Back in 2011 I read an article on the A.V. Club by Sam Adams called “The convenience trap: What the changes at Netflix reveal about an insidious trend”. Obviously it was about Netflix, but what Adams was really getting at, beyond discussing the announcement that Netflix was going to be focusing more solely on streaming video, was that the act of prioritizing convenient entertainment would mean forgoing a lot of other great entertainment simply because one would have to work for it or wait to get it.
As a Netflix DVD-only subscriber, the article really rang true to me. If I’m going to watch a movie, I want it to be a movie that I want to see, not just one that I can see at that moment. But despite my flimsy ‘fight the power’ attitude, I’m certainly guilty of choosing easy entertainment in many other scenarios. After all, television is probably the biggest convenience trap of them all.
Between the hundreds of channels available, OnDemand services, Hulu.com, Amazon streaming, iTunes, Netflix, and even YouTube there is always something to watch. Endless entertainment is available on just about every screen in your house, at the touch of a button.
It’s a wonder I even go outside. But you know, every now and then it’s really great to get off the couch to see some live entertainment. As good as an episode may be, or however much fun you’ve had live tweeting, there is something uniquely awesome about seeing a live performance and being surrounded by a crowd of people who share the same level of enthusiasm as you do.
A couple of weeks ago, after work, I hopped on a train to NYC to see the Shaping Sound Dance Co perform its last show of their 13-city North American Tour. Now I don’t dance, (believe me when I say I can’t), but I really really love So You Think You Can Dance, which in a roundabout way is how I even knew what Shaping Sound was.
Nick Lazzarini, the season one winner of SYTYCD along with Travis Wall, the season 2 runner-up and Emmy-nominated choreographer, teamed up with two of their other dance friends (Teddy Forance and Kyle Robinson*) to create the Shaping Sound Dance Company. And I know this because their efforts were chronicled on the reality show All the Right Moves, which aired on Oxygen last summer. (Most everything I know, I learned from watching TV.)
In the final episode they were approached by Gil Stroming, founder of Break The Floor Productions who showed a real interest in producing their tour. Obviously he was serious because tour dates were announced this spring.
Long story short, on Monday June 17th I found myself in a packed theater in New York City sitting two rows behind SYTYCD alum Billy Bell, and one row ahead of Jesse Tyler Ferguson, a self-proclaimed dance fan, occasional SYTYCD guest judge, and one of the stars of ABC’s hit sitcom Modern Family.
Yeah, I was totally nerding out, but honestly the dancing and the show itself was the real highlight of my night. At one point I even had goosebumps, that’s how incredibly captivating the performance was. Not only was the dancing mind-blowing, especially for an uncoordinated person such as myself, but the lights and the music – everything just came together.
I left the theater that night in awe, feeling like I witnessed something that only existed in that time and space. And I know that might sound cliche or over-dramatic, but the sentiment holds true when you apply it to other live events like concerts or even sports. My feelings were only further confirmed when I watched a YouTube video of one of the dance numbers a few days later. It was exactly what I’d seen that Monday night, but it also wasn’t. When I was sitting in the theater I could feel the excitement radiating from my fellow audience members and even see the facial expressions of the dancers, both of which were sorely lacking from the YouTube video.
So turn off the TV (that’s what DVRs are for), step outside of your comfort zone, and go see something live. Anything at all. Catch a baseball game, a concert, or even a local theater production. And if you’re really set on sticking with TV, well then find a convention that appeals to you, or mark the dates on your calendar for next year’s PaleyFest or ATX Television Festival. TV is great, but there is a lot of other great entertainment out there too. You just can’t always find it from the comfort of your couch.
*Fun Fact: Kyle Robinson was the Abraham Lincoln bachelorette party stripper on Parks & Recreation (“Two Parties” 5×10).