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DWTS 16 Pros: Food for Thought – Did Maks Try to “Pull an Edyta”?

I know we’re all still reeling from the whiplash of Pro Watch – old pros are sitting this one out, entirely new pros are being brought in, troupe members are getting promoted, and the status of some pros seems to change from “out” to “in” and back again on a daily basis.  The general question on everyone’s lip: “WTF is going on at DWTS??!!!”

While I don’t have a ton of insider info about what’s going on with the casting (even the insiders seem to be somewhat in the dark this season!), I do have a theory or two, and some knowledge of previous seasons to help back up said theories – and I’m about to share one with you that may or may not put things in perspective, and may or may not help ease your concerns…but it’s one that at least makes some sense, given what we’ve seen unfolding the past week or so and what we know of previous seasons.  Take it with a biiiiig grain of salt, as I’m not 100% confident in the veracity of some of the claims made in it.  And Maks fans of the hypersensitive persuasion should probably just stop reading right now.  :-)

First, let’s go back in time to about 2.5 years ago – the week or so leading up to the season 11 cast annoucement.  Lacey had tweeted something cranky (and characteristically “Lacey”) about not being part of that season’s cast, and we were led to believe that she would be sitting that season out.  About 36-48 hours later, we were smacked in the face by the news that Edyta had suddenly quit DWTS, and Lacey was then excitedly tweeting that she was back in as one of the pros.  What happened??? Allegedly (and I’m using this as a precaution, as the info I’m about to share has been culled from multiple sources – some more credible than others, and not all of it matches up), Edyta had tried leveraging in her negotiations with TPTB – some think she was upset that her husband Alec wasn’t getting asked back as a pro, some say she was upset about the partner she got (which confuses me – read on), some say she was holding out for more $$$, who knows.  Whatever it was, I guess Edyta tried to throw her weight around as the longest-tenured pro on the show (at the time) and gave the producers an ultimatum: “You give me [insert demand here] or I quit.” To which the producers replied, “K, bye then!” I’m guessing Edyta wasn’t expecting them to call her bluff, and she also doesn’t strike me as the type who will swallow their pride easily, so of course, she had to follow through on her promise, and out she went. Read more..

February 25, 2013 I Written By

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

DWTS13 Freestyle Retrospective: The Top 10 Best Freestyles in DWTS History

So the other day, we counted down the top 10 worst freestyles in DWTS history, and re-lived some of the biggest stinkers we’ve seen in 12 seasons. Today we’ve saved the best for last: the showstoppers, the jaw-droppers, and the dynamite freestyles that have set the bar for all the freestyles to follow. :-)

Some patterns we’ve noticed: most of these routines are high-energy, use recognizable songs, and have either a theme or a general “feel” for the celebs to connect to. It’s a pattern that seems to work – let’s hope this season’s finalists stick to it!

Heidi’s Note: You’ll also note that you have a better shot of making this list if your name if Johnson, Hough, or Ballas.  Possibly Schwimmer – she’s one for two, isn’t she??

10. Kyle Massey & Lacey Schwimmer, season 11

Courtney: This is a good example of a hip-hop freestyle actually working out well – basically the polar opposite of Lacey’s ill-fated hip-hop freestyle with Lance. This time around, the song & theme fit her partner to a T – Kyle LOVED “Tootsie Roll”, and it really showed. Now while the choreo wasn’t really all that complicated, it was the fact that Kyle just milked each step for all its worth that really made it fun – I swear, I think the only more charismatic contestant to ever do the show is Carson. :-P Kyle had swaaaaaag, and was a true showman…and it didn’t hurt that he wasn’t too shabby a dancer, either.

Heidi: The thing that made this work was that it fit Kyle to a tee and he LOVED it. He was having the time of his life and he had the skills to pull off a hip hop routine. You combine that with some pretty clever choreography and you have a brilliant freestyle. He’d be much farther up on my list…but this is surprisingly hard to come up with and putting them in order? Impossible! Anyway, when I stand up off the couch and cheer, you know it’s good. And this one was also FUN in all caps. :-) Read more..

November 19, 2011 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!

DWTS13 Freestyle Retrospective: The Top 10 Worst Freestyles in DWTS History

So every season, as we draw nearer & nearer to the finale, it seems like the question on everyone’s lips is “What are they gonna do for their freestyle?” We debate which pros are the stronger freestyle choreographers, which celebs can handle the lifts, who’s got the most dance skills, who is going to struggle, etc. So Heidi & I decided to tackle the big question: what makes a good DWTS freestyle?

