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An almost dazzling Dancing with the Stars SA

2018-03-04 00:00

Dancing with the Stars SA

M-Net (DStv channel 101)

Sunday, at 17:00 to 19:00 (results show at 20:00 following Carte Blanche)

Rating: 3/5

Remember the good old days of Strictly Come Dancing? Well, the show has returned to South African television under its US title, Dancing with the Stars.

The eight season of Strictly Come Dancing SA concluded in 2015, after the cash-strapped SABC3 was unable to take on further seasons of the beloved show. The production has since made a return on M-Net with production firm Rapid Blue, which is the local format rights holder.

Executive producers and owners of Rapid Blue, Kee-Leen and Duncan Irvine, were at the media launch of the show. They stressed that while Strictly Come Dancing may have inspired the new production, this incarnation is an entirely different show and improves on its predecessor. I’ve watched both productions in studio as well as on live TV, and the only change I have noticed is that the casting is less impressive this time around.

M-Net and DStv’s expansion has attempted to include more content steered towards a black audience, but only in broad strokes. The channel doesn’t make an effort to home in on local content that would be entertaining for black audiences and more accessible. In the case of Dancing with the Stars, the Hyde Park Corner studio and presenter Tracey Lange’s insistence on speaking Afrikaans excludes black audiences from the conversation, both in studio and at home.

The show left me feeling excluded and uncomfortable, even as an Afrikaans speaker. And the panel of judges: Two white men, a white woman and a single black woman? Seriously?

But on a more positive note, the challenge the show presents to its non-professional dancers is astounding. Pushing athletes to channel their discipline into a sport that is entirely different to the one they turned into a profession is mesmerising. Watch the folks move and you’ll soon realise it’s not as easy as a Vosho.

During the sixth season of Strictly Come Dancing, I was convinced that kwaito artist L’vovo Derrango, who already has astounding dance moves, would impress us week after week. Instead, he was the first to leave that season. And in Dancing with the Stars, I predicted former Springbok rugby player Thando Manana would follow in Derrango’s footsteps. Instead, he has beaten actress and TV host Thembisa Mdoda (she was the second to leave) and is one of the most entertaining performers to watch on the show. His footwork is amazing.

That being said, if the channel plans to bring back the show for a second season, they would do well to have some honest conversations about how to introduce real diversity into Dancing with the Stars.

(Photos: Supplied/City Press)

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