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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.  ;-)   Read more..

April 15, 2013 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Check out some of my other work at pureamericasgottalent.com!

DWTS 16, Week 4 – Power Rankings

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 :-P 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??? :-D 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. Read more..

April 8, 2013 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Check out some of my other work at pureamericasgottalent.com!

PureDWTS Tribute: Julia Ivleva

Remember this gorgeous waltz that Jonathan & Anna danced in tribute to their cancer-stricken friend, Julia, back in season 14?

Sadly, Anna reported on her Twitter today that Julia passed away this morning, after a long & courageous battle with lung cancer.  She remembered her friend poignantly:

A wonderful strong talented and beautiful person left us today... Julia Ivleva ,i will miss you greatly, your spirit ,wit, honesty and charm
@atrebunskaya
anna trebunskaya

Julia’s passing touched me rather personally, as I had the pleasure of watching Julia and her husband, Igor, dance at one of the first ballroom competitions I attended, almost ten years ago.  I was struck by how powerful they were on the floor, and their showdances were always the most creative and engaging.  I feel blessed to have been present to witness the debut of one of the greatest showdances in ballroom history – when Igor & Julia proved that you can dance ballroom to any music…even Nirvana!

And a few years later, they again proved that rock & ballroom can mix perfectly, when they did this beautiful, vulnerable foxtrot to quite possibly my favorite song of all-time:

We here at Pure send our heartfelt condolences out to Julia’s friends and family during this sad time.  Rest in peace, Julia.

 

April 5, 2013 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Check out some of my other work at pureamericasgottalent.com!

DWTS 16, Week 3 – Power Rankings

Well…that was special.  Aside from a few bright spots, I don’t know that I could have choreographed a sh*tshow that was sh*ttier than tonight’s show – yeah, it was pretty bad.  I guess I expected it to be pretty tacky, given the whole prom theme…but there were some all-time lows hit tonight.  And there was some definite tinkering going on with the scoring – scoring that makes me think they’re trying to backdoor some floundering couples.  But let’s right to it, shall we?

1.) Jacoby & Karina – I still stand by my week 1 claim that Jacoby is a shoo-in for the finale and will likely play spoiler to whoever else ends up there and will pull out a win.  And tonight really solidified that for me – because this guy can DANCE.  Sure, he’s a little cocky, a lot kooky, and can handle the goofy, uptempo dances like the cha-cha and jazz…but the true test was him tackling the rumba tonight, and that he did.  He actually let down his guard quite a bit and showed us a vulnerable side – I thought their rumba was quite lovely, and Jacoby had some great extensions and footwork going on.  A few footwork issues, sure, but overall, he & Karina really sold it for me, chemistry-wise.  And here’s the big advantage he may have over Kellie & Zendaya: he’s got a bit more of a learning curve to work with.  While Kellie & Zendaya are both great dancers, I’m beginning to think that viewers (and their increasingly unpredictable voting behavior) may tire of them topping the leaderboard week after week…and while Jacoby is still up there pretty close, he may get a bit more leeway because he’s more unexpected – it’s a bigger shock that Jacoby’s legitimately good, than it is for Kellie or Zendaya.  Who knows…I never really know what to think about the voting from week to week.  But I do know he’s safe for quite awhile.

2.) Kellie & Derek – Did one of you mention that Kellie was sick this week? If so, I will cut her a bit of slack on what I thought was a good (but not great) performance, and applaud her for soldiering through.  I think this had the potential to be a fantastic routine – they got a great song and a great theme to work with, and this stuff is right in Derek’s wheelhouse.  Very fun jive (without copying any moves from the movie, mind you), and Kellie kept up pretty well for the first half – but then I think she got tired and lost steam, and suddenly she wasn’t bouncing quite as much and her kicks got a bit soft.  But it was still a great performance, and I sincerely doubt she’s in any danger this week…but I am crossing my fingers that she can somehow pull off getting prom queen J Read more..