While everyone may argue over what works and what doesn’t, with 12 seasons under our belts, we have enough historical data to see some patterns – and there are definitely some things that all good freestyles seem to have in common, and some things that the bad freestyles have in common. Today we’re starting with the worst – these are examples of what this season’s finalists should likely avoid, and of which they should probably try to do the opposite :-)

A little insight into how we arrived at this list: I made a list of my own, and then bumped it against a list Heidi made and we looked for similarities. I also asked for suggestions on Twitter, to see if my finger was on the pulse of the more dedicated viewing audience; I polled my co-workers (likely more representative of the average viewer than most of us lurking on the Net ;-)) as well to get their thoughts. Turns out, most of you guys came up with the same examples of good & bad – which is good, since it shows that opinions on freestyles seem to be pretty universal. But without further ado, I give you the top 10 WORST freestyles in DWTS history:

10.) Chelsea Kane & Mark Ballas, season 12

Courtney: This was one that a lot of you seemed divided on – some of you loved it, some of you hated it. I ultimately decided to include it in the “worst” list because it seemed to have something in common with a lot of the other freestyles on this list: it wasn’t reflective of the celeb it was meant to showcase. Yes, it was high-energy, it was well-executed (for the most part), and it was entertaining – but what did it really have to do with Chelsea? While she managed to keep up with Mark fairly well and got through the choreography, I never really got the feeling that it was a routine she really felt connected to, or that she even would have picked for herself. It was as if she had given Mark carte blanche with the routine and he chose everything – the music, the costumes, the theme, etc., and Chelsea was just along for the ride. I think choosing an obscure song didn’t help, and the choreo seemed to showcase Mark more than Chelsea – the poor girl just seemed to be trying to keep her head above water. Add to that some bland costumes and a wardrobe malfunction, and you’ve got a freestyle that’s overall just “Meh.” Definitely not 30-worthy, IMO.

Heidi: Well, this one I would have put in “dishonorable mentions” but it’s almost in that pile anyway, at slot #10. :-) The problem here, like you say, was Chelsea wasn’t connected to it (and similar ideas appear throughout this post). Not only that, but the music didn’t really match the costumes and none of it matched the choreo. It seemed all mixed up to me. It had a latin flavor, yet they were doing a light hip hop type choreo (I don’t really know how else to explain that) and their costumes matched neither. Then – why the lights and the bike?? I feel like I missed something on this one. There was also a section where it seemed like they just went from one cool trick to the next. The best freestyles (including some of Mark’s) had a good bit of actual ballroom dancing thrown in in places. This one is just a bit weird for me.

9.) Evan Lysacek & Anna Trebunskaya, season 10

Heidi: PEOPLE, unless your pro is Dmitry – do NOT argue with them about choreography. At all. Geez. That said, this is another freestyle that was good on paper, but in execution just didn’t work for some reason. Clearly it worked in person, since the studio crowd loved it…but the dance didn’t seem to fit either Evan OR Footloose. When Derek did Grease with Brooke, there was a clear, but brief, homage to the movie. The dance went with the song and it worked perfectly for Brooke. When he did a song from Dirty Dancing with Jennifer – again, a subtle, brief homage to the movie and it worked for Jennifer because, of course – she was in the movie. I think by the time they get to the freestyle the pros are just drained and they forget to really tie it altogether – and if you pick an iconic song, you have to really tie it altogether so that the dancing fits the iconic song but also works for your partner. It seems like this dance doesn’t fit either. He didn’t dance it badly by any stretch, but neither did Gilles in their Flashdance freestyle. That doesn’t make it good.

Courtney: I was always a bit puzzled as to why they picked Footloose – did one of them really, really like the movie? Or was it just another easy, dance movie theme to go with? I think that’s the one big difference between a freestyle like Jennifer’s and a freestyle like Evan’s (or Mya’s, or Gilles’, or Stacy’s – see below) – relevance. Dirty Dancing was relevant to Jennifer; but was Footloose really relevant to Evan? I want a freestyle to basically sum up a partnership for me – I want it to feel like both the celeb & the pro connect to both the dance and each other, and for the routine to feel like a nice closure to their season together. For me, going with Footloose as their theme left more questions than answers. Ooh, and can I just say that I think bringing in an outside choreographer is the absolute kiss of death? It doesn’t see to mesh well with the chemistry the couple has forged over the course of the season, and usually leads to coupled being led dangerously out of their comfort zone. And both Evan & Anna seemed uncomfortable with this one – almost pained, at times. Read more..

November 16, 2011 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!

