The best part of her performance? The celeb-audience-reactions of confusion and horror.
If you haven’t seen it, that is the video of her performance above. Yes, the entire thing is baffling, from the giant dancing teddy bears to Miley’s hair and wardrobe (and, ohhh that tongue)- but it wasn’t those things that made her performance not work. Nope.
I worked for years as a professional dancer. I grew up training 6-8 hours a day at a national-award-winning dance studio, and attending competitions almost every weekend. I worked really, really hard (with some great choreographers and teachers guiding me) to move from being an awkward-child-dancer, to one that grew up and was able to book jobs professionally. As a professional, I performed in countless shows. I feel like I am educated enough in this subject to say this: the problem (besides her looking trashy as hell, which I think we can all agree on) was with Miley herself- her performance, especially her dancing.
Before you go all crazy on me, imagine old-school Britney Spears performing the exact same number. Yeah, it just got a lot less weird and horrifying, and a lot more sexy, right? Miley needs to work much harder with her choreographer if she wants to continue to be paid to dance around on a stage. The steps that are supposed to be sexy are all there- the ass shaking, the hip moves…but her execution of these steps reminds me of how 7-year-olds I’ve taught would execute them. A choreographer might give 7-year-olds similar, hip-shaking choreography (definitely not the more racy of her moves, the worst of which I think were improv on her own account and not choreography, but some of them), intending for it to be cute. It would be, because they are awkward little kids shaking their hips. Miley is not 7 or cute anymore, which is why the awkward way she dances just doesn’t work.
Here is an example:
[EDIT: I get that not everyone approves of 7-year-olds dancing like this (although, it’s fairly common in the dance competition world- it’s supposed to be funny and cute, not sexy), but this is the best example to prove my point about the way Miley dances: like an awkward child trying really hard.]
These 7-year-olds are actually better dancers than Miley (which is scary in and of itself since she gets paid to dance in front of people), however, the quality of the hip-shaking is very similar. It’s that over-energized, almost all over the place quality, with no flow in-between movements. It makes the 7-year-olds adorable and amazing, but it just makes Miley’s performance confusing. The 7-year-olds above actually have better quality and flow in their movements, but I think you get where I am going with this. It isn’t the weird teddy bear theme or the way she looks that makes you feel dirty watching her- it’s the fact that she dances like a child and is trying so hard to be ‘grown up’ and ‘sexy,’ yet she doesn’t achieve either. She is ‘grown up,’ in fact, because she’s an adult- but rather than having a sexy, adult quality to her performance, she looks like a kid trying really hard. Some of the movements are ok, but even with those, her transitions are stiff and awkward, making them look and feel child-like….she just has no flow.
Compare Miley’s VMA’s performance to this- Britney Spears’ VMA performance in 2001, when she was 20, the same age as Miley is now:
Now, people always like to whine and say ‘Britney Spears can’t sing, how did she even get famous?’ That video is how. She is a performer. She is a trained dancer who worked her ass off, and she commands every single stage she has ever walked upon. Miley? Not so much. Compare the quality of their movements. That is why Miley’s performance has us feeling baffled, dirty and confused, while Britney’s was a huge hit. It may have left us feeling funny in our nether regions- but it was in a good way.
Look, I get the phase that Miley is in. We’ve all been there. She’s trying to find herself, shock us and prove that she isn’t a little girl anymore. Britney was doing the same thing at that age, she just did it much, much better.
From a dancer, to Miley:
Miley, you are a cute girl (or were, before that haircut), and you can sing. You are a household name at this point. You have the potential to blow people’s socks off, but there is no way that you will be able to do that unless you put in some work. Please, take some dance classes. Please work long, hard hours with your choreographer before a performance. Have rehearsals recorded and watch them afterward. Critique yourself from those videos- admit the things that need work, and make the changes necessary. Listen to constructive criticism from your choreographer. I get that you are in a ‘I do what I want’ phase, but you should want to look good in front of millions of people, not like you are a child just throwing your body around on stage trying so hard to be an adult, with no command or control of your movements. Yes, shock people. People love to be shocked- but do it the right way: by looking like a grown-up, sexy woman and blowing people away with your performance. Not by sticking your tongue out repeatedly (this is one thing that looking at a video of your rehearsals would have helped) and wearing weird outfits while you flop around nervously on stage. Command your audience, command your sexuality- it will take some hard work to get there, but you will be so much better off.