Hey Man, Where Are My Peeps Tonight???

Okay, I guess I should check my local Fox listings more often :) I specifically came home from work early tonight (8 p.m. — eh) to watch my favorite show and instead there are all of these men grunting like beasts and ramming their helmeted heads into each other’s bodies??? Where’s my dance!!!

Haha, it’s funny though, because the advertising is sooo different. Has anyone noticed? I don’t know what the commercials during SYTYCD usually consist of because I’ve never really paid much attention, but I know there aren’t all of these bikini-clad women and Bud adverts that seem to me to appeal to the lowest common denominator! It’s kind of sad; I guess there are real gender differences between men and women, or at least the kind of men and women who watch these respective shows. But also interesting to me is that the Fox people seem to know that most SYTYCD-watchers are women and arty, intellectual-type men, no?

Anyway, I was going to blog about this last night but got lazy and tired and had to go to bed after the show, but I’m just so proud of Pasha. I just think he’s doing so well. My favorite Latin dancer in the world has long been Slavik Kryklyvyy — and during my lessons with Pasha, I’d always bring tapes of Slavik dancing with his former partner, Karina, to the studio and ask Pasha if we could try to re-enact some of their lifts and fancy dips. He’d always be the sport and say sure, but I could tell inside he was kind of rolling his eyes — either because they were far above me and he knew he’d be struggling to hold me up :) or because it’s probably just annoying for any dancer to hear how someone worships another :) Pasha’s so great though for letting me drool on and on over Slavik!

Anyway, last night, during the very beginning of the show when they did their little opening half-of-a-second solos, I just couldn’t believe my eyes. He moved just like Slavik. I really think this competition has improved his dancing so much. He’s worked so hard to master all the different kinds of dance styles and choreography to the best of his ability and he now moves in ways that are just breathtaking, so beyond what he did before. I’m just so floored. And, I mean, last night’s hip hop just looked so cute on him. He’s not going to ever be some down-home, bad-ass, hipper than thou, totally hot African-American guy doing hip-hop, but he did his own cute Pasha thing with it, and it was so him and so sweet and so brilliant. And that’s what dance is all about: interpreting something in your own way, adding your style and technique, doing it to the best of your ability, and just owning it. The waltz, as well, was beautiful, as expected. And his solo: I mean, people are saying it was weird (see the comments to this post), and I totally understand what they mean, but I think it was rather ironic: I think he was saying to the judges, “Okay, you say Latin ballroom dancers suck at solos because we’re essentially partner-dancers, so here, here’s a partner-dance for you — I’ll dance with a damn mannequin.” That’s my take anyway…

And, you just never know how someone is going to hold up under pressure. Ballroom dancers dance to normally relatively small audiences — I think the biggest — definitely at Blackpool — must consist of a couple thousand??? I mean, nowhere near the millions who are scrutinizing his every move now. So, I just worry that someone will just crack under the pressure. But not any of these pros :)

Okay, I’m done fawning! Oh, but just one more thing: Claudia sent a link to the Blogging SYTYCD blog to some pics she found of Pasha and Anya — these are the photos of them dancing at Blackpool 2005 that I was referring to earlier! Is Anya not absolutely gorgeous!! How much do I want that black dress! Yes, Anya used to have blonde hair :) She looks just bewitching with any color though, if you ask me.

Okay, in other news: I’m excited because I just received in the mail a flyer for the Martha Graham Dance Company, who will perform at the Joyce Theater in Chelsea in a couple of weeks.

I’ve only seen this company a couple of times, but what is so cool is that on the flyer is a picture of Miki Orihara, a newish contributor to my favorite dance blog, The Winger. I’m so excited to see her perform! I personally think blogs are a great way for dancers to communicate with audiences and make new fans. From her Winger posts, Miki seems so incredibly sweet. So, I can’t wait!

9 Comments

  1. Yes, the commercials give it away, don’t they. These network moguls do indeed know their audiences. But while it is no doubt true that the majority of the SYTYCD viewers are women and thinking men who appreciate the arts, the fact is that the show is a clear no. 1 in the audience ratings in its time slot, so there must be at least some other types of men watching the show as well.

