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Published on March 8th, 2012 | by Lisa McInerney


TV Review: Why You Should Have Watched Got To Dance.

Prodijig won Sky1’s Got To Dance last Sunday night, and half of Ireland was bewildered.

“Another talent show?” the Paddies frowned. “With dancing? When did this happen? Sure I was watching The Voice Of Ir… I mean, I don’t be watching that kind of shite.”

As is right and proper, until a TV talent show actually uncovers something of genuine cultural worth. Not all TV talent show contestants are of the same stuff. Once every fifty insipid, disposable talent show tryhards, you might chance upon a Susan Boyle, or an Ashley Banjo. How these stars are managed is quite another story, and there are occasionally ominous rumblings from those in the know about this casualty, or that binding contract, a cover-up here and a smoke-screen there. The fact remains that sometimes TV talent shows come up with the goods on every possible level.

Got To Dance is one of those shows. I am utterly in love with it.

Got To Dance follows the usual star-mining, crowd-pleasing formula. Auditions are held all over Britain and Ireland for great dance acts, and they perform in front of three seriously hot judges, who choose whether or not to shortlist them for the live semi-finals. The semis and finals are judged by public vote, and whoever garners the most is crowned champion. Simple. At least, you think it would be simple.

There are plenty of TV talent shows whose formats are saturated in controversy. Phone vote botching, cynical grooming of contestants, scripted reactions, fabricated judge spats, utter mistreatment of vulnerable wannabes… these have all contributed to the public’s mistrust of, and – perversely – addiction to, TV talent shows. What’s exciting about Got To Dance is how it sticks to the stated format… how much it actually gets right.

There are no pathetic wrecks brought through to the final stages of the competition so that they can be wacky bait for a braying crowd. The public vote is only open for ten minutes per show, and at 7 cents a call from the Republic of Ireland, taking part won’t break the bank. Davina McCall, who presents, is irreverent and affable, yet gratifyingly prone to emotional involvement in the acts. The three judges – Adam Garcia, Kimberley Wyatt, and Ashley Banjo – are all professional dancers who are simultaneously supportive and honest in their appraisals.

Garcia, a West End star, is a tap dancer. Banjo is best known as the frontman and choreographer of phenomenal street dance crew Diversity, themselves winners of a TV talent show. Wyatt, a former member of over-pimped girl group The Pussycat Dolls, is a sublime ballet and contemporary dancer. Each knows exactly what they’re talking about, and the performers always take precedent over judge banter, rivalry, or any other type of nonsense lesser talent shows will push as entertainment. Each judge performed twice as part of the live final stages of the competition – Ashley with Diversity, and one solo performance from Kimberley and Adam, who then joined up for a duet. No lip syncing involved. Here, have a look:

Wouldn’t see Kian Egan or Dana get that sweaty for their judging duties, would you?

As for GTD’s contestants, they’re arguably the most jaw-droppingly brilliant bunch you’ll ever see on the tellybox. Got To Dance doesn’t have time to hawk delusion as entertainment, not with so many genuine talents to get through. I’ve seen movement, tricks and stunts on this series of GTD that I didn’t think were physically possible. You watch GTD, and you’re watching passion, creativity and dedication played out by people you’re glad you share this earth with. The show is an absolute joy from beginning to end.

Notable entrants this year included:

Unity UK: a streetdance crew whose power moves were as inspirational as they were confrontational.

Supermalcom, an underground freestyler whose legs seemed neither aware of the laws of biology or physics.

Chuck, who… who… I  mean… I can’t even… What is this man made from?

Thirteen-year-old Latin dancers Lloyd and Rebecca, who combine grace, form and outright cheekiness.

What were you doing when you were seven years old? Oh. Is that all? Sweet Surprise was reminding everyone of the unbridled joy of existence.

Formidable, beautiful pole-dancer Bendy Kate, who shattered my preconceptions about her chosen style.

Funky tapper Dharmz, whose feet are clearly made from adamantium.

And of course, our eventual top three:

Incredible, innovative theatrical dance troupe, Fear Of The Unknown.

Robbed-of-the-title ballet dancers Tayluer and Elliot, aged 11 and 8 respectively, whose beautiful performances choked me up so thoroughly I could have had them arrested.

And Irish winners Prodijig, who did Riverdance crossed with a haka.

If that last description sounds a little dismissive, it’s because it was. I don’t think Prodijig were anywhere close to good enough to win the competition. Yes, the discipline and power of their moves is to be commended, but they are dancing in a style known for discipline and power in its moves. Their routines neither inspired me or moved me, and that genuinely makes me wonder if I’m really that far outside the common consensus. Nice one for modernisation of tradition and craft, though. But when held against Fear Of The Unknown’s concept and flair, or Tayluer and Elliot’s grace and beauty? I just didn’t get it. Sorry.

One real positive to the triumph of Prodijig is that we’re more likely to see greater interest in Got To Dance from our countrymen next year. It’s so, so rare that you get to witness brilliant people just being brilliant. In this era of televised spite, neo-conservatism, global exploitation and Simon Cowell, Got To Dance is must-see, feel-good television, and hereby prescribed by Culch to alleviate whatever else ails you. Keep both eyes out for its next incarnation.

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About the Author

That cranky young wan from award-winning blog, Arse End Of Ireland, Lisa’s also noted for her dedication to cobbling together unrelated imprecations to make new and bemusing insults, mostly because she’s not eloquent enough to otherwise explain her deep-seated terror of genre fiction and Fianna Fail. In 2006, The Irish Times called her “… the most talented writer at work in Ireland today”, and her mam still can’t understand why this is better than being the new Marian Keyes. Which it totally is. Alright? Website Twitter: @SwearyLady Facebook.com/sweary Last FM: LeislVonTrapp

4 Responses to TV Review: Why You Should Have Watched Got To Dance.

  1. Laura says:

    Haha – that photograph of Ashley Banjo is priceless. He looks like he’s trying to launch a surprise attack on someone from above using just his nether regions

  2. It’s no laughing matter. He could kill someone with that pelvis.

  3. Bngr says:

    I’m the exact opposite of you.

    Firstly, I love prodijig, I grant you there first and last audition were a bit pompous but the middle one to Beautiful People I’ve watched 100s of times and can never get enough. Have been waiting for Alan to put a show on since they won an Jig Gig 3 yrs ago so am delighted they won. Dancing with that strenth and precision timing like that you only get from people who’ve worked at 7hrs a day for 20+ yrs.

    On the other hand, I thought I must have been on a different planet when it came to Taylor & Elliot. Can. Not. understand why they got past their first audition, they were so shaky and unpolished and every time the judges gave them praise I thought are they blind. I mean you can say their kids, but I’ve seen kids their age dance with way more polish and perfection.

  4. I can confirm that yes, you were on a different planet, which explains where you saw all the extremely polished 8 and 11 year old ballet dancers.

    Seriously, though. Even in that one clip I posted, Tayluer and Elliot move beautifully, are creative in their interpretation of the music, and execute one particularly insane lift that had Judge Adam (like Judge Dredd, but with better hips) leap out of his seat, trying to hold his jaw up. They’re just a joy to watch – surely that’s what dance is about? I’m baffled as to how you think they weren’t good enough to get past their first audition… genuinely baffled.

    You can definitely tell that Prodijig are dedicated, powerful and professional, but they did nothing for me. I appreciate their talent and would never attempt to deny it, but they didn’t move me. For me, there was no story they were trying to tell through the medium, nowhere they were trying to take the viewer. They were technically brilliant, but I wanted to see something a bit more than just supreme coordination.

    Also, Alan scares me. HE. IS. VERY. INTENSE.

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