The dance-geek blogosphere is beginning to buzz over the announcement that the fall season of Dancing with the Stars will feature an "All-Star" cast. So of course, I have to add MY buzz.
I think this is a great idea, and possibly a couple of seasons overdue; there have been three celebrities in every final, after all, and only one winner. So as of next Tuesday, there are fourteen champions and 28 bitter also-rans.
One could easily just take every second-place finisher and have that as the first All-Star cast; or every third-place finisher; or a combination of 2nd and 3rd place contestants.
One could also, of course, try to get the first dozen champions back to duke it out. I wouldn't choose that, though. My feeling is that any given champion has probably already shown us the best he or she could do.
My personal All-Star cast would include some finalists, but as a dance geek, I would have to cast ONLY people who have already established they can dance well. This actually does limit the selection a bit, as not all finalists were great dancers by any means. I would also cast only people who had a good attitude. I would cast:
- Jerry Rice - with Karina Smirnoff
- Gilles Marini - with Anna Trebunskaya
- Lance Bass - with Chelsie Hightower
- Mario Lopez - with Peta Murgatroyd
- Chris Jericho - with Elena Grinenko
- Joey Fatone - with Cheryl Burke
- Albert Reed - with Lacey Schwimmer
- Melissa Rycroft - with Jonathan Roberts
- Stacy Keibler - with Maksym Chmerkovskiy
- Mel B - with Ryan de Lillo
- Sabrina Bryan - with Louis van Amstel
- Mya - with Tristan McManus
- Brandy - with Tony Dovolani
I would give each contestant a new partner, as well - no going back to the old partner (suggestions above). I would reserve the pro dancers who have already won more than once for group choreography and general coaching. And I would change some of the rules, because these are no longer ballroom novices.
First, I would change the dances to be performed as duets.
- For the Latin dances, I would keep International-style Rumba, Cha-cha, and Samba, add American-style Mambo and East Coast Swing, and remove Salsa, Paso Doble, and Jive.
- For the ballroom dances, I would keep American-style waltz and foxtrot, plus International-style tango and quickstep, removing Viennese Waltz, which has inspired the most expletives while watching this show, since 80% of the time the producers select music that is 100% wrong.
- I would reserve the Argentine Tango for a special episode in which all contestants performed that dance - say, week three. It would not be included as a "ballroom" dance.
I would also permit lifts right off the bat. Again, these aren't novices - they've been through the process before and we are, theoretically, casting people who are fit enough to do lifts. So, let 'em! My stipulation would be that each dance has to contain at least 50% syllabus material, and beyond that let them go nuts.
Then, I would change the dance schedule so that e.g., all male celebrities do a cha-cha in week one while all females do a quickstep, then switch for week two. Everyone would get to dance twice before there's an elimination, but two would be eliminated at the end of week 2. And at this point everyone would have done all the same dances, so the voters - who are getting slightly less clueless about how to evaluate the dancing - can compare apples to apples.
I would bring back Latin Night and Ballroom Night to circumvent the recurrent issue of a snappy cha-cha or sexy samba smacking down a lyrical waltz. And I would get rid of the "storytelling" dances. UGH.
I would add "team dances" when there are ten, eight, and six couples remaining in the competition - for teams of five, four, and three - and I'd have them do Jive, Paso Doble, and Viennese Waltz in team routines, with short solos.
At the five-couple quarterfinal everyone would do two full original dances, at the four-couple semifinal everyone would do three - reprises of their cha-cha and quickstep routines, and a Freestyle.
You may notice that "my" cast favors the male celebrities. My ulterior motive for this is that the show is good for ballroom dancing in a lot of ways, but first and foremost - in my opinion, which is the only one that counts (here) - by making it OKAY for men to dance.
So anyway. That was a lot of fun and while I'm sure the producers will not take ANY of my suggestions, I am already looking forward to the All-Star season.