REVIEW: A rejuvenated Dancing with the Stars SA on M-Net is true ‘Disney-glitter television’

REVIEW: A rejuvenated Dancing with the Stars SA on M-Net is true ‘Disney-glitter television’


Show: Dancing with the Stars SA

Rating: 4/5

Available on: M-Net (DStv), Sundays at 17:00

What we thought:

"This show should come with a glitter warning," said co-presenter Tracey Lange on Sunday evening – and she was absolutely right. 

The revived, rejuvenated and improved Dancing with the Stars SA has taken a giant leap forward in techni-colour projection and high definition in its move from the SABC to M-Net (DStv 101).

Strictly Come Dancing SA, the title under which the glitter floor format show was known as over the course of 8 seasons on SABC2 and SABC3 was never a bad show. The Rapid Blue produced song-and-dance fest is now just even better as the BBC Worldwide format show transitioned to M-Net under the retitled Dancing with the Stars SA name.

It's now in high definition (HD), the revamped voting process is improved, and everything has had the "M-Net glitter machine once-over", elevating the show's production values to pay-TV levels for a pay-TV audience, specifically for MultiChoice's highest-tiered DStv Premium subscribers.

With a (first-ever) rooftop ballroom, a live band and lead vocals, projectors casting full-colour images on the dance floor and walls to envelope the dancers and ballroom spectators in dancing dioramas and with a large video wall ensconced under circular arches, Dancing with the Stars SA is finally a South African version sporting pedigree specs similar to its UK and American counterparts.

Dancing with the Stars SA, produced by extremely skilled and veteran producers, clearly must have a bigger budget and it shows in a refinement of basically everything with the result that the M-Net viewer and DStv Premium subscriber get a TV show that's gone from fine as it was economy, to more attentive, better furnished business class.


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While eagle-eyed observers would spy some first episode production jitters, brief glimpses of stage-fright and some technical problems that will surely be ironed out as the season rolls along, the show, done live from the top of the Hyde Park Corner shopping centre, shined bright in its first episode on M-Net.

The co-presenters Tracey Lange and Chris Jafta are in tandem television jewels. Quite simply they make magical television together.

Not since eNCA's NewsNight with Jeremy Maggs and Iman Rappetti has South African TV had a couple being such a perfect fit in natural charm, backing each other up, imbuing the autocue with just enough of their own personality, and striking the perfect tone in both humour and unaffected delivery.

Whoever found Tracey Lange and Chris Jafta and thought of putting specifically these two together, deserve a mirror ball trophy of their own.

The four judges are all very likeable but the funny and effervescent judge and choreographer Jason Gilkison is clearly the high EQ head boy in this dance-off menagerie filled with colour, strobe lights and beautiful bodies.

Judge Tebogo Kgobokoe, back from Strictly Come Dancing SA, is clearly going to be the "strict one" and will provide added drama as the scoring reveals of the four judges and the numbers on their scoring paddles already turned into a little mini-drama of its own.

The costumes and set design are top notch, the professional dancers extremely talented, agile and skilled, and the band masterful in the rendition of instantly recognisable hits to accompany the dance acts.

Some camera angles felt oddly missing, as if the majority of cut-to's were done from only one or a limited range of direction. Still, it is true "Disney-glitter television" – an immersive, highly entertaining variety TV experience that draws you in and manages to keep you spellbound.

Dancing with the Stars SA is perfect TV viewing for Sunday evenings and definitely the most colourful programme on all of South African television right now.

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