My TV

14 October 2008

So You Think You Can Dance… Canada

By // TV

Just in case there was any confusion, I’m Canadian. But I go to school in the States. And I totally love So You Think You Can Dance (if you didn’t know that then you haven’t been paying any attention at all). Those 3 facts result in the following: I have an overwhelming need to watch So You Think You Can Dance Canada (the first season of which is airing this fall on CTV), I don’t have access to it from school, I have to tape all the episodes on my PVR at home and watch when I get a chance. So though I am thoroughly invested in this show, I won’t be able to post every week. Rather, I’ll be posting about multiple episodes at a time, but fairly rarely.

So, as it was Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend, I am home (leaving tomorrow) and finally got to check out So You Think You Can Dance Canada. I watched 10.5 hours of it this weekend and I absolutely LOVE it. I think I may even like it more than the American version. I mean certain personalities are definitely missed (namely Cat and Mia) but the Canadian version of the show has a lot going for it that the American version doesn’t have.

First of all, the judges, contestants and even the producers are a lot nicer. The producers showed very few bad auditions and in the few that they showed the judges were generally kind to the contestants, sending them away politely rather than mocking them, and then the contestants didn’t swear at them. No one cursed the judges or called them idiots for rejecting them. Rather, the Canadian contestants who failed said their thank yous and left with grace and the ones who succeeded gave the judges warm hugs of celebration. There were very few power struggles and very few massive egos (though there were a couple). SYTYCD US isn’t the worst of competition shows when it comes to bad behaviour but the Canadian version is still showing it up in the decency department. Even Dan Karaty (a US judge and choreographer, who appeared in a couple of the first episodes of the CAN versions) proved to be really sweet on the Canadian panel while he has always come off as a jerk in previous US versions- there must be something in the water.

The results show is also only half an hour. There’s no extra dance performances (other than the group number), no unnecessary stalling and no performance by a musician I don’t care about.

But I would like to say that even if the street is in another country, the genre should still be called “Broadway” and not “Theatre”. “Theatre” makes it sound like they’re going to perform monologues or do a mime.

Then there are the regular judges. First of all, Nigel’s been traded in for US version fan favourite Jean Marc Genereux (actually from Quebec) who fans have come to know as a quirky and sincere yet tough ballroom expert and choreographer. And Mary (who appeared in some audition episodes just to annoy me)’s seat is thankfully filled by the infinitely less annoying, just as knowledgeable and far more engaging Tre Armstrong. I already love Tre, everything from her beautiful wardrobe to her sassy attitude to her warm compassion to her dance skill- a definite trade up. And then there’s Blake. Deemed one of the best dancers ever on the show but also considered the most arrogant, SYTYCD US Season 1’s Blake McGrath (actually from Toronto) was actually one of my favourites. His contemporary dance to “Right Here Waiting” remains one of my all-time favourites and his not winning season1 remains one of the show’s biggest upsets. Though Blake is, a little, um… confident, he is also an incredibly knowledgeable and tough judge who really wants to see the dancers succeed. I love having him on the panel. Oh, and I don’t really care about Luther Brown. He seems a little too Randy Jackson for my taste (especially compared to the wonderful hip hop judges that the US version has: Tabatha and Napoleon, Shane Sparks, Lil C) but that’s neither here nor there.

Oh, and I can’t stand Leah Miller, the host. She seems very disingenuous, a little too emotional and to be reading off a script. She also talks about herself too much. I miss Cat. Cat is perfect.
As for the dancers… they’re magnificent. The top 20 blew me away and, after only 1 episode, I already am really rooting for quite a few of them. Here are my thoughts on the competitors:

Allie: ADORABLE!!! One of my top 2, Allie is a beautiful dancer and a really appealing person. And it’s nice to finally have a ballerina on the show who can make it to the end.

Arassay: again, adorable. Only this time not in capital letters. She’s sweet and fun and a bit of a firecracker on the dance floor. I didn’t think she would make it this far but am very glad she has.

Bre: bubbly, but in a mature way, Bre exemplifies grace on the dance floor and good nature off of it.

Caroline: I have no opinion on her either way.

Danny: I like him. A bit small, perhaps, but an excellent Latin dancer who’s incredible charm will get him far.

Dario: a crazy contortionist whose creative contemporary solos will save him every time he is in the bottom, Dario will turn out to be 1 of 2 things. Either he will grow to be a credit to the competition, the kind of guy I’d love to vote for, or he will linger at the bottom of the pack, saving himself with his solo and putting good partners in danger along the way.

