Superstars of Dance is Completely Degrading to the Art Form

And you know I haven’t said that about any of the other dance shows. I’ve been very open-minded so far. But the judges tonight seem pretty open about rewarding ass-shaking over artistry, subtlety, dance skill, interpretive skill, ingeniousness of choreography, you name it. What is dance if it is not those things?

That Australian couple performed one of the worst Sambas I think I’ve ever seen. Maybe I’m still coming off of my Alvin Ailey high, or maybe it’s just this show and the horrifying camera work that is completely destroying practically everyone’s dancing, but what I saw from that Australian couple was all flash, no substance.

They tried hard to shake their butts, since that seems to be their interpretation of Samba (or at least what they think the judges want, about which they would be correct apparently — so I guess it’s unfair of me really to criticize them much) but they couldn’t even do the ass-shaking thing without looking sloppy. I thought she was going to fall over on that series of fast spins around him and she was totally throwing her arms out of line. It looked like he was shuffling out of control on those bachachatas (little pelvis shaking back steps). The only thing I thought was nice was that lift where she kicked her leg up and over the other; you thought she was going to do a somersault instead of coming back down the same way she went up, so there was a nice little surprise to the choreography there. But completely lacking in everything else. And all the judges could say was how flashy it was, that they enjoyed the facial expressions, the wildness, the entertainment value. They definitely should not have overtaken that Irish step dancing couple.

And then that Irish soloist did that gorgeous balletic step dancing and the judges totally smacked her down, outright saying it didn’t have the flash, the entertainment value of the previous ass-shakers. Downright despicable. This show is not called Superstars of Ass Shaking, is it????

And then, I’m sorry but the camera operator’s actions were downright racist with regard to that South African soloist. How many times did s/he pan away from her and focus on the audience and their reactions to her? Their laughing, their open mouths. This is what trying to be a real artist and push boundaries gets you on this show. Mockery and ridicule. I honestly don’t even know how much of that dance we, the TV audience, actually saw. She did this beautiful, thought-provoking ballet, in white tutu, but the classical music was interspersed with conga drums, and she added a little African element to it. In the process she did the most gorgeous, striking developpe I’ve ever seen. Brilliant. But the judges completely trashed her. And what did the Russian judge say before giving her the lowest score he’s given all evening? “In  Russia you would have given classical ballet choreographers a heart attack.” That’s his basis for dismissing her. Lovely. Fucking lovely. The show should apologize to the artist and the audience for preventing us from seeing a good part of her performance.

I was so angry I missed a lot of the Chinese group, but whenever I turned around it looked like they were doing flashy, athletic martial arts stunts.

The US couple, were, I thought, just as good as the South African couple that did the same exhibition dancing. Judges didn’t think so. I do appreciate that the South African judge is actually being specific, in stark contrast to the others, and I appreciate that he said he didn’t see either partner here ever fully extending their line. I agree with him, but I also think that that’s not what’s valued in exhibition ballroom dancing — it’s more about the athleticism, the spectacular lifts. That’s what exhibition ballroom dancers are supposed to do; ballet is about the extended lines. And I think I could come up with the exact same complaint regarding the South African couple we saw last week — I never saw fully extended lines on them either (which this judge didn’t have a chance to critique since he’s from South Africa).

I liked the Indian soloist. She had great energy and seemed to make full use of the stage and had lovely, expressive wrists and feet. Unfortunately, because the camara person is so crappy, half the time her limbs were cut off and most of the time we were either far too far away from her to see the full extent of her gestures or, at a couple points, she was completely out of the shot.

The Argentine soloist was basically doing a strip dance without taking off her clothes. Ass shaking, boob shaking, ass shaking, boob shaking, boob shaking up and down, boob shaking side to side, ass shaking, boob shaking, turning around and ass shaking from back, turning back around and ass shaking from the front. Thankfully the judges rewarded her for her complete lack of dance skill with shit scores. South African judge gave her a 4 — lowest of the show. Awesome. Women should not be rewarded for taking off their clothes and reducing themselves to their sexual body parts. Typical that the American judge gave her an 8, and the Irish judge gave her a 10 on basis that he’s “a red-blooded American man.” So despicable. But I think what is really more despicable is that the show’s producers hired her to do it. That’s what all that advertising was all about. “Don’t let your husband’s see what’s coming after the commercial, ladies,” and all that trash. Oh my god I am so disgusted. I don’t often use these words, I really don’t.

Oh yes, this little half-time special is most definitely traditional “monk dance.” The Chinese monks always danced to contemporary American rap music and somersaulted through the air.

