Wednesday, October 7, 2009

So You Think You Can Dance

Watching So You Think You Can Dance, I am disturbed by the number of people who audition and who are seriously delusional about their own skills. They don't have technique, physique, or stamina. The most hapless cases are also overweight. I am embarrassed for them.

I consider myself a good dancer. Okay, I consider myself a very good dancer. As a kid, I took ballet classes and that provided me with a sense of body awareness. I know when my rib cage is centered over my hips. I have good extension. This has served me well in life. Later I switched to jazz and modern, which was good for loosening up. I learned Latin dance (salsa, merengue, cumbia, vallenato, etc.) in rumba classes at the gym. I love dancing and do it well, to the point that strangers will come up to me at the gym or dance clubs and compliment me on my dancing.

That being said, I've never learned partnering technique in salsa so I don't know the cueing to execute complex turn sequences. I've been learning tango, which is great. Tango, as well as being very sensual, can also be very elegant and dignified. You can be 70-years-old and dance tango without looking ridiculous.

Several years ago in Havana I went to the Casa de la Música, which is where well-heeled Cubans go out to dance. It was amazing to see how good the Cubans were. Colombians consider themselves to be good dancers, but the Cubans set the standard for salsa dancing. I am not talking about a professional floorshow, just everyday people who like to dance. I was hugely impressed

I love to dance but you won't be seeing me on So You Think You Can Dance any time soon.

Switching channels I caught a bit of Jennifer Hudson on VH1's Divas signing a duet with Stevie Wonder. She's very Ruebenesque and can really belt out a song with her great gospel-style voice. Afterwards was a reaction from a plump young woman who thanked Jennifer for being a good role model and for "allowing herself to accept herself as she was." Given the current rate of obesity in North America, I think that a whole lot of people should be less accepting of poor nutritional habits and obesity. Suggesting that obesity is acceptable does the nation a disservice. This does not mean that I think that Jennifer Hudson shouldn't be a public figure; she has earned her stature by training her voice. She has also earned her size by overeating. She is the result of her habits, both good and bad, and is not the helpless victim of her genes. People need to take responsibility for who and what they are.

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