Summer TV

Summer TV

It is summer time and normally all dreams and thoughts of fancy are on lemonade, sleeping late, vacations, camps and good times with the family.  Rarely is summer time thought of as TV time.  This is the time when parents are looking to send kids outside.  This is the time when reruns are the norm and the only time people watch TV is when they missed a particular episode of Monk.

Dancing is not normally thought of as summer time sport.  Studios would probably tell you that Dance Lesson Gift Certificates were traditionally bought around the holidays, maybe around Mother’s Day, or as a last minute birthday gift.  Most occasions that call for dancing however happen during the spring, fall, winter and holiday seasons, and few couples have time to consider dancing when their kids are off and requiring of taxi service, ball games and all the trips, picnics, and stuff that come up during the summer.

The latest dance show, SO YOU THINK CAN DANCE, on the Fox Network would seem to be out of place in the summer heat.  Not so.  It seems that millions are finding time two nights a week in the middle of the hot summer to watch ballroom dancers prove they are as athletic, agile, versatile, and sexy and envied as any rock star, American Idol or pop singer.  What may be most fun for those that have spent so much time at ballroom dance competitions is the unbridled acclaim, applause and shouting given to the dancers.  While many may suspect the audience being guided, or cued as to when to shout, or applaud, it really doesn’t matter.  The result is the same; American audiences seeing the dance scene as one generating excitement in the young and moving dance away from an old folks gig to one that is truly enjoyed by all.

The fact that these dancers come from various genres and all have at least to some extent excelled, may prove difficult for the elitists in each of the styles.  Imagine all the ballerina prima donnas that were sure that ballerinas are the only true dancers with all others being somewhere equivalent to the Neanderthal couple, only to find out that they have to work to even compete against let alone lose to a Break Dancer.  Imagine ballroom judges having to admit that solo dancers can when properly trained in short order also perform with partners.  Imagine all the ways that hairstyles can be shaped to match the various styles.  The idea that we can take somebody from a style we previously held in disdain, and redress them, do their hair and have someone teach them a new routine, and then agree with an audience and judge that they deserve to move ahead a round and get another chance really does show that dancing is universal.

It also shows that the business of dance is much different then social side of dance.  Not better or worse, just different.  What that means is, where dancing at a social level generally means pleasing one person at a time, dancing at the business or show level means it must please the multitudes.  Asking your wife out on the floor for a slow dance will rekindle fond memories and develop new ones.  Accepting or asking for that first dance when a teen is an event rarely forgotten.  The way the evening developed can well be a real reason people either hate or like dancing later in life.  What the success of these shows hopefully will do is prove that training can make a difference.  This will encourage more men and women to actually take the time to learn.  The shows will impress people that there is a future in dance.

In the meantime, we get to see our sport in another light.  Ok, it is still a competition, but one of styles as well as competitors.  In the meantime we get to see fans enjoy what we have enjoyed for so long.  Feel the movement to music in harmony not only with a partner but with nature.  It fulfills the ancient rituals that started when bones were hit rhythmically against a log and first one person then more and more got up and danced and those around the fire clapped, shouted and jumped for joy.

Michael Reichenbach

Sent to Dance Week 07-14-2006


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