The fickle glitter ball

So, Abbey Clancy has been crowned Strictly Come Dancing champion for 2013.  Congratulations.  I must admit that my favourite was Natalie Gumede but I cannot complain, after all it has been a fantastic series.  Both Clancy and Gumede have been near the top of the leader board throughout the last three months and both have demonstrated how well they can dance. 

Strictly is a dancing competition yet it is so much more than that because it relies upon the public to vote in order to be kept in the competition.  Indeed the final is entirely a democratic choice and this is what makes it so interesting.   Not only do you have to be able to dance, you have to be popular as well and appeal to the public who are notoriously fickle in how they cast their vote.

In the early stages of the competition it seems to be more important to be popular or amusing than to have rhythm or ability but (thankfully) as the weeks go by those with swing and sway tend to be those who remain. And in the end it is that combination of popularity and ability that wins through.  On Saturday it was Gumede that was (according to the judges) the best dancer but Clancy was the most popular.

How do the public decide?  What makes people have empathy with others they have never met and who appear in their living rooms for minutes at a time?  It’s been fascinating to watch the swings and sways or both the frocks and public opinion.  Celebrities have been followed and supported for weeks only to be dumped unceremoniously out of the competition.  Lesser talented dancers have been kept in the running on the back of their popularity.

I suppose if I knew the answer then I would be a very rich man.  If I could get the right balance between confidence and vulnerability, empathy and unctuousness, glamour and girl-next-door I would be onto something.  Creating a persona is a complex process and Strictly demonstrates how a person’s background, family, mannerisms and poise can all add to the pot.  But it is not a straight forward formula, what appeals to one may well indeed turn another off.  A degree of confidence is admirable but too much is offensive.  Being sweet is acceptable but too sweet and it becomes sickly. 

The British love an underdog, that is until they start winning.

So Strictly is a dance competition plus a popularity contest and the best combination of the two wins through.  If ever there was a metaphor for life.

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