March 19, 2010
It’s curious to hear Pineapple Dance Studios has been inundated with a new generation of wannabe Pan’s People since the show started a month ago on Sky. Because although they have a unique opportunity to show the tough, exacting and often bittersweet lives of professional dancers, the producers have chose to show less dancing than almost anything else, including blatant exhibitionism.
It’s said everyone watches the show to see more of Louie Spence, the outrageously camp artistic director of Pineapple, who seems totally unable to stand stil. He gyrates, wafts, gurns, grins, sulks and generally insinuates himself into every possible shot. Louie, I’m sorry, but you’re not compulsive watching - in fact you’re just not that hot.
I itched to see much more of Debbie Moore, the founder of Pineapple. She started dancing more than 30 years ago, simply for health reasons following a successful modelling career. She was instrumental in getting ordinary women dancing in her studio long before the ballroom shows made a television comeback, and changed the face of dancewear forever with her Pineapple line. A real inspiration, Debbie is still drop-dead gorgeous in the run-up to her 64th birthday.
Someone else I’d like to have seen strutting his stuff was Damon Albarn lookalike Andrew Stone, who teaches dance at the studio. In last week’s episode, however, all we saw this hunk doing was singing with his rock band and having Bowie-style make-up applied for his first showcase gig. I’d like to see him flexing more of his calf muscles in future episodes.
PDG, the dance troupe who have been put together presumably just for the programme, are core characters who electrify when we do see them dancing - hopefully we’ll get a lot more of that. Was surprised to see that Mandy Montenez off So You Think You Can Dance is one of the dancers, and when Lara Masters wheeled herself into shot, I thought at first she was a refugee from Dancing On Wheels. But in fact Lara is the daughter of Debbie Moore; she has been paralysed for years since suffering two spinal haemhorrages in her teens. Lara is now a milliner, and came in to match her fascinators with vintage leotards for the dancers - a lovely bit of incidental footage it was actually fun to watch.
Likewise, the professional shoot for a Paloma Faith video featuring young Vicky Longley, who has been dancing since she was three and should arguably be the most prominent character in this slightly muddled show. VIcky knows she can dance and all that it entails, and it was revealing to watch her work with choreographer Natricia, a softly-spoken woman who shows no histrionics when props indicate a new set of steps may have to be created at the last minute. “Sometimes you have to change your whole routine on set - that’s a dancer’s life,” she shrugs. I hope we get to see a lot more of Vicky, Natricia and the boys and girls preparing to dance their hearts out in PDG - and a lot less of the simpering Louie and any other exhibitionists being prepped for the cameras.