Every year, as soon as the Emmy Award nominations are announced, the first thing I do is scroll down (way, way, way down) to find the nominees for Best Choreography. Last week's announcement was no different, and it was a delightful surprise to see tap queen Chloe Arnold become a first-time nominee for her work on "The Late Late Show With James Corden." Alongside Arnold, Mandy Moore, Travis Wall, Al Blackstone and Christopher Scott received nominations for their dances on awards heavy-hitter "So You Think You Can Dance." (Shout-out to Blackstone for his first Emmy nod!)
I do, however, have a bone to pick with the Emmys. Namely, that the routines for which these choreographers were nominated do not appear on the nominations section of the site. Worse, not even the episodes in which the Emmy-nominated dances appear are listed.
Is the information available? Yes, if you're willing to dig for it, the breakdown of the specific routines is included in a densely packed PDF listing the nominations in all categories. But again: We had to dig for it.
The work of dancemakers in film and television gets very little recognition from mainstream awards ceremonies. There have been movements to get the Academy Awards to add a Best Choreography category on and off or decades; we've been griping for years about how the Emmy for Best Choreography is not televised during the glitzy ceremony, technically because it falls under the category of "Creative Arts Emmys." (Even the Tony Awards, where musical theater is celebrated and choreography is more central to the work, presents its award for Outstanding Choreography during a commercial break.)
And we get it—televised awards ceremonies are notoriously long, ratings are constantly an issue, something has to happen during the commercial breaks, etc. But not making the full nomination information easily accessible feels like a further twisting of the knife for dance lovers who are invested in this already slim recognition for the community. And by failing to include specifics on the actual dancing on the main nominations webpage, it becomes just that much harder for the casually interested viewer to learn what kind of dance merits an Emmy nomination.
It may seem like a small detail, but the rise of dance on television has been key to positively shifting perceptions about dance in American culture. "SYTYCD" alone has done loads. Frankly, these are fantastic choreographers who have done the seemingly impossible: They create digestible slices of dance that are palatable to the casual viewer but (more or less) hold up against scrutiny by serious dance artists and lovers. These dancemakers deserve to have their achievements celebrated as much as possible, even if it just amounts to extra views of their choreography on YouTube—which, in turn, leads to a broadening of the casual dance audience through social media shares.
This Year's Emmy-Nominated Routines
Chloe Arnold, "The Late Late Show With James Corden": "The Greatest Showman, Crosswalk the Musical On Broadway"
Mandy Moore, "So You Think You Can Dance": "Brand New," "To Make You Feel My Love"
Al Blackstone, "So You Think You Can Dance": "The Man That Got Away," "L-O-V-E"
Christopher Scott, "So You Think You Can Dance": "Prism," "Say You Won't Let Go"