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DWTS 16, Week 1 – Power Rankings

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

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

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

March 18, 2013 I Written By

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

DWTS 15 End-of-Season Awards: Which Dance Was the Worst?

And the fun continues…

 worst15

Write-ins:

Gilles & Peta’s Bollywood – 3

Bristol & Mark’s cha-cha – 2

Shawn & Derek’s non-samba samba – 2

Kirstie & Maks’ paso doble trio – 1

Shawn & Derek’s bhangra – 1

Gilles & Peta’s cha-cha – 1

Melissa & Tony’s freestyle – 1

Sabrina & Louis’ paso doble – 1

Shawn & Derek’s rumba – 1

Kelly & Val’s contemporary – 1

Courtney: This is all I’ll say about the write-ins: it’s obvious when someone is writing in a certain dance simply out of spite, or just to try to get a reaction out of people.  How very puerile of them :-) Was Pam & Tristan’s cha-cha a bizarre, fumbly train wreck? Yeah, but I almost think it’s unfair to even count first week dances…because they’re the ones with the highest potential to look like crap.  I usually find myself more turned off by bad dances that occur later on in the season – because by that point, you can’t cite “first week jitters” as a reason to f*ck up.  For that reason, I actually think I chose Gangnam Style – I hated that dance because it was a cop-out.  They basically got a free pass to do ANYTHING they wanted – they could have put a completely unique spin on it, thrown in some cool tricks & lifts, and incorporated some ballroom steps to please Len.  Instead, it was as if they said “Y’know what? Let’s just copy the video, add some additional raunch, and call it a day.” Was it fun? Sure.  But I can think a dance is fun and also think it’s terrible. Case in point? Carson & Anna’s pirate Viennese waltz in season 13.  Amusing in a trainwreck fashion, but I definitely wouldn’t say it was my favorite of that season…or even that week, and it was still a complete mess. I think my second choice was Bristol & Mark’s quickstep, because it just ended up being a complete mess, both in terms of choreography & execution.  Not sure what to make of the surfer flamenco – I guess I would categorize that one as a “cop-out” as well, since it seemed like they said “Welp, we don’t know any flamenco, so let’s do paso in skimpy swimsuits and hope nobody notices!”

Heidi: Courtney!! How dare you say that people write in comments just out of spite!! That NEVER happens here!! Well, okay, only every other day. ;-) Totally agree with you that I wouldn’t look at first week dances and cry out “worst dance ever!!” So many of them DO look like crap in the first week. Anyway, when I looked at this category two dances immediately came to mind – Team Gangnam Style and Gilles’ Bollywood nightmare.  Team Gangnam style just disgusted me because they didn’t even TRY. Any actual dancing that was included was sloppy and disjointed – I seem to recall thinking that Emmett was the only standout from that mess.  Pretty sure that’s the one I voted for…although I could have written in Gilles. :-)

Vogue: When I saw this poll, I almost voted for the Team Gangnam dance as the Worst dance. I remember thinking it was just awful comparted to Team Call Me Maybe’s dance which was so well executed, choreographed and full of creative content. In the end though, I voted for Val and Kelly’s Surfer Flamenco (what an awful combination) as that dance beat them all as worst dance ever in all of the seasons of Dancing With The Stars PUT TOGETHER! 8O

February 21, 2013 I Written By

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

DWTS 15, Week 10 – Finale Power Rankings

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

Anywho…

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

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

3rd place: Kelly & Val

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

: Shawn & Derek

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

The winner: Melissa & Tony

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

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

November 26, 2012 I Written By

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

DWTS 15, Week 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 – What’s Left to Dance?

So obviously, this season is beyond wacky – double eliminations, no eliminations, new dance styles, guest judges, the whole shebang.  And there have been quite a few questions about what dances are being done each week…while I don’t pretend to have a super-clear picture of how the rest of the season is going to unfold, I do have a little bit of info, and I think the bulk of our readers are smart enough to deduce a lot of things :-) So here’s my best (educated) guess at how the rest of the season will unfold – and keep in mind that, like other things this season, some of the stuff in this post has the potential to change.  The double elim’s were scheduled for weeks 4 & 6, and then were moved to weeks 3 & 8 without explanation.  It’s kind of a crap shoot, kids.

