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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!

DWTS 15, Week 8 – Power Rankings

Not a whole lot to say about tonight, other than that everything felt incredibly frantic as they rush, rush, rushed to fit 14 routines into 2 hours (which was no bueno, considering the ballroom round was drastically cut short and the danced seemed to be over before they even started), and that the judges did their usual wacky scoring (which really means nothing, considering how close the margins are).  Literally, guys, this is an even bigger battle of the fanbases this time, as there are even MORE points and even SMALLER margins than the week Sabrina got sent packing.  So if somebody’s not getting the votes – methinks they’re pretty much doomed.

1.) Shawn & Derek – They’ve got the 2nd highest point total from the past two weeks, and in perhaps an even bigger advantage – a bunch of pissed off fans.  Ok, so maybe there wasn’t a ton of samba in their trio – I still think there was enough there to warrant at least an 8, and it was still a wildly entertaining routine that actually evoked more of the excitment of a pro dance to me than just a regular dance with a celeb.  The way Len was acting, it was as if Derek & Mark had walked center stage and defecated or something…while Shawn watched.  And the whole “If you go home tomorrow night, don’t blame me, blame them!” comment? Was that REALLY necessary? Just felt like a low blow and not any sort of constructive criticism.  I really think Derek probably knew they were taking a risk and choreographed more of a crowd/audience-pleasing routine than a judge-pleasing routine, intentionally – it was a calculated risk, maybe to jump-start the fans into voting.  But I don’t think he was expecting Len to take it so personally.  As for their Viennese waltz – despite it being awfully short, I thought it was quite pretty and very fluid, and Shawn had some butter-smooth turns and showed a lot of emotion.  I think they’re probably the safest from the double elim tomorrow…seems like they’re getting a lot of votes and still pretty decent scores, in the great scheme of things.

2.) Emmitt & Cheryl – I find myself drawing a bit of a blank on his Viennese waltz, despite the fact that I have several notes written about it – “smooth & fluid, didn’t see the alleged mistake, not very high level of difficulty”.  I daresay that it probably left me lukewarm: no big problems, and pleasant to watch, but nothing particularly impactful or impressive.  Just as I said last week, I think the biggest problem I have with Emmitt at this point is just that he seems to have plateaued in terms of difficulty, and Cheryl really isn’t pushing him as hard as she should choreographically at this phase of the competition.  Most of the other couples are pulling out all the stops – but Emmitt & Cheryl seem to be sticking primarily to the “Do easy choreo and just charm everyone’s pants off!” method.  Their trio – ok, very cute, and I definitely enjoyed it more than I did Gilles’ trio….but 30? Really? I saw an awful lot of backleading & stationary ass-shaking going on…I think many other couples had much more difficult steps in their dances, and they did them with much more impressive execution.  I guess the judges were maybe judging more on entertainment value than level of difficulty and content (unless your name is Shawn, in which case it’s ALL about content).  I guess I’ve just kind of given up on trying to understand the judges’ motives at this point :-P Regardless, I think he’s likely safe tomorrow, but things could get dicey next week… Read more..

November 12, 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 7 – Power Rankings

Once again, I’m left with a week where these rankings are kind of a moot point, since no one is going home – so basically, take these as who I think would go home if there was actually an elimination tomorrow night.  But keep in mind that next week is a double elim, so those who don’t do so hot this week are going to have to really step their game up even more next week, because their chances of going home are even greater – and once again, the multitude of points from 4 different dances (the fusion & marathon dances this week, and a regular ballroom dance and Latin trio dance next week) is going to make the margins uber-close…even moreso than they were last week.  We’re going to have another fanbase battle royale on our hands…hope you guys have created more accounts to vote with!

Well, looks like the judges were back to hitting the wacky tobacky this week – although Carrie Ann seemed at least a bit more sober than those other two goobers.  Definite over and under-scoring going on, and I have to wonder if there are certain celebs that need a bit of protection…

1.) Shawn & Mark (Derek) –  For all the hoopla surrounding “Will Derek dance or not?”, I actually thought things turned out pretty damn good for Shawn this week – she FINALLY got that perfect 30, and I think Derek’s choreo for she & Mark was the epitome of what the judges were looking for in terms of a “fusion dance” (even if they didn’t specifically spell it out) – I literally could not count how many times they switched from tango to paso, paso to tango, and back again.  Derek delivered on his promise – he created a fusion where the two component dances melted together effortlessly, and you couldn’t tell where one ended and the other began.  And Shawn & Mark handled it beautifully – was nice to see shades of the unflappable Team Shark, but with the upgrade of Shawn’s maturity and some of Derek’s choreography.  As for the marathon dance – just as I expected, Shawn had the endurance of a Kenyan, and didn’t even seem to be getting winded, and I thought she and Mark had some great, flashy choreo that SHOULD have kept them around longer.  But as someone mentioned on Twitter (Will, maybe?), I think Mark may have gotten them tapped out when he went for the breakdancing move that left them separated for so long and Shawn…just kinda standing there.  Had he not done that move, I think they probably would have gone on to win the marathon, because they were showing no signs of fatigue.  C’est la vie.  I’m just happy that Shawn didn’t get low-balled by Len for once, and they’ve got a decent lead heading into week 8, for Derek’s return.

2.) Emmitt & Cheryl – These two are one big question mark for me.  I feel like Emmitt isn’t really doing enough to stand out amongst some of the other couples, but I also can’t shake the feeling that the judges just love him, and that he’s getting a LOT of votes.  The guy is charming, don’t get me wrong – and he’s not a bad dancer.  But I feel like he’s kinda plateaued, and the level of difficulty that he’s dancing at isn’t up-to-snuff with what the other couples are doing at this point.  I think their fusion dance illustrated this pretty well – it was better than I expected, and definitely cute and very “typical Emmitt”.  And therein lies the problem: I feel like I was seeing the exact same steps and overall mood that I’ve been seeing in the bulk of his dances this season.  There was no “upping the ante” in terms of difficulty, and we didn’t really see anything new from he & Cheryl in terms of character or mood of the dance.  I felt like I was watching a repeat of his samba a few weeks ago.  Was it a good effort, given their fusion and the song they got? Yes.  Did Emmitt dance it well? Sure.  But nothing really jumped out at me that said “This guy is a contender for the finale.” In the marathon dance, I thought they were cute, and doing just enough lifting and moving just slow enough that they didn’t exert themselves – I don’t feel like they were giving it 100%, though, and probably gone a bit harder and been a bit flashier and still been ok.  If there were an elim tomorrow, I’m fairly confident they’ll be safe.  But I think they’ll probably end up doing the jive as their trio dance next week, and I’m curious to see how Emmitt fares doing a fast dance where he has to remain in sync with not only Cheryl, but another person as well…I think his weaknesses could be on display.

3.) Kelly & Val – These two are also a bit of an enigma for me, since I can’t really tell whether the judges are going easy on her to keep her around, or don’t really care if she stays or goes…and the soap fanbase still remains untested, considering that EVERYONE beat Sabrina last week.  I generally like their fusion dance – was very cute and had appropriate amounts of both cha-cha and foxtrot in it, and I think Kelly’s cha-cha sections were actually much sharper and cleaner than Melissa’s.  But I wish Val would quit incorporating all of these spin sequences into Kelly’s routine – she’s good for the first 2 or 3, then I think she gets dizzy and tends to get off-balance…and thus, off-time.  I did see a few stutters after she finished the spins in this one.  He either needs to cut back on the spins, or teach her how to PROPERLY spot her turns.  Then we have the marathon…*sigh*.  I will say this: they did have some very fun, eye-catching tricks.  But I felt like that’s all they had – tricks.  Not many swing steps in between, and by the end, Kelly seemed to be getting pretty winded, and I saw quite a bit of them standing in place while Kelly caught her breath.  I want to see endurance in the marathon – not short bursts of energy with a lot of panting in between (which is probably how Gilles is in the boudoir – ZING! 8-O ).  If the elimination were this week, I would think they’d have enough of a bubble to stay safe – but I wonder if the tides will turn next week, as I think they’ll end up with the jive as their trio dance as well.  Kelly’s endurance sure didn’t impress me this week…and she’s gonna need even more next week.

