Moving Forward | Editorial by David Benaym
So you think you can step up and stomp the yard? Perhaps dancing with the stars is more your style? Either way, in the past few years, you got served. Dancing, in its myriad forms, is taking over screens both big and small as Hollywood and the networks race to exploit the next big cultural moment.
Not since the Eighties has dance captivated mainstream audiences as much as it does now. Movies like Footloose and Dirty Dancing paved the way for the popular appropriation of dance, while shows such as Fame explored the inherent drama of a career in the performing arts.
Nevertheless, dance largely remained an afterthought in the pop culture landscape. That is, until a reality show, of all things, brought it back to the forefront of our collective consciousness when more than fourteen million viewers got hooked last summer on So You Think You Can Dance. When it debuted in 2005 on FOX, the show created a viewer-driven popularity contest out of an appreciation for human movement and intricate choreography. Riding the massive wave that American Idol created with its infectious interactive appeal, a variety of dance shows appeared soon after in an attempt to duplicate the phenomenon.
2007 will see a new crop of dance-themed reality shows struggle to hit the same jackpot, including Ballroom Bootcamp, Jennifer Lopez’s Dancelife, and Grease: You’re the One That I Want! Expectations are also very high for Steps, an upcoming CW series due this fall from one of the creators of Friends, which might finally bring dance back into the realm of scripted programming on television.
Dance has also been a big earner at the box office recently. Take The Lead, Step Up, and Stomp the Yard opened at number three, two, and one, respectively. The wildly popular animated film Happy Feet, about an extraordinarily talented tap-dancing penguin, has earned over $340 million worldwide. The silver screen has never been a complete stranger to dance, but Hollywood has certainly learned the value of dance-centric films in a big way recently.
Dance as a lifestyle and as a language has finally found a market. The powers that be in Hollywood and at the networks are starting to get it. Now it is our mission to lead and inspire moviemakers and the mainstream media to create even higher quality, progressive entertainment that further highlights what dance means in our lives. Shall we?