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So, they fired the Orchestra? Here’s what we won’t get to see again!

This is just an appreciation post for the Orchestra, led by Harold the Amazing Musical Wizard! Without him, and the orchestra, DWTS probably wouldn’t have become the powerhouse show that it’s been for several years now. Without them, I think we will lose an integral part of the show, since Harold worked well with the pros to create the best music for each dance. Let’s face it, many songs that they’ve had to deal with were HORRIBLE choices, and Harold Wheeler and the Orchestra and our pros somehow managed to MAKE the songs and the dance styles fit together. Nathan’s post did a great job starting the discussion, and now we know that the orchestra has indeed been cut, all we can do is “deal with it” even if we don’t want to. I would MUCH prefer that they all be rehired, but I’m just one viewer, and what I want is supposed to be what they tell me I am supposed to want for the show, whether it’s what I really want or not. Yes, send emails. But if they get enough, will they simply delete unread? I’d LOVE if we could find a LOT of dances to put here, and hope that sometime, someone from our wonderful orchestra can read and realize how much we really appreciate how much they’ve done for DWTS. We know, and we appreciate, and we will remember. And THANK YOU for all of your hard work and dedication, they will not be forgotten.

I love that Harold was the one who did the musical arrangements for every song that they’ve played over the last 17 seasons. I love that he’s ALWAYS been very respectful of the music, of the original, and many times, of the professional dancer and the dance itself.

It can’t be easy to basically rewrite that many songs every week, so that they everything meshes best… Harold and the orchestra were truly the best!!

I’ve always loved the dances where the professional worked closely with Harold to change details in the songs to better fit the dance… Derek was always great with that, but several others were, too. I almost feel as if I’m in mourning for the loss of the orchestra, and the dancers ability to make better use of a crappy song.

I’d love to add as many dances to this post, so if you think of any, add it in the comments… DO NOT POST LINKS! but instead, PLEASE try to give me the couple and the season, and which dance style. I don’t know if I will be able to find them if you give me the song titles without the dance. They’ll be added when possible, please be patient.

First up, Maria and Derek’s rumba….. Madonna’s Material Girl as a rumba? Without the orchestra’s genius, THIS never would have worked…
Maria and Derek’s Material Girl Rumba

Let’s not forget Season 17’s PLUGGED/UNPLUGGED challenge during semi-finals, where each couple did 2 different dance styles to the same song. That NEVER would have been possible without OUR orchestra. And, we have THESE dances to remember…

Amber and Derek’s Viennese Waltz to “Locked Out of Heaven”
Corbin and Karina’s rumba to “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark”
Leah and Tony’s Argentine Tango to “Bad Romance”
Jack and Cheryl’s Argentine Tango to “Roxanne”
Bill and Emma’s Argentine Tango to “Sexy and I Know It”

Jimmbboe loves Aaron and Karina’s Muppet Quickstep and I do too!

Susan2 loves Mario and Karina’s Tito Puente Mambo and Gilles and Cheryl’s “killer” Argentine Tango!

Sandy’s pick is Hines and Kym’s “Explosive” Paso Doble! Another great pick!

PLEASE keep them coming, I love reminiscing like this!

Rich loved Nicole and Derek’s Foxtrot and while watching that, I found another of MY favorites, Nicole and Dereks Im-PASO-ble 1950’s Paso Doble

I found some CAN’T LEAVE OUTS!

Shawn and Derek’s Knight Rider Bhangra! Hard for both the orchestra and dancers, I’d say!

Helio and Julianne’s Mambo VS Shawn and Derek’s Mambo

and

Helio and Julianne’s Quickstep VS Shawn and Derek’s Quickstep

Here’s more from Craig:

Nicole and Derek’s Pretty Woman Tango

Nicole and Derek’s SOS Jive

Emmitt and Cheryl’s All-Star Cha Cha to Chain of Fools

Ingo and Kym’s Cha Cha from Len’s Side by Side Challenge

Jacoby and Karina’s Jive from Len’s Side by Side Challenge

Kellie and Derek’s Foxtrot from Len’s Side by Side Challenge

February 5, 2014 I Written By

Just a typical, ordinary DWTS fan..