DWTS13 Who Danced it Better? The “Most Memorable Year” Edition

As many of you may have noticed, costumes aren’t the only things that get reused on DWTS – songs get recycled as well, sometimes ad infinitum! After oodles of requests from you guys for a feature like this, I’ve finally carved out the time to sit down and make it happen :-) Marianya actually used to do these posts awhile back – if you go to the search bar and type in “dance comparison”, you’ll see several editions she did for season 10.  Heidi & I are going to try and do it as well as she did, but you know us – if it doesn’t involve snark, we probably have the attention span of goldfish. :-)

Battle of Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love”

 This was actually the VERY FIRST song ever used on DWTS, when Joey McIntyre & Ashly Costa (née Delgrosso) danced their cha-cha to it back in season 1…

 After that, it didn’t pop until again until 10 seasons later, as the opening pro number for the 200th episode results show in season 11:

And of course, most recently, Kristin chose it as her ”most memorable year” song for her samba with Mark:

Court’s take: I was pleasantly surprised at how the band managed to tweak the beat to feel more “samba-y” for Kristin, but as much as she tried to shake her booty and flip her hair – she just didn’t manage to fully embody Beyonce’s swag. Loved Joey & Ashly’s attitude for their cha-cha, although in retrospect Joey was probably not as good as I thought he was back then – the standard of competition has definitely gone up in 13 seasons ;-) But for me the real standout was the 200th episode pro dance; loved the fact that we saw multiple styles in it (cha-cha, quickstep, a little bit of samba) as well as a TON of pros from the past coming, almost literally, out of the woodwork – all the usual suspects, as well as some rarer ones like Anna D., Corky, Ashly, & even Inna (remember her?) While they may have a bit of an unfair edge…gotta give it to the pros in this one.  That dance was HOT.

 Battle of No Doubt’s “It’s My Life”

 First, Louie Vito had it for his foxtrot with Chelsie in season 9:

 And of course, our favorite fashionista, Carson, tangoed to it with Anna for his “most memorable year” dance:

 Court’s take: Poor Louie never stood a chance against the fabulousity of Carson :-P Plus the song just feels better as a tango for me. 

 Battle of Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon”

 Fittingly, it was astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s foxtrot with Ashly in season 10…

 

And then Rob honored his late dad with the song when he foxtrotted with Cheryl to it this week:

 Court’s take: While I thought Buzz was adorable, his age kinda limited his range of motion – and by extension, the tempo of the music he danced to.  It just felt so slooooow.  I actually really enjoyed Rob’s – it was light and carefree, and Rob looked like he really connected to the song and enjoyed himself.

So whose renditions of these songs do YOU guys prefer? :-)

October 7, 2011 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 Who Wore it Better? Part XIII – The Chelsie Appreciation Edition

Well she may not be on the show this season, but “out of sight” is certainly not “out of mind” for us here at PureDWTS! What better time to show Chelsie she’s loved than now? :-)

I must confess, due to my own pessimistic tendencies, this was originally supposed to be the Anna Apprecation Edition, because I was so certain she wouldn’t be back this season.  But thankfully, she is, and now I have inspiration to create subsequent editions of WWIB featuring all of the female pros – eventually. ;-) Finding costume dittos is hard sometimes, even for someone with a freakishly near-photographic memory like mine…

Battle of the peach jeweled ballgown: Brooke’s Viennese waltz with Derek in season 7 vs. Chelsie’s pro dance with Dmitry to Jewel in season 8

Heidi: I think the look worked on Brooke simply so that the dress didn’t detract from the emotion of the dance, which was a Viennese Waltz to Daughters, by John Mayer.  It’s kind of plain on her, otherwise. I prefer it on Chelsie, and I like her softer hairstyle with this dress. Of course, it could just be the lighting. :-)

Courtney: I noticed several patterns with Chelsie’s costume choices while compiling this post.  The first is that she has an affinity for doing very lifty, contemporary choreo while wearing shortened ballgowns.  You can’t see in this picture, but this dress has actually been shortened substantially – check it out on the Randall website. May not be of any consequence to you guys, but I do find it kind of interesting how the costume department, when pressed for time & unable to create new costumes, just takes what they have on hand & changes it to work for them – very resourceful.  Anywho! I always thought the dress was very pretty on Brooke, but I’m not sure it’s a color she would pick for herself – seems too demure, and better suited to someone more wholesome and youthful, like Chelsie. And I’m not wild about Brooke’s hair – looks too…plastered down? Idk.

The winner: Chelsie, for better coloring…or maybe lighting.

Battle of the black, fringed, jewel-trimmed Latin dress: Chelsie in the season 11 finale opening dance vs. Anna’s opening credits shoot with Sugar Ray in season 12

Courtney: Another pattern I noticed with Chelsie: she is so freaking hard to get a decent screen cap of!!!!! Seriously – she never stops moving, and her technique is so good that she moves with such a range of motion that she’s seldom in a position where she’s facing the camera, in a neutral position.  I got so many bad screenshots of her moving her body in crazy ways that made it impossible to see her costume well.  She also seems fond of black-fringed costumes – this one is pretty similar to the one she wore for her cha-cha with Romeo, and she wore gloves for both.  In truth – I’m not wild about this version of the black-fringed costume.  Since there’s very little sparkle, it just seems to look a little blah on both ladies for me.  At least with the Romeo version, there was quite a bit of sparkle to give the costume some depth.  I prefer colored versions of this particular style, such as the hot pink & multicolored versions featured in WWIB Part XI.

