That was the sound I made when Lady C asked me to watch ‘World of Dance’ on NBC with her. Because I was in the mood for…something else — anything else, really. J Lo? Seriously? Because she hasn’t been on my watch list since OUT OF SIGHT, which is ridiculously good.
“You wanted to tussle. We tussled.”
Goddamn she was great in that movie. I have to watch that again.
But since then? Like, the Ben Affleck years? Tabloid gossip nonsense? Yeah, she’s been off my radar. So is this really how I’m going to spend my night? Watching a bunch of goddamn fan dancers kiss up to Jenny From the Block?
Brockmire is just sitting on my DVR, I think to myself. Just sitting there, waiting for me to watch it for the third time.
But no. It’s okay. World of Dance. World of Dance. I recently wrote about how much I love anything physical, too. I basically wrote about ice dancing. But regular dancing? Not excited about it for some reason. Maybe it’s the format. I don’t do these talent shows where there’s always one asshole judge there to crush everyone’s dreams publicly so the parts of the American populace I never understand can get their banal, mean-spirited schadenfreude rush. Not into this at all.
What a stellar partner I am, I think, to even consider foregoing all of my other fantastic programming to support the love of my life.
Hero is a word that passes through my mind. Saint. I am a motherfucking saint. Sacrifice of this magnitude: a whole night — surely should result in instant canonization.
“So we’re doing this.” I say, trying to buck myself up like a seven year old staring over a foreboding plate of brussel sprouts.
“Yes.” Said Lady C. She loves dance. She loves me. Probably because of my unselfish nature. And she wants to combine the two, for some godawful reason.
“You know NBC is like a fourth world network, right? They choose their programming by basically throwing darts.”
“Mmm hmmm.” She says.
“Into a toilet. That’s where they throw the darts. Directly into a huge toilet and the only question is which speckled turd is going to be aired first because the whole menu is turds.”
“Turd turd turd. An ocean of turds as far as the eye can see.”
“Mmm hmmm.” She agrees. She understands the inherent limitations of the peacock and nevertheless, she persists. She hasn’t taken her eyes off me.
“And this is like, something you want us to do, y’know, together.” I say.
“Yes.” She says staring at me. Ice cold. Like a fucking queen. Just holding me in her gaze like I’m a misbehaving pleb. I look away. Fuck. She hasn’t even seen Wonder Woman yet, I think. I’m so fucked.
So I groan like Paul Rudd in Wet Hot American Summer and then hunker down. To suffer. To suffer and be miserable.
Yep, that’s exactly what I expected. J Lo, posing shoulder-back fierce in look-at-me sequins as some intern aims a fan at her. Rawr! Hiss! Then you have wannabe Usher, and then some dink with Eric Trump hair who you KNOW drives his car at the same asswipe angle that he’s standing in that photo, and of course Courtney Cox 2.0 with Bratz zip-line style hair and a face that they clip-arted in from a manga elf.
I take one look at this and the NORAD supercomputers and I reach the same conclusion: World of Dance is gonna suck.
Well, we were wrong. Me and NORAD both.
World of Dance isn’t the greatest show ever, but the actual dancing is the greatest dancing ever. I don’t know what I expected. I guess I was thinking it would be more like Dancing With The Stars. “Watch this over the hill athlete with bone spurs in his heels try to merengue!” But it’s not that at all. It’s a collection of the coolest, most interesting human movers on the planet, doing some insane performance art (but good) in a way I’ve never seen before. The things their bodies can do. I can’t even. The worst performer I saw was still jaw-droppingly talented. That was the basement! But the ceiling is something else. Talent like you can’t believe. Take this guy, for example: Fik-shun.
That’s just breathtaking, mindblowing choreography. That took me places I never knew I wanted to go, but I fucking LOVED being there. What a trip. And Lady C knows me so well that she smiled when they flashed on this guy in the back row for like less than two seconds.
“You love that guy, don’t you?” She asks.
“Yes. I fucking LOVE that guy.”
“I knew it.”
