Dancing with the Stars underwent a makeover. Like beauty, reinvention can be painful. The edits left no stone unturned – format, dancers, hosts, and musicians – in ABC’s process. While some of the changes seemed harsh, ABC demonstrated it’s desire to keep a hit-making show making hits with the most important part of the show – the fans. The new format (from two nights to one) which might seem restrictive, actually pushed producers to focus more closely on the dancing rather than the extraneous (but interesting) extracurricular activities of rehearsals, the life and times of the performers. The backstage gossip continues, though, with new host Erin Andrews.
Even with regular guest judges, the mainstays (Inaba, Goodman, Tonioli) biases and preferences continue to run unbridled. The sexualized portrayal of glamour at the domination of the female gender continues with former child star Candace Cameron Bure as the bullseye. Bure certainly came out guns blazing, emphatically stating what she would and wouldn’t do before her partner Mark Ballas even took a turn with her. Surprisingly, she and Ballas wowed in their opening contemporary number. The costume shop’s vengeance on Bure evident in her lollipop recital costume. Bure herself directly delineated between sexual and sensual but DWTS doesn’t do nuance. Either you’re a willing sexpot or you’re not. Bure hasn’t exactly sought to endear herself to the judges, but should know that doing great dances isn’t enough. What’s disappointing though, is that Bure actually has great facility and love for movement that the judges seem disinclined to reward or acknowledge. The partner switch landed her with Tony Dovolani for a somewhat jerky, frenetic quickstep that judges passed over quickly.
Let’s talk about Nene Leakes for a moment. Leakes, a Real Housewife and growing actress, is known for some rather outrageous one-liners and altercations. However, one might notice that her costuming is rather conservative, coverage-wise. She simply didn’t vocalize it on camera. Obviously, Bure’s body is of “sexier” proportions which again conflicts with the DWTS standards: sexy bodies must be shown off, while the less taut ones should be covered with humor and feathers.
Bure trumps Leakes in technique, polish, effort, and appearance. It’s a tie performance-wise. Both ladies know how to put on a show.
Bure’s personal convictions have not hampered her product while Leake’s casual “I just like to dance” vibe is keeping her product as one-note. Bure’s hesitations over performing the rumba did not outshine her artistry completely. The conflict with her partner Ballas was evident as he felt restricted and dominated in choreographic choices which would normally be his domain (again, on DWTS the male voice projects a particular vision for its female counterpart).
DWTS wants your sex and seems to think the choice is theirs.
Leakes does not have the emotional force and dynamic (especially her rumba) of Bure. Leakes does however have an ease in her delivery whereas Bure’s performances can’t always conceal the tension in her effort.
Is her delivery a little Bristol Palin-esque? Yes, but does that matter? Bure is taking charge of her body and sexuality (not ignoring it as her predecessor did) just in a different manner than say Rihanna or Miley Cyrus. Earlier in the season Leakes submitted herself to a grueling jive at the whimsy of her non-competitor husband. Although a picture-perfect poster woman for the conservative, religious right, Bure is the lone female on DWTS choosing to take charge of her sexuality, her body, and her equal place along side her male peers. If her fans come through on her behalf, she might just outlast the judges’ apparent disdain for her independence.