4.) Melissa & Tony – She may be at the top of the leaderboard this week, but it’s exactly that fact that makes me worry that the judges feel the need to protect her – could she have been the other half of the unknown bottom 2 with Sabrina last week? I’m really starting to wonder.  I liked their fusion dance, but I didn’t love it – I thought the tango part was far better than the cha-cha part, and the cha-cha part embodied what seems to be my biggest complaint about Melissa: that she still dances a bit too softly.  She’s had ballroom dances the past few weeks, and she seems to hit a bit harder in those (likely because she has Tony leading her), but not that I’ve seen her do Latin again, I’m reminded that she still tends to move kind of “pretty” and delicately, and she never really got a lot of punch in her cha-cha.  I do think the tango section was an improvement over her tango two weeks ago, though.  I think they were really overscored, though – I don’t think I saw enough impact from Melissa (or enough hard-hitting choreography from Tony) to really justify that 29, when I thought Emmitt, Apolo, and Kelly all performed better and got higher scores.  I like Melissa, I really do – and I do think she deserves to be in the finale.  But I can’t overlook some of the lingering problems she seems to have with her dancing, and I think the judges were very, very kind to her this week.  In the marathon dance, I think she got lucky that Mark kinda whiffed it for he & Shawn with that breakdance move, and that Kelly was rapidly running out of steam…because I’m not sure that she & Tony would have won the marathon dance otherwise.  I do think they had a good strategy, though – they paced themselves well and stuck with a lot of basics that were sure to please Len.  I don’t necessarily think they had the best tricks or the highest energy level, but in the end, endurance won out over flashiness, and I am glad they won…like I said, I have nothing against Melissa, or any of the other remaining Team CMM members :-) I’m curious to see what she gets as her trio dance next week – she’s still got rumba and paso left, and since I can’t really picture a rumba trio (kinky…), I’m guessing she’s got paso…which could be problematic, considering it’s the man’s dance.  Could this week’s high scores been an attempt to shield her from a possible fall next week?

5.) Apolo & Karina – I’m seriously going to have to run the numbers for whether certain running order positions get screwed in scores (ugh…my brain hurts just thinking about it), because I can only imagine the questions I’m going to get from Apolo fans wanting to know why he got low-balled for what I thought was one of the better dances of the night.  I don’t have a good answer for you, kids, because I haven’t run the numbers to determine whether going first means that you’re going to get low-balled in the scores.  I’ll admit, their fusion dance felt a bit frantic at times, and I saw a few minor bobbles, but overall, I really thought it was intense and entertaining – and that Apolo was really giving it 110%.  I’d definitely say it had a higher difficulty level than everyone except Shawn tonight – Karina didn’t hold back on the choreo, so I do have to give her credit there.  Seeing Apolo doff his shirt was an added bonus ;-) I have to wonder if wearing JR & Karina’s infamous “newsies” jive costumes was a bit of bad juju for Apolo & Karina in the marathon dance – because like the jive she & JR did a year ago, the judges didn’t seem too fond of Karina & Apolo’s moves in the marathon.  :-( Oh well.  I’m just glad they outlasted Gilles ;-) I would be slightly worried for them this week, but I think they have the potential to come back in a major way next week, considering they have another ballroom dance to do (and Apolo seems to thrive with those), and they’re probably going to end up doing a jive trio as well (it will be the week of a million jive trios!), and I think Karina has the potential to rock the choreography for it.  I’m not losing hope yet ;-)

6.) Gilles & Peta – In quite possibly the most crack-addled critiquing and scoring of the night, the judges lavished all kinds of praise over this nonsensical “fusion” dance – first of all, WHERE THE HELL WAS THE SAMBA???? I think I saw a few samba runs and maybe a roll or two at the beginning, and then these two knuckleheads spent the rest of the dance doing Argentine tango…and crappy Argentine tango, at that.  These two seemed to be moving in slow motion, compared to the music – wayyyy too much standing in place and relying on the impact of slow movement.  And sorry, but this was all on Peta – I just don’t think she’s a good Argentine tango choreographer, and knowing Gilles, he was probably so fixated on how much he wanted to do the Argentine tango (and how much he DIDN’T want to do the samba) that he convinced Peta to minimize the amount of samba and maximize the amount of time he could spend reliving his Argentine tango glory days of 3 1/2 years ago.  I would almost put money on it that it went down that way – and it’s for reasons such as those that I’m really starting to get flustered with Peta.  As I’ve said for awhile – I get the feeling that Gilles is driving the bus, and Peta’s just letting him, while periodically shaking her head in shame at his reckless driving.  She needs to put her foot down – both choreographically, and in terms of Gilles’ behavior.  Glad they got a bit of a wake-up call in the swing marathon, because I didn’t really see them doing a whole lot.  I’m wondering how he’s going to fare next week, because he’ll probably end up with paso doble as his trio dance – and while it is the man’s dance, he’s going to run the risk of getting upstaged if they pick another guy to be in their trio, and I’m not sure he could handle leading two ladies.  It shall be interesting to see…it shall also be interesting to see if he’s actually getting a ton of votes or not.  I’m not entirely convinced that he’ll even make it past next week…

7.) Kirstie & Maks – I really hate to harp on these two TOO much, because I do think Kirstie did a wonderful thing by helping to arrange the convoy to NYC and they probably lost a good deal of practice time as a result – but I do think they really stumbled this week in the fusion dance.  The first half was actually quite good – I actually liked this quickstep better than the one they did a few weeks ago.  But the minute it came time to transition into samba…it all kinda fell apart :-( She lost time, there wasn’t any bounce…and I think she and Maks stopped having fun as soon as the samba kicked in.  And really, that’s when I really notice Kirstie & Maks’ shortcomings as a couple – when they stop having fun.  It’s their biggest asset, and once they lose it…I’m afraid there’s not much else to keep me interested.  But I do credit Kirstie for acknowledging that she just didn’t do well, rather than trying to make excuses for why her dancing wasn’t up to snuff (which is a move out of the Gilles playbook, by the way).  No big suprises in the marathon – they were the first out, and probably should have been.  Unfortunately, I think the end may be nigh for Team KStick – I think they’re probably going to end up with paso doble as their trio dance, and I don’t really see Kirstie knocking it out of the park…especially if Gilles and Melissa are doing it, too.  But who knows…stranger things have happened.  The person at the top of the leaderboard went home last week.

So what did you guys think of fusion night? If someone were to get eliminated tomorrow…who do you think it will be? And how do you think things will shake out next week?

November 5, 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 6 – Power Rankings

Well, that was interesting :-P I guess that’s with the overall feeling I’m left with after country week – there were some good dances, some not-so-good dances, and just some general weirdness.  I feel like we saw, quite possibly, the messiest group dance in the history of the show – as some of you saw me say on Twitter, I thought this looked like it was just thrown together this morning, and that no one really & truly knew the choreography.  The solos were an interesting mix of desperate, messy, ambitious, and silly…and at the end of it all, I’m left with the same theory that Heidi & I kicked around earlier today upon hearing about the “judges’ score only” elimination next week: that they’re trying to subtly nudge Kelly out this week so that they can send Kirstie packing next week with a clear conscience and without a ton of backlash.  But let’s get on with the rankings, shall we?

