So, Canada Can Dance: SYTYCD x Dancehall

August 2, 2011

Words by Erin MacLeod

So You Think You Can Dance is not a TV show. It’s a global phenomenon. With twenty versions of the contest airing worldwide, the program has showcased a huge range of different styles–from capoiera to tango to the waltz. On more than a few occasions, dancehall has been tossed into the mix, but with varying results. Finland’s version of the show has tried to sprinkle in a touch of Jamaica but with limited success. See the valiant, yet perhaps not passable, exhibit A:

And the just bizarre exhibit B:

So You Think You Can Dance Australia has kicked it up a notch, with a fairly decent, Sean Paul-soundtracked all-girl number:

And another stab, to more Sean Paul, with questionable facial expressions and shirt removal:

The problem with all this So You Think You Can Dancehall is that in each routine there’s a little something (or a lot of something) that just doesn’t work. Whether it’s the music, the moves, some kind of bizarre version of the worm, the hips ultimately do lie. Not a single one is really successful.

And then there’s So You Think You Can Dance Canada. For the third year in a row, the Canadian edition of the show has shined the light on dancehall–successfully. Dancers used to ballet or b-boying have been taught to sweep, butterfly and gully creep with the best of the best. The first year it was Sean Paul’s “So Fine”:

Last season’s routine to Kartel’s “Clarks” garnered a lot of attention:

Even from CNN (hell, even from LargeUp! –ed)

(And do keep watching until the judges comments—yes, Luther Brown does use the word “skettel” as a compliment). This year it was Mavado’s “Star Bwoy” that provided the accompaniment for yet another great routine:

The difference, of course, is SYTYCD Canada has Toronto’s amazing Jae Blaze. Though you may not know her name unless you watch the show, you’ve seen the dancehall flair of her work, in everything from Sean Paul’s “Get Busy” to the Superbowl. So just in case anybody at the American version of the show is getting any ideas–please, make sure they take a tip from their northern neighbour and give Jae a call first.