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PureDWTS Season 18, Week 6 – What’s Left to Dance?

So we’re at the halfway point in the competition – 5 more weeks to go, and there’s still 8 couples left…seems like a lot, but I guess numerically it makes sense.  We’ve got party anthem night this coming Monday, Latin night the following Monday, and then who knows.  Will the guest judges cease once we hit week 8? Will the themes cease? When’s the team dance? What other funky sh*t are they gonna throw our way between now and the finale? :-P

I don’t have ALL of the answers, but I’ll try and paint the clearest picture I can of the remainder of the season.  Here’s the list of what the remaining couples have left to dance in the coming weeks – I’ve already removed their party anthem week dances, so consider this the remaining dances for Latin week onward. I’ve added a bit of my own commentary as well.  And because I’m nice, I did it both a list format AND a handy-dandy chart. :-) I have a question mark by the Viennese waltz (see why below) and I honestly doubt we’ll see anyone else doing the swing this season, but I went ahead and included it since we did see it from two couples already. …Read more

April 17, 2014 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, The Finale – Power Rankings

Honestly, this may be the weakest finale performance night I think we’ve seen since season 5.  I think almost everyone did worse in the “judges’ choice” round than they did the first time; only one freestyle really wowed me, and the rest ranged from “eh, ok” to “WTF???” Oddly enough, the only dance I found myself really enjoying was the cha cha relay – seemed like everyone just let loose and had fun with it.  I think the judges made their agenda quite clear tonight, and I know I can’t be the only one that’s a little suspicious that the online voting is down on finale night FOR THE SECOND SEASON IN A ROW.  No excuses, Muppets – you should have had it sorted out by now so that this type of thing doesn’t happen.  Curious to me that you haven’t (or chose not to) worked out the kinks yet.  Hmmm…but anyway, let’s start in reverse order, shall we?

4th Place: Jacoby & Karina

Poor Jacoby…he just really seemed to fall apart tonight, and it’s sad because 3 weeks ago I would have said that he had the MBT in the bag.  Now, thanks to the machinations of TPTB, I think the poor guy is just suffering from a major case of burnout and just broke down tonight.  While I agree that his judges’ choice jive was slightly better from a technical standpoint, I still prefer the first iteration – because it was SO DAMN FUN.  Jacoby looked downright miserable doing this one – like he was so focused on getting the technique right that he forgot to enjoy himself…and that was really the appeal of Jacoby’s dancing all season: he just looked like he was having so damn much fun.  Was a 27 rather kind? In the great scheme of things, probably; but since the judges were handing out 30′s like Oprah again tonight, I think 27 was relatively fair.  I actually found myself enjoying he & Karina’s portion of the cha cha relay most – and I don’t think anyone can really disagree that they had the best ending transition ;-) The slide through Aly & Mark was pure genius and totally Jacoby :-) And speaking of “being totally Jacoby” – I actually liked his freestyle, and wasn’t expecting some of the incredulous responses I was getting on Twitter when I *gasp!* said I enjoyed it.  “But Courtney, it was SO MESSY!!!!” Was it messy? Yes.  I saw the exact same routine you guys did, and I’m fully aware when something is messy.  But at the same time, I think there’s more to a good freestyle than clean footwork and execution – there’s also HEART, and staying true to who you are.  And while some of you may have balked at his freestyle as if it were the 2nd coming of the Marie Osmond doll freestyle (it wasn’t THAT bad, guys), I applauded him for sticking to his roots and sending a dance love letter to New Orleans…that routine was NOLA & Jacoby FOR DAYS.  The band, the stepping, the tapping – I think he perfectly captured the dance culture of the Big Easy, while also dancing a routine that felt like something he’d do.  He didn’t try and act like something he’s not (unlike a certain other couple…), he didn’t pick some random theme that he had no connection to – Jacoby did Jacoby, and I dug it.  And he seemed to enjoy himself, which is why I’ve been a fan all season.  But, thanks to the judges, who have given Aly a pretty comfortable cushion, I don’t think Jacoby can really hope for any better than 4th place tomorrow.  He may, by the “grace of god” (as he put it), somehow bump Aly and take 3rd, but I’m not feeling optimistic. But I’m glad he made it to the finale, and got to dance for his hometown :-) Read more..

May 20, 2013 I Written By

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

DWTS 15, Week 10 – Finale Power Rankings

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

Anywho…

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

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

3rd place: Kelly & Val

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

: Shawn & Derek

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

The winner: Melissa & Tony

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

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

November 26, 2012 I Written By

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

DWTS 15 – What’s Left to Dance?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 31, 2012 I Written By

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

DWTS 14 – What’s Left to Dance?

Well, we’ve reached the halfway point (sort of…) of the competition.  Only 7 of the 12 couples we started with remain, and each couple has 6 dances down and 6 more regular ones to go (not counting team dances, freestyles, etc.) in the 4 weeks left in the competition.  Now we get down to the nitty gritty and see what everyone is really made of…because starting next week, they all have to do 2 full-length dances per week.  So let’s take a look at what each of the couples has to contend with in the coming weeks, shall we?

First impressions: anyone who still has samba left to do is likely at a bit of a disadvantage, as that’s the dance that really seems to trip a lot of people up.  Those who are still waiting to do Argentine tango could have a slight edge, as it seems to be a dance that can really redeem a couple when done later in the competition. I think Donald & William are likely going to struggle a bit with their remaining ballroom dances; Jaleel, Maria, and Katherine are probably going to be a bit challenged by their remaining Latin dances; and Melissa & Roshon are probably going to struggle with just about everything, since they don’t seem to be in the judges’ favor.

