Each and every Monday we will be presenting a television recap of the previous week, spotlighting the best (or sometimes the worst) that was on television. While we normally will be featuring an entire episode of a particular show, this week there is an exception. Out of one hundred and sixty-eight hours of programming multiplied exponentially across a myriad of stations, both cable and network, we chose this week to focus in on just over one and a half minutes of television. Why? Because it was absolute brilliance.
On the Wednesday, July 1st episode of “So You Think You Can Dance” on Fox, Kayla Radomski and Kupono Aweau danced a Sonya Tayeh choreographed contemporary piece set to “Eyes on Fire” by the group Blue Foundation. The piece was dark in nature, a vampiric tale of two individuals, who each are dealing with what their life now is, one already comfortable in his role, one confused and fighting it. As Radomski states, “I’m pulling away from death and Kupono is trying to pull me toward it.” So then how does a piece focused on a beautiful young girl being dragged to her death translate into a hit TV prime time dance competition? It does so simply through amazingly beautiful choreography.
For a dance to be remarkable, it has to not just be based in solid technique, as was exhibited by Radomski and Aweau, or simply on conveying a story, but on something much more. Think about it, how many times have you been to the theatre or watched a movie and seen a dance routine trying to tell a story that instead turned into something dishonest and contrived? Unfortunately, many times choreographers will put their sole attention only on the steps, perhaps forcing a storyline into their predetermined routine and thus confining it, not allowing the routine to breathe and grow. No, for dance to be truly remarkable, there has to be an unadulterated emotionality involved, a passion for the piece that is imbued into the dancers by the choreographer. Coupling this passion with flawless technique and with the desire to take risks in one’s approach to their art form is what makes something truly brilliant. This is exactly what choreographer Sonya Tayeh has done.
Look at not just the faces of Kayla and Kupono, but also at the lines that are being created. There is nothing but pure emotion emanating forth from each of their characters. They exist at the same time as separate as well as one and the same. It is evident that this is not just merely a series of steps that a choreographer has thrust upon them, but rather an extension of the passion for the piece from Tayeh herself, allowing it to transcend into something greater. The piece is bold, it is daring and it is brilliant. Movements will turn from the staccato and jerky to the ethereal and flowing. The piece balances constantly between a disjointed opposition, such as its opening with a standing Kupono pulling a struggling Kayla across the stage floor, to a bound and unbreakable unity, culminating in an incredible modified tour jetÃ© with both dancers landing on their hips simultaneously. As Tayeh explains, “I believe having a strong sense of self as a human being allows movement to become natural like nature. Nature changes®¦it’s constantly evolving. Being of this earth, we must do the same. If we move with nature, our bodies will never lie, it will simply be natural.”
This organic approach is readily apparent in the piece and has the result of rooting not only both dancers to the foundational elements of the earth and the choreography itself, but also to the constantly changing nature of the other. The result is absolute brilliance and it is why this single minute and a half moment is by far the most amazing thing seen on television last week.
Season five of “So You Think you Can Dance” airs Wednesday and Thursday nights on Fox.