Seven's new dance show pumps hard but can it make us connect to unknown talent?
Shiny, shiny floor? Check. Exuberant host? Check. Enthusiastic talent? Check. Celebrity judges? Check. Colour, movement and crowd? Check.
Seven’s Dance Boss has worked hard to create an original new format from scratch. After stellar success with Dancing with the Stars it shifts focus to the worker bees, unleashing blue and white collar occupations onto a dance floor for a $100,000 prize.
“If you have a dream, you can live it,” we are told as everyone from public servants to construction workers lets down their hair after a tough day working 9 to 5. What a way to make a livin’.
Dannii Minogue is host (and an exec producer) of this Seven-conceived show and our judges are music theatre performer Adam Garcia, ex-Home and Away turned Step Up 3D star Sharni Vinson and So You Think You Can Dance discovery Timomatic.
The raised stage surrounds a frenzied mosh-pit young audience with a DJ on hand to keep them pumpin’. Make no mistake, with all the lights enveloping this nightclub, there are a lot of moving parts.
As dance troupes are filmed entering a glass lift Dannii tries to tell us the whole show is happening on top of a skyscraper. Huh? Given this is clearly a television studio, we’ll just file that under “The Magic of Television” alongside the wonky factory exterior in Zumbo’s Just Desserts and MKR‘s HQ.
But it’s dancing we are here to see as Public Servants, Airline Crew, Marketing Guys and Zookeepers strut their stuff, incorporating a little pop & lock, tap, and contemporary styles. The judges are almost universally complimentary (no Todd McKenneys in sight). While I’m no expert at dance (despite what my ol’ Diploma says) I thought the level of dance was good, not great, but we’re a long way from TV discoveries such as Justice Crew.
My biggest concern was the difficulty in connecting with the talent, in part a response to the technical limitations. Having 4 people dance together requires plenty of wide shots, so it’s only in the staged backstories that I feel like we are up close and personal. That’s a big contrast to having Chris Bath or Dawn Fraser step onto the Dancing with the Stars floor, when we are halfway on board already. And as Australian Spartan / Ninja reminds us, it’s just easier to connect to an individual than a group.
On a positive note, dance again proves it is diverse in its multicultural make-up and one young dancer demonstrated that his vocal stutter is no hindrance to showing off his talent. Amazingly, one had never had a dance lesson in her life. Points for that.
Yet there were telltale signs that most of these individual dancers are apparently not actual colleagues, so much as,working in the same industry, and it was a bit cruel to require the lowest-scoring acts to loiter “On Notice” before everybody to see if subsequent acts scored lower. Overall the “work-theme” focus struck me as an odd strategy to uncover actual dance talent.
Dannii proves likeable and makes the transition to host with confidence, but I think this might have benefited from adopting a variety angle (which Dancing with the Stars did so well), rather than one closer to reality.
New formats are so hard to get right, maybe with some tweaks this may find its feet.
Dance Boss airs 7:30pm Monday and Tuesday on Seven.