Dancing with the Stars Season 18 – Has the Orchestra Been Cut??

If this is true – and it seems legit – they certainly have been. This is a real shame as this is one of the things that made DWTS so unique in television today. Yes, we occasionally critiqued the singers for butchering a song – but the orchestra was killer. That said, I think I mused some time ago that this was one way to cut costs if that was required. The claim is that they are going in a way to attract a younger crowd. I tend to think that’s an excuse. You?

This is from Rick Baptist’s facebook account - he is apparently the lead trumpet for DWTS’ orchestra. Rick’s IMDB Page.

Rick Baptist

January 31, 2014 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. :-)

An Ode to Dancing with the Stars

The following is a guest post by Lois A Troutman.

The DANCING WITH THE STARS SEASON 17 CAST is gettin’ their groove on in rehearsals leading to the spectacular premiere on September 16! One more week until the couples will saunter down the brightly lit stairs in costumes as sparkling as the lights! As magnificent as the ballroom dancing show that has become a phenomenon across the United States of America!

Wouldn’t we love to peek in on how the rehearsals are going? How the stars are shaking it up with their mega-talented pros! Shaking their hips, shaking their lives up like never before! And also trying to shake off the ever-present nerves in the rehearsals and waiting in the wings on premiere night ready to shake it up on the ballroom floor!

My own nerves are shaking in eager anticipation of this season! I have watched every season, every show! I await Season 17 with the same avid enthusiasm as I awaited Season 1! I love every cast who has been chosen. There are always scintillating surprises that happen before my eyes! I am along for the resplendent, radiant, ravishing ballroom extravaganza ride each week!

I seriously love everything about the show! The costume spectacles that are created each week by the very able Costume Department. The stupendous pro dance numbers! The chatter of the judges, Bruno Tonioli, Len Goodman, and Carrie Ann Inaba. The incredible Emmy Winner Tom Bergeron, truly the Host with the Most! His sidekick Brooke Burke Charvet chimes in with her apt commentary throughout the show.

I love seeing the progression of the stars each week! They are truly GETTIN’ THEIR GROOVE ON gliding across the ballroom floor!

The most important aspect of this show is the camaraderie the entire cast finds with each other. It is wonderful to see the bonds develop that lead to lifetime friendships!

The Music Director Harold Wheeler leads the band producing immense repertoires of music each week! All with great musicality and aplomb!

I salute the entire production team for all of their intense work to turn out a top-rate show each week! I cannot fathom all the details that need to be fine-tuned, spit-shined and polished to hear Tom Bergeron say each week, THIS IS DANCING WITH THE STARS!

Yes Tom, THIS IS DANCING WITH THE STARS, the toe-tappin’, eye-poppin’, show-stoppin’, dancing show!

GETTIN’ THEIR GROOVE ON, the dancers are hard at work to bring us entertainment at its best!

GETTIN’ MY OWN GROOVE ON waiting impatiently and enthusiastically!

Bring on the show, bring on DANCING WITH THE STARS!

September 10, 2013 I Written By

Better known as Charlie.

PureDWTS Exclusive! An Interview with Randall Christensen, Part II

Last week, we gave you part one of our exclusive interview with Randall Christensen, the costume designer for season 2-12 of DWTS.  Now read on for more insight from the man behind the costumes…as well as some exciting news! :-D

What are some of the shows that stood out for you the most when you costumed them, and why? (i.e. certain theme nights, specific seasons, finales, etc.)

Randall Christensen:  Movie/Broadway or TV night is always great fun.  We get to step out of character even more.  If you can dream it up, SOMEONE will wear it!  Themed nights are always fun.  Loved the Halloween show back several years ago.  Edyta as Morticia Addams (The Addams Family), Monique Coleman/Louis van Amstel in their “Ghostbusters” tear away coveralls, to “slime” green…..great fun!  Doing specific time periods are fun and challenging as well.  Doing a retro ‘50’s Paso Doble for Nicole Scherzinger was one of the most challenging, as the Paso Doble is so serious and passionate, yet the ‘50’s inspired song just didn’t go…..but Derek is a genius with choreography, and we came up with a fun yet strong look for them both.