First things first: the question I’ve been seeing the most is “Will the couples be able to get through all of the 10 regular ballroom & Latin dances by the finale?” While I can’t say for sure, in all likelihood I doubt they will, given how many other extraneous dances they seem to be trying to fit into the schedule – unless they try and double or even triple up dances in some weeks, which I think is just asking for trouble.   So it’s entirely possible that you may not see Gilles doing a quickstep, or Shawn doing a samba, or Apolo doing a tango, etc. Sorry kids – don’t shoot the messenger.  So every couple has 5 regular dances still remaining - here they are, in no particular order.

ETA1: That’ll teach me not to look more carefully before hitting “post” ;-) I see now that Shawn & Derek ALSO have a fusion dance comprised of 2 dances they have yet to do, just like Gilles & Peta…while everyone else has done one of the dances in their fusion this season.  If I didn’t know any better, I’d say there was a bit of pre-planning in who picked what…but I can’t imagine any way they could do that, judging from how sloppy & disorganized the selection process seemed to be.  Guess it’s all just a coincidence. 

ETA2: Since this seems to be just too difficult for some to process on their own, let me spell this out loud and clear: THERE ARE TWO DANCES NEXT WEEK.  TWOOOOO.  NOT THREE.  I know you saw Apolo’s tweet about 3 dances – the dude is referring to the fusion dance (which is ONE DANCE) as two dances, since it is two dances mashed together into one routine.  Then there is the swing marathon.  1 fusion dance + 1 marathon dance = 2 dances.  I can assure you, there is not some 3rd “secret dance” that the powers that be are going to spring on us at the last minute. Got it? Good, cause I’m done spoon feeding information to anyone that can’t be bothered to read this post.

ETA3: Small update – there will be one more dance this season (in week 9) that is a “new” style that the couples will pick for one another.  No, I don’t have the list.  Still not a peep about the Argentine tango – so at this point, I’m assuming we aren’t going to see it. 

ETA4: Looks like they scrapped the idea of having celebs as the 3rd member of the trio dances, and we’re back to using pros (and troupe members) - phew! Also looks like salsa has been thrown into the mix as a possible trio dance, and it’s been confirmed: back-to-back double elims in weeks 8 AND 9 8-O Start making those extra verified accounts, kids…

Gilles & Peta – remaining dances: samba, paso doble, waltz, quickstep, Viennese waltz

Ruh-roh! Gilles only has 2 “sexy” dances left for him to get overscored on, based solely on his sex appeal.  Then he’s got three of the pretty staunch ballroom dances to contend with – any bets on which of the 3 (or more) that he miraculously won’t get to this season? I could see him somehow dodging the waltz, since that seems to be a dance that has to be amazing in order for a couples to get votes. If there’s any dance I’d say Peta might struggle with choreographing, it’s the quickstep – for the simple reason that she’s only choreographed one so far on the show (for Donald) and I recall thinking it was a tad weak.

Shawn & Derek – remaining dances: samba, paso doble, waltz, tango, Viennese waltz

I think the fact that these two still have paso doble left bodes well for them – it’s a dance for which Derek almost always comes up with stellar choreography.  Viennese waltz will probably be a good one as well.  I do worry about the samba a bit, though, because it’s a dance that Derek has said is one of his least favorite to choreograph, and if I recall, it was one that Shawn got mixed reviews for on her original season.  I wonder if it would benefit them to use it as their trio dance. Read more..

October 31, 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 4: Sabrina Bryan & Louis Van Amstel Dance on Ellen Show

The segment Sabrina & Louis taped for the Ellen Show on Friday aired today.  They did their cha-cha.
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 That’s the only clip I can find, so I don’t know if they actually talked to Ellen at-length later on, or if that was it.  If someone finds another clip, let me know :-)

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 Season 15, Week 1 – The Cheesecake Awards!!!!

