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DWTS 14, Week 7 – Who’s Got the Edge in the Team Dances?

So we now know for sure what the team dances are (paso doble & tango) and who’s on what team (Katherine, Maria, Jaleel, & Roshon vs. William, Donald, & Melissa).  So who’s gonna win? Let’s see how they stack up.  I looked at several factors that could come into play in helping to determine who has the advantage – experience level of the pros on each team, experience level of the couples on each team, number of couples on each team, what dance each team has, and other miscellaneous factors that may affect the outcome.  So let’s get to it!

Pro Team Dance Experience

Derek: 6 wins (seasons 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13), 0 losses, 0 ties; average team dance score: 27.5
Cheryl: 4 wins (seasons 7, 8, 10, 13), 1 loss (season 11), 0 ties; average team dance score: 26.8
Kym: 2 wins (seasons 7 & 9), 1 loss (season 13), 1 tie (season 12); average team dance score: 25.75*
Maks: 2 wins (seasons 11 & 13), 1 loss (season 10), 1 tie (season 12); average team dance score: 25*
Chelsie: 1 win (season 8), 0 losses, 1 tie (season 12); average team dance score: 25*
Mark: 0 wins, 2 losses (seasons 8 & 11), 1 tie (season 12); average team dance score: 23.67*
Peta: 0 wins, 0 losses, 0 ties (never been in a team dance); average team dance score: 0

*Since there were 4 judges’ scores given for the team dances in season 12, I subtracted Donnie Burns’ score from the two team dances in that season in order to normalize with all of the other seasons, which only had 3 judges’ scores. 

Team Tango: I’d say their biggest advantage is having Derek – the guy’s undefeated, so he’s clearly figured out the formula for what works and what doesn’t work in the team dances.  Say what you will about team dances being a product of all the pros working together (I agree to some extent), but the only common denominator in every single team dance win has been Derek, regardless of what other pros have been on each team with him, what the dance style has been, etc.  Many of the pros have also gone on record as saying that they tend to let Derek take the lead when choreographing the group portions of the team dance, so I’d say he probably has a lot to do with the success of each of the teams he’s on, as the judges do tend to really harp on synchonization, interesting formation patterns, and overall performance quality in the group portion of team dances.  I’d say Kym is an asset as well – she’s been on a team with Derek twice before (one of those times was another team tango), and when she hasn’t been on a team with him, she’s managed to tie once, and the 1 team dance she lost was not really all that bad, IMO.  I don’t really know if Chelsie is battle-tested enough to say whether she’s good in the team dance or not – but I don’t get the impression that she is one to make waves, so she will probably be very cooperative and easy to get along with.  My only concern is Mark – he seemed rather volatile in the team dance rehearsals in season 12, and seems to have a penchant for very flashy, high-energy, in-your-face choreo…which doesn’ t always translate well in the team dances.  I’m hoping that he lets Derek take the lead on the group choreography, and really focuses on giving Katherine some good, solid solo choreography this week.

Team Paso: While I think they don’t have quite the same edge that Team Katherine does, I don’t think they’re super weak, either.  Both Cheryl & Maks have been on teams with Derek before, so they’ve probably at least picked up a few tricks and strategies – I would say Maks is probably the stronger choreographer, judging from what I’ve seen him do in other team dances and pro dances.  The big question mark here is Peta – we just don’t know how she’s going to fare, since this will be her first team dance.  I doubt she’s going to suck at it (I don’t think anyone has really sucked at it – except maybe the unfortunate souls in the team mambo in season 8…), but it may take her a little longer to really get a feel for how the team dances work and what to do for Donald’s solo.  I think she’s probably going to rely on Cheryl & Maks for the group choreo, and isn’t likely to make any sort of big fuss, since she’s the new kid on the block.

Who has the edge in pro experience? I’ve got to give this one to Team Tango - they’ve got the only undefeated pro, and each of the other pros has been in at least 2 team dances. Read more..

April 26, 2012 I Written By

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

DWTS 14 – Derek Hough and Maria Menounos on Ellen!

Coming up on Monday. Ellen put a preview on her site which is pretty cute.  Especially the gift that Ellen gives Maria at the end. :-)

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April 20, 2012 I Written By

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

Talking Tech with Maria Menounos and Derek Hough

This is kind of an odd little interview in USA Today, but I think this team will take all the PR they can get at this point.  They are being pretty much ignored by the other entertaiment shows besides E! and Extra.

