"Whether you're high or low," sings Janelle Monae, "you gotta tip on the tightrope." When So You Think You Can Dance star Kent Boyd seized the Reliant Arena stage last night to dance his teenage heart out to her jumpy hit, he sure didn't have any safety net. And he was definitely high as he "tipped on it," adrenaline rushing as thousands of adoring Houston fans cheered him on.
With 30 individual routines and as many costume changes, the Season Seven SYTYCD tour might be a high-price ticket, but it's worth every extravagant penny. After watching mostly austere modern dance in smaller venues throughout Houston this past summer, it was thrilling to see this flashy spectacle along with herds of teenage girls and their families.
The snooty judges who annoyed us so much during the television series, especially the overwrought Mia Michaels, appear only in video excerpts during this live tour. Thank you, producers. Foregoing even a celebrity emcee, the dancers introduce the numbers, engaging in sincere and lighthearted repartee, finally giving us a chance to know them a little bit better. They're without doubt a charming, talented and uplifting bunch.
If there's anything to complain about, it's certainly the floor seats at the Reliant. Folks there told us they couldn't see much, though from our section (about 40 feet away and 15 feet above stage right), the view was nearly perfect.
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The road-show features Season-Seven winner Lauren Froderman and a pack of heart-throbs, including the dreamy Robert Roldan, boy-next-door Kent Boyd, B-boy extraordinaire Jose Ruiz, and the strangely elastic Billy Bell. "We love you, Billy!" girls shouted at every opportunity. Who would have thought the dancer judge Nigel Lythgoe described as "too androgynous" would turn out to be such a teen idol? Season six winner Russell Ferguson rounds out the tour's cast, along with a number of all-stars, most notably dazzling former Quest Crew member Dominic Sandoval.
If there's a reason why the hoi polloi flock to this show, it's likely because it features short, emphatic dances on everyday themes: improbable love, social alienation, the search for good relationships and stormy physical passion. There's nothing to decipher here, and often the gloriously beautiful dancers appear in clothes the audience members might wear, such as torn jeans, sneakers, and cargo pants.
The programming is diverse. The first half of the show opened with a "wild, wild West" duet (playfully set to Ludacris' "My Chick Bad") and finished with an overwhelmingly jubilant Bollywood routine for the entire cast. And when Ruiz and Sandoval offered their SYTYCD "classic" B-boy duet centered on old-school/new school themes, it was what Flamenco dancers call the moment of "duende," or what is sometimes translated into English as, "the moment where you get goose bumps."