More Dance Shows on Television

More Dance Shows on Television

Dancing With The Stars features “stars” of TV, movies, sports or music mostly.  They are then matched with one pro partner to develop a relationship that sometimes even transcends the show and often the dancing.  Winners of these series included not only some great dance pairs, but also couples who developed a relationship or even where it appeared the Pro Star was carrying the featured star.  One thing seems certainly evident, and that is that the evolution of the show required the Pro Dancers to become the stars.   Failing to engage bigger and bigger stars was going to be a problem.  Getting stars, “in transition” or looking for a “kick start”, or even “coming out” of sports, politics or somewhere else may have limits, even if they haven’t been reached so far.  The Pro Dancers are now certainly celebrities in their own right.  It will be interesting how that evolves.

If you are a dancer or dance aficionado, you must continue to be amazed at the endurance of some of the dance shows.  So You Think You Can Dance started with dancers being able to showcase in a variety of different styles with a variety of partners.  Interchanging partners along the way was part of the judge’s and audience’s way to determining their best dancer.  So was seeing if a tap dancer can do jazz or a hip-hop dancer can do Broadway.  The use of choreographers added another dimension of stardom, being able to use dancers already recognized by some and certainly advertised as “among the best”.  Credit must be given to the amount of material all of these dancers accomplish, even if without the technique wanted by Judges.  These same choreographers also deserve credit for understanding the medium as well as the dancers.

Few shows on television last 10 years let alone the upcoming 15 or so years that some of these shows have.  Have each and all of these shows changed?  Most certainly, and in some ways not pleasing to dance studios and professionals.  First as testament to the producers and creators, the graphics, the sets, the costumes and the lighting have grown exponentially to major productions.  In addition, back-up dancers, long a part of major vocalists’ shows have been added to fill in the space and create the mood to extend well beyond what professional Judges would consider advantageous.  Studios continue to worry that patrons may expect the same result in so few weeks.  Professionals are still sure they would have been the better choice for TV and lament not being among the chosen few.  Even others wonder how being a celebrity professional teacher qualifies one to now judge not just dancing, but now all of the arts and entertainments.  Celebrity seems to add qualifications for many jobs, not only in television.  So maybe we should not be surprised that they seem to handle it well.

Shows like World of Dance must really aggravate the rest of the world’s dancers who still think true talent in ballroom lies in England and Europe, and ballet skills are supreme in Russia.  The arrogance of the “best” may itself be a push, when comparing a troop of acrobatic dancers to a solo performance.  The best show, the best talent, the best and most skilled performance or the most fun, most exhilarating, etc., etc.  Even shows like America’s Got Talent often feature dancers as one of their many artistic and gymnastic styles.  America even has its best Crew, which used to have something to do with boats and oars, but I am aging myself.

What has helped these shows endure is America’s long history of its general population enjoying dancing itself as a means of expression or celebration.  It has been an outlet for youthful exuberance and numerous meetings of the opposite sexes.  It has and continues to be a way of celebration.  This includes the obligatory first wedding dance or the dances like the Reels, the Square dances and folk dances with traditional American music.  Add to that the sock hops, the disco balls, break dancing and hip hop.  Dancing with a partner or alone doing the “Carlton” matters not.  With the possible exception of the Wedding Dance, what characterizes all of these dances is the kinetic experience as opposed to the visual experience.  How does it feel as opposed to how does it look?

That is the fun part of the latest entry into the dance show menu.  “Flirty Dancing” mixes Bachelor (someone looking for love) with a blind date (too many shows to include) and uses dance as the medium to stir up senses to inspire someone to date.  While the dance may be visual for the audience to see, neither of the participants see their performance prior to selecting the partner for the next date.  Or at least before they reveal how they feel, how it felt, what they perceived about the never been seen before partner.  It is also in some ways refreshing to see that only a next date is promised, rather than a ring and a rose.

This type of show should make studios feel good again.  The only part they must deal with is, “I won’t know what my partner is going to do”.  On the flip side it is not likely that your client’s first dance will include lifts, spins so maybe a little time on following and leading might be enough or helpful.  The hard part may be where this dance will occur.  In the days when ballrooms and discos were popular, the place was available and even known.  You just had to have the guts or the skill to ask or say yes.  Lastly, the show’s request that nobody speak may also be a good lesson for the real world.  Learning and doing accomplishes so much more than thinking and talking.

Just a thought.

Michael Reichenbach

Published 2/14/2020

Dance Week

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