This is a part of the Pros and Cons of the DWTS pros Series. You can check out all the posts in this series here.
Courtney: Ahhh, my absolute favorite pro on this show, male or female And not just because she’s a fellow (bottle) redhead! Hehe. For me, Anna is the perfect balance of creativity and technical skill: her routines manage to combine equal parts of technically sound dance steps and also a good flash of creativity. I think you also have to respect the fact that Anna and hubby Jonathan are the freshest from competition themselves – they’ve been competing professionally as recently as early 2009, when Anna was a professional Latin finalist with Pavlo Barsuk and Jonathan was the world smooth champion along with Valentina Kostenko. I think because of this, many of their routines are more true to “real” competitive ballroom dancing, and are looked favorably upon by the judges – especially traditionalist Len. And while Anna may give the impression of being a feisty little redheaded Russian spitfire on the floor, she is (usually) the picture of calm & control during practice sessions with her partners, working patiently with their strengths and through their weaknesses…from Jerry to Steve to Chuck to Evan. Only on a rare few occasions has Anna broken down in tears or anger, and has been gracious and apologetic afterwards. Quite possibly the thing I love most about her – her marriage to Jonathan. Those two are one of the most adorable couples I’ve ever seen, and seem to truly adore one another – anyone that follows them on Twitter can attest to the sweet things they tweet one another, especially when they’re on opposite ends of the country. And the dances they do together? BREATHTAKING. Some of their romantic waltzes (like the one they did to Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel”) make Edyta & Alec look like two complete strangers dancing together. They’re blissfully in sync and such a delight to watch. If anything, the one thing that I think prevents a lot of people from warming up to Anna is that (like many of the other eastern European pros) she can often come across as cold – I’m sure its unintentional, and more a product of English being her second language than anything else. Like Edyta, she still seems to have retained quite an accent, which I actually find cute.
John: If you’d asked me a season ago to write about Anna, I’d have said who? Ok, I knew the name, but I couldn’t think of one memorable dance I’d seen her do. I guess it took her getting a decent partner to come out of her shell and shock me time and time again on last season of DWTS. I can’t remember how many times I went on IM last season and told Heidi, “WoW! How did I miss Anna in past seasons?” She was fun. She was sexy. She was entertaining. Her choreography was exciting and the hair, makeup and costume people figured out how to work with her red hair. I’ll be interested to see how her and the soft spoken Kurt Warner do. Kurt will be as hungry as Evan to win, but probably won’t be quite as agile. I think Anna gets worn down when her partners can’t execute and then she doesn’t know what to do. I hope that doesn’t happen with Kurt. I also loved last season when Anna admitted that she had no idea what to do with the choreography for the freestyle. She has ballroom dancing in her very core and so it was really authentic to see her struggle to go outside of that. I think she said something like, “I’d rather choreograph 1000 paso doble’s than 1 freestyle.” I found that really endearing and my heart felt for her.
Marianya: Anna T is one of those strictly ballroom pros that I love so much. She’s been actively competing in ballroom competitions through the duration of the show and her overall look is amazing. What I love about Anna is she’s able to balance a strong work ethic with having a little bit of fun. I remember in Season 2 when she worked with Jerry Rice she took a bit of his football training and showed him how it could be applied to ballroom dancing, and it worked… he ended up placing second behind Drew Lachey. She knows how to have a little bit of fun as evidence by the big afro wigs wore in the freestyle she did with Jerry. During the period of time when she wasn’t on the show and decided to compete professionally, she always came back to dance in a results show with her husband. Anna with Jonathan are absolutely flawless together, there is no better chemistry than that of a real life couple… and even then in comparison to Edyta and Alec, Anna and Jonathan seem to simply breathe as one. More often than not we have seen the two of them dance together in some ballroom routine, but they have done latin routines as a couple too. In any case, Anna’s been the bridesmaid twice now, so she’s going to be hungry to win this season.
Heidi: I love Anna, but I love Anna and Jonathan together even more. They’re very romantic together – and not in a gross, icky way. Hee. Courtney, they aren’t just cute on twitter when they’re across the country from each other, but when they’re sitting next to each other, tweeting at the same time. Adorable. I never really got “cold” from Anna, but then I didn’t pay that close of attention until last season. The only time I felt like Anna failed last season was during her freestyle, and you know what? I don’t think her mistake was her choreography, but using someone else’s at that stage of the competition. Now, she had the help of more than one outside pro, possibly throughout the season, as evidenced by Travis Wall’s hastily deleted tweet in the second to last week of the competition. I don’t actually have a problem with that on it’s face, but the thing is: SHE knew Evan. She knew his personality and his strengths and his weaknesses – she should have trusted her own abilities. She’s extremely talented and I think she got caught up in the idea that the freestyle has to be the most mind blowing thing ever – and it certainly has to be good, but she let that get in her head. Girl, you’re fabulous!! TRUST it.
Heidi: I’m back again because I forgot something – Anna is at her most beautiful SANS makeup. The girl is gorgeous and I think occasionally the DWTS makeup team go a bit too nuts on her. I know this because she’s tweeted pictures of herself in her “normal” state and she’s really breathtakingly gorgeous – more so than with all that makeup on.
Marianya: Heidi and John, thanks for mentioning her freestyles I totally forgot about that. Anna’s Achilles’ seems to be the freestyle, but I can’t help but wonder if it’s because she feels like she has to create a freestyle to fit with modern viewers… and since she is ballroom through and through that added pressure just seems to overwhelm her? Oh and Courtney, you might want to have a body like Edyta, but man… Anna’s my body idol.
