I’m sure that people won’t like me talking about this, but when has this ever stopped me before? First, I should make it clear that when I write posts like this I’m mostly disappointed with the producers of SYTYCD and not Russell. However, one of the problems with writing a blog and being so involved in a show like SYTYCD is that you find out all the background story that the producers have chosen not to tell you. A part of me LOVES to know “the rest of the story” and the other part of me feels betrayed by the producers of the show. Either way, it is what it is and I still LOVE watching the dancers on SYTYCD. I think this is likely to never change.
With that preface, I was disappointed to read about all the formal dance training that Russell Ferguson had before going on SYTYCD. Here’s a short section of an interview Russell did with People.com where he talks about the dance training he had before the show:
You’ve often been referred to as a “street dance” diamond in the ruff but you’ve had some dance education, right?
I’ve been doing hip-hop all my life. So, I figured if I was going to take on any big dance projects later in life, I would have to learn other things to be well-rounded in the dance field. I did four years at Boston Arts and I did a good year at The University of the Arts, so I got a good amount of training in.
The judges portrayal of you as this unpolished stone. Was that accurate?
They know I had some form of training. But the thing is, a lot of people that do train, like that is what they do, that is their dance style, that’s their lifestyle. And me, I really did just come from the streets.
5 years of formal training? That’s a little more than just coming from the street. As I think back on some of the comments the judges made about Russell, you can tell that they knew about this information and were trying to maintain the persona that Russell was a “street dancer” without outright lieing. For example, I remember Nigel saying something like, “You’re basically an untrained dancer.” Then, he went on to compare him to Legacy when Nigel said, “You’re like Legacy, but you point your toes.” The interesting part is that I think Legacy actually is an untrained dancer. Russell is not.
Of course, when Russell won I think we all realized where he’d come from was the street. I absolutely adore that he won the show. I also loved how raw and real his reaction was when he won. I know some people didn’t like it too much, but to me it was beautiful. I’m not sure why he took his shirt off, but he was living in a moment that he probably thought he’d never experience. I don’t know all his background, but I bet Russell really does have a story to tell about where he came from and how he made it to an arts college and now as winner of SYTYCD. You could see the story in his face and in the face of his family.
This won’t be the first or the last time the producers don’t tell the whole story about dancers. I remember the outrage about this short post I did about Twitch dancing in Hairspray. No one had an issue that Twitch was in Hairspray. It was that the show acted like he hadn’t done anything like it before. To be honest, I’m amazed that the producers told us that Mollee was the principal dancer on all 3 High School Musicals. I guess they probably figured most people would find that one out anyway.
I don’t think any of this diminishes the quality of the dancing and the entertainment value that their dancing brings to me when I watch the show. All of that is amazing and it’s great that Russell can go out and do a Krump routine and follow it up with some ballroom. Is it just too much for me to wish that the producers didn’t produce the show so much. Probably.