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The NY Times writes about Danny Tidwell being on SYTYCD

Submitted by on 12 Jul 2007 – 3:58 PM Comments

David Benaym

Danny Tidwell

Note from David Benaym, Publisher and Editor in Chief of Movmnt, Magazine he co-founded with Danny Tidwell.

Having Danny Tidwell, movmnt co-founder, competing among the Top 20 dancers in FOX TV’s So You Think You Can Dance, it naturally occurred to us to avoid covering the show on a regular basis. In order to avert any perception of favoritism or subjectivity, as a magazine that covers dance and pop culture as a lifestyle, we chose not to cover the competition and respect Danny’s total independence as a dancer, as well as to preserve our integrity and credibility as a publication. Of course, we have been rooting for Danny privately since Day 1, just like we did with Travis last year. As frustrating as it is sometimes to witness the mis-interpretation or mis-understanding of personalities, we welcome the challenge and continue to enjoy our very own evolution as a magazine.

Gia Kourlas writes in the New York Times her own point of view, with an understanding of Danny’s ability and evolution in the dance world. What I would like to bring to the table is that here at movmnt, we love and respect SYTYCD. This show, like no other on television, brings dance into our lives, our living rooms, conversations, the blogosphere, and, of course, the NY Times.

Thanks to its inclusion of an incredible diversity of training styles, backgrounds and cultures, SYTYCD reunites talent with emotion, and in doing so brings so many of the different worlds of dance together. Nigel Lythgoe’s production entertains people across America, and is causing them to feel rhythm in their senses, bringing back dance as emotion, as a language, and as a lifestyle.

David Benaym, movmnt co-founder and publisher

Bellow is the NY Times article:
NY Times
So He Knows He Can Dance: A Prince Among Paupers
Published: July 11, 2007

The mission of the popular television show “So You Think You Can Dance” is not to crown America’s favorite dancer, but to find Leroy from the 1980 film “Fame” — a gritty dancer with attitude who possesses nothing but a soaring jump and the ability to spin on a dime. It won’t hurt if the new Leroy is also an emotional wreck. America loves nothing better than to see arrogance crushed to reveal deep vulnerability.

Photo by Joe Viles/Fox

Danny Tidwell dancing with Anya Garnis on “So You Think You Can Dance” and, right, performing with American Ballet Theater in 2004.

But Leroy, it turns out, is an elusive muse, and the show, now in its third season and open to both men and women, has failed to produce a dancer of much distinction. (“So You Think You Can Dance” pairs dancers who perform a different style of dance each Wednesday at 8 p.m., Eastern and Pacific times, on Fox; the following night, results of an audience vote are announced. After a round of 30-second solos performed by those in danger of elimination, two dancers are sent packing.)

This summer, however, there is a prince among the rest, whose backgrounds range from ballroom to hip-hop. His name is Danny Tidwell, and though he has strategically placed himself in the category of “contemporary dancer,” ballet fans in New York know he represents a great deal more.

As a corps member at American Ballet Theater, which he joined in 2003, Mr. Tidwell performed many lead parts, including the eerie spirit in Michel Fokine’s “Spectre de la Rose.” But even though he seemed about to rise through the ranks of one of the world’s finest companies, two summers ago he made a mystifying move: he quit Ballet Theater and joined Complexions, a contemporary-ballet company. (Currently, Mr. Tidwell is a freelance dancer and also a creator of movmnt, a magazine focusing on dance, music and fashion.)

On television it’s difficult to tell if Mr. Tidwell is trying to reinvent himself as Leroy or if he is the classically trained version of that character. He has been accused of arrogance by the show’s judges. Even after Mr. Tidwell was selected to be one of the show’s top 20 contestants at the start of the season, Shane Sparks, a choreographer and judge who didn’t want him on the show, observed that he “stood there like he was God’s gift to the world.”

The judges took Mr. Tidwell on in the hope of changing him, attitude and all. But he doesn’t need any changing, and both his unflinching poise and his chiseled, determined jaw seem to indicate that he knows it.

By his own account, Mr. Tidwell, 22, didn’t have an easy childhood. In an interview on the show, he said: “When I was younger, I got into a lot of trouble. Getting the opportunity to dance really got me out of that.” It also provided the opportunity to meet “the lady who took custody of me when I was 12 years old.” Dancing, he explained, was his salvation.

The woman who adopted him, Denise Wall, is the mother of Travis Wall, Season Two’s runner-up; Mr. Tidwell first studied at her studio in Virginia Beach, before training at the Kirov Academy of Ballet of Washington.

If Mr. Tidwell is different from the other dancers on the show, the distinction has as much to do with his dignity as with his impeccable line and his ability to infuse slight choreography with authority, rare on such a talent show. When it comes time for him to pose while a phone number for viewers’ votes flashes on the screen, he never mugs for the camera. It’s sad, yet hardly a surprise, that such behavior could be taken as superciliousness.

Even more disturbing is the idea that “So You Think You Can Dance” has emerged as a viable option for real dancers, including Mr. Tidwell, who don’t have to look far to see that career options have been greatly depleted. At its best, the show provides a kind of kicky fun, the good side of cheesy. But it’s also outdated and perpetuates many stereotypes about what constitutes good dance (speed is in, subtlety is out), what language is used to describe it and how training makes boring dancers.

The biggest culprit is the show’s executive producer and judge, Nigel Lythgoe, from his implied homophobic comments (he approves of the way the show’s male performers dance like “dudes”) to his misguided criticism and declarations about what a dancer should be. His obsession with discovering and promoting the show’s “unique dancers” — conceivably someone like Leroy (played in “Fame” by Gene Anthony Ray) — must be driving hard-working dance teachers mad.

In one episode, Mr. Lythgoe declared: “What I dislike are dance snobs, and those are people who think you need a formal training with years and years of experience before you can be called a dancer.” He continued: “You don’t just need a formal training. It’s because you have a great feel for dance.”

While contestants on shows like “American Idol” have become combative with judges, dancers on “So You Think You Can Dance” retreat. Suffering humiliation, even vague and unfounded, is part of the vocation. When Mr. Lythgoe criticized Mr. Tidwell’s hip-hop routine, his subservient reply — “Yes, sir” — was heartbreaking.

The audience didn’t vote Mr. Tidwell and his partner into the next round, but they performed solos that were deemed strong enough to save them from elimination. Then an odd and hilarious thing happened: During Mr. Lythgoe’s speech revealing the audience vote, Mr. Tidwell began laughing so uncontrollably that he had to cover his mouth.

It’s impossible to say if his giggle fit had to do with Mr. Lythgoe’s ridiculous summation or if the amateur quality of the show finally hit him in full horror. All that really matters is that Mr. Tidwell has managed to survive another week. It’s impossible to know what will happen on the show, where talent and experience seem to count for less than a sentimental speech about a dream.

It has been reported that there is a remake of “Fame” in the works. Casting has not yet been announced, but Mr. Tidwell, win or lose, should play Leroy. He’s earned it.

Correction: July 13, 2007

A picture caption in The Arts on Wednesday with an article about the dancer Danny Tidwell misidentified the site of an international ballet competition where he was shown performing in 2002. It was Jackson, Miss., not Shanghai.

Link to the NYT article online


  1. danceisadrian says:

    i think danny is the best dancer on sytycd and his talent is rare. so danny should just forget any negative comments about him because is the best dancer on that show.