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"As song fades, nets do pirouttes": Variety, 11th August 2012Graceful movement has much more appeal than athletic effort!?


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#1 Jack Reed

Jack Reed

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 11:13 AM

A recent Variety article included some remarks that made me feel vindicated. The gist of the piece was that TV audiences are getting tired of singing-competition shows and so the industry is turning more to dance, and in the course of the article, we heard from "celeb choreographer" Richard Jackson:

"Dance possesses an advantage over singing skeins [TV series: Wikipedia] thanks to a visual aesthetic that holds universal appeal. Even during the Olympics, sports with elements of dance and graceful movement like figure skating and gymnastics routinely pull the highest ratings durings the Games."

(emphasis added)

Never heard of Richard Jackson before, but I love'm. Man after my own heart!

And how does his insider's observation fit with the theme I've noticed in ballet marketing that tells people ballet is hard? Hey, pay attention folks! People like to watch graceful movement more than athletic effort! (Would you believe it? Made my day!)

Decades ago, I met people who claimed Clive Barnes, the New York Times chief dance critic, whose reviews seemed to me artificially enthusiastic and pumped up, was responsible for the "dance boom" of those times, but I countered by asking whether they knew the truth of the story that the morning after Dance in America's Joffrey Ballet show had been broadcast on PBS, the ticket line at the City Center box office extended out the door and down the sidewalk.

I still think if there's one person responsible for the dance boom, it was Merrill Brockway, the excellent director of most of the first series broadcast under the title, "Dance in America". (Some of us still get a lot of enjoyment from his work.) Let TV offer people a good look at dance, and they show up wanting more.

But this article shows a gap between present TV industry thinking and what this shows works, even if all you're thinking about is promotion. I haven't bothered much with watching the competition and backstage-lives shows with some dance in them, thinking that the dancing is not going to be very good, or, worse, it'll be badly shown, but I think there's a lot of room for improvement in presenting dance. It's interesting that they're even interested.


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