1.) Sabrina & Louis – I’ll admit, I really enjoyed this rumba. Sabrina is really starting to grow on me, and maybe a part of me empathized with her struggles with a drug-addicted ex-boyfriend – I myself am still reeling from uncle’s passing earlier this year, due to a drug overdose.  I guess I just understand how she could feel so hopeless and agonized in that situation – and I think it reflected in her dancing.  Loved the solo, which was a nice combination of hurt and joy.  I actually thought Sabrina’s legs looked pretty damn good in this dance, and she seemed to handle all the passes & turns with finesse.  There also seemed to be a nice balance of light & shade – the dramatic, fast passes & turns contrasted nicely with the slow portions where she took the time to finish her lines.  If I had to pick one flaw, though – I think there was a trick midway through the routine that didn’t seem to come off quite right, and it looked like Louis was just struggling to lift her butt off the floor.  For that reason, I would have probably given it a 29 – but overall, I liked it :-) I think she’s got a pretty decent cushion from elimination this week – at the top of the leaderboard, she’s a full 10 points ahead of Kelly.

2.) Apolo & Karina – FINALLY!!! A breakthrough performance that the judges finally recognize just how GOOD these two are.  Admittedly, I was skeptical (and rather pessimistic) heading into this week, because I hated the song they picked and I was prepared for the judges to just kinda nitpick them to death again.  But man – Apolo seems to really handle the ballroom dances with incredible ease, and I love the way he extends his arms.  And while I was worried the emotion in this one would be kind of over-the-top, I actually thought it had a good degree of restraint, and was more celebratory than sad.  Just a lovely dance :-) And if we’re going to split hairs about the two extra points from the group dance (which I don’t really feel like complaining about too much, because it literally only makes about a .33% difference…basically peanuts), I think Apolo & Karina were the only two that really seemed hungry for the extra points and seemed to cram as many cool tricks into their solo as humanly possible – for that reason alone, I probably would have given them the points, but again…it really doesn’t matter a whole lot this week.  I feel like these two finally have a good dance (and the 2nd highest point total) to keep them relevant – it’s nice to know they’re most likely safe tomorrow night ;-)

3.) Shawn & Derek – Very cute & Western-y, just as I was told it would be :-) And it was fun watching Shawn cut loose and play a sassy little Daisy Duke character in her solo.  But here’s the thing: I actually agree with Len that there was a little too much country, and I could have done with a bit more regular cha-cha steps.  However, I feel like if they were going to call Shawn & Derek out for “too much country western”, then they should have also called Melissa & Tony out for what felt like a TON of ballet in their Viennese waltz…and at the end of the night, it was still country night, so I felt like they did have an obligation to put a certain amount of country steps into that cha-cha.  So at the end, I guess I feel kind of ambivalent about the whole thing – not really Shawn’s best dance, but not her worst, and her song was wonky, and she was kind of injured.  I’m sure she’ll be ok this week, though – and for a few weeks to come.  Thought their solo in the country group dance could have been better and a bit more ambitious, but in the end, like I said – it really doesn’t matter a whole lot.  I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what Derek comes up with for this mysterious “dance fusion” we’ve been hearing about – it sounds like something that’s definitely in his wheelhouse. Read more..

October 29, 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 5 – Power Rankings, Part I

So this no elim/split performance night sure does throw a wrench into the normal, everyday workings here at Pure :-P I realize that, since there is no elimination this week, it’s sort of pointless to try and predict who goes home – but the power rankings do allow for some interesting discussion, so we don’t want to just skip them altogether.  So just think of these as “theoretical power rankings” – who I would predict to go home if there actually was an elimination this week.  And since it’s split into two nights, this is what I’m going to do: tonight’s rankings are just for those that we saw dancing individually tonight (Gilles & Peta, Kelly & Val, Kirstie & Maks, Emmitt & Cheryl) – so if these were the only contestants left, who I would predict to go home out of the four.  I’ll also include some thoughts on Team “Call Me Maybe”. For tomorrow’s rankings, I will rank EVERYONE – and to save myself the work (and the redundancy) of commenting on every single couple again, I will probably just copy and paste my commentary from this post, and add any additional commentary I feel necessary after seeing tomorrow night’s couples dance.  Make sense? Good…because I’m not so sure I understand it myself :-P

1.) Gilles & Peta – Well, guess I can’t really get too mad at the overscoring of this one, since it’s kind of become par for the course this season.  I actually thought Gilles had some really nice lines in this rumba – he was actually extending both his arms and his legs nicely.  But my big problem was that I still felt like Peta was doing all the work…and it got a little repetitive.  To concur with Len, I got tired of the leg extensions and displays of flexibility really quickly, and it seemed to slow everything down just a little too much.  It was a time-waster in an already shortened routine.  It seemed like the first part (the a cappella part) was nice, and then once the crescendo hit with the instruments it was all overwrought emotion from there on out.  I would have probably given it a 28, tops, because I felt like there just wasn’t as much content as there should have been.  29.5 is an awfully cushy score.

2.) Emmitt & Cheryl – Lack of hip action and excessive shimmying aside – I actually ended up really liking this routine :-) Probably my favorite individual routine of the night, as Emmitt just seemed to be having a ton of fun to a really cheesy song.  I got a little worried at the beginning when I saw Cheryl doing a lot of shimmying around Emmitt, thinking that this would be a repeat of their bolero where Cheryl just did a lot of dancing around him.  But once they got into the routine a little more, I thought he did a pretty good amount of moving himself, and there actually was a considerable amount of samba content in this routine (you listening, Val?) Could have done without the giant inflatable parrots, but hey, we can’t always get what we want ;-)

3.) Kirstie & Maks – Technically, I think it was the best routine Kirstie’s done so far this season, but I just ended up feeling kind of “meh” about it – probably because both Kirstie & Maks looked uncharacteristically cheerless in it.  Seriously, between the black costumes and their intense, focused expressions, I thought they were quickstepping at a funeral.  Did Mrs. Robinson die at the end of The Graduate? I’m confused :-P  Guess after I heard what song they were dancing to, I was expecting this dance to be as camp as Christmas – but it was just too tame.  I think she started off strong and had a good frame, and then maybe got a little bungled up on the bouncing sections, but overall I liked the choreography.  Just wish they would have remembered to have fun with it :-P If we were basing this week’s elim solely on this one dance, I’d say Kirstie should probably be a bit worried – but since she’s got the team dance (and next week’s dances) to give her a boost, I wouldn’t be too worried…yet.

4.) Kelly & Val – Anyone else think they may have phoned it in on this samba, given how stressed and busy they were showing Kelly to be in the reheasal package? :-( I don’t feel like Kelly or Val really got 100% into this routine, and for the first time since week 2, I saw Kelly get a little bit intimidated and unsure of herself out on the floor.  She also seemed a little wobbly, and I saw some funky arms & legs…a few “Bambi on Ice” moments.  I could have done without all of the touchy-feely-sexy-ooh-look-at-how-much-chemistry-we-have stuff at the beginning, and I would have liked a little more meat & potatoes samba in this samba, but that kinda goes without saying.  Len & I were surprisingly like-minded in regards to tonight’s show :-P But again, I have to wonder if Kelly & Val had a rough week between her work schedule and the team dance rehearsal, and maybe knew they were kind of half-assing it – because neither one looked very surprised or upset by the critiques or scores they got.  Perhaps they took a calculated risk in a week they knew wouldn’t matter too much? If I were Kelly, I would be slightly worried after this routine – for the simple reason that it seemed to really expose her weaknesses.

