As a former Luvabull and Adrenaline Rush Dancer, my wife loves her some dance shows. If there is a dance show on TV, she’ll find it, TiVo it and obsessively watch it. This means that I have seen way more dance shows than I’ve ever wanted to see. In fact, there are one or two that I find interesting. Dancing With the Stars is terrible, So You Think You Can Dance? is intermittently tolerable and America’s Best Dance Crew is watchable. No matter what I think of these dance shows, it’s obvious that America loves dancing — right now, anyway.
Dee was watching an America’s Best Dance Crew marathon when one of the judges, Shane Sparks, mentioned that he wants to create a situation where dancers get paid like actors. I understand his sentiment and it’s a very admirable thing to want for his chosen profession, but I wonder what exactly he is cooking up. From what Dee tells me, he has been working on getting dancers from his shows into movies and to get more movies about dancing made. What else? He’s going to need more than that if he wants dancers to be on the same pay scale as big-time Hollywood actors.
Right now, the pinnacle for a dancer is to become a part of one of the many very popular shows on TV. To become a pro on Dancing With the Stars, to become a judge/choreographer on So You Think You Can Dance? or to win the cash prizes by actually winning one of the shows. Of course, winning those shows provides other opportunities - like appearing on other shows as guest acts. The dance crew Jabbawockeez won America’s Best Dance Crew and they recently appeared as a guest act on So You Think You Can Dance?. When I saw it, I thought it was great — look at Jabbawockeez, they’ve attained even more success. Unfortunately, this success and opportunity has only been created by the shows that have made dancing popular in the first place.
It’s all circular. So long as dance shows are popular there will be more opportunities for dancers to be successful. What happens when those dance shows are eventually cancelled and replaced by the next big fad? Where will the opportunities for the dancers be? There will still be Broadway shows, movies that need dancers, award shows, NBA dance teams and music videos but those opportunities existed prior to the dance show craze. Once the dance shows are gone, the opportunities for dancers will go back to where they were pre-dance show craze, unless Shane Sparks can develop some other persistent opportunities for dancers.
Why do I care? I don’t, really. I just think it’s interesting that when an industry creates a recursive series of opportunities that can all come crashing down at the whim of the American public. Interestingly, it’s the same way they choose their winners.