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PureDWTS Season 17, Week 4 – Power Rankings

 Overall, I think I enjoyed last night – liked that there wasn’t a particular theme, and everyone got a different dance, so as to avoid being compared against another couple.  Wasn’t particularly wild about the Ray Leeper-choreographed opening number – to quote Mama Spence, “That was a whole lot of nothing!” and goes to show that choreography created for ballroom dancers by non-ballroom dancers doesn’t always work well. 

I think Julianne actually ended up being a pretty fair judge – granted, I think it was decided before the show started that she was simply going to echo the same score that Carrie Ann & Bruno called out, but I still feel like she gave constructive criticism and didn’t put anyone down…which Len has a tendency to do on the regular.  Not gonna lie – I’m kinda glad it was Julianne judging instead of Len during the week that Bill & Emma did their samba ;-)

As lovely and inspirational as Valerie was, I do feel like it was her time to go – she seemed to be really struggling these past few weeks, and the poor woman is probably getting really tired.  But I’m SO glad we got to see her this season, and her foxtrot from week one is probably going to remain one of my favorites :-) And god love Tristan – there’s a pro that gives a whole new meaning to “being there” for your partner.  I don’t think there are too many male pros on this show that could handle both the physical and emotional strain that having a partner with terminal cancer can bring – and he handled it with such poise. 

 1.) Corbin & Karina – For all the ado about him dancing shirtless before last night’s show, he really wasn’t shirtless for long – and it actually did fit the routine, IMO.  After he and Karina stalked around each other and let the tension build, the shirt coming off was kind of a gesutre of “Ok, now I’m throwing my hat in the ring.  It’s ON!” and it worked with mood.  Anti-shirtless brigade, take note: this is an example of the correct way to go shirtless. :-) Really and truly, I thought this paso was fantastic – Corbin never missed a beat, he was invested in it, and contrary to what the judges said, I didn’t think “his hip-hop moves were creeping in”; I actually thought he was creatively styling some of his arm & hand gestures, which I’ll take any day over limp, apathetic, purposeless moves.  Anyone else think the judges were intentionally being REEEEEALLLLY nitpicky about this one? I’d say this worthy of at least one “10” – it was that good, kids.  And I know there’s been some talk from some here about “Ehhh, I kinda don’t like Corbin & Karina, they’re desperate, they’re trying too hard, etc. etc. etc.” I’ll just say this: if this routine was the result of their “desperation” and “trying too hard” – then more power to them. :-) Read more..

October 8, 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!

PureDWTS Season 17, Week 3 – Power Rankings

Well apparently I missed the memo that Hollywood night was really “Gatsby Night”, as last night’s show seemed to borrow pretty heavily from the new movie…if Baz Luhrmann was going to be a guest judge this season, last night would have been a good night for him to do it! Overall, almost everyone did well and got a rather generous score from the judges – but the unfortunate downside to that is that we may have seen our first glimpse of the puppet strings from the men upstairs, as there was some suspicious overscoring going on that may or may not have contributed to Bill Nye’s exit.  Granted, I think it was his time to go, due both to his injury and the fact that he wasn’t really progressing at the same rate as his fellow contestants.  But Heidi’s numbers post should be exceptionally interesting this week…

…and once again, my rankings are about as clear as mud :-P I’m seriously having a hard time determining who is the most likely to get sent packing – I’m getting some “struggling with votes” vibes from a few of the couples, but nothing that screams “This person is going home next week!”; I’ve also got the added complication of anticipating the modus operandi of TPTB, who now have the power to influence the outcome since they know exactly how many points each couple needs to stick around.  A rather scary pall cast over an otherwise lovely season to watch, no? For that reason, I could see anyone in my bottom 5 potentially getting sent home – depending on how things go down next week.