Heidi: I don’t care for the long black gloves with the short, fringed latin dresses – I don’t get that wardrobe choice at all. Other than that, there isn’t much to say about it really – it’s hard to see but I really prefer the dress on Anna – and again, it could just be the background and the lighting influencing me. I’m so easy. :-)

The winner: Anna by a hair…with an assist from the background & lighting :-)

Battle of the sheer, white, feather-trimmed ballgown: Cheryl’s Viennese waltz with Chad in season 10 vs. Chelsie’s dance with Mark in the “America’s Favorite Dancers” show

Heidi: They all have their “tics” don’t they?? :-) Mark’s is high water pants and polka dots, Cheryl’s is the sheer ballgown skirt.  I much prefer Cheryl’s tic in this case, although I do find it a rather strange choice. As for who wore it better?? Well, I think Chelsie is wearing it like it’s a dress made for CHERYL, if that makes sense. It doesn’t really seem like it belongs on her, and I also prefer Cheryl’s hairstyle, as it is fancy, fancy, fancy…just like the dress.

Courtney: Ahhh yes – another representative of Cheryl’s ongoing infatuation with sheer-skirted ballgowns :-) This one is odd for me: I think the bodice is gorgeous, with all of the beading & delicate details, but the skirt…looks totally silly to me. Like they let a class of preschoolers decorate it with a bunch of feathers & pom-poms.  All that’s missing is the uncooked macaroni and you’ve got yourself a craft project! I don’t know…they both look good from the waist up, and bizarre from the waist down.  I’m apathetic.

The winner: Cheryl loves her some sheer skirts…and rocks them well.

Battle of the red, jeweled midriff Latin costume: Chelsie in the pro dance with the Mwano family in season 11 vs. Edyta’s salsa relay with Ashley in season 9

Courtney: Chelsie costuming pattern #3: she will never show her stomach completely.  Seriously…find me an example of her midriff being completely exposed and I will gladly admit I’m wrong.  She’ll wear cut-out dresses, or ones that show a teeny-tiny bit of belly, but then you’ve got 2-piece costumes like this where they slap a piece of mesh down the front.  This costume definitely had to go through some un-Edytafication before Chelsie would wear it…the mesh, the extra layer of fabric on the skirt to cover the sides, the increased chest coverage.  Normally I would give this one to Edyta, no contest, but the open sides of the skirt look weird to me.  Gotta go with Chelsie this time.

Heidi: Edyta, by a mile.  It was originally designed for her and by adding back material it just makes an already unfortunate dress worse. :-)  When you add the mesh on the front it make the whole dress look heavy, what with the double patterned belts around the hips and under the bra line.  I think Edyta is just playing the part here better than Chelsie is – and damn that woman has a body.  :-)

The winner: Edyta, for playing the part.

Battle of the lavender, jewel-trimmed, one-shoulder ballgown: Kym’s Viennese waltz with Donny in season 9 vs. Chelsie’s Viennese waltz with Jake in the season 10 finale

Heidi: I think Chelsie is a bit too short for this dress – maybe if it was straight to the floor instead of layered it would work better for me. Both women look very pretty, but I’m gonna have to go with Kym, I believe.

Courtney: This is another thing I hate about screen-capping – it always makes colors look too warm.  The dress is closer to the color on the left than the color on the right – but it’s a pretty color, regardless.  I think it’s a good example of the “less is more” concept of costuming – very simple silhouette, flattering color, minimal trim.  Lovely :-) Looks great on both ladies, but I have to give this one to Kym – love her romantic wavy hair.  Looks like Chelsie may have been the victim of the dreaded quick-change, which usually necessitates un-fussy, generically-styled hair to fit multiple costumes.

The winner: She of the Awesome Boobage dominates once again.

Battle of the gold, fringed, halter-top Latin dress: Chelsie in the season 8 intros vs. Ashly in the 150th episode pro dance to “Hard to Handle” in season 6

Heidi: Hmmm….tough call. Both ladies wear this dress well. It compliments both Chelsie’s sunny, California girl look, and Ashly’s darker hair and complexion.  This one is a tough call!!  I think I’m leaning toward Chelsie, but I have to idea why. :-)

Courtney: Maybe because we have a hard time believing a wholesome Mormon mommy like Ashly would pick out an outfit like this for herself? ;-) I dunno, at least that’s what I think – both ladies are on the wholesome side, but Chelsie is able to pull off sexier, flashier outfits a bit better, IMO.  The impression I get from Ashly in this dress is that “I had to wear a gold dress to match the other dancers, so I bit the bullet and picked out the most conservative one I could.” Plus I love the way a gold outfit looks paired with blonde hair :-)

The winner: Chelsie, for looking more comfortable being sexy.

