Well first of all, I’m happy to report that for once, “best year of your life” week was NOT the night of a thousand rumbas!!! It was, instead, the night of a thousand (ok, THREE) Viennese waltzes, and this episode of Sesame Street was brought to you by the awkward men’s Viennese waltz solo OH! And be still my heart…did Carrie Ann actually cop to being remiss in her lift policing the past few weeks???? And then promptly make herself look rather like a douchebagette, when sternly chastising Gleb for carrying a sick Lisa down the stairs? Yeah…that happened. But let’s just get down to the nitty gritty, shall we?
1 & 2.) TIE: Kellie & Derek and Zendaya & Val – Both ladies had strong showings tonight, yet both of them seemed to have minor technical issues that kept them from being 100% on-point. Loved Kellie & Derek’s rumba – very simple, intimate feel, and Kellie does have some fantastic legs. But I do agree with whatever judge said that she seemed a little bit “clipped” tonight – I don’t know if it was the segueing from very slow, fluid movements to rather fast, crisp ones, but things got a bit jerky from time to time. As for Zendaya – I love watching that girl dance, and she’s obviously right at home on the floor…just the right amount of attitude to really carry off Beyonce, and the dance chops to back it up. But once again, she seems to be having trouble with those long legs – Len was right, she was a bit too bent in the knee, and needed to really straighten those legs out in order to get more of a bounce. She also seemed to get a bit off-balance in some of the faster turns, which I noticed in her Viennese waltz & jive as well. Long legs are great to look at – but when it comes to ballroom & Latin, sometimes the ladies with shorter legs have it a bit easier, just because it’s easier to move quickly & crisply when you have less to extend. Also a bit of a warning to Val – there seemed to be an awfully high proportion of jazz-y, hip-hoppy type-moves in that samba. I know it’s tempting to really go wild when you’ve got a Beyonce song (and a partner that can do those kinds of moves), but if this continues week to week, you’re going to be butting heads with Len A LOT. Overall, I think I was probably more entertained by Zendaya’s dance, but I was more touched emotionally by Kellie’s. Enjoyed both, and I doubt either of these ladies are going anywhere.
3.) Jacoby & Karina – I still think this guy is gonna walk away with the trophy when all’s said and done – and the fact that he actually handled his first ballroom dance quite masterfully just makes me believe it anymore. I was mentally preparing myself for a trainwreck – crummy frame, messy feet, missed beats, etc. But I was actually impressed at how well Jacoby held his frame – his neck & shoulders looked great, almost hyperextended, although he did stick his butt out just a tiny bit…which I’m sure Karina’s going to chastise him for later, because ballroom law dictates that the man never slouches down to accommodate a shorter lady – it’s the lady’s job to rise up to the man’s height :-) But this guy never missed a turn, stretched those arms out nice & wide, and best of all – he was totally uninhibited, and really gave that solo his all. And can I just add that his little guy is beyond precious??? And one other thing I have really begun to appreciate about Jacoby’s dancing? He’s there for Karina EVERY STEP OF THE WAY. No fumbling to get turns straight, no near-misses with tricks, no missing getting into frame – the dude is on-point.
4.) Aly & Mark – Ok, let me preface my critique with this: there was nothing wrong technically with how Aly pulled off this routine. Really, she did it flawlessly, and never missed a beat. Now here’s the problem I have: this felt like “contemporary by numbers”, and it felt a little too…safe. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m actually kind of missing the rule-breaking, demented, wacky choreographing Mark we saw in season 11 with Chelsea – because so far, everything he’s choreographed this season has just felt kind of ordinary & run-of-the-mill. And when I say “contemporary by numbers”, I mean that it felt like a random sampling of miscellaneous contemporary moves – we’re doing a lift! Oh, now we’re flexing our feet so you can tell we’re doing contemporary. Now we’re going to leap across the floor in an artistic fashion, and then we’re going to do another lift…but we’re going to do it in a very angst-ridden manner, so you can tell that we’re doing contemporary. And Aly’s solo, while perfectly-executed, felt kind of safe, too – it was what everyone expected her to do. Maybe if Mark had thrown in something other than a series of tumbles, it wouldn’t have felt quite so expected. But anyway – I guess I feel a little conflicted about her score. I do think she was overscored, just because she didn’t really have fantastic content, but in the same token, I think she handled her routine tonight better than Kellie or Zendaya. Once again, I’m just left feeling rather “meh” about Aly, and not really with an opinion of her, one way or another. Aly, please wow me next week – because I’m seriously hard-pressed to recall anything memorable about your routines thus far.
5.) Andy & Sharna – Dance of the night for me, by far, and the only one that brought me to tears…like, big tears. For once, I actually think Carrie Ann had the perfect analogy: this was like a beautiful, simple poem constructed with only 3 letters. No super-exciting, super hard & impressive moves – just very simple, well-executed basics, and each step was done with such conviction and investment that it just brought me to tears. With every quarter turn Andy did, I felt the love he had for his daughter. That’s the kind of emotion that no other couple tonight managed to capture, and Andy was also the only Viennese waltzer tonight that didn’t look dorky & contrived during his solo. And once again, Sharna was there for him every step of the way, without overpowering the dance. I just love these two, and they’ve restored a bit of faith in this cranky ol’ blogger that there’s more to this show than dancing J I’m hoping their bottom 2 scare last week, paired with the rave reviews they got this week, are going to keep these two around…because they’re getting all of my votes from here on out
6.) Ingo & Kym – Oh Ingo, god love you – you are working hard, you are improving, and you seem like a really, really nice guy. But I just cannot shake this awkward vibe I’m getting from you I’ll admit, this week was an improvement over last, and Ingo has been getting better with each passing week. Frame has visibly improved, and he’s not sticking his butt out anymore. There were a few fumbles with the hands, though, and I really didn’t care for his solo much – a little too elementary, and a little…well, awkward Here’s the problem I’m running into with these two: they’re pleasant to watch, and they’re doing decently well…but there’s not really anything about them that thrills me, like some of the other couples. I think they’re more outwardly likeable and approachable than Aly & Mark, though…so I guess that’s good. I guess Ingo has kind of become the Rick Fox of season 16 for me: a really nice, likeable guy that does decently well, works hard, and doesn’t cause drama…but maybe isn’t the most memorable, either. Regardless, I think they’ve still got some mileage this season.