Thoughts on Team “Call Me Maybe”: As I said on Twitter, this routine was so stinkin’ cute :-) But with a song like that, can you go any other route except cute? :-P I thought the theme was genius: it fit the mood of the song perfectly, capitalized on the celebs strengths (3 girls with cheerleading skills and one guy that is just cool…and hot ;-) ), and made for some cute costumes and scenery.  Loved the stepping portion at the beginning with the guys; thought the group sections were a nice combination of freestyle moves and enough proper ballroom to please Len – they were also sufficiently synchronized, given that some of the moves (like the leap frog over their partners) are hard to really do 100% in synch.  I also thought the individual sections were nicely reflective of each partnership – Sabrina got to be sassy with Louis, Shawn & Derek got to be fun & cheesy, Melissa got to be “pretty” and move smoothly with Tony, and Apolo & Karina got to make up for their hip-hop mishap last week :-) At the end, I was left smiling and feeling proud of them – they could have gone totally crazy and gone for shock value rather than technique, but they managed to throw it a lot of real dancing along with a great deal of entertainment value.  I would be pissed at CAI giving them a half-point shy of a perfect 30, but we all know she’s saving her 10 paddle virginity for Team Gangnam Style this week.  :::eye roll::: Oh well – at least they can only hope to get a half point more than Shawn’s team, tops.  That’s good enough for me ;-)

So what did you guys think of tonight’s dances? Be sure to keep an eye out for any spoilers we might post about tomorrow night’s show…and avert your eyes accordingly, if you want to be surprised 8-)

October 22, 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 4 – Power Rankings

Well, this blasted non-ballroom (save for the mambo, and sorta-kinda the bolero) night played out just about like I thought it would: the hapless judges (aided and abbetted by the perpetually out-to-lunch Paula) kind of copped out on giving any seriously harsh scores, likely for the simple reason that they just didn’t know enough about the dances themselves to actually score properly.  The end result was some pretty general overscoring, and perhaps a tiny bit of relative underscoring.  But what worries me is that even though the spread may seem pretty big this week, more total points = smaller margins between points…meaning that it’s going to require fewer votes for those at the bottom to catch up with the rest of the pack.  And it makes me nervous for another “shock” elimination…but this time, I think it has the potential to be truly shocking.  8-O Let’s get on with it, shall we?

1.) Shawn & Derek – Best routine of the night, without a doubt – great, PROPER mambo choreography, and flawless execution.  I think these two may have had the toughest dance to contend with, for the simple reason that mambo has been done on the show before as a regular dance – and it has been done far more than any of the other dances on the list.  Add to that the constant pressure of the all-star season? If they had a bit of an off-week, I wouldn’t have blamed them.  But luckily, they absolutely KILLED this mambo – great tricks, a good amount of meat & potatoes choreography, and best of all – Shawn pulled off the “sassy” and sexy without a hitch, and looked great doing it.  :-) Very impressed with how she’s matured since her original season.  If I REALLY had to nitpick, I would say that it seemed like Shawn was sliding a little bit when coming out of her turns – very slight bobble, but it made me wonder if the floors tonight were a little slick – and could also be the cause of other snafus tonight.  Anyway, I think if they gave that hot mess of a Bollywood number that Gilles crapped out a 39.5, then this should have been a 42.  But Len, ever the fuddy-duddy, withheld that last half a point that would have put them at the top of the leaderboard.  Oh well – luckily it matters even less this week :-P

2.) Kelly & Val – Like almost all of their other dances this season, this came out far better than I would have anticipated – even if these two were kinda giving me the creeps with all of their brooding in the background all night.  :-P Was it truly “contemporary”? Meh…it had elements of contemporary, and it came far closer to contemporary than Emmitt did to bolero or Bristol did to rock ‘n’ roll.  But it was a pretty dance, and I do feel like they injected some emotion into it – which is really how contemporary came to be in the first place: ballet with emotion.  Kelly had some nice extensions and seemed to really connect to the dance…and really, Val did too, as much as he may have hated the style they got.  And he did get a few brownie points from me for calling Cheryl the b-word on national television, for all to hear :-P I think they may have gotten a little out-of-synch on the side-by-side sections, and I must confess that I didn’t really understand the purpose of the platform they climbed onto.  But overall, a very nice effort for a dance that neither party was particularly jazzed to have…and I’m sure we’ll be hearing buzz about this one for the rest of the week.  ;-) Read more..

October 15, 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 3 – Power Rankings

Well, it was a pretty loose definition of “Iconic Dance Week” – it was really more like “Pick an Iconic Dance with music you like and just reuse that” week.  There were gimmicks galore, and the judges giving quite possibly the MOST crack-addled scores I’ve ever seen – so basically, enough to give me a headache…which didn’t help other things going on in my household tonight.  Oh well…I’ll get on with it, so I can hopefully get it over with soon…

1.) Shawn & Derek – Rules be damned – I like this routine, dammit! And just as I suspected, Len backpedaled on his challenge to the couples to “push the envelope”, and docked them points for breaking hold…fickle much? Oh well – this was fun, high-energy, had a lot of great technique, and I thought Shawn & Derek appropriately fulfilled Len’s request to “show us thing we’ve never seen before”.  The trampolines enhanced the routine, rather than detracting from it – which is more than I can say for some of the other couples’ routines.  Overall, I think the judges must be getting a pretty decent share of votes, because the judges will gush about how great their routine is – and then will score is relatively harshly.  They must not be too afraid of her being a shock elim…but this crazy low-balling has GOT TO STOP before someone good is shockingly eliminated.

2.) Apolo & Karina – Best routine of the night for me, yet again – and yet again, GROSSLY underscored.  Seriously, WTF does Apolo have to do to get a decent score from the Three Stooges???  Balance a ball on his nose while doing the samba? Juggle flaming batons while holding Karina in a star lift? This is getting BEYOND ridiculous.  Apolo & Karina danced a foxtrot that was about as close to perfect as anyone got tonight – no fumbling, perfect timing, beautiful lines, smoldering chemistry, and an intriguing concept & choreography – and they got the same score as a crazy desperate guy that hung from the ceiling like Tinkerbell, a girl who dances about as delicately as a Mack truck, and a guy who almost dropped his partner.  Oh, and only 1/2 a point more than a guy who brought a donkey as a prop.  I feel like I’m taking crazy pills, people!!! Like Shawn, the only thing I can think of is that they are see Apolo as such a threat (between his dancing & his fanbase) that they’re trying to handicap him a bit by underscoring him.  I guess you can consider this my official endorsement of Apolo & Karina as the ones to beat this season – I’ll toss a few votes Drew & Helio’s way this week, but after they’re gone? It’s all Team OhYes for me… 8-)

3.) Kelly & Val – I gotta say – Kelly is doing FAR better than I would have expected.  Obviously the chemistry with Val is there ;-), but for the first half of the routine, I actually believed Kelly as a dancer – she was steady on her turns, was moving big, and had great musicality.  Then about halfway through the routine, reality kinda kicked in and Kelly seemed to lose focus – and that’s when some of the wobbling began.  I think she may have gotten a little dizzy trying to spot her turns (and it was actually a pretty damn good attempt), and never quite recovered from that – she seemed to get a little off-time and disoriented, and although she did a good job of soldiering on, she never seemed to regain the confidence and groove she had in the first half of the routine.  Overall, I liked it – but I think Kelly’s got some serious work to do before she actually deserves a 27.  I’m wondering if Kelly’s not quite generating the buzz they expected her to – and thus they’re trying to give her a leg up.  Guess I just can’t fathom how a routine that got that sloppy scored higher than the two best routines of the night for me.  I like Kelly, but that was overscored.

