Guest blogger Janell is back with us in the new year, taking on Live to Dance. Take it away, Janell:
Do you live to dance? Or perhaps do you just live to eat ice cream while watching others dance? Have you been wondering what would become of Paula Abdul's career after she left American Idol? Then have I got the show for you! You've got two weeks to become addicted before American Idol starts up and you have to decide where your loyalties lie. Unless you've got a dual-tuner DVR, in which case you can split your loyalties right down the middle. Technology: the King Solomon of the Future.
I'm excited for this show. I'm a fan of dance competition shows, but I'm sure the people in charge wouldn't have created another one unless they were going to show us something we've never seen before. Isn't that the plan? Also, I've been taking Zumba classes, so I feel pretty qualified to judge and dismiss moves with a pithy, "I can do that." Because I totally can.
Now I'll set the snark aside because we've got two hours to get through. We begin with dramatic lights and music, and a male British announcer voice. The prize is $500,000, the competition is open to any age, any style, any group size. Paula gets to sing the theme song, which I will write in its entirety: "5, 6, 7, 8, Live to dance. Live to dance, 5, 6, 7, 8."
The open auditions begin in L.A. The show has constructed a dance dome in a parking lot, and apparently the dome will travel for the auditions because no rectangular theater is good enough. The host is a brown-haired gentleman named Andrew Ginsberg. Has anybody seen him before? Did they just want a mix of Ryan Seacrest and Cat Deeley? He's got nice, big teeth. He introduces the panel of judges: Kimberly Wyatt, who was a founder of the Pussycat Dolls, Travis Payne, a choreographer who worked with Michael Jackson, and, who else? The crowd seems to be chanting someone's name. Excessively. It's someone who "revolutionized dance in music videos." MC Skat Cat? I only said that because someone else was thinking it. Please control yourselves and welcome Paula Abdul.
Basically, the dancer(s) will do a number, and the judges will sit silently and push either a yes or no button that is concealed on the table in front of them (in three separate, special, yes/no button domes that will also travel around the country). After a dramatic pause and a staring contest, a star in front of each judge will light up either gold or red. As Andrew will tell us, repeatedly, and then some more, two or more gold stars means that they made the short list. Two or more red stars means they're going home. Goodness, that's complicated, I hope he explains it again later. After the stars are illuminated, then the judges will offer comments.
We begin with a token cute and talented youngster, a 9-year-old boy named Jalen (traveling with his supportive and weepy father). He does a b-boy act with some good head spins. Of course he gets 3 gold stars. Paula throws out the first "you are exactly what this show is about."
Another dance troupe gets 3 red stars, and Paula forces them to admit that they didn't rehearse enough. They need to quit their day jobs. It's called Live to Dance, people, not Live to Earn a Living and Dance in Your Spare Time.
After a few more failures, we meet 83-year-old Bev and her partner, 68-year-old Hap. She does cartwheels and pushups every morning. On stage, "Moon River" starts to play, and the crowd literally says "Awww" as they start a slow dance. Then a wacky record scratch comes on and they get funky with some tap dancing and robot moves. 3 gold stars! They do victory pushups. Bev says that she stretches by doing dishes with her leg up on the sink.
The next highlight: Jill and Jacob, teenage friends. She's a lifelong trained dancer, he's a self-taught street dancer who got a scholarship to her school. He won her over with his mad skillz, they fell in love, and now they're a romantic couple. Except not. Jacob's totally into her, but she says they're both so passionate about dance that they don't have room for anything else. Jacob: "That's what she thinks." Their dance is boy-meets-girl, he's not as sharp as her but has some moves. Oh, Andrew's voiceover reminds us how many stars (two or more) they need to move on. They get 3 gold stars! And Jill still won't kiss him.
Du-Shaunt is a teenager whose dad drove him from Las Vegas. Andrew, not from around here, seems to think that Vegas to L.A. is an epic journey. What will he say when someone drives in from Portland? Du-Shaunt gets 3 gold stars.
Inside the Box is a large dance troupe that starts dancing to the Looney Tunes theme song. 3 gold stars. Kimberly asks where they rehearse, and they say that their studio burned down, so they travel to parking structures and practice outside. Renegades!
There's no meanness in the show so far, no lingering on bad dancers and mocking them. Instead, we meet flight attendant Stone Fleshman (is that really his name?). He does some high school prom moves to "Forever Your Girl" sung by some woman named Paula Abdul. Oh, look, there she is! And he throws her a rose. He gets 3 red stars, but he also gets a hug from Paula. She tells him that the song belongs to her father, who is in the audience, and then she asks dad if the performance ruined the song for him. Heh.