April 1, 2013 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Check out some of my other work at pureamericasgottalent.com!

DWTS 16, Week 2 – Power Rankings

Well jazz/jive/quickstep/WTF? night left me with some mixed feelings – some couples really rose to the challenge, while others really showed their weaknesses; I feel like some couples got too caught up in having a “theme”, while others seemed to have meltdowns in rehearsal.  And of course – the judges conveniently chastised some couples for things that they seemed to turn a blind eye to in other couples.  Let’s get right into it…

1.) Zendaya  & Val – As talented as this girl is, I did have my doubts about her fanbase – but after she trended worldwide on Twitter, I’m wondering if she might have the juice to really go all the way this season.  My god, those LEGS – if I had legs that gorgeous, I would wear shorts year-round, regardless of the temperature, because they are GORGEOUS.  Oddly enough, though they actually seemed to cause a few problems in this dance – like Val said, with legs that long, you have a harder time doing quick movements…and I felt like Zendaya did have a few moments where she really had to haul ass to get her legs where they needed to be, and she did seem to be taking some wide steps to accommodate those long legs.  Thankfully, they should only be an asset from here on out, since she has gotten jive out of the way :-) Loved the attitude and sass she had, too – really like this girl, and really like what Val is doing with her.  If they can keep it engaging and age-appropriate, they could go far.

2.) Kellie & Derek – As cool as this routine was and as well-executed as it may have been, I’d call it more of a contemporary/jazz fusion than pure jazz.  Nothing wrong with that – none of the 3 that did jazz tonight had a “pure” jazz routine – but I saw flexed ankles and more contemporary-type lifts, and in my head I heard my college dance instructor screaming “Point those toes! I don’t want to see any flexed feet, this is jazz 203, not modern 203!!!” Very cool, moody routine, and Kelly is made of rubber, I swear…plus she seems to be handling anything Derek throws at her.  But for whatever reason (and this is unrelated to whether it’s jazz or not), I was just left wanting a bit more – maybe it was the music and how there seemed to be this big build up in the beginning, and then it just ended, maybe it was the fierce hand section at the beginning and then the more flowy end, I don’t know…but I don’t really think it was my favorite Derek routine.  But Kellie is impressing me, because had I not known better, that could have been Allison Holker dancing that routine…she was that good. Read more..

March 25, 2013 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Check out some of my other work at pureamericasgottalent.com!

DWTS 16, Week 1 – Power Rankings

And so ends our first post-all-stars episode of DWTS! Gotta say – overall, I think I’m happy.  Granted, my standards were pretty low, but I think this season’s cast has a lot of personality and potential – aside from a few low points (D.L., Sean, and Len, who was a complete asshat tonight), there were some pleasant surprises (namely Wynonna & Andy) and some promising contenders (Jacoby, Kellie, Dorothy, and maybe Aly).  So let’s break it down, shall we?

1.) Jacoby & Karina – I will be surprised if this guy does not win this season, let me put that out there.  I know, I know – some of you think he’s cocky and his footwork is messy.  But as I recall, many of our readers said the same thing about Donald in week one of season 14, and he really grew on people as the season wore on – I expect that Jacoby will likely do the same, especially since Karina doesn’t seem like the type to tolerate arrogance, and I think Jacoby has already improved since his initial interviews.  He was definitely the most charistmatic one on the floor tonight, for me – absolutely no fear, total attack, and you could tell he was having a blast.  Yeah, the routine was a bit chaotic and his feet & posture were pretty bad – but the potential is definitely there, and I daresay he did better with only about a week’s worth of rehearsal than some other couples did with the full 3 weeks.  I think Karina was probably wise to make that cha-cha feel like a touchdown dance – if you’re limited on time, stick with what you know will work.  She did the same thing with The Situation and managed to get him past week 1 with only a limited amount of practice.  These two will be around for awhile, and I’m interested to see how they develop.