    And yes, Pasha has performed brilliantly. But personal attachments (the fact that he was once your teacher) aside, would you vote for him over Danny? That’s a tough one, isn’t it. This is the strongest group of finalists they have ever had on this show and they probably all deserve to win, but in the end, if I were the one casting the decisive vote, I would probably have to narrow it down to Danny among the men and Sabra among the women.

  2. Hey, Bob…since you mentioned it, what is it about Sabra that you like so much? I don’t dislike her at all, but she’s never impressed me and I’m starting to feel left out!

    That said, I’d probably vote for Pasha over Danny, and I’m not friends with any of them. I like Danny a whole lot and definitely appreciate how beautiful a dancer he is. If I were picking someone to watch perform ballet or lyrical numbers, he’d be my man. But personally, that’s not my favorite style. One of the reasons I like ballroom so much is that it so well showcases the personality of the dancers and the dances. I like how cheeky the dancers are sometimes and also how dramatic, and how they can blend both of those characteristics with beautiful movements. Don’t get me wrong; I’m always impressed by a good ballet. But I don’t love it like I love gifted performers. I think that’s why I like musical theater so much too. I have a real soft spot for great personality.

    And boy, Pasha has that in spades! I loved all his dances last night, especially the hip hop. He was so funny and charming in that. I enjoyed the solo too. I thought the same thing you did, Tonya, that it was a little bit of, “well, you won’t let me have a partner, so I’ll make up my own!” The cleverness of that made me smile. I also couldn’t help thinking it was a little bit of an Anya shout-out. Wasn’t that her foxtrot dress? I sat on my sofa and thought, “I know! I miss her too!!”

  3. Oh thanks for pointing that out, MA — I didn’t even notice that it was her foxtrot dress!

    It’s interesting what you say about how ballroom brings out the dancers’ personalities better than ballet. I understand what you’re saying, but think it also depends on the ballet (Tharp and Robbins and some Balanchine are my favorites, along with some newer, contemporary choreographers like Lar Lubovitch and Stanton Welch) — and, interestingly, those are the ones who have choreographed pieces that borrow a lot from ballroom and blend it with ballet to create something new and unique). And, to me, it also depends on the dancers and their training. Most of my favorite ballet dancers are my favorites precisely because their charm and personality comes through in their dancing. And it’s interesting to me that my favorites are almost all Latin, a couple Russian. Most of the professional ballroom dancers these days are Russian, and, of course, the Latin ballroom dances stem from Latin social dance culture. Maybe it’s something in the ballet dance training — I just vaguely remember Jose Carreno saying the training he received in Cuba was very similar to the Russian way — he felt very ill at ease at the Royal Ballet in England because the dry, emotionless style was so not him. And maybe it’s just something in the general Russian and Latin cultures — gregarious, happy, and expressive — that transfers over to their ballet dancing…
    Anyway, as a lover of both ballroom and ballet it’s so interesting to me what people find are the main differences between them, and interesting to ponder. So thanks!

    Bob, I just hate choosing between them! I actually hate competitions, but realize this is the show’s raison d’etre and support it because it brings a variety of dance styles before a huge audience. I’m just so glad that Pasha is doing so well and has come so far. I really don’t care who wins at this point — they’ve all made it to the point now that they’re all very well-known and the public won’t forget them! I feel like it’s just like the Oscars now — it’s about who’s nominated in the first place; you really don’t even remember who wins.

  4. First off, I thought I’d start using my real name because, hey…why not?

    Second, Tonya…I have to do a little backpeddling, I think, because as I was reading your post, I thought, “Wait! I love ballet. Baryshnikov is one of my favorite dancers!” I’ve seen him live only once and it was with his modern dance group, rather than straight ballet, but he’s totally cheeky. And several years ago, I saw the Joffrey Ballet perform and loved every minute of it. Those dancers all had real personality, and they weren’t as stiff (in body or emotion) as the old-school ballets I’ve seen a lot of on PBS.

