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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » September 17, 2008
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Dancing with the Stars
September 17, 2008   
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A reinvention of dance, the rebirth of fading stars, or fodder for our craving of reality television? Say what you will, the hit television show Taniec z Gwiazdami (Dancing with the Stars) has taken the world by storm. Poland is no exception.

The show, which Sept. 7 entered its eighth season on Polish commercial channel TVN, has averaged more than 7 million viewers an episode since its premiere in 2005. Based on the original BBC version Strictly Come Dancing, the format is now distributed to more than 30 countries, with the Polish version receiving high acclaim both at home and abroad, the original British producers describing it as the best yet.

The concept is simple and effective. The show pairs up professional ballroom dancers with celebrities, and these 14 couples learn different styles of dance each week, performing to a panel of four judges as well as the studio and television audiences. They are scored out of 10 by the judges-Beata Tyszkiewicz, Iwona Szymańska-Pavlovic, Piotr Galiński, and Zbigniew Wodecki-while the public can vote for their favorites via SMS or the internet. One couple is eliminated each week over the duration of 12 episodes based on both professional and public opinion, with this upcoming season's contestants battling it out for the grand prize of a Porsche each.

So why has this show gained the devotion of so many viewers? There is no doubting the public's fascination with celebrities is the main reason. It surrounds us in tabloid magazines, talk shows and even current affairs; it is little wonder that is has proved successful in this context as well. For some, the obsession with the lives of those in the public eye acts as an escape from the reality they face day in and day out.

The celebrities appearing on Taniec z Gwiazdami are known for a variety of reasons, be it sport, acting, journalism, music, or simply famous for being famous. But whatever their road to fame may be, the show introduces them to a new and unknown situation. As a result, it humanizes the celebrity and their status is stripped away. A connection seems to form between the contestant and the viewer, as they watch the celebrities learn and develop, as they themselves would also do.

Voices of fans demonstrate the show's popularity, with endless forums littering the internet. These pages are flooded with support for favorite celebrities, comparisons of dance preferences and in-show gossip. Ultimately people are sharing a joy of dance. As Pulitzer Prize-winning American columnist Dave Barry has said, "Nobody cares if you can't dance well, just get up and dance."

Sara Czarnota
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