So You Think You Can Dance helps make me a smarter person. It gives me a vocabulary for movement and emotions. Don’t get me wrong, I love the dancing. But what enthralls me is watching the judges.
After bumbling through assorted internal martial arts classes, I feel nourished by the discussions on different way to move a wrist or a knee, where the center of gravity is in a dancer’s body, the openness of a shoulder. I unconsciously find myself experimenting with a tiny movement as I listen. Sometimes when I practice Tai Chi later in the week, I hear a SYTYCD judge’s critic in my head, and I explore how to bring those ideas to my form.
So You Think You Can Dance teaches me about emotion. Coming from a strict German American family, emotion was discouraged. At best it was a sign of being undisciplined. At worse, it was considered blatantly bad. Watching the display and discussion of emotion is like a woman who has deprived herself of dessert for months finally having a slim slice of cheesecake. In two different seasons, Adam Shankman has asked dancers what they were feeling. And paused, creating a beautiful space. The dancer opened his/her heart. I was in tears. I could feel the currents through the miles or over the Television waves. There have been times when all three judges have broken down in tears when a performance has moved them. I begin to understand what it is like to feel art, with its beauty, joy, pain.
Fred Rogers would be so proud. “Today boys and girls we are going to learn about two motions. The first motion is the movement we do with our bodies. The second motion –emotion—we do with our hearts.” I am so going to miss the show when it ends next week.