DWTS 15 All-Stars: The Great “Previous Dance Experience” Debate – Shawn Johnson Edition

First off, a bit of an apology for my week-long hiatus from this series – between my 9-5 and the heinous betch that Who Wore it Better? turned out to be, I was pretty well spent by the time I got home each night last week…and let’s just say my creativity wasn’t exactly at its peak. But I’m back now, and going to try and finish the last 4 editions (and a few other items) before the premiere.  Procrastinators of the world, unite…tomorrow ;-)

For those of you playing catch up (or who missed the previous editions), you can just use the search box and type in “previous dance experience” – all of the previous editions should show up, newest to oldest.  I’m just too lazy to link to the 9 previous installments :-P

For Shawn’s best dance, I chose her cha-cha to “P.Y.T.”:

And for her worst dance, I picked her Lindy hop:

Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of Shawn’s dancing – don’t get me wrong, I think she’s a great role model for young girls and a sweetie pie to boot.  But rewatching all of her dances, I’m not just wowed by any of them – but thankfully, I’m not hugely let down by them, either.  I guess the best way I can sum up my opinion of Shawn in season 8 is this: she was a hard worker & a good natural mover who, for the most part, seemed to let Mark drive the bus – she always struck me as very pleasantly going along with whatever theme/choreography/costume/etc. Mark threw at her, without really adding any of her own input.  Disagree if you like, but I just felt like Shawn (maybe out of youth) was just a bit of a pushover that season – and consequently, I don’t think she ever really connected deeply with a lot of her routines.  It could be the gymnast in her, too – kind of a poker face to get through each event.  So I guess my primary hope for her this season is that she gets to give a bit more input into her routines, and can connect with them on a more personal level – and perhaps get a bit more mature with her choreo ;-) That said, I do think she is a good mover – she doesn’t seem to have any issues with timing or range of motion, and is one person that does seem to know exactly how to style her arms for each dance.  However, I think she may face a bit of the same problem that Drew will: she’s just so LITTLE.  At less than 5′, even moving with her full range of motion is probably not going to look as impressive and “big” as it will on someone willowy, like Melissa.  Even in “P.Y.T.”, which I consider to be the best combination of dance skill & performance quality we saw from Shawn in season 8, her legs just can’t seem to get that same eye-catching bending & straightening action that makes cha-cha so appealing when a person with longer legs does it.  I just hope Derek has some tricks up his sleeve that can help Shawn’s lines look as LONG as possible.  As for her worst dance – I actually have to kinda blame that one on Mark.  While I don’t think she really had any heinously bad dances on her season, I do think there were a few where Mark’s quest for eye-catching, creative choreo may not have showcased Shawn in the best way.  Their Lindy was a prime example – he seemed to rely too heavily on her gymnastic skills, and off-the-wall tricks to sell that one.  Too bad the judges weren’t buying it.  I hope that Derek knows better than to do that this season, but with the level of competition as high as it is, I worry that all the pros may feel the need to “up their game” to stick around – and it may not always pay off. 

Court’s verdict: If Shawn can mature a bit in her dancing and work on injecting some more of her personality into it (and Derek knows how to showcase her well), then she could be a contender. 

So what are your thoughts on Shawn?