“The Stars Dance” or “The Stars are Dancing” would be the literal translation of Imedi TV’s Georgian version of Dancing with the Stars (ცეკვავენ ვარსკვლავები Tsekvaven Varskvlavebi). The program culminated last week, and one of my favorite pairs, Samori and Lika, were crowned the winners. From what I gather, Samori was expected to be the winner because he was the favorite of teenage girls (He is also a pretty incredible dancer. Check out the pair’s Ukrainian dance and hip-hop routines, and their problematically racist but beautifully danced samba). Here’s why his popularity among teenage girls is a bit surprising: Samori is Afro-Georgian. Unfortunately I can’t find his biography online, and what I’ve gleaned from his interviews is a bit patchy. Here’s an interesting blog post about him and blacks in the Soviet Union.
Now, some of the teenaged girls I talked to didn’t really like Samori, because they don’t like long hair, or don’t find him attractive (both of which obviously have a race component). But obviously, he’s managing to appeal to lots of Georgians given his popularity in the text message voting results. My (non-Georgian) friends and I were certainly rooting for him (and found him quite attractive).
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that his win is a triumph for multi-culturalism in Georgia, but I think it’s a step in the right direction. Samori is certainly a talented dancer (and seems like a really nice guy), so he certainly deserves all the good things coming his way. Gilotsavt Samori and Lika!