“Live to Dance” Premiere

So what did you guys think of Paula Abdul’s new show, which premiered mid-last week? For people who missed it, it was basically “just” the auditions, but I put “just” in quotes because it seems like this is going to be a rather large part of the show. If I understand correctly, next week will be the semifinals, then the following week the finals. So, short show, right?

The three judges were Abdul herself, Pussycat Doll Kimberly Wyatt, and music / dance choreographer Travis Payne, who’s worked with Michael Jackson, among others. The grand prize is $500,000 and will go to either an individual, a pair of dancers, or a group. Unlike So You Think You Can Dance, there’s no age limit – and contestants ranged from small children to 90-something-year-olds. And any form of dance is acceptable. Abdul said she simply wants to see “amazing people who live in their own unique abilities.”

So the standard for judging seems very subjective, to make an understatement. Plus, there aren’t separate categories for individuals, groups, and pairs – the winner can come from any of the three. I’d think it would be impossible to judge such a competition. Which makes me question again why all these shows are so wedded to the competition format. This one did kind of have a variety-show feel to it, which was nice.

You can’t really judge many of these contestants from any kind of technique perspective. How can you judge the 90-year-old woman who’d been accepted into the Rockettes what – 70 years ago, and who was just picking back up her young adulthood passion, after her lifelong husband passed away. She could barely move but she could move and that was fantastic. Plus her story – her husband went off to serve in WWII and she had to quit dance to work – nearly made me cry.

And then there was the little girl who tried out in – not sure what style to call it – very earthy-looking ballet without ballet shoes – and who I personally thought shouldn’t have advanced to the semis. She was certainly flexible (as most children are) and she could turn, but her feet and lines were a mess and she really needs training. But she wanted it so badly and she was so sweet, and how do you say no to a child?

And then there were all those groups – mostly hip hop, one from Cuba that was kind of Latin / contemporary – and how do you compare the theatrics of those, who take up the whole stage, to what one individual can accomplish on it?

And had anyone heard of that White Tree Fine Art –  the only ballet company we saw? A pair from the company tried out, and the woman said they’d worked with Michael Smuin before he passed away. I hadn’t heard of them before and thought they were decent, but may have been better if they’d just stuck to classical instead of trying to do something more poppy. I know they were trying to show Travis Payne, who was critical of ballet, calling it “extreme,” that they could make it contemporary, but sometimes that can really backfire. I do love that Kimberly Wyatt liked them so much, and snapped at Payne, insisting ballet is the basis of all dance. So ballet fans know we have at least one person in the world of popular dance we can count on!

I don’t know. I’m going to have to hold off on my verdict until seeing more. So far I think it works as a variety-style show, but not so well as a competition.


  1. I know the people from White Tree Fine Art and the male ethan is a great partner and his wife Nikki is beautiful. They currently live in San Francisco and run Urban Art Farm. I have not seen the show because it seems rather campy but best of luck to the both of them.

  2. My Once in a Lifetime comment. Paula has my vote. She left American Idol and planned “her show” to reflect compassion, value, and personal triumph! My hat is off to her. And, she is both articulate and coherent…..a far cry from the person we saw on American Idol. I do not know what happened, but she is someone you would want for a daughter. She makes me proud to be a female.

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