Notes from SYTYCD Canada live show

Laugh if you must. But last night I went to the So You Think You Can Dance Canada show in Hamilton (or, as Nico, Danny and Vincent called it: ahMILton) and I loved it.

Just in case you didn’t know, last spring Canada held auditions for its own version of So You Think You Can Dance. It aired in the fall, and I have to say that the top 20, IMHO, was stronger than any top 20 the American version featured. We also got to sample Canada’s fantastic choreographers, who were at least as good as the Americans, and we got a few visits from US favourites like Mia Michaels and Dan Karaty, the screamer judge, Mary Murphy (note: when she’s screaming that some of the best dancers on the planet are in your country, her screams aren’t nearly so earsplitting).

Anyways, so last night I took my friend, just returned from Malawi, to the live show. Our seats rocked, and immediately I regretted not having my camera. Seriously, we were 12 rows back from the stage. We were so close, I could see that Nico was flying low during the creepy cane piece that he, Allie, Natalie and Miles did.

I didn’t have particularly high expectations, since I’d watched the whole show on tv. I didn’t really think the live version would offer much that the tv version didn’t. But it did. The live dances had so much more subtlety than on tv. Partly I hold the camera operators and editors responsible because the tv view moves so erratically around the stage that you often can’t pay attention to what you want to. But also, there’s something about living, breathing people that just give so much more nuance.

The bottom line? I love Lisa and Vincent more than ever. I still think Arassay got short shrift, I can’t help but suspect that Nico’s getting a big head (the screams for him seriously impaired my hearing), Miles is as adorable as ever, Isaak (or Izak or however he spells it) still annoys me, and the producers should really hire an MC for the live show instead of making the dancers spit out overly rehearsed and silly intros.

From time to time a recorded announcer’s voice would speak out about some thing or another, and some clips would show on the big screens. Just before Isaak’s solo, the anonymous voice said “Isaak says he wants to be a dancer because it’s what he loves to do.”

I find it really interesting the emphasis our culture puts on being nouns. Isn’t it interesting that BEING a dancer is not the same as being someone who dances? That the noun adds some kind of credibility or importance that the simple verb doesn’t? I mean, anyone can dance, anyone can love dance, but not just anyone can BE a dancer. It’s the same with writing. Anyone can write, but not anyone can BE a writer. It doesn’t make grammatical sense, but it says a lot about our culture, don’t you think?

A few photography blogs have been linking to an article that I haven’t actually clicked through and read (and now I can’t find the references to link to it myself), but the gist was that with the economy tanking and the publishing industry changing so dramatically (some might say failing?), eventually all photographers will only be amateurs. They’ll all have separate day jobs to support their true passion, and they need to get over their snobbery about that. Of course this is music to my amateur ears.

A number of people have asked me if I want to be a professional photographer, or they’ve commented that I could be a professional photographer. But the truth is I don’t have much interest in that. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love a patron, someone who would just pay for me to live and make whatever pictures I want to make. But I really have no interest in making pictures for paying clients with demands and expectations. Even if that means my work is taken less seriously, for now, I’m ok with that. But still, I’m awfully glad to hear about people questioning the notions that only professionals can make great photographs.

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