By Terrence McCoy
By Scott Fishman
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Allie Conti
By New Times Staff
By Ryan Pfeffer
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Kyle Swenson
By now, you know the four points of Prancercise®," Rohrback stuttered into the camera at an undisclosed location in western Broward. She wore black tights and a white blouse, but her expression didn't carry any of that cocky delight that made her first video a hit.
"However, what about a prance to romance to?" Rohrback murmured, barely looking into the camera. "If you're pregnant or nursing, you should consult a physician before you romancercize."
The shot fades out, picking up with Rohrback trotting the leafy streets to "Paper Doll," John Mayer's first single off his new album, Paradise Valley. As Rohrback tells it, Mayer, who never spoke to Rohrback, had been working on the song when he saw the Prancercise® clip on mute. "He realized his song synced perfectly to my movement," she says.
In Mayer's video, her gallop is described as "Advanced Prancercise®." At one point, an image flashes of a man named "Jarrad Rohrback" in subtitles. Though the song's slow-dance beat is antithetical to the Prancercise® ethos — which is high-energy and effervescent — this partnership with the rock singer, released on June 18, hit the national media like an atomic bomb. And Rohrback, who had been worried about her fading media attention, was suddenly back. "Everything had really gone into a lull there for a few days, and I told her, just wait until this video comes out," Schwartz remembers telling Rohrback.
Rohrback's phone was again aglow with interview requests from Rolling Stone and CNN. But it was different this time. Rohrback felt tricked. "They didn't tell me they were going to use 'Advanced Prancercise®'! There's no such thing as 'Advanced Prancercise®'! They made that up. They also didn't tell me they were going to use my last name. They were just feeding me lines."
And "there is no Jarrad Rohrback!" she says. "I was naive to trust them. I was not happy with how they edited it." (Rohrback declined to reveal how much the musician paid her but declared it a "substantial amount.")
Rohrback felt "in a state of confusion." She adored her growing number of fans; she'd waited decades for all of this attention — so why did she miss her old life? Did anyone realize Prancercise® was a creation of sincerity? Had she been a fool?
Days later, Rohrback's phone chirped. It was the promotions manager at the Seminole Casino Coconut Creek. Rohrback was scheduled to perform a Prancercise® show there that night. She hoped to sell some shirts and books and to show the exercise was more than a gag.
But after she hung up the phone, she seethed, "I'm not a happy camper! I'd thought it was going to be just me Prancercising, but now I find out it's going to be a competition, and I'm the judge."
Still, Rohrback arrived at the casino smiling wide. A phalanx of photographers from Getty Images and the Associated Press fanned out before her, bulbs flashing. Rohrback, in heavy makeup and neon green, preened. Schwartz, wearing the same outfit, settled in at a table at the front, the two of them looking like boxer and manager before a fight. They'd recently had a spat over the direction of Prancercise® but had now made up. Schwartz guarded the books and T-shirts like fine jewels.
Rohrback was squinting into the flashing lights when a brown-haired woman jostled her arm. Time to get backstage, she told Rohrback. The contest was about to begin.
The room fell dark. The four-chord rock song from Rohrback's video boomed from the concert speakers. Three dancers wearing pink — two blond women and a buff guy — fluttered on stage and began to Prancercise®. But they kicked their feet and waved their arms all wrong. The British casino moderator, teeth big and yellow, bloviated into the mic. A crowd of 60 people swelled around the stage.
"I love Joanna because of her style — but c'mon, this is all just about the camel toe!" one young and twitching man said.
Everyone laughed except Schwartz. The gray-haired woman turned her head away from the air-humping dancers. "This isn't Prancercise®," she whispered. "I'm so happy Joanna can't see this. She'd hate this."
Afterward, five bedraggled casino regulars stumbled onstage and attempted to out-Prancercise® one another and win $1,000 in free slot play. One man in a baseball cap, who looked aged and dazed, jerked his walking cane back and forth. The crowd heckled the buffoonery.
Finally, Rohrback stepped out to face the throng. The cameras flashed for several long minutes. She took the microphone in a thin hand and, giggling, anointed a woman with long, sinewy hair the winner. After the performances, nearing midnight, Rohrback refused to let the glow of the night fade. She slowly gathered the T-shirts and Prancercise® books. During the entire night, she's sold only a few. "Gamblers aren't into holistic healing," she said.
Then she brightened. Joanna Rohrback always brightens.
On a recent weeknight at 9, as the lights are blinking out near Coral Springs, Rohrback steps out onto the street wearing spandex and ankle weights. She hasn't had the chance to Prancercise® all day.