Sunday, October 23, 2005

Week 3: Ballroom Bootcamp on TLC


In a departure from last week, Ballroom Bootcamp focused on guys this week—the Artist, the Old Dog and the Football Player—trying to kick up a jive to competitive level. Once again, these first-time dancers were paired with dance experts Gocha Chertkoev, Christian Perry, and Susannah Cuesta, as they learned how brutal it can be to match speeds in a hot jive triple-step.

Fans of last season's Dancing With the Stars will recall the way boxer Evander Holyfield came to life in the Jive. The dance uses "fast twitch" muscle fibers and demands a high level of aerobic fitness, as competitors bounce, spring, twist and hop vigorously. Knowing that, you may understand why this is the first week of Ballroom Bootcamp in which I pre-picked the winner, and felt the judges were totally justified in their choice.

The "artist" of the title is John, a slightly clownish fellow who doesn't take the contest seriously at first. He and his coach, Gocha Chertkoev, almost came to blows over John's lack of focus and unwillingness to treat his coach or the dance with respect. This week was the first in which they showed even a small part of the partnering process after the initial coaching sessions—and I felt that John only got as far as he did due to the efforts of his girlfriend and the coaching of Gocha's wife (who was John's professional partner.)

Hank was the bearded "old dog," staying solo in a residence hotel as he learned to jive. In addition to lessons in Jive, Christian Perry took him come out for a round of golf, jive-style—carrying both bags, and practicing the triple-step at each of 18 holes, to build up his wind and increase his fitness. This old dog quickly learned his new tricks, but never quite got fast enough to perform an enjoyable jive.

Interestingly, both John and Hank went through a makeover as part of getting ready for competition. John's eyebrows were trimmed back, while Hank lost all but a small patch of his weedy white beard.

All three men looked very "dancer-ly" in their costumes from Randall Designs. John got the best deal here, with a shoulder-broadening swash of glitter, while Hank looked svelte and elegant in his '50s-era suit.

It was Erdolo, however, who was the obvious front-runner in this week's contest. This athletic young man had immigrated to the US from Africa with his family, and brought a real joy to his performance of jive from the first lessons. Susannah Questa had to break him of a bit of shyness first—the scene where he runs screaming when she shows up at a basketball pick-up game, and jumps a high fence to escape her, is a hoot—but once he is comfortable with dancing in front of others, he's a winner.

Thanks, TLC, for the replays! A cable outage Friday night cut me off from watching this show in its first outing, but fortunately, I had my connection back by the time the final replay was on today. Check the broadcast schedule on TLC to make sure you don't miss any of these sometimes frustrating, sometimes delightful—but always, fascinating bootcamps!

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Blogger samraat said...

4/03/2010 11:12 PM  

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