If you could pick any of the pros, past or present, on the show to be your assistant, who would it be and why?

RC:  Hands down, Edyta Sliwinska would be a great co-designer.  She has such an eye for style!  Lacey Schwimmer has some really fun, “out there” and cutting edge ideas too.

What was the best part of your job on DWTS?

RC:  Hands down, the best part of my job was the trust of the producers, and being able to create with such freedom.  You just do NOT get that in the television industry, and that was the most rewarding thing I can imagine.  Weekly, the most rewarding part of my job was when Harold Wheeler and orchestra start playing the overture, there’s not a week that went by that I was ALWAYS there, with shivers running down my spine.  When those couples came down that stairway……truly a magical moment each and every week.  I never missed that descending down the stairs at the top of the show – NEVER! Read more..

January 17, 2012 I Written By

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

DWTS 12 End of Season Award Winners – Which Musical Guest Was the Best?

John: Seriously. How do you decide on this one?

Vogue: I have to say this was kind of lackluster Season for entertainment in my opinion. I was hoping for Katy Perry, Rihanna, or Lady Gaga. But, from the choices, I picked New Kids On The Block/Backstreet Boys. I so loved the boy bands and it was great seeing them again. I loved Hanson too!

Courtney: This category drives me absolutely NUTS because there’s so damn many musical acts each season, and a ridiculous number of write-in votes.  People, please – Josh Groban’s name is spelled like that, and there are no alternative spellings.  And whoever wrote in “Hanson FTW” – you irk me. :-) Echoing John’s sentiments, I’m a little perplexed as to how Adele managed to win this one.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Adele, but she only sang one song (with laryngitis) and was forced to bow out of the second one due to aforementioned laryngitis.  It was an ok performance – but not her best.  But alas, Adele is popular with our readers – laryngitis or not! I’m with Vogue on this one…I’m such a boy band fangirl, and I’m ridiculously excited to see NKOTBSB here in Indy later this month ;-) I actually thought they put on the best “show” of all the musical acts – you could tell they had put some thought into their performance, and hadn’t just flown in at the last minute and been like “Ok, we’re here, give us some dancers and we’ll do a quick run-through.” Hanson was a nice addition to the performance show – definitely better lead-in music than Harold Wheeler’s many variations on the DWTS theme.  I really enjoyed Michael & Delta as well – wish I could say the same for the Black Eyed Peas.  But you guys already know how I feel about them – let’s just say I found a very apt comment from someone on Twitter that likened them to a venereal disease. ;-) Jennifer & Toby seemed a little unenthusiastic to me, and I thought Chris Brown did ok given the firestorm surrounding his performance.  Rounding out the dreaded write-in category: Josh/Johs/Joe Groban/Grobin/Grodin/etc. (8), David Garrett (3), Katherine Jenkins (1), Pitbull/Neyo/Nayer (1), Selena Gomez (1), Pia Toscano *snicker* (1), and “they all sucked” (1).  One performance I kinda wish someone had mentioned – James Blunt.  I thought his performance with Val & Daria dancing was one of the most entertaining for me, and seriously – that guy has come a long way since his first album, when he was a total Debbie Downer.  Did he get some action or something? The dude has rainbows coming out of his ass these days! :-)

Marianya: Courtney, Vogue… I guess I’m jumping on that fangirly boyband bandwagon. The most memorable musical act for me was NKOTBSB hands down. I mean it seems like it was prepared and created for the DWTS stage as opposed to just something tossed together or taken from a past tour act, that I likey, I likey a lot.