Battle of the pale blue, jeweled high-neck ballgown: Nicole’s waltz with Derek in season 10 vs. Chelsie’s pro dance with Dmitry to Goo Goo Dolls in season 11

Courtney: I had completely forgotten about this one – and now that I’m looking at it, I’m realizing that it is really a beautiful dress. Simple silhouette with delicate details.  Again, looks great on both ladies, but I’m gonna go with Nicole on this one – I think this dress is better balanced as a long dress, and the high neck looks a bit odd on Chelsie.

Heidi: I think the high collar on this dress rather begs for an upswept, formal hairstyle. It draws the eye to a nice neck and you don’t want your hair ruining the effect. So, I have to go with Nicole also. The bodice of the dress with the shorter length (and lack of shoes) on Chelsie just doesn’t look quite right.

The winner:  Nicole, by a length…of dress.

August 29, 2011 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 Rants & Raves: To Lift or Not to Lift?

For those of you that follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed me “getting up on my soapbox” the past few weeks regarding something that has been debated from several different angles around PureDWTS: lifts.  We’ve casually kicked around the pros & cons of them: do they enhance the routine, or are they just filler? Should they be required? Should they be prohibited? Are they safe? What exactly constitutes a lift, anyway? Well here it is, kids – the place where we can really get down to the nitty-gritty of lifts.

My sudden fixation with the topic started about 2 weeks ago, while watching a movie with my boyfriend (who, as many of you know, is a pro ballroom dancer/teacher).  He kept squirming around, trying to get comfortable, and failing.  Finally, getting annoyed with all his wiggling, I asked what was wrong.  “Oh, I just strained my neck a little bit doing a lift with one of my students today.  It’s just a little sore.” Seemed benign enough – minor soreness from doing a new lift.  But over the course of the next week, the pain intensified, to the point where he was unable to turn his head to the right AT ALL, and had to turn his whole body to face me when I was talking (which was actually kind of cool, since it made me think  he was just really listening to me intently ;-)) and had to institute a temporary ban on lifting at the dance studio. He iced it.  He put a heating pad on it.  He stretched it. He used a special neck pillow. He took some Tylenol. He went and got 3 massages in one week – all to little avail.  Things were starting to take their toll on both of us, as my bf was in too much pain to ride his motorcycle, sit upright for very long, or do any sort of vigorous activity. Finally, at the recommendation of one of his students (and me, as I had been HOUNDING him about it), he finally went to the chiropractor last Friday, and after taking one look at my bf’s x-ray, the chiropractor exclaimed “Ooh, no wonder you’ve been in pain – your C4 & C5 vertebrae are wayyyy out of alignment!” A few minutes with the TENS unit and some adjusting with the chiropractor later, he was FINALLY experiencing some relief.  That was a week ago – he’s been to the chiro a few more times since then, and he’s probably 85% better. But the no-lift rule at the studio still stands until he’s back to 100% and gets the all-clear from the chiropractor.

So the most obvious question brought up by my bf’s dilemma is “Are lifts safe?” The answer: no.  Read my lips: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A “SAFE” LIFT. Sure, there are techniques to make them safer, and some are clearly safer than others, but all lifts are inherently dangerous, as there is always going to be the risk of injury from falling or being fallen on, as well as other sprains, strains, and even breaks from trying to correct a fall that is already in motion.  In fact, the very appeal of lifts is in the danger – the awe-spiring risk of doing them in the first place, and often the romantic notion of the delicate lady being in harm’s way, but protected by the strong arms of a handsome male lead.  No wonder all of my boyfriend’s students want lifts in their showcase routines! ;-)

