The Personality Matters Too

The Personality Matters Too

A large part of my career in the dance industry has always involved teaching.  Though many people may say they still teach, there is considerable difference between teaching Mary and Joe Average Student or Teacher who have limited means and opportunity and being the Coach du Jour providing valuable insight to a competing couple who want your marks at some future events you might judge.  Some of these seem to have gained their credentials from performance rather than experience, and are not really teachers and their attitude towards students reflects that lack of knowledge.  Many of these “teachers” seem more interested in proffering their vision and expecting all to agree and prostrate themselves before the anointed.  The teachers of Dancing With the Stars may, however, have the hardest job of all.

Psychologists tell us that people come with varying dominant personality styles.  Some are amiable, wanting to please others; some are controllers wanting to take charge; others are expressive and ready to talk to the next person they meet; and the lucky few are analytical who will take the time necessary to parse and truly understand it all.  One might suspect that most stars are either expressive or amiable.  One could guess that most producers and directors are controllers and ready to tell everybody what to do.  Sales people who are ready to talk to everybody at any time would tend to be expressive, and accountants are of course analytical.  In fact people of each style work and are successful in all of these fields and marry and do business, successfully or not with people of all styles.  Some by accident, but now more and more people succeed because of training and deliberate action.

The difference is in Dancing With the Stars each of the celebrities already has to have an established ego, as well as persona and personality style and part of the job of the DWTS pros has to keep the star’s image intact.  One can expect the producers take great pains and research to match the pro with the star and by and large they seem to do a great job.  If there are mismatches, and surely there must be, they haven’t been obvious to the audience.  Maybe the editors should be congratulated.  It would not take too many failures to deter other stars from even considering the show let alone trying and putting it all on the line.  Since I am a big fan of the show, I won’t mention any names, but most people can sense from the start when a match-up isn’t working.  Most often these stars fall off quickly as much for lack of chemistry than talent.  These relationships, just like in real live ones, fail not for reasons that may be understood at the time, but the pain is still real.

The pros that would most likely be successful in Dancing With the Stars are those that either by intent or experience are adaptable.  Each one of us has seen the star that lasted long beyond their talent and the chemistry just seemed to be there.  Likewise we have seen the star that failed to make the cut with the judges’ posthumous, “…don’t know why they were bumped”.  The lesson here is not that one personality style or trait is better or even better suited to the show.  It is that just like in good social dancing it is the pair that must ultimately shine not two individuals.  It is my guess that many in the audience sense the personalities and the mixtures thereof when watching and they too enjoy the interplay, occasional conflict and drama that comes from the interaction of the personalities as much or maybe even more than the dancing itself.

At any rate as you watch the next season, you too are now ready to examine and decide which couples click, why some couple don’t and most importantly which have the magic combination of talent, personality, and that elusive quality that makes it all just be right.  Let us hope these attributes of the show will keep it on the screen for seasons to come.

Michael Reichenbach

Dance Week

June 20, 2008

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