Heidi: I was inordinately fond of that one Hanson boy’s suspenders. :-)  I don’t know WHY I like such things or why I get fascinated by them. :-) In any case, I found Hanson’s presence on that one performance show lent the show a new and different feel from usual. Now, I think I generally HATE theme nights on principle, but I liked their inclusion and I loved some of the songs they played. I dunno, it was new and different in a way that I liked for a change. :-)

July 20, 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 10 – The Man Behind the Music

The New York Post has an interview with Harold Wheeler which is interesting – certainly interesting to John. :-)  Excerpts:

One of the biggest thrills of “Dancing With the Stars” is the way unlikely pop hits become quicksteps and rumbas. The man responsible for turning New Order’s “Blue Monday” into a pasodoble is musical director and bandleader Harold Wheeler. The Broadway vet orchestrated the likes of “Dreamgirls” and “Hairspray,” and even produced Gloria Gaynor’s “Never Can Say Goodbye.” We phoned Wheeler in LA to review some of his finest “DWTS” feats.

* “Paparazzi” This pasodoble version of the Lady Gaga hit embodies the Wheeler Touch: horns, and lots of them. “If we did this song true to the nature of the record, it wouldn’t support the dancing,” he explains. “When you put on this big production, you need that brass.”

* “I Want You To Want Me” For a quickstep, Wheeler used the Letters to Cleo cover rather than the Cheap Trick original. “When the producers license the material, they do it according to what’s available at what price. That’s why sometimes we get an odd version: It was probably cheaper [laughs]. But then, I can be more me in the arrangement.”

* “Fever” More was more to make Peggy Lee’s minimal classic a fox trot. “I told the dancers ‘You’re going to hear some new things in the song and I don’t want them to surprise you. They’re really essential to keeping the audience’s attention, so don’t tell me to throw them away.”

* “Secret Agent Man” “Donny Osmond stopped dancing in rehearsal because toward the end I threw in a bit of the 007 theme. But he comes from performing. The pros tend to be more opinionated about the music than the stars.”

* “Star Wars Theme” Joey Fatone and Kym Johnson danced a tango to the disco version, which was close to Wheeler’s heart. “I told the producers to Google the artist, Meco. They called me back and said, ‘You produced that record!’ ”

April 18, 2010 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. :-)

Dancing with the Stars Music – The Live Band

I see by the comments that this is a timely article. :-) I highly recommend clicking the link and reading the entire article. Some excerpts from Variety:

Live band gives ‘Dancing’ lift

It’s 9:15 a.m. on a Monday morning on Stage 46 at CBS Television City. Harold Wheeler, music director for ABC’s hit “Dancing With the Stars,” is already well into rehearsal with his 17-piece band and quartet of singers for that night’s live, two-hour show.
He calls out the 3/4-time, country-flavored “Only One Road.” Standing at his keyboard, headphones on, he conducts sans baton while actress Melissa Joan Hart and her pro partner Mark Ballas waltz around the floor while the stage’s mirrored ball spins slowly, showering the room with points of light.

This is the first time that Hart and Ballas have heard what the band will play. For the previous five days, they’ve been rehearsing to a cut-down version of the original 1994 Celine Dion track.

I guess I didn’t realize they were rehearsing with cut downs right up until Monday morning. That would be…stressful for the dancers, I think. The non-pros anyway. The entire article talks about Donny talking to Harold and getting the speed adjusted – and he’s a pro! That would be pretty darn difficult for non-musicians to do, I would think. Make communicating with Harold Wheeler more challenging.

“Music is the essence of everything,” says “Dancing With the Stars” head judge Len Goodman during a break. “Without good music you will never get good dancing. Harold Wheeler and our band are unsung heroes, and the singers are fantastic. Whatever is thrown at them, they can do. Lindy hop, hip-hop, swing, every genre of music, they cope brilliantly.”

In fact, the band consists of some of L.A.’s top studio musicians and singers. Trumpeters Rick Baptist and Warren Luening, saxophonist Dan Higgins, keyboard player Tom Ranier and drummer Ralph Humphrey are among the town’s first-call players. Vocalists Darryl Phinnessee (veteran of multiple Michael Jackson Jackson tours), Carmen Carter, Beverley Staunton and Antonio Sol are not just good singers, says Wheeler, “they’re great singers.”