Hough: “Because I’m choreographing the dance and I’m also in it, I need to see what we’re doing. I need a third eye. Using the iPhone or iPad to record is crucial. After I teach her the routines, I can view the video to see what I can’t see when I’m dancing with her, and e-mail her the video. I used to use a video camera, which now seems so old-fashioned, because the iPhone can do much more. It’s with me all the time, it’s high-definition, and I can e-mail directly from the device.”

Menounos watches the videos at the end of the night, while relaxing in an Epsom salt bath. “It’s a learning tool. I say, ‘Why did I bend that leg? The arm is supposed to be somewhere else.’ ”
The pair make frequent iPhone videos, which are posted online, aimed at getting viewers to vote to keep them in the Stars competition.

I had to add this picture from the Daily Mail – they get so little right, credit where due. :-)

April 15, 2012 I Written By

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

DWTS Season 14 – Derek Hough’s Week of ROCK!

Derek posted a series of videos on his website that show a variety of things he and the other pros (and Maria, Katherine and William) did this past week. Rather entertaining. :-) Click the link to see all the videos, but I’ve put two of them below.  The second one is an example of what we were describing on another post – some of the pros and celebs getting out in front of the crowd during the pre-show warm up.  Looks kinda fun. :-)

April 12, 2012 I Written By

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

The Top 5 Best First Week Foxtrots in DWTS History

This is a little later than I originally intended, but alas, life throws us curve balls from time to time :-) As promised, here are my top 5 first week foxtrots in DWTS history…maybe something we’ll see tomorrow night will bump one of these from the list! Or maybe it will make the worst list instead…8O But how ’bout some more foxtrot stats first?

*There is a 5-way tie for the pro that has done the most week 1 foxtrots: Maks, Tony, Jonathan, Edyta, & Mark have all done the foxtrot in the first week 3 times.

*The highest first-week foxtrot score ever given was 27 – it was given to Kristi & Mark in season 6.

*The average score for a week 1 foxtrot is 19.14. The score given most often in week 1? 18.

5.) Helio & Julianne, season 5

I just loved how cute these two were together – it also didn’t hurt that Helio had a good deal of natural talent :-) And in what you’ll see to be a recurring theme in this countdown, it was a very traditional foxtrot, which was comprised mainly of foxtrot steps with a little bit of jazzy open work thrown in.  There’s something to be said for staying in the box from time to time, kids!

4.) Laila & Maks, season 4

Another very natural mover – Laila just made everything look so EASY.  I think a lot of her appeal in her season was that sense of ease, and it really came in hand in a dance like the foxtrot, where everything is supposed to have a gliding, walk-in-the-park kind of feel.  Just the little bit of sass thrown in just made it perfect for week 1. Read more..

March 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!

The Top 5 Worst First Week Foxtrots in DWTS History

So the other day, we counted down the top 10 worst first week cha-cha’s in DWTS history. As you can see, we only have a top 5 for this countdown – probably because there have only been 37 week 1 foxtrots in the history of the show, and the bulk of them are neither good nor bad…but just hard to remember :-P Only a handful have stuck out in my memory as notable – and those are the ones you are seeing :-) But first, some factoids for your enjoyment…

*The foxtrot has only been used as a week 1 dance in 7 seasons: seasons 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, & 12.  The other seasons have either had a waltz (seasons 1, 2, & 8) or a Viennese waltz (seasons 10, 11, 13) as the week 1 ballroom dance.  Season 9 had both the foxtrot and the Viennese waltz as first week ballroom dances.

*The lowest week 1 foxtrot score ever given was a 13 – it was given to Mike & Lacey in season 12.

*Besides the 3 newest pros (Val, Tristan, & Peta), the only pro this season that’s never done the foxtrot as a regular week 1 dance is Derek – unless you count the foxtrot relay in season 9 (I don’t, because it was only 30 seconds ;-)).