    This may also be clouding my judgement: I watched a documentary a week or so ago on Suzanne Farrell and Balanchine. And I have to say, it was all I could do to stay awake. Not because I didn’t appreciate the form, but because the dancers (Farrell mostly) seemed so muted, and everyone spoke reeeeeally slooooowly. I’ve never felt that way about ballroom dancers. Sometimes (ok, lots of times), they can be overly dramatic and I’ve been known to think their make-up is too severe, but I kind of don’t mind all that because even when it’s over-thet-top, the dancers still seem to be having so much fun. Not so Farrell and her crew.

    I agree that the difference in artistic style–whether music, painting, or dance–is affected by culture. Like you point out, cultures with stereotypically robust, rowdy, and fun societal personalities seem to produce that kind of art, whereas more typically proper cultures (Britain, let’s say) aren’t known for that. I also think it has to do with how the culture embraces, or doesn’t, the art. From what I can gather, dance (and music) is a huge part of life in places like Russia, Cuba, Spain, and so on. So it doesn’t surprise me that the standouts in those artisitic styles come from cultures that promote them.

    As for Pasha, I suppose I have to admit a bias. I have great affinity for the Russians. I think it comes from watching Dr. Zhivago one too many times as a kid. It’s just…the snow and those fur hats and the fabulous drama and passion of it all. I love Danny, but the hat just wouldn’t work as well on him.

  5. Haha, I was actually named after a character in Dr. Zhivago — my mother loved that movie so! Except she spelled it wrong :S I told that to Pasha once and he cracked up! I have such an affinity for things Russian too, which I think is probably why, as a child, I was so into ballet — it was so dominated by Russians then. Well, partly because my mother loved ballet as well and had me in all the classes and bought me all the Baryshnikov books, etc. :)

    But as an adult, living in NY, ABT has been such a huge part of my ballet-going life — ABT just IS ballet to me, and that’s the company with all the dancers from Latin America. I’ve definitely seen extremely boring ballet videos on PBS, though I can’t always remember which ones they are, but I definitely know they exist! It really is such a different culture, isn’t it!

  6. Melinda, what I like about Sabra is her versatility (she is excellent at whatever dance form or style she tries), her energy, and her passion (I think it was Nigel who said the other night that she always dances from her heart). As for Lauren, I originally didn’t even think she should be in the final ten (especially after she was picked by the judges over Anya) but she has grown on me. She is not only a talented dancer but has great personality and as she demonstrated the other night in the disco number with Danny, she can be very sexy on the dance floor. As for Lacey, I know that the judges and the audience love her, but I don’t fully get her appeal. I hope I’m not just prejudiced about her body type.

    As for the men, I would vote for Danny over Pasha mainly because I do prefer the balletic (after all, he did dance for the second best ballet company in the world), lyrical, elegant style that he embodies. Pasha’s partnering skills are far superior to those of all the other men but when it comes down to the solos, I almost always preferred Danny’s over Pasha’s. Still, it is a very close call. Maybe they should just call it a tie. (I know, Tonya, I hate competitions too but I’m afraid that they are what keep the audiences glued to their TV sets).

    One thing we can all agree on : We all miss Anya! (And I didn’t pick up on the foxtrot dress either).

    Melinda, that documentary you watched: was that Suzanne FArrell: Elusive Muse? If so, there was a reason for the heavily dramatic nature of the documentary -namely, the real-life drama of her long standing relationship with Balanchine.

  7. Bob – You know, I kept waiting and waiting and WAITNG for some of that relationship drama because I knew it was coming. But I kept dozing off and, by the time it was all over, I’d miss anything about their relationship. And I just couldn’t go back and watch it again. That was it, yes: Elusive Muse. I’ve always thought Suzanne Farrell was beautiful, and she still is. But boy…too muted for my taste.

    I see what you mean about Sabra. I did think her solo was nice. She moved her body really beautifully, and even though I’m usually the first one telling people to put on clothes when they’re on TV, I thought the fact that she wasn’t wearing very much actually worked well with the dance. You could see the lines of her muscles move so fluidly with the lines of her body. It was really nicely done.

    Tonya – You’re named for Tanya in Dr. Zhivago?!?! That’s just awesome. I suppose your mom saved you a lot of teasing by not calling you Laaaaara instead.

  8. I was so bummed to turn on the TV yesterday and see football instead of my favorite show. Looks like we’ll have to wait until Monday to see the results.

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