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Destination 'So You Think You Can Dance': It sure ain't rigged

Cat_u1h0453_2Some people lost their faith in the American public when George W. Bush was elected president. But not my friend Melissa. Melissa lost faith in the American public tonight, when a majority vote sent "So You Think You Can Dance" hero Will Wingfield packing.   

After seeing the carnage firsthand at the "Dance" studio this evening, I was afraid to call Melissa. After dodging two of her calls, however, I received a text message I could not ignore: "Call me or die." And so I did. Over the course of the 42-minute, 4-second phone conversation that then ensued, I tried to calm Melissa down, reminding her that, after all, this was the search for "America's favorite dancer," not "America's best dancer," and that even if Will was the best dancer on the show, he still had to connect with the general public in order to win the competition.

"Then why is it called 'So You Think You Can Dance'?" Melissa shot back. "It should be called, 'So You Think You Can Dance? Then Don't Try Out, 'Cause You'll Lose.' "

I have a feeling I wasn't the only person talking a dancer friend off of a ledge tonight. The trouble is, as a dancer, Melissa appreciated Will's flawless technique in a way the average viewer did not.

From what I could tell, even the remaining contestants seemed to think that the best dancer on the show went home tonight. The respect they paid Will was bigger than the respect one pays a fellow fighter. It was tinged with guilt for outlasting him. Here's how the dramatic elimination went down at the studio.

Classy dude

When Will was revealed to be in the bottom four, his humble nod spoke volumes about his character. 

Let's just say he didn't turn his back to the audience and fall to the floor in shock or anything … cause ya know, it would be pretty weird if somebody had done that, right...?

Oh Comfort. How I'll miss you.  Again. 

Before Cat Deeley revealed Comfort's fate, Comfort's gesture summed up her emotional state perfectly: She smiled broadly and gave a long, slow shrug.

'WHAT!?!'

Mark Kanemura had the agility of a tin man while he waited for his verdict.  He was frozen with an "eek!" expression on his face, ready to hear his doom announced to the world. When things didn't go that way, Mark said what everybody in the theater was thinking: "WHAT!?!"

When he walked down the stairs, where fellow safe contestant Katee Shean waited, Mark repeated his sentiment to Katee.  "What! What?" he exclaimed.

Finally, we see her flinch

As Chelsie Hightower approached Cat Deeley, she looked like she was going to be sick. Perhaps the revelation of Will's fallibility put her on edge.

Chelsie stared out into the audience, petrified, while her video played. Then, at the last possible second before the camera hit her, the newly 19-year-old ballroom queen plastered on a heroic smile. 

Lone soldier

After hearing the news that he was in the bottom, the visibly upset Twitch Boss walked down the stairs in a daze, without even making eye contact with Mark, Chelsie and Katee, who stood collected in the mosh pit.

A quiet Cat

Even the typically gregarious Cat Deeley knew that something peculiar was happening in the studio tonight.  She was far more quiet and introspective than usual and opted not to joke around during the breaks.

A futile attempt

"Ooh, it’s the Snuggle package, everybody!" announced stage manager Debbie Williams, in an attempt to lighten the mood.  But in that moment, a computer-generated dancing bear just seemed gauche. 

If it helps, Melissa…

When Will came out for his solo, he was calm.  He was smiling.  Even if Mark, the judges and much of the audience were uncomfortable with his position in the bottom two, Will appeared to be at peace.

And just for the record

If Will's position tonight proves anything, it proves that this show is not rigged. Based on their critiques this season, it's safe to say that Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy would have sacrificed their first-born children in order to save Sir Wingfield.

A fitting exit

Comfort's solo was playful and defiant, just like her. Comfort even stuck out her tongue ever so slightly while she danced. At the end of her routine, when she pantomimed powdering her nose in a compact, even Nigel erupted with laughter.

An inopportune time for a questionable bit

After Will's solo, the warm-up dude emerged to announce, "We have some Canadians in the house. Where the Canadians at?" "Anybody from Kentucky?" he continued. We are about to bury a legend here; have a little respect!

Wow, what was that?

Tonight, Courtney Galiano's solo was her best 30 seconds of dancing on the show thus far.

Now if we could only convince Court and Katee to abandon that whiplash-inducing move where they swivel their heads through their arm…

A winning loser

Next time you get dumped or fired (or kicked off of "So You Think You Can Dance," for that matter), recall the way Comfort Fedoke dealt with her ouster tonight; with selflessness, joy and grace.  She blew kisses to endangered contestants Will and Twitch, cracked up during her farewell video, and gave Cat Deeley a nice long hug. 

Also…

Next time anybody has bad news for me, I'd like Cat Deeley to be the one to deliver it. I think it would help.

Something you should know about the audience at "Dance."

The audience at "Dance" is programmed to make two sounds: "Woo" and "boo." Thus, tonight, when faced with the sight of crowd-favorites Twitch and Will awaiting their fates, we became panicked.  None of our sounds seemed to match. So we booed them.

The final farewell

When Will was finally cut, Twitch bowed his head, seemingly ashamed to look Will in the eye. Then, Twitch respectfully removed his hat and exited the stage.  There was no happy dance there.

