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PureDWTS Season 17, Week 9 – Power Rankings

Just a quick side note before I break down last night’s show: after perusing Facebook & Instagram last night and witnessing some of the irrational and illogical outrage from some viewers following Liz’s elimination (and Bill’s continued presence), I have to say – I’m so grateful for our intelligent, logical, and rational readers here at Pure :-) Consider this an early addition to my “things that I am thankful for” list that my family usually recites when we sit down to Thanksgiving dinner – I am thankful for the fact that our readers understand how this show works, and their level of intellectual maturity prevents them from shooting their mouths off and making utter and complete fools of themselves on social media because they have no control over their knee-jerk emotional impulses.  So from me to you guys – thank you for not making me bang my head against a wall in frustration :-) The level of stupid on Facebook & Instagram…it hurts…

…moving right along, there was some definite iffy scoring last night, and the judges seemed to be trying like hell to shield both Liz and Leah…although the former seemed to be beyond help, as she got sent home.  Can’t say that any of us were terribly surprised by it – we’ve been saying since before the show started that Liz seems to have a problem connecting to the viewing audience, and her lack of relevance in recent years might have contributed to her struggle for votes.  I also wonder if her bizarre (and kinda self-indulgent…) jazz routine last week contributed to her downfall – I saw a few remarks about how her demand to change the song at the last minute seemed a little “diva-ish”.  Plus that dance was just really a stinker. She had an ok-to-decent night last night – her Viennese waltz, while a bit overwrought with emotion, was actually pretty nice to watch; thought the choreography for her salsa trio was a bit odd (what was with that “cradling the baby” move they all three were doing for what seemed like a long ass time???) and there were a few timing issues (which, of course, the judges conveniently missed), but was overall a relatively decent effort for the trio round.  But in the end – she just didn’t get the votes, just like Christina, Snooki, & Brant.  Sh*t happens, kids. 

1.) Corbin & Karina – Corbin finally seemed to regain his stride this week with two good dances.  I thought he may have gotten nitpicked to death on his waltz (then again, just about everyone did the first round, except the golden girl, Leah), as I found it to be near-flawless – even Mama Spence remarked that he seems to really “get” the concept of rise and fall, and does it without even thinking.  Thought they got a bit shafted with their song choice – “Apologize”? Which has been used as a rumba several times on this show? So what are they doing now – just picking random non-dance-appropriate songs and saying “Hey Harold, can you tweak the arrangement of this one so it’s a waltz?” Reminds me of a CD I had back when I first started doing ballroom that had “My Heart Will Go On” rearranged as all the different dances – there was even a paso doble version! But anyway.  I think they owned the trio round, by far – I thought their jazz trio was the most interesting and engaging to watch, and was the only trio where the celeb really seemed to dominate.  I had to chuckle to myself as I was watching, as I had heard a lot of complaints about them picking Witney – apparently some think she “steals the show” – but I barely even noticed Witney this time, because Corbin was just owning the whole damn thing.  I barely noticed Karina, either – but since the whole point of the trio is to showcase the celeb, I think they succeeded.  Barring any nitpicking-to-death by the judges next week (and who knows what those knuckleheads are going to do), I think he ought to be headed to the finale. 

2.) Amber & Derek – I kinda feel bad for Amber, because I feel like her knee injury is really starting to limit her movement – she’s doing the best she can, no doubt, but I’m really starting to notice how she has to baby her knees while dancing.  Thought her quickstep was cute and she sold it well (as she does with every dance, every week), but she seemed to move really, really tiny and cautious during the stationary sections, and because she was moving so gingerly, she seemed to get a little off-time and off-kilter.  And in a routine that was that short – I think she probably needed to really make a splash.  Still thought the judges nitpicked her to death, though – and the fact that she 3 points less than Leah, who has moved itty-bitty each & every week? Ridiculous. I enjoyed her trio – it was cute, and I think the choreography was clever in that it was fun to watch while still keeping Amber relatively stationary.  Could it have used a little more hip action? Sure.  But I also think Liz’s salsa trio was totally off-time (which is an even bigger offense in my mind) and she still managed to get a 30…so why saddle Amber with a 27? I’m guessing the judges are trying to make things look like a tight race headed towards the semifinals and finals, so they’re really nitpicking to death the couples that stand the best chance of advancing…and they’re babying the ones that aren’t so likely to do so. 

3.) Leah & Tony – *gritting teeth* I can’t believe these two knuckleheads are still here, let alone that I have them this high on the list – but with each week that passes and Leah gets coddled by the judges for non-event dances, the more I’m convinced that they’ve decided that they need her in the finale.  Seriously, no other couple last night got as babied as these two – everyone else either got nitpicked to death (Corbin, Amber, Jack) or totally hosed (Bill), and Leah got a tongue bath a cushy scores once more.  That tango had so little impact, at one point Mama Spence looked over at me and said “Wait…what dance are they doing again?” It was that “small” and soft that she could not even figure out what dance it was supposed to be.  And then that trio – I’m sure Tony just thought he was the most clever & innovative choregrapher ever for coming up with that nonsense.  But herein lies the fishy part: do you think any of the couples would be ballsy enough to poke fun at the judges…unless they knew they were safe? Just food for thought.  If it were me, just knowing how petty the judges can be (Carrie Ann in particular), I wouldn’t have chanced it.  But anyway – once again, Leah barely moves, and her kicks & flicks looked more like what I do to nudge the cat away from food that has dropped on the floor than it did proper jive technique.  Tony & Henry did all the heavy lifting, and Leah just stood there, barely moving, and looking smug…likely because she knew she wasn’t gonna get called out for anything.  I’ve been saying it for weeks, but I’ll say it again: Leah needs to get gone…like yesterday.  But now I’m legitimately worried that they’ve decided to coddle her all the way into the finale, and that she stands a decent chance of ousting one of the two frontrunners (Corbin & Amber) for 2nd place.  Blech.

