DWTS 16, Week 5 – Power Rankings

Well, side-by-side challenge night went about as well as can be expected when you put complete amateurs (well, and a ringer or two…) next to seasoned pros with years of experience under their belts.  If nothing else, it let us see some sorely missed pros doing what they do best :-) The judges have made it pretty clear at this point who their favorites are (ZENDAYA, Kellie, Jacoby, & Aly), who they are lukewarm about (Sean & Ingo), and who is disposable (Victor, D.L., and unfortunately, now Andy), and seem to be scoring accordingly.  And dare I say that many of the pros came out dancing at full throttle…but noticeably slowed down and calmed down when the celebs joined them on the floor? No bueno.  And god bless Tom for soldiering through what had to be a tough night for Bostonians :-( Let’s get on with it…

1.) Zendaya & Val – It was a good dance, and I was actually impressed with Val’s first venture into Argentine tango choreography – and thankfully, he seemed to eschew the multitude of lifts big bro seems so fond of, and put in some good basic steps.  Zendaya handled pretty well, and I liked the jewel thief storyline – I was worried they were going to go more the smut route, which would have felt…icky. But this was appropriate :-) So that was the good – now here’s the bad: I don’t think it was 10-worthy.  Sorry kids.  Once again, I find myself just fixated on how BENT Zendaya’s legs are – yes, I am aware she is tall, and yes, Argentine tango is usually done with a flexed knee.  But girl was damn near SQUATTING – and consequently, it made her upper body look that much more flimsy when they were in hold.  I hate when tall people (male or female) try to compensate for a shorter dance partner – it almost always looks awkward, and you don’t get the full impact of their lines.  I say stand up straight and forget about who’s taller – the bf has 2 female students that have a good 3” on him in heels, and when they’re dancing to the full extent, it’s MAGICAL…their legs just go on forever.  You don’t even  worry about who’s taller, because the lines are so gorgeous.  So with that said – these two are obviously safe (and thankfully, there were no Twitter machinations this week to tip things in their favor), but I do think Zendaya’s legs will continue to be an issue in the coming weeks.

2.) Kellie & Derek – I’ve always loved Derek’s foxtrots, and the Broadway quality & character they have to them.  This was no exception – great side-by-side, playful choreography, and Kellie seemed to handle the sweeping motions of the foxtrot well.  She seemed to get a bit stiff in her neck and shoulders at a few times, which looked a bit awkward, but other than that, she handled this routine well and I liked watching her do it.  I think she probably came the closest to mirroring her pro counterpart tonight – and I think she has Derek to thank for not dumbing down the choreography, because in most of the routines, the pros went from dancing full-on, difficult steps to dancing simple, kindergarten steps without much energy.  It gave me whiplash, at times.  But the transition in this one felt seamless – the way Kellie was keeping up, it felt more like another pro couple joining Henry & Anna on the floor, rather than “Oh sh*t, here comes the celeb, better slow it down…NOW!” So even if Kellie “doesn’t like Derek’s ways” – I think it was those “ways” that probably helped her look so good tonight.  ;-) 

3.) Jacoby & Karina – This jive tonight makes me think more than ever that Jacoby is gonna win this thing – I know I’m not the only one that saw shades of Donald in this routine ;-) It wasn’t as clean as Donald’s, or quite so exuberant – but the vibe was there, and he attacked the choreography without fear.  I think Maks & Anna may have had the most fun of any of the pros that danced with the celebs tonight – they seemed to be having a ball doing their jive together, and then there was pure comedy as the boys chest bumped…and Maks went flying across the floor :-P Yes, I know Jacoby’s got bad feet – hell, Jacoby knows Jacoby’s got bad feet.  But I really don’t care, because I was more entertained by this dance tonight than all of the others.  Yes, he could have gotten a bit more height on his knees and a bit more bounce overall – but again, I don’t really care, because I just had so much fun watching it.  And at the end of the day, I’d rather look at a dance and say “That was messy, but fun!” than “Gee, that was boring as hell – but the technique was great!” So there :-P Once Andy’s gone, Jacoby’s got my vote…

4.) Aly & Mark – I think these two should feel very, very lucky that they’ve got the judges on their side – because this samba was really not worthy of a 25.  I MIGHT have given it a 23, because Latin is clearly Aly’s Achilles heel: the poor girl just cannot get her hips, knees, & feet moving the right way.  I dare anyone that doesn’t believe me to watch this samba in slow motion – her feet are almost always pointed in (PIGEON TOE ALERT!!!), and as a consequence, her hips get stiff, and the signature samba bounce that SHOULD be coming from the core is really just Aly raising & lowering on her toes.  Not good.  And really, they did the girl no favors by picking Witney as the female pro for her to be compared to – that girl OWNS the samba, and came out dancing full throttle.  And then, of course, she suddenly got tired, and moved a lot slower and smaller when Aly hit the floor.  Way to make it obvious, guys :-P I’m really not sure what to make of these two – part of me thinks they’re getting the votes, part of me thinks they aren’t, and part of me wonders if Aly is more disposable in the eyes of TPTB than Zendaya.  Will be interesting to see when the judges decide to drop the hammer on Aly…