1.) Corbin & Karina – I think Corbin had, by far, the highest level of difficulty in terms of choreography in his routine last night – and for what it’s worth, he actually handled it pretty well.  There seemed to be a few issues with wobbly frame, and I saw a couple “deer in the headlights” looks, but he kept up with the footwork decently well and delivered a great quickstep, reminiscent of the quickstep Karina did with Apolo a year ago.  But, like the quickstep she did with Apolo, this one didn’t seem to get the love it deserved – or rather, the love it did get was overshadowed by some suspicious overscoring of another couple.  It also confirmed a fear of mine that has been brewing since week one: that Corbin seems to thrive more in the Latin dances, and loses a bit of his sparkle in the ballroom dances.  He’s got a lot of room to improve, but last night was the first time I’ve seen him be less than confident on the floor – hopefully he can hit a groove with the next ballroom dance he gets.

2.) Amber & Derek – Judging from some of the comments I’m seeing on the show discussion post, seems like there’s a debate raging over who had more “Charleston content” in their routines last night – Amber or Christina.  To be honest, I don’t think either was bona fide Charleston – first off, there aren’t that many Charleston steps that exist; secondly, Amber’s music dictated that she do something more than just Charleston, and Christina had Mark’s tendency toward the theatric to contend with.  I would say Amber had more Charleston basics, but the overall mood, steps, and theme of Christina’s routine fit the Charleston better.  And at the end of the day, I’ll be honest: I didn’t particularly care for either one.  Amber unfortunately got saddled with a song that was really more hip-hop than Charleston, and with a ridiculously long intro that didn’t allow for much dancing – and the dancing she did do was just ok for me.  She seemed to hit a bit of a wall with the foot action of the Charleston (which isn’t easy – they ended up using a dance double for Tobey Maguire for a few scenes in Gatsby), but I will give her this: ever the showman, she sold the performance well…even if she wasn’t really nailing the steps.  Anyone else find it totally trippy that Len was the one that seemed to gush about this routine – and it was Bruno & Carrie Ann complaining about the content? :-P Read more..

October 1, 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!

PureDWTS Season 17, Week 1 – Power Rankings

For the first time in several seasons, I find myself very pleasantly surprised by how good everyone looks on night 1 – and how much I like all of the couples (with the exception of one – and I blame that more on the celeb than the pro).  The judges are apparently still on crack (surprise, surprise) and have completely lost touch with the concept of a “middle ground” and seem to be scoring everyone absurdly high or absurdly low; and is anyone else kind of thrown by the judges’ table being on the OTHER side of the dance floor??? Just feels…wrong to me. Like trying to use a pair of left-handed scisscors.  :-P On with the rankings!

1.) Amber & Derek – I think Amber may be second only to Valerie in terms of likeability this season – she’s funny, enthusiastic, not afraid to poke fun at herself, and is proud of her “big booty” :-) She also has quite a bit of stage presence – she struck me as being the most comfortable out on the dancefloor last night, and seemed to really go for all the steps without any sort of timidness or hesitation.  Best cha-cha of the night? Sure.  But 27-worthy, in week 1? Eeeeek.  Seems like the judges were on a honeymoon last night (at least until Bill Nye danced) and I think they may have screwed themselves (and possibly Amber & Derek) when they whipped out those 9 paddles – now they’ve left themselves without much wiggle room to increase scores as the season progresses…and I’m afraid it may have set some unrealistic expectations for Amber & Derek in the weeks to come.  But for now, I think Amber is really safe, given her score and the legions of “Gleeks” that claim to be voting in the thousands. 

2.) Valerie & Tristan – I’m not sure there’s been another contestant in the history of the show that seems so deeply thankful and happy to be dancing :-) If you would have told me that the woman I saw foxtrotting with Tristan last night was suffering from terminal brain cancer, I wouldn’t have believed you – Valerie seemed to move with such ease and joy, she was actually better than some of her younger, more able-bodied competitors! I saw a few small issues with balance on turns, but it’s fortunately something that can be corrected with the right tutelage from Tristan.  I think we’re going to see Valerie stick around for awhile this season – not only because her story is so inspiring and brings hope to others suffering through cancer, but because she’s actually quite good…and I think she’ll only get better.  As Mama Spence said “I bet doing DWTS has added months to her life – people with something to live for tend to live longer!” :-)
Read more..