Which brings up the next question: should they even be doing lifts in the first place? Obviously, it’s always going to be safer for a couple already experienced in lifting to be doing lifts (check out Eric Luna & Georgia Ambarian, the current world champions in the theater arts division), and it’s a downright TERRIBLE idea for two inexperienced individuals to start attempting them without the guidance and supervision of someone with experience (this is a good example of people that should NOT being doing lifts!).  But both my boyfriend’s predicament and that of the couples on DWTS is a bit more of a grey area – the situation where only half of the couple is experienced. In this particular case, I’m a firm believer that the more experienced member of the partnership is the one more likely to get hurt, regardless of gender.  Since they’re experienced, they’re going to be more likely to be hurt by the rookie mistakes of their partner, and more likely to try & protect their partner from harm…and possibly injure themselves as a result.  My boyfriend is a good example of this, as his neck injury was the result of him compensating for a student who couldn’t quite get the right leverage to get up onto his shoulder; Kym’s neck injury this past season is also a good example, as it was Hines who lost his balance and fell onto Kym, likely due to pure inexperience.  Toni Redpath (a former Australian ballroom champion & a frequent guest judge/choreographer on SYTYCD) did a great video blog a few weeks back (thanks for pointing this out, Evaine! Quite timely ;-)) which did a good job of explaining why lifts are allowed in ballroom routines on SYTYCD but not on DWTS – and the biggest reason was *drumroll* EXPERIENCE.  All the dancers on SYTYCD have some experience with dance, which makes the transition to lifting quite a bit smoother for them than a celebrity with zero dance experience. Not only does it make life a bit easier on the celebs, but it keeps the couples safer, too. 

But let’s say experience is not an issue.  From a choreographic standpoint, should everybody be peppering lifts into their routines? I certainly don’t think so.  Heidi always brings up an interesting argument whenever someone starts comparing ballroom on SYTYCD to ballroom on DWTS and the subject of lifts comes up: when used in excess, lifts tend be a bit of a cop-out, choreographically. It can often let bad dancers get away with not really dancing, and results in a routine that is more “flash & trash” than meat-and-potatoes dance steps – and can end up looking NOTHING like the dance it’s meant to portray.  The best example of this that I can think of is Channing & Philip’s samba from season 6 of SYTYCD.  While not inherently “bad”, the routine only has a few basic samba steps in it, and the rest was a lot of shimmying and (rather clumsily-executed) lifts.  Of course the video cuts out before the judges give their commentary, but I distinctly remember Adam actually calling out the choreographers on this one for making the routine “too lifty”.  I feel like lifts can also interrupt the “flow” of a dance if not placed properly – for a lift to work choreographically, I think it has to have proper timing & musicality, and have very fluid transitions in & out of it.  Otherwise you end up with routines like Channing & Philip’s, which feels jerky & disjointed – “Look I’m doing samba, I’m doing samba, I’m doing samba…ooh now I’m stopping samba & doing a lift…aaaaaand I’m back to dancing samba…STOP! time for another lift-and more samba….” It’s just visually…displeasing. Now don’t get me wrong – a few well-placed, well-executed lifts can enhance a routine.  A great example is Riccardo Cocchi & Yulia Zagoruychenko’s samba showdance from the 2009 America’s Ballroom Challenge (does the move at 1:06 look familiar? Derek used it at the end of his samba with Nicole ;-)).  Only one lift, and they ended up winning the showdance category, over 5 other couples – most of whom had more lifts. IMHO, you don’t need lifts to make ANY routine on DWTS (including the freestyle) look good.  Derek had no choice but to come up with alternatives to lifts in season 11, when Jennifer made it clear from day 1 that her neck injury made lifting an impossibility – and they still managed to win, and create some very memorable routines while they were at it. Their lift-minimal Argentine tango still stands out to me as one of the best we’ve ever had on the show.

So the bf & I were talking about lifts at-length the other night, and he said something that stuck with me: “You know, DWTS is great for the attention it has brought to ballroom dancing & all, but it’s really left some people with an unrealistic idea of what ballroom is and isn’t.” He went on to explain that he gets new students in the studio who are frustrated upon finding out that they won’t be dancing eye-catching routines like the ones on TV right off the bat, and many of them seem more concerned with costumes & music than technique & solid choreography.  I can imagine it gets very frustrating for dance teachers like him – especially when the demand for flashy nuances like lifts necessitates them risking their own safety.  The format of DWTS has actually forced my bf’s studio to start doing more showcase routines with their students (as opposed to focusing on good technique for competition) – and as my bf puts it, “every single one of my ladies wants lifts in her routine – and if they think one of the other ladies has more/better lifts, they’ll ask for more.  It’s KILLING me!” And me as well, since he often comes home cranky & sore and barely able to move…let alone do other activities. ;-)

So I’ve said my piece with regards to lifts…what do you guys think? LAY IT ON ME :-D

August 9, 2011 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 Who Wore it Better? Part XII – More from Season 12

So the addition of the troupe this past season did have one unexpected positive effect: even more costume dittos! Which makes my job a bit easier ;-) And I’m noticing the costume department has a special affinity for red – lots & lots of sparkly, red, fringy, feathery stuff… Read more..

August 5, 2011 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 12 – Most Watched Season EVER???

So, this is one of those posts that I threatened to do during one of our Cheesecake Awards posts and it came up because of the Tom Bergeron claim that Season 12 was the “most watched season EVER!!” I was certain that he and the producers were taking liberties with the data and the numbers. Was I right??