4/5.) TIE: Jack & Cheryl and Bill & Emma – Both couples gave a valiant effort last night, but I worry that they simply don’t fit into the judges’ “dream finale” and thus will probably get hosed next week. Which sucks, because I’d rather see either of these two over Leah, ANY DAY.  Jack seemed to own the ballroom round, and has really hit a nice stride heading into these last few weeks – really extends his arms, has a great sense of timing, and nails the rise and fall.  Just lovely to watch.  Thought he & Cheryl’s samba trio with Sharna was cute & funny – and the best they could have done given that they got one of the hardest dances to do a  trio with.  Going the comedy route was probably a wise choice – sure, there could have been more hip action, and maybe he got a little bit off-time, but I was still smiling as I watched it :-) God bless Bill & Emma – they know they’re going to get hosed pretty much every week, but they still go out there and give it their all, and make it fun to watch nonetheless.  Thought the Charleston had a cute theme and Bill did the best he could with it – but really, Charleston is one of those dances I really can’t judge anyone too harshly on, because it’s not exactly easy to pick up and there’s not a whole lot to it.  I’d just assume get rid of it completely on the show, but you know that won’t happen.  Loved the trio with Peta for it’s ridiculous train-wreck appeal – that song was absolute crap, and the dance they had to do to it was absolute crap…so they gave the judges absolute, trippy, hiliarous crap :-) It was self-acknowledgingly bad – all three of them knew it, and were in on the joke.  I think that was part of the appeal – the Katy Perry-esque costumes for the girls, and Bill in all his Willy Wonka’d glory.  It was AWESOMELY bad :-) I think it’s quite obvious which of these two the judges want gone (Bill) and who they want to stay (Jack) – but next week, who’s gonna have the votes to pull them through to the finale? I think Bill has proven he’s got some decent voting leverage (enough to negate the hosing from the judges), but will it be enough to get back the points Jack will likely get from the judges? Will either of them have the juice to oust Leah? Time will tell, I guess…

So what did you guys think of last night’s show? Where do you think the couples stand headed into the semifinals?

November 12, 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 Season 17, Week 8 – Power Rankings

Did anyone else feel like the dances were a bit…I don’t know, MECHANICAL last night? Almost every dance I saw felt a bit wooden and robotic…like you could practically see the couples counting out the steps as they danced.  Once again, I’m going to chalk it up to all the couples feeling stressed and burnt out, which is unfortunate because I feel like several of them are forgetting that this is supposed to be fun.  Also mechanical? Cher as a judge, as more often than not she seemed like she was out to lunch and just threw in a generic comment and threw up the “9″ paddle when prompted (unless, of course, your name is Bill, in which case she managed to locate her “8″ paddle…convenient.) Say what you will about Julianne as a judge – but at least she was coherent in her critiques, and I understood why she gave the scores she did.  Cher? Not so much. 

Once again, we have a “shocking” elimination that isn’t all that shocking when you really think about it – I’m guessing that Brant’s fanbase, which seemed to be sustaining him sufficiently well since his bottom 2 scare early in the season, just finally gave out this week…with several people left who are likely pulling in a lot of votes, I think anyone with a “young” fanbase is probably in some degree of jeopardy, by comparison.  I guess all I can hope for at this point is that someone like Bill can somehow edge out an older fanbase like Leah’s…because that woman has GOT to go. 

1/2.) TIE: Corbin & Karina and Amber & Derek – Another not-quite-100% night for both couples, and due to the immunity challenge, there’s some trade-offs that seem to level the playing field between these two.  Corbin & Karina’s Argentine tango, while pretty good technically, just left me wanting a bit more emotionally – not sure if it was the strange song or the fact that these two were pressed for rehearsal time this week, but it just felt really cold and obligatory to me. Corbin seemed to be laser-focused on remembering his steps, and seemed to lose a bit of entertainment value as a result. Amber & Derek also had a strange song to contend with, and while I think they actually handled it well, the choreography just felt a little odd to me – like “rumba by numbers”, if you will, with a few sequences of Amber strutting around in a sassy fashion to fill it out.  Did the music necessitate it? Maybe.  But like Corbin’s Argentine tango, it just kinda left me wanting more, and it wasn’t Amber’s best dance.  Now here’s the kicker: while Amber may have gotten the immunity, Corbin actually got the 3 extra points that came with winning his dance-off against Liz.  Amber is still the cumulative points leader for the season – but with Corbin a mere 3 points behind her, one off-dance could shift the balance of power: say Corbin gets his first perfect 30 next week and Amber falters a bit a gets a 26.  That could mean the difference between picking first and picking second in the next challenge.  And as we’ve seen – that can mean the difference between getting a good song vs. a sh*tty song, or a good team vs. a sh*tty team.  It all adds up, kids… Read more..

November 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!

PureDWTS Season 17, Week 7 – Power Rankings

Kind of a strange, low-energy night for me – I feel like everyone, across the board, had kind of a so-so night, and I think it’s due in part to the fact that two dances a week are really starting to wear on some of the couples.  I think I notice it more this season than any other season – some are dealing with injuries, some are dealing with strained partnerships, some are dealing with illnesses, and everyone seems to be feeling the pressure.