4.) Melissa & Tony – I do have to commend these two on one thing – they did a lot of basic samba steps, and also managed to pick a theme that didn’t seem to steal focus away from their actual dance.  And really, I liked the routine, overall – Melissa’s legs looked great, the energy was high, and I feel like it was a nice homage to JR’s samba.  However – Melissa still seems to move really softly to me.  She was shaking it – but she seemed to be shaking it GENTLY.  And her arms, while pretty, didn’t really seem that impactful.  So at the end of the day, I’m just kinda left without a whole lot to say about these two – other than the fact that they, too, were overscored, and maybe aren’t getting the love the judges feel they deserve…hence the cushy score to shield them a bit from elimination.  Another couple that I don’t really have any beef with – but I just can’t really get excited about, either.

5.) Sabrina & Louis – As expected, Sabrina hit every step with a sledgehammer in this paso doble – and I think she may have backslid in week 1 territory a bit, when she was hitting everything so hard that she actually got a little off-balance.  There were a couple steps that came out looking kind of wonky, and I don’t know if Sabrina just didn’t hit them right, or if they were just odd to begin with.  I was actually a little underwhelmed by the choreography, on the whole – Sabrina was hitting it hard and with a lot of attack, but the steps themselves were just…meh.  I feel like she could have handled something quite a bit more intricate, and instead Louis gave her stuff that just felt more kindergarten-y to me.  Relative to everyone else tonight, I actually think Sabrina was scored about right – and I think she ought to be safe from tomorrow’s double chop-chop. But Louis has got to reign in all that energy she dances with…ooh wee.

6.) Gilles & Peta – Now for a couple that I must CONDEMN instead of commend for their choice of theme – ok, was it just me, or did the bit with Gilles suspended above the dance floor have absolutely NOTHING to do with the tango that followed, and just kinda looked odd & out-of-place? It was a stunt for stunt’s sake – and I hate those.  Add to that the fact that the choreography of the tango was just kinda ho-hum & ordinary for me, and Gilles was just being kind of a d-bag again, and I’m left unimpressed by this one.  Gilles should be frustrated – with himself, because that desperation to win is seriously starting to mess with his actual dancing.  And he should be happy that the judges were feeling rather benevolent tonight, because I really would have given this routine more like a 23 or 24.  But I did see a glimmer of hope tonight: the dew seems to be wearing off the rose a bit where Gilles is concerned, for the judges.  They seemed less hesitant to critique him tonight than they did in weeks 1 & 2, and I think he may have realized he was getting a little carried away.  Or at least I hope he realized he was getting carried away…

7.) Kirstie & Maks – Sorry, but as highly amused as I was to see Maks doing the Mick Jagger chicken strut around the ballroom in some absurdly tight pants and a wig that would make the Beegees jealous, I found that the real star of this routine was Maks – which kind of defeated the purpose of the celeb being the focal point.  :-) Maybe Kirstie wanted it that way, perhaps to detract from the fact that she really wasn’t moving much at all – but I just kind of found the whole thing to be more style than substance.  I think part of the appeal of the original was that it was a terrible dance, but Carson did it with such gusto and personality that it became a showstopper.  This…was less of a train wreck, but felt a lot more low-energy, too.  They weren’t messing anything up, and everything was on-time…but it just felt half-assed to me.  Like they were dancing it for camera blocking instead of the actual performance.  Was it fun? Sure…but I was just left kinda wanting more.  Kirstie’s more than likely got the votes to survive tomorrow’s elimination, but I think she should really start focusing more on the content of her routines…because at this point, I feel like Bristol actually has more difficult steps than she does.  Yikes.

8.) Emmitt & Cheryl – For someone that came out as strong as he did the first week, I feel like the Emmitt we saw then has been replaced by a much lower-budget generic one…that hasn’t had the same zing the past two weeks.  I guess this routine was kind of fun to watch…in the same semi-trainwrecky way that Kirstie’s was.  But like Kirstie, I just feel like Emmitt’s not quite operating at 100% – he’s having fun, and he’s not really doing BAD, per se, but he’s also just not up to par with the likes of Shawn, Apolo, Sabrina, or even Gilles.  I think the troupe guys at the table in the background were more of a distraction than an enhancement, unfortuantely (expect to see them in the cheese…fer reals), and they actually seemed to be more energetic than Emmitt himself was.  But I did get kind of a kick out of the pencil slide he did at the end :-P Do I think Emmitt’s safe this week? Yeah.  Is he living up to the hype I saw about him in the pre-season? NO WAY.  He, like Kirstie, also needs to step it up if he wants to stand a chance up against the powerhouses this season. Charm will only take him so far!

9.) Bristol & Mark – For as terrible as their rehearsal package was (and how dumb they were for picking the famed “futuristic paso doble” to recreate) – I actually don’t think this was the worst routine of the night, in terms of technique.  I think Kirstie & Emmitt (and maybe Helio) have that one covered.  When Bristol’s actually trying (and NOT breaking rules), she’s actually not bad – I felt like she moved more than both Kirstie & Emmitt, and with more conviction.  But man – after seeing that package, the mood on the dance floore between Bristol & Mark was positively CHILLING. As in “I don’t even want to look at you, get this f%$ker away from me!” chilling.  And unfortunately, I think that may have negated really any positives they had in terms of technique – even though they were chess pieces and were supposed to be at war, the mood didn’t feel warlike & aggressive to me…it felt sullen and detatched.  All that aside – I’m left a bit uncertain about how the big blowup is going to affect Bristol & Mark’s chances of surviving the elim…if it even affects it at all.   Part of me thinks it may actually garner some sympathy votes – part of me hopes it turned enough people off of Bristol completely, so that she tumbles into the bottom 2.  But I’m preparing myself to see her sullen face yet again next week – although I’m hoping that whoever picks her dance sticks her with jive.  Mwahahaha…

10.) Helio & Chelsie – Another couple that should thank their lucky stars that the judges were feeling benevolent tonight – although in the end, I doubt it’s going to matter much, since it’s a double elim tomorrow night and I’m pretty sure these two will make a repeat appearance in the bottom 2.  Helio’s a complete joy to watch – that big goofy grin as he’s bouncing around in his zoot suit just makes me all warm & fuzzy inside :-D But on a night where everyone was pulling out all sorts of bells & whistles & crazy choreo, is a “just ok” quickstep with pretty safe choreography (and a rather noticeable gaffe) going to be enough to keep him safe? I don’t know.  He might get a bit of a surge in votes from his appearance in the bottom 2 last week, but I’m not sure it will be enough to keep him out of the bottom 2.  I’m leaning towards no, and that makes me sad :-( But I think Helio has had the right attitude about this season – have as much fun as possible and don’t hone in too hard on the win.  You listening, Gilles?

12.) Drew & Anna – I think this is one couple that just kinda got dealt a crap hand this whole season – not much love from the judges, some chemistry issues, and just some bad logistics (running order, music, etc.) I think tonight was a bad night to go first – even though I generally enjoyed their cha-cha, and liked that they didn’t seem to let the props dominate it.  Drew did get a little bit sloppy at times, and I think he & Anna may have gotten out-of-sync on some of the open choreography, but I definitely like it more than at least 3 of the other routines I saw tonight.  But in the end, will it really matter? Doubtful, considering that 3 of the 4 couples comprising the bottom 2 in the first two weeks were “middle of the road” couples that did neither good nor bad – and tonight, Drew got kinda low-balled.  At this point, I think he may be a bit out of his element – and maybe it’s time for him to go.  I still think there are 2 (maybe 3) other contestants that should be leaving BEFORE him, but I’m getting to the point where I’d hope that his scores would be improving a bit more.  Oh well – it’s been fun, Drew.  You seem to have brought out a more laid-back Anna :-)

So what did you guys think of “Iconic Dances” night? Love it? Hate it? Who’s going home???

