America's ballroom challenge returning to PBS

debmc

Well-Known Member
#62
The history of the America's Ballroom Challenge on Wikipedia sheds light on the problem. Many of us remember the good old days of 2007 and 2008 when this series was 5 episodes long. Each of four episodes was devoted to one dance category. We got a chance to see all the dances in each category as well most of the couples as they danced along with the hosts' commentary. (Am I, perhaps, mixing in memories of Championship Ballroom Dancing of the 80s and 90s?)

Extracted from Wikipedia: America's Ballroom Challenge.

Season 2&3 Category
Episode 1 American Smooth
Episode 2 American Rhythm
Episode 3 International Standard
Episode 4 International Latin
Episode 5 Grand Finale​

Now, all of American style is squeezed into one episode as well as International style in one episode. The result is a regrettable loss of continuity and context that we readily notice but to which the casual viewer might be oblivious. Just imagine condensing Gone With The Wind from four hours to two.

It would be interesting to know what drives the decision making of the show's producers. Is it the limitations of their resources or limitations imposed by PBS?
I'm hoping that the ratings were good enough for this to be aired again next year, and perhaps as the show is evaluated and feedback is given there will be more of the actual rounds of dancing displayed.
 

debmc

Well-Known Member
#63
Here is an interview with the show's creator:

In the past, America's Ballroom Challenge has always been either two hours or five. Why three hours this time?


The great thing about our previous five-hour format is that it allowed us to devote a whole hour to each of the dance styles – American Smooth, American Rhythm, International Standard and International Latin – and finish off with the grand finale. That meant we could include not only the spectacular showdance solos but also the group dances, where all the couples are on the floor at the same time. Unfortunately, five hours was more than we could afford this season, but we didn't want to scale back to two hours, because it's so hard to cram four different styles and a grand finale into 120 minutes. So, in consultation with PBS, we developed a new three-hour format. It allows us to devote one hour to the two American styles, one hour to the two international styles, and still have an hour left for the grand finale. Our emphasis is on the showdances, but we also have enough time to dip into the group dances just to give a sense of that part of the competition. We're very pleased with the result.
 

danceronice

Well-Known Member
#64
Waw Waw Waw !

Not enough variety when the couples pick their own dances for Showdances ? Maybe they should let you dictate to the couples what dance they will perform.
When everyone does the same thing and it's all quasi-contemporary rolling around and pained faces? It's like mid-1990s ice dance when everyone was competing to see who could be the most pretentious and dramatic. Boring. The only interesting one was "You Can Leave Your Hat On." It's a show dance, do something fun, not something painful, or if you want to be arty really PUSH it, don't just do "OH ALAS PAIN SORROW".
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#65
it was the swing, right?
"The swing" aka "swing jive" There was some West Coast in there (along with some (for me) very unnecessary "mugging"). In general I don't think people used the music very well, but then I'm, not a swing jiver.
That Doobie Brothers song was an "interesting" choice of music.
 
#67
I enjoyed the show dances, but here is opinion of the general public for you: my mom is not new to the concept and appearance of ballroom since I've been doing it for a while, but she said she was bored watching last week of Ballroom Challenge and was looking forward to this week DWTS episode, which is more entertaining for her.
 

bia

Well-Known Member
#68
I enjoyed the show dances, but here is opinion of the general public for you: my mom is not new to the concept and appearance of ballroom since I've been doing it for a while, but she said she was bored watching last week of Ballroom Challenge and was looking forward to this week DWTS episode, which is more entertaining for her.
I bet that a good part of this is that viewers get to know (or feel like they know) who the DWTS competitors are and develop a rooting interest based at least as much on that as on the dancing. Even without extended behind the scenes packages and a chance to see the same dancers over multiple weeks, this is something that the commentators could help with. They do know the dancers -- they could give more backstory. They could also talk more about what the judges are seeing. On DWTS, the viewers get to hear the judges' reasoning, such as it is, so again they can feel more engaged in the competition process.
 

debmc

Well-Known Member
#70
I bet that a good part of this is that viewers get to know (or feel like they know) who the DWTS competitors are and develop a rooting interest based at least as much on that as on the dancing. Even without extended behind the scenes packages and a chance to see the same dancers over multiple weeks, this is something that the commentators could help with. They do know the dancers -- they could give more backstory. They could also talk more about what the judges are seeing. On DWTS, the viewers get to hear the judges' reasoning, such as it is, so again they can feel more engaged in the competition process.
I was thinking that as well. I think there was no 'backstory' of the dancers which may make it harder for viewers to connect with the dancers. In other sports coverage, the commentators often include relevant detail about the athlete performers and there may even be sidebar interviews. Of course in order to do that you would need more time for the show.
 
#71
I was thinking that as well. I think there was no 'backstory' of the dancers which may make it harder for viewers to connect with the dancers. In other sports coverage, the commentators often include relevant detail about the athlete performers and there may even be sidebar interviews. Of course in order to do that you would need more time for the show.
And they might need to address the fact that some couples cover two styles - they kinda glossed over the fact that the same Peter and Alexandra from the Smooth were on the floor again for the Rhythm (as in, didn't mention it at all).
 

kckc

Active Member
#74
Actually they did mention during the rhythm section that the Perzhus were the Smooth champions. That was it though, just a throwaway bit in the middle of a sentence.
 

danceronice

Well-Known Member
#75
"The best they could" doesn't mean it was good. There have got to be hosts who could at least make it interesting (or say "Um, no, this is crap, I'll write something else." They clearly were not speaking off the cuff.)
 

bia

Well-Known Member
#76
They are the exception. They Only Had Three Hours Total . They did the best they could
The time constraints are a real issue. And I'm not saying that it's horrendous as-is, but it's also not as good as it could be. Given that it's not live, they could have tried telling the commentators to just talk, with a view toward giving backstory and judging clarification, and then edited it as needed. They could even have done it multiple times and picked the best parts. Yeah, it would mean paying an editor, but it would end up both more natural-sounding and more informative.
 

Cal

Well-Known Member
#77
Just a thought:

In the days of Champion Ballroom Dancing, PBS took 90 minutes to show the Standard and Latin Pro events, from taking the floor as they were being recalled to the final, through all dances of the group final, their showdances, and the line-up for results; and CBD also showed the theater arts/cabaret entries and a couple of exhibition dances. That way, viewers knew who the finalists were, the dances, and the results – just the way that competitions are run. And the format did manage to capture a bit of the competitive buzz that goes on. One year they DID have time to include some backstory to a few couples – Jean Marc/France, the Suvorovs, for example. They DID take a moment to comment on Pierre/Mireille and Gary/Diana as ten dancers.

So, all PBS has to do is to use another 90 minutes to do the same for Smooth and Rhythm. Over the full 180 minutes they could show all the styles from recall of finalists, through the main group events, showdances and results. If they replace the time taken for cabaret dances with the "Final Four" showdances from each style winner, they would still have a bit of time to show a couple of exhibitions, and to have the hosts "go shopping" and show some of the background glitz.

I'd watch that format.
 

wooh

Well-Known Member
#78
"The best they could" doesn't mean it was good. There have got to be hosts who could at least make it interesting (or say "Um, no, this is crap, I'll write something else." They clearly were not speaking off the cuff.)
Well Tony was speaking off the cuff. He showed once again he doesn't know what a viennese waltz is.
 

Mr 4 styles

Well-Known Member
#80
Cal. Would you pay for it too? The producers made it clear that 3 hrs was the budget. Maybe we should raise money for pbs to increase the time. A DF bake sale perhaps ?
 

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