Monday, June 21, 2010

A Media Follow-up: Team Diana Comet, Katniss, and Pasha

My post last Thursday spurred some fun reactions from friends and family, so I thought I'd follow up.


1. Did you start The Name of the Rose (by Umberto Eco) next, like you thought you would?
No. I started Diana Comet and other Improbable Stories, by Sandra McDonald. I like it! It's a collection of interconnected fantastical short stories. Quirky and unpredictable, occasionally grim (war and battle, a warehouse fire, etc. well-written and vivid), with just enough similarities to the world we live in to keep me delighted, and sometimes even giggling. (E.g., a heartbroken cowboy in a Western town called Flagpole is reading the poetry of one Whitney Waltman.) Plus, it routinely plays with gender and sexuality in unexpected ways. My favorite story so far is one of the grim ones and is called The Firemen's Fairy, which is a double entendre.


2. [WARNING: The next question/answer contains The Hunger Games and Catching Fire spoilers. Sort of.]
Are you on Team Peeta or Team Gale?
I'm on Team Katniss.

Actually, I'm on Team Suzanne Collins. I have faith that the author will tell a story that'll feel right to me -- even if the characters I love don't survive. Which is my bigger worry, way bigger than which boy, if either, Katniss ends up with. I'm not sure the "which boy" question is where Katniss's head is. She's got bigger fish to fry, yes? I'm more worried about her (and my) heart breaking if and when either boy dies. And about Katniss herself surviving! A friend told me that that's one of his worries: that Katniss will sacrifice herself for the cause. I will say this: I love talking about Katniss, Peeta, and Gale as characters, and my favorite character of the three after reading Catching Fire is... either Katniss, Peeta, or Gale. :D?


3. Who is Pasha?
Pasha Kovalev is a ballroom dancer who competed in Season 3 of So You Think You Can Dance, making it into the top 6. In the current season of SYTYCD, Season 7, the set-up is different from that of previous seasons, in that instead of contestants dancing with each other, they dance with "All-Stars." The All-Stars are all top contestants from previous seasons. Pasha has returned to SYTYCD this season as the male ballroom-expert All-Star.

Here's a conversation I had recently with my sister, secret codename: Cordelia, and my outlaw brother-in-law, secret codename: Joe. The baby twins, secret codenames: Phoenix and Isis, also contributed now and then. Mostly screams.

Me: Cordelia. Cordelia! Guess what! It's a new season of So You Think You Can Dance and PASHA is back!
Cordelia: PASHA?
Me: PASHA!
Joe: Is Pasha the ballroom dancer with the Russian accent?
Me: Yes! PASHA!
Joe: The one who rips his shirt off at every opportunity?
Me: No! NOOOOOWOWO! That's Dmitry! Pasha only rips his shirt off if it's a required part of the choreography! Come on, Joe! Get with the program!

Why the happiness over the return of Pasha?

Here's the thing: Pasha is the sort of dancer who's super-focused on his partner, on supporting her and making her look good. He's not a big, cool, flashy personality like some of the people in the SYTYCD ranks. He comes across as quiet, sweet, soft-spoken, sincere, and adorkable. THIS CAN BE HARD TO FIND ON REALITY COMPETITION SHOWS. He's always, always there for his partners physically, and it seems like his heart is always there, too. He competed in Season 3, and slowly, over the course of that season, became my all-time favorite, because of his dancing, his way with his partners, and his (sincerely) modest personality. He has held on to that distinction. He was wonderful at all the styles of dance -- except maybe hip-hop, which was hysterical, because... well.... maybe he doesn't make the best badass in town, but is there anything wrong with that, really?

A week and a half ago, Pasha danced with All-Star Anya AND Contestant Cristina together, which is kind of weird for ballroom dancing, but anyway. (This video won't be up for long, so if you want to watch it, do it while you can. The dance was choreographed by Jason Gilkison. And, um, I don't think Pasha will come across as sweet in this choreography, exactly, but you just have to trust me!) Pasha is not a big guy, but first he lifted Cristina and twirled her this way and that, then he put her down, turned around, grabbed Anya, and spun her around on his arm. I mean, he spun her like a hoop. They made it look so easy. A short while later, Anya climbed onto Pasha's back while simultaneously Pasha lifted Cristina and flung her around between his legs. And yes, he did actually tear his shirt off after that, but can you really blame him, after all those exertions? He was probably just getting too warm! (Actually, I'm pretty sure the men-with-no-shirts thing happens a lot more on recent seasons than it used to. On the one hand, I bet there are people in the field of dance saying that this sort of squee-inducing stuff cheapens the art of dance more than the show already does. On the other hand, the women have been dancing half-naked from time immemorial, so IMO, it's about time things evened out and we saw male torsos. Now show us their legs.)

*ahem*

Where was I?

Oh! Right. The point I was trying to make was this: Pasha might be the only man on earth who could dance a shirtless, cocky, gyrating dance with two women who are grabbing him and shaking their stuff at him -- basically fighting over him -- and still create the impression that he's paying attention to both of them, and not skeeve me out. Most of the time, he -- and Anya and Cristina -- just look like they're having fun. If this one doesn't seem like the best example for partnership and modesty ^_^, here's one more dance I was able to find from his contestant days, with Sara. I'm sure that video will come down soon, as well, so watch it while you can.

I think I have now talked enough about Pasha.

In fact, I think I have now talked enough, full stop.