Time Out for Desmond

July 16, 2008

Something wonderful happened on So You Think You Can Dance last night. The show had two new dances genres (this isn’t the wonderful part): the two-step and the “pas de deux.”  Well it wasn’t a classical ballet pas de deux; it was choreographed and taught to the couple by Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson.After the two young competitors (Will and Katie) performed it (and looked pretty great doing it too), when it came time for Nigel Lythgoe (producer and judge) to give his opinion, he shifted the mood for emphasis. He said something like, “We must pause here because I want to say that Desmond Richardson is one of the greatest modern/ballet/contemporary dancers in the world today, and we are fortunate that he and his partner, the choreographer Dwight Rhoden, from Complexions, are here to work with us.”

    Yay, Desmond! Yay for concert dance being honored on TV! Yay, Nigel Lythgoe! I felt that Nigel was telling this whole audience of 8 million or more to take concert dance seriously. Sometimes it seems like the dance world that we know is on a different planet from the dance world shown on TV shows. But just having Nigel take time away from the inexorable flow of “reality” competition to honor one of ours, seemed like a watershed moment.

    Actually, there was a precursor to this moment last week, when SYTYCD had invited, as its entertainment in between the  “reality” couples,  three dancers from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater perform “Sinnerman” from Revelations. There’s a thread here, and it’s a golden one: Nigel is telling TV audiences that kids who aspire to be successful dancers should take a look at the great concert dancers. Up till now, it has seemed like TV “reality” dance shows have ignored the amazing dancers in the concert dance field. This makes me want to watch SYTYCD more often.