The Art Stimulates Art Series: The Top 18 and Publication–It’s Unpredictable

Filed under: Check-it-out, Dancing, Pondering, Publishing, Writing

Last week I officially started the Art Stimulates Art Series, inspired by watching season 10 of So You Think You Can Dance. Last week’s post is HERE, if you’d like to catch up. But the short version is that different kinds of art are capable of providing me with growth and inspiration in my writing. And because I’m a dancer and love the show, it really gives me lots of interesting ideas about the writing process.




This week the Top 20 became the Top 18. Nothing unusual here, but this was the first season where the elimination came at the top of the show instead of at the end. I have mixed feelings about the format, but that isn’t what struck me the most this week. What captured my attention was that the bottom three girls and boys weren’t necessarily the people who had the weakest performances. It reminded me that success isn’t always just about talent. There are other things involved like personality, luck and even air time/marketing.  My favorite performance this week came from Aaron and his partner Jasmine. Aaron (an awesome tapper) tried out for SYTYCD on a previous season and got cut right before the top 20. This year he was cut in the same spot again. It was devastating, but by chance, one of the guys who made the top 20 had to drop out and Aaron was guy #11 and was asked to take the empty place in the Top 20. Every time I see him perform I think what a huge mistake it would have been have let him go. He’s a huge favorite of mine and he is resonating with the audience. Yet he wasn’t supposed to happen…

I can’t help but recognize the same weeding-out process in publishing that I’m witnessing in dance. Just like the SYTYCD judges who had a plethora of amazing tappers this year and had to cut one, editors have specific lists and needs that dictate their acquisitions. There are also authors who’s charisma takes their book to places most people only hope to go. They have stage presence and audience connection. There are great books written by great writers that never see the light of day because they don’t fit into the traditional categories the way a dancer on the show needs to fit into contemporary, jazz, ballroom etc…  But then again, there is always that one “Bollywood manuscript with African Jazz leanings and a side of crump that happens while balancing in point shoes,” and it becomes the next best seller because it was the right manuscript, in the right place, at the right time. No one could have predicted it. They never do.

What does this mean for the dancers on SYTYCD and us writers? It means that there are no guarantees. Whether  you’re going to dance or write–you damn well better be doing it for the love of the art itself. At the end of the day you don’t know, and you’ll never know, where it is going to take you. But just because you’re moving forward with only the light of your headlights to guide your way, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still work hard, strive for success, be knowledgable, have a plan and shoot for your dream. Just remember that the only thing you can predict–is whether you will show up to do the thing you love, even if no one else is watching.

Any thoughts on the new way their doing the eliminations? How do you feel about the lack of control and predictability in publishing? Who would you have sent home last night?


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  1. I am a HUGE SYTYCD fan too, Kim! And I agree, the dance you showed was one of my faves. I do not like the new format, with the elimination at the top of the show. Actually I didn’t like it last year when they took away the second night and crammed it all into one show. BUT I thought it worked better to have the elimination at the end, then the poor dancers going home could at least perform first and possibly be saved if they did a great job. Now they don’t even have that chance.I wonder why they are doing it this way? Oh well, I do think that the level of dancing gets better each year!

    • My preference is the two show format too. I can sort of see putting it in the beginning because then the bottom three are truly based only on that week’s performances, but since the judges take so much into account anyway, I think I’d rather see it at the end. I also agree–better and better every year!!!!

  2. I’m SO glad Aaron made the show, too! He’s marvelous. I have so many favorites this season as well it’s going to be hard to choose the winner.

    Which makes me wonder about editors who end up with several manuscripts on their desk at the same time that they *love* but know they can’t sign them all up. Hmm . . . does that happen much? Is there an editor lurking here? 🙂

    • I think it’s going to be the hardest year yet to choose. And that’s a really good point. I’d love to hear about that if there are any lurking editors. Editors???? Are you there????

  3. I don’t like how they do the eliminations and then ask the dancers to support their partners in the dance. Is it real-world, asking someone to perform after a big disappointment? Yes. Is it fair to them or their partners? No. I’d rather they at least wait until the end of the night to make the announcement/pick.

    I’m going to be a dance controversial-ist here and say that I probably would send one of the animators home. As talented as they are, all the other dancers are asked to be flexible in all the dance styles and are judged pretty harshly if they don’t fit, but I feel like the judges and choreographers baby the animators. So, I probably would have sent one of them home!

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