On the blissful evening of Saturday, November 7th, 2009, I was fortunate enough to have a ticket that redeemed me a seat at West Valley’s E Center to see the top ten finalists from the television show So You Think You Can Dance season five, perform live. Words really can’t describe my ecstatic state as the lights were dimmed and Nigel Lythgoe’s recorded British accent rang from the speakers announcing the talent of such dancers as follows: Jeanine Mason, Brandon Bryant, Jason Glover, Kayla Radomski, Kupono Aweau, Evan Kasprzak, Rrandi Evans, Ade Obayomi, Melissa Sandvig, and Janette Manrara. As one of the show’s biggest fans (that is, alongside my sister/best friend Lauren), I feel almost as if these ten dancers are my close friends; I’ve followed every week religiously and have even spent countless hours re-watching my favorite routines on youtube. To see those same routines in person was simply and utterly amazing.
I really, sincerely wish I could express in words what a momentous occasion this was for Lauren and I. IT WAS HUGE! I thought I was the world's most embarrassing creature for having caused mascara to run down my cheek simply for witnessing their introductions. The thought of being so close to people I admired (and envied) was too much. It was right then that Lauren turned towards me; in the crazy colored luminescence, I could see she was crying too. We really are from the same family. Don't be fooled by our differing outside appearances.
For those of you that are not familiar with the show, shame on you. By the end of this, my goal is to have converted you. So forgive me for the long, arduous text that follows. This really can't go without being said.
One of the most recognizable and loved routines from this past season is a piece choreographed by Mia Michaels and danced by Kupono and Kayla, regarding the sensitive and traumatic subject of addiction. Though there are many aspects of addiction, the problematic obsession and the detrimental effects it has on family and other loved ones being only a few, this particular piece deals with addiction’s enslaving nature. The choreography depicts the struggle between an individual, portrayed by Kayla, and her addiction, characterized by Kupono. In all facets of their movement and facials, the dance feels real. Kupono has an ominous smirk the entire routine, symbolic of an addiction’s pleasure in capturing its subject, and dances calmly, but powerfully, almost serenely holding his new prey in agony and torment. With forceful, but slow reaching lines, Kupono catches hold of Kayla and never lets go. Despite her efforts to escape his release and in effect “kick the habit” (both literally and physically), he always manages to keep a hold on her, controlling her body and movement. The struggle between the two parties crosses nearly every corner and foot of the stage, illustrative of the toll it has on every feature of an addict’s life: relationships, work, school, happiness, etc. Kupono also always keeps in close distance of Kayla, the two entities nearly exist together as one, as she can only keep him away for a few counts before she relapses again into the addiction. While Kupono is menacing, powerful, tantalizing, and only has to use a limb or two to demand dominance, Kayla has to use every muscle in her body, producing very big, dramatic, contrasting movement. Her face illustrates the struggle and effort that coincides with such a forced energy, seeming weak and frail.
Every element of the routine is successful in portraying Mia Michaels’ message and purpose, which is why I believe this dance is so powerful. I’ve watched it a million times, and even when I saw it for the hundreth or so time in person, I was still catching symbolic details. The music of Sara Bareilles’ “Gravity” was so much more touching as it rang loud from the stadium’s speakers, the theme song to Kayla’s struggle. Although the costume was the same as on the show, I realized that Kayla was tattered and ragged, while Kupono wore an immaculate suit of authority, even accessorized with shards of Kayla’s costume material, again symbolic of his possession of her.
Really. Watch it. Be prepared to be blown away.
If you are interested, my other recommended routines to research are:
*Jeanine & Jason Contemporary
*Janette & Brandon Cha Cha & Disco
*Jeanine & Phillip "Mad" Hip Hop
*Randi & Evan Contemporary
The list really could go on...
The So You Think You Can Dance Tour was breathtaking and stunning, even down to the last spoof of the Russian Folk dance, which I normally wouldn’t find engaging. Despite the dancers having to rush into costume changes and perform an insane amount of routines, they kept up their energy and created an amazing show. They all were so much better in person and I’ve come to respect them not only as dancers, but actors, and entertainers.
Watch Season 6, it already has the promise of sensational performances!
AND Get tickets for the season 6 tour, just don't buy the ticket for the seat within the first three rows that is intended for me, then I might have to come kick your butt.
making the switch.
4 years ago