Well kids, we’re back & snarky/juvenile/perverse/etc!  :-P And for those of you not accustomed to our particular brand of humor – consider yourself warned.  We swear, we get innuendo-y, we make fart jokes, and we call people out for being stupid on the show.  If you are hypersensitive/lack a sense of humor/are a prude/whatever, you probably should just skip this post altogether…and you sure as hell better not comment on it.  Because any Debbie Downers/Bobby Buzzkills lurking in the comments section will be deleted without a 2nd thought.  Consider this the party post – party poopers need not apply, because we have plenty of fellow freaks who love to party along with our special brand of humor.  Party on, Wayne ;-)

The “C U Next Tuesday” Award: Carrie Ann Inaba, for repeatedly calling out Tom for cutting her off

Courtney: We learned pretty quickly on Monday whether we’d get cool Carrie Ann or bitter, angry Carrie Ann this season – and I think she made it pretty clear it’s definitely the latter.  Look, CAI, I get it: your fairytale engagement didn’t result in a fairytale wedding, and you’re probably not too happy about that.  But did you really have to repeatedly heckle EMMY AWARD-WINNING HOST Tom Bergeron for cutting your commentary on Joey & Kym’s cha-cha off early? It was pretty obvious the show was moving at breakneck speed in order to fit everyone in, and I daresay that, being the EMMY AWARD -WINNING HOST of a LIVE reality tv show, Tom Bergeron knows a thing or two about effectively fitting into a time frame while still being entertaining – plus he probably had the Muppets upstairs screaming in his earpiece to move things along.  I highly doubt whatever long-winded critique you were going to offer up was all that insightful, CAI – it seldom is.  Yet your excessive self-importance forced you to interrupt things not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES to remind everyone that Tom cut you off – who’s the asshat now?

Heidi: My brother texted me during the show to call CAI names….then commented that her tampon is in sideways. :-)  Yes, that is my family…we tend toward gross at times. But also very apropos.  But seriously, don’t heckle The Berg, biotch. It’s not all about you. Hard to believe, I know.

Courtney: Looks like someone had a bad case of Emmy Envy.  :-P

The “Deeerrrrp” Award: Chelsie Hightower, for getting confused over the native languages of Brazil & South America; (dis)honorable mention – Val Chmerkovskiy, for not really knowing what Kelly did for a living

Courtney: “Wait…they speak Spanish in South America???” I’d like to think this was taken out of context, but from the puzzled look on Chelsie’s face…I doubt it was.  And by the earnest expression on Val’s face as he asked “Oh, you work in a hospital?”, I’m gonna venture a guess that “catching up on the soaps” is not on Val’s list of hobbies :-P

Heidi: Both were hilarious…but I was yelling at my TV, saying “Chelsie, STOP talking, yer makin’ it worse”, while laughing at her.  Val I thought was just endearing…and for Kelly, humbling. :-D

Couple’s Schtick That is Most Likely To Get Old VERY Quickly: Sabrina & Louis reminding everyone that Sabrina was voted in and this season is “all about redemption”; (dis)honorable mention for Derek’s short jokes and Kelly & Val’s pattycaking

Courtney: I just think the short jokes are corny :-P And I guess I would just rather see Kelly & Val doing something other than pattycaking…something more…intimate.  ;-) Maybe if they were playing pattycake with their face.  LOL :-P But the Sabrina & Louis “the viewers chose us to be here!” and “this is all about redemption because Sabrina left too early” poppycock is just beyond annoying at this point.  If that’s their big reason why people should vote for them – then they must not be that special, because every week that any of the couples is sticking around, is a week they are being “chosen” by the viewers, since they’re obviously getting votes.  And you want to talk about “redemption”? Gilles was narrowly beat out for the MBT by a mere 1%.  Joey & Kirstie are both 2nd place finishers; Bristol finished 3rd in her season, and was pretty unpopular.  Drew, Kelly, & Emmitt are all trying to prove that the earlier champions are every bit as good as the newer ones. I daresay any of the names I just mentioned have a greater hunger for “redemption” than a 7th place finisher who just couldn’t get the votes to stick around in season 5…and has been reminding us about it ever since.

