So You Think You Can Dance season 14 is playing out just like last season-- except with adult contestants instead of kids. The All-Stars built their teams of four dancers at the Academy, where the brutal cuts will continue until each All-Star has just one dancer left.
It is certainly understandable that So You Think You Can Dance is trying to keep things fresh and funky, on and off stage. This season there is a new judging panel: Nigel Lythgoe, newbie Vanessa Hudgens, and returning, the hot tamale herself, Mary Murphy. But does this format hurt each dancer's chances of winning, and doom some gifted dancers? I think so, and here are the reasons why.
No More Top 20
In past seasons, So You Think You Can Dance picked a Top 20 to dance in the first live show, giving each dancer a chance to strut their stuff before the voting started. This was fantastic for the competitors, as a higher number of dancers had a chance to impress voters. It also gave viewers a chance to get to know more about each dancer, with the practice footage and often funny So You Think You Can Dance quizzes and confessionals.
It is a bonus for each dancer to be able to showcase their personality and quirks, which helps them stick in voters' minds. Each dancer wants, and needs, to develop a fan base. After all, this show is looking for America's "favorite" dancer, not necessarily the most talented.
And it also gives dancers valuable professional exposure, and that is a definite benefit. Jenna Johnson, who is an All-Star this season, competed in season 10, and made it to the Top 8 before being eliminated. She later landed a pro spot on Dancing with the Stars, as did many other former So You Think You Can Dance competitors. The more exposure for the dancers, the better, right?
Team Work Is Not Dream Work
It has been mentioned and debated on fan blogs that the team format is not a good thing for the dancers, and I agree. Imagine if, for example, on Team Gaby you have three amazing dancers, and one that is just good. If Gaby chooses to keep the dancer that is okay, that means that three fabulous dancers that should be in the competition are sent home. No matter how you slice it, the team format is unfair. Many great dancers who deserve their shot will never get it because of this format, and that makes it far from a dream (and more like a nightmare) for those unfortunate competitors.
Variety Is Always Good
In SYTYCD season 14, so far it looks as if each contestant will dance mostly with their All-Star. In past seasons of So You Think You Can Dance, dancers were paired with different All-Stars for each routine. I think that provides the dancer with a chance to learn from a variety of partners. Different All-Stars often pushed contestants to new heights and out of their comfort zone in a style that was new or uncomfortable.
I think that this chance to learn from different All-Stars is perhaps one of the greatest benefits of appearing on the live shows, along with valuable exposure, and of course the chance to win first place. So why would the show tank this opportunity for the competing dancers? I do not know, and I am crossing my fingers that there are All-Star crossovers.
What do you think? Do you prefer a Top 20 over a Top 10? If so, why? And which is better for the dancers?
So You Think You Can Dance Season 14 airs Mondays at 8/7c on FOX. Want more news?
(Image and videos courtesy of FOX)