Today is National Dance Day. How wonderful! It has been nothing short of thrilling to see the way dance has found its audience in the last few years, thanks in part to the television shows that feature dance, "So You Think You Can Dance" and "Dancing With The Stars". This newfound interest in music and dance has also spawned the successful tv show "Glee". Feature films highlighting dance are starting to show up in your local theaters. This is a good thing.
I think it's probably safe to say that girls love to dance. Traditionally, it has been a bit more difficult to interest men in the joy of dancing. If they only knew how much women love men who dance. Rather unfortunately, it has been the belief of some men that only "sissies" dance. Thank the gods, that theory has now come into question, as we have all witnessed some of the most masculine of men dancing their hearts out on these shows. Strength, we have come to realize, does not only live in the bodies of weightlifters.
In celebration of the new interest in dancing, I am suggesting that we collectively demand some continuity in the way television directors and producers present dance for their audiences. This has been a concern of mine from the beginning broadcasts of these dance shows. One need only to do a little research to learn how the old masters shot dance in its movie heyday. They understood what it is that the audience wants and needs to see. There should be rules. For instance, when two people are dancing together, the camera should never be focused on only one of those people. The camera should never be focused on the face of someone dancing, but on the fully body. Dancers are dancing with their whole bodies, including the feet.
If only those technicians understood that the camera's job is to capture the full body of the dancer. All of the excitement lives in the dancer. The camera doesn't create more excitement by making short fast frames all over the place so that one can hardly follow the dance. The producers and directors don't trust that the audience finds its own pleasure in being able to see and appreciate what the dancer is doing. It does not need tricky camera shots to enhance the pleasure of the experience. As I have already suggested in this blog, a little homework couldn't hurt. The Fred Astaire movies can serve as textbook perfection for how to shoot dance. Just park the camera and let the dancers do the rest.
I call on all of you who love watching dance on television to write the networks, your local newspaper and even the directors themselves, and beg them to stop trying to make it more exciting or interesting by using the camera inappropriately and just let us see what the dancers are saying through their movements. After you do that, do yourself a great big favor and GET OUT THERE AND DANCE!!!