Wednesday, August 20, 2014

An Open Letter to FOX about "So You Think You Can Dance"

Dear FOX (and any other TV station),

My name is Stefanie Sears. I am a professional freelance arts and entertainment writer from and residing in New Jersey. I am an avid fan of "So You Think You Can Dance" ("SYTYCD"), the American version, and it has been my favorite show since I began watching it back in 2007. Thank you for the show's very successful eleven seasons thus far. It has brought so much joy to my life and to the lives of others.

However, it has come to my attention that the show's fate weighs in the balance, so please allow me to express why it deserves to continue to have a spot in your summer prime time lineup.

Met Season 9 winner Chehon Wespi-Tschopp
at his Che Force Dance! The Convention Tour
1) "So You Think You Can Dance" helps some dancers' careers by focusing on them.

As an artist myself, a writer and a performing arts writer at that, I completely understand the struggle young artists endure to find good paying work for their abilities. It absolutely infuriates me to see no-talented folk constantly getting attention and big bucks for doing nothing worthwhile while young passionate artists who actually care and have talent are grabbing at peanuts.

For SYTYCD in particular, not only are dance and dancers showcased, they are SPOTLIGHTED. They are not background dancers like in most other shows; they are front and center. The first time we really saw this was when "A Chorus Line", known as the "dancers' musical," premiered on Broadway in 1975.

Let's continue to see this.

The dancers then go onto bigger things because the show has made them recognizable and I enjoy watching their careers progress. Contestants nowadays have been viewers who in the past have aspired to get on the show and end up achieving just that. Taking the show away takes away more career opportunity chances from more dancers.

In addition, the show gives the choreographers a chance to create and the acknowledgement they deserve.

2) "So You Think You Can Dance" introduces an art form that is rarely explored on TV (but the trend has been getting more popular).

In the television industry, singing competition game shows dominate, so it is great to see another art form, dance, highlighted in this way. Another show that comes to mind that does this and airs on general television is "Dancing with the Stars" ("DWTS"), a show that actually incorporates some SYTYCD alum. The difference between SYTYCD and DWTS is that DWTS focuses mainly on ballroom dancing whereas SYTYCD is more varied, though DWTS seems to have been expanding its horizons. Another difference is that although DWTS gives celebrities an opportunity to dance, SYTYCD is a way for young dancers to break out into the dance field.

A part of me wishes that "So You Think You Can Dance" wasn't a competition game show but rather just a dance variety show, but the show is what it is and does what it does.

Not only is it entertainment, it is educational, something that a lot of TV shows nowadays lack. Unlike what happens with "American Idol," SYTYCD's singing sister show that has been on the air even longer, the general consistency of the judges on SYTYCD is also a plus. I've often noticed that veteran judges Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy and host Cat Deeley always really seem to love their jobs.

3)  "So You Think You Can Dance" is often up for an Emmy.

This year it is up for SEVEN (and even won some!). Not only is this an honor for the show itself, it is an honor for your station as well.

Season 11's Top 18 performs a chess themed hip hop group number
(My current desktop wallpaper)

4) "So You Think You Can Dance" created "National Dance Day".

Technically, SYTYCD's executive producer Nigel Lythgoe and his Dizzy Feet Foundation created the dance holiday, but SYTYCD is how a lot of participants have heard about it and the Dizzy Feet Foundation, which was "founded to support, improve, and increase dance education in the United States." It is wonderful to share such a great day celebrating dance with a TV show that promotes it. We share this happiness together and it is one of my favorite days of the year.

5) The "So You Think You Can Dance" Tours are the best experiences.

The SYTYCD Tours have been some of the best nights of my life. I've attended the tours for seasons 4, 7, and 10. Seeing the dancers you have admired onscreen now live, up close, and personal is always such an amazing experience.

Getting to meet them and chat for a little while is even better.

Meeting Stephen "Twitch" Boss at my first SYTYCD tour with friends Lauren and Cara
SYTYCD Tour 2008

Season 7's Robert Roldan from SYTYCD Tour 2010
(I've treasured this picture for years)

Season 10 from SYTYCD Tour 2013

6) "So You Think You Can Dance" helps people make friends.

Everybody seems to have their own fandom. This one happens to be mine. We've all heard of fans who have bonded over "Doctor Who", "Breaking Bad", and "Game of Thrones", to name a few, but I ended up connecting with fellow fans across the states and the globe because of THIS show. It is great to bond with people in this way, and I ended up bonding with two groups. One is the #SOTTMP (the acronym for which is an inside joke) and the other is the #SYTYCDFanFamily. I am grateful to have met them all through this show and share memories with them.

Not only are the fans a family unit, those involved with the show are a family unit as well. Together we invest in these dancers and hope the best for them.

7) "So You Think You Can Dance" is a source of happiness.

For some people, SYTYCD may be their only source of happiness in an otherwise struggling world. I myself can attest to this to an extent.

In a world full of bad news constantly taking place and corroding our newsfeeds and airwaves, or just being a post-graduate looking for good paying work and feeling frustrated at times, watching the show and interviews with the dancers instantly makes me feel better and takes my mind off of things. The words of wisdom from the dancers inspire me and their quirky personalities make me laugh.

But although dance is something to enjoy in times of sorrow, it could also be used to raise awareness and release emotion about the negatives in the world. This is something we all need.

The show itself is something for us all to come together and look forward to every week and especially every summer. We look forward to meeting new dancers and routines. Once a season (and even its following tour) ends, we end up feeling withdrawal. No other show gets the same reaction or comes up to it, at least for me.

There could be other reasons that other people and myself could add to this, but I believe my point still stands that "So You Think You Can Dance" is one worthwhile television program.
Of course, ratings are an issue, as well as money, and all good shows must come to an end at some point, but "So You Think You Can Dance" has not yet reached that point. The show is unique when compared to other shows that are currently airing (some of which that have overstayed their welcome) and I can assure you that people do indeed tune in and appreciate what it has to offer. The show has its fans. There are also those who watch the show online or on their DVRs, so this could account for the low ratings in real time.

Ever need further proof? Check out what people have to say on Facebook and Twitter. You say yourself in the snippet to the left that you love the show, so it shouldn't be an issue for you to keep it alive.

SYTYCD helps people through their struggles and brings them joy. It deserves to continue that legacy.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. It is much appreciated if you were to please take your audience's requests and pleas into consideration.


Stefanie Sears