No doubt about it, they can dance
For the thousands of die-hard fans of “So You Think You Can Dance’’ who streamed into Agannis Arena, last night’s live show was a opportunity to reconnect with some of their favorite stars from Fox’s hit TV show. The production, part of a national tour uniting the top 10 dancers from the summer season, is a slam-bang whirlwind that mixes and matches favorite routines from the past season with new choreography.
After the intimacy that came from watching the show on television, the disconnect of the arena show was initially disappointing. I spent too much time watching the projected close-ups on the three giant video screens instead of the live dance, which would have looked sensational in a large theater. In addition, the stage spots were blinding and the sound system was horrific - thunderingly assaultive during much of the music and garbling a lot of spoken words. But nothing seemed to bother the screaming fans, and by the end, the cumulative energy of the show won me over. And bottom line - these dancers are dynamite.
A large part of the TV show’s success stems from the audience’s investment in the performers. Through interviews, rehearsal glimpses and behind the scenes moments, viewers get a sense of the dancers’ personalities, their struggles and dreams. The show wisely preserves that format, introducing each solo number with a video collage that brings the performers up close and personal for those sitting far removed from the stage. (And without the $25 program book, newbies wouldn’t have a clue otherwise.)
The ensemble numbers were the glitziest - a Bollywood piece, the opening Latin number, the act one finale, casting the ensemble as ragtag graffiti artists with royal pretensions. But the most substantive dancing came in the solos and duets. Most of the duets were familiar from season eight - the sculptural lyricism of Melanie and Marko as the white statues, the heartbreaking wall dance between Sasha and Ricky. Jess’s playfully competitive tap duet with guest Nick Young was a charmer, featuring sharp footwork and blistering turns. Melanie’s flying leap into Ricky’s arms during the sweeping “Total Eclipse of the Heart’’ was breathtaking even from afar.
Solos allowed individual personalities and skills to shine even more. Tadd worked the crowd and displayed his significant b-boy skills, and Ricky impressively combined muscular capoeira moves and edgy isolations with elegant balletic turns. Melanie showed once again why she was season eight’s winner, fluidly pairing the fluttery beats and extended arabesques of ballet with brilliant corkscrew leaps, rolls to the floor, draping backbends, and weighted lunges. She’s the full package.
By the “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah’’ finale, the boisterous crowd was on its feet, riding the energy out the door.
Karen Campbell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.