I was channel surfing last evening when I happened on the ‘Dances with the Stars” program. The contestants were dancing a tango – so I stopped to watch. Not bad, I thought – but they seemed to be overdoing a wonderful and exotic dance. Unlike Al Pacino in “Scent of a Woman.”
One of the pleasures of my life was studying ball room dancing for three years. We never choreographed our dance routines to any single song. Rather, we studied the concept of dance and then the male partner was to lead the female in the dance. No discrimination – that is just the way it is done – someone has to lead. That means that the choreographing was done on-the-fly. But the dance could not violate the fundamental tenets of the selected style.
While studying dance our class would meet at various clubs where ‘big band’ music was being played; children in elementary school might call this a field trip. Sometimes my partner and I sat at our table and observed our fellow students. There was one couple who mastered the tango to technical perfection. They never missed a step. And they were tremendously boring.
Dance is not Olympic gymnastics. Dance is fun, exciting, engaging – both technical and artistic. I was pleased on the dancing with the stars thing to note the judges granting points for chemistry between dance partners. I never mastered the technical aspects of ball room dancing – but we had a great time, enjoying each other as we did the double lindie around the ball room floor.
Al Pacino captures the art of the tango in this scene from “Scent of a Woman.” While watching the technical perfection on “Dances with the Stars” I was reminded of Pacino’s art – The professionals and celebrities of the reality show could take some lessons. Here it is – thanks to Youtube: