Published on March 8th, 2012 | by Lisa McInerney4
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.