5.) TIE: Sara & Tony, season 3 and Leeza & Tony, season 4


Zzzzzzzz….uh, um, what? Sorry, fell asleep – thought I was watching paint dry, at the rate these foxtrots were moving! I’m not sure if these ladies thought they would shatter into a million pieces if they moved more than an inch or two, but there was just so little going on in these numbers – just some very slow strolling and painfully cautious turns.  The foxtrot is already a pretty simple dance, so it’s up to the pros and their celeb partners to inject some much-needed jazz into it to make it entertaining…and when they don’t, you get these sleepy, unremarkable foxtrots that I bet half of you probably didn’t remember.

4.) Rocco & Karina, season 7

Rocco seemed like a really nice guy, but he was pretty dorky on the dance floor :-P You could tell he was really trying as he bobbed and skipped and flailed his platter hands across the floor here, but he also had the “I feel like a massive tool” look on his face the whole time.  Granted, I think both he & Karina were nervous about her ankle injury earlier that day, but honestly – Rocco was just not a dancer.  Sorry, dude.. Read more..

March 14, 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!

The Top 10 Worst First Week Cha-Cha’s in DWTS History

Ahhhh, yes – the cha-cha.  The only first week dance that has remained the same in all 14 seasons of the show - they’ve often vacillated between the waltz, foxtrot, and Viennese waltz as the first week ballroom dance from season to season, but they’ve always had the cha-cha as a week 1 Latin dance.  That’s 75 regular week 1 cha-cha’s (I’m not counting the cha-cha relay from season 9 - the scoring is too funky) for me to run the stats on, to give us an idea of what we might expect in the coming week :-) So before I run down the list of the biggest “Oh god, that was baaaaaad!” week 1 cha-cha moments, here are a few interesting cha-cha stats:

*The lowest cha-cha score in DWTS history is 12 – and it’s a 3-way tie between Master P & Ashly, Tucker & Elena, and Jeff & Edyta.  Two of the couples were eliminated the first week of their respective seasons – and all 3 female pros are no longer on the show :-) (ok, that last one was probably not a direct cause of a bad cha-cha, but just an interesting coincidence ;-))

*Five former DWTS champions did cha-cha as their week 1 dance (Drew, Emmitt, Apolo, Brooke, & Hines).

*The pro who’s done the most week 1 cha-cha’s is Cheryl – she’s started 9 of her 12 seasons on the show with a cha-cha.

*A female celeb didn’t dance the cha-cha as a week 1 dance until season 5 – up until that point, the ladies had always done a ballroom dance the first week, and the men had always done cha-cha.

Now…without further ado…I give you the worst week 1 cha-cha’s in DWTS history :-) Season 14 celebs, pay attention! This is for your own good…do not try to emulate these routines!

10.) Clyde & Elena, season 4

I never got the feeling that Clyde was actually making a genuine effort during his season, really.  I think his handlers probably signed him up for the show just to get him some exposure, and it was never something Clyde really wanted to do – he just seemed to do the bare minimum each week and probably hoped to get voted off quickly. His whole “outrage” over Len pointing out that some couples weren’t practicing enough just really made me think that Clyde the Glide doth protest too much – he wasn’t putting in the hours and he knew it.  On top of the apathy, there was a huge height difference between he & Elena, and at 6’7″, he was generally just kinda ungainly…add that altogether and you’ve got a cha-cha that’s just kind of an awkward non-event.

9.) Billy Ray & Karina, season 4

I’m not sure who I feel worse for here – Billy Ray or Karina.  Billy Ray really was kind of “a left-footed hillbilly from Kentucky” (his own words), and this cha-cha was a pretty hot mess.  I like to call this “drunk uncle at a wedding” dancing - some random grooving & flailing & forgotten footwork from Billy Ray while Karina did some cha-cha around him.   But I will say this – unlike Clyde, who had probably phoned it in before the season even started, I do think Billy Ray was giving it his all the entire season.  This poor guy REALLY wanted to do well for Karina, and he did put in the effort – but some people are just not natural dancers, and Billy Ray is unfortunately in that camp. Read more..

