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So NOT strictly ballroom - Elizabeth Unexplained
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So NOT strictly ballroom
So, I just read this little tidbit on the BBC. Summary for those too lazy to click: a woman with only one leg is going to compete on Dancing with the Stars.

Since we don't have cable and therefore have no TV reception, psychohist and I do not watch TV, but we did kind of follow this particular show the first season over the interet, and were thus surprised when whomever it was that Charlotta Jorgenson was training failed to win. The preceeding sentence should show my bias -- I know a lot more about the pros than I do about the "stars". I also care a lot more about the dancing, which is why we didn't go out of our way to watch the show even when Charlotta was on it, because its basically just a dressed up pro-am competition and if we want to watch dancing we have Blackpool tapes.

On the other hand, the show is still supposed to be a dance competition. Now, I am certainly sympathetic to people with disabilities, but competative dancing is no place for someone who is minus a leg. Sure, she can ski on her prostetic leg just fine, but dance requires fine control as well as strength, the kind of control a prostetic just can't deliver. I'm sure she can manage enough to get around the floor for fun, but that's different from competative dancing. Ballroom as I understand it and love it has as a major component foot strength and control. Without that, without the rolling through the foot and pushing off with the toes, its just not ballroom to me. I fear that in an attempt to be a bit too PC they are doing this woman an injustice, by telling her that she can do something that she is tragically no longer equipped to do.
6 comments or Leave a comment
coraline From: coraline Date: February 21st, 2007 04:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
to play devil's advocate, since the point of the show is "stars" dancing, i can see someone who is passionate about dancing and has been dancing for years missing a leg being a better dancer than someone who's just trying to cadge some more publicity for themselves and doesn't actually have any dance background. (i don't know anything about the person in questions dance background, but it's a possible scenario). it might be good for at least a couple of rounds of voting?

(doesn't mean you have to like it, or watch it, but i'm saying the standards for this competition are different from an actual dance competition. motivations for being there are different, and the people who make it to this dance competition can't necessarily dance that well in the first place -- they just have to be "stars".)
chenoameg From: chenoameg Date: February 21st, 2007 04:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I feel like the incongruity of it is sort of the point of Dancing with the Stars.
greyautumnrain From: greyautumnrain Date: February 21st, 2007 04:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Possibly. As a former model I'm sure she has decent posture, which would be a plus.

I suppose the problem I have is that for good or ill many people form opinions about ballroom based on such shows. I am very much of the opinion that quality of dancing should be more important than anything else, especially artificial stuff like flashy choreography. And by "quality dancing" I primarily mean quality of movement. You need two fully articulated feet to achieve what I consider to be correct technique in ballroom. Perhaps I am just being grumpy, but I really care about that technique, and it demonstrates to me that the producers of the show are clueless about the technique and its importance when they invite someone on who can't possibly achieve that technique through any amount of training. Sure, in the short run its entirely possible that the one-legged woman will look better than random guy reviving his acting career, but given enough coaching, random guy could conceivably achieve proper ballroom technique whereas she can not. Now maybe the show isn't really about good dancing, but it does proport to be about dancing, which is why I'm a tad irritated.
coraline From: coraline Date: February 21st, 2007 05:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
ok, i can see that as a source of irritation. (especially if i thought of it in terms of a similar show about playing the violin or something :)
but given the parameters of the show (in that random reviving-his-acting-career-guy isn't going to put in the time to get the quality of foot articulation) it's not completely silly to invite her to participate.

but i agree, it's not about the dancing at that point, and it's misrepresenting itself. but then again, it's not like most reality shows are very representative of the task or activity they're "about"...
twe From: twe Date: February 21st, 2007 08:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Having watched the second and third season, I can say that the judges tend to favor good technique over flashy choreography, but that who wins and who gets booted has a lot more to do with who has more and more motivated fans.

That said, it's a bunch of beginner dancers, not Blackpool champions. :)
greyautumnrain From: greyautumnrain Date: February 21st, 2007 09:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
its a bunch of beginner dancers, not Blackpool champions

Well, I haven't watched the show, but Charlotta Jorgenson was in the first season and I'm told Louis Von Amstel is still with the show. So while the "stars" are beginner dancers, there are Blackpool finalists involved.

I suppose this bleeds into the issues I have with pro-am competition in general, as well as this particular instance of it. I happen to know that I look great when I'm dancing with a former Blackpool Champion, but I'm smart enough to know that its not because I magically changed from the five minutes earlier when I was dancing with my husband and looking stunningly mediocre. Ladies who do pro-am often suffer from the delusion that their 'real' ability is to dance as they do with their teacher, not with other people at a similar level of ability.
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