So You Think You Can Dance, I'm very quickly learning, offers the same kind of tear-jerking stories in these auditions as American Idol has employed for so many years. (Acknowledging, of course, that SYTYCD has been on for eleven seasons now and is arguably as old and venerated as its singing counterpart. I'm just new to it.) You've got personal histories rife with tragedy, from serious health issues to family death to emotional trauma, in general. Not a wickedly fun trip down memory lane! But one that makes these triumphant auditions all the sweeter.
Take Bridget Whitman's performance Wednesday night. Before she took the stage, we learned that just a few years earlier her father, her "biggest fan," had been killed in a car accident. Before he died, they'd regularly watch SYTYCD together. It was in that time that he told her to follow her dreams -- that if she worked hard enough, she could make it in front of the judges...and subsequently on the show.
Whitman's dream came true Wednesday night as she was quickly pushed through to the next round of competition. The concern with some of these stories is that they somehow overshadow the performance itself -- that a sobby enough sob story might make up for a routine in need of tweaking. But that certainly wasn't the case with Whitman. Take a look at this dance she performed in 2012:
Now imagine her two years more polished, with even stronger leg control and overall body movement. That's what she delivered to Nigel and Co. in a performance that was at once elegant and acrobatic. She'd leap across the stage and then moments later pause to stretch, to extend an arm. I don't have the dance vocabulary to fully describe what she was doing, but I can tell you why it was so great -- because she was in absolute control of every movement.
And the emotional connection she forged throughout the performance...oh brother. "I could just so feel what you were going through," said judge Mary Murphy. And isn't that what this competition, and dance in general, is ultimately about?
Here's to even better, more tear-jerking performances in the very near future!