March 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 Season 14 – The Great “Previous Dance Experience” Debate, Part I

WARNING: If you came here to seriously bitch & moan about how so-and-so has an unfair advantage due to their previous dance experience and how you’re boycotting the show and yadda yadda yadda – look elsewhere :-) We’ve been doing this for a few seasons now, and here’s the gist: many of the celebs on the show have at least SOME dance experience coming into the show – be it good or bad…and often, comically bad.  Hence the quotations around the title – this is a very tongue-in-cheek post, kids.  ;-)

Today we’re gonna take a look at this season’s male celebs, and see just exactly how much hoofin’ they’ve done in the past and discuss what it might mean for them on the show – and we’ll probably point & laugh and generally act like teenage boys in our commentary. 8-)

First up, let’s take a look at Jack Wagner, who is perhaps best known as Frisco Jones from the soap opera General Hospital from 1984-95.  Jack’s also a musician, and this clip is montage of Frisco & his on-screen (and former off-screen!) love, Felicia, dancing to his song “Dancing in the Moonlight”:

Court: Ahhh, the magic of VHS recordings back in the 80s & 90s…such a crisp picture. :-) Overall, a lot of soap opera-y swaying, with a little bit of goofball pseudo-swing dancing and fake tango thrown in…although some of what he was doing looked like it could have almost been west coast swing.  Hmmm.  Think he could get Anna to recreate that fake tango he did with Felicia, complete with a beret and French mustache? :-P

Heidi: When are they going to start dancing? What?

Vogue: Wow, let Jack wine and dine me anytime. :mrgreen: But, seriously, if Jack can turn on the charm and romance as we see in the video above, can you imagine what his Waltz’s (or anything he dances to for that matter) are going to be like? *faints and fans myself*

The verdict: Only soap operas can make non-dancing look so..electrifying.

Now let’s take a look at Gavin DeGraw, who admittedly doesn’t do a whole lot of dancing, but rather “rhythmic swaying” during an impromptu version of Creedance Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary” during a live show (skip to the 2:20 mark):

Heidi: Nice pack…um….yeah, he’s aright.

Vogue: Uh oh, watch out for a killer and wicked Samba if nothing else. 8O

Court: I don’t know about you guys, but when I get the uncontollable urge to sing Tina Turner songs, I doff my guitar and start dancing like a drunken gypsy.

The verdict: Just say no to random Tina Turner covers, kids.

Up next we have Donald Driver, who, like many NFL players, seems to have his own brand of “touchdown dance”:

Vogue: Who needs Victor Cruz when we’ve got this guy instead? SERIOUSLY!! The Cruz for the Driver!! :)

Court: Wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle…he’s sexy & he knows it. That dance looks vaguely peacock-ish – like he’s showing us his fancy feathers.

Heidi: And the feathers are, like, really small cuz we only get a wiggle with a swing of about an inch and a half. :-)  Or would it be really big feathers and you only have to do a tiny wiggle to get lots of feather shaking?? :::confused:::

Courtney: It’s the latter, dear.  Peacocks’ feathers span out so far that it kinda makes them top-heavy - if they shake ‘em too hard, they fall over.  I’ve witnessed it ;-)

The verdict: Is Donald brave enough to let us see his peacock? ;-)

Our next contestant is this season’s resident heartthrob, William Levy, who is probably best known for being J. Lo’s man candy in her “I’m Into You” video.  But alas, some semi-rhythmic writhing on a beach doesn’t really count as “dancing”, so I found this clip, which appears to be from some telenovela – it’s completely in Spanish and it looks to have Russian or Greek subtitles (WTF?), but the basic gist appears to be that he and another beefcakey guy had their car break down on a dirt road, some other considerably less-beefcakey guy tried to fix it and failed, but thankfully a taxi full of middle-aged female tourists was driving by and stopped to offer assistance (and ogle the shirtless beefcakes)…and whilst fixing the car, the urge to dance hits William and he does a brief bit of salsa with one of the tourist ladies (1:39 mark):

Court: Telenovelas are funny :-P I have no idea what the hell they’re saying, but the minute I heard one of the tourists yell “Guapo!” and gesture towards the 2 shirtless men -  I knew it was on, senor.  Gotta say – William doesn’t look totally inept.  He’s probably done at least a little salsa & merengue in his day – kinda like JR.  But he’s also a model, so he’s probably more used to standing still that moving around.  I predict lots of posing and Cheryl dancing around him this season :-)

Heidi: He’s the one in the hat? Yeah…no fanbase in the US but it might not matter. :-) But he better be the second coming of Gilles. He had relatively little competition.

