Editors note: Suzanne is a dancer, choreographer and judges dance competitions around the country. I asked her to watch the show and give her opinion. She liked them as much as I do.
Article by Suzanne Philips
Photos copyright Oxygen Network
By all rights, the Oxygen Network show “The Prancing Elites Project” should be a hands-down success. It has dancing, which is really hot right now in reality tv – it has 5 beautiful stars Adrian Clemons, Kentrell Collins, Kareem Davis, Jerel Maddox, and Timothy Smith who seem to be beautiful on the inside as well – and it shows people pursuing their dreams and not letting any obstacle stop them. Unfortunately, the final edits of the show don’t work.
The Prancing Elites are a group of gay, black, non-gender conforming dancers from Mobile, Alabama who shot to fame after sports legend Shaquille O’Neal tweeted a video clip of the group performing a routine at a local basketball game. The tweet was shared and viewed countless times by people who quickly became fans of the group and their high-energy routines.
“The Prancing Elites Project”, showing on the Oxygen Network, follows the troupe around as they try to find facilities to perform in (many of which refuse to let them due to the facilities’ close minded views on their show) and shows their daily struggles with family members and the community who don’t accept them and their life choices. Or it should be.
The problems with the show really seem to lie in the editing and direction of the show. At its heart, the show should be about the struggle of these performers to do the thing that they really want to do – Dance – but the dancing is really an afterthought in the show. In one episode, the group decides to put on their own dance competition after being rejected by numerous competitions who will not let them compete because they only permit girls to compete against girls. Putting on a dance competition is a huge undertaking even without the added pressure of fighting closed-minded people who are already against you. Why do we not see more of the struggles of this process in the show? Instead the production team spends enormous amounts of time showing the team passing out flyers and acting up than the actual hard work that must have gone into this undertaking. The show actually has many of the members coming off as somewhat stupid, which I am sure is a reflection of the editing, because in other scenes that have substance, you can see these same team members show how much they have been hurt in the process of following their dreams. And to accomplish all that they have, they have to be intelligent people.
Let’s talk about the dancing – what little of it we see in the actual shows is amazing. Being a dancer since I am three years old, I can tell you that this team is on point. They are completely together in their routines, the moves are sharp and sitting on the music and you can see the passion coming through. I have seen dancers all over the world that don’t have this kind of love and commitment to their art form. These dancers are Living! I would love to see more of them performing and in their passion during the show.
I would love to see more of what actually goes into the struggle to rehearse, raise money to travel and fight all of the prejudice that they do to find venues in which to perform. Everyone loves an underdog story and this should really be about that. Sadly, I don’t feel like the production company really gets what these dancers are about. Hopefully, the crew will change or they will start to understand how much of an inspiration these dancers are to others who are oppressed in this life. Personally, I would be proud to dance with them anytime.