7.) Sean & Peta – Quite possibly the most awkward of the Viennese waltzes tonight, and I know I couldn’t have been the only one guffawing at that stilted, dorky solo/dance of seduction he did towards Catherine at the end…she even looked a bit embarrassed FOR him As for the rest of the dance, I just think Sean is a really awkward mover, and tends to stop & shuffle his way through most of the steps. On top of that, I just think this was a really, really sh*tty piece of choreography out of Peta – there were boring, repetitive sections of them awkwardly doing a basic step down the floor, and then sudden, flaily sections where they were flinging their arms out willy-nilly or doing some weird trick whereby Sean dragged Peta across the floor. Everything just felt really, really disjointed and awkward – as if Peta had to cut out sections that Sean just wasn’t mastering, and had to patch everything together with Elmer’s Glue Sticks and Scotch tape. I do find it telling that the judges seemed to drop the hammer a bit on ol’ Seannie boy this week – not so much gushing about how well he did, and Carrie Ann did actually point out a lift …that I’m guessing they attempted (and failed) to conceal with the Smoke Monster I probably wouldn’t have given this more than 19, tops…but he did backslide a bit in his score, so I think the Sean infatuation may be wearing off…
8.) D.L. & Cheryl – Not really sure how to feel about this foxtrot. I do applaud D.L. for actually dancing more this time, and I actually do applaud Cheryl for MAKING him dance more this time…but this was a pretty kindergarten foxtrot, and I’m not sure D.L.’s solo was up-to-snuff with what we saw from a lot of the other contestants. I don’t really count crawling on the floor and dry-humping the judges table as a solo I guess D.L. does seem like he’s trying a bit harder now, though, so I guess I’m not so vehement about this guy needing to go home. However, now that he’s getting halfway-decent scores and not getting reamed by the judges, though, I’m not sure that he’s going to get the slew of sympathy votes he’s gotten the past couple weeks. I would rather see him go home this week, but given the circumstances, I just don’t see it happening…but at the rate he’s improving, I think he’s just going to stick out like a sore thumb each week he stays. I’m guessing he gets the boot next week.
9.) Victor & Lindsay – Oh boy…I’m afraid that this paso doble, despite being what I thought would be one of Victor’s stronger dances, was an almost endless parade of fail. Poor Victor just seemed so timid & tentative with each move he made – two words you don’t really want thrown around when describing a paso doble. He also seemed to miss a rather sizeable chunk of steps right out of the gate, and I’m afraid the vigor with which Lindsay was dancing (she looked great tonight, btw – first time she’s really impressed me with her stage presence) just made it that much more obvious that Victor was struggling. I think these two will likely end up in the bottom 2 tomorrow night, but will likely be saved by extenuating circumstances (see below). These two, as likeable as they may be, I think are reaching their limit on this season…I just don’t know that they can pull out much more.
10.) Lisa & Gleb – First things first: I know I can’t be the only one that thought it was just kind of bitchy of Carrie Ann to dock them for a lift. Yes, I get it CAI, you’ve got a renewed sense of vigilance for lift policing now that you’ve lurked at Pure (at Tom’s urging ;-)) and seen that we called you out on it. But really – was it necessary to drop the hammer on a guy for carrying his sickly partner (who barely moved) out onto the floor? Just a weeeee bit petty, IMO. It’s not like the extra point you claim you would have given them without the lift was really going to help. But anyway – not much to add that hasn’t already been said: Lisa looked timid and tired, and I applaud her for trying to dance. And at this point, I’m fully expecting her to withdraw from the competition tomorrow night – as Mama Spence put it upon seeing Lisa in the commercial bumper before her dance “That woman looks like she’s already decided that she’s done.” It’s been fun seeing these two this season, but I do get the feeling that Lisa was very overwhelmed by the whole thing, and was maybe secretly hoping to get sent home. And at this point, I can’t blame her – getting over the flu when you’re in your 20’s is one thing, but in your 50’s? That requires a bit more downtime, and I’m not sure Lisa & Gleb can afford it if they want to stick around. So I guess my official prediction is that Victor & Lisa are the bottom 2 tomorrow night, but Lisa announces that she’s withdrawing, thereby sparing Victor for another week. But if Lisa gets a slew of sympathy votes and is somehow safe??? All bets are off – I think Victor is doomed for the bottom 2 tomorrow, but I’m not sure who would join him…D.L., maybe? Or even Sean? Who knows…but damn, I’m gonna miss that little narcoleptic, bald, tech-savvy Pomeranian of hers
So what did you guys think of “best year of my life” night? And how do you think things will shake out tomorrow? And tell us who you voted for in this week’s Twitter contest!