2.) Zendaya & Val – For a girl that’s only 16, she dances with a maturity greater than many of the ladies this season – and some of them are old enough to be her mother! She’s probably the most naturally-skilled dancer this season, judging from what we saw tonight – she was fluid, relaxed, comfortable, and really seemed to get in the pocket of the dance.  And god bless Val for finally reaching the potential I thought he had back in season 13 – for a pro that doesn’t really know contemporary, that was a great routine, and the emotion was appropriate: it was innocent and casual, and not overwrought with the sexual undertone that so many of his dances with Kelly had.  I think this may be the season that we really see him become a contender – maybe the fact that he’s not stuck in the shadow of big bro this time has taken a bit of the weight off his shoulders, and he can really focus on stretching his chops and really making his partner shine.  And shine she will – she’s a gorgeous girl, and those legs are a revelation.  Definitely a bright spot this season – I just hope that she’ll overcome the Disney curse and get viewers to pick up a phone! Read more..

March 18, 2013 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Check out some of my other work at pureamericasgottalent.com!

DWTS Season 16 – TWO New Dance Styles

It’s official. From the ABC Medianet press release:

“Episode 1601″ — “Dancing with the Stars” is back with an all-new cast of fresh faces hitting the dance floor. This season features two new dance styles, contemporary and jazz; three new professional dance partners — Lindsay Arnold, Sharna Burgess & Gleb Savchenko; and notable theme shows. In May, “Dancing with the Stars” will commemorate their 300th episode with a spectacular celebration. The competition begins with the two-hour Season 16 premiere, live, MONDAY, MARCH 18 (8:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. “Dancing with the Stars the Results Show” premieres in week two, with the first elimination on Tuesday, March 26.

Click the link to read the whole press release. I didn’t see anything else that was interesting or different, except maybe a new App.

Anyway, I can’t even begin to express how stupid I think this idea is. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the ballroom styles we had and if we lose Argentine Tango or Paso in order to have freakin’ Jazz, I will be pissed. It was bad enough last season when you had people who had been on the show before and you wanted to challenge them, but this is crap. The judges have a hard enough time judging Ballroom fairly, how are they going to manage dance styles they know nothing about?? At least Bruno and CAI might have a clue about Contemporary, but Len?? No. And most of the pros have little to no experience in and have never been trained in either Jazz or Contemporary. This might give Derek, Mark, and Lindsay a leg up on some of the other pros, but man…I don’t care about contemporary. This is a fail in my book.

March 13, 2013 I Written By

I'm a nerd and proud of it. Two degrees in geology also means I love BEER. :-) I'm also a Derek lover - proud of that too. So don't scream at those of us on this site and call us a bunch of "biased Derek-lovers" - it's just ME. :-) It may sound like I hate DWTS at times, but really, I'm just a snarky nitpicker from way back. And I'm cynical and jaded too. But I do love DWTS. :-)

PureDWTS 2013 Exclusive Interview With Dancer Sharna Burgess, Breathtaking Photos To Go With

Dancer Sharna Burgess gave us an exclusive interview where she talks all about her break during the off season of Dancing With The Stars. She spent some lovely time with family, friends, and her boyfriend Paul Kirkland as you will soon see. Sharna also saw some movies that she gives some reviews on (Sharna, I also loved “Life Of Pi”. It gets my vote for best movie of 2012! “WOW” is right!). As always, a dancer never rests as Sharna had some other projects she worked on and she’s been dreaming about new choreography and more for Dancing With The Stars. Keep your fingers crossed as Sharna is hoping to hear word soon on whether or not she will be a pro this season. Sharna was also gracious enough to send us lots of incredible and breathtaking pictures too over her break. You can click on them to get the full size. They’d make beautiful Desk tops for your computer. THANK YOU SO MUCH SHARNA and I, for one, will be keeping my fingers crossed!!!!