Francis:I love Francis. He’s handsome, he’s tall, he’s charming, he’s a beautiful ballroom dancer. He seems to be one of the nicest guys around. His relationship with his girlfriend (eliminated in the final round of the Toronto week competition) is very sweet and his friendship with Danny is incredibly endearing and funny. He’s definitely my crush of the cast.

Izaak: a rare contemporary hip hopper, Izaak has the potential to be the next Joshua Allen, but he could also turn out to be a season 3 Cedric. Here’s hoping for the former. I’m a little confused as to why he keeps being accused of not being “real” though, if what we’re seeing is some sort of act it’s not a very interesting one.

Jesse: the b-boy who seems to really know what he’s doing. Jesse definitely has hidden talent in genres outside his own.

Joey: he seems like a talented contemporary dancer but I haven’t really gotten a feel for him yet. What I don’t understand is why Tre keeps warning him about depending too much on his looks, it seems to me that his dance ability is obviously far superior to his aesthetic.

Kaitlyn: young, tiny and typical. She seems determined enough but Kaitlyn has yet to prove to be anything more than a poor man’s Kherington.

Kevin: a brilliant technical dancer who has failed to distinguish himself to the judges, I always really liked Kevin. A much more attractive and talented version of the US season 4’s Chris, Kevin was the first dancer we saw on the Canadian series and was immediately one of my favourites.

Lara: with flowing blond hair and adorable dimples, Lara’s looks and charm may give her an advantage until she can prove that her dancing isn’t just middle-of-the-pack.

Lisa: as she said herself, Lisa’s a little bit cocky but she has good reason to be. One of the oldest competitors, Lisa is also one of the most technically gifted and passionate dancers on the stage. She will go far in this competition, especially with such a strong partner… but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Miles: he proved himself as a sweet guy in the results show but has yet to prove himself as an anything but boring dancer. We’ll see if my indifference stays strong or if I grow to love him.

Natalli: if you watched last season of SYTYCD US you’ll understand why I’m calling her “the Suzy girl”. I’m completely confused as to why the judges like her so much and can’t believe she made the top 20. That said, he did hit that hip hop hard this week.

Nico: My other favourite, alongside Allie, I hope this Montreal bad boy goes all the way to the top. When he was performing his group number during Toronto week I couldn’t watch anyone else on the stage. He’s the most commanding contemporary dancer I’ve seen in a long time.

Romina: who cares? The judges loved her this week, though I again don’t understand why. I guess she’s good but I wouldn’t miss her much if she left.

Tamina: I don’t really like her. I may be judging her too fast but she seems slightly dim and not quite talented enough to make up for it. But it’s early, I may change my mind.

Vincent: I didn’t know who he was. I couldn’t even remember if I’d ever seen him before. But after the performance he gave this week I won’t be forgetting Vincent’s name any time soon. A magnificent contemporary dancer, he’s a top 10 shoe in.

And this week’s batch of episodes? I found the group number on elimination night to be an odd choice so early in the season, it wasn’t the easiest to connect with, but other than that the week went flawlessly. The judging panel, with few exceptions, were all on their game and the dancers performed amazingly (particularly for the first week). The partnerships seem well thought out and the choreographers seem pretty good. And, unlike SYTYCD US‘s last season, I totally loved most of the numbers. Here’s how the dancers fared in my books (five star system):
Nico and Arassay’s Salsa****

Kevin and Natalii’s Hip Hop***

Francis and Bre’s Smooth Waltz***

Danny and Allie’s Jive****

Izaak and Kaitlyn’s Theatre***

Vincent and Lisa’s Contemporary*****

Miles and Lara’s Disco**

Dario and Romina’s Hip Hop**

Joey and Tamina’s Tango***

Jesse and Caroline’s Jazz**

The results? Francis, Bre, Dario, Romina, Kevin and Natalii dance for their lives. The judges send Kevin and Bre home instead of Dario and Natalii (the correct choices). They will both be missed.

Needless to say, I’m looking forward to the next time I get to watch this show (the end of November, American Thanksgiving). Meanwhile, I’ll be attending the SYTYCD US concert in Boston (that’s right, I’m seeing Twitch in person) and reporting on all the TV that the States has to offer.

So You Think You Can Dance Canada is on CTV on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

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