Guilty pleasure confession: I love “So You Think You Can Dance.”
Say what you will, but unlike other shows, this one truly showcases hidden talent. Talent that takes more than singing someone else’s song or keeping up with a celebrity. Talent that can only come from years of dedication and passion. And talent that was no more apparent than at Target Center Thursday night.
The producers and creators of the “So You Think You Can Dance,” in its eighth season, has done something truly brilliant with this year’s tour show — they took away the microphones.
It’s not that we don’t want to hear the Top 10 contestants of the reality series give their best shot at bantering — OK, well, maybe we don’t — but what people come to the show for, what propels the entire series, is the dancing.
And oh boy, did we see some dancing.
One of the best things about the live show — and there were many — was the transitions between performances. Instead of using that time to awkwardly pause and blatantly kill time while the dancers catch their breath or change into the next outfit, they did something incredibly smart.
As one couple took their final steps, another couple entered the stage. Quickly picking up the closing eight counts, the new couple stepped in sync, positioning themselves perfectly for the next number.
For performances needing an extra prop or scene change, interlude choreography was created to set the theme, as well as the stage. The famous “Jailhouse Jazz” Broadway performance (originally performed by Ashley and Chris) was paired with one of my faves, Christopher Scott’s hip hop routine, “Misty Blue.” Since both are somewhat set in the 50s, an entire world was created, with all dancers in era-appropriate dress and busting with 50s-style movements.
This approach, however, was less successful with the combination of the Top 10 guys’ hip hop routine, infusing black and red doors, and the Top 10 girls’ Geisha routine. But to be fair, I have to give the producers major props for even trying it. An almost additional dancer in the Top 10 guys’ routine on the show was the camera — manipulating each dancer’s moves so that it appeared they were appearing and disappearing completely through perfectly placed doors. In an arena setting, that’s not quite possible. The element of surprise was somewhat lost as stadium seats could see the dancers awaiting cues behind the closed doors.
Still, it was a valiant effort — and a truly creative approach to blocking, as on tour, the ol’ chaps were four short.
It did, however, bring up the question of whether the Target Center was truly the appropriate venue for this type of tour. Sure, there were plenty of tiny screaming fans, filling up more of the stadium than I anticipated. (And yes, let’s get it out of the way, I was definitely among the oldest percentile, not including the parents dragged along for the ride.) But as one of the fellow fans pointed out, wouldn’t a smaller, more intimate and traditional theater setting be a better fit?
While watching the show from above, it was no doubt entertaining, but I couldn’t help but feel like I was losing a bit of the action, not being able to see the routines from a front view.
Logistics aside, the evening’s showcase truly blew me away. I didn’t expect so many performances packed into one night and that many twists on the routines I thought I knew. They performed crowd favorites like the circus routine (a group number), Melanie and Marko’s statue routine, Jess and Clarice’s hip hop routine, plus a few new numbers — all sprinkled with highlights from the show and entertaining, elongated solo acts.
Truly, there were no real complaints. And by the end of the night, I really couldn’t even call it a guilty pleasure. There’s nothing to feel guilty about when this caliber of raw talent has been discovered and proves over and over again, why they belong on the big stage.