1. Hi Sharna!!! How are you and how has your break been from the show? Did you get lots of rest and do some fun things, see any movies, etc? How are your fur babies? When do you come back to the States??

SharnaBurgessChristmas2

Hi!! Im great, it has been a whirl wind since our DWTS finale but i am loving it! I was blessed to have my man Paul Kirkland, come to Australia with me and spend christmas and New Years with my family and friends. We toured the great ocean road together which was to die for. If any of you make it out to Australia please do it, it totally took my breath away. We also spent a lot of time water skiing and wake boarding. Australia was SO hot that you could seriously only be in the water.

PaulKirklandSharnaBurgess1

We watched a bunch of movies over the break, i loved Pitch Perfect, Life of Pi (WOW!!!) and The Guardians. Actually i recently watched Silver Linings with Peta Murgatroyd and wow, what an incredible film, its dark, but in the most beautiful way. I understand why its cleaning up the awards! I really cant wait to see Hansel and Gretel too!

PaulKirklandSharnaBurgess2

Our beautiful fur baby was more than happy to see her mum and dad when we finally returned. We were gone for all up about 5 weeks. When we walked in the door she kind of just stared at us for a second, almost as if to say “oh so you decided to come back? where have you been!!” I really missed her. Read more..

February 6, 2013 I Written By

I'm a fashion and music fan....and I have always loved dancing too of any kind. Dancing With The Stars seems to have this way of bringing all of those things together. One of my favorite dancing quotes at the moment: "No matter what, nobody can take away the dance you've already had...." ~Gleb Savchenko . For fun music and dance mixes, visit WilUnleashed Soundcloud.

DWTS 15, Week 10 – Finale Power Rankings

First off, a bit of an apology/explanation: some of you may have noticed me being a bit quiet and scarce both on Twitter and here at Pure the past few days – that was due to a rather intense bout of the stomach flu which had me sidelined for 5 days.  I’m feeling much better, but still not 100%…and thus I’ve just been taking it easy, saving my energy for things like the cheese and power rankings.  Thanks for hanging in there with me :-)

Anywho…

…I find myself repeating a lot of the “guidelines” Heidi & I set forth about a year ago when we did our Top 10 Best & Worst freestyles in DWTS history, after watching the freestyles tonight.  I feel like only one couple really knocked it out of the park, and the other two made some pretty amateurish mistakes…one in particular showed us just how green he is in the freestyle arena.  And I’ve decided that I just HATE the “favorite dance” round, since it’s nothing really new, and I think it’s seldom a vast improvement on the original performance…and I think it can often turn out WORSE.  Can’t we just go back to the redemption routine, where it was completely new choreography, new music, and a clean slate?

Gonna do things differently tonight, and start off with 3rd place and work my way up…

