How you look at the Pro/Celebrity dance shows really depends a lot on whether you are a dancer or not.
Non-dancers know what they do and do not like based on how pleasant the overall look of the dance is, and how entertaining the dancers are.
Ballroom dancers, of all types and levels, inevitably turn into hard-ass adjudicators, who are more hard-ass and any actual adjudicator would ever be.
The things that the dancer-viewer focuses on, may also show a bit about what is going him or herself at that moment.
- If you are working on stronger and straighter Latin legs, it is a good bet that you will pick up even the slightest untimely bend in everyone else’s legs, and will perhaps even yell at the television. That is great! The truth is that watching others dance will help your own dancing. Even if the dancing that you are watching is a bit off, it will help you understand what “off” looks like and that will focus your mind to not do the same.
- When something bugs you that you are not working on, even better!! You will fix it quickly before it becomes a problem for you, or you will listen more closely when a coach mentions it to you.
Overall however, the main thing that is clear from watching DWTS or SCD is that, you really can make a pretty accurate call about how well someone will perform, in the first 5-10 seconds of the dance. The good news is that is that it validates how adjudicators mark a crowded floor. The terrifying news is that you may be marked accurately in literally the time it takes to blink twice.
1. The thing you notice immediately, is CONFIDENCE. The dancer probably knows better than any one else how well they can perform, and it often shows.
2. The next thing is PRESENCE. This includes posture, poise, lines and energy. If this is strong at the start, it is more likely to continue. In part this is because it is easier to maintain great presence than to build it up during dance. If the mind and body is where it needs to be, early moves are more successful and confidence grows.
Of course the first few seconds aren’t all there is. Several things during the dance also attract good or not so good attention.
3. CHOREOGRAPHY & PARTNERSHIP has a fascinating effect on how you view the couple. The best situation is when the choreography is interesting, and more importantly matches the skill of the dancer and highlights where they have skill. In the category of “not so comfortable to watch” is when the pro dancer is overextending while the partner does not even really dance. I think the idea is to distract viewers, and it may work….,but only for non-dancer viewers,,,,dancers and judges not so much. On the other hand, when the dancers are connected – essentially looking at each other, playing off each other and working like partners – the dance works. The pro still almost invariably looks better, but does so in a way that shows off the couple rather than showing up their partner.
4. The next big thing is MOVEMENT QUALITY. This includes fluidity, sharpness and tone. When the movement quality is great and fits the type of dance, the television judges may see and mention other aspects of technique, but the score is higher than if foot placements are perfect, but the movement is too stiff or wobbly. It is dancing afterall, and dancing is first and foremost about beautiful and inspiring movement.
5. One of the most valuable things that one can learn from these shows is how well CLARITY OF A CHARACTER can be developed, and how beautifully a STORYLINE can be played out in only a few seconds. Yes, Dancing With The Stars and Strictly Come Dancing present showdancing, but when applied to DanceSport (with perhaps less hair flying around) remembering this adds such interest and musicality to even basic moves.
There seems to be a million and one things to remember when on a competition floor. Focusing on a few of the lessons learned for DWTS and SCD may help. Even so, you will probably still not be able to convince your coach that watching these shows qualifies as practice time.