"Show 'em what you got" Will instructed the remaining contestants after hearing the news.  From their safe place in the mosh pit, Joshua Allen and Twitch nodded in solidarity, their eyes glued to the fallen contestant.

The most beautiful moment of the evening came next, after the news had sunk in.  The remaining six contestants mounted the stage, and instead of taking turns hugging the two fallen dancers, all eight united in a group hug that must have lasted 30 seconds.

For once, stage manager Debbie Williams didn't demand that everybody clear out.  Instead, she said what everybody was thinking: "That sucks."

-- Stephanie Lysaght

 
Comments () | Archives (59)

Stephania, I think your dancer friends are overreacting. You're right, this is just a show. Judged by America's couch potatoes and teenaged girls with speed-dial, not dance experts.

Alright, I admit, I was a Will hater. He seemed... arrogant. Maybe it was just the purple tinted glasses Nigel and company put on my face by constantly ramming him down my throat, but I never took a shine to him regardless of his technical prowess.
Maybe the judges set their own precedent though:
Remember early in the competition the judges eliminated a technically excellent dancer because his solo was too full of tricks and not enough of... what? I can't even remember their flimsy justification for that. Especially since they kept THANE instead.

So Will's elimination was, perhaps, the audience vindicating that earlier shocking elimination?

I dunno, I came into the night SURE, as you were, Stephanie, that Mark would be going home along with Comfort tonight. I was sure the next man out would be Twitch and then it would be between Joshua and Will in the very end.

Shocking! Shocking I say!

But I am not so very dissatisfied as all that. What can I say, I'm a Pleb.

I cannot believe Will was sent home! He was poetry in motion. His solo last night made my jaw drop, how he used the stage. Did he and Joshua and Twitch split votes? Is that what happened? I was sure Mark would be going. The judges don't seem to like him much.
And I have to say Twitch's solo last night was mind-blowing.

Totally ridiculous results, but fascinating in terms of what it says about America's attachment to hip hop. a) hip hop is mainstream even in its dance vocabulary and b) voters confuse dance with gymnastics, and want to see guys do tricks. That's wa it looks like to me anyway.

I liked Will a lot, but he is not the best dancer. Twitch is the best dancer. Tell your friend Melissa to get over it.

Yes, the best dancer did go home. I understand the premise of the show, but I'm still upset.
Will was amazing to watch (and those abs!). I hope to see him in other arenas in the future. (Debbie Allen, are you listening?? lol)

I am done with the show, how could they let Will go? He was the best dancer that I have ever seen on the show. I can only hope that Will is going on to bigger and better things, he is too good to keep down. So the American voters have just done him a favour. Shame that you had to show your true colours in this way though!!

"The trouble is, as a dancer, Melissa appreciated Will's flawless technique in a way the average viewer did not."

I said that on my blog last night too. For dancers and anyone who've been classically trained, Will is just amazing. We were blinded by the fact that the rest of America doesn't think the same way we do. I will so miss Will.

Yeah........ I won't be so excited to watch "So you think you can dance" anymore. No doubt he was the best dancer........ no doubt. I just think a whole bunch of stupid teenage gurls got together and kept that stuip Mark on the air!! Mark and Will no comparison! I know and everyone else knows who should have gone home last night.

I have no reason to watch the show now!!! Will made that show what it was this year!!! America we made a mistake...

This article is such a wonderful tribute to Will and to what people felt at home. I know for myself and most of my friends that shock and sadness were the predominant reactions. Will is such an amazing dancer and as you said, he certainly will find a fantastic career doing what he loves so much. I do have to disagree, respectfully, with the point made about Will not connecting with the pubic, at least in my case. I don't think I'm that different than most and as I was just searching You Tube one day looking for a contemporary routine from a couple of seasons back I had seen on someone's myspace page, I ran accross Will and Jessica's Lyrical Jazz routine. I was immediately captivated by Will and definitely felt a connection to his smile and his amazing dance skills. WILL is the reason I started watching the show and the reason I began voting in the first place. He definitely connected with me and I know he connected with others that have found themselves also sulking in his exit from the show. One thing I can agree on is that it does suck. I will keep watching though and voting because of the connection Will made with me. I will also follow Will's career and continue to be one of his many fans.

This article is such a wonderful tribute to Will and to what people felt at home. I know for myself and most of my friends that shock and sadness were the predominant reactions. Will is such an amazing dancer and as you said, he certainly will find a fantastic career doing what he loves so much. I do have to disagree, respectfully, with the point made about Will not connecting with the pubic, at least in my case. I don't think I'm that different than most and as I was just searching You Tube one day looking for a contemporary routine from a couple of seasons back I had seen on someone's myspace page, I ran accross Will and Jessica's Lyrical Jazz routine. I was immediately captivated by Will and definitely felt a connection to his smile and his amazing dance skills. WILL is the reason I started watching the show and the reason I began voting in the first place. He definitely connected with me and I know he connected with others that have found themselves also sulking in his exit from the show. One thing I can agree on is that it does suck. I will keep watching though and voting because of the connection Will made with me. I will also follow Will's career and continue to be one of his many fans.