3rd place: Kelly & Val

I’m left with mixed feelings for both of their dances, overall.  The paso doble started off very promising – lots of attack, and not a single falter UNTIL that rather noticeable slip of the hand and momentary loss of connection, which I have to assume was due to Kelly’s nerves.  I seriously thought she might pass out, as anxious as she was looking beforehand.  But she did manage to regain her footing, and I was actually impressed that she managed to do her whole turning sequence without getting dizzy or off-balance this time.  But she just looked so SCARED, and while she corrected the problems from last time, she had problems with a different section this time.  Was it an improvement? Sure. But I don’t think it was perfect, and I kinda wish Bruno had docked her half a point as well – if you’re going to point out an obvious error, I think you should adjust your score accordingly.  Len may have given her a 10, but at least he did it WITHOUT also pointing out the mistake she made.  Moving on to the freestyle…*sigh* This is the part where I chastise Val for making the rookie freestyle mistake of kinda copping out with a movie theme that is SO iconic that he & Kelly had no hope of ever living up to the original – and then even going as far as to copying some of that iconic choreography, so it makes the contrast to the original even more obvious and just makes the copier pale in comparison to the original.  Historically, dance movie-themed freestyles on the show have not gone over well - examples that come to mind are Mya & Dmitry’s Hairspray freestyle, Gilles & Cheryl’s Flashdance freestyle, Evan & Anna’s Footloose freestyle, Stacy & Tony’s Saturday Night Fever freestyle, and Bristol & Mark’s Chicago freestyle.  Why? They’re almost always cheap, generic knockoffs of the original, and we’re kinda just left feeling “meh” about the whole dance.  I think this was the biggest flaw of Kelly & Val’s freestyle – the overall theme (and choreography) was a watered-down, lukewarm copy of the show-stopped Swayze & Grey number from the end of Dirty Dancing.  Did it have relevance to Kelly & Val’s relationship? Ok, maybe – but I think they would have fared better had they stayed away from such a recognizable piece of music and the choreography associated with it, and done something more unique to them.  As for the dancing itself – as with many of their dances, it felt like it took a long time for them to finally start dancing, and there seemed to be a few stutters and what I call “empty space”: gaps in the choreography where more dancing could be fit in, but instead we had…standing around.  The lifts were decent, but I think they paled in comparison to both Melissa & Shawn’s; I thought the troupe rushing in like a disorganized herd of elephants was a BIG mistake, though.  It was at that moment that I really lost sight of Kelly, who should have been the focus for the whole routine.  The choir? Ok, cute touch, but I think it too distracted from Kelly.  Overall, just wayyyy too many people onstage for her dance, and if they were going to copy anything, they should have copied the section of Tony & Cheryl’s DD routine where the group comes in, because it was far more organized and not nearly as distracting.  Yes, Kelly & Val had great chemistry – but has that ever really been a problem? I guess I’m just glad they didn’t go the route of over-the-top mush, so I will give them props for that.  Was it a good routine? Mehhh…they danced what they had well enough, but I just think the content (and theme) could have been much better thought out.  In the end, I think Kelly will likely end up in 3rd - especially if things end up like I think they will after the instant dance.  I’m guessing it’s going to be ranked, in which case I think the judges easily give her 3rd place; and “soap fanbase” or not, I think Shawn has always had her beat, and I think Melissa’s more buzzworthy at the moment.

: Shawn & Derek

I would LOVE to be wrong and for these two to win – I think they deserve it.  But part of me just can’t shake the feeling that there are too many people riding on the “Melissa & Tony have never won before so they should win this time” train for Shawn & Derek to overcome – especially since they got reamed for their quickstep, which I’m feeling on-the-fence about.  As I said earlier, I kinda hate the whole “repeat your favorite dance again!” concept, because I feel like the routines only have a small margin for improvement…and even if they don’t improve, the judges tend to cop out and give them inflated scores anyway.  But that said – I really wish Derek would have given my nerves a rest and just tweaked the choreography a bit for a few more points.  I think they still have the opportunity to slide into at least 2nd place – but I’m just not sure that the rule-breaking was worth the risk this time.  The rule-breaking left the door WIDE open for those judges to storyboard the crap out of this week, for them to lowball Shawn, the early frontrunner, in order to give the impression of it being “anyone’s game”.  The routine was spectacular once again – but I thought it was only maybe a tad better than the original, since there wasn’t really a lot of stuff to improve upon, other than the choreography itself.  I would be resting a lot easier tonight if they had just picked their mambo and knocked it out of the park again - which makes me wonder, like Heidi, if these dances were chosen FOR them, as opposed to being chosen BY them.  As for their freestyle – I may have a colorful and varied vocabulary, but I believe the best response to this once was “OMG.”  STUNNING tricks, especially the counterbalance stretch at the beginning and that insane falling-face-first-towards-the-floor-from-my-partner’s-shoulders-but-gracefully-ducking-into-a-roll-at-the-last-possible-moment stunt that left me holding my breath.  I officially crown that the most ambitious stunt ever attempted in DWTS history, because that was some seriously dangerous sh*t, kids.  Loved the fact that Derek included bits & pieces of their mambo, bhangra, Argentine tango, and a few other dances in their freestyle – he knows Len just eats that stuff up.  Also loved the Fab 5 backing Shawn up – so cute seeing them gyrating in their matching black costumes, and nailing the choreography as only a squad of Olympic gold medalists could :-) Overall, if it were up to me, these two would walk away with the MBT tomorrow night – because they have danced flawlessly, entertained me week after week, and have brought something new to the table each time they hit the floor.  That, to me, is what the champion of the all-star season should be…I’m praying I’m wrong about the results tomorrow night!

