Thank you everyone for your responses and feedback to my last post about SYTYCD! You can read them and my follow up responses HERE.
I must admit that for the past week I have been completely obsessed with the show and the questions I have surrounding it. Last night I watched again (as I am staying with a dear friend who has cable and watches it). And, this morning I got sucked into Dance Spirit and Entertainment Weekly blog posts about last night's show this morning.
First, I really enjoyed the dancing last night. I enjoyed the musical variety and the complete abandon in the dancers' performances. I was particularly partial to musicality in the choreography overall. This really is great dance that is available to the world. And, I believe in the good nature of the judges in general (despite the occasional misspeak or off color comment). The show is great at what it does.
And, as a dance educator, it feels good to have seen the last two episodes of my student's favorite dance show. I feel better informed by the value set my students are bringing with them into the dance studio. This is an advantage for me as an educator. But, now, I have the challenge of making sense of it all. Connecting the dots for my students between what they are watching on TV and what we are doing in the classroom. Navigating the boat of education between the river's banks of entertainment and art. When they are the same, when they are different, why they are the same and different.
I think I am accurate in saying many (and maybe even most) higher education dance instructors have concerns about SYTYCD and as a result many don't watch it regularly if at all as well as criticize the show for its negative effects. I haven't had the opportunity to read much about the effect of SYTYCD on higher education. Although, since my former blog, I am receiving more insights and connections (Thank you for your leads!). But, it seems the higher education dance world has managed to largely ignore the presence of SYTYCD in our departments (and in our curriculum). Perhaps we thought it would simply go away over time, lose favor and fall out of style. But, we are now in Season 10 and going strong. So, I think we as dance educators need to take sometime to grapple with what this means for our students and for the future of dance.
If the show continues another 8 years, every single incoming freshman will have lived an entire life in the presence of SYTYCD. Can you imagine that? How will this change the face of dance education in 10-15 years when this generation of SYTYCD fans become the next generation of dance educators in higher education? Will there be a swing back in the other direction, back toward long format works based in minimalism and characterization without virtuosity?
I don't have the answers and I would need to study a lot of more sociology to figure this one out, but as an active dance educator and as a dance artist/ choreographer. I am ready to begin this discussion.
If you are interested in joining, you know how to find me.