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The Christian Science Monitor

A Quick Step Up for Ballroom - Thanks to 'Stars'

by Anna Levine-Gronningsater

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NEW YORK - Pivots, cobra fans, quick steps. Dance instructor Jamie Cunneen makes it look easy as a group of aspiring dancers tries to mirror his every move. Fred and Ginger wannabes have been flooding studios around the nation, thanks in large part to ABC's "Dancing with the Stars," a show that has stolen into the summer rerun season and become a surprise hit.

The program pairs a celebrity with a professional ballroom dancer to compete against other couples. None of the "stars" - personalities such as ex-New Kids on the Block singer Joey McIntyre, "General Hospital's" Kelly Monaco, "Seinfeld's" John O'Hurley and heavyweight boxing champ Evander Holyfield - had prior experience on the dance floor.

The show's success has crested a wave of renewed interest in ballroom dance that may have started with the 1992 film "Strictly Ballroom" and has continued with the recent documentary "Mad Hot Ballroom." Independent dance studios, such as DanceSport in Manhattan where Mr. Cunneen teaches, as well as Arthur Murray, the international chain, are reporting an increase in attendance.

Mark Lightner, manager of the Arthur Murray studio in Boston, says the company's website had a 600 percent increase in visitors in the 12 hours after "Dancing with the Stars" premi

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From tvguides ask matt column

Question:

As a Brit, I find it very interesting to watch how Dancing with the Stars has taken off. It's happening exactly the same way it did here in Britain. Now I think ABC should do what the BBC did and bring it back later in the year. That's when our version turned into an even bigger hit!! Can you see Wednesday night with Dancing with the Stars followed by Lost? That would work extremely well, in my opinion.

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I guess I'm not sure -- what do they actually win? Just the title, and the trophy? I just really enjoyed the shows I saw. I don't know if it really matters that much who wins. I assume they will do the show again -- anyone have any idea when?

I really don't care that they aren't A-list celebrities either. They picked a varied, likable bunch this time. Come on -- do we really want Paris , or Ben Affleck, or any other number of celebs that we hear way too much about anyway? :roll:

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Very well said Ivy! Isn't that cheesy that the ratings went through the roof earning ABC mucho dinero in advertising dollars and all Kelly and Alec got for their trouble was bragging rights, a disco ball trophy and the 'title.' The original BBC series at least included charity to make it not only entertaining but philanthropic.

I enjoyed watching the show so much and no one had to eat anything disgusting, lie about who they were or be mean to the other contestants. Don't get me wrong . . . I watch those other shows too but this was just a breath of fresh air. It also didn't hurt that this is one of my favorite hobbies to follow. Also, couldn't agree with you more about not wanting to see the same old, same old celebrities saturate the air waves.

I haven't read any official word on the show's renewal but I would bet your bottom dollar that ABC execs are scrambling to enlist the new roster of professional dancers and celebrities. I wouldn't be surprised if Diane Sawyer is the first in line to sign up! She went dance fever with John O'Hurley earlier this morning on GMA. She also couldn't stop dancing with Richard Gere when she interviewed him for "Shall We Dance?" I think she has the dancing bug and I think she has it bad! :lol:

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Go back to my ask matt post for the answer. ABC really did get bit by the all regis all the time programming a few years back. Millionaire was on something like 4 times a week and what was a hit almost became a joke. I think we might see this as a midseason replacement when something unexpectedly (or expectedly LOL) tanks with the viewers. And as we discussed at length I think they will have more of a pool of people to choose from (and I wouldnt be surprised if they went to 8 contestants) but they will keep the format for casting somewhat close to the original. I am fairly sure we will see at least one comedian (an acknowlegement of what John brought to the show) and a soap person (an acknowledgement of the viewership Kelly brought to in). I am guess that they will try to find a model and an athlete leaving the other two or more slots up for grabs.

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My money is still on Diane Sawyer! Just think of the network tie-ins between 'Dancing' and 'GMA!' The original BBC series was so popular that they did a one-time Christmas special rushed into production for a ratings bonanza. The 'Millionaire' point is well taken. Not everyone is a ballroom nut. Sometimes you feel like ballroom . . . sometimes you don't! I guess until then I'll have to search PBS to see when the next Ballroom competition is going to air.

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Diane Sawyer would be great! I wish I had seen them on GMA.

I don't think they should do this show all the time. But if they did it a couple times a year, the novelty of it would stay fresh. It's probably hard to get people to do it, since it is a big time commitment.

But it's a great alternative to the reality shows that have been offered to celeb's before. A much more respectable alternative, I would say. Anyone who's been on 'The Surreal Life' should hang their heads in shame. But, on 'Dancing with the Stars' , not only can you hold your head up and be proud, but you can also a re-energized career.

It was just such a fun show to watch. I believe John O'Hurley said something about how it was watched by grandparents, parents, and kids. Not too many shows that would appeal to so many generations!

ABC really has a gem here. I hope they are smart with it, and don't tarnish it in any way.

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