September 17, 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 16, Week 8 – Power Rankings

Well, this is probably going to be a pretty short ranking, because besides nursing a killer migraine…tonight just kind of sucked.

Ballroom round? Too short, and pretty ho-hum.  Trio round? Only one real standout, a couple that were so-so, and the rest were fails.  And of course, Len continues to be a horrible human being.  I miss Andy more than I thought :-( Let’s get this over with…

1.) Zendaya & Val – First off, I probably would have picked a different song for their foxtrot – the fact that it’s a capella made it feel a bit thin & boring.  On top of that, it seemed like it took a little too long to get into the dance, and what I saw, while pleasant to watch, didn’t really excite me.  As for their salsa trio – where was the salsa? I saw a lot of vaguely hip-hoppy stuff and a lot of side-by-side actions, but very little interaction between Zendaya herself and the two guys she was supposed to be dancing with.  And I generally just found some of the choreography to be a bit odd – once again, rather stop-and-go.  It wasn’t a bad dance, per se, but I would dispute the fact that it was a salsa and call attention to the fact that the bulk of it was done individually, as opposed to in couples.  Hell, salsa’s even one of the easier dances to do with 3 people…would it really have been that hard to do a bit more work in-hold? Oh well…they’ve got a 58, so they don’t even have to worry about it…

2.) Kellie & Derek – I feel like they were the only couple tonight that really put a ton of thought into both of their performances, and even figured out a clever way to link the two together.  The Viennese waltz was very pretty, though I would have liked a little bit more of it to be in-hold, because Kellie can handle it; the paso trio was the only dance that really stuck out in my mind tonight, because it was so exciting to watch and it was the only one that actually seemed to work WITH the props they chose, as opposed to just having them there (like several other couples).  Len’s score AND his comment to Bruno about having “something up his ass”? Uncalled for, inappropriate, and I’m just done with that SOB.  If Fox can issue an apology for Steve Tyler’s behavior on Idol, then they can certainly issue one for Len’s behavior on DWTS.  Dude is seriously crossing the line.

3.) Aly & Mark – Man, they’re REALLY trying to make Aly “happen”, aren’t they? Yes, she has grown – somewhat – in her time on DWTS, but I still find her a bit underwhelming to watch.  I actually agreed with (ack) Carrie Ann about her Argentine tango – for as acrobatic & flexible as Aly is, her leg lines seemed a little…weak.  I don’t think it was 29-worthy – maybe 27-worthy.  As for the jive trio – it wasn’t bad, but it was just so BLAND.  Part of it was Aly, but I really just found the choreography to be a bit blah as well – Mark seemed to be erring on the side of safe again.  I have to wonder if she’s not getting the votes – because they seem to be scoring her awfully kindly these days.

4.) Jacoby & Karina – The Viennese waltz was better than I expected, though not his best dance.  Liked the drama of it, but I thought it could be a bit neater.  Actually enjoyed their paso trio with Cheryl, but I feel like the only real problem seemed to be that there was just so much choreography jam-packed into that routine that Jacoby got a little distracted…which could explain why he just kind of flung Cheryl off to the side.  I think they just got so caught up trying to show everything that Jacoby was capable of doing that they may have overwhelmed him.  But overall, I thought he did pretty well with both of his dances tonight…let’s hope that translates into safety.  Not sure what to think after he ended up in jeopardy last week…

