DWTS9 Week 7 Power Rankings

At long last…a week where I actually get excited about a routine (or maybe even two! :-) ) After the doldrums of the past few weeks, I was beginning to think I had come down with H1N1 and was just grumpy about the whole show…but I have to say, I was actually blown outta the water by one couple in particular this week…and it may not be who you think it is :-)

As much as I’ve hated some of the new “twists” of the past few seasons (the “dance off”, the addition of a bunch of new dances every season, the relay dances, etc.), I actually do really enjoy the team dances – although I am getting a bit tired of the team paso (but thank goodness they didn’t try to revive the team mambo…I don’t want to re-live the ones from the past two seasons, yikes!).  While team tango was clearly superior to team paso (Joanna & Derek in particular stood out for me), both this season’s routines didn’t seem as hard-hitting and memorable of those in past seasons…and team paso in particular just seemed to be going through the motions.  Blah. But onto the rankings! Gotta say, it’s getting more and more fun to write them as the season wears on and the power players shuffle around ;-)

1.) Joanna & Derek – Now I realize that I may have been accused in the past of being overly “partial” to Derek.  However, I think Heidi can vouch for the fact that I haven’t always been a fan of these tw0 (I’m still scratching my head over the whole Tarzan entrance, haha) and have had almost the same amount of criticism for them as I’ve had praise for them.  But I feel as though I have to point out that these two manage to remain memorable week after week, even if their dancing wasn’t necessarily the highest-scored.  Their rumba was steamy, and I expected it to be, given Derek’s track record; and Derek made a wise move in playing up his goofy side during the little “fantasy” lead-in – it’s endearing to viewers and I think they’ll definitely remember it when voting.  Joanna continues to impress me with her technique, but I did see a few wonky arms and also the little stutter from getting her heel caught in her dress.  And I will again reference the special powers of the Money Spot (TM). These two were the stand-out couple for me in the team tango (those high-speed pivots towards the end of their solo portion were fantastic!) and are at the top of the leaderboard points-wise.  No danger here…

2.) Aaron & Karina – Oh, what a difference a week makes! These two were my favorite couple of the night…that jive was FLAWLESS (I dunno what Carrie Ann was smoking, giving them a 9!).  I would even go so far as to say it was one of the best-executed jives I’ve ever seen on the show…Aaron’s flicks were razor sharp & perfectly synched to Karina’s, and perhaps most importantly of all, HE DIDN’T TIRE.  The energy level stayed up from beginning to end, which is more than I can say about a lot of the jives we’ve seen. I think Aaron is beginning to give Mya a run for her money for the title of Best Technician on the show – and he also seems to tackle the hardest choreography of any of the celebs.  And I have to say, he does seem to be reigning in his over-the-top behavior quite a bit – he’s beginning to become a lot more likeable to me again.  While I was underwhelmed by the team paso, Aaron & Karina were most memorable to me, and seemed to best embody the sharp, aggressive feel of the dance.  I daresay Aaron might have redeemed himself tonight with that jive – and he did manage to avoid the danger zone last week, so I don’t see him suddenly dropping into it this week.  Kudos to him for the vast improvement!

3.) Donny & Kym – Ok, their quickstep this week was a bit of an improvement from last week’s jitterbug, and it did seem like Kym upped the ante with some more difficult choreography – but I still can’t seem to shake the feeling that Donny just looks EXHAUSTED.  And I would be too, if his schedule is as crazy as everyone says it is! But the trick is to hide it well, and I’m not sure he is – he seemed to drop his posture quite a bit, and did lose the rhythm at a few points (although I did agree with Bruno that he seemed to hide it well – whenever he flubbed, I did find myself questioning what I saw, like “Did he just mess up, or am I just seeing things?”).  I also go back to my “Donny likes characters” theory, and thought he may have struggled this week without a real theme or character to play in the dance – he was just left with the steps and his stage presence.  His solo bit in the team tango felt a bit recycled to me (from his Argentine a few weeks back), but then again, Kelly’s did too, and at least he danced it well.  But he has the fanbase, so he will be fine…but I’m sorry, Kym’s dress???! Ghastly.  Please Donny, stick to singing and dancing – because ladies’ fashion is not your calling. :-D

