educator, mental health advocate, social entrepreneur, inspirational speaker, author, writer/contributor, program executive, and radio host

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"So You Think You Can Dance" Teaches Important Life Lessons   



This season “So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD)” announced that it wouldn’t follow its normal format to identify the best dancers from its excruciating audition process; instead, it would select dancers from two categories: stage versus street.  This distinction meant that the top 20 dancers would be comprised of the top 10 stage and top 10 street dancers.  This innovative concept is quite interesting, which made me curiously watch to see the outcome.

The audition process followed a similar track as past seasons, except that the dancers competed based on their talents to be on a specific team.  The dancers didn’t know the effect of this change on the performance shows; however, for the street dancers, this selection process provided them with the best opportunity to make the show in its 12 year history.  Although, one dancer (Denys Drozdyuk – winner of SYTYCD Canada in 2010) decided during the selection process that he wasn’t willing to take a chance on the show’s new format; therefore, he withdrew from the competition moments from being selected as one of the top 20 dancers.  This type of fear of the unknown based on personal considerations and gut feelings that might not be fully informed can lead individuals to lose out on excellent opportunities.

The best part of this season is that anyone who is a talented dancer is given a chance to excel regardless of the manner which or location that the individual was trained.  Many of the street dancers’ styles and some of their non-traditional looks (e.g., hairstyles, tattoos, ear rings) would be automatic disqualifiers.  But why?  If dance is an artistic expression of passion and joy, then couldn’t these traits transfer over to other dance styles?  Absolutely, but it also depends on the amount of heart and desire that an individual has toward achieving their goal(s) --- assuming that there’s a foundation to build upon.

It didn’t take long for the selected street dancers to prove that they earned their place on the show --- even if there was sometimes a noticeable lack of technical training.  Notwithstanding these manageable limitations, one of the show’s judges and executive producers (Nigel Lythgoe) demonstrated valuable lessons for anyone who doesn’t select someone because very specific skills are absent.  The lesson being that… if someone has a skillset that’s related but not exact, the decision-maker shouldn’t use this as an absolute limiting factor because their passion and desire to learn can make the individual a much better asset than someone who only possesses a specific skill.

There are so many talented individuals who want to enter numerous fields who don’t have the technical training, but have developed their innate capabilities for their particular craft or gift --- even if it’s not technically accurate.  It must be remembered that technical skills can many times be trained, but passion isn’t something that can be taught.   The unfortunate part is that too many times very capable individuals are unnecessarily prevented from having opportunities to excel because of judgmental limitations that inhibit their progress.

​My hope is that by watching this season someone who wouldn’t normally give an individual an opportunity will look beyond their own personal or absolute technical biases to give an otherwise talented person a much needed chance.​