October 8, 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 Season 15, Week 2 – Power Rankings

Oh jive/quickstep week – a week that usually has the potential to make me cringe and shake my head.  Unfortunately, this season was no different :-( The lines have been drawn, and the judges are making some pretty clear distinctions in their scoring – at the top we have the “chosen ones” who can do no wrong in the judges’ eyes (Gilles & Peta, Sabrina & Louis), then the good dancers that the judges seem to critique/score more harshly to give the impression of “wanting them to improve” (Shawn & Derek, Apolo & Karina, Melissa & Tony), the mediocre-to-good dancers that the judges seem reluctant to really critique/score harshly (Kelly & Val, Emmitt & Cheryl, Helio & Chelsie), the mediocre-to-bad dancers that don’t really get love from the judges but still get the votes to stay (Joey & Kym, Kirstie & Maks, Bristol & Mark)…and then you have Drew, whom I’m almost convinced the judges/TPTB don’t really give a rat’s ass whether he stays or goes.  All in all, this illustrious all-star season is beginning to leave a bad taste in my mouth – and we’ve still got 8 more weeks to go after tomorrow! And please tell me I’m not the only one that’s getting sick of seeing that damn 7.5 paddle…

1.) Gilles & Peta - As great of a dancer as Gilles may be, I just find myself getting rubbed the wrong way by some of his behavior so far this season – and I’m beginning to feel the same about Peta, too.  He complains about how injured he is and how much pain he’s in all week, then performs one of the most intense & forceful jives I’ve ever seen on the show – and then he has this bizarre, kinda choked-up “moment” up in the celebraquarium that just kinda left me going “Huh?” Not gonna lie – it was bordering on Jaleel levels of awkwardness.  While I do think he did a really good jive (notice I didn’t say “great”), I think Gilles may have caught a bit of the Sabrina Bug this week – every kick & flick just felt so HARD and deliberate.  And I’m not sure if it was just the fringe on her costume or what, but Peta seemed to be dancing extra forcefully, too – and as trivial as this may seem, I seriously hope the makeup team dials back the eyeliner next week, because it gives Peta this very harsh, glaring look when she’s not smiling widely. Anywho, these two seem like they’ve got several weeks of safety ahead of them, with the level of favoritism they seem to be getting from the judges & TPTB.  I guess I just hope Gilles can have some sort of breakthrough and regain some of the charm that made him so endearing in season 8…

2.) Shawn & Derek – This jive was pretty much everything I expected – cute, high-energy, clean, & entertaining.  Even though I had already gotten a bit of a heads-up that Shawn had much better endurance than Derek, I was still kinda impressed by how…not winded she was afterward.  Just sort of a “Meh…ain’t no thang!” look on her face :-P Now while I enjoyed the Hairspray theme and a lot of the choreography that went with it, I have to say – I found myself wanting a little more basic, in-hold jive content, a little bit less of the 60’s-y themed open choreography.  And I wonder if this may be a problem with pretty much everyone who goes for a themed routine this season – everyone feels so compelled to keep the bar high that they feel the need to throw in a lot of unique choreography.  I guess that’s one way in which I agreed with Len a bit in his critique – everything in this routine was satisfactory, but I don’t know that any of it really exceeded my expectations.  Guess I’m just hoping to be blown away during iconic dances week next week, since the couples have been instructed to “push the envelope”. I just hope Derek can “push the envelope” while still including a lot of basic choreography.

3.) Sabrina & Louis – In quite possibly the biggest judging gaffe of the night, Gilles & Peta’s biggest competition for “most off-putting” couple this season managed to walk away with the high score after doing a quickstep that, while good, left me confused.   I will give Sabrina credit for calming down quite a bit this week – there wasn’t nearly as much overdancing this time.  But I did notice a couple instances where she seemed to fight the urge to really hit things hard, and a couple flicks seemed to come out a bit harder than they probably should have.  My other big complaint? I felt like they stopped every 5 seconds for Sabrina to pose in a picture line!!! Talk about disrupting the flow of a dance – I liked what she did in-hold and she did have great posture, but it just felt so disjointed because Louis seemed to be throwing her into an oversway every other measure.  For that reason, I think she was grossly overscored – considering that Apolo had, IMO, much more difficult content, which he executed with far more finesse than Sabrina did her content.  And WTF was up with that beginning sequence when they came running in??? If it was accidental, they must really be in la-la land; if it was intentional, WTF?! But as I saw many of you saying, I feel like the fix is in – somebody with influence really wants Sabrina to stick around.  Which makes me wonder if maybe Sabrina isn’t exactly “killing it” in the votes department.  But I think time will tell, as we whittle down the weaker dancers… Read more..

October 1, 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 Season 15, Week 1 – Power Rankings

Eeee gad, I had forgotten how long it takes to offer up commentary on 13 couples as opposed to 11 or even 12 :-P Anywho! Hope you guys are still up to chat about the show (and the site has not crashed…again), because we’ve got a lot to talk about. Overall, I’m left with one big concern after watching tonight’s show: is the high level of competition pushing everyone just a bit too hard to stand out? Because there seemed to be an awful lot of over-dancing going on tonight, and the pros seemed to stuff as much choreography as they could into their routines.  The cha-cha’s seemed to fare much better with the judges than the foxtrots, but I actually think the foxtrots were more technically sound on the whole.  *shrug* Such is life with this show, where, to quote Kanye, sh*t is often pretty “cray”.  8-O Let’s get right into it, shall we?

1.) Emmitt & Cheryl – Is anyone else having flashbacks to last season, when William & Cheryl could do absolutely no wrong in the judges eyes, no matter how badly they danced? 8-O Don’t get me wrong, I love Emmitt – probably one of the most lovable contestants ever to do the show, along with Warren Sapp & Donald Driver.  But REALLY, Len??? Best dance of the night?! I’m calling bullsh*t, because while Emmitt was very fun to watch and definitely got into the groove of it and didn’t miss any steps or get off-time, I daresay many other contestants had far more content and a higher level of difficulty…and they, too, were fun to watch.  And yet again, I saw Cheryl doing an awful lot moving around a stationary Emmitt – not as bad as a regular season, but still there.  *sigh* I thought it was odd that they got the pimp spot, and now after the gushing & overscoring (one of a few incidents of suspicious scoring tonight), my only theory is that they might want to keep Emmitt around in order to stand a hope & a prayer of competing with Monday Night Football, which consistently tops the ratings.  I highly doubt they’ll succeed, but they will likely die trying – and we’ll probably lose some stronger dancers as a result :-( I like Emmitt, and I liked this dance – but I already smell a rat.

