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What The World Needs Now is SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE: Next Generation

July 14, 2016
lindy west shrill

How crying at Fox’s new take on their dance comp classic is changing my life

 

I’ve been pretty upset with the world, lately. You too, right? Senseless killings in response to senseless killings. Politics too crazy for a screenplay. Rape culture runneth over. It is a really challenging time to be a human. And the stress of all this negativity pummeling us on and off line all day every day is hardening me. It’s hardening you too, right?

Well then you need to be watching SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE: Next Generation on Fox. This is not a joke. It is also not sponsored by Fox, though if they want to pay me to do anything related to this show, I will do it.

In case you’re out of the loop: SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE (SYTYCD, please) is a dance competition show that has been on Fox for 10+ years. It’s AMERICAN IDOL, but dancing. This year they’re changing things up by featuring young dancers (seems like 8-16?) each mentored by an SYTYCD alum making it THE VOICE, but dancing. Here is why you need to watch it:

 

 

That’s JT dancing with Robert and repairing my tired, recently hopeless heart. That’s one of ten dances that did the same thing. They were performed by a Benetton ad of children with more ability to emote, connect and relate than humans twice and three and four times their ages. They are the America I thought we were.

These kids are committed in a way that I have never been about anything in my life, and I work damn hard. But what strikes me as I watch (and re-watch, and watch again on YouTube later, and just watched now as I started writing this post) is that they are connected to their bodies and selves in a way that I can’t remember being.

They feel in a way that I’ve forgotten how to feel.

 

I cry watching SYTYCD – shocker based on the this post, I know, but surprising if you know me because I don’t cry often. If you follow my husband on Instagram then you know this from the series of photos he posts of me specifically watching SYTYCD. Here are two. You can tell I’m not faking because I would never fake do anything that makes me look this weird.

 

so you think you can dance

 

I always say that I cry watching SYTYCD because it moves me to see people realizing their dreams. This is true. This moves me in general. It’s why I also sometimes cry during particularly good awards acceptance speeches and lifetime achievement video montages.

But my SYTYCD cry if a different cry, and it gets to this point I’ve discovered about why I/we need this show right now.

 

It is human to feel and then move. Babies bop like no one’s iPhone filming. Toddlers tantrum with their whole bodies. School aged kids – girl and boy – make up dances to songs all the time. I know I did. We move because there are feelings in our bodies that need and want to come out. It is incredibly healthy. It is incredibly necessary. But at some point, for so many of us, it stops. Did it stop for you? It certainly stopped for me.

 

Our bodies go from being vessels through which we channel feelings to capsules that contain them.

 

When was the last time you did a victory dance or threw yourself on the couch in a fit of rage? When was the last time you even cried with your whole body instead of quickly grabbing a tissue and wiping it off? I can’t remember. I don’t honestly think I’d know how if I tried. I think my mind would step in and say, relax, calm down, grow up. No. I know that it would. That’s what it did when my grandfather passed away a few months ago. 

I used to be a dancer. Tap, jazz, ballet, hip hop. I did it all, several times a week, and I loved it. I actually cannot think of anything that I loved more from my childhood (sorry John from NKOTB). I wasn’t a perfect dancer or even one good enough to win competitions, but I did have a special ability to connect. That’s dance speak for channel my feelings through my movement. It’s what JT and the rest of the Next Gen SYTYCDers do so magically. And it’s something that I haven’t done (outside of drunk dancing to Proud Mary at weddings) for well over a decade.

So I think I cry when I watch SYTYCD because I am so jealous of/impressed by/longing for the ability to get what’s inside my head and body out through movement like these kids can and do. It makes sense. R said that when I watch I actually move my body along with the dancers like some kind of freakish full contact TV viewing. I watch those kids experience that opportunity for release and therefore relief that I’m so often in need of and think how are they doing that?! How can I do that?! How can everyone do that?! They give me a sense of release and relief that I really need.

So no, we will not TV view or even dance our way into a safer, healthier, happier country, but I’ve got to believe that many of our collective and personal problems could benefit from allowing ourselves to feel the way we’re feeling when we’re feeling it, fully.

For my part I’m going to cry even harder at SYTYCD all season long. And when I’m frustrated at my writing desk I’m going to run around my house stomping my feet. And when I’m sad for whatever reason I’m going to look up a hip hop or ballet or salsa class to take. Because I want that little girls version of me back – the one that moved because she knew she needed to and didn’t give a shit what anyone else thought – the one I feel lucky to see pieces of on the SYTYCD stage.

Now please walk away from your computer/phone and go DVR this show.

 

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