Monday, August 13, 2012

NBC hates dance

Ok, it might be overstating it a bit to say NBC "hates" dance, but in addition to the overall grousing that has surrounded some of NBC's choices on what to air during the 2012 Olympics broadcast, dance fans do have reason to complain because the network decided to leave the dance sequences out of coverage of both the opening and closing ceremonies.

The opening ceremony included a contemporary piece for 50 dancers choreographed by Bangladeshi/British dance maker Akram Kahn. The piece was a memorial for victims of the terrorist attack in London in 2005. Instead, American audiences saw an interview of Michael Phelps with Ryan Seacrest. Here's an article from the BBC about the upset. (After it had just happened I could find some excerpts online of the dance sequence, but I'm having no luck at this point. Did they take it down?)

And the closing ceremonies featured former principal dancer with the Royal Ballet, Darcy Bussell, and over 200 students of the Royal Academy of Dance, which she now heads. You can see some still shots from Ballet News and an announcement on the Royal Opera House website. I don't know what was put in its place or if it was just cut for length. Either way, it's sad that dance was left out not once, but twice! So are we supposed count ourselves lucky that we actually got to see some of Shen Wei's choreography for the Beijing opening ceremony in 2008? If anything, I would think that the popularity of televised dance has increased rather than decreased in the past four years (So You Think You Can Dance did top the ratings last week). But apparently NBC doesn't agree.


  1. I thought I'd paste the note from Dance/USA's director, Amy Fitterer, about this same topic for those of you who don't receive their enews.

    This year’s Olympic Games were an exciting opportunity for global exposure for dance. The games featured high-caliber dance performances, such as STREB’s site specific pieces on London landmarks, Akram Khan’s moving tribute during the opening ceremony, and Christopher Wheeldon’s piece performed by Royal Ballet principles in the closing ceremony. However, to my surprise, Americans who tuned in to watch the Olympic Games on NBC missed all of these dance performances.

    When asked for a statement about why the Akram Khan piece was not aired, NBC Sports spokesman Greg Hughes told the press, "Our program is tailored for the U.S. television audience.” This comment has made me wonder, does NBC believe that American audiences are not interested in dance?

    I firmly believe that this is not the case. The widespread popularity of dance television series, such as Breaking Pointe, Dancing with the Stars, and So You Think You Can Dance, proves that Americans are interested in watching dance. The fact that these historically significant dance performances were upstaged by a celebrity interview and an episode of NBC’s most recent comedy series raises questions about NBC’s opinion of its audiences’ preferences.

    Not only did NBC miss the opportunity to share these culturally significant and beautiful pieces of art with Americans, but even further, Americans missed the opportunity to watch and appreciate these performances. NBC has exclusive rights to Olympic footage and has yet to make the videos available in America. I hope that NBC will make the footage of the performances available online for Americans to see, giving the involved artists and choreographers the exposure that they deserve.

    For more information about the lack of dance coverage on NBC, check out articles from The Huffington Post, BBC News, The LA Times, Dressing Room Writers, and Dance Spirit Magazine.



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