Cute Russian ballroom couple. The magic tricks with her continuous seemingly impossible costume changes — not dance but performancey — overtook the dancing unfortunately, but their dancing was really technically quite nice. Funny, the South African judge just called their dance a tango / samba combination. I don’t think anyone who knows anything about ballroom would confuse that salsa with samba! I think he just got the wrong word though… he’s a pretty good judge. Is the Irish judge a moron?: after admitting the dancing wasn’t all there, he says, “on sheer entertainment, I give you a 10.” But a 10 is the highest score available. So this is now Superstars of Entertainment?

Ugh, when is this stupid show going to be over so I can shake it off of me…

Irish group dance: best of the night, of the show! Gorgeous balletic step-dancing from the women up front, beautiful fluid arms, fun lifts, then excellent step-tap dance from the men. And in the end, everyone together, rhythmically in tap shoes, and all perfectly, brilliantly in sync. I love how Flately (the host) asks the dancers to talk right after they’ve finished dancing their hearts out. They’re so out of breath they can hardly get the words out, and they seem embarrassed by it.

Oooh, what better drama than to have the judges decide which group goes through to the finals! This show is so transparent. So, it’s Australia going through to the finals — only the Chinese judge chooses the Irish.

Forgot the Indian team that was on up front. All I can remember is flash and ass-shaking. If there was supposed to be something cultural that we could have gotten out of that, heaven forbid anyone on the show clue us in.

I can’t believe I actually watched this crap instead of CNN’s pre-inauguration coverage.

Tomorrow can’t come soon enough, to take my mind off what I’ve just seen.


  1. I agree that the show is mostly crap. I have enjoyed seeing the variety of dance styles, but the show is awful. The Irish group was wonderful. I've also been disappointed by no Anya/Pasha for the last two weeks. I hope they will be in the finale next week. Try to bear and watch ONE more week.

  2. SwanLakeSambaGirl

    Hi Laurel — I know, I missed the first show and I hope I didn't miss them for good! Why did they have another Russian couple on tonight? I thought they were supposed to be “the” Russian couple? This show annoys me on so many levels! I know, one more week — I'll watch for them 🙂

  3. Regarding your comment on the south african judge not knowing anything about Latin i think you should do your homework . just to let you know that he works with top latin professional couples and just to name one how about Paul Killick and Hanna Karttunen who is now dancing with Slavik.
    He his more than qualified in latin than you think .

  4. I've never truly been this angry, Sharon. I've rolled my eyes at times before on other shows, but I've never actually been angry at the way dance is portrayed. I'll be excited to read your review!

  5. I believe I said the South African judge must have misspoken regarding the salsa / samba.

  6. The Argentine soloist should get a 8 for simply being hung. She knew how to hold herself. You don't often see a bare ass shaking with a halo around it.

  7. I have to admit I'm only still watching this show in hopes of seeing Pasha and Anya perform again. I wonder what happened to them – did they get eliminated and I missed it ? If not, I wish we'd be given some sort of explanation as to why they're no longer on. I'll watch the finale just in case they're on, but if this silly show comes back for a second season, I'll be tuning out. Pasha and Anya deserve better than this nonsense.

  8. That's exactly what you said, Tanya. Apparently when miffed about a review, people's reading comprehension skills go down.

    Anyway, just thought I'd say that I agree that this tv show is doing nothing for the art form. You've been very open-minded regarding this show and if you're angry, it must have been bad!

  9. You clearly nevre saw Alvin Ailey dance. The Australian male dancer at times resembles a young Alvin. He also reminded me of Robet Powell. The woman”s style reminded me of Chita RIivera in her prime. There was an interesting erotic quality to both.She was a strong woman and he a softer man. But that contrast worked.
    That was not like Alvin Ailey who was clearly one of the most dynamic male dancers whose male srtength matched the softer, strong women he danced with ie. Carmen De Lavallade and or Myrna White.

  10. i think Irish samba is most excited and wonderful compare to other like south african samba.Indian soloist gave their all effort to dance and they dance very well.The australian couple tried their best to shake the ass but all are looking rubbish.And i also note one thing South African judges are not knowledgeable about dance.In my opinion Irish dance is best.

  11. i think Irish samba is most excited and wonderful compare to other like south african samba.Indian soloist gave their all effort to dance and they dance very well.The australian couple tried their best to shake the ass but all are looking rubbish.And i also note one thing South African judges are not knowledgeable about dance.In my opinion Irish dance is best.

  12. I can't believe you watched it either – and with such attention to detail.

    If you don't enjoy a program you are allowed to switch off the television, or, if that is too difficult, at the very least do yourself a favour and leave the room.

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