4.) Mya & Dmitry – I really feel like a broken record saying this week after week, but here it is again for good measure: brilliant technique, zero heat.  I almost feel like both of them are more focused on playing to the audience than they are each other – Dmitry in particular.  Cloris, you are such a wise old (crazy) soul, pointing out this obvious lack of heat! This was some great choreography, with such a fluid execution, and it would have been light years better if I didn’t feel like they were still so disconnected after dancing together for all these weeks – the silhouetted kiss at the end just felt contrived.  But I will say that I loved the costuming – probably the best of the night: they both looked like they foxtrotted right out of a ballroom in pre-Castro Cuba.  For anyone that saw Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights - Mya’s dress tonight felt like a throwback to her cameo in it as Lola Martinez (check it out – it’s the big mambo competition scene towards the end).  While I was once again underwhelmed by their frigid chemistry, they did dance their foxtrot well, and they were scored decently well for it.  No comment on the team paso; honestly, most of it was a non-event for me…

5.) Kelly & Louis – This week could easily be titled “How Kelly Got Her Groove Back” – her salsa this week was the most relaxed and free I’ve seen her since week 1.  It was almost as if she had to have a complete meltdown (see lead-in) before she could shake her jitters and just have fun out on the floor…and fun she did have! She shimmied, she smiled…she conquered.  And I gotta give her props for putting Louis in the famous fringe pants that we’ve only seen the girls wear up until this point – the man looked like Cookie Monster out there, and I loved every minute of it! I guess it’s just a testament to she & Louis’ great chemistry that they can get in a “fight” and still look like they love each other to bits while they’re yelling at one another.  Kelly shined in the group tango – so her choregraphy wasn’t really complicated and felt a bit redundant, but she didn’t flub (a lot) and she actually had some really dramatic head snaps.  She definitely reclaimed the America’s Sweetheart title tonight, but let’s be honest: her dancing is nowhere near that of Mya, Donny, or Joanna, and we’re getting down to the wire now – she may live through this week based on her winning personality, but I’m afraid the clock is ticking…

6.) Michael & Anna D. - I’m finally beginning to understand why this guy has managed to stretch far beyond what should have been his lifespan on the show – he has a heart of gold.  Seriously – I cannot hate the guy, no matter how much he may butcher a bolero or flub his way through a cha-cha.  The pep talk during team paso rehearsal? The sweet explanation of he & Anna’s purple costumes? Heck, the guy was even big-hearted enough to hug it out with Aaron during his post-rumba meltdown!  The man is like a walking Hallmark card.  And add to that the fact that he actually is improving – he could surprise us all and be this season’s Ty Murray and live through another week! Like last week’s waltz (which I bit sheepishly admit that I haven’t had the heart to delete off my DVR :-) ), his foxtrot wasn’t necessarily the hardest choreography, but he moved through it gracefully, without any missteps and without getting off-time – the man is light years better at the smooth dances than the Latin ones. And he’s charming when he dances.  But we have to take into account that he was in the danger zone last week, and I don’t know that his fanbase will be able to contend with that of Donny’s or even Mya’s…and then there’s the curse of the dreaded Crap Spot (TM). The play clock may have run down for our lovable wide receiver…

7.) Mark & Anna T. – Poor Mark just couldn’t seem to catch a break this week – his regular partner gets sick, he gets a short tutorial from Tony in New York before jetting back to the west coast, and then is thrown headlong into rehearsals with Anna (<3 her!) with only 2 days to learn both his own samba and the group paso.  The deck was stacked against him from the get-go, I’m afraid.  But I am going to disagree with Bruno & Carrie Ann – I actually got a kick out of his samba.  His samba rolls were actually pretty darn good, and he did have great energy throughout the whole thing.  He wasn’t THAT bad.  But I don’t even remember him in the group paso, and I think America may forget about him amidst very striking routines and high scores from Joanna & Derek and Aaron & Karina, and the fanbases of Donny, Mya, and even Michael.  Sorry Lacey…I don’t think you’ll be able to make that triumphant return next week like you were hoping to :-(

Alright, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m pretty ADD, so I can’t remember if they said tomorrow was another double elimnation or not – so if it is, I’m gonna say it’s Mark & Anna T. and Michael & Anna D. headed home; if it’s only a single, it’s gonna be Mark. What do you guys think?