Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dancing With The Stars

A Teacher's Perspective

By Debra Stroiney, Former Fred Astaire Dance Studio instructor and currently taking care of franchise business at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio Corporate Office

It is another season of Dancing With The Stars, and I think it is going to be a very interesting one. There are a few things that I observed last night I have an opinion on; feel free to share you opinion as well. There is already much talk of Karina’s dress in the chat rooms!

Before the show even started, I felt this season of DWTS was going to be different. When they announced the stars, it was inevitable to wonder if they wanted to add some drama to this season. The cast includes individuals that are controversial and unique. This season includes participants with criminal records, a recovering drug addict, a bullrider, a computer genius, and more recently a Playboy Playmate and a Bachelorette. Not only do we have unique individuals, we also have unique relationships on the show. Originally, Jewel and her husband, Ty Murray, would be competing against each other. There are two professional dancers engaged also competing against each other: Maksim and Karina. Let’s not forget Julianne and Chuck who are dancing together and also dating! This is starting to feel very much like a reality TV show! When the show first started, it was interesting just to watch performers with no dance background, paired with professionals competing and being judged. Now it seems they are pushing for a higher entertainment which could be for many reasons.

I was pleasantly surprised at some of the performances last night and cringed a little at others. I can’t wait to see how well Shawn Johnson does - what fun for her at that age to participate in something like this after having such a great summer at the Olympics. I am also interested in seeing how the relationship between Julianne and Chuck develops over the season. I taught my husband (a non-dancer) how to dance for our wedding. I will say that teaching your significant other to dance is challenging. I am not sure why this is but I felt it, and I know others have as well. In fact, Chuck and Julianne mentioned it on the show. I was watching this part with my husband, and we were laughing at how much they sounded like us while we were choreographing our wedding dance. I do look forward to seeing them more; it’s fun to see a romantic couple relating to each other through a new means of expression such as dance.

The performances were what I expected. There were a couple of things I was a little baffled about. For instance, if you are going to have your partner lift their leg into any type of leg line or kick, why wouldn’t you teach them how to point their toe? I mean perhaps they were taught but it was not reiterated enough for it to stick when dancing through a performance (factoring in the nerves). I also don’t understand why some of the professional males insist on dragging their partners around the floor through moves they are not ready for. You can see it and it makes the star look even more like they have just started ballroom dancing. You are in control of the choreography, play to their strengths and not only will they dance better but any natural performance skills will be portrayed because they are more comfortable.

The last thing that I will never understand is some of the comments I hear from the judges. There were a couple of performances that were good yet the comments were somewhat harsh. David Alan Grier did a very good job but the judges weren’t a fan of his dancing. Then Carrie Ann told Denise Richards she had a lot of potential which I did not see. Does she have potential because she is blonde and skinny? Potential is someone like Melissa Rycroft who came onto the show with 48 hours of preparation and performed a solid waltz. Or Gilles Marini, what a cha-cha!

It's entertainment and this season will definitely be entertaining!


Anonymous said...

I would like to see the show remain more firmly committed to actual dancing. Don't throw in a lot of gymnastic or "circus" moves. When a dance is announced and I find few, if any steps that I recognize, I am very disappointed. I feel that the two injuries early on like this may indicate that the choreography is going too much to the "stunt" moves and not staying enough with true dance steps.

elita clayman said...

I agree that the dancing is not what ordinary people taking lessons strive for.
The costumes are too skimpy and the flying hair on the females is not what you actually see at a real competition.

When I first started to dance in 1977, we were told our hair had to be in place like a bun or neat or piled up, not flying around like a teenager.

I realize that these shows create interest in ballroom dancing and that is great and wonderful for the industry. However, many people get turned off from going and taking lessons because they think it all like what they see on this show and average people take a lesson or two a week because that is all they can afford especially in this economy.
This is rushing into gymnastic type dancing and the male students get to wear low cut shirts and actually not do too much in steps but to show off the female professional.

That is my opinion and though I am happy people are rushing to dance studios to learn, I do not want them to be turned off because of some of the things they see and some of the thoughts of the judges who probably cannot dance half this good themselves or did in their heyday.

Elita S.Clayman

Anonymous said...

Debra, I'm not in the dance business; however, I love dancing and watching dancing. Your blog about DWTS, to me, was right on. I also felt that Melissa, David and Gilles did excellent in their dance routines.

Keep up the good work, Debra.

Dsrlene S.