Next up are some tween girls in pink shirts and black tutus calling their group Single Ladies Remix. They dance to the one Justin Bieber song that I've heard. They get 2 red stars, which passes the 2-or-more threshold that Andrew has set. The crowd chants "change your mind." Apparently, on this show, the judges can cave to peer pressure, despite the yes/no button dome and lit stars. But they don't.
Who remembers the show Solid Gold? Better yet, who remembers the Solid Gold Dancers? Hot 1980s ladies in sequins? Three real-life former Solid Gold Dancers, who are now older and face-lifted, have regrouped as Beyond Gold. One of them still has some good moves, but the other two are having a good time. They get only one gold star from Paula. The audience tells Travis to change his mind. He says that he started dancing because of their show, so he changes his mind. 2 gold stars! Andrew comes out on stage for no reason to celebrate with the dancers.
The last act in L.A. is 11-yr-old Kendall, an enthusiastic girl with big feathers in her hair. Andrew tries to win me over by claiming to dance alone in his room just like Kendall does. She dances contemporary and has good leg extensions. 3 gold stars. Paula tells her to wear less makeup next time because she's just a baby.
Now the dance dome moves to New York. Andrew tells us that, even though we are across the country, the dancers still need 2 or more gold stars to get onto the short list.
Here's Bonnie, she's 90 years old and wearing tap shoes. Andrew helps her walk up the ramp to the stage. She gets one gold star from Paula, but a standing ovation from everyone. As Andrew walks her off stage, he tells us of her popping and locking skills.
Next is a group of zombie ruffians. Literally. That's their story, and they come dancing out of coffins to a Michael Jackson song. Oh, their group name is Shore Thing. 3 gold stars. Travis name-drops Michael Jackson and chokes up.
In a failure montage, we see a ballerina dancing with a tambourine. Isn't that just wrong? Another ballerina does some leap and lands on her head, getting an instant goose egg above her eye.
Here's a hearing-impaired girl calling herself C-Bunny. She dances hip hop, better than I could do. She gets one "good for you" gold star from Paula.
A group called ICONic Boyz gets 3 gold stars. As does a group called Lilphunk Boyz. One guy named Roosevelt Anderson appears to turn his arm around in its socket. 3 gold stars. Paula hearts him.
Here's Chi-town Finest Breaker, the name of a group of five young siblings. One of them does a really long headspin. Then an itty bitty girl comes out and starts to spin slowly on her head, and the crowd goes wild. 3 gold stars. They each tell us their hip hop names, B-Boy such and such. The little girl is called B-Girl Precious Moments, although she mumbled and I thought she said B-Girl Passion Marmots. That's so much better. In fact, that's my name, now, yo.
Dax & Sarah are a real couple dancing the Lindy Hop. 3 gold stars. Since their love and passion is real, they kiss passionately.
Now here's a group called Twitch, not to be confused with the hip hop dancer Twitch from So You Think You Can Dance. It's approximately 10 late-teenaged girls wearing short white frilly dresses, and one guy named Anthony wearing all black. One girl says that they all have a crush on Anthony. Their dance is contemporary, kind of dark, like a Sonja number from SYTYCD, and Anthony blends in even though he totally sticks out. And then he spins forever, and he's so awesome that I have a crush on him, too. This is the best group yet, they have actual technique and style and not just a cutesy gimmick. 3 gold stars. We get the "you inspire me so much" from Paula that was in all the previews. Seriously, that was tasty.
Names of groups that do not get two or more gold stars: Full Outt. Venom. Nerdz. I hope you all are taking notes on the various names, you've got to put thought into it when naming your group. And you should never be called Full Outt.
A group called Jazz Unlimited wears blonde Lady Gaga wigs and sunglasses, and their choreographer has a sad story of a car accident when she was younger and she got to meet Paula Abdul. Despite that, they get 3 red stars. Good, I was nervous, because the dance wasn't that great.
Finally, meet Latin ballroom couple Amanda and D'Angelo. They are in a relationship, and she thinks they'll get married when they're 24, although he thinks they might wait until they're 30. Currently, she's 10 and he's 9. They both have some good hip moves and high kicks. 3 gold stars.
That's it! It looks like tomorrow the judges will sit in a room with a tv and narrow it down to 18 semi-finalists who will perform live next week. It seems the no-age-limit rule has given us some very precious children, plus the Beyond Gold dancers. I'm stepping away from the sentimental cards, though, because I've already picked the winner (Anthony! I mean, Twitch!).
What did you think? Is your heart warm and fuzzy? Are you inspired to get up and dance? Then Paula has done her job for America. This is B-Girl Passion Marmot, signing out.
(Photo courtesy of CBS)