5.) Andy & Sharna – To anyone that complained about how “cruel and mean” the judges were to “poor widdle D.L.” – I take it you are also outraged by how they treated Andy tonight, amirite? You should be, because I think some of the insults they hurled at Andy tonight (for a dance that really wasn’t terrible, IMO) made some of the stuff they said to D.L. sound downright tame.  This is another dance where I didn’t really give a hoot ‘n’ a holler whether Andy had good technique or was on-time or had a good frame – I knew before he even set foot on the floor that he wasn’t suddenly going to look like Sasha’s mirror image (although I thought he did a damn good job of trying, and actually matched Sasha pretty well for about the first 20 seconds they were on the floor together).  But I was ENTERTAINED by the dance, just like I was Jacoby’s, and I thought he did a great job of getting into character and actually seemed to stay on-time and handled the steps reasonably well.  Cape work is deceptively easy-looking, but like Andy said – if you don’t grab it in the right place, you’re toast.  But he went for it – and somehow, he ended up with the same score as D.L., who just stomped around the floor for a minute & a half and STILL couldn’t manage to stay on-time? Poppycock!!! I don’t know if they think the “go really hard on the celeb in order to generate sympathy votes” strategy will work to drum up votes for Andy or what…but I sure hope it will.  I just love these two.

6.) Ingo & Kym – And just when you think Ingo can’t get any more awkward – he does :-P I’m sorry, Ingo fans – he is just not a natural mover, and that became painfully obvious during this cha cha tonight.  That was some really, really dumbed-down cha-cha choreography (I assume it was an attempt to conceal how bad he was), and Kym was clearly backleading tonight – and poor Ingo was just stomping around and gyrating awkwardly.  He seemed like he really tried, but he took a few steps back this week – and I’m sorry, but his constant negativity about how he dances is starting to get off-putting.  Dude, take a page out of Andy’s book and embrace the fact that you aren’t a great dancer – and then just have a ton of fun.  Once again, I’m not sure what to make of these two – can’t tell if they’re getting  a slew of votes or not many at all, I think Kym is a little off her game this season.  And I find myself just kind of forgetting them. Guess we’ll see in the coming weeks, as we lose the cannon fodder…

7.) Sean & Peta – Noticeable improvement from Sean this week – I don’t know what Peta did in practice (or what Tristan did, hehe), but Sean seemed to move with more ease this week.  Admittedly, I don’t really remember a ton of this routine, and the only notes I really made were “improved, but a bit stilted still”, but the fact that it was much better than that painfully awkward Viennese waltz last week was good enough for me.  And oddly enough, I don’t find myself quite so put-off with these two these days…I still think Sean’s kind of a dork, but at least now I don’t think he’s a conceited dork :-P Not much to add on these two – he did better than last week, but 24 was probably a bit generous…maybe a 23.  He could be bottom 2 material this week, but if not, then definitely next week…

8.) D.L & Cheryl – *shrug* What’s the point of even saying anything? I just say the same thing week after week: he barely moves, Cheryl does all the work, and yet he still gets decent scores for how little he does.  This tango was really just walk, walk, walk, stomp, walk, walk, walk, kick, walk, walk, walk, flail.  Lather, rinse, repeat as necessary.  And even with quite possibly the most rudimentary tango steps I’ve ever seen, he still couldn’t stay on-time.  I give up – this guy should have been gone in week 1.  Do people not see that he’s NOT improving…like, AT ALL? I seriously hope he’s in the bottom 2 tomorrow night, because this is just getting hard to watch.

9.) Victor & Lindsay – Poor Victor – he gets cheated on by his girlfriend, does a pretty decent Viennese waltz, and still gets the same score as awkward Ingo that can’t cha-cha to save his life.  Yes, I think these two were underscored – I thought Victor actually kept up pretty well tonight, didn’t get off-time, and managed to clean up his shuffly footwork a bit.  I think they probably got lucky in having Tristan, as he seemed to be the pro that took the greatest pains to not outdance the celebs tonight.  Got a little suspicious of that slow dip that Lindsay did during the sax part of that song (which I love, BTW), since it made me think of a Mandy Moore jazz routine done to that same song on SYTYCD, but overall, I think the choreography she gave him made him look pretty good, and they should be applauded for that.  But they’ve just been in the bottom 2 too damn many times, and they have kind of become…forgettable, I’m afraid.  But it’s been a nice ride for these two, and they lasted much longer than I thought :-) 

So I guess with all that said, it’s gonna be Victor & D.L. in the bottom 2…and if not D.L., unfortunately Andy.  But I still think Victor goes home no matter what.  But what do you guys think? And are you hoping as much as I am that Jacoby gets the encore he so desires? ;-)