The winner: Melissa & Tony

In the end, I won’t be upset if these two win – they’ve been working hard and giving us good, drama-free dance each week, and dammit, they’re likeable :-) I think both of them have stepped out of their comfort zone quite a bit this season and have really grown, and even though they may not have been the most technical or the most entertaining dancers each week, I still enjoyed watching them.  But I do think they were a bit overscored tonight, and maybe lacked a little bit of the panache of both Shawn & Derek and Kelly & Val.  Their samba – I actually think it was a little bit of a backslide from the original, because it didn’t feel as fluid to me this time.  Rather than Melissa just moving through it effortlessly like she did last time, it felt a bit more…I don’t know, stop-and-go this time? As if Tony had maybe focused a bit too much on having her really accentuate each step, and the end result looked a bit too isolated.  It defintely wasn’t bad, but I just preferred the original myself – seemed like she wasn’t under as much pressure and enjoyed the dance more.  Then we have their freestyle – as a side note, I have to wonder if Tony was drawing inspiration from Eric Luna & Georgia Ambarian, an incredible theater arts champion couple, when he was choreographing this routine – because a lot of these lifts had a very Eric & Georgia feel to them, and even Melissa’s costume reminded me of one I’d seen on Georgia before.  Anywho! I’m a little bit torn on this one – I normally complain about routines that are too lift-dependent, and I feel like this routine was almost entirely lifts.  But I will say this: Tony is still the best lifter we’ve seen on the show, and I think Melissa may have given Julianne a run for her money as the best liftee tonight – because the lifts they did were just stunning.  It was a beautiful routine – and I do feel like it was a good homage to Melissa’s routine on the show.  But I think going with such a slow song was a bit of a gamble…the only precedent we have for a freestyle done to more of a ballad was Erin & Maks’ in season 10, and it only seem to read lukewarm with fans.  I think Melissa’s was definitely better, but I wonder if she might have a more competitive edge against Shawn & Kelly with a more uptempo song.  In the end, I won’t really mind too much if Melissa wins – she’s nice, she’s worked hard, and I think she & Tony have had the right attitude about this season.  Guess we’ll have to see how things pan out after the instant dance…

So who do you guys think will be walking home with the MBT tomorrow night? And which returning stars are you looking forward to seeing? :-)

November 26, 2012 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Check out some of my other work at pureamericasgottalent.com!

DWTS 15, Week 9 – Power Rankings

Well, if you’re reading this, it means enough people FINALLY stopped hitting “refresh” on the homepage that I could get logged into the dash and actually get these posted :-P And with the way things are going, things might not calm down until Tuesday morning…so if this is late, sorry, but we got hit with too much traffic and my pleas for people to scale back the traffic on Twitter went unanswered.  C’est la vie.

