Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cole Clemens, So You Think You Can Dance and the Exquisite Embarassment of Silence...

True confession: I've never watched So You Think You Can Dance and I don't plan to start. But I don't live under a rock, so the derisive hubbub that accompanied Cole Clemens' decision to do a solo without music — the consensus seems to be that he's a world-class nutbag (as though that's a bad thing in realitytvworld) — didn't escape my notice.

Before we proceed any further, here's a link to the clip:

Cole's notorious number

A little background: I grew up in the New York dance world and worked for New York City Ballet for twelve years. I think Clemens' piece is pretentious, juvenile folly, plus his hair sucks and he uses the phrase "very unique."

But I also feel compelled to point out that the very idea of dancing without music is neither crazy nor new. Cue the second clip, which includes both commentary and footage of Jerome Robbins' 100% music-free Moves. That's Jerome Robbins as in arguably the greatest American dance maker of the 20th century, the guy who choreographed both crowd-pleasing Broadway shows like West Side Story and purely classical works like The Goldberg Variations.

Moves clip

Moves was first performed in 1959 — that's 50 years ago. And if you're a judge on a show called So You Think You Can Dance, you should know and/or acknowledge as much instead of sniggering.

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