Whilst making my tea last night my flat mate shouted from her bedroom 'are you watching 'so you think you can dance?' because Rafael Bonachela is choreographing the contemporary dance routine!'
Shows such as Pop Idol, Strictly Come Dancing or So You Think You Can Dance are not really my thing, in fact as a rule I actively avoid watching them. But I turned it on because I was intrigued. I've never seen any of Bonachela's work but he seems to be veeeeery popular with people at school, not to mention the fact that I wondered what contemporary dance in such a mainstream setting would look like.
As my first introduction to Bonachela I would guess it wasn't really the best thing to see. I thought the duet had a lot of potential but it was mainstream to the max. The movement was pretty much non stop of the same, which meant you never really got a chance to take anything in. It was over sexualised and the music, which must have been decided by the production team as I doubt any contemporary choreographer, including Bonachela, would normally touch it with a barge pole,was terrible. On top of this the sweeping cameras did nothing to help the situation, they merely left me thinking stay still so I can see the dam thing!
The cameras may have induced travel sickness, but what really made me nauseous was the judges attitude to Bonachela. The called him a genius and the 'god' of contemporary dance. How ever talented anybody is, anybody, there is no need for glorification of this type, its not healthy. As students who are about to enter the dance world its important to remember that even when some one does great work and we respect/admire them that they are still human. This is important both in relation to how we act towards them, but also how they act towards us.
What was interesting to hear from the judges was their surprise at the fact the female lifted the male. This is something we are very used to as contemporary dancers, often there is no option as there are more women than men, and hearing this comment made me see contemporary dance with fresh eyes for a moment.
I watched the show to the end, and while I definitely won't be making a habit of it, I'll admit (with much shame) that I actually enjoyed it. Seeing it also gave me much more respect, as a dancer, for the people competing. Its not an easy task to learn a whole routine in a style which is not your own, and with that amount of pressure, so I take my hat off to them.
As an artist I still can't help but feel that shows like So You Think You Can Dance dumb down dance to entertainment level, making it hard to get it the respect it deserves as an art form.