Dance Shows on Television

  • Dancing shows have existed almost since the dawn of TV. From variety song and dance specials, to the rise of American Bandstand in the 1950’s where teenagers performed, and helped spread, the latest dance craze, and its subsequent, funkier version of 1970’s Soul Train, dancing on TV has been and remains wildly popular. Today, cable stations provide even more room on the “airwaves” for programs for and about dance enthusiasts.

    So You Think You Can Dance

    This realty dance show on the Fox Network follows a similar structure to American Idol. The show travels around the country holding auditions and seeking talent from all backgrounds, from unknown street dancers to champion dance competitors. Dancers come with experience in a diversity of areas including ballet, jazz, hip hop, salsa, and ballroom.  Fifty dancers are chosen to travel to Las Vegas and compete.  The entire show is considered one long audition where each week dancers are assigned different partners and different dance styles. Judges provide feedback on each dance performance and narrow the field each week until twenty dancers remain, whereupon the viewers call in and vote. The winner earns the title “America’s Favorite Dancer” and prizes that in the past have included an SUV, $100,000 cash, and a dancing role in Celine Dion’s Vegas show. Now in its fourth season So You Think You Can Dance remains a highly-rated and much anticipated show and spinoff versions have erupted around the world.

    Your Mama Don’t Dance

    In February 2008 the Lifetime Network rolled out its dance-themed reality show with a twist. Ten dancers, five men and five women, were picked to participate in the dance competition / reality show called Dance Nation. Once the cameras were rolling, producers let the bomb drop – each dancer was to be paired with a parent! The result was that over the next few weeks the young dancers had to teach their parents how to dance in the hopes of winning the competition. It’s unclear whether this dance show will be granted another season, but you have to give points for originality.

    Step it Up and Dance!

    This Bravo reality competition focuses on the cutthroat nature of the dance industry and takes dancers beyond the dance floor or stage. Tony-Winning director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell mentors twelve dancers through grueling challenges that revolve around diverse forms of dance including ballet, ballroom, Broadway, and burlesque. Performances may be a video shoot or a Vegas stage show; contestants have to be prepared for anything! Judges determine the dancers’ fates as they strive to get the “Final Callback” and the prize of $100,000.

    Dancing with the Stars

    Dancing with the Stars (or DWTS, to fans) is probably the most popular dance show in the United States. Airing on ABC, the show is based on the BBC’s “Strictly Come Dancing” and is affiliated with the international “Dancing with the Stars” franchise, which has shows airing in 31 countries. DWTS partners a celebrity contestant with a professional dancer. The celebrity must learn the dance in one week at the end of which the couple performs on live television. Dances are from both American and International ballroom including, Foxtrot, Cha Cha, Quickstep, Jive, Tango, Paso Doble, Viennese Waltz, Mambo, Rumba, Samba, West Coast Swing, Jitterbug, Hustle, and Waltz. Each of the three judges provides feedback and a score (1-10) for each dance, making the highest score possible a 30, which has been awarded on several occasions. The sum of the judges’ scores for the season, as well as a tally of viewers’ votes, determines the season’s winner. Dancing with the Stars also has a tour where DWTS alumns tour the country in a special dance performance. Now entering its eighth season, this dance show’s popularity is stronger than ever.