Where is the War

Where is the War

Season 5 of Dancing With the Stars is over. Helio Castronevos, of Indy 500 racing fame with team mate Julianne Hough danced past the very “spicy” Melanie Brown and her partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy.  Certainly another athlete winning offers support for those that consider ballroom dancing a sport and not art.  The physical strength, dexterity and agility of athletes continue to be an asset.  The show continues to highlight the broad spectrum of talent, skill, ability and strength of both top flight artistic performers and first class athletes and how each or all of their attributes are required to become competent dancers.  Many dance aficionados of other classic dance arts, namely ballet and modern might think the expertise developed by the Stars in such a short period of time may prove their forms are indeed superior.  Others may just recognize that the required strengths and rhythms can be developed in various ways and the true ability of the choreographers of the DWTS is to utilize the best talents of each to produce the best routine for the given music.

In the effort to capitalize on the current mania for dance and entertainment ABC is premiering a new show, Dance Wars.  The writer’s strike continues and the public is ready for new shows, but expect to wait a while before both sides agree on how to divide the all the money.  Luckily for ABC and America Dance Wars has started, and as a “reality show” does not require writers.  The public sees what looks like scripted auditions with excitement, secret whispers to the audience and claims of discovery and future success.  Writers are not necessary when experienced stars such as Bruno and Carrie Ann are interacting.  Besides, everybody knows what will happen, just not who and are still excited to see it all, especially since they can see it as a work in progress.  Finished work is normally offered as TV fare so this may be a pleasant change.

Bruno Tonioli has experience being the winner of England’s Dance X, the English precursor to Dance Wars.  Some may wonder why the American version of the show has “War” as part of the title whereas the British version carries the more pacifistic “X” in its name.  My guess is that the ABC producers are guessing America’s love for “war” may extend well beyond the Middle East and thus using it in name may evoke more of the American competitive adrenalin and attract more viewers.  Regardless the American Dancesport community should now be able to enjoy and experience the abilities of both Bruno and Carrie Ann.  Neither of these artists was well known within the ballroom community before the popularity of the shows and many felt the Judges should have come with more Ballroom credentials.  However he has extensive choreographic experience in films, advertising, plays and shows and has added the showman’s touch to the show.

Carrie Ann Inaba has movie as well as a broad dance experience and also came to Dancing With the Stars with artistic experience instead of a sport’s background.  Her dance career includes tours with Madonna and Ricky Martin, as well as parts in Austin Powers’ movies and various TV shows.  Maybe most importantly she also is an accomplished choreographer and is able to look at Dancing With the Stars’ contestants with a critical eye.  Being the necessary lady of the group must come with additional challenges being in between two heavily charged men.  This experience can only be a plus when putting together a new team for this new series as an American audience will only enjoy song and dance when it comes with the star quality Americans so envy.

What will be most exciting for Dancesport aficionados to see is if both Carrie Ann and Bruno will actually take part in the training and development of the teams or if the hard work will be done by others.  All too often one has had to wonder if the Dancing With the Stars choreography has actually been done by the assigned professional or if the work is done under cover.  At any rate the return of the America’s new Song and Dance Era may be at hand and all of us are ready to see the new starlets and leading men.

Michael Reichenbach

Dance Week

February 1, 2008

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