WARNING: This blog post contains spoilers about the most recent episodes of So You Think You Can Dance. Don't read it unless you're caught up on the results standings.
One of the things I love about the show So You Think You Can Dance is watching true talent in action. For example, check out the versatility of my favorite couple Janette and Brandon. Despite being completely different types of dances and neither of the dancer's specialties, I thought they nailed the two numbers they were asked to perform this past week.
First there was an Argentine Tango:
Then later they followed it up by playing a pair of cat burglars in a really fun jazz routine by choreographer Wade Robson:
What I don't like about this season of the show is the obvious attempt at manipulating voters the producers are doing, not for artistic reasons, but because they want certain dancers to make it to the Final 10. For those of you that don't know, the Final 10 go on tour, and obviously the producers want dancers who have big fan bases to make it so that the tour will sell more tickets. I know that the judges have done this in years past, but it has never seemed so blatant as this year primarily because of one certain dancer.
Phillip Chbeeb is a hip-hop dancer and has no formal training. He is amazing to watch when he performs in his own style, but let's be honest: he has sucked at the other styles of dance he's performed. In a deliberate move to help him, Phillip and his partner have seemed to perform hip-hop more than they should have if they were "randomly" drawing the styles of dance. In fact, at least one of the times he and his partner Jeanine performed hip-hop, the show made no mention of the couple randomly drawing the style of dance like they usually do. On those occasions where Phillip had to perform other dance genres, the judges overlooked an incredible amount of clumsy footwork and poor technique that they normally tear other dancers apart for. This was extremely evident to me in their critique of his jive dance this week. Compared to jive routines we've see in the past on the show, he was absolutely horrendous.
Interestingly enough, I tried to find the video of this jive routine online to include in this post but wasn't able to. It seems that Fox issued take-down notices to the few copies that existed. Isn't it strange that they would demand that dance be taken down whereas they seem to have no problem allowing Phillip's much better hip-hop routines to stay on YouTube?
Did you also notice how upset judge Nigel Lythgoe got at the choreographers for giving Phillip and Jeanine such a horrible Russian folk routine? I am willing to bet that it was because after watching this disaster, he knew that there was no way the couple would stay out of the bottom three. I mean, come on, who's going to pick up the phone and vote for this?
When Phillip did end up in the bottom three and judges had little choice but to eliminate him, Nigel and the other producers made special arrangements for Phillip (and Caitlin, the other dance eliminated and another favorite of Nigel's) to go the tour with Final 10. Yay! Everybody's happy, right? Not really. How is this fair to those dancers who earned their spots in the Final 10? This just reinforced my theory that the producers were giving special treatment to Phillip to get him into the Final 10 so he'd be on tour. When that didn't happen, they took him anyway.
I know that So You Think You Can Dance (like American Idol and the other talent shows of this ilk) is first and foremost a TV show designed to make the producers lot of money. I'm not naive about the idea that certain performers are chosen over others not because of their talent, but because they make for better television. What I'm pissed off about is that they still try to pretend this is strictly a talent competition and the judges' critiques are based strictly on dancing ability. As a member of the television audience, I'm insulted. This season the producer's manipulation actually got in the way of the competition itself and ruined a show I used to love.