I think the band is great – but from time to time the singers really butcher a song, sad to say. Of course, everyone has an off night or an off performance. I guess I also never really gave them (and the band as a whole) credit for having to perform multiple genres in a given week – that is challenging.

Senior producer Erin O’Brien creates a list of “well over 1,000 songs” that the staff attempts to clear with music publishers. “And out of every 100 songs,” she says, “I may not even hear back on half. Of the rest, I may end up getting denials on half. Some artists don’t agree to the fee, some prefer that their versions get heard, and some simply don’t do business with reality shows, period.”

When the celebrities are booked, “I ask all of my dancers for song ideas and suggestions,” she adds. “We tell them, ‘tell us anything you could ever possibly want to dance to.’ Not a lot of them end up working,” she concedes.

Once tunes are cleared for use, music editor Graham Jarvis – working in the U.K. and using the internet – decides whether they are appropriate for tangos or waltzes or any of the several categories, and then creates edited versions of the songs (anywhere from 60 to 100 seconds long). It is those versions that the dancers rehearse to, until the Monday morning sessions with the live band.

I find the whole “process” of making a list of songs through the final rehearsals with the live band to be absolutely fascinating. I guess I never thought about how much has to go into just the music portion of the program. Of course I knew the Pros gave ideas and they either got cleared for use or not, but the rest of it is new and interesting information!!

I think that I vote to keep the live band – it does add an element to the show that other shows don’t have – although I think American Idol how has live music (sometimes).

December 9, 2009 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. :-)

Tampering with the DWTS Tempo?

So when I started this post I was originally going to talk about something that we have talked about before…the fact that DWTS doesn’t need a live band. I was going to post some examples of how bad it could be and I asked my fellow bloggers for some suggestions since I’m kind of the newbie and Heidi pointed me in the direction I decided to go. She said that she had read on a message board on Television without Pity that Harold Wheeler changed the tempo without telling the pros. I took her advice and I found the TV Guide article. Here is part of the article but you can find the whole thing here.

Wheeler holds a lot of power in that baton. It’s his job to match the performance of his live band to the records the dancers have been practicing to all week. He knows he’s got to get it spot-on or he’ll have a dance floor full of confused hoofers. “I know they’re all nervous,” says Wheeler. “So my job is making sure that the tempos I set for them — and the arrangements I do for them — complement what they’ve been rehearsing to all week. We’re in the fourth season now and I don’t want to say that I’ve got it down to a science, but I’ve got to get each performer down to a science.”
Listen to this: Even after Wheeler has exactly matched the tempo of a couple’s rehearsal music, he’ll sometimes change that tempo between Monday afternoon’s dress rehearsal and the Monday night live performance — without the dancers knowing it. “I’ll kick it up a notch,” says Wheeler, sounding like spice-friendly chef Emeril Lagasse. Why? Because a couple of the remaining dancers, namely Ohno and Fatone, are “adrenaline junkies,” says Wheeler. When these performers are in the spotlight and surrounded by an audience, their hearts race a little faster and their feet move a little faster. “So I’ll make the tempo just this much [he shows a pinch with his fingers] faster than at dress rehearsal during the live show.” And the dancers really don’t know he’s doing it? “No,” says Wheeler. “It’s my thing. I have to make it a little faster because I know that’s the way they are.”

The article is a few years old (May 2007) and Harold says he did it only for Apolo Ohno and Joey Fatone but I still don’t agree with it. What if that little (according to Wheeler) change threw off these guys and cost them their scores? Would that be fair? And the biggest question in my mind is what if he doesn’t like the dancer? Now do I really think that he would sabotage a dancer? No…but it was a question that popped in my mind.

I do want to say one more thing. I think that Harold Wheeler is a wonderful musician and handles the many genres of music that are thrown at him as well as he as able. Sometimes they hit it but sometimes they really don’t.

Now I want to hear what you think about this. Is it okay that he tampered with the tempo? Is it not? Let’s hear it.

November 2, 2009 I Written By