Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Erotic Fun for All Ages
Talk about a weird title. Well, bear with me here, I have a point to make.
Saturday night I was privileged to be among the 123,000 people who will be seeing the “So You Think You Can Dance” Tour across the U.S. What an incredible experience it was, too. The top ten finalists from the Fox hit show performed for about two hours, including the various video retrospectives that gave them time for costume changes and breath-catching.
The audience was enthusiastic, to put it mildly. Deafening applause, screams, and standing ovations (I’ll bet we gave them 15 at least) were the order of the night. It was the kind of show that brought that out in a person. The neat thing about this audience was that it included all ages, from senior citizens down to lots of little kids. From the preponderance of 8 to 12 year old girls, I suspect there were a lot of dance students present.
So it was definitely a family crowd, and obviously a family-style program. Nevertheless, the show had a powerful erotic element, at least according to my definition. Regular readers of this blog know that in my view, the erotic does not necessarily include graphic sex; sometimes it’s more about the creative life force--that stuff that makes the world go round, if you will. To me, the erotic doesn’t always arouse sexually; sometimes it makes you feel romantic, joyful, creative, or energized. And while there was absolutely nothing in the show not suitable for the kids in the room, nevertheless in a totally wholesome kind of way it was erotic.
I’ll give you three examples, drawn from what seemed to be the audience’s favorite numbers, all three being reprisals of routines done during the TV series.
The renowned “bench” routine (to “Calling You” by Celine Dion):
This dance was so popular on the TV show that when the lights came up on our stage to reveal the presence of a bench, we got to our feet before the dance even started! In this contemporary routine, Travis and Heidi act out a classic mating sequence, with the twist that the female is the one trying to woo the male. The guy is just on the edge of giving in, and sometimes you think he will, but in the end he sadly walks off the stage.
This dance depicted the wooing process not as a seduction, but as taming, an attempt to convince the loved one that it is safe to submit to intimacy. The tension humans feel between their longing for intimacy and their fear of it is universal, and is a key element of erotica. While we may or may not be yearning for literal intercourse, humans of all ages seek closeness with each other, and when we manage to achieve it, the result can be wonderful. The fact that Heidi and Travis could not come together at the end of their dance was painfully poignant.
The “runway” routine (to Justin Timberlake’s “Sexy Back”):
This is definitely the most overly sexual of my examples. In this dance, which features the entire ensemble, the dancers portray models on a runway. A lot of pouting, vogueing, and strutting takes place, “Zoolander” style. It gives the dancers a chance to focus unabashedly on looking sexy.
It’s really impossible to take runway models completely seriously, so this routine was definitely tongue-in-cheek. Nevertheless, the poise, grace, and self-confidence of the dancers functioned to make them all come across as damn hot. This is a lesson I don’t mind having the kids in the audience learn: It’s not how good-looking you are, or how you dress, but whether you believe in yourself that determines how attractive you are to others. The ultimate love charm is attitude.
The “geek” dance, aka the Tranji dance (to “Gyrate” by Da Muzicianz):
In this number, top two finalists Benji and Travis come on stage dressed as nerds, but the irresistible rhythm of the hip-hop song transforms them to cool guys with street cred. When the beat sets their pelvises thrusting (and this in turn sets the audience screaming), they do a quick half-striptease, losing their backpacks and glasses and flipping their caps around.
First of all, Benji and Travis are just as endearing as dorks as they are as their hip-hop alter egos. It’s a ton of fun for the chicks in the audience to enjoy them in both modes in the same dance. But the message here is that music and dance bring you to life. You lose your introverted geeky meekness and get aggressive, wild, and ready for fun. That’s a kind of arousal, and while only a certain part of it is sexual, it works just as well with pre-pubescent kids who don’t understand sex yet but sure do appreciate fun.
There were all kinds of other erotic moments I could relate from the show (from the romance of the Viennese waltz, to the sexy drama of the tango, to Ryan using Heidi’s trim butt cheeks as bongo drums), but you get the idea. This show vividly made the point that erotic and wholesome are not opposite ends of the spectrum. Wholesome erotic elements can energize and inspire people of all ages--in fact, that’s part of their true nature.
I’d be interested to know what impact being at the show had on our audience. I have a feeling just about everyone had a little more upbeat and productive Sunday than usual. I know I’m going to be running on that energy for quite a long time….