Maybe I’m just tired and apathetic from a full day of Thanksgiving grocery shopping and house cleaning, but I’m feeling a bit blasé about tonight – a few standout performances that I enjoyed, but overall, nothing too surprising, and I think things played out the way they should have…and as we suspected, the judges finally got real and managed to call certain couples out on the crap they’ve been getting away with for the past several weeks, and couples that have been putting in the effort finally got the love they deserved. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

1.) Shawn & Derek - In quite possibly the biggest surprise of the night for me, I actually ended up enjoying their Knight Rider bhangra the most out of any dance I saw tonight! Judging from some of the frustrated tweets we were seeing from the usually-unflappable Derek this weekend, I was fully prepared for this to be a hot mess – but it actually was the most high-energy, in-synch, and entertaining routine for me tonight.  I think the speed of it was what really impressed me – they were both moving so fast, and doing such intricate steps, and were still somehow staying almost perfectly in synch.  And the most amusing aspect? Shawn actually seemed to dance it better than Derek! :-P I also thought they managed to put that hideous Bollywood routine that Gilles & Peta did to shame, which was another perk ;-) Overall, I think they handled the wacky dance  theme challenge the best of the five couples.  Moving onto their Argentine tango – another technically flawless dance.  Shawn’s feet & legs were sharp and precise, which was the main complaint I had about Melissa’s dance – but I do agree a bit with Carrie Ann (and those words literally hurt my mouth) that Shawn & Derek had a little bit of a disconnect with the emotion of the dance.  HOWEVER – this is something for which I really have to blame the music.  “Bad” is a great song, but maybe not a great song for an Argentine tango – it’s a song about a guy asserting his authority and masculinity, and he’s doing it in a cheeky way.  It’s not about passion or the thrill of the chase between a man and a woman…so I feel like if they had actually gone the smoldery route, it would have looked a little odd and out of place given the music.  I also thought Derek did a slightly better job of really accenting the music with his choreography than Tony did.  When it came to the two Argentine tangos we saw tonight, Melissa may have had more of an emotional connection, but I thought Shawn had the better technique.  I thought they should have gotten the same score – either downgrade Melissa a point or upgrade Shawn a point, whichever.  In the end, I think they may be the only couple that is a lock for the finale…at least I hope.

2.) Apolo & Karina – HALLELUJAH!!! They finally got the praise they deserve for their chemistry.  Loved their rumba – I thought it was the perfect combination of good choreography and good emotion, and Apolo just NAILED the technique.  And for those who poo-pooh “Man in the Mirror” as a rumba song – I think they injected far more romance into that rumba than Kelly & Val did with a song that was far more outwardly romantic.  Then there was the “Big Top Jazz” – sigh.  It wasn’t perfect – I agree that there were a few stumbles, and it felt a little frantic at times.  But I really don’t think it was nearly as bad as the judges (Carrie Ann in particular) were making it sound – the degree of difficulty was much higher than Kelly’s flamenco or Emmitt’s Lindy hop, and possibly even Melissa’s hustle, and I still think he managed to stay far more in-synch than both Kelly & Emmitt.  I also thought the lifts were amazing, and didn’t know what Carrie Ann was talking about, claiming they were clunky – I actually think Apolo could give Tony a run for his money, and I’ve always said that Tony is the best lifter we’ve ever seen on the show (and Julianne the best liftee).  Was it his best dance? No.  Did I enjoy it? Somewhat.  But hopefully it’s just a minor, mediocre hiccup in an otherwise pretty damn strong season.  I think Apolo is the strongest guy left, and deserves to be in the finale – and I feel a little bit better knowing he’s got a 3-point lead over Emmitt & Kelly, even if it doesn’t equal out to a huge margin.  I do think he’s getting a decent amount of votes – both from loyal voters who’ve gotten pissed at his low-balling this season, and possibly from the voters who go for the “hot guy”…now that Gilles is gone, at least some of them must be impressionable enough to toss a few votes Apolo’s way ;-) Perhaps I’m being optimistic there, but while I wouldn’t necessarily put money on Apolo making it through to the finale next week, I would say I’m at least 76% confident he will.  I think the judges do realize he’s one of the strongest dancers left, and probably want him in the finale…hopefully America agrees. Read more..

November 19, 2012 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Check out some of my other work at pureamericasgottalent.com!