Eyes for another
Yes, Lauren Froderman won & Ellen stole spotlight, but what about that PashaKovalev on So You Think You Can Dance?
Thursday night, live from Hollywood, it was the eagerly anticipated season finale of So You Think You Can Dance, and I tried to fall in with all the excitement when Lauren Froderman was announced as America’s favorite dancer.
But I couldn’t contemplate this disappointing forest for its tiniest of trees. “That last name is going to a problem,” I thought to myself as glitter and confetti poured around her and the cast of losers ran to offer hugs and kisses.
Lauren Freedman? Lauren Frye? Lauren del Mar?
Yes, I’ve probably watched too many Hollywood movie musicals. But there’s got to be a better stage name for the young woman who danced her way to the top. Otherwise she’s going to be confused with a Tolkien character.
I suppose I was still fuming from Wednesday night’s episode, when the ever-fickle judge Mia Michaels said that she liked Lauren’s balance of masculine and feminine. The comment burned through me, because only a few weeks ago Nigel told the talented young Billy that America wasn’t going for his “androgynous style.”
So why was it so much better coming from Lauren? Even more problematic, I don’t think it’s true. David Bowie was androgynous. Grace Jones was androgynous. I don’t find any evidence that Lauren Froderman is the least bit gender-bending.
After Mia called Lauren “filthy” (a term of praise here), the wholesome Lauren said that all season long, the choreographers have wanted to portray her as a “man-eater.” And then Mia said that Lauren hasn’t done one bad dance yet, adding that if she were still dancing, “I would want to achieve to be that.”
Oh, the hyperbole, Mia. I wish you would learn, as per your weekly mantra, “to own that.”
The dance that seemed to put Lauren over the edge on Wednesday, the one that catapulted her into the god-realm of popular dance, was a smoky tango with all-star Pasha Kovalev. Judge Adam Shankman remarked that she understood every rhythm, every note, characterizing her interpretation as “exhibition-style perfect.”
And now is the time I must admit that as a dance critic and a gay man, I can’t take my eyes off of Pasha. Yes, I confess that during this routine, Lauren was relegated to my periphery. Please don’t get me wrong — I don’t have anything against Lauren— but I adore Pasha. And I am just not seeing the emperor’s new clothes when Lauren takes the stage.
The only female dancer who can put Pasha in the palm of her hand is the brilliant all-star Anya Garnis. When Anya is on stage with Pasha, I no longer play moth to his flame, but it will take Lauren years to get to Anya’s level.
Only the coldest heart wouldn’t wish Lauren well as her career is certain to sky-rocket. Lauren, I salute you. You are sweet, confident, versatile and strong. But artistry will take more time, and you’re going to be sidetracked with other things over the coming months, like endorsing Gatorade. Lauren’s first trophy after the news broke was a bit of a letdown: A plastic bottle filled with energy drink, bearing her likeness on the label.
Stay on track, Lauren, and find a good massage therapist.
And despite my mixed feelings at the outcome, the finale was thrilling in so many other ways. Each of the seven judges picked a favorite number, which was performed as a live encore for the enthusiastic audience. There were plenty of montages centered on the laughter and the tears. Black Gold showed up to sing Shine in person. A 7-year-old named Luke tapped his little heart out, and the stunning Quest Crew demonstrated their awe-inspiring skills at dancing and ensemble choreography.
Ellen Degeneres made a cameo appearance in a hip hop number with the glorious Twitch, filling in for a post-surgery Alex Wong. It seemed cute until it became evident that Ellen was acting with a twist, stealing some thunder from the proceedings to promote her own career, no doubt.
By this point everyone knows that Degeneres has declined to return to American Idol. Is she trying to horn her way onto So You Think You Can Dance?