5.) Ingo & Kym – Eee gad…this partnership really kind of imploded this week, didn’t it? Kym seems like she’s at her wits end, and Ingo got really, really whiny this time around – that package did not do them any favors.  For all the fussing that they were doing, I think their foxtrot turned out halfway-ok…it was definitely better than Sean’s tango, despite a few little stutters.  The jive trio was basically a dud – you could tell the ladies did everything they could to ensure that Ingo was moving as minimally as possible during that dance, as they did most of the heavy-duty dancing; there was also a rather prolonged entry & exit, perhaps to cut back on the time that Ingo was actually dancing.  I think they’re definitely bottom 2 fodder tomorrow night, and might even end up going home.  They’re just getting hard to watch…

6.) Sean & Peta – Well, I think Sean is probably the weakest dancer left, and I think the judges made clear that it’s Sean they want gone tomorrow night.  The tango felt stompy & awkward, and I could tell that Peta was doing a good deal of backleading in that one.  Jazz trio? Despite having Sharna there to at least offer up some good advice, I think Sean’s trio was probably the biggest fail of the evening.  Like Ingo’s trio, it seemed like they tried to put the ladies front & center whenever they could, and had them doing most of the real moving…although I feel like there was even less actual dancing in this dance than Ingo’s, and Sean was even more awkward attempting some of the jazz steps than Ingo was with the jive steps.  I was pretty much done with Shawn a few weeks ago, and I’m definitely ready to see him go now…the question is: will it be him, or Ingo?

So was anyone else let down by this week’s dances? Go ahead and sound off, I need to lie down…

May 6, 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 16, Week 6 – Power Rankings

Well, guess tonight didn’t end up too bad after all – team samba pulled out a win (despite being at a clear disadvantage from the get-go), Len got taken to task by the audience for basically being a douchebag, and perhaps best of all: I made it through the show without committing a felony, due to my asthma medication-induced ‘roid rage :-) But that’s not to say everything was hunky dory.  There was definite overscoring (duh, Zendaya; and to a lesser degree, Ingo & Sean), definite underscoring (Jacoby), and out-and-out cruelty (which left Andy in tears…inexcusable, IMO).  Let’s get right to it…

1.) Kellie & Derek – I think I was prepared for both their quickstep and the team samba to be a trainwreck, after hearing how poorly their rehearsals were going this week…but I was very pleasantly surprised at how well Kellie kept up in this quickstep, and didn’t miss a beat.  She also seemed to correct a lot of the issues I saw with her posture last week, which was an added bonus.  Maybe not the most exciting quickstep Derek has ever choreographed, but when you’re struggling, going for simplicity (and meat-and-potatoes steps to please Len) is your best bet.  I honestly don’t remember a whole lot of their solo from the team samba, but besides a few minor stutters from Kellie, I think they handled it well.  Obviously a front-runner; now let’s hope they resist the urge to low-ball next week…

2.) Zendaya & Val – First of all, if you are not mature (or literate) enough to understand the difference between being mad at TPTB for pimping someone and being mad at the person themselves, then consider this an invitation to stop reading and come back when you’ve educated yourself.  Ok, now that we’ve got that off the table – I really think Val let her down this week, because I found his choreography in both the cha-cha and the team paso to be a bit dumbed down.  The cha-cha was good, and she danced it very well, but I’m starting to notice a lot of stop-and-go in Val’s choreography – parts where they suddenly stop and Zendaya kinda stands still while Val does…I don’t know, something.  A spin, a flourish, whatever.  And it doesn’t do her justice – the girl can handle tough choreography, so she shouldn’t need all these little pauses.  Pauses are for couples who can’t dance :-) I also think that, while she’s great at doing spin after spin after spin (and Val has actually taught her how to spot her turns – something he never really got Kelly to master), he has GOT to do something about her legs. I could have driven a boat show in between them in that cha-cha – you have to close your thighs to get the right hip & leg action.  And here they were complaining about Kellie & Derek having some space in between them while in hold…psssh.  Again, I reiterate: Val, you have got to figure out what you’re going to do with those legs…because Len will cease to be dazzled by her showmanship before too long, and he will start to get nitpicky.  She did well in their team paso…but her solo choreography felt a bit blah.  Like she could have handled something more.  I think her cha-cha was overscored, and the team paso was about right-on, but there’s no doubt she’s safe this week…and that bland team paso will probably get the encore tomorrow night.  Read more..

