When it comes to music, there are many people whose tastes I trust more than my own, people who might easily persuade me to love x or denounce y. Such is the case for most of the arts. The exception is dance. I have unwavering confidence in my appraisal of dance. Some dance is good, some plainly is not. Some choreography is good, some plainly is not. And now that the new season of So You Think You Can Dance has begun, I have a chance to exercise my most robust of aesthetic sensibilities on an even more regular basis.
The best routines on the show are, without fail, by choreographers who actually care about music, who choose the piece carefully and allow the music to work itself out in the bodies on stage. Unfortunately, Wade Robson is the only one who does this with any sort of consistency (unless they get Dmitri back to choreograph more samba: his dances are always brilliantly percussive). Of course, in my dream world, all the contemporary pieces would be set to Xiu Xiu, The Dirty Projectors, or the Talking Heads (the songs are so interesting that most of your work is done for you), and not to sappy singer-songwriter ballads that only know how to emote in one way (why did anyone ever think it was a good idea to dance to Lifehouse?). I fully realize that this world will not find its way onto prime time television, but what excuse do the hip hop choreographers have? My favourite hip hop dancers and choreographers are booking the best gigs there are (namely Janet Jackson and Michael Jackson) and these people do ridiculously interesting and intelligent stuff. Some people call it “new style” (think solo Justin Timberlake), and some hate that label, but whatever you want to call it, these dancers and choreographers know how to listen to the subtleties of the music and make the sounds visible.
Segue to this post’s actual purpose, to pimp my favourite dancers. First up: Misha Gabriel. He was recently hired for MJ’s London shows this summer, he choreographed an excellent video for Korean superstar Boa, and he can do this (he’s on the left):
Second: Jillian Meyers. She dances for Janet and comes up with sick choreography (note: after watching hundreds of dance clips on YouTube, I have come to the conclusion that “sick” is universally acknowledged as the appropriate term to express enthusiastic approval of dance… I like this). She’s the red head:
This is good dancing; this I love.