I think most of us can agree that it was not Nicole’s time to go home – however, I’m appalled at some of the sources of blame I’m seeing from those who are upset about it, and I place a lot of blame on the shoulders of TPTB for some really sh*tty scoring decisions.  Nicole got a very kind score for her samba – while it wasn’t bad, I certainly don’t think it was 27-worthy, as she seemed to struggle with timing and there was very little hip action.  So you can’t blame scores for her exit…although the judges likely screwed her over by overscoring just about everyone except Bill – it only served to make the margins smaller, which meant that someone below her needed even fewer votes to surpass her.  And this was ON TOP of the big points dump from last week, so the margins were itty bitty.  And sorry, but those of you upset about her going home – you were actually voting for her, right? Cause I’m finding that the biggest complainers about Nicole’s exit were people that didn’t bother to throw a single vote her way all season.  If you didn’t vote, you don’t get to bitch & moan, and you are part of the problem.  Snookole needed VOTES…and she didn’t get them.  Kinda how this show works…this isn’t really a revelation, kids.

And fair warning: I’m going to be prone to bouts of rantining this week, after some of the wanton idiocy and deductive reasoning leaps I witnessed after last night’s elimination.  I’m allergic to stupid, y’know ;-)

1/2.) TIE: Corbin & Karina and Amber & Derek – Just kind of an odd night from both of these couples – I don’t feel like either one was operating at peak performance levels.  I think Corbin & Karina coped as well as they could with a rather odd cha-cha song – seemed like there was a lot of what Len would call “frippery”, though…lotta side-by-side hip-hop sections, but I kinda blame the rhythm changes in the song for that.  Someone on Twitter remarked that Karina seemed stressed – and yes, I have to agree, and wonder if the constant pressure to make their routines better and better is beginning to wear on she & Corbin’s partnership.  Then there was Amber & Derek, who both had injuries to contend with – while I think they handled their paso doble well, I think Derek did kinda take the safe route on it; seemed like it wasn’t as daring or impactful as some of the other paso dobles we’ve seen from him.  Pleasant to watch, yes; super-innovative and exciting? Not really.  Let’s hope they can get back into good physical form so they can tackle more daring stuff.  Read more..

October 29, 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 Season 17, Week 6 – Power Rankings

Tonight’s episode of Sesame Street was brought to you by the words “bullsh*t” and “inconsistency”.  :-) By the time they lined the couples up for elimination with a mere 5 minutes remaining in the show, my blood was boiling – Len was an absolute terror tonight, the other two stooges were more or less his accomplices when it came to completely contradicting things that they have said in previous weeks (or even earlier in the evening).  Seems kinda obvious that they’ve been told they need to shield certain couples from excessive criticism, while piling it on others like it’s going out of style.  Len in particular has lost all credibility for me this season – he’s not the “strictly ballroom” judge he once was; now he seems to have a personal agenda, and that dictates his scores & critiques far more than any actual ballroom knowledge.  Can we ship him back overseas next week and bring in a guest judge? Pretty please? :-)

As I had kinda guessed, the switch-up dance challenge was a complete turd of an idea – and I think it was quite possibly the most ridiculous-looking thing we’ve seen them make these poor celebs do in 17 seasons.  My best guess is that, immediately following the aftermath of last week’s production Muppet voting snafu, they knew they were gonna  have to forego this week’s elimination, but needed something trivial to fill time…enter this nonsense.  God I hope this one gets permanently scrapped, cause I felt seriously embarassed for some of the couples out there…except for Bill & Emma, who seemed hip to the fact that this challenge was complete bullsh*t and just decided to have fun with it :-) Thrilled that nobody got eliminated – I was seriously scared for Bill by the end of the show.  But likely thanks to the Muppets, we get him for another week :-D

1.) Amber & Derek – I’m convinced now that there is nothing Derek can do this season to please Len – “there’s not enough content”.  “There’s too much content & it’s repetitive.” The guy is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t – and he seems to be the only one that Len picks apart for these reasons, and the only one that gets legitimately punished as opposed to just getting a warning (looking at YOU, Tony).  And the worst part: Amber just seems to be collateral damage to Len.  I actually thought this routine was a good example of samba – had a lot of textbook steps, it traveled around the room, and Derek took out a lot of the “frippery” that Len has been complaining about this season…and Amber handled it well! But Len has the nerve to whine about it being “repetitive”.  Ok Len, I’ll take the bait: maybe it was repetitive because THERE’S A FUCKING SYLLABUS OF STEPS THAT YOU CONSTANTLY HARP ON, and samba in particular is rather limited in the sequence of steps you can use to get around the room.  And dammit, every single routine is going to be repetitive to some degree – if you want a dance to look like it should, you’ve gotta use a lot of basic, characeristic steps.  Bill & Emma’s tango? Yep, repetition.  Brant & Peta’s tango? Repetitive.  Jack & Cheryl’s paso? Repetitive.  Nicole & Sasha’s foxtrot? Repetitive, repetitive, repetitive. And yet none of those other couples got scolded for it…hmmmm.  I guess my only explanation is that Amber is getting the votes she needs to stick around, so TPTB don’t feel the need to “shield” her from elimination like they do other couples – and maybe, to give the impression of this being a close race, Len feels the need to knock this couple down a few notches.