This article is such a wonderful tribute to Will and to what people felt at home. I know for myself and most of my friends that shock and sadness were the predominant reactions. Will is such an amazing dancer and as you said, he certainly will find a fantastic career doing what he loves so much. I do have to disagree, respectfully, with the point made about Will not connecting with the pubic, at least in my case. I don't think I'm that different than most and as I was just searching You Tube one day looking for a contemporary routine from a couple of seasons back I had seen on someone's myspace page, I ran accross Will and Jessica's Lyrical Jazz routine. I was immediately captivated by Will and definitely felt a connection to his smile and his amazing dance skills. WILL is the reason I started watching the show and the reason I began voting in the first place. He definitely connected with me and I know he connected with others that have found themselves also sulking in his exit from the show. One thing I can agree on is that it does suck. I will keep watching though and voting because of the connection Will made with me. I will also follow Will's career and continue to be one of his many fans.

Stephanie I'm glad I'm not the only one who found Twitch's reaction odd!

This is the best blog ever written, congrats Steph!!! By the way, I am still FURIOUS at America. Mark? Safe? WHAT!?! America proved that if you can act the part of a dancer, you are a dancer. Gee, I wonder if these same voters are the ones who also voted Bush president of the USA?

Who cares! It's a TV show.

I AM THRILLED THE AMERICAN PUBLIC SENT WILL HOME. HE SHOULDN'T HAVE BEEN ON THE SHOW TO BEGIN WITH. HE IS A TRAINED DANCER UNDER DEBBIE ALLEN. JOSHUA HAS HAD NO TRAINING AND ONLY KNOWS HIP-HOP AND YET EVERY TYPE OF DANCE HE PICKS , HE DOES A FANTASIC JOB. HE SHOULD WIN AND I THINK HE WILL.

I have watched SYTYCD since it first came on the air. I am over 50 and the mother of grown children, but my daughter and I watch it together because we both love dancing. Neither of us are dancers. Still, you don't have to be a dancer to appreciate dance or to recognize the difference between an excellent dancer and a poor dancer. It is so inaccurate for someone to suggest that you have to be a dancer to know whether someone's techinque is great or mediocre.

I appreciate the fact that sometimes between two really good dancers, you might like one over the other because of their personality, but to audition people to dance for this show and set it up in such a way that personality becomes the main criteria for voting is just wrong in so many ways. And what was wrong with Will's personality? I enjoy all the dancers that remain. Will was not my favorite personality, but to see him voted off...someone who could dance as well as he could with six people left in the competition who do not dance as good as he does, is just not right.

Someone suggested in the comments that it is over reacting to be upset about Will going home. It is easy to take that position, but superficial. There is much more to it than that. It has gone beyond about the show to wondering about the people you share the planet with. With what kind of treatment you can expect out in the world. Everyone seems to agree that Will was the best dancer but they keep going back to this idea that the show is about 'America's favorite dancer'. I thought it was vote according to which dancer was best first and personality second? If people are only voting based on popularity then why not just have a popularity contest? why bother looking for good dancers at all? Anyway it gets back to really feeling like there isn't a lot of fairness in people's judgments. Like if you were interviewing for a company for a job and you knew the interviewer or the boss was going to hire based on whether you knew someone instead of whether you were the right person for the job. Just think if you were Will and you really worked hard to develop your skills and everyone agreed you are the best dancer and you are not a bad guy either. The message America is sending is don't work hard to be the best at something because nobody cares, they just want you to be funny and attractive and reward just that and nothing else and what are you going to end up with?

And what do you suppose the remaining dancers feel. They even believe that Will is a better dancer and I have a feeling it might be a hollow victory. You win even though you're not the best?

Oh gosh. I emphathize with your friend Mellissa. I too did appreciate Will for his flawless dancing. :( I cried last night when he got sent home. I really hope to see more of him in the future.

Stephanie Lysaght asserts: "Some people (i.e., Ms. Lysaght's dearest friends) lost their faith in the American public when George W. Bush was elected president." Sorry, honey, but those America haters have hated the United States and Americans since their conception (or when the stork dropped them off at the hospital maternity ward for those people who think that storks magically create human beings). They hated the United States then; they hate the United States today; and they will hate the United States tomorrow.

Like Nigel said, Twitch is the least trained dancer of the show. I have a feeling that he actually had to earn his bread with his dancing while most of his compatriots participated in prestigious competitions with the support of recognizable mentors as well as their families and friends. This was his one ticket to a better life. Wasn't he the one who was faced with either making top 20 or joining the navy? (South Korea isn't always a welcoming place for foreign instrutors) His emotions are understandable.

This is the waning moment of a audience participating reality show where some of the more deserving members will begin to depart. Katee, Joshua, and Chelsie will probably make up the top 3, (perennial favorites for judges and fans alike) and the rest of the crew would have taken their turns exiting the show. Will left one or two episodes too early, but with the fan base now consolidating around the top 3, his fate was sealed. I can tell Katee Shean and Hightower are collecting the votes that went to Kerrington.

 
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