This has always been an issue for me with this show and after this past week’s episode, it’s time to address it. To recap in case you don’t watch, one of the top ten dancers was paired with a tap dancer when they’ve had limited experience with tap. All in all, it wasn’t a great routine. The dancer’s limited experience constrained the choreography and the execution of the simple steps was subpar. This led to the partner, who is an absolutely phenomenal dancer, having a lackluster routine in their own style where they’re supposed to shine. Okay, so that was issue number one.
Issue number two arose when the judges (not one of them a tap dancer themselves) over-criticized the performance, especially the dancer out of their style. One, they all knew it would be a struggle for this individual and still put them through it, and two, it’s not like any of them would have been able to do any better! Yeah, Twitch won the show, but he never had to execute a tap number. Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy, while I’m sure have had some experience within the tap genre, most likely could not handle anything beyond the basics. And finally, Vanessa Hudgens, who tore the piece apart the most and claims to have all this dance experience which I can’t find evidence of, probably couldn’t even put on a pair of tap shoes by herself.
With that being said, one would think that “America’s Favorite Dancer” should be able to perform every style of dance regardless of what their auditioned style was. The creators/producers/directors expect jazz dancers to take on the tango and ballroom dancers to put the hip in the hop and animators, poppers, tutters, etc., to perform emotional, contemporary pieces. Meanwhile, tap dancers have to excel in all of the aforementioned styles during “Academy Week” and in the live shows, but none of those stylists have to wing a time-step across the stage. How does that make any sense?! Oh right, it doesn’t!
Aside from this last week, the ONLY dancer of a style other than tap that has performed a tap piece during a live show was Lex, last year’s winner. Lex auditioned as a contemporary dancer and from his audition alone, I knew he would win the whole thing. The all star he was paired with was Gaby, the winner of season 12, who just happened to have been a tap dancer. Yeup, you read that right. A tap dancer won the whole show, yet the style is still shunned. Back to the point, Lex and Gaby killed their tap duo that wasn’t watered down due to it not being Lex’s style (watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmKXVtbv504).
So again, why isn’t tap a style included in “Academy Week”? Out of the thousands of dancers I suspect they audition every year, is it too much to ask that they have at least some rudimentary training in tap as it is expected they master other styles as well? If they want it bad enough, it’s not like they’re going to be all, “I’m not doing this if I have to tap.” They are trying to make a career out of dancing and everyone knows that dancers who aren’t cross-trained and well-rounded don’t turn out well. (Get it? Turn out well, cuz dancers turn out their feet and legs and all!)
When I danced, tap was my favorite and my best style so I probably take more offense than most to the lack of it on well-known dance platforms such as So You Think You Can Dance. However, we need to see more of it on these platforms lest this wonderful art form be left to die.
Oh, and one last side note: So You Think You Can Dance has freaking ahhhhhhh-mazing tap mics on that stage, like the best I’ve ever heard through a broadcast as compared to World of Dance and America’s Got Talent NEED to get those mics! SYTYCD has so few tap dancers that make it through to the live shows that the mics don’t get the use that need for their quality.
You can watch this past week’s episode for yourself here: https://www.fox.com/so-you-think-you-can-dance/