2.) Elizabeth & Val – Lizzy, Lizzy, Lizzy…I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m actually starting to feel a bit sorry for her.  This woman just seems like she’s DESPERATE to do well, and might emotionally shatter at any given moment.  By extension, I think I might actually be feeling a bit bad for Val, too, just because I’m not sure that he really knows how to handle it when Liz has a meltdown like she did during her rehearsal footage.  But anyway – I thought her cha-cha was actually pretty good, but I don’t think it was 30-worthy – as I said to someone on Twitter, I MIGHT have given it one “10″ as a courtesy, and then maybe two 9′s.  I will commend Val on the fact that he must really drill proper turn technique into his partners, because Elizabeth, like Zendaya & Kelly, seems to know how to properly spot her turns, and the result is pretty nice to look at.  Can’t say I was wild about Liz’ solo at the beginning, but I guess I understand why Val put it there – it utilizes her ballet & jazz training.  My only other complaint: like a lot of other routines we’ve seen from Val, it just seemed a little bit “stop-and-go”, which interrupted the overall flow of it.  But overall, I enjoyed it, and Liz seemed to handle it well.  The fact that it was given a perfect score, however, makes me wonder if the judges are attempting to shield Lizzy from a Christina Milian-esque ouster – and I wonder if they’ve decided that she MUST be in the finale.  I get that they want to have a strong finale of good dancers, but I think anymore, it’s not just about the dancing anymore…you’ve gotta connect with the audience and really entertain them, and that’s one area where I think Liz & Val could take a page out of Bill & Emma’s book. Liz & Val seem to be more inwardly-focused and taking the competition more seriously; I think Bill & Emma, while still wanting to do well, seem more focused on putting on a good show and really making things enjoyable for viewers.  If Liz could do both, I could see her being more of a contender. Read more..

October 22, 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 Season 17, Week 5 – Power Rankings

I’m currently resisting the urge to go poke obnoxious Christina fans on Instagram with a stick, because so many of them were swearing up and down that she was “the most popular person on this season”, and that anyone trying to say she came across snotty was “just jealous”, and that we all should “just wait – she’s gonna win the whole thing!” *snicker* Hate to say I told you so, kids, but – I told you so.  She was not connecting with viewers, and I think it was a direct result of what many of us perceived as a “I’m too good to be here” kind of attitude – and as a result, she was not getting very many votes AT ALL, to the point where she got painfully overscored and STILL couldn’t manage to stick around.  I highly recommend rereading Heidi’s numbers post from last week, as it paints a rather prophetic picture of what might have happened to send Christina home. 

It’s nights like last night that make me wonder if TPTB do skim Pure from time to time to keep their finger on the pulse of the viewers – because the whole “previous dance experience” bit and the nonsense about lift policing seem like they were plucked directly out of discussions here.  What’s next, guys? Humorous screen grabs? :-P

1/2.) TIE: Corbin & Karina and Amber & Derek – Last night was a bit of an odd night for the two frontrunners – both still had strong routines, but seemed to get picked apart by the judges a bit more.  Corbin & Karina’s foxtrot was a  bit odd for me – the music didn’t seem very foxtrot-ish, and I have to wonder if another style (maybe Viennese waltz) would have suited it better; consequently, I feel like both Corbin & Karina were struggling to make their dance actually fit the music, and while they didn’t overtly lose time, it felt like they may have been on the brink of it at a few times – heck, I even had a hard time keeping a steady foxtrot beat in this one.  Not my favorite dance they’ve done, but I think the whole “lift police” bit was just inane – but I LOVE that Tom actually kinda tried to hold her accountable for it by offering up a “playback” and the option to change her score…of course it didn’t end up working, but I kind of enjoy the fact that Carrie Ann actually had to own her capricious, petty lift-policing this time.  Perhaps she’ll be a bit more cautious about it in the future? ;-) As for Amber & Derek – I enjoyed the routine, except for the bit at the end with the mic, which I think would have played a lot better if it was actually Amber singing instead of just lip-syncing.  Len’s complaint about not enough “in-hold” moves? Really, Len, foxtrot on DWTS has really become more Broadway than foxtrot, and each season we see less and less work in-hold; I don’t think there was any less in-hold work in Amber & Derek’s foxtrot than there was in Nicole & Derek’s foxtrot in season 10, which got RAVE reviews.  But Len usually has to pull out a “7″ paddle for Derek at least once a season, and it’s usually when Carrie Ann & Bruno are pulling out 9′s and 10′s…so I guess we got that out of the way early, eh? :-P

3.) Nicole & Sasha – This actually ended up being one of my favorite routines of the night – just  pure fun and pure “Snooki” :-) I just love the way these two work together – and while they may not be the best or most impressive couple on the floor, everything they do entertains me, and has a good energy to it.  Love that they have a bit of a “signature move” now – Nicole sticking her leg out and Sasha jumping over it.  I just think it’s a cute analogy to their partnership: Nicole’s always doing stuff to mess with Sasha, and he just laughs it off and keeps going. I don’t think they could have picked a better partner for Sasha – she meshes well with him, she’s tiny, and she can do some of the gymnastic-y stuff we know he loves :-) I’m hoping they’re getting the votes to stick around – because I think they’ve got the right attitude about this season.  They’re just working hard and having fun – they aren’t tunnel-visioning towards the MBT or trying too hard. 

4.) Bill & Emma – Not the best routine we’ve seen from Bill, but a very sweet, honest routine nonetheless :-) He seemed to have a few timing issues with the Viennese waltz, which I kind of expected, but he seemed to handle it well enough; I think he may have messed up a few steps, but god bless Emma, she was able to move with it and minimize the effect.  Overall, I think the routine was a sweet tribute to his wifey, and it brought back memories of Andy’s Viennese waltz for his daughter last season – both routines that weren’t technically perfect, but were just lovely for their message :-) I do think Bill is gaining some momentum in terms of votes, and has the potential to overtake some of the better (but less popular) dancers if he can continue to improve and entertain us (and not be a douchebag :-P).  Do I think he make the finale? Probably not.  But I still think he’s got at least a week or two left in him…which I’m totally fine with :-)

5.) Jack & Cheryl – I think Jack may be the most underappreciated dancer this season right now – if you really watch him as he dances, you’ll see that he actually GETS the concepts of rise & fall, and actually has a great frame. Cheryl also seems to have instilled in him the ability to really “be there” for his partner, as he seems like he’s never in danger of dropping her or mowing her over.  And man, this routine was just gorgeous to watch – both in terms of technique and feeling.  He certainly didn’t take the easy route with his song, either – the tempo changed quite a bit, so I find it really impressive that he managed to stay on-time. My only complaint? I feel like he’s getting shoved in crummy running order positions, and just seems to be getting lost in the shuffle – last night he was stuck between a ridiculously overscored routine (Christina) and a really, really bad one (Leah).  He’s neither at the top of the pack, nor the bottom; he’s just a pretty good dancer that is slowly improving. I don’t think he’s in danger of getting sent home – yet – but I just feel like I’m not hearing as much “buzz” about him as I am some of the other couples.  Hope he’s not getting forgotten!  

