure up to the drama of that number?), etc.

    I LOVED last season. Some of my very much NOT favorite dancers nevertheless made my list of favorite DANCES because they were so perfect in song/choreography/costuming/carriage. A major example is the Hip Hip/Chin Chin Lacey/Danny samba - OMG, EVERYTHING about that piece came together PERFECT.

    I'm seeing less of that type of "perfection" this year, and I think it's a shame. The dancers are, I believe, high caliber. I think there are mistakes being made that either aren't allowing or pushing them to exhibit their best.

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