The Stars Are Different

The Stars Are Different

I know that when this is most likely published, this season’s Dancing With the Stars may well be over, but I write this after the 200th Episode.

I find it interesting to compare the stars that have survived thus far this season and will do that soon.  However before I do I must state that I am probably more amazed by how many of dance’s old guard still have not embraced or accepted the show.  At a recent competition, where I was also a judge, I asked the other judges how many had seen the last DWTS show and out of the table of ten officials, only a couple admitted to having seen the show.  I have spoken to numerous other “highly trained” and seasoned veterans and found similar results so I am now beginning to think that there might be a conspiracy.  When I asked how many liked DWTS as opposed to So You Think You Can Dance, several admitted they had not seen that show either.  That leaves me to conclude that these esteemed officials feel that neither of these shows represents true competition or that they are simply so busy they cannot be bothered with what has been week in and week out one of the most popular shows on TV outside or including NFL and the World Series.  When I ask people in studios whether they have seen it, almost always the students have and the teachers have not, blaming their work schedule which all too often does include those evening hours.  I guess the students have figured out TIVO and and the teachers haven’t.  It might be thought from some of our younger teachers that the DWTS format doesn’t appeal to them even with the proven mega stars they often bring out every Tuesdays.

Looking at SYTYCD where the final 4 include two kids at eighteen including the winner Lauren and Kent, a nineteen year old Robert and AdeChike at an old twenty-three the age barrier shouldn’t hold unless now people think they are too old.  I know some, me included, feel SYTYCD has changed but that being said kudos go to the producers for doing something new and trying out new things.  They can always change again and include dance styles that normal folk enjoy and practice and can better relate to than some of their current offerings.  Most people still want entertainment and this show can easily deliver when they want to.

DWTS has, whether intentionally or inadvertently, managed to keep a broader appeal.  Take a look at the Stars that have lasted through the 200th episode.  Kurt Warner dancing with Anna is the epitome of the successful athlete.  A star on the football field to be sure.  If they ran this like a regular competition with a bunch of people on the floor at the same time and he could wear number “13” he might be hard to catch and big enough to intimidate the rest.  Regardless, his fan base had to include more men than women in the old days so his new fans might well be crossover women who might go back and look at old football games.  Successful athletes know how to get into shape, they have learned to take coaching, and have to memorize and analyze plays and all this helps.

Kyle Massey is dancing with Lacy and that has to be a plus.  She seems to have the temperament to work with someone who on the show at least seems spontaneous and light hearted.  In fact being a successful actor and performer requires study, memory and skill, the ability to take direction, but in no way can anyone look at Kyle and say there is an athlete.  Jennifer Grey dances with Derrick and also has the actor’s background as well as the dance history with Patrick Swayze, although that goes back a few years.  Once again the ability to learn lines, follow directions, know where to be has to help.

Bristol Palin has surprised me.  She is young and certainly has no history of experiences that one would think make a good dancer.  Her celebrity status is certainly due to her mother, but Republicans have proved they will show up to vote, and that is what everybody should do, for the show too.  One could ask if maybe with her youth, she wouldn’t have done well in SYTYCD also.  One might suppose that being around the political life that she too has embraced discipline and the long hours of campaigning may well prove a valuable training tool.  Certainly she should have a leg up in developing a campaign to get votes.

Brandy dancing with Maksim has all the attributes expected of a good dancer.  As a successful singer she should have all that rhythm and timing down.  She certainly is comfortable being on stage and has a fan base to help get votes.  She has the look so many think is necessary to win, and it seems the drive to work hard to make it happen.  Performers such as Brandy most likely have their entire shows choreographed down to the last detail, and her success indicates that she knows how to work.

There is little doubt that much of DWTS continued success is based upon the “star power” the celebrities bring to the show before they have even started, and that will likely not change.  Certainly the audience may now appreciate the skills artists and performers bring that are often assumed or characterized as luck, timing, or contacts.  That includes being so big that football seems the only thing they could do, or that they must have been discovered and anybody can be an actress.  While many in the audience may gain new respect for the stars, it seems that many within the dance industry still have those same old feelings of luck, timing and contacts when it comes to how the dancers are chosen.  I have no knowledge as to how the stars were chosen initially, but do suspect that most of today’s dancers and teachers would like to know and then maybe they too would start watching.

Michael Reichenbach

Published in Dance Week

Vol XXXI, No. 23

November 12, 2010

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