Sunday, May 29, 2011

So You Think You Can Dance

Summer is here and with it comes the greatest dance competition on television to date! So You Think You Can Dance season 8! The long awaited, 2 hour season premier showcased auditions in Atlanta and San Francisco. If you’re new to the show here’s how it works: contestants dance before judges Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy (who returned after last season’s hiatus while dealing with cancer) and guest judges/choreographers such as Lil’C, Tyce Dioro and Toni Redpath. If the dancer is bad they are cut,. If the judges see potential but are not sure if the contestant has what it takes, they move on to the choreography round where the contestant is challenged with a style of dance outside their comfort zone. If the contestant has unquestionable talent and technique they immediately get a ticket to Las Vegas where hundreds of dancers will be judged and cut again and again until there are only 20.

The night seemed to be off to a good start. In fact, after sending ten contestants in a row straight to Vegas, Nigel Lithgoe, executive producer, said the turnout was "obnoxiously incredible." However, as all good things do, their luck came to an end. After several bad… very, very bad… auditions Tyce Dioro had to resort to “cup humor” to distract him from the lack of talent, with reactions such as, “That was one big hot cup of vomit” and “That was a grande' cup of not so good.” It seems that Tyce, though good looking, only has one unit with which to measure talent. There’s cups, and then there’s… cups.

(I may have a small crush on him) Okay... so it's not so small! But come on! Can you blame me?

Lil’C, hip-hop choreographer, is known for his philosophical prose that often times generate a good laugh but sometimes leave everyone in bewilderment. For example, when Melanie Moore took the stage she brought a whole new meaning to the word “flawless.” She danced like an angel with moves that made me gasp in awe. Or as Lil’C put it, “I think that Zeus himself would invite you to come dance on Olympus.” Melanie certainly deserved such a high level of praise, I will be rooting for her in Las Vegas.

One thing I really like about this show is that it’s not dance style specific. Contestants can enter the competition with a solo piece ranging from ballroom to street dancing. In fact, during the middle of the show it seemed that the judges favored the street dancers who got sent straight to Las Vegas, over some of the seemingly more talented contestants who for some reason had to prove their worth in choreography first. With auditions for hip-hop, contemporary, krunk and street dancing you see moves you didn’t think the body could endure. One contestant slid across the entire length of the stage on his head! OUCH!

One thing is for sure, it was two hours of pure enjoyment for my mother and I. I have been waiting a whole year for this show to begin again and boy was it worth the wait! I can’t imagine what is in store for us this season! Keep watching, and if you don’t… START! Once the show is past the initial auditions and gets down the the choreography for the 20 finalists, they will move in ways that will make you laugh one minute and cry the next. Each dancer dancing with such a passion that brings the story behind the choreography to live. Here are some links to some of my personal favorite dances from previous years.

Dreaming with a Broken Heart - Twitch and Kherington

Mercy - Katee and Twitch

The Garden - Mark and Courtney

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Gossip Girl by Cecily con Ziegesar

“Sex and the City for the younger set.” - Teen People

“Deliciously catty and immediately engrossing.” - Kirkus

“A nasty, guilty pleasure. The book has the effect of gossip itself - once you enter, its hard to extract yourself.” - Publishers Weekly

Before starting Gossip Girl, I had just finished re-watching (for the third time) Gilmore Girls seasons 1-7  on DVD. The show revolves around single mother Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham) and her daughter, Rory (Alexis Bledel). Having committed the unforgivable sin of getting pregnant at 16, Lorelai flees home, leaving behind a life of unmet upper-class expectations. She was running from the silver-spoon in mouth concept only to find herself entering her daughter into a world of just that through private school and Friday night dinners with her eternally disapproving grandparents . The plot is focused on Lorelai and Rory’s struggle to prove that you don’t have to come from wealth to make a difference and  their fight against trust fund kids, cotillions, etiquette classes, and all things privileged.

Gossip Girl, however, derives its plot from the very life that Lorelai and Rory fought so hard to rebel against. Set in New York City, main characters Blair Waldorf and Serena van der Woodsen embrace their privileged teen hood, and their endless supply of daddy’s money, with no morals behind their frivolous lifestyle. At first I despised the self entitled “poor little rich kids” and their following of admirers who wished to be them but never would. I found myself reading page after page only to be able to say I finished it and also to further criticize the fantasy of throwing caution to the wind, consequences be damned. However, as I got deeper into the book and allowed my heart to soften for the characters and their background stories, I found myself turning the pages with an ease that soon turned into an addiction.

Blair Waldorf is shallow and her boyfriend Nate, though hot, would rather get stoned than pay attention to her never ending list of needs.  Throughout the course of their relationship, Blair has held onto her virginity, not for a sense of purity but as a tease to keep Nate intrigued. Blair finally decides tonight is the night only to find out that her former best friend (Nate’s secret lover)  has returned to NYC after getting kicked out of boarding school in New Hampshire.  Blair’s newfound hatred for Serena only deepens as the two battle for Nate’s affection. Rumors run wild of exactly why Serena got kicked out and her reputation is ruined as she unsuccessfully tries to meld back into her old clique. Expensive booze and illegal drugs come easy to minors and are overlooked by the adults as long as no one makes a scene. Sex is just as common a past time as shopping for designer clothes, or in Blair’s case shop lifting. Do these teen’s scandalous life choices come back to bite them? Will Nate stay with Blair and allow her to consummate the relationship or will he return to his true love Serena,? Or maybe there is someone else in the cards for him.

I recommend this book but only if you are in the mood for mindless entertainment. No offense to Cecily von Ziegesar, but if you are looking for a thought provoker this series is not for you. If you are the type of person that will judge the characters, get frustrated when they choose their own selfish desires despite better judgment, and secretly hope that they all grow a conscience and donate money to world peace, then please don’t even glance at the cover much less read what’s inside. However, if you are looking for a book that allows you to let go and enter into a life that, though stereotypical, will inevitably take you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions, dirty language and thoroughly scandalous gossip, then by all means read on!