So you think you can dance?

How many of us are now hooked to the television on Saturday nights to see the latest search for talent show, “So you think you can dance?” – another knock-out competition which aims to find “Britain’s favourite dancer”.  Over the course of six weeks a selection of talented, and mostly highly trained, dancers are being put through their paces learning unfamiliar dance styles, working with a partner on new routines made for them by established choreographers.  In now familiar format the public vote on their performances and the judges have the final say in a dance off between the two least popular couples.  The prize for the lucky winner is £100,000 and the chance to dance in Hollywood.

Two of the 14 dancers selected to compete were known to me.  Drew already had precocious technical ability and an assured stage persona as a member of the National Youth Ballet in 2000.  Tommy Franzen caught the eye last year in Kim Brandstrup’s Goldberg at the Linbury Theatre, arrestingly combining playfulness and fluidity in his dancing alongside Tamara Rojo and other members of the Royal Ballet.  I am fascinated to see how far their abilities and personalities have taken them.

But beyond the drama of particular stories the programme raises other questions.  Are such shows beneficial to dance in their raising of public consciousness and enthusiasm – or do they perpetuate gladiatorial practice that favours the flashy and superficial? Is the public vote a true reflection of these dancers’ abilities or overly influenced by the lobbying of friends and the sentimentalising of their personal histories? Ultimately, what does it really take to become a great dancer?  Which of these varied individuals deserves to win this competition and why?  And why do we and others watch this programme?  Looking forward to reading your thoughts and preferences…

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