Finally, for the first time last night, I liked the new Bravo show “Step It Up and Dance.” I felt like it was finally about dance. The camera actually showed me the dancers’ bodies, not just their faces as they made angry or odd expressions or ranted against someone. It’s probably the hip hop — hip hop’s just so visual, there’s so much going on, especially in a showdown / battle like that — the camera can’t just focus in on a face. (I have to admit, by the way, I knew next to nothing about hip hop before “America’s Best Dance Crew.” And now I love it. Hip hop is just so real — they’re real moves, real gestures you see on the streets, they resonate. And yet they’re stylized and clever, and at times played up for comical effect.)
Anyway, I still think this show (Step It Up) panders too much to the gossipy judgmental crowd: “oh I can’t believe he’s so gay,” “I can’t believe Miguel is such a jerk,” “I can’t believe she said that,” “I can’t believe he nominated him for elimination” etc. etc. etc. ad nauseam. You end up just judging people based on their personalities, what they say rather than how they dance, which you can’t see anyway because the camera is too busy homing in on the person’s face while they say something nasty. I know audiences vote partially based on personality on all reality shows, but at least with “Dancing With the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance,” you can see the entire performance. You see the bodies moving in time to music — which is dance. You’re not just getting a personality. Last week I began to like Tovah. I thought she made a really beautiful line at one point, but the camera was on her for all of a half a second before shifting to Nick who was busy making angry faces at Cody for dominating; I couldn’t really see Tovah in full and it annoyed me so much. I thought, this show isn’t even pretending to be about dance.
But as I said I felt that changed this week with the hip hop competition. I liked Tovah even more because I know her background is in ballet and she feels really out of her element with hip hop, and yet she really belted it out last night. To me she looked just as good as Janelle. I’m also impressed with Cody, for the same reason. He also had some really unique moves, combining some balletic movement — leaps and fouettes — with the posturing, the attitude, the awesome floor acrobatics of hip hop.
So Natalia was right in telling me I should give the show another chance!
Also, if you live in New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles, it looks like you can take a class at select Crunch gyms that will focus on the dance moves on the show that week. That’s kinda cool!
Tonight is the finale of Lifetime’s “Your Mama Don’t Dance.” I’ve missed a few episodes but am going to try to tune in.