Vogue: I predict right now that William Levy will be one of the sexiest male dancers to have ever graced the Dancing With The Stars stage. What’s more, it will be a “natural” kind of sexy that he can’t help. He just has that “look” to melt hearts. If Cheryl can find a way to capitalize on that and make him into a dancer, watch out.

The verdict: William es un chico muy guapo! Mis pantalones estan en fuego!!!

We’ve saved the 2 strongest contenders for last.  First, let’s take a look at Roshon Fagen, who busts some pretty impressive moves at the end of a Radio Disney interview on the set of Shake it Up (2:00 mark):

And then Roshon assures us that he gets “Down on the Dance Flo” in this music video:

Heidi: Dude’s voice hasn’t even changed yet.  :-)  Also not impressed with his dancing here – mainly because someone was saying he’s a trained dancer. Trained in what kind of dancing, I have to ask.

Vogue: He’s young. He has lots of energy to burn. What’s more, he’s refreshing. I think Roshon is going to be a huge contender in this competition.

Court: Maybe formal hip-hop training? Idk…I don’t really know if there is such a thing. Ooh, that’s a hefty promise, Roshon – promising you get down on the dance floor? I hope you’re ready to deliver :-) Kid can certainly move, but can he translate that gyrating into a foxtrot? A waltz?

The verdict: Kid’s got potential…but can Chelsie harnass it?

Last but certainly not least, we have Jaleel White, who already seems to be the favorite to win this season for many of us.  Since Jaleel is best known from his days as Steve Urkel from Family Matters, I simply have to include a clip of his famous “Urkel dance” – which, surprise surprise, I cannot find an embedabble copy of him doing the original one on YouTube, so here he is doing it as Al’s date to the dance on Step By Step during a crossover episode (if you want to see the original, go here.) :

And more recently, here he is cutting a rug in Cee Lo Green’s “Cry Baby” video:

Vogue: I’m impressed. He’s got it all and a ‘smoothness” to boot. What’s more, I felt an automatic attraction with he and Kym during the cast announcement. This is going to be good. I’m really looking forward to these two.

Heidi:  Not bad, not bad. Lose the penis and dance with Derek and he’d be a ringer for sure!!

Courtney: I have to respect any man that played such a dork for so many years…and yet somehow seems uber-slick & smooth now :-) I’m actually kinda curious how much Jaleel is going to draw from his Urkel repertoire while on the show…I know he was really touchy about the whole Urkel thing for several years after Family Matters ended, because he was having a hard time finding roles because people couldn’t imagine him as anything other than Urkel.  Should be interesting to see if he pays homage to it, or avoids it completely.

The verdict: Do not underestimate the Urkel.

Stay tuned for our assessment of the female competitors later this week ;-)

February 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!

PureDWTS Ask Courtney: Why Do Ladies Have to Wear Heels For Ballroom/Latin?

I confess: no one specifically asked this question, but some of you may have noticed that tend to get bit irritated whenever a female celeb or pro on the show opts to forgo the traditional heels in favor of boots, sneakers, or going barefoot.  I thought I’d explain just why I get my knickers in such a twist over it :-)

There are two primary reasons why heels are worn in both the Latin & ballroom dances: the first is aesthetic, and the other is technical. Aesthetically, the shoes are worn to give the the women’s legs a long, lean appearance – the neutral flesh tone of the fabric blends nicely with the skin, giving a nice, long, unbroken line; the heels themselves of course make the women look taller, which in turn enhances the illusion of long legs.  You may have noticed that the women on the show don’t often wear colored dance shoes – that’s because a color that contrasts with the skin tends to “chop off” those nice long lines, and make the women’s legs look shorter.  Why is it so important to have long legs? Because the longer your legs are, the nicer your lines are going to look, and the better technique you’re going to show – and the happier the judges are. :-)

From a technical aspect, the shoes actually help to ensure that the ladies are using the proper technique in their dances.  Remember my post about heel & toe leads? Well the shoes that the ladies wear for Latin are specially balanced so that the ladies’ body weight is shifted over her toes – and remember, all the Latin dances move forward (and backward) with a toe lead.  The ballroom shoes tend to keep the ladies’ body weight balanced evenly on her heels & toes, much like normal shoes, as all the steps in the ballroom dances move forward on the heel and backward on the toe – just like normal walking.  The shoes alone can’t guarantee that a dancer will always have the right technique – but they certainly do help!

