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Sport Media: The Popularity of Dance Television Series

12/22/2010

Bria Borcherding

Although you might not want to admit it, you might be one of the avid viewers of some of the popular TV dance series that are currently populating television. Shows such as: So You Think You Can Dance?, America’s Best Dance Crew, and Dancing with the Stars rake in millions of viewers by incorporating elements of dance and competition on the big stage. My background and interest in dance has drawn my attention to the dance show phenomenon and has peaked my desire to research the influencing nature of these prime examples of sport in the media and how it is positively or negatively influencing society. These shows draw upon multiple socio-cultural issues including the reinforcement of gender roles, competition, and dance style norms based on gender and race.

I find viewer’s desires to watch these shows fascinating. Is it the flashy stage magic of costumes and famous people? Maybe it is the fascination with the dance styles themselves or even just pure competition and the form in which the contestants are judged? All of these reasons have an impact on the viewers themselves and the dance community. Do these shows make the viewers want to learn these dance styles? Research has shown that role modeling is most effective when it is someone they know personally. On the other hand, gaining exposure to new dance forms could be a positive and negative effect on the dance community. Some have questioned if the exposure to new dance forms is worth the exposure to poor technique or misrepresentation of dance forms. It will be interesting to see where these dance television shows take the next steps as they continue to plan for future seasons drawing in more viewers and more contestants.

Post by Bria Borcherding in a MA student in sport sociology, School of Kinesiology,  University of Minnesota

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