Home / TV Review: Ballroom Bootcamp Takes on Tango

TV Review: Ballroom Bootcamp Takes on Tango

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This week saw three new women&#8212the Free Spirit, the Shy Girl and the Hippie Mom&#8212taking on the Ballroom Bootcamp challenge, to learn ballroom-style Tango at a competitive level. As with last week’s premiere, the best part of the contest comes as the participants approach the dance for the first time. Once again, these dancer-wannabes are paired with dance experts Gocha Chertkoev, Christian Perry, and Susannah Cuesta.

So we see mom Michelle, who wants to learn to dance, coming to her first lessons with confidence, then losing it as she compares herself to Susannah Cuesta. We watch free spirit Melody brangle with her instructor, Gocha Chertkoev, and finally dissolve into tears at her inability to come up to his standards. And back-up singer Cherish finds the steps easy to learn, but the attitude of tango eludes this shy girl.

Period illustration of tango instruction, Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

1914 Tango instruction

Instructor Christian Perry is certainly a believer in the value of cross-training&#8212last week he sent his student Krystel to belly-dancing class. This week, he sends Cherish to take Aikido lessons. Her martial arts coach coaxes some “ki-ahs” out of her, first tentative, and then snappingly definite. The lesson doesn’t transfer to the dance floor immediately, however.

Cuesta also resorts to outside instruction, sending a life coach to counsel her student Michelle on the value of letting go and living in the moment. “Behave as if learning to dance is the most fun you know of,” he tells her. “Skip into the dance studio.” She does, too&#8212and it helps her to relax into the lead of her partner.

All three women are again costumed from Randall Designs, the same atelier that produced the stunning dresses for Krystel and Monique last week. It would be easy for a single design shop to produce cookie-cutter outfits for the contestants each week, but so far, all five dresses have been distinctive and beautifully suited to the individual dancers. (Jeff, the Tour Guide from the first week, did not have such luck&#8212perhaps because men’s costumes are less exciting than women’s, by their nature.)

Once again, the actual competition was disappointing, compared to the lead-up. The learning curve for Tango is steep, even for trained dancers, so one of the best things about this series is the way it shows a little of the hard work and effort that goes into dancing well. When so much credit is given for “the look” and so little, comparatively, to footwork and frame, you have a disputable result.

That was the case with the winner selected for this contest. (No spoilers, in case you haven’t seen it yet!) I will be watching it again (it is rebroadcast on TLC this evening and again on Sunday), to see if I can spot why the judges made their choice as they did&#8212because last night, I didn’t see it at all!

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About DrPat

  • Okay, I’ve watched it again, and there is NO WAY that Melody won that competition! Her footwork was sloppy, her turns were loosey-goosey, and her framework was ridiculous. Cherish definitely had the dance, attitude, and sharp moves of the Tango.

    So why did Melody get the trophy? I believe there is some prejudice involved. No racial, but size — Cherish lost because her backside is broader than Melody’s. It’s the only thing I can figure…

    Oh, well, next week it’s all men. Wonder what the judges will pick on besides the dancing in order to make their decision? Watch for it. If Cuesta’s student wins this time, I’ll start to pay attention to “the fix is in” theories!

  • Terri

    Hey… I watched the Tango episode this week and thought all the contestants did a great job. Learning to Tango is obviously no easy task! Cherish was very good, although she did made a few blunders during the competition, which the judges picked up on. They also thought she was a bit too stiff. She didn’t have much tango attitude and I felt her demeanor was a bit bland. In my opinion, she was too robotic. As far as Melody is concerned, I thought she deserved winning the competition. Her performance was far superior to the other contestants, in that she was the one who made the biggest transformation from the beginning of the training until the competition. You could tell she trained hard… and it paid off! I enjoyed Melody’s energy and enthusiasm. She has a lot of character, a colorful personality and real Tango appeal! BTW… just a little inside scoop… what TLC neglected to air was the first half of the competition on which the couples were also judged. The first half of the competition was where all 3 couples took the floor together. Melody scored big-time during the first half. That probably took her score over the edge. She didn’t win by a very small margin. She scored a whole 5 points more than Cherish. Unfortunately the viewers didn’t get to see the entire competition unless they were actually at the Yankee Classic in MA.

  • Melody also made more than a few blunders during the portion of the competition they showed. I’m glad to hear there was some judging that didn’t make it to the episode — but that just lends me more anger about the way this show is being done.

    Yes, Melody may have made more progress than the other two women. That isn’t supposed to be what the dancers are being judged on. Are you telling me the judges also saw the training footage before they judged the dance?

    This could have been a fascinating show, but the way it’s being produced, cut, and marketed is bizarre, to say the least. The reason there’s no buzz is that people are going to sleep in the second half of the show!

    By the way, take a look at the poll results for the page I linked to the show title. You’ll see that Cherish is the clear winner, based on what viewers actually SAW during this episode.

  • Terri

    Hi DrPrat. From what I understand, the judges did NOT see any of the footage filmed from the training. They judged soley upon presence, demeanor, and the actual dancing during the competition. But again, unfortunately, the entire competition was NOT aired. I do agree it’s quite disconcerting that the viewers did not see both halves of the competition. How can viewers be in a position to truly give their opinion and cast votes based on only half of what was actually judged?! This is why it appeared that perhaps the judges might have misjudged. I would, however, tend to believe the judges at the Yankee Classic knew what they were looking for and judged accordingly and appropriately. I guess most will never really be too sure of that since not everyone saw the competition in its entirety. I’m curious to see if they go forward with this show and bring all the winners together for a grand finale dance-off. THAT would be something to watch!

  • DancingDiva

    I agree with DrPat all the way!!!

  • boing007

    If you are not familiar with Argentinan Tango then you are missing about 200 different step combinations that you will never see in Ballroom style Tango dancing.

    We also don’t fling our heads about like we’ve been slapped in the face. If you really want to learn to dance the Tango, give Ballroom Tango a pass.

  • Learning some Tango dancing is one of my great unfulfilled fantasies. I am currently planning a grand Latin American tour which includes a fortnight in Buenos Aires in order to absorb a little of this fantastically disciplined and yet strangely free dance. Of course, it’s one thing to have a plan and quite another to have the time or money!