Courtney: Well I daresay all of the DWTS ladies are blessed with great figures! But Edyta is just so RIPPED. But I do wish I had Anna’s hair, skin, & eyes – just lovely And I wish I knew what shampoo she uses so that her red stays so vibrant – mine unfortunately tends to fade quite a bit by week 4 post-coloring :-(
Marianya: Wait, I thought Anna was a natural redhead? And you’re the bottle head… I’m so confused. But Edyta isn’t the only ripped on… Karina’s was amazing in that one pic that escapes my mind. Too bad Edyta isn’t on this season, I’d love to see the battle of the best bods.
Heidi: I think Courtney is projecting. As a natural redhead in a family of natural redheads (although I’m sad to say I’ve faded to blonde over time), Anna sure appears to have the complexion of a natural redhead. Very fair, green eyes.
Courtney: Ahem. I have never lied about being an artificial redhead I have also been an artificial platinum blonde and an artificial raven-tressed gal (let’s just say I got bored a lot in college – I’m a natural brunette). If memory serves from when I first fell in love with Anna back when she & Jonathan were competing in pro Latin together, Anna is a natural strawberry blonde, but started dying her hair a more vibrant red so it would show up better on the dance floor. So she’s not a total faker like me ;-), but she gets a little bit of chemical assistance – hence the need for a red-boosting shampoo. And while Karina does have a great body, Marianya, I have felt a bit disillusioned ever since I saw a blurb in US Weekly where she gushed about using the IT Cosmetics Airbrushed Abs kit. Although I do admire her cleverness – as someone who’s done a few bikini contests, let me say there were definitely days I wish I had a little help to have the impossibly flat stomachs some of the other girls had!
Courtney: Quite possibly the most underappreciated male pro in my eyes. Yes, in the few seasons they’ve actually had him on the show, he’s had some pretty sucktastic partners. And yes, he is the one responsible for the horrific doll freestyle that Marie did. But have you seen this guy’s ballroom routines? Absolutely GORGEOUS. Elegant, technical, creative, fluid – I could go on and on about the superior quality of his waltzes, tangos, foxtrots, Viennese waltzes, and quicksteps. Yes, the Latin dances may be his Achilles heel (in his defense, most of his competitive career has focused on the ballroom dances, so, like Anna D., Latin isn’t really his bread & butter), but I challenge any of the other male pros to match Jonathan in both ballroom choreography and partnering. No one is as “there” for their partner as he is in those dances, and can pull off tricky moves like reverse attitude turns with the incredible ease that he does. And as I mentioned above – he and Anna are just a delight to watch. Every dance they do is infused with the genuine love they feel for one another. As cheesy as it sounds…watching those two dance a waltz makes me believe in fairy tales again. It’s just disappointing to me that everyone seems to focus on his shortfalls, rather than his successes…seriously people, just put the doll freestyle out of your mind, and focus on he & Anna’s waltz to “Unchained Melody” during the Swayze tribute instead
John: Unlike Courtney, I still believe in fairy tales. Jonathan and Anna are a great fairytale and waltz is the best. Jonathan is the most under appreciated dancer, because the ballroom routines are generally the most under appreciated routines on DWTS. They’re beautiful, but the Latin dances are WOW! People enjoy beautiful, but vote for Wow! To be honest though, Jonathan doesn’t seem like he wants to be in the spotlight. He’s just a gentleman that loves to dance. Not a bad combination, unless you want to go far in a reality TV show where America votes.
Marianya: Jonathan, I believe though I could be wrong, is probably the only male dancer that speciailizes in ballroom routines left in the competition. That’s what captured my attention about Jonathan (and Anna T once I realized that they were married)… he has an elegance and grace that is missing from many of the other male pros that could only come from someone that has focused on the waltz, tango, foxtrot, quickstep, and viennese watlz. Sometimes I would like to think that Anna came into the partnership as a stronger Rhythm/Latin partner while Jonathan was a stronger Smooth/Standard partner and as thus their yin/yang matched evenly and they balance one another out. I have never seen Jonathan “out dance” or “over shadow” his partner and he is always there for his female companions. Jonathan is even a good sport too, willing to dance the Man-go routine with Steve Guttenburg in season 6. Looks like Louis isn’t the only one in touch with his feminine side! Now if only Jonathan was on more.
Heidi: Jonathan has been hosed more often by this show than anyone else, yet you never hear him say a bad word about it. He never complains or gripes, unlike some, much more fortunate pros. And that sort of stuff really impacts how I watch the show, so I really appreciate him for that. Classy guy. It’s hard to tell, since he gets left out so often, but while I think he choreographs the best waltzes (regular and viennese varieties), I’m not so sure that he’s the best at the tangos and foxtrots – but how can you tell?? The guy gets left off the show far too often. But then, I watch this show with a different eye than the other ladies on this blog – I watch it more as a competition that has to seriously entertain me. Some pros get criticized for being flashy – but I’m here to tell you I’ve read that in a regular competition you have to STAND OUT in order to make the cut. Be flashy. And that’s how I watch the show – I dig flashy. Now, Jonathan is truly flashy when dancing with Anna – that I could watch all day long.
The Round Up
Courtney: Absolute perfection, in a beautiful redheaded package!
Marianya:One of the strongest fiery female dancers in ballroom AND latin.
Heidi: I dig her – but trust yourself, girl!!
John: A redhead that’s surprisingly grown on me.
Courtney: Poetry in motion! Just wish people appreciated him more…including the casting directors
Marianya: Amazing underused true ballroom dancer.
Heidi:Fantastically Classy guy.
John: Ballroom elegance.