So let’s say a woman *cough*Lacey*cough* decides to forgo wearing the proper shoes while dancing, and instead wears something more flat-footed, like boots.  In the Latin dances, it’s probably going to result in her legs looking very short & stubby, and her lines not as impressive.  Case in point: Lance & Lacey’s cha-cha in season 7:

Or, in Hope’s case this past season, those boots just gave her a complete lack of hip action, and resulted in a very flat, boring rumba:

 The effect is a bit less noticeable in the ballroom dances, since they move so similarly to natural walking movement, and I can’t really think of a time on the show that someone has danced a ballroom dance barefoot.  However, I do remember Twitch & Kherington’s Viennese waltz routine from season 4 of SYTYCD, and I remember not being wild about them doing it barefoot, as it just looked somewhat “unfinished” and more like contemporary than real ballroom:

 So there you have it – you be the judge.  I personally think that all ballroom & Latin dances should be done in the proper footwear, and it’s only (semi)acceptable to go barefoot if you’re a pro doing a contemporary-ish pro dance.  But what do you guys think? :-)

February 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!

PureDWTS Ask Courtney: What’s the Difference Between Jive/Lindy/Jitterbug/Charleston/etc.?

This is a very good question :-), but unfortunately one that required a bit of research on my part…so please bear with me as I give you guys a brief history/background of the swing dances.

First things first: all of the above dances are related, and evolved from one another, so that’s why they all look so similar to the naked eye.  Even I often have a hard time discerning between them, especially within the context of DWTS, where I think sometimes even the pros themselves aren’t quite sure about some of these dances – especially the Jitterbug & Lindy Hop. The lines between them are very blurred, because there’s often a lot of overlap in terms of steps, timing, & styling.

Charleston was the earliest of the swing dances, originating in the speakeasies during the 1920′s, and is usually associated with the “flappers”, who danced it alone or with each other to mock the “drys” – people who supported Prohibition.  At the time, it was considered to be a pretty provocative dance.  It has a bouncy feel to it, and the basic step does have the backward rock-step characteristic to almost all of the swing dances.  Here’s a good example of some other Charleston steps – note how it also has some twisting movements, high kicks, and very jazzy arm styling. The music was a swing beat, with perhaps a bit more of a ragtime feel than other swing styles to follow – think “Hot Honey Rag” from Chicago. These days, it more often lends steps to jive & quickstep, rather than being danced as its own, exclusive dance – my boyfriend’s studio doesn’t have an official Charleston syllabus (just not enough steps), but he does often incorporate Charleston steps into other dances.  One example many of you may have noticed is that funky leg flick that the pros often add to their quickstep routines – Mark does it at about the :55 mark of he & Chelsea’s quickstep.  Yep, Charleston moves fit Mark’s jimmie legs perfectly :-) Which is probably why he & Melissa’s Charleston in season 9 sticks out to me as the best representation of the dance on the show – it has the characteristic steps, and they stuck with the 1920′s flapper theme.

Out of the Charleston came the Lindy Hop, which had its heyday in the big band era of the late 1920′s-40′s. It was a product of the Harlem Renaissance, and was born in traditionally black clubs like The Savoy & Cotton Club in New York.  Its footwork was similar to the Charleston, but it had elements of other vernacular/folk dances (such as the cakewalk and Texas Tommy) and also included a breakaway/throwaway step, which allowed the couples dancing it to do more open work than in the Charleston.  It was also quite a bit more daring – when wealthy white patrons descended upon Harlem clubs to watch the black dancers, the dancers themselves upped the ante, and began doing increasingly more dangerous & eye-catching lifts, flips, and tricks (“air steps” or “aerials”) to entertain them.  This often resulted in the dancers being hired to perform or teach Lindy Hop to the patrons. I would say it’s definitely the “showiest” of all the swing dances, due to all the tricks that have come to be standard fare in the Lindy – and with the pros on DWTS, nothing seems to scream “Lindy!” more than some crazy lifts.  In terms of said lifts, I would say that Melissa & Tony’s Lindy in season 8 is the best example; but in terms of overall “feel” (and good use of basic steps), I’d say that Ty & Chelsie’s Lindy is the best example. Read more..

January 7, 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!