Home / TV Review: TLC’s Ballroom Bootcamp

TV Review: TLC’s Ballroom Bootcamp

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The long-delayed debut of a new dance-reality series, Ballroom Bootcamp, premiered last night on TLC. The premise will remind you of Dancing with the Stars (DWTS): non-dancers (in this case, also non-celebrities) are paired with professional dance instructors, and given a limited time to reach competition level in their performance.

That’s as far as the similarity goes. The non-dancers in the opening episode are “a tomboy, a tour-guide, and a tired mom”: Krystel, Jeff and Monique. Jeff is afraid of commitment, and hopes to learn how to stick with a project. Monique works 12 hours a day, but wants to lose weight. And Krystel is an athletic tomboy who becomes energized by the competition.

They are paired with dancers Gocha Chertkoev, Christian Perry, and Susannah Cuesta. Chertkoev visits his student Monique at home and cleans “unhealthy food” out of her fridge&#8212holding a pan of tuna-noodle casserole out at her, he intones, “I call this a recipe for a fat ass!” He shows up at a staff meeting and has Monique do ab-crunches on the floor. Perry has his already-fit, but terminally reserved student Krystel take belly-dancing lessons to “free her hips” and release her sensuality for the cha-cha. He is encouraged when the tomboy shows up for her next cha-cha lesson with a bare midriff. And Cuesta makes it plain that Jeff has a larger task than either of the two women. He must lead the dance, as well as perform the steps.

The goal for all three students is to learn to cha-cha well enough to compete in a “special category” of The Yankee Classic in Boston, MA. They will have a new partner to compete with&#8212a professional who will be their dance partner (so this is a pro-am competition just as DWTS was). And they will have professionally-fitted costumes worth thousands of dollars to enhance their performance.

I was thrilled by the transformation of Monique, who lost 15 pounds (much like John O’Hurley in DWTS), and performed beautifully in her sequined, leopard-print-adorned costume. Jeff’s mobile hips (harder for a man to achieve), sense of play and confidence on the floor also impressed me. But in the end, it was Krystel whose flirty skirt-flips and dramatic Latin motion impressed the judges enough to win the competition.

It is unclear if future competitions will involve any of the three students from this week, but we can expect to see Chertkoev, Perry and Cuesta paired with a non-dancer for new attempts with other dances in the weeks to come. Still to come, according to a PR release for the series: competitors whose real-life jobs include Crime Lab Investigator for the L.A. Sheriff’s Department, a nurse technician, a stay-at-home mom with two children under three and a former college football player.

Future competitions will be held at Florida State DanceSport Championships in Sarasota, FL and the Embassy Ball in Irvine, CA. Winners each week will qualify for a grand ball to be held at season’s end.

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About DrPat

  • Well, haha, the blonde’s name whom you have forgotten is Krystel. And Maisha’s name is actually Monique. And I can’t tell if your post means you liked the show, but I’m wicked happy you watched it none-the-less. Cheers.

  • Thank you, thank you! I was dog-tired while I was watching the show, and thought I had recalled the names correctly, but I was stymied in doing my usual online checking — it seems NOBODY, not even the TLC site itself, listed the names of the contestants!

    I will correct my text to reflect this info. (And now I recall that Krystel said people call her Stella, because the second syllable of her name is accented.)

  • Oh, yeah — I was impressed with all three contestants.

    I know how much men go through in learning to dance. (I am a tango dancer myself, and there is no more explicitly-led dance than Argentine Tango!) So Jeff’s performance was closest to my own experience.

    I really am dismayed, though, at the lack of buzz about the show. Some of that may be due to the delay in broadcasting it — I felt TLC waited to see what kind of response DWTS got.

    When the DWTS rematch was broadcast, it pulled viewers from House, M.D. and other new-season winners, and obviously, signalled TLC that there is a market for this kind of reality TV.