Well, it depends on how you look at it. :-) Keep in mind, also, that the numbers only go back as far as season 5. If you only count the performance shows and average each episode’s ratings into one number for a season average, then yes, you can say that season 12 was the most watched – but that’s kinda stupid, because the results shows count too. Season 12 was NOT the most watched when you do the same math for the results show – Season 5 was. So, you might say, maybe they are talking total viewers; that is, all shows viewers added together for a total number for each season. Well, no – Season 5 still wins UNLESS you cheat and add in repeats and filler shows. Highly disingenuous to do that and count those numbers. I would guess that’s what they did. What did TV Guide mean, though, when they said that DWTS was up by “double digits?” I have no idea. :-) If you compare Season 12 to Season 10, it’s up by more than 5% overall, so I’m not sure what they were referring to. Five percent sounds like a lot, but really it’s almost entirely results show ratings that went up and I’m sad to say that I just didn’t have it in me to analyze why the results show suddenly started doing better – my guess is that it’s combination of lots of factors.

There’s another problem with their claim of “most watched season ever!” The spread isn’t big enough. Why? Well, the Nielsens aren’t hard and fast numbers, but a “poll” or “survey” of the viewing audience. What do all survey’s have? A margin of error. I don’t claim to know the actual margin of error on the Nielsens, but I would guess plus or minus 3% since I can’t imagine their sample size is large enough relative to households with TVs to keep it smaller. If you take the instance where they are talking only about the performance show and figure out the percentage difference between it and Season 5, you get 1.39% – assuming I’ve done my math correctly, that’s well within the margin of error. For that reason, I don’t think they can make the claim that it’s the “most watched season ever.”

But let’s forget about what they said versus the apparent reality. What I found when looking at the historical ratings for this show is pretty interesting – at least to nerds like me. As much as we bitch and moan about the judging, the scoring, and the stupid gimmicks – they are doing something right. I still say that it’s all in the CASTING of the show, not the stupid crap they pull time after time. Interestingly, after being called “on the wane” in the demo and declining overall by Zap2It during season season 6, DWTS has done what few shows manage – not only hold on to it’s Top 5 status, but improve on it. Check out this graph of season 5 through 12 average total viewers (in millions) for both the performance and results shows:

What does that mean? Well, who can say, really? On it’s face it just shows how many people were watching the show, but the variations are much harder to figure. Different cast every season, different competition on TV which could draw viewers from DWTS, it’s impossible to say for sure. Season averages are also a bit misleading, since there were often fluctuations within a season that impact the final number – not to mention that margin of error I discussed before. The smaller the sample, the greater the error – and I don’t know enough about Nielsen to determine how accurate their numbers might be. It’s safe to say that the season finales always have an impact on pulling up the overall averages. Here’s a graph of the season finales:

I found it pretty interesting how well the performance show and results show mirror each other. But, more than that, the majority of them hover around the 20 million viewers mark. The exceptions are interesting – seasons 5, 11 and 12. What’s going on there? Well, let’s look at the final three. Season 5 was Marie Osmond, Helio Castroneves and Mel B, correct?? Season 11 – Jennifer, Kyle and Bristol. Season 12 – Kirstie, Hines and Chelsea. Season 11 and 12 I am tempted to credit to Jennifer and Kirstie with a dash of Hines and Bristol thrown in. Why? Well, I think Jennifer and Kirstie are arguably the two bigger stars of just the right age to appeal to DWTS main demo. Hines because he may have brought a new demographic and Bristol because she was so controvertial. But why no Donny Osmond? His season is actually the one with the lowest average rating (how DO we break it to him? :-) ). So, I dunno, I think it’s more complex than who’s on the show. For example, go back to the first graph of season averages. See how the results shows are trending downward, reaching a low point during season 10?? Why? The easy answer is – well everyone knew Nicole was going to win. But I don’t think it was that simple. The performance shows were the highest they’d been since Season 5. Guess what else was on TV during this time? The Olympics.  And isn’t Season 11 the one where American Idol moved it’s performance show to Wednesday night (for the most part)?? That could also explain the DWTS rebound in results shows for Seasons 11 and 12.

The moral of the story is, the more I thought about this, the more I realized that it’s much too complicated to figure out WHY the ratings have trended the way they have. Just be happy that it’s still the number 2 (and sometimes number 1) show in the country. AND, rather than declining in viewership, it’s on the upswing. Largely, I think we can say thank you to American Idol to adjusting it’s schedule, and I think we have to admit that the longer the show stays on the air, the easier time they have in putting together a cast that draws viewers in.  I think they also get some credit for maintaining a good stable of professional dancers – but none of these factors alone is big enough to point at and say “Oh, they screwed up there.”  Where they have to be careful is that they don’t go too far in messing with success. They have too much tendency to listen to the noise and that will, IMO, get them in trouble. By noise I mean those of us here on the net and people in the media complaining about Bristol or the controversy of the day – don’t try to fix the squeaky wheel. The squeakers, if they are as big a group as 100k (and I think I’m being generous) are a TINY fraction of your audience.  But at some point, the tinkering runs the risk of turning off the majority – then they’ll be in trouble.

