Louisville, Kentucky was my home this summer. Perhaps it was some subconscious effort to offset the number of antique museums and prairies I passed every morning on my way to work, but I started watching “So You Think You Can Dance” two nights a week. Louisville was — to me — slow-moving and relaxed; “So You Think You Can Dance” was neck-sprainingly fast and exceedingly dramatic.
“I can’t take you. What you bring to the floor annoys the shit out of me,” panel judge and villain extraordinaire Mia Michaels once told a contestant during his audition. About 10 episodes later, a guest judge watched winner Jeanine Mason as she performed nine consecutive pirouettes. His response? “Are you kidding?! Those pirouettes that you just did, did you know you were going to be able to do that? Dude! That was a risky solo … you just KILLED it!” To watch such blatant belittlement and then such flattery — it was so much like the radical ups and downs of Yale. How many times had I tried to dance my way around Paleocene and Pleisteocene references, just to get shot down by my History of Life T.A.? How many times had I proposed some dubious thesis, and then watched, amazed, as my Literature professor agreed that it made sense?
While the judges reminded me of some Yale professors, the dancers themselves were a sight Yale rarely sees. If you took the emotionally-charged energy of the densely packed dancers at a SigEp party, and multiplied it by the thrill of gyrating half naked at DKE, you still wouldn’t come close to the grace on the “So You Think You Can Dance” stage. I remember the time Jeanine’s partner snuck up behind her during her only dance with him, and at the exact moment when she tried to jab his approaching face with her elbow, he jolted backward — proving that they were as well paired as Fred and Ginger. Seeing such synchronization, it made me want to leap through the air. I would repress this urge by furiously punching whichever couch pillow was nearest to my person. (This summer was a summer of many friends …)
When the season ended in early August, I flailed my arms helplessly. Thankfully, that’s when my sister handed me the first “Twilight” book.