Since Iveta Lukosiute, the 30-year-old ten-dance ballroom champion, got the boot on “So You Think You Can Dance” last week, the blogosphere has been churning with debates about what the judges are – and should be – looking for on the show. Is “SYTYCD” about potential? Or performance?
 
Nigel blathered on and on about Ryan Ramirez’s “potential,” even though a lot of people (myself included) felt her solo performance was middling at best. I’m also starting to question her permagrin, which seems stuck onto her face even during routines that should be about communicating anguish or sadness. The first time around, I was willing to chalk it up to a creative choice between her and the choreographer, but as the competition continued, it seemed to me Ryan only has one setting – Disney theme park. It’s not a bad setting, but given the extremely high level of competition (yes, I do think season 8 may be the best yet), I need more.
 
It seemed to me that Iveta, with her ten dance champion status, had that more I’m talking about. She was polished, graceful and easy to watch. My suspicion is that Nigel (and perhaps the other judges, but I suspect Mary probably went to bat for her fellow ballroom gal Iveta) feels that at her “advanced” age Iveta has learned all she can, and she’s as good as she’s going to get (or at least close to it). It could also be convincingly argued that Iveta’s had her day in the sun – she’s well-known in the world of ballroom, so maybe she doesn’t really “need” “SYTYCD” the way the younger dancers do. All valid points.
 
But even though I’m not sure I was rooting for Iveta to win the whole thing, I do feel like I wanted to see more from her – and that’s certainly not happening on “SYTYCD,” as this year was her last to qualify. While I’m sure we’ll see Ryan stretch and grow more dramatically than we would Iveta (who’s already polished), I’m not thrilled with the judges for making decisions based on what they suspect will happen as opposed to what’s actually in front of their faces.
 
Call it a lack of imagination on my part, but I’m old fashioned – I think the best performance should be rewarded, plain and simple. And while sometimes it's subjective, last week it really wasn't -- and the judges admitted as much. So, even though they could have picked performance, instead they went for potential. And while I understand their reasons for doing so (better TV, a more emotional journey), I’m a little disappointed. Yes, it’s a reality TV competition, and it’s about finding America’s favorite dancer, not the best dancer. But in theory, you’d hope that those would be one in the same.
 
What do you think? Which dancers do you think have promise, and which ones do you think are already firing on all cylinders? And do you think judges should reward potential over performance?