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Editorial Reviews, Spring 2000
Girls and parents who are tired of seeing nothing but Barbie on the software shelf will be pleasantly surprised by Mary Kate & Ashley: Dance Party of the Century, a CD-ROM that takes a glancing look at the past century of dance to offer a cornucopia of entertainment. Featuring the gratingly cute Olson twins, Dance Party defies your expectations. It looks like it will be shrill and annoying; instead, the program is a load of fun.

The CD-ROM is divided into activities: short instructional videos of Mary Kate and Ashley dancing, quizzes about footwork, games where you race against a clock to identify a song or wipe random objects off a screen if they don't belong in the game's chosen decade. The dances themselves spread over a range of styles: Charleston, jitterbug, disco, even Western line dancing. Users can slow these videos down to give themselves a better look at the moves, or even switch to a footwork segment, which shows, step by step, just where you are supposed to be going. All of this culminates in an activity that lets you plan your own dance party, complete with a retro menu, period invitations, and tips on how to make inexpensive but historically correct costumes.

Dance Party is not without its painful moments: one of the activities is a thinly veiled advertisement for the Olson twins' videos. What's more, the CD-ROM could have benefited from twice as much hard content--more dances, more games, more everything. What is there is well done, offering a shallow but positive sense of the past century's history, an encouraging interface, short dances that are actually learnable, and games that even younger kids can enjoy. Dance Party is remarkable, too, for what it doesn't offer. There is nothing in here that encourages body hatred, and many of the dance costumes look like they could have been thrown together by a financially strapped but resourceful parent. Best of all, the attention paid to clothing, makeup, and accessories is presented as something that can be enjoyed for its own sake. In this party, you dance for the sheer joy of it, not to get attention from boys.

--Alyx Dellamonica

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