6.) Brant & Peta – It was the better contemporary routine of the night – but unfortunately, that was a pretty easy feat, considering how truly BAD Leah’s contemporary was :-( Generally, though, I thought Brant’s contemporary was pretty good – he handled what he was given well, and he did inject a good deal of emotion and conviction into his moves.  Thought it was a little lift-heavy, and a bit too flaily; but anymore, I’m just kind of “whatever” about contemporary routines on this show, since most of these pros don’t have the contemporary experience necessary to choreograph something great – they’re just flying by the seat of their pants, probably watching YouTube videos for inspiration, and trying to throw something together that their partner can handle while still somewhat-resembling a contemporary routine you might see on SYTYCD.  He seems to be back in favor with the judges, so barring any huge snafus next week, I think he ought to be ok.  He seems like a good kid – I’d definitely rather see him stick around than Leah or even Elizabeth.  Let’s just hope Peta resists the urge to “sex up” any more of his routines…

7.) Elizabeth & Val – After all the hype we saw for this jive throughout the show, I was thinking “This better be the best damn jive this show has ever seen!” Aaaaand…it wasn’t.  Sorry, but the whole SBTB, caffeine pill-throwback skit at the beginning just felt awkward and desperate, and like a waste of time – and I think Liz & Val may have mixed up their 90′s teen sitcoms, because I don’t recall Zack Morris ever climbing through Jessie’s bedroom window (that was a move credited to Sam from Clarissa Explains it All – duh ;-)). It only go worse from there – Liz’s little solo bit at the beginning felt like she got a little too excited and desperate, as she fell out of her pirouttes…and with her dance background, that’s one move I would expect her to EASILY nail.  The actual jive portion started out promising – she stayed on time, her flicks and kicks looked good, and I actually have to commend her on handling the simple spins (which are anything BUT simple) well; but after that, I think she lost some steam, as she seemed to struggle with picking her legs up quite as high and started looking a little winded.  Consequently, it looked like she may have lost time at a few points.  Overall, I admire her effort – but if she wants a hope and a prayer of making it to the finals, she is going to have to step up her game…because I think both Corbin & Amber danced circles around her last night.  The whole “in jeopardy” thing happening AGAIN also doesn’t seem to bode well for her…

8.) Leah & Tony – Ummm, wow.  I think we have our first nominee for “worst dance of season 17″ – because this was a real turd, folks.  I do not care that Tony “has never choreographed contemporary before” (not entirely true); I do not care that Leah is “not a dancer” (heard you the first 10 times, dear); I do not care about how well you did or didn’t “tell a story” (you took too long doing it, anyway) – this routine was just crap.  The cheesy bit with the marionette at the beginning was just that – cheesy – and it took too long to get going; the lifts didn’t feel so much like a part of the dance, as they did just moves that were arbitrarily thrown in “because contemporary!” – oh, and Leah looked heavy going up into them, and it seemed like she was stopping every other beat and just waiting to be lifted.  The ‘tude they were throwing the judges’ way when being called out on all of these things was just the icing on the cow pie for me – everything about this routine and Leah & Tony themselves just left kind of a bad taste in my mouth last night.  And I daresay Leah got a bit of a wake-up call standing up there with Christina last night – I hope she realizes that the sense of entitlement we’ve seen from her is not going to guarantee her safety (if anything, it might guarantee her elimination – she should go ask Christina), and I hope Tony realizes that he has got to kick his choreo up a notch…because they have an uphill battle to stick around next week, and I’m not sure it’s one that they’re going to easily win.

So how do you guys feel about last night’s elimination? And who do you think is on the chopping block this coming week?

October 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!

PureDWTS Season 17, Week 3 – Power Rankings

Well apparently I missed the memo that Hollywood night was really “Gatsby Night”, as last night’s show seemed to borrow pretty heavily from the new movie…if Baz Luhrmann was going to be a guest judge this season, last night would have been a good night for him to do it! Overall, almost everyone did well and got a rather generous score from the judges – but the unfortunate downside to that is that we may have seen our first glimpse of the puppet strings from the men upstairs, as there was some suspicious overscoring going on that may or may not have contributed to Bill Nye’s exit.  Granted, I think it was his time to go, due both to his injury and the fact that he wasn’t really progressing at the same rate as his fellow contestants.  But Heidi’s numbers post should be exceptionally interesting this week…

…and once again, my rankings are about as clear as mud :-P I’m seriously having a hard time determining who is the most likely to get sent packing – I’m getting some “struggling with votes” vibes from a few of the couples, but nothing that screams “This person is going home next week!”; I’ve also got the added complication of anticipating the modus operandi of TPTB, who now have the power to influence the outcome since they know exactly how many points each couple needs to stick around.  A rather scary pall cast over an otherwise lovely season to watch, no? For that reason, I could see anyone in my bottom 5 potentially getting sent home – depending on how things go down next week.

