With this year’s Strictly celebrity contest well underway, the hype for one of Britain’s greatest TV shows began again. The show is an enjoyable and interesting show for anyone but for Ballroom/ Latin dancers it is a must-see. I’ve been an avid watcher of Strictly for about five years now and was one of the reasons I began Ballroom and Latin dancing. Seeing celebrities with no dance experience appear to look like professions by the end of the series made me believe that anyone like myself could learn how to dance; a philosophy I still believe in today.
In case you are somehow unfamiliar with the show, Strictly is essentially a reality competition show in which about 16 celebrities are partnered up with a professional dancer and taught how to dance mainly Ballroom and Latin over the course of several months. Each week the celebrity learns a new dance that they will perform on Saturday nights show; these include all the internationally recognised Ballroom and Latin dances (Waltz, Viennese Waltz, Tango, Quickstep, Foxtrot, Cha Cha Cha, Jive, Samba, Rumba and Paso Doble) but also several other dances have been added over the years of the shows: Charleston, Salsa, American Smooth and Argentine Tango. However, each weekly show sees one couple eliminated from the competition based on the judges scores and their popularity with the British public watching. Every contestant’s goal is to reach the final and ultimately win that series and the sparkly Glitter Ball.
The success of the show can be seen in its longevity, now going into its 15th series and over 40 variations of Strictly being held in countries around the world. The most famous of these is the American version called Dancing with the Stars. DWTS is like Strictly with the same format and even sharing two of the same judges in Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli yet upon further inspection the two differ. DWTS is a more friendly and light-hearted show, with each dance seeming to be more a performance with staging to get the attention of the judges and viewers. Similarly, the judges appear to be less critical of the celebrities with Len Goodman being viewed as the ‘bad judge’ in comparison to the other American judges. Although, the couples do ‘perform’ their dances like a show, Strictly’s dances have more dance content with more complex steps and a traditional sense to many of the Ballroom dances, like that of the competitive dancing world. Furthermore, the judges are more critical and can be compared to those of the competitive scene too. I think this represents the difference between the American and English audiences, with the Americans preferring to see their couples create a performance over dance steps complexity and vice versa. To whether one is better than the other, it is down to individual preference. It doesn’t matter anyway because both are outshone by UEA Strictly!
Overall, the shows are great Saturday night entertainment if you decide the skip the LCR whether or not you dance yourself. If you don’t it may even persuade you to start. At the very least it’s a reminder for us at UEA Dancesport to do what we do best: KEEP DANCING!
Written by Cameron Willson,
Image 1: Credit to the Telegraph