News: So you think you can dance..

Tuesday 22 December 2009

A new prime time show, which sets out to find ‘Britain’s Favourite Dancer’ launches on BBC 1 this Saturday 3 January at 6pm.

There have already been six versions of the show in the US, with versions in other countries around the world and Nigel Lythgoe, one time dancer, choreographer turned TV producer and co-creator of *So You Think You Can Dance*, is returning from the States to judge the show, alongside Arlene Phillips, with a third judge to be announced and Cat Deeley hosting.

Hundreds of dancers from a wide range of disciplines turned up for auditions which were held around the UK, from which fourteen have been chosen. Saturday nights show covers the selection process and in subsequent weeks the show will be live, with two contestants being eliminated each week until the final. An audience vote forms part of the selection process. The series winner will receive a trip to Hollywood where they will get to perform live on the US version of the show, plus £100,000. But in order to get there, the 14 contestants will be pushed right out of their comfort zones. Each week they’ll be challenged to different styles of dance, including hip hop, jazz, Broadway, lyrical and contemporary with a new routine taught by world renowned choreographers and mentors – including Matthew Bourne, Rambert’s Artistic Director Mark Baldwin, and Kate Prince, creator of the hit street dance show, *Into the Hoods.*

Lythgoe and Phillips say that whilst technical expertise is important, they’ll be looking for versatility and above all, a real sense of dance as an art form, suggesting that maybe this programme might be more in tune with serious dance practise than others. Although Lythgoes assessment of contemporary dance is interesting: “So many people report to be contemporary dancers, and they’re not. They are sort of jazz dancers that feel like they’re throwing a bit of classical in there. I mean, a true contemporary dancer has got ballet as their base and classical ballet, and that is their base. And then they choose to extemporise on that and go into a contemporary world. However, when people walk in here and say they are contemporary, a lot of them just go running around the stage like Isadora Duncan, and half of them deserve to be strangled by their scarf.”

Laban trained dancer/actor Tiago Gambogi, with his new brand of character-based comedy dance, didn’t make it through the auditions – watch this extract to see how he did::

2010 is kicking off with a flurry of dance shows. On Sunday 3 January *Got To Dance*, which also offers members of the public the chance to win a £100,000 cash prize starts on Sky One and the following week sees the return of _*Dancing on Ice* _to ITV. Caroline Miller, Director of Dance UK says “_The medium has been rejuvenated. Everyone’s views of ballroom was that it was staid and boring. But then Strictly Come Dancing came and made it cool for young people to do.” _
__Read more in The Times, 19 Dec.09

With So You Think You Can Dance (BBC One) and Got to Dance (Sky1) on our screens from January, Sarah Crompton finds out how the competition will affect these shows,

“The emergence of these two shows as popular entertainment pushes dance firmly into the mainstream. Neither show may be high art, but both have strength, passion and great entertainment value. They add to the sense that finally in Britain, dance is a cultural force to be reckoned with – and that can only be a good thing.”
Telegraph, 30 Dec.09

“Dance is now second only to football as the most popular activity among schoolchildren, and ranks first among girls”
TV listings are brimming with dance, dance classes are full, and theatres are seeing ticket sales increasing. This really is the age of the dance… Jane Mulkerrins, The Times, 12 Jan.10

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