With over 20 million viewers, 11 seasons and 207 episodes under their belt, ”Dancing with the Stars” is one of America’s most popular TV shows. Before I get to the problem (also before people throw tomatoes at me), I’d like to say that I think Dancing with the stars is one of the best things that ever happened to the dancing industry. I am grateful to its existence because it introduced Latin and Ballroom dancing to the general public. So no matter what I am still glad it’s on the air!
So what’s the problem?
The problem is that the quality of dancing on the show is mostly poor because the stars aren’t learning how to dance properly… Most of the stars have major balance, coordination and musicality issues. Note that I am not talking about contestants like Nicole Scherzinger, Jennifer Grey, Evan Lysacek and other somewhat “trained in dancing” celebrities/athletes… I am talking about Joe Shmoes (celebrity Joe Shmoes) like Jerry Springer, Michael Bolton, Denise Richards and others who didn’t have any previous dance training.
The REAL PROBLEM is not that these celebrities cannot dance. It is that the choreographies they learn are way too hard for them! And my question is why??? In my opinion, the quality of dancing in the show would shoot up astronomically if only the celebrities were dancing simpler choreographies. In the real Ballroom dancing world, you start from Bronze level with fundamental figures like Rumba walks, the New Yorkers, the Whisks, and many others. As you train and get better you move up to Silver, then Gold and after many years to Open level (most advanced amateur level). However, in “Dancing With The Stars” world, contestants dive into very advanced, open level choreographies right away. In other words, they learn to run before they can even walk. Couples on the show do about 30% of basic figures (closed syllabus) with 70% of crazy complicated (Open level) moves. This is why the dancing quality is mostly bad. Sure they can get through the routines, but it is HOW YOU DANCE and not WHAT YOU DANCE that really counts. I’d rather see the stars do simple spot turns well rather than attempting 3 spins without any understanding of the “center”. And trust me, basic and intermediate figures can look really awesome too.
Its not the celebrities’ fault, they are doing what is given to them. I am guessing that the producers want the most exciting and electrifying shows. That means lifts, spins and dog
pounds… But they end up having 1 couple like Nicole and Derek with amazing
performances, and the rest of the couples struggling to balance from foot to foot.
Just for fun…If I were a producer on the show what would i change?
I would reverse the the ratio for the routines to have a mix of 70% of basics with 30% advanced figures. This way the stars would learn how to dance from the ground up and do figures appropriate for their level . In addition they would still be able to incorporate a few dazzling moves to make it showy for TV. In my opinion this change would raise the quality of dancing on the show tremendously.
What do you think? Leave your comments below.
By Leon Turetsky
John Boe says
I miss here some links what you speak about. Some example videos. I didn’t see this show so can’t compare. We have a similar show but different producer and I think we have no this problems there. Can you also tell us how committee did qualify the dancers? Did you speak about finalists or dances which did not reach final round?
I agree with you, Leon. I also think that the show would be much more encouraging to “regular” person if they didn’t do such fancy stuff. Who would think that they could become a social dancer after watching this show? I think the response is more that there is no way they can accomplish this.
I also think the judges response to a good number of contestants is absolutely rude. I remember that Cloris Leachman asked many times what she needed to do to improve, and the response was just laughter and that she was so bad there was nothing she could do. Same rudeness to George Hamilton’s son. I wrote them about that, but no response, of course.
That is also not very encouraging to a “regular” person.
I keep watching the show, but it is becoming a bit boring now….
Yes I agree with you Dana.
I actually wanted to get into how it gives the wrong impression to the “regular” person about what dancing is all about (just didn’t want to get off topic). But I totally agree that a regular social dancer watching “dancing with the stars” thinks dancing is all about these “complicated moves”. When in reality you start with the basics….
Claudio C says
I also agree with you Leon . I was watching an episode when they were dancing the Tango , and the dance in my opinion didn’t look much like the traditional Tango that I am used to watch . Also you can almost tell from day one who the winner is going to be, people like Buzz Aldrin and Florence Henderson do not stand a chance competing on the same floor with Nicole Scherzinger and Jennifer Grey.
But I still love “Dancing with the stars”” and can’t wait for season 12 to start .
I couldn’t agree with you more!! Every season i watch and i repeat the same thing each time,”The pros expect a novice person to learn this in a few days, what it took them to learn in years”, cannot be done, simply cannot!!
Tony Warnock says
The show is designed to take a star who cannot dance and see how much the star learns over the course of the show. “Star” is used loosely. It’s really a popularity contest (designed to maximize ad revenue.)
It would be nice to require some “school figures” though; perhaps 50%-50% would be good enough.
I would like to see the scoring changed (this applies to the olympics as well.) I would use mandatory 10 score per judge for the first contestants then up to 20 and down to 1 (or 0) for the follwoing. This removes the problem of having a really good performance occur first.
I would also like the viewers’ share reduced from the current 50% to (for example) 40% (but not lower than 25%) of the final score. Let the views pick between nearly equal performances. Of course, this would have eliminated some who improved greatly over the course of the show: Donny Osmand, Kelly Osmond, Bristol Palin, among others; so maybe the producers know more than I do.
Why not vote for the worst not popular. That would balance out popular fan staying in.
Thanks Tony for your insight. Very good points. Although I am having hard to time understanding exactly what you meant in this paragraph:
“I would use mandatory 10 score per judge for the first contestants then up to 20 and down to 1 (or 0) for the following. This removes the problem of having a really good performance occur first.”
Can you please expand.
Tony Warnock says
The current system (also used in the Olympics and many other sports where judges decide the winners) scores on a 0-10 (or 1-10 or 1-5) basis. One problem is that someone giving a really good performance (compared to the preliminaries, for example) may start off a contest. Based on previous experiences, the judges may give scores of 9’s (or even 10’s) for the first contestant. This leaves little room for the others to improve; the range of available better scores is compressed. Judges know this and sometimes mark down the first performers just to give themselves room for scoring (thus scores across different events are not really comparable. My suggestion would set up the first contestant as a standard; the following contestants could then be judged as better or worse with a big range of scores available.
Boxing (in some venues) does something similar; the winner of a round gets a 10 (from judges giving the win) and the other contestant gets 0-9.
Under my suggestion, if the first contestant gave a poor performance, the others would get 11s to 20z; or if the first contestant were really good, maybe 1s to 9s.
That is an interesting idea. It makes sense esp when they perform one at a time. In real world Ballroom competitions, all the couples are dancing at the same time, for comparison purposes. But if it is one by one, having the first couple establish the standard may make sense.
Mike Nemeth says
The “moves” are so over the top that sometimes when I tune in in the middle of
a dance Ive no idea what it is. Also sometimes the music is so ill matched to the
dance that you can tell from it and the dances can’t dance to it.
Tony Warnock says
Perhaps my idea does need a bit of refinement. Maybe a mandatory 12 (or 15) would be better. Something over the middle of the range. It’s only a psycological ploy for the judges. I would guess that someone has tried some scheme like this. (Perhaps 15 out of 25 tops?)
robert mchale says
To me ballroom dancing is either, social , competition, or showcase. Dancing With The Stars is misleading to the public, as it is Showcase.The public thinks all dancers do Showcase, while what we realy do is social
Totally agree with you Robert! Dancing with the stars is geared towards “Showcases” which is quite different from social dancing.
Tony Warnock says
I would also like to see the routines required to do a few (3?) “school-figures” just so the audience can see what a dance looks like.
Right now, there seem to be waltzes and Latin-showpieces.
Derek’s choreography did show the character of the dances better than most.
Tony Warnock says
And, we wouldn’t have someone (Petra) doing “waltz” in 4/4 time.
Richard A Robles says
I am a new comer to dancing. Please let me know where do I get started. It would help if you have a No. 1 –Beginner point to get started. I had been a free member, and now am a payer member and have seen many video lessons, but where is the starting point. –Thanks Richard
Click on “Online dance lessons” at the top navigation menu. Then choose one of the dances.
After that you can go through the “quick links” at the top. Those lessons are numbered from the easiest to the hardest.
And send me an email at [email protected] if you have any other questions.
Ang Qui says
U should consider the limited time they have to put a show together for TV. I don’t believe this was ment to be run as a real Ballroom learning and competition experience. All and all I think they r entertaining as a TV production. I don’t feel, however that celebreties w/ previous experience should be included..
Yes I agree “Dancing with the stars” is more about all the drama that goes on and makes it fun for the viewer!
You are absolutely correct. Better music would also help immensely.. if it is a Tango, play a real Tango, not some crap that isn’t. Just have music and no wailing vocals.
So 11 seasons later and still going strong. They have the formula right. The show is about ratings. No one wants to watch celebrities learn to dance. You would make a great dance instructor but you would not make a good TV producer.
Nancy Damico says
I, too, agree with you. Afterall, they are practicing for 3 or more weeks before the show even airs and dancing many hours a day. No excuse not to get a really good foundation in the basics.
Another point, I think Len would love to see them adopt your suggested policy. He always mentions that he would like to see “more real ballroom steps.” Right now, he is especially complimenting Pasha for his true ballroom choreography.
The show needs a hist that isnot all about herself. Bruno is hard enough to take. Dtan
Robert Meldrum says
I agree Stan Dancing with the Stars is now just the Tyra Banks show all about her and showcasing her model runway walk and new outfits. I really miss Tom B. as the host, nothing against Tyra, but she is not great with live shows like Tom was.