Specialized Social Networking Sites Are Becoming All The Rage…

Thanks to reader Sharon for alerting me to this new social networking site, Ballroom Dance Channel. Founded by Dancing With the Stars pro dancers Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Tony Dovolani, and Elena Grinenko, it is geared toward, as the name implies, fans of ballroom dance, and of the show. It’s similar to Kristin Sloan’s The Intermission (for all dance aficionados but mainly ballet), and Ken Davenport’s BroadwaySpace.com (for those involved in theater). Perhaps these more specialized social networking sites can avoid some of the pitfalls of their mammoth brethren.

Ironically, as internet technology allows people better ways to connect with each other in virtual time, it works to hamper that connection in real time. Of all the talk about Amazon’s new Kindle (basically an ipod for books, blogs and online mags), Meghan Daum’s critique is my favorite. She basically says that glancing at the cover of a fellow airplane traveler’s book was a perfect conversation starter. A fellow book lover, I agree with her — not just on planes, but in cafes, the park, the subway — recognizing a favorite book in the hands of another is a sure point of connection. I guess there’s always Shelfari though, which likely can be accessed from one’s Kindle…

In other news, it appears that Elizabeth Berkeley is to host Bravo’s new reality dance show, “Step It Up And Dance.” I knew she had some connection to dance, since I saw her on the red carpet. Also, Pasha & Anya are scheduled to perform in Stamford, Connecticut later in December (thanks to Laurel for that info!), in a ballroom dancing extravaganza called “Rhythm of Love,” which also stars some of my other favorites, new national American Smooth and Rhythm champs respectively, J.T. Thomas & Tomasz Mielnicki, and Jose DeCamps & Joanna Zacharewics. If you love ballroom and you’re not too far from southern CT, this should be a fabulous night. Book-wise, if you’re in NY, this weekend is the (free) Small and Independent Press Book Fair in midtown. Go here for a schedule of events.

25 Comments

  1. You’re welcome! I think its wonderful that these pros are taking the time to network and interact more with those of us that admire their work. Thanks for mentioning BDC in your blog, I know they are working hard to help it grow.

  2. I really hope that Step It Up And Dance offers something different. The existing TV dance shows just don’t do it for me and I hope Bravo explores new territory – maybe I’m asking for too much?

  3. Also, take a look at new Dance Magazine social network:
    http://www.danceruniverse.com/

  4. my BDC:
    http://ballroomdancechannel.ning.com/profile/Katrina

    feel free to add me

    I’m going to miss Maks so much on DWTS… But I completely understand his reasoning

  5. I haven’t met up with one person from the online dance world… despite attending tens of performances and even the same one’s as online buds. Wouldn’t recognize most of them if I was standing face to face.

    Weird that is.

  6. Thanks again for telling me about it, Sharon!

    And thanks for the link, Doug — wow, there are SO many of these starting up.

    Yeah, I know what you are saying, SanderO. One of the early criticisms of email was that it was diminishing people’s actual abilities to communicate in person. Actually, I remember Meghan Daum writing such an article. I do like her :) I think the greatest thing about the internet is that you can connect with people all over the country, even world; they don’t have to live in your own geographical area. That wasn’t possible before. Still, it’s fun to organize meet-ups for people in the same area. I should get on Kristin’s case to do that with the Winger :) since most diehard fans of that site do live in or near NY.

    Katrina, what about Maks?! Is he leaving DWTS to go on DWTS tour? How do I miss all this stuff?!

  7. Tonya,

    He said on Extra I think it was Weds that if this is the limit for him with the competition, he’d rather not come back. He’s been saying for at least 2 seasons now that he thinks its set up to where a woman can’t win, and I think he’s just tired of the glass ceiling. Most of us at his forum are torn between wanting him to change his mind, so we can watch him dance again next season, and not wanting him to have to go back and deal with all the politics of the show. He’s not enjoying Hollywood, he’d rather be finishing up his work on Le Reve at the Wynn in Vegas, and moving on to the other opportunities he has worldwide for choreography work. He also auditioned a Russian girl to see if she was the right fit for him to go back to competing with. Its all far from official word, of course, but Tony is rumored to be done as well.

  8. Well, since I can’t go back and edit the other one, I’ll make a new post to leave you this link about Maks…

    http://extratv.warnerbros.com/2007/11/is_maksim_quitting_dancing.php

  9. I heard Tony was done as well – but the people they are calling in for auditions are really great dancers on the rise competitively. Must be a hard decision whether to be famous nationally or keep on going in comps.

  10. Making friends from far off is way cool on the net. But it does seem to inhibit people who can actually get together from doing so… or is it my imagination? Now with pics we might get to recognize someone from the net at a performance or even in a bakery, but back in the days of narrow bandwidth and few net images it was a bit scary because you had no idea who was at the other end. I did have some rather odd experiences back then.

    I think a Winger meet up after some “performance” might be a decent idea. Any more readings in the near future?

  11. Seriously? Tony Leaving? Waaa!!! I hope not. I mean I understand that he probably misses his family, I mean they’re in Connecticut and he’s in L.A. for 10 weeks, but I think he’s an amazing dancer. Plus with all the drama that happened on this season and especially with Carrie Ann not giving him the respect he deserves (I hate her by the way.. I wish they’d get somebody else).

