5,6,7,8…SYTYCD Gets the Rhythm of Entertainment

by Emily Jasper on June 11, 2009

We’ve got the Top 20 and now we’re in business. Literally. The business of reality talent contests has brought a change to television which results in new revenue. American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD) have their own concert tours, merchandise, and then open the door for other revenue. Would you have ever gone to a Broadway if you hadn’t seen Tyce Diorio choreograph a breaker? How about downloading the Beatles catalog after Idol broke it out?

What makes this business successful is how quickly the entertainment value is brought to the audience. SYTYCD probably had one of the hardest starts. Think about it:

  • The head judge Nigel Lythgoe is strict, but can actually be nice much of the time. He doesn’t bring the Simon-element.
  • Previously, dance as an art appealed to a small audience. Some people might like a few ballets or the backup dancers in a music video, but Cunningham is even lost on those who consider themselves to be dancers.
  • And the show is about working hard. Yeah, there’re the crazies during auditions, but the rest is about the work behind the dance. Except it’s the dancers’ jobs to make it look easy. Confusing?

And yet the show is one of the best out there. I danced for 13 years and know exactly what goes into those routines. I understand the cognitive capacity required to pick up new styles in addition to choreography in 24 hours (or less). I even did a training session with Wade Robson, back when he was with Tremaine. And the injuries. Oh, the injuries.

I didn’t watch the show the first season. Coming from dance, I was so skeptical, I thought it was a big fake. If it was for real, surely it would have been on Bravo…not Fox. But the people who wouldn’t know a barre if they walked into it became addicted. And they got me addicted.

We are now at the beginning of the newest season and everyone is ready. SYTYCD gets viewers invested from minute one.

The Human Element. Everyone identifies with someone who is just like them. There are former athletes, accident survivors, first-timers, and those at the end of their rope. What they all have in common is a love for dance, and that love feeds the energy to put in the work. Because none of it is easy. You fall for the individuals and couples, and see them struggle. And you root for them.

The Variety. There have been variety shows since the before TV (called Vaudeville), but the variety here includes the research from producers about styles yet to be discovered. Krumping was brought mainstream, Bollywood entered the average American household, and there will be more this year. You can always count on the diversity of styles that make you want to go out and take a salsa lesson.

The Tears. This show is one of the few where grown men cry on a regular basis. And so does everyone else. It is ok to admit that you were moved by the dance.

The Motivation. Every year I imagine what it would be like if I had looked up when auditions took place. What Vegas week might do to my body. And I get excited and what to get out there to prepare for the next year. And others do the same. They look up a class, go out to a club, or teach their kids how to waltz. This show gets people off the couch.

Best of luck to the Top 20 this year. Get out there and dance!

The views expressed in my blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.

Photo from www.fox.com/dance