Friday, March 5, 2010

Andrew Stone Could Be Truly Great

This UK reality show (I just alienated 4 of my 5 readers) called Pineapple Dance Studios has premiered on Sky and it is the only reality show I have ever been mildly interested in watching. Pineapple is a dance studio in Convent Garden. Anyone can take drop-in classes. The reality show is not about amateurs like me taking classes, however, it's about a handful of the odder denizens of that world. One is Andrew Stone, a figure somewhat mocked since the show came out. I used to take classes at Pineapple with Andrew Stone in the fall and winter of 2001-2002. He taught advanced jazz at 4:00. I am by no means qualified to take an advanced dance class but I like to do it anyway because I learn a lot.

I am however a qualified audience member, and I am telling you, this guy can dance like no one I have seen for a while. I saw spontaneous routines at the end of class that left me breathless with his talent. I have been convinced for years he was destined to be a star. I ran into him once in Hampstead in 2004 after I had a kid and stopped taking classes, and the guy just exudes star quality. Underlying the star quality is raw dance talent and insecurity. Overlying the star quality is a bad dye job and male nail polish. And now Sky is obscuring the star quality, but it is there.

The guy is a dancer but in the show he is camping it up and trying to sing. There is nothing special about his singing voice and the band is ludicrous. He should be moving. I wish you could have seen him at the end of some of those classes, in a spontaneous duet, the guy can move. Yet I feel Sky is setting him up as the ludicrous deluded clown. They don't need Andrew in that role, they have that internet divorcee Patricia Walsh Smith filling that role on the show. God bless her, she seems fun and sweet and open, but a pop star she is not.

Back to Andrew Stone. I would like to bolster my opinion on Stone by telling a brief story: in 2003 when I was pregnant with my son, I went to see Martin McDonagh's play, The Pillowman, at the Cottlesloe at the National. The actor who played the brother was new. He was startling expressive and alive and he rose to the material with admirable intelligence and I knew he was a truly great actor. I came home and told my husband I had witnessed a truly great play and a truly great actor. The play went on to win the Tony in New York. The actor was David Tennant.

So I know talent and Andrew has it and even in this show Andrew could still shine. He needs to have his artistic license revoked and submit to a mentor. He must disband his band immediately. It's not even really a band, just a vehicle to get him stardom. It's even called, sadly enough, Starman, NO. Andrew, sorry, but stop singing immediately. The point is not to just get famous, but to share your gift. To do that, you must struggle with that gift and do it honour, not mug for the camera like a 14 year old girl at Bluewater.

I know there are a lot of Andrew Stone haters and you have your reasons given the skewed view of him on the show. But look at the youtube post of him dancing to Justin Timberlake. The man moves with an unimaginable grace that reminds me of Gene Kelly and if he could just get out of his own way, drop the hackneyed moves he could perform in a coma, he could really be a huge star. A Michael Jackson style dancer. Andrew, you can't be the lead singer of your band, why don't you perform while she sings so you are free to really dance?

I suggest Andrew choreograph a few numbers for him and a couple back-up dancers and ditch the band. I suggest Andrew seek inspiration from parkour - street running - anything after 1999 would be a good start. He needs to stop being dancy and move.

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