1.) Corbin & Karina – I think Corbin had, by far, the highest level of difficulty in terms of choreography in his routine last night – and for what it’s worth, he actually handled it pretty well.  There seemed to be a few issues with wobbly frame, and I saw a couple “deer in the headlights” looks, but he kept up with the footwork decently well and delivered a great quickstep, reminiscent of the quickstep Karina did with Apolo a year ago.  But, like the quickstep she did with Apolo, this one didn’t seem to get the love it deserved – or rather, the love it did get was overshadowed by some suspicious overscoring of another couple.  It also confirmed a fear of mine that has been brewing since week one: that Corbin seems to thrive more in the Latin dances, and loses a bit of his sparkle in the ballroom dances.  He’s got a lot of room to improve, but last night was the first time I’ve seen him be less than confident on the floor – hopefully he can hit a groove with the next ballroom dance he gets.

2.) Amber & Derek – Judging from some of the comments I’m seeing on the show discussion post, seems like there’s a debate raging over who had more “Charleston content” in their routines last night – Amber or Christina.  To be honest, I don’t think either was bona fide Charleston - first off, there aren’t that many Charleston steps that exist; secondly, Amber’s music dictated that she do something more than just Charleston, and Christina had Mark’s tendency toward the theatric to contend with.  I would say Amber had more Charleston basics, but the overall mood, steps, and theme of Christina’s routine fit the Charleston better.  And at the end of the day, I’ll be honest: I didn’t particularly care for either one.  Amber unfortunately got saddled with a song that was really more hip-hop than Charleston, and with a ridiculously long intro that didn’t allow for much dancing – and the dancing she did do was just ok for me.  She seemed to hit a bit of a wall with the foot action of the Charleston (which isn’t easy – they ended up using a dance double for Tobey Maguire for a few scenes in Gatsby), but I will give her this: ever the showman, she sold the performance well…even if she wasn’t really nailing the steps.  Anyone else find it totally trippy that Len was the one that seemed to gush about this routine – and it was Bruno & Carrie Ann complaining about the content? :-P Read more..

October 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!

PureDWTS Season 17, Week 2 – Power Rankings

I’m in a bit of a strange position this season – I find myself liking just about everyone, and I think it’s making it hard for me to predict who’s next on the chopping block :-P I probably rewrote my list of rankings 4 times before deciding on this…and I’m not even 100% confident in this list! So take it with a grain of salt…because things are just kinda murky right now :-P

I think Keyshawn going home was for the best – I just don’t think he had the necessary time to devote to the show this season, and I wonder if things would have been different if he had been on the spring season instead of the fall one.  I do get the feeling now that he was really trying – but just wasn’t sure how to connect to the audience. Oh well – I wish him the best, and hope we still get to see Sharna from time to time this season. Glad I got to keep Bill E. though :-)

1.) Corbin & Karina – A very cute, clean, energetic jive, made good by the fact that Corbin just seems so enthusiastic about every dance he does.  I thought the song was a little odd (an opinion shared by Chelsie, who also tweeted “weird song to jive to”), but the overall presentation & theme were cute – probably a good idea to play off of Corbin’s HSM background.  My only complaint? In an odd twist, Corbin actually actually seemed a bit too sharp on some of the flicks & kicks – I’m usually complaining about the celebs being a little lazy on their kicking & flicking, so this was actually a pleasant change of pace! Will be interesting to see how Corbin handles a ballroom dance next week – I’m wondering if he might be someone that just KILLS it in the Latin, but stumbles a bit in the ballroom.

2.) Amber & Derek – A bit of a backslide for these two this week, which I still partially blame on their overscoring last week.  While I wished Amber’s technique was a bit better in this jive (and that she had worn ballroom shoes, which probably would have helped her kick & flick more easily), once again she had great energy and really sold the performance – and she actually stayed pretty well on-time, which is more than I can say for some of the other couples tonight.  I have a feeling she & Corbin will be taking turns at the top from week to week, so it will be interesting to see who fares better with a ballroom dance – I have a feeling she’ll be doing ballroom as well next week.  Read more..

September 24, 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 Season 17, Week 1 – Power Rankings

For the first time in several seasons, I find myself very pleasantly surprised by how good everyone looks on night 1 – and how much I like all of the couples (with the exception of one – and I blame that more on the celeb than the pro).  The judges are apparently still on crack (surprise, surprise) and have completely lost touch with the concept of a “middle ground” and seem to be scoring everyone absurdly high or absurdly low; and is anyone else kind of thrown by the judges’ table being on the OTHER side of the dance floor??? Just feels…wrong to me. Like trying to use a pair of left-handed scisscors.  :-P On with the rankings!

1.) Amber & Derek – I think Amber may be second only to Valerie in terms of likeability this season – she’s funny, enthusiastic, not afraid to poke fun at herself, and is proud of her “big booty” :-) She also has quite a bit of stage presence – she struck me as being the most comfortable out on the dancefloor last night, and seemed to really go for all the steps without any sort of timidness or hesitation.  Best cha-cha of the night? Sure.  But 27-worthy, in week 1? Eeeeek.  Seems like the judges were on a honeymoon last night (at least until Bill Nye danced) and I think they may have screwed themselves (and possibly Amber & Derek) when they whipped out those 9 paddles – now they’ve left themselves without much wiggle room to increase scores as the season progresses…and I’m afraid it may have set some unrealistic expectations for Amber & Derek in the weeks to come.  But for now, I think Amber is really safe, given her score and the legions of “Gleeks” that claim to be voting in the thousands. 

2.) Valerie & Tristan – I’m not sure there’s been another contestant in the history of the show that seems so deeply thankful and happy to be dancing :-) If you would have told me that the woman I saw foxtrotting with Tristan last night was suffering from terminal brain cancer, I wouldn’t have believed you – Valerie seemed to move with such ease and joy, she was actually better than some of her younger, more able-bodied competitors! I saw a few small issues with balance on turns, but it’s fortunately something that can be corrected with the right tutelage from Tristan.  I think we’re going to see Valerie stick around for awhile this season – not only because her story is so inspiring and brings hope to others suffering through cancer, but because she’s actually quite good…and I think she’ll only get better.  As Mama Spence said “I bet doing DWTS has added months to her life – people with something to live for tend to live longer!” :-)
Read more..

