There are so many of these competitive, make-me-a-star, raise-my-profile type TV shows these days, aren't there?
For me it all started with Pop Idol in 2001 which was subsequently 'replaced', as such, by The X Factor show in 2004.
There are tons of these shows. I should make it clear at this point though that I'm not particularly a fan of these type of shows per se, despite what my twitter feed may currently indicate on Saturday nights! And although I do watch it, I particularly dislike The X Factor show, mainly for the mentor game-playing they sometimes engage in and the fun they make of the 'weak' contestants - those they let through to the live shows for that reason - and how those with a back story have the best chance. Makes for better entertainment 'dahling', I'm sure they'll tell us.
The shows that I enjoy best though are 'Dancing on Ice', sadly no longer on our screens, which brought the fabulous British Ice Dancing stars Torville and Dean back into the public domain, making Ice Dancing cool again; and Britain's Got Talent, which I love for the zaniness of the characters
However my absolute favorites are Got To Dance and Strictly Come Dancing. Mainly because they don't engage in the afore-mentioned game-playing, and also because they are, well, dance-based!
Myself and Looking for Blue Sky were chatting recently and a question was raised:
How come a programme about Ballroom Dancing, once a niche activity, has become so popular?
A very valid question that I'm not sure I can satisfactorily answer Blue sky, but I can tell you what I get from it and why I like it so much.
Anyone who knows me, or who are regular readers here, will know that dancing is my thing. You'll know that my love for dancing started with a chance TV item when I was three years old. From then on I watched any TV show that had dancing in it, which in my era consisted primarily of 2 shows: Top of the Pops and....... Come Dancing! This show was quite demure, staid even, and developed from following all of the many Ballroom Dancing competitions throughout the UK. The format evolved over the years and ultimately became the one I was familiar with. Groups of contestants (sometimes large, sometimes small) dancing around the floor, with the TV camera highlighting them one by one. Stunning costumes, in glorious colours with reams of satin and taffeta, feathers and sequins. With the men all in their suits and boleros, with ne'er a bare chest or rippling muscle to be seen. Through this programme I was introduced to the many different styles of ballroom dancing; the beautiful waltzes, the lively foxtrots and jives, the passionate Pasa Dobles and the sexy Rumbas and Sambas! Made such wonderful family viewing on a Saturday night!
My favourite part though, the one I lived for, was the more eclectic style - which allowed for more free-style dancing while also being technically correct - the Group 'Formation Dance'. This was dancing-on-the-edge stuff, the highlight of the night, and I loved it!
Who could have known back then what this traditional dance TV programme would ultimately mature to be?
And that's exactly what happened with the introduction of the many competitive 'make-me-a-star' TV programmes. It worked for music so why not with dancing? I think that by applying this on-trend format of TV entertainment to the old style 'Come Dancing', they did for Ballroom Dancing what Riverdance did for Irish Dancing - they made it more popular and introduced it to a whole new audience. They made Ballroom Dancing 'sexy' ...... 'dahling'!
This show differs from The X Factor in that they invite 'celebrities' from all walks of the entertainment industry - thereby cutting out the 'game-playing'. Although the contestants have talent it is not usually (for most of them) in the area in which they are competing. They get to learn a whole new talent, one that takes as many forms as there are dance styles within this genre of Ballroom Dancing. There is a whole chemistry and bond, based on the most basic element there is; one that must exist if two people are to successfully dance together, i.e. trust. That is wonderful to watch. To see all of that develop, as well as the rapport between all of the couples and, of course, their dancing skills, as the weeks go by is another thing that attracts me to this show.This revamped dance show also provides a platform for the professional dancers and helps to highlight their phenomenal talents. Of course I LOVE the choreography that these professional dancers bring to the show, and, although it can be a tad over-frenetic at times, I do love their more modern version of the 'Formation Dance', which is less restrictive and more creative than ever before. And still the camera pans in from low on the dance floor, similar to how it did back in the day......
So for me it's not just the dancing; Strictly Come Dancing has such a history attached to it, it has risen from the ashes of Come Dancing and has been on our screens for ten years now. Ballroom Dancing is not that much of a niche, not really. Certainly not when compared to Ice Dancing and besides, as I've said above: there are many different dance styles encompassed within the title 'Ballroom Dancing'.
Ballroom Dancing is also a whole industry within itself. There are still many, regularly held, dancing competitions throughout the UK and Ireland, and the US too; for whom I'm sure Strictly means a lot.
The Strictly format has also become a hugely popular mode of fundraising for sports clubs, schools and charities here in Ireland alone, with this Fundraising Events Group being a hugely successful one-stop-shop for making your event happen!
And one day, hopefully soon -when my injury has totally healed, I will get to dance in one of these events.
It's on my to-do list after all!