So You Think You Can Dance? Think Again

Posted by RabbitEars

I guess I’m not like a lot of people in this country in that I have no delusions about my abilities in various endeavors requiring physical creative talent, most notably singing and dancing. Frankly, I have none in those categories. This has saved me much humiliation in the form of futile auditions for the likes of American Idol and Dancing With the Stars. Not so with many other people, who do overestimate their talents and throw themselves to the wolves (or the Cowells; same difference) in an effort to get famous, and seem genuinely shocked when faced with the fact that they do, in fact, stink. But you have to admire their confidence in themselves, at the very least.

My assessments of my own abilities were proven quite accurate last night at the summer TCA tour. During ABC’s evening event for writers, several personalities from Dancing With the Stars (which begins its new season Sept. 22) were on hand to give crash courses in dancing. I took advantage of it, since I could certainly use a smooth move or two to take with me to wedding receptions and other extremely uncomfortable events that require me to put my rhythmic ineptitude on display. And it seems to always be a plus with the ladies if a guy knows at least a little bit how to dance, especially if he doesn’t have a backup romantic talent like cooking to compensate. The pressure is on even more today with the explosion of these dance shows, and this primal human expressive ritual seems to be on everyone’s brain. So I decided to take part.

It wasn’t quite as glamorous an evening as it initially sounded. Maybe I just had too high of expectations of possibly dancing with the lovely Edyta Sliwinska (wearing a short dress that seemed like it was at the bare minimum length for saving her modesty during certain dance moves), Karina Smirnoff and Kym Johnson, who were all on hand to give lessons, along with their male counterparts Alec Mazo (the lucky Mr. Sliwinska), Mark Ballas and Derek Hough. But it was not to be.

After a buffet dinner, volunteers were invited to take the dance floor in our hotel ballroom. Myself and some others shuffled out nervously with the same mix of dread and excitement you might encounter at a junior high dance. After a knockout demonstration of the cha-cha by Alec and Edyta, the guys and girls were split up and faced each other across the dance floor (again, like some flashback to a childhood social). Alec began showing us the basic steps to the cha-cha. Very simple, too: a few side steps, a step forward, a step back, to the side again. He then threw in a few twists that included spinning and turning around in the opposite direction. After a few minutes of practice, during which I must have stepped on or kicked the guys to the side and behind me a number of times, it was time to grab a partner. And, with a limited number of celeb options on hand, my planned night of “Dancing With the Stars” became “Dancing With the ABC Publicists.” But they were all great and a lot of fun, so it didn’t really matter, and not being with a pro probably made it a little less stressful, though it was still great trouble for me to master even the basics. More kicking and stepping on feet ensued, rounding out the junior high retro experience.

That was our lesson for the evening, and we were invited to stay and dance among ourselves, which no one opted to do. On the way out I grabbed a copy of the new Wii Dancing With the Stars video game that was being demonstrated there as well, and which will be released in October. Maybe I can practice on that and work my way up to a real partner when I’m guaranteed of causing less damage. The evening showed me just how talented these people really are, and how much work the celebrities must put in to learn the steps that they do. And I also left not only still thinking I can’t dance, but now knowing that I probably shouldn’t.