September 17, 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, The Finale – Power Rankings

Honestly, this may be the weakest finale performance night I think we’ve seen since season 5.  I think almost everyone did worse in the “judges’ choice” round than they did the first time; only one freestyle really wowed me, and the rest ranged from “eh, ok” to “WTF???” Oddly enough, the only dance I found myself really enjoying was the cha cha relay – seemed like everyone just let loose and had fun with it.  I think the judges made their agenda quite clear tonight, and I know I can’t be the only one that’s a little suspicious that the online voting is down on finale night FOR THE SECOND SEASON IN A ROW.  No excuses, Muppets – you should have had it sorted out by now so that this type of thing doesn’t happen.  Curious to me that you haven’t (or chose not to) worked out the kinks yet.  Hmmm…but anyway, let’s start in reverse order, shall we?

4th Place: Jacoby & Karina

Poor Jacoby…he just really seemed to fall apart tonight, and it’s sad because 3 weeks ago I would have said that he had the MBT in the bag.  Now, thanks to the machinations of TPTB, I think the poor guy is just suffering from a major case of burnout and just broke down tonight.  While I agree that his judges’ choice jive was slightly better from a technical standpoint, I still prefer the first iteration – because it was SO DAMN FUN.  Jacoby looked downright miserable doing this one – like he was so focused on getting the technique right that he forgot to enjoy himself…and that was really the appeal of Jacoby’s dancing all season: he just looked like he was having so damn much fun.  Was a 27 rather kind? In the great scheme of things, probably; but since the judges were handing out 30′s like Oprah again tonight, I think 27 was relatively fair.  I actually found myself enjoying he & Karina’s portion of the cha cha relay most – and I don’t think anyone can really disagree that they had the best ending transition ;-) The slide through Aly & Mark was pure genius and totally Jacoby :-) And speaking of “being totally Jacoby” – I actually liked his freestyle, and wasn’t expecting some of the incredulous responses I was getting on Twitter when I *gasp!* said I enjoyed it.  “But Courtney, it was SO MESSY!!!!” Was it messy? Yes.  I saw the exact same routine you guys did, and I’m fully aware when something is messy.  But at the same time, I think there’s more to a good freestyle than clean footwork and execution – there’s also HEART, and staying true to who you are.  And while some of you may have balked at his freestyle as if it were the 2nd coming of the Marie Osmond doll freestyle (it wasn’t THAT bad, guys), I applauded him for sticking to his roots and sending a dance love letter to New Orleans…that routine was NOLA & Jacoby FOR DAYS.  The band, the stepping, the tapping – I think he perfectly captured the dance culture of the Big Easy, while also dancing a routine that felt like something he’d do.  He didn’t try and act like something he’s not (unlike a certain other couple…), he didn’t pick some random theme that he had no connection to – Jacoby did Jacoby, and I dug it.  And he seemed to enjoy himself, which is why I’ve been a fan all season.  But, thanks to the judges, who have given Aly a pretty comfortable cushion, I don’t think Jacoby can really hope for any better than 4th place tomorrow.  He may, by the “grace of god” (as he put it), somehow bump Aly and take 3rd, but I’m not feeling optimistic. But I’m glad he made it to the finale, and got to dance for his hometown :-) Read more..

May 20, 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 9 – Power Rankings

Things I learned from tonight’s episode of DWTS:

1.) Don’t feel like wearing heels? No problem…as long as your name is Zendaya or Aly.

2.) Even wearing a played-out hipster fedora, Peanut is still the coolest person in the ballroom.

3.) You can apparently praise a couple that was blatantly OUT of sync for being IN sync…and not mean it ironically.

4.) You get a 30! And YOU get a 30! And you get a 30, too! Whoops…not you, Ingo.

5.) Even an exhausted Jacoby is ten times more fun to watch then an Aly operating at peak efficiency.

Yeah.  I feel enlightened :-P But not really, because I vacillate between thinking the judges’ agenda is blantantly clear and thinking “WTF was that?” So let’s get to it…

1.) Zendaya & Val – Color me NOT surprised that she got hip-hop, and color me even LESS surprised that she got a perfect 30 – she SHOULD have gotten a perfect 30, given that the girl has been dancing hip hop “since she was 8″.  And then there’s that whole being employed on a show where she is dancer…but noooo, Zendaya doesn’t have an advantage! But anywho – she was great in the hip-hop, but I expected her to be great in the hip-hop; I actually think I saw Val getting a bit out-of-sync with her, which I imagine is the result of him being completely green in the hip-hop arena.  I actually found the song choice a bit odd – really? Chris Brown? It worked, but it just felt…strange.  And I just HATE those pants that look like they’re made from trash bags and are intentionally saggy in the crotch…looks like a diaper.  As for the quickstep – I agree that it was definitely not perfect and there were clearly some issues…but I don’t know that I would have dropped the hammer like the judges did.  Almost felt like they were being intentionally over-the-top, perhaps to whip those darling youngin’s that spend more time on Twitter & Instagram than they do on schoolwork into voting even harder (for those of you wondering what I’m talking about, just check out the comments section of the pic of Ingo & Kym posted on the DancingABC instagram yesterday…it’s a sh*tshow).  I thought the intro with the cars took up too much time, and there were a couple instances where there were synchonization issues with feet.  And again, with the wide-leg pants….WTF? Once again, I have to chalk this one up to choreographic issues – Val seemed to go more for speed than for technique, likely hoping to wow everyone with just how FAST they were going, but as a result, their frame kinda fell apart.  I see no reason these two shouldn’t make the finale – and with the judges already plugging Zendaya’s upcoming album in her critique, I think the agenda as far as she’s concerned is pretty damn clear.