April 22, 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 16, Week 5 – Power Rankings

Well, side-by-side challenge night went about as well as can be expected when you put complete amateurs (well, and a ringer or two…) next to seasoned pros with years of experience under their belts.  If nothing else, it let us see some sorely missed pros doing what they do best :-) The judges have made it pretty clear at this point who their favorites are (ZENDAYA, Kellie, Jacoby, & Aly), who they are lukewarm about (Sean & Ingo), and who is disposable (Victor, D.L., and unfortunately, now Andy), and seem to be scoring accordingly.  And dare I say that many of the pros came out dancing at full throttle…but noticeably slowed down and calmed down when the celebs joined them on the floor? No bueno.  And god bless Tom for soldiering through what had to be a tough night for Bostonians :-( Let’s get on with it…

1.) Zendaya & Val – It was a good dance, and I was actually impressed with Val’s first venture into Argentine tango choreography – and thankfully, he seemed to eschew the multitude of lifts big bro seems so fond of, and put in some good basic steps.  Zendaya handled pretty well, and I liked the jewel thief storyline – I was worried they were going to go more the smut route, which would have felt…icky. But this was appropriate :-) So that was the good – now here’s the bad: I don’t think it was 10-worthy.  Sorry kids.  Once again, I find myself just fixated on how BENT Zendaya’s legs are – yes, I am aware she is tall, and yes, Argentine tango is usually done with a flexed knee.  But girl was damn near SQUATTING – and consequently, it made her upper body look that much more flimsy when they were in hold.  I hate when tall people (male or female) try to compensate for a shorter dance partner – it almost always looks awkward, and you don’t get the full impact of their lines.  I say stand up straight and forget about who’s taller – the bf has 2 female students that have a good 3” on him in heels, and when they’re dancing to the full extent, it’s MAGICAL…their legs just go on forever.  You don’t even  worry about who’s taller, because the lines are so gorgeous.  So with that said – these two are obviously safe (and thankfully, there were no Twitter machinations this week to tip things in their favor), but I do think Zendaya’s legs will continue to be an issue in the coming weeks.

2.) Kellie & Derek – I’ve always loved Derek’s foxtrots, and the Broadway quality & character they have to them.  This was no exception – great side-by-side, playful choreography, and Kellie seemed to handle the sweeping motions of the foxtrot well.  She seemed to get a bit stiff in her neck and shoulders at a few times, which looked a bit awkward, but other than that, she handled this routine well and I liked watching her do it.  I think she probably came the closest to mirroring her pro counterpart tonight – and I think she has Derek to thank for not dumbing down the choreography, because in most of the routines, the pros went from dancing full-on, difficult steps to dancing simple, kindergarten steps without much energy.  It gave me whiplash, at times.  But the transition in this one felt seamless – the way Kellie was keeping up, it felt more like another pro couple joining Henry & Anna on the floor, rather than “Oh sh*t, here comes the celeb, better slow it down…NOW!” So even if Kellie “doesn’t like Derek’s ways” – I think it was those “ways” that probably helped her look so good tonight.  ;-)  Read more..

April 15, 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 16, Week 4 – Power Rankings

Well first of all, I’m happy to report that for once, “best year of your life” week was NOT the night of a thousand rumbas!!! It was, instead, the night of a thousand (ok, THREE) Viennese waltzes, and this episode of Sesame Street was brought to you by the awkward men’s Viennese waltz solo :-P OH! And be still my heart…did Carrie Ann actually cop to being remiss in her lift policing the past few weeks???? And then promptly make herself look rather like a douchebagette, when sternly chastising Gleb for carrying a sick Lisa down the stairs? Yeah…that happened.  But let’s just get down to the nitty gritty, shall we?