2.) Gilles & Peta – A very well-danced, well-choreographed foxtrot – definitely the best of the night, and very pretty to watch. But was it REALLY a full 2 points better than the next highest-scoring foxtrot? Or either of the other foxtrots done by male contestants? I really don’t think so – I think Gilles may have benefitted from a more classic song and just a generally more calm demeanor, but I don’t really think he was leaps and bounds better than Shawn or even Drew’s foxtrots, and and I actually think Shawn’s had a far higher level of difficulty.  I’m also just feeling kinda lukewarm about Gilles at this point – some of the laid-back charm that made him so appealing in season 8 seems to have been replaced with this brooding intensity and extreme desire to win…which is actually off-putting.  No doubt Gilles is a great dancer and a great showman – but as of right now, I’m on the fence about whether or not he’s the full package of skill, charm, and entertainment worth of the MBT this time around.  However, I do think he may have a bit of a leg up in that he’s part of the ABC family – and thus the TPTB likely have a vested interest in keeping him around for awhile and drumming up publicity for his new project.  I anticipate we’ll see him around for awhile – even if his dancing isn’t quite up-to-snuff and he doesn’t loosen up.

3.) Apolo & Karina – I actually think these two came the closest to being the “full package” tonight – they were fun to watch, had great chemistry, and a good amount of skill in their routine.  And I do think Apolo has the right attitude about this season: he wants to work hard and do well, but he’s there to have fun, too.  Yes, there were a few stumbles – mainly due to “overdancing”, which is a problem just about everyone (with the exception of Pam, Bristol, & maybe Kirstie) had tonight.  Folks, when you push too hard and throw too much stuff into a routine to try and get noticed, it likely will backfire – and it seemed like with the costumes, lights, pulsating music and over-the-top dancing, there was just a tad too much going on in their cha-cha tonight.  I think they may have fared better with a little more subtlely to their choreography – but there really isn’t anything subtle about LMFAO or “Party Rock Anthem”, so I can’t really blame them for going that route.  I actually think Apolo’s Latin technique has improved since his original season, and he’s good and knowing where to place his weight in order to create Latin hip action.  Still a bit stiff in the hips, but I’m counting on Karina to help loosen them up this season – just like I’m counting on Apolo’s Olympic fanbase to carry him through to the finale.  I still think Apolo’s gonna walk away with the MBT this season, when all’s said & done…

4.) Shawn & Derek – One thing’s for sure: Shawn is definitely NOT the timid, well-mannered girl next door I remember from season 8! I actually found myself far more impressed by her dancing this time around – she seemed to let go of the constant desire for perfection in her movement that I seemed to see in season 8, and actually managed to let loose and really work on her performance quality a lot more.  This dance was punchy, energetic, and Shawn didn’t miss a bit – which is impressive, considering how much content this foxtrot had…almost too much content.  I’ve gotta say – I think of all the foxtrots tonight, Shawn & Derek were the most screwed right off the bat just because of their song.  It was this season’s “Easy Lover” – a song with a foxtrot rhythm so buried underneath a heavy drumline, vocals, and melody, that it forces the dancers to move at hyperspeed just to look like they’re actually keeping up.  Can you really blame them for having so much movement in their routine when the song is here, there, and everywhere – all at once? None of the other foxtrots tonight had songs that were nearly as difficult – which leads me to wonder if they were trying to either a) handicap Shawn a bit due to her Olympic fanbase, b) challenge Derek to create another incarnation of his 50’s paso doble/Psycho tango/”Material Girl” rumba, or c) all of the above.  Regardless of their motives as far as Shawn & Derek are concerned, I still think we’ll see these two in the finale – as long as wacky decisions like this made by TPTB don’t somehow ruin them :-(

5.) Kirstie & Maks – I was pretty unimpressed by this foxtrot – I’ll get that off my chest right off the bat.  Yes, they did get a bit of a crummy song FOR A FOXTROT (note me qualifying in caps, for all the Adele fans out there who are only selectively literate and likely inclined to attack me for *gasp!* disliking Adele), and that likely hindered them a bit – but I actually feel like Maks held back a bit with the choreo, and Kirstie felt a little heavy on her feet to me, compared to how I remembered her from season 12.  I think Kirstie probably could have handled a few more bells & whistles, because this felt a bit bland…seemed like a lot of foxtrot basic steps with a turn here & there.  But for what they lacked in choreography, they more than made up for in chemistry – these two are still a hoot to watch a year and a half later :-P And leave it to Kirstie to put the patented Bergeron ass pinch to shame by laying a long, hard kiss smack dab on The Berg’s pie hole.  Talk about stealing the show :-P Anywho, even if these two aren’t the judges’ darlings this season (and I don’t really think they were most of the time in season 12, either), I do think they have some longevity, between their collective fanbases and just how freakin’ fun they are to watch :-P

6.) Sabrina & Louis – Kids, remember my main complaint in The Great “Previous Dance Experience” Debate: Sabrina Bryan Edition? Anyone? Well, reader Melissa remembered that I pretty clearly stated that Sabrina danced wayyy too aggressively, and that everything she did seemed so hard-hitting.  And wouldn’t you know – the judges main complaint tonight was the exact same thing! Not much has changed in the 5 years since Sabrina originally did the show – she is still hitting every line so hard that’s almost unpleasant to watch, and she even seems to throw herself off-balance in trying so hard to punctuate every single step.  Yes, she’s a good dancer – but a great one? I don’t believe it yet, because to be a great one, she’d have to soften up her lines and incorporate more light & shade into her dancing: periods of punctuated movement juxtaposed with softer, more fluid movement in order to enhance the impact of both.  Right now, Sabrina is just “LIGHT!!! LIGHT!!! BRIGHTER LIGHT!!! EVEN BRIGHTER LIGHT!!!”, and I kinda had a feeling this would be something even Louis would struggle with: dimming Sabrina’s “light” in order to show her versatility.  I know Louis is probably out to prove something, and if he’s anything like he was in season 12, when he thought Kendra was the sh*t, he’s going to dive head-on into his bag of tricks and pull out every single flashy, impressive move he can in order to say “Look at me!!! Look at me!!! I AM AN AWESOME DANCER AND CHOREOGRAPHER!!!” And this cha-cha was unfortunately a prime example of both Sabrina AND Louis enabling each other’s choreographic problems – impressive choreography, yes, but I think I would have appreciated it more if every step wasn’t punching me in the face.  Can they soften things up? We’ll see – I still think they’ve got a few weeks in them, just due to scores.

7.) Kelly & Val – Kelly was the revelation of the evening for me…contrary to my initial worries, she ROCKED this cha-cha, and seriously made me wonder what she had been up in the past 7 years that created such a vast improvement in her dancing. I don’t know if it was anything she did (except maybe breaking up with her deadbeat boyfriend of 18 years), but I daresay the chemistry (and that should be spelled in all caps – CHEMISTRY) she has forged with Val has taken her from Bambi on ice to contender in no time flat.  Now I’m by no means one of those “crazy fangirl shippers” that I roll my eyes at on Twitter when they’re trying to fabricate romances between Hines & Kym/Bristol & Mark/Kirstie & Maks/etc., but with the amount of sexual tension I was sensing between these two? Get thee to a hotel…forthwith, my dears.  ;-) I thought Val was the calm, pragmatic, unflappable Chmerkovskiy – but the way I saw him all twitterpated in the celebraquarium when Kelly’s hair brushed his face? Or when he was spellbound by her tatas in rehearsal? Val has become one smitten kitten, I daresay – and I actually don’t see anything wrong with that, especially since it seems to be working well for their dancing.  I’ve never seen Kelly so confident, sexy, and fun-loving out on the floor – and I am excited to see more :-D

8.) Joey & Kym – I’m actually a little bit puzzled as to why they picked these two to kick off the show, as I thought Apolo & Karina’s cha-cha was far more impactful – but these two were fun nonetheless, and I can see that doing the Vegas show has paid off for Joey.  Very high-energy & fun – but, like many other celebs tonight, a little too hard-hitting.  Joey got a bit of excited puppy syndrome and may have proverbially peed on the floor, as he seemed to get a bit ahead of Kym at a few points and hit a few lines just a bit too enthusiastically.  It was a fun, well-executed routine – but as I predicted, Joey will probably have to work on refining & tidying up his movement, and becoming a bit lighter on his feet…because this felt a little messy.  He’s got showmanship for days, don’t get me wrong – but he seems to lack the refinement and laid-back charm that Apolo & Emmitt had in their cha-chas that likely got them better scores.  I still think Joey’s a contender, no doubt – but he’s gonna have to buckle down (and calm down) if he want to go toe-to-toe with Emmitt, Apolo, & Gilles.