2.) Kellie & Derek – Glad to see that the red screen from Ricki’s Psycho tango got to make a reappearance :-P Really liked the Argentine tango – it was refreshing, for once, to see the celeb dancing circles around the pro, rather than vice-versa…Kellie seemed to be doing a lot of the intricate footwork, and I think Derek was probably smart to utilize Kellie’s long legs and her ability to extend them.  Lots of pretty leg lines.  Thought the pose for a pseudo-kiss in the middle was a bit odd & awkward, and I wasn’t wild about the wig they put on Kellie, but overall, I enjoyed it.  I actually really enjoyed their flamenco – as a side note, those stomping movements that Derek was doing are deceptively hard to do and require a lot of technique…otherwise, doing them wrong, repeatedly, can actually cause hairline fractures in the feet.  Kellie seemed like she might have been a bit tired after their tango, because I got the impression that she was having to really soldier through the flamenco – but it was fun to watch, nonetheless, and was nice to see PROPER flamenco choreography :-) Loved the trick at the end, too.  Again, I see no reason why they shouldn’t make the finale…and I’m already curious as to what Derek pulls out for these “supersized” freestyles.  Did they really need to be “supersized” again, though?

3.) Aly & Mark – I just don’t get it.  The judges turn the biggest blind eye, by far, to Aly’s mistakes – and I’m sorry, but even though she seems like a sweet girl, it’s week 9 and she’s still about as interesting to me as watching paint dry.  I think the only week I was really on the Aly bandwagon was Stevie Wonder week, when she seemed to hit a stride, but I feel like both of her dances this week were just lukewarm.  I can’t be the only one who thought her rumba felt more like a contemporary routine than a rumba – and the few rumba steps that were in it got kind of repetitive, and were pretty simple.  I guess I didn’t HATE it, and it wasn’t BAD…but I just find myself going “Meh.” The chemistry was tepid, and the rumba content really wasn’t there for me.  As for the Afro jazz – brave routine, but c’mon judges…BLATANT synchronization issues here.  And you guys went so far as to PRAISE it??? Is the Ministry of Truth editing your commentary? (If you’re a tween and you didn’t get that literary reference, get off the damn interwebs and go check 1984 out of the library – like right meow.) I go back & forth between liking & disliking Mark’s Afro jazz choreography - yes, it definitely had Afro jazz steps and an overall Afro jazz feel, but like their contemporary routine earlier this season, it felt a little like “Afro jazz by numbers”: ok, now we’re going to stomp our feet! Then we’re going to swing our arms! Then we’re going to jump! Then we’re going to swing our arms again! Once again, I found myself thinking “What would a SYTYCD choreographer think of this?”And I think the answer would probably be something like “Well…that was cute.” I think with their scores, they should have no issues making it to the finale – but I think they may fade into the background next to Kellie, Zendaya, & Jacoby.

4.) Jacoby & Karina – I think pigs must be flying, because it actually looked like Jacoby cleaned up his footwork this week! I was very pleasantly surprised by his Argentine tango – if there was one dance that was really going to put those bad feet on display, it was this one.  But he seemed to handle the intricate footwork really, really well, and had no problems with the lifts.  And this goes without saying – but he carried off the tango “swagger” well, too.  One of the best dances he’s done this season.  Not gonna lie – the Lindy Hop was totally fun to watch, but it did feel a bit thrown together to me…like maybe Karina spent most of the week working on the Argentine tango (smart idea) and then lost track of time and had to scramble to put the Lindy together.  Nonetheless, it was extremely entertaining, and Jacoby looked like he was having the time of his life…boy seems to like dances where he can kick his legs :-) I think these two deserve to be in the finale, and I’m hoping they’ll be there…but the fact that Jacoby has been in jeopardy the past two weeks has got me a little bit worried.  I like to think he’s handily beating Ingo in votes…but have the GH fans rallied? I doubt we’ll see a real bottom 2 tomorrow, but if we did…I have to wonder if Jacoby would be part of it.  I hope I’m wrong!

5.) Ingo & Kym – Anyone else notice that Kym’s costumes have gotten progressively skimpier as the season has worn on? Not that I’m complaining – everyone knows I respect the Awesome Boobage.  :-) But I have to wonder if it’s an attempt to distract from how truly awkward Ingo is on the floor – I say it every week, but man, poor guy still seems just as awkward to me now as he did in week 1.  Their samba was almost comically bad – Ingo seemed like he was really focusing hard, but was always about 1 beat too fast…and the hip shaking just was stiff & weird.  I think their Charleston had the potential to be cute – but unfortunately, there were timing issues in this one as well, and it also seemed like they didn’t do a whole lot of the Charleston basic…seemed like a lot of running around and lifts, and just a couple basics.  Then again, I have had the feeling for a few weeks now that Kym is just burnt out and ready to be done with this season, and maybe just doesn’t have the energy to try and conceal Ingo’s many dancing eccentricities with very clever choreography.  Nothing against Kym – I just think the poor woman is exhausted and running on fumes.  If it wasn’t obvious by the scoring, I think Ingo’s toast tomorrow – we don’t know for sure if he was in the bottom 2 last week, but I’d venture a guess that he probably was; he’s been there before.  There’s still a part of me that’s a bit uneasy about the GH fans somehow rallying and keeping him around, and I think Jacoby is the most likely target if Ingo somehow manages to get the votes…but I hope he doesn’t, because he’d look woefully underqualified next to Kellie, Zendaya, Jacoby, & Aly.

So what are your thoughts on tonight’s show? And who do you think is headed to the finale? :-)

May 13, 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!