‘Jane the Virgin’ made Xiomara a dancer but we’re not buying it
Jane the Virgin does a lot of things right. The CW’s resident telanovela is lovable to a fault, with characters and storylines bursting with sincerity and care that’s rare in most writing and production. It remains one of the most touching portrayals of grief and loss on television, with an accurate depiction of modern motherhood that other shows have tried and failed to reach.
But one thing that feels a little half-baked, week after week, is the idea since Season 3 of Xiomara (Andrea Navedo) as a full-time dancer and dance teacher. I know this because I, too, am a dancer and dance teacher, and I never look one-tenth as cute as Xo does all the damn time.
Let me just state from the outset: I love Jane the Virgin with all my glowing heart. It’s a perfect show, which is why I’m being so picky. Also, I’m a dancer.
Xiomara has been Jane‘s poster child for seismic mid-life shifts. The singer storyline worked as a way of Xo pursuing a dream she abandoned to raise Jane – and Navedo has an amazing voice. Eventually, Xo decided to be “more realistic,” which meant her apparent lifelong dream of opening a dance studio that we had never heard of before.
For a while, things were fine; Xo’s Season 3 arc had more to do with her and Rogelio, with her abortion and his desire for kids, and with their eventual wedding. When the show jumped forward in time three years, Xo’s studio was apparently flourishing, yet I still forget on a weekly basis that this is what her character does.
By contrast, everyone in my life knows that I dance, and I’m only part-time. I never shut up about it and I’m always tired and sore!
I accept that Xo spent years if not decades away from dance, but it didn’t come up for almost three seasons because it was clearly written in later as a believable segue from singing. We see more of her running the studio than actually teaching, but the show makes a point to always dress Navedo in ultra-chic athletic gear. That’s how we know Xiomara is a dancer: because she dresses the part and talks the talk.
As a dancer, who dances, I have been wearing the same ripped, semi-sheer Kohl’s leggings to dance rehearsals since 2009 (I have several pairs, but all ripped). I usually pair them with faded Soffe shorts, a sports bra, and an old t-shirt with the sleeves cut off. My fellow dancers aren’t as bad – their pants are in one piece – but most of us are in t-shirts and whatever bottoms we don’t care too much for. And whether I’m rehearsing or teaching, I sweat. A lot. From everywhere.
Whenever I see Xiomara pre- or post-dance on Jane the Virgin, she hasn’t misplaced a strand of CW-perfect hair and a full face of flawless makeup. I have not worn makeup to a single rehearsal since one tragic month of undergrad (it was about a boy. It did not work). When Xo talked about financial troubles at the studio, all I could do was wonder how much money she’d save by wearing her own grubby old t-shirts every day. Probably a lot!
I don’t even care about Navedo’s dancing, (which is barely shown anyway – the writers forgot too!). I’d just love to just see Xo look like she’s experienced any physical activity at this very physical job. The CW is known for airbrushed beauty, but this isn’t Riverdale, and Jane is a show I’d trust to get that real (second only to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend).
Then again, based on the end of the last episode, filler might be exactly what it was. Xo has new obstacles heading her way, and something tells me I’ll soon long for the days when I could quietly judge her adorable neon sports bra instead of worrying myself sick or crying on the couch. I love this show!
Jane the Virgin airs Fridays at 9 p.m. on the CW.