Heidi: Eh, I don’t mind the short jokes and Derek usually recognizes the shelf life of  joke in general. (I have to say, though, that the harassment he got from one Shawn fan freak on Twitter was OTT – yo, Derek ain’t the one that looks bad here, nutjob!) Also didn’t mind the patty caking – was rather amazed by that, actually. Not sure I could do that without a shit ton of beer to relax me.  :-) But the Sabrina crap is in a whole other league from those other two because we’ve been hearing for YEARS about her (not) shocking elimination. Talk about drinking game potential. Get the fuck over it already! I’m about ready to stick a pen in my eye.  Guess what kids – you were voted in over Carson and Kyle, NOT the rest of the cast. You better hope like hell that Team Sabrina is a lot bigger than I suspect it is. Read more..

September 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 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!

DWTS 15 All-Stars: The Great “Previous Dance Experience” Debate – Kirstie Alley Edition

We’re finally here! Premiere day at last :-) If you haven’t yet, go ahead and check out Heidi’s “Who’s Dancing What…And When?” post to get the low-down on the performance order tonight, the voting phone numbers, and possibly a few spoilers on the music some of the couples are dancing to ;-)

Today, I take on the final (and most recent) celeb on my series examining the highs & lows of the all-stars’ original seasons – Kirstie Alley.  And if you want to get all fancy and read all the previous editions before the premiere (overachiever ;-)), you can check them out here.

For Kirstie’s best dance, I picked her cha-cha:

And for her worst dance, I picked her jive:

I know some of you are thinking “But Kirstie’s cha-cha wasn’t even her highest-scoring dance!!!” But I have always thought of it as Kirstie & Maks’ magnum opus of season 12 – a dance that showcased not only Kirstie’s dance skills but also her incredible ability to entertain. She may not have been the best technician (but she certainly wasn’t the worst that season, either), but what she lacked in technique she more than made up for in performance – even in her worst dance, she still managed to stay entertaining & fun to watch.  And very theatrical :-) One thing that always astonished me about Kirstie in season 12 was that, despite acknowledging that she was overweight and out-of-shape, she always seemed so light on her feet and still moved with a ton of precision – it kinda reminded me of Warren Sapp, who was a BIIIIIIG man but who was often more graceful than some of the men half his size.  Just because you may not have the perfect body, does not mean your movement quality has to suffer :-)

However, there was one drawback to Kirstie’s physical condition that did seem to hinder her, and that I worry might still be a problem this season: endurance.  I think we all were dreading the week in season 12 that Kirstie got jive, because we had seen how winded she got doing much slower dances, such as the samba.  And unfortunately, I don’t think those fears were unfounded – Kirstie did seem to struggle with keeping up with the speed of the jive, and never seemed to really get the bounce in her step that makes jive so fun to watch.  The choreo probably wasn’t the best, either, but that’s one dance where I can’t really blame Maks for taking so long to get into the dance – if your partner has bad endurance and probably won’t make it through a full-lenth 1:30 routine, try to put as little jive into it as possible, and as many rests into it as will fit.  I know Kirstie’s in much better shape this time around, but is she going to be able to contend with seasoned athletes like Apolo, Emmitt, and Shawn? Or younger, more resilient contestants like Kelly & Melissa? I’m not so sure.  Thankfully, she will get jive out of the way early this time – so if she does struggle with it, she may still be safe. 

So what has Kirstie been up to in the year & a half since her original season? She did sponsor a “100 Days of Dance” campaign for her organic food line, Organic Liasion, last summer.  Here’s a video of her dancing a Viennese waltz with “Johnny Boy”…I’m a bit partial to it for obvious reasons ;-):

Court’s verdict: Kirstie’s off-the-wall antics and showmanship could keep her in the competition for awhile – but she will need to work on endurance and her overall physical fitness in order to give some of the athletes a run for their money.

Thoughts on Kirstie?

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!