Cool Women Lacks Verve

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It's called Cool Women, and it gets off to a rousing start with a bodacious bellow of a theme by Patti LaBelle. But it's little but lukewarm after that.

For a series designed to celebrate women among us who soar as entrepreneurs, peacemakers and trendsetters, the debut episode released for review by Romance Classics was little more than competent. If only it had a little of the verve of the Donna Summer-headlined party that kicked it off at CTAM.

The first episode features two exceptional women: Adrienne Dellas, a ballet director in Washington, D.C.; and Brooklyn-based visual artist Robin Holder. Both tell their own stories.

Dellas decided to dance as a young teen. She went to the Royal Danish Ballet, but collapsed during her first dance. She relates a horrific tale of restorative surgery, without anesthetic, which effectively ended her professional career.

The next formative period of her life transpired in Korea-it sounds as if she helped introduce classical dance to that nation. I say as if, because her leap to the Far East is not explained.

Also, the subjects might not be best to narrate their own lives. Humility may prevent them from lauding their own accomplishments or putting them in context.

She met and married her husband, an English teacher, within a two-day period. Despite that brevity, they are devotedly linked, despite a massive brain-stem stroke which has rendered him powerless.

The viewer is left to draw the ironies of a life devoted to perfect movement bonded resolutely to a life immovable.

One gets an outline of Dellas' life, but no depth.

There's a bit more charm in the second subject, visual artist Holder. But that has everything to do with her ability to communicate herself.

She can identify her artistic launching pad easily: it dates back to rainy afternoons with a "Things to Make and Do" book, she laughingly confesses. From such simple things grow a career.

But the inspiration that made it art came from her combined Barbados-European Jewish heritage and an early exposure to cultural politics. She comes off as a better advocate for herself.

I wish more of the people around the subjects were allowed to talk about them. No real "cool woman" would go on about how special they are and, as a result, the profiles lack punch.

Cool Women's debut prime-time episode airs Aug. 25 at 8 p.m.