    The next step is ramping up the buzz is to have an online vote for your favorites. That’s where most of the votes for DWTS came from…

  • The first episode of Ballroom Bootcamp aired on The Learning Channel (TLC) and here is our quick feedback from http://www.dancescape.com:

    Overall, it was a fun show, particularly the segments with Gocha Cherkoev and recruit, Monique. One of the most interesting topics on these DanceScape forums has been “Blacks in Ballroom” – was great to see the producers include an African American. Monique had a “stunning” face and although a full-figured lady, we appreciated her desire to lose weight and transform through dance. What we loved most about this segment was the fact that they did visit her in the hospital, and that Gocha went to her workplace to “train” her. He was “mean” at times but seemed all to be tongue-in-cheek. There was one segment that showed her kids dancing while watching her … it would have been nice to include a short interview with the kids about seeing their mother “transform”. Also, it would have been nicer to see the kids and her husband interviewed at the end about Monique’s transformation.

    It was nice to see Christian Perry again! His recruit, Krsytel, was the Tom Boy. The thing is that although we appreciated her emotions and personal transformation, we just felt the segment could have been edited a bit better to show greater contrast. Maybe our definition of “Tom Boy” is different – it would have been more believable to us if she dressed more in baggy sweats, masculine T-Shirts, hair pulled back but wearing a baseball cap, etc. Also, that instead of putting her in a dress when we were introduced to her, that she should have learned dancing in “boys’ wear or men’s wear”). Krsytel looked athletic and she wore tight-fitting athletic gear … but she actually had a great body and wonderful face/bone structure. In the end, she was stunning especially with all the makeup and the dress, but something was still missing for us in showing her story and transformation. We picked her out as the winner earlier on in the show, but didn’t “root” for her in the sense of really appreciating her story and need for transformation.

    Jeff was the likeable guy, tour guide and substitute teacher. Again, instead of showing him learning to dance in his sweats, etc., they dressed him up too “early”. He was wearing practice wear that looked like his final costume so it was kind of like … what’s the point? Again, thought the story and “reveal” could have been done showing more drama.

    In terms of the final reveal, the comments from Brian MacDonald and Linda Wakefield were probably helpful for a general audience, but the way they were introduced with microphone and the way they introduced the competition segment was a bit awkward/stilted. Don’t really have a solution, but it just seemed that it could have been filmed/edited so their comments and critiques sounded more “natural”.

    From our point of view, what the show needed more was to edit the segments so that the end result/final “reveal” was more dramatic. There was really no “suspense” because right at the start and throughout the telling of the stories, they showed the final product of all the bootcamp recruits in their costumes, etc. There wasn’t enough “teasing” … for example, in What NOt To Wear, the show that preceded this one, a key reason we enjoy the show is how it is paced so that the final reveal is towards the end and enables us to see a contrast. This didn’t quite happen in this episode of Ballroom Bootcamp. Also, the last portion of the show seemed to focus on Krsystel and Jeff and perhaps some “chemistry” … but what about Monique? It would have been nice to see all three of them together and even though there had to be a “winner” for the competition, that what was more important was their personal transformations.

    We still look forward to seeing the next episodes as we always love stories that have to do with personal transformation and passion. Regardless, we applaud TLC for taking a risk in this program dedicated to Ballroom Dancing, and especially to the participants for sharing their stories with the viewing audience.

    Please share your feedback about the show, and whether you agree or disagree at http://dancescape.com/mydancefriends

    dance is … PASSION

  • BooWho

    It would have been nice if we’d gotten to hear a little from the professional dance partners. I’d like to take a lesson from the girl who danced with Jeff and Erdolo.

  • jim brady

    I saw a show for the first time on 12-03-05 because when it was listed it would not be on.As a ex teacher I was disappointed in level of training the teachers were giving.If we had taught the way they teach we would have been fired.Other then that it’s a fair show. Diamond JIM

  • robin elsner

    I would like to be on that show ballroom bootcamp, I know how to do most of the dances, please let me know
    robin elsner
    [Personal contact info deleted]