9.) Bristol & Mark – Bristol actually surprised me a bit tonight – she seemed quite a bit more relaxed and confident than her initial cha-cha 2 years ago, and I daresay this cha-cha was an improvement for her.  At first I think I rolled my eyes a bit at how many of their “old standby” moves from season 11 Mark threw in – a lot of shimmying, hip twists, and hair flipping.  Then I realized it was probably a smart move on his part, in order to make Bristol feel more comfortable and familiar with the dance.  She’s still a pretty tentative mover, and likely not even in the same league as some of the other female contestants in terms of skill – but I do think that she’s better than before, and I do see potential for improvement.  For tonight, I was just glad to see her scored properly – no cushy 8’s or sympathy 9’s to make her feel better.  As cruel as it sounds, I think the judges created some pretty unrealistic expectations on Bristol’s part in season 11 by giving her such generous scores – by the end of the competition, she seemed to assume that she just deserved them outright, even if her dancing was clearly not up to snuff with the other competitors.  By starting out scoring realistically, I think they’ll nudge her to improve each week…the question is, can we rely on them to score her realistically week after week?

10.) Drew & Anna – It really pains me to put these two here, because I really had high hopes for them going into this season.  But Drew just seemed so damn tense out on the floor, and I think Anna may be pushing him a bit too hard in rehearsals – and it’s creating an uneasy dynamic between them that seems to spill out onto the dance floor.  There were parts of this foxtot that were really good – mainly the parts that stayed  in hold, in which I thought Drew had gorgeous posture and some clean, gliding feet.  Then there were parts that just kinda made me cringe – like those silly jumps Anna was having him do that he was just fumbling pitifully with (he should have asked Helio the jumping bean to give him some pointers ;-)).  I don’t know if it was just nerves from opening night, or just shaken confidence in being in such a competitive season – but I just felt bad for Drew tonight, because he just struck me as being petrified. I’m really hoping these two can learn to relax & have fun, because I do see a lot of potential in Drew – potential that could definitely be harnassed again.

11.) Melissa & Tony – I generally liked their foxtrot and I’m just in awe of Melissa’s ridiculously fit physique after having a baby, as well those crazy long, flexible legs of hers.  But I’m getting a bad gut feeling that these two may have gotten a little lost in the shuffle tonight – a moderate-to-good dance that may have been lowballed a bit in the scores, wedged between a pretty memorable, good dance (Apolo & Karina) and an astonishing train wreck (Pam & Tristan).  I loved the beginning part with Melissa showing off her mad stretching skills, and the more Broadway-y parts she & Tony did side by side.  But when they got in hold, I was actually a little taken aback by Melissa’s posture; something about it just seemed…wonky.  And just as I did in season 8, I once again found myself a bit annoyed by Melissa’s spaghetti arms – just a bit too soft for some of the moves she was trying to hit hard.  Generally, I liked it – but is it the first dance that pops into my head when I think about tonight? Definitely not – maybe not even the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th.  And that’s what has me worried.  I think she’ll be safe this week due to Pam’s trainwreckittude, but I would not be surprised if she was a “shock” elimination within the next few weeks.

12.) Helio & Chelsie – I like Helio, I really do – maybe it’s the Indycar fan in me, but I just find him to be so damn lovable.  But tonight? He was easily the weakest of the male contestants, and was maybe only slightly better than Kirstie in terms of content & execution of his dance.  I did see some posture & footwork issues, and I think he may have gotten a bit lost at a few points because I caught him looking a bit sheepish just kind of standing there awkwardly.  He also seems to want to stick his little Brazilian tushy out behind him when he’s dancing – which is unfortunately no bueno.  On the other hand, he was grinning like a kid in a candy store the whole time, and is actually pretty good at those kooky jumps Anna was having Drew try to do (Helio, help a brother out and give Drew some hopping lessons ;-)).  So it actually ended up being kind of a fun dance to watch, in a similar vein to Gavin’s wacky boat samba last season.  But I find myself kind of forgetting about these two – and I’m not sure Helio & Chelsie have the same endearing chemistry that Helio & Julianne had.  Are they safe this week? Probably – I hope.  But I’m skeptical about the next few…

13.) Pam & Tristan – Ohhhhh my.  I really wish I had something else to say other than “WTF was this???” I daresay this aimless, bizarre cha-cha was a prime example of how lack of practice time makes you stick out like a sore thumb – and both Pam & Tristan looked like they had just rolled out of bed with a hangover and were just shuffling through it (did I miss something? Was that intentional?) Even Tristan, who’s usually pretty energetic (and with women far older than Pam, no less!) seemed kinda apathetic about the whole thing.  Yeah, they were kinda screwed by their song, too, but that was the least of their problems.  Honestly, I will be very, very shocked if they’re able to stick around after that hot mess.  Love both of them – but that was just bad to the bone 8-O

So who do you guys think is going home tomorrow? And who are your favorites so far? :-)

September 24, 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!

Dancing with the Stars Season 15: Predicted Eliminations w/o Professional Partners

So now that we know who most of the cast is I decided to whip up a quick breakdown of how the Season 15 cast would fare against one another now.

However, then I started thinking: How cool would it be to see how they would have fared against one another with the professional partners that they had before? Yes, I know that there are duplicates here and there but if you were able to clone those pros… how would the “All Star” cast fare? Well let’s find out!

CELEBRITY PROFESSIONAL ORIGINAL RANK NEW RANK
Apolo Anton Ohno Julianne Hough Winner Winner
Shawn Johnson Mark Ballas Winner 2nd
Drew Lachey Cheryl Burke Winner 3rd
Gilles Marini Cheryl Burke 2nd 4th
Hélio Castroneves Julianne Hough Winner 5th
Emmitt Smith Cheryl Burke Winner 6th
Joey Fatone Kym Johnson 2nd 7th
Bristol Palin Mark Ballas 3rd 8th
Kelley Monaco Alec Mazo Winner 9th
Melissa Rycroft Tony Dovolani 3rd 10th
Kirstie Alley Maksim Chmerkovskiy 2nd 11th
Pamela Anderson Damian Whitewood 6th 12th
VOTABLE CELEBRITIES
Sabrina Bryan Mark Ballas 7th 3rd (before Drew)
Carson Kressley Anna Trebunskaya 8th 12th (before Pamela)
Kyle Massey Lacey Schwimmer 2nd 4th (before Gilles)

An interesting breakdown to be sure… granted probably not accurate but what can you do? On the other hand this is with the assumption that everyone was with their original partner but that’s not going to happen, not by a long shot. So with the information that we do know about the celebrities (occupation, current age) how would they fare on the season? Read more..

July 27, 2012 I Written By

My life can be summed up in the following two quotes: 1) "I am married to engineering and am its faithful wife by day, but at night my wanderlust takes hold and the arts becomes my jealous paramour." and... 2) "Engineering is my safety net. Writing is my passion. Acting is my escape when the other two become too much." So where does dancing fit in? Pretty much anywhere at this point... =)