The host of the show is Jenna Dewan Tatum, who is the wife of Charming Potato. I know next to nothing about her, but she’s super pretty and I asked Lady C if she was fakey-fake or as genuine as she seems. Lady C likes her.
“I know you might think that she comes off as insincere, but she seems to genuinely like everyone and to mean what she says.”
One less thing for me to make fun of. Great. Stupid Charming Potato.
The judges are six time dancing with the stars winner Derek Hough, R&B superstar Ne-Yo who I wouldn’t know if he hit me in the adams apple with a wiffleball bat, and of course, J-Lo. Who is honestly the kindest, most sincere version of herself ever. She is super thoughtful, supportive and considerate. She claps and cheers and jumps to her feet when she loves something. She comes up with good observations and is thoroughly lovely in every way.
I could see how some people might bristle about Derek Hough, but he makes laser-sharp observations and I have yet to disagree with a word he says. As for Ne-Yo, who I desperately wanted to make a litany of super-immature Matrix jokes about? He’s fucking awesome. I want to hang with Ne-Yo. I want to be pals with Ne-Yo. If you can find something you don’t like about Ne-Yo, you’re a liar from the planet Feces. Ne-Yo is great. There isn’t a single jerk on the panel. I expected one naysaying prick who poo poos everything. Nope. They’re all gracious and excitable and nice.
If I had to nitpick, I’d poke a little fun at the Bob-Costas-At-The-Olympics cheesy soft-focus backstory interstitials. I mean, I get it. Your parents split up when you were a kid. You dance for that pain. It actually makes the dance feel more relatable, but it’s a tad too much velveeta for my taste. Another thing is that mostly, you don’t see many people not making it. If they give you time to perform, you’re probably going through (dancers are graded in five categories: performance, technique, choreography, creativity & presentation) and you need a score of 80 to make it through.
That said, in a world where intolerance feels artificially empowered by certain divisive forces in our midst and in our places of governance, to watch a show that is truly universal is confidence-building. It doesn’t matter what race you are or what gender you are or what country you’re from. Can you dance? That’s it. Though I’ll admit I did chuckle a little when the all white male clogger group from Florida was dismissed with a polite wave and a score of like 77. How’s it feel when the clog is on the other foot? In a world where asshole white men are doing so much damage, sign me up for a show where the biggest bad ass is a Puerto Rican woman from the Bronx. I can get behind that all day long.
I’ve watched two weeks of this misery. Two weeks of seeing the human body doing things no god ever imagined it could do. It’s un-fucking-believable. And for those of you who know how much I love the Maestro character of Gael Garcia Bernal in ‘Mozart in the Jungle’, there are these dancers: The Twins they call them, who remind me of him.
Apparently the Twins are legends. Once upon a time they were street performers in Paris and some people made YouTube videos of them. Their dancing caught the eye of a little known couple named Jay Z and Beyoncé and they ended up being recruited and touring with Beyoncé for six years. Yawn! 2200 days with Beyoncé. NBFD.
What they do, what I watched them do with my own eyes, was so staggeringly impressive that I can’t do it justice. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen. I thought I was going to have to watch dudes in polyester stretch pants counting steps to the Tango and instead I get this:
I’m crazy about these guys. How do their bodies move like that? How do they have this insane superhuman connection? It’s powerful.
So, tonight, while shows I thought I’d hold close to my breast languish unwatched on my DVR, Lady C and I will be tuning in to episode three of motherfucking World of Dance. A place where lovely people you desperately want to mock and despise — but can’t! — cheer on the flowing, incomprehensible forms of humanity’s most impressive dancers.
I would have bet you anything that this wasn’t my jam. I would have bet the farm. But, as with all things when I go toe-to-toe with Lady C, I would have been wrong.
World of Dance is pretty damn great. Fuck me.
Vive Les Twins! Vive danse!
World of Dance is on NBC Tuesdays at 10/9c
Follow Lord Castleton on Twitter
Did you know that you can make ANY shirt at The Pajiba Store? Just pick a shirt you like and UPLOAD YOUR OWN DESIGN. We still get a bump for every shirt you make, even if it’s not Pajiba-specific.