There’s no getting around the comparisons between So You Think You Can Dance and American Idol. Both were born of the same production team, have almost the exact same format, air on FOX, and are big-time successes. One area, however, where the differences are glaringly apparent is also a sobering reality for the So You Think You Can Dance contestants: American Idol breeds stars, So You Think You Can Dance does not. The reason is simple: pop singers are viable commodities, dancers are not. Idol has given us Kelly Clarkson, Katharine McPhee, Clay Aiken and Carrie Underwood. No So You Think You Can Dance winner will ever sniff the success of any of those singers. Is this the way is should be? Could it be different? Can FOX do anything about it?
Famous dancers are few and far between. Debbie Allen? Gregory Hines? They’re about as famous as one can get in the dance community. Dancing is a tough, physical business, and careers are short. Sabra Johnson, despite winning the $250,000 first prize, will not be famous in 6 months. Who knows where her career will take her, but wherever it goes, she’s not Kelly Clarkson. What’s the upside for someone like Neil Haskell? Background dancer? Danny Tidwell is going to be dancing somewhere and he will be great, but who will be watching?
The main point I’m trying to make here is that it is a sad reality for the dancers that their fame will be fleeting no matter how high up in the ranks they make it in the dance world. Unlike singing, success in dancing does not equal fame. I hope viewers are aware of this and take the time they spend with contestants every summer to truly appreciate what they have: the only large-scale medium unto which amateur dancers have a chance to shine. There’s a very good chance that, unless you see the So You Think You Can Dance tour, you will never, ever see Sara Von Gillern or Lacey Schwimmer again.
But, maybe it’s better this way. Maybe this is why a relatively unpopular creative outlet has provided a hugely successful reality show. Unlike Idol, contestants on So You Think You Can Dance have no ulterior motives. They will find no upside to selling themselves as a product to America in search of future success. I think this may be why So You Think You Can Dance is as big as it is. It’s a pure competition, with participants who truly love what they do with no other concern than giving America their absolute best.
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of FOX)