Dancers can find lots of inspiration (and sometimes fodder for jokes) from the many dancing television shows that now grace prime time television. When most people think of dance television shows, they think of the many that have popped up since American Idol became a hit performance show, and reality shows became the norm. However, long before contemporary dance shows, there was an entertainment show incorporating dance as a big part of its success that started shortly after television became popular. American Bandstand aired in some form from 1952 to 1989.
American Bandstand was probably the first and longest-lasting dance show on television. It has been honored and referenced many times in pop culture. In fact, the popular movie and musical, Hairspray, features a dance TV show that was partly based on this show. In the hit musical Grease, which featured incredible dancing from John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, there was a spoof of the show as well called National Bandstand, instead of American Bandstand.
In fact, the show was so timeless that Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest spoke of bringing it back for the new millennium in 2004. Unfortunately, Clark suffered a stroke that year, and plans never materialized. However, a part of the show was (the dance competition) was revived in the form of another great dance show, So You Think You Can Dance. Clark’s company, Dick Clark Productions, is a co-producer of the show, and it is unique as a dance show. It showcases the dance moves of real dancers across the United States who come to audition, and a few stand-out dancers are chosen as finalists. Competing dancers are eliminated throughout the season until one is named “America’s Favorite Dancer.” The influence of a little television show that started in 1952 is still widely seen today.