  12. Is anyone planning on going to the show in CT? I am in GA, of course I can’t, but I would love to hear reports (even see pics) if anyone plans to go!!! :) Nothing happens here so I have to live vicariously through others. :(

  13. Parker,

    Ooh. Any hints as to who they are looking at? Or if they are looking at bringing back a couple of the dancers that have sat out lately? Like Brian, or Louis? Have you heard anything about Julianne not doing next season? I’ve heard it, but am a bit loathe to think that one will stick…

  14. Sharon what have you heard about Jules (Julianne)? I know Louis loves the show but he does have a new studio that he just opened with Lisa from Season 3 or 4 (Harry Hamilin’s wife). She convinced him to move to L.A. from Salt Lake.

  15. Hey Tonya! Thanks for the BroadwaySpace.com shout out!

    You are so right about the struggle of offline/online connection.

    One of my mission statements with one of my other social networking/online community sites, http://www.altarholics.com (fanz of my musical, Altar Boyz), was to make sure we had a balance of online and offline networking. We make sure that we have “Altarholic Appreciation Days” every month or so to make sure members are connecting in person and online. They have been very successful in bringing the members together. While it’s a lot of work to make sure we keep up these events, I find them so personally and professional rewarding. Filling a room with people of similar passions is always a blast. So I encourage everyone with community sites to make sure you have several “offline” events per year. You’ll find your online activity jumps afterwards as well.

  16. Just a correction – the social networking site I mentioned DancerUniverse.Com is produced by Dancer Publishing Co.

  17. Thanks for all the info and comments you guys! Wow, thank you for commenting, Mr. Davenport!! Sometimes with the comments I get I feel like I am living in an alternate universe 😀 And thanks for the advice — I will definitely pass it on to (Winger) Kristin and other social network founders. I’m glad “altarholics” has been so successful. And how much do I love that title :)

    As for DWTS: I can’t imagine Julianne would be ready to leave yet, right?! Maybe Maks and Tony just need a break from the show. They’ve been doing it for a while and I can see where certain things would start to get cloying. Real ballroom dancing competitions are so political, so I imagine it’s extremely annoying when you feel like the TV shows are starting to become the same, but in a way it doesn’t bother me as much with the TV shows — there’s expected to be a certain amount of voting based on popularity and not pure dance skill. The polticking that goes on in real, pro ballroom dance competitions is more disconcerting to me because professional judges are expected to be above that. Anyway, what Maks and Tony have done for ballroom dancing, bringing it into the public spotlight the way they have, has done wonders for ballroom dancers, has opened up so many opportunities for them, and brought greater public awareness of and appreciation for dance in general. I’m sure whatever they decide to do with their careers, they won’t stray far from the public eye.

    Laurel, I hope to go to Stamford. I have to look into logistics, which I plan to do tomorrow after I’m finished with a very stress-inducing court oral argument in the morning… I’ll let you know!

  18. I haven’t heard anything about Jules (and the DWTS group on Livejournal is pretty active in picking those up :)) except for the supposed “romance” between her and Helio (which we all know is crap).

  19. Really Parker! Wow, that’s so cool — I hope J.T. is on! It’s so weird seeing Katusha Demidova’s name next to someone other than Jonathan. Did he just retire? Did you see them dance, and if so, did they look good (well, I assume they did since they won:) ) Thanks for the info!!!

  20. Parker,

    I understand! That’s how I end up with a bit of the info when I get it for DWTS, like the dustup over the choreography on there. About Jules, she made comment on Extra last week after the finale that she wouldn’t be back next season. Could it be she’s taking the spring season off to record her new album, since she just signed with Universal? Back to your comments, Parker, any idea how many new pros they are looking for? Don’t worry, I’m not going to use it, I’m just nosy, lol!

  21. I don’t think there is going to be a spring season because of Carrie Anne’s and Bruno’s new show “Dance Wars”

  22. Haha, Sharon, I’m not sure how many they’re looking for, but they’re definitely looking at younger pros, not the more experienced ones (so look at the bottom end of the lists, hint, hint).

    Tonya, I didn’t see them, but my friend did and says Katusha’s new partner is very young, dance-wise, but has a lot of talent. She feels they just don’t have the magic of K&J, but since they don’t have the history, either, it’s less contentious.

  23. Parker,

    Blah. When are they going to realize that youth isn’t everything, that we don’t always want new people thrown at us and then taken away before they have a chance to stick? Maybe I should just stay with following comps online and watching on PBS the one time a year we get it.

    Katrina,

    I’ve heard on several of the newsmagazine shows that there is to be a season that starts again in March. One would presume end of March, and will wrap up right around the end of May sweeps. I’m sure they will need the ratings if the writers strike continues.

    I still say they should just have a rotating cast of pros, maybe 6-8 at a time, run a set of celebs through all the smooth and Latin dances, and then “graduate” them. Have the next set of pros start with their celebs mid season, and they premiere for another “season”. I figure you could have three sets of pros, one on camera, one teaching for the next group, and then rotate out for a season. No one gets sent home, so we get to see actual growth and development. Yes, I know, takes the fun out of it for a lot of America. True, we get stuck with a few duds along the way, but you don’t lose the truly talented to a popularity contest, either.

  24. Hey Tonya (and everyone else following this, haha),

    Here’s an interview in TV Guide with Maks, where he talks about the show, the fact he’s not going to be there for season 6, and that it starts in March:

    http://www.tvguide.com/news/dancing-stars-maks/071204-05

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