1 & 2.) TIE: Kellie & Derek and Zendaya & Val – Both ladies had strong showings tonight, yet both of them seemed to have minor technical issues that kept them from being 100% on-point.  Loved Kellie & Derek’s rumba  – very simple, intimate feel, and Kellie does have some fantastic legs.  But I do agree with whatever judge said that she seemed a little bit “clipped” tonight – I don’t know if it was the segueing from very slow, fluid movements to rather fast, crisp ones, but things got a bit jerky from time to time.  As for Zendaya – I love watching that girl dance, and she’s obviously right at home on the floor…just the right amount of attitude to really carry off Beyonce, and the dance chops to back it up.  But once again, she seems to be having trouble with those long legs – Len was right, she was a bit too bent in the knee, and needed to really straighten those legs out in order to get more of a bounce.  She also seemed to get a bit off-balance in some of the faster turns, which I noticed in her Viennese waltz & jive as well.  Long legs are great to look at – but when it comes to ballroom & Latin, sometimes the ladies with shorter legs have it a bit easier, just because it’s easier to move quickly & crisply when you have less to extend.  Also a bit of a warning to Val – there seemed to be an awfully high proportion of jazz-y, hip-hoppy type-moves in that samba.  I know it’s tempting to really go wild when you’ve got a Beyonce song (and a partner that can do those kinds of moves), but if this continues week to week, you’re going to be butting heads with Len A LOT.  Overall, I think I was probably more entertained by Zendaya’s dance, but I was more touched emotionally by Kellie’s.  Enjoyed both, and I doubt either of these ladies are going anywhere.

3.) Jacoby & Karina – I still think this guy is gonna walk away with the trophy when all’s said and done – and the fact that he actually handled his first ballroom dance quite masterfully just makes me believe it anymore.  I was mentally preparing myself for a trainwreck – crummy frame, messy feet, missed beats, etc.  But I was actually impressed at how well Jacoby held his frame – his neck & shoulders looked great, almost hyperextended, although he did stick his butt out just a tiny bit…which I’m sure Karina’s going to chastise him for later, because ballroom law dictates that the man never slouches down to accommodate a shorter lady – it’s the lady’s job to rise up to the man’s height :-) But this guy never missed a turn, stretched those arms out nice & wide, and best of all – he was totally uninhibited, and really gave that solo his all.  And can I just add that his little guy is beyond precious??? :-D And one other thing I have really begun to appreciate about Jacoby’s dancing? He’s there for Karina EVERY STEP OF THE WAY.  No fumbling to get turns straight, no near-misses with tricks, no missing getting into frame – the dude is on-point. Read more..

April 8, 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!

PureDWTS Tribute: Julia Ivleva

Remember this gorgeous waltz that Jonathan & Anna danced in tribute to their cancer-stricken friend, Julia, back in season 14?

Sadly, Anna reported on her Twitter today that Julia passed away this morning, after a long & courageous battle with lung cancer.  She remembered her friend poignantly:

A wonderful strong talented and beautiful person left us today... Julia Ivleva ,i will miss you greatly, your spirit ,wit, honesty and charm
@atrebunskaya
anna trebunskaya

Julia’s passing touched me rather personally, as I had the pleasure of watching Julia and her husband, Igor, dance at one of the first ballroom competitions I attended, almost ten years ago.  I was struck by how powerful they were on the floor, and their showdances were always the most creative and engaging.  I feel blessed to have been present to witness the debut of one of the greatest showdances in ballroom history – when Igor & Julia proved that you can dance ballroom to any music…even Nirvana!

And a few years later, they again proved that rock & ballroom can mix perfectly, when they did this beautiful, vulnerable foxtrot to quite possibly my favorite song of all-time:

We here at Pure send our heartfelt condolences out to Julia’s friends and family during this sad time.  Rest in peace, Julia.

 

April 5, 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 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, 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!