Sources: Seasons 11 and 12 – PureDWTS media posts; All other seasons Zap2It.com. I did compare Zap2It’s seasons 11 and 12 ratings to our ratings to ensure there wasn’t a bias introduced by a given source and the numbers match up very closely.

July 9, 2011 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 13 – Anyone Want to Rant??

I do. :-) Those of you who are regular readers know that I have a tendency to go off on a good, old fashioned rant when something ridiculous or silly happens related to DWTS. Well, here’s what’s getting me today…

@ABC_DWTS

So, their latest thing is to throw out a few tweets like “Who do you want on DWTS and who do you want them paired with??” AND “What athlete would you like to see on DWTS??”

Why on earth would anyone take the time or energy needed to chat with them about who they want on the show? Last season, didn’t they try to get people to campaign for their favorites? And how many of those people did they actually pick and put on the show? Answer: NONE.

Well, now, the kids who cried wolf are clogging up my twitter searches with people actually believing they have a shot of getting their favorite on the show. Again. Hmmm….maybe that is their evil plan. In any case, at some point your audience (those who are actually crazy enough to believe they would have a shot at getting their favorite on the show) is going to realize that you don’t really give a crap about what they say and are going to tune you out.

Sure, there are those who know better and are just playing the game with them – but there are way too many who think because this is DWTS’s twitter account that they actually might have a shot. :::sigh::: People, the real deal here is to get DWTS trending, to liven up their followers and to build buzz (and more false “rumors”) for season 13. Period. End of Story. Don’t waste your time with serious campaigning – it doesn’t WORK.

Thus endeth my rant for the day. :-)

July 8, 2011 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: Midseason 2010-11 TV Ratings – Dancing With The Stars 9th!

The Midseason TV Show Ratings have been announced! According to EW, Dancing With The Stars rates at #9!! Below is the Top 30! Be sure to view the link to see which other TV shows made the Top 50 (and bottom 50). Special Note (as Heidi just wrote me): DWTS hasn’t aired since November and that affects it’s standings in the midseason ratings and why it might not be rated even higher. All of the other shows listed have aired since November, so they benefit by the lack of DWTS. American Idol didn’t air at the same time as Dancing With The Stars, but, it probably has artificially high numbers due to the curiosity factor.

1. American Idol Wednesday (Fox, 9.9 rating/26 share)

2. American Idol Thursday (Fox, 8.2/22)

3. NFL Sunday Football (NBC, 8.0/20)

4. NFL Sunday Pre-kick (NBC, 5.6/15)

5. Modern Family (ABC, 5.0/13)

6. Overtime (Fox, 4.6/14)

7. Grey’s Anatomy (ABC, 4.6/12)

8. Two and A Half Men (CBS, 4.6/11)

9. Dancing with the Stars (ABC, 4.6/11)

10. The Big Bang Theory (CBS, 4.5/13)

11. NCIS (CBS, 4.3/12)

12. Survivor: Nicaragua (CBS, 4.3/12)

13. The Office (NBC, 4.1/10)

14. Family Guy (Fox, 4.1/10)

15. Desperate Housewives (ABC, 4.1/9)

16. Glee (excludes special post-Super Bowl episode, Fox, 4.0/11)

17. Dancing with the Stars results (ABC, 4.0/10)

18. Criminal Minds (CBS, 3.9/10)

19. House (Fox, 3.9/10)

20. Football Night in America (NBC, 3.8/11)

21. The Amazing Race 17 (CBS, 3.8/9)

22. NCIS: LA (CBS, 3.8/10)

23. The Simpsons (Fox, 3.8/10)

24. How I Met Your Mother (CBS, 3.7/10)

25. Mr. Sunshine (ABC, 3.7/10)

26. Mike Molly (CBS, 3.7/9)

27. Undercover Boss (CBS, 3.7/9)

28. The Biggest Loser (NBC, 3.4/9)

29. Hawaii 5-0 (CBS, 3.4/9)

30. Cougar Town (ABC, 3.4/9)

So, do you see any of your favorite shows? Any surprises or disappointments? I was glad to see Hawaii Five-O make the Top 30. I was also glad to see Glee in the Top 10. I love that show (next to Dancing With The Stars” of course ;) )! House is one of my favorite shows as well.

February 21, 2011 I Written By

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