Aug. 5th, 2009

wintergr3y: (gaskells)
I attended the So You Think You Can Dance performance finale last night!

With last minute invitation from [livejournal.com profile] kevbot and his wife to [personal profile] capricious_k  and I, and a lot of last minute scrambling, we managed to pull of a day trip down to LA for the show. It required a lot of things to go right, but the stars aligned and we had a blast.

Kev had signed up for tickets a while ago, and only just got notification that some vouchers had been assigned to him. Mind you, these were vouchers, not tickets. The FAQ explained that you had to go stand in line to pick up tickets, and getting a voucher was not a guarantee of a ticket. It seems that much like airlines overbook flights, SYTYCD overbooks shows.

We got up early on Tuesday morning and with just the clothes on our backs (thanks again ScotteVest!) and a nice shirt in my patented disposable dress shirt transportation system (aka a plastic bag from the supermarket) we drove to the airport. Kev and Rachel had some upgrade coupons for the airline that were about to expire, so to make the day even better they upgraded us to 1st class airplane seats (which is also the first time I've ever done that).

Short hop down to LA and a taxi ride to Hollywood got us to the Kodak Theater (the same one they do the Oscars in). It was also my first time in Hollywood; I'm not sure how I managed to go this long with out ever stopping there. We stood in line, which was thankfully in the shade, and got pretty good seats. We actually had a couple of extra passes, which Rachel conveniently had organized to give away to some folks she'd only communicated with via FriendFeed. We all sat down for an early dinner, and got prepared. Part of that preparation was ditching our cell phones -- no phones or cameras were allowed in the theater -- which Kev took care of by slipping a few bucks to the concierge at the hotel next door.

Into the theater we went. First off, the Kodak theater is huge an gorgeous. Needless to say, there were a lot of teenage girls and the staff definitely sat a lot of them in the front of the orchestra section. That turned out to be not so great for some of them; the staff had a mandate to keep 100% of the seats filled at all times so no empty seats ever showed up on camera, and when they led in all the choreographers, competitors from earlier in the season & earlier seasons, and special guests the teenage seat-fillers were booted out (and I think banished to the upper mezzanine).

The whole experience took about 4 hours: 1 hour to seat us all while they performed some final technical checks, then about 3 hours to tape a 2 hour show. They taped it almost as you see it, with occasional re-dos when there was a technical boo-boo. Needless to say, it was fantastic to see the dancing performed live instead of edited for TV, so you could actually take in the whole piece (and the dancers' whole bodies instead of occasional close-ups of feet or heads).

All of the dancing was great, but the real stand-out was Jeanine. She's always been an underdog and isn't my favorite, but her solo was the best she's ever done and won an instant standing ovation. There's also a paso doble at the end that's amazingly good. Other highlights included the whole theater shouting "EVAN! EVAN! EVAN! EVAN!" right after Nigel gave him a bad review, Cat's funny improvs, all the children they interviewed in the audience during the "commercial breaks," and Phillip getting up on stage to do a spontaneous performance during another of the breaks.

We rushed out of the theater as they wrapped up. Kev had ordered a car for us to get us back to LAX, where we made it in plenty of time to catch our flight home. A very long day, but well worth it.

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