Jaleel & Kym – remaining dances: paso doble, waltz, quickstep, Viennese waltz, salsa, Argentine tango

I’d say Jaleel actually has one of the better sets of remaining dances left to do – it’s a good mix of Latin & ballroom, and he still has both of his “extra” dances to burn through.  He seems stronger in the ballroom dances than in the Latin, so I don’t see waltz, quickstep, or Viennese waltz being a big problem; and I could see him really doing well in the paso doble, since he seems to have some anger issues he needs to work out :-).  He seems to have to intensity necessary for Argentine tango, but I have to say, I’m skeptical about how proficient he’s going to be at the salsa – he’s got the personality, but I’ve noticed that his footwork tends to suffer at the expense of his showmanship…especially on more energetic dances like jive & samba.

Donald & Peta – remaining dances: samba, jive, waltz, tango, Viennese waltz, salsa

I seriously love Donald, but I think he’s got his work cut out for him the next few weeks – he’s still got two of the more difficult Latin dances left to deal with, and since he still seems to be struggling a bit with ballroom posture & frame, I think the waltz, tango, and Viennese waltz are going to be a challenge.  I think he’ll have a blast with the salsa, though – I can just see the big ol’ grin on our “hunkey dunkey” football player now :-D I’m just a bit concerned with the judges – I think they’re warming to Donald, but I don’t think they’re as willing to overlook slight errors with him as they are with Katherine, William, or even Maria.  He’s gonna have to be on-point every week if he wants that “10 from Len”.

Maria & Derek – remaining dances: samba, paso doble, jive, waltz, Viennese waltz, Argentine tango

I really wish they had already gotten samba & jive out of the way earlier this season :-( Those are two dances I just don’t see Maria having an easy time with – no one really and truly nails the samba (and along with cha-cha, it’s Derek’s LEAST favorite dance to choreograph), and with the exception of Nicole, it seems like really willowy ladies seem to have trouble with the jive, as it takes more time & effort to get those long legs kicking & flicking properly.  She might struggle a bit with paso, but Derek is generally pretty good at choreographing paso doble to his partner’s strengths, so I don’t think it will be too problematic; waltz and Viennese waltz shouldn’t be a problem; and the Argentine tango could be their secret weapon – if there’s one dance that might win them the pimp spot, it’s this one, as Derek has choreographed some of the most dramatic Argentine tangos over the years.

Roshon & Chelsie – remaining dances: paso doble, jive, waltz, tango, foxtrot, Argentine tango

First things first: while I still think Roshon is technically the best dancer still left in the competition, the judges (Carrie Ann in particular) have made it pretty clear that they’re VERY eager to point out any mistakes he makes – so he’s going to have to be damn near perfect in every single one of these dances, if he wants to stick around.  He’s done pretty well with the ballroom dances he’s had so far, so I think waltz & foxtrot shouldn’t be a problem; he also has a bit of an edge in that he’s already done the jive in the dance duel (and gotten some critiques from the judges on it), so he knows what he needs to work on.  The potential problems I see? Paso doble, tango, and Argentine tango – all require a certain degree of maturity and masculinity to really pull of well, and as we saw with the rumba this week…Roshon seems to struggle a bit with being a manly-man. :-P

Katherine & Mark – remaining dances: cha-cha, rumba, tango, quickstep, Viennese waltz, salsa

Well, when you’re a pretty good dancer and the judges seem to fawn over your every move, it doesn’t seem like you’d really struggle with any remaining dances – and to some degree, I get the feeling Katherine’s gonna have it made from here on out.  However, I see cha-cha, rumba, and salsa sticking out as potentially weaker dances for her – all require a certain degree of sexiness to pull off successfully, and I still don’t think Katherine is really comfortable with being sexy & sassy.  Her samba was ok, but I never got the feeling that she was 100% committed (or comfortable) with it; and while I thought her Argentine tango was great in terms of technique, she seemed to have emotional commitment problems there as well.  Can she pull off the sexiness? We’ll see.  Given her really good track record with the ballroom dances, I think tango, quickstep, and Viennese waltz should be a cinch – provided that Mark can continue to be “good Mark” and avoid any gimmicks. Read more..

April 25, 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!

DWTS13 Week 8 Power Rankings

Let me just get it off my chest first: the judges are on crack.  Plain & simple.  And sometimes, I like the kind of crack they’re smoking…other times, I don’t.  Tonight was a bit of both.

I don’t think the instant jive really benefited anyone except JR, and even though everyone else really struggled, I don’t think it really & truly screwed anyone except Nancy - but then again, the judges seemed hellbent on screwing her over after scoring her first dance, so I can’t really say I was surprised.  Oh well…on with it…

1.) JR & Karina – I’m sure many of you saw me gushing about these two on Twitter, and I have to say – both of their routines were my favorites of the night, as they were both good dances with great entertainment value.  In fact, JR’s jive may have overtaken Kyle’s as my favorite instant dance ever. But I’m actually in agreement with a lot of you that they were not exactly worthy of not one, but TWO perfect 30′s.  I think I saw a few timing issues in his waltz where his footwork got a bit wonky, and his jive felt a bit disjointed in a few spots -  for which I’m actually going to blame Karina’s choreographic strategy, since the whole “choreograph in pieces and then put them together” method runs the risk of there not being enough transitions between sections.  However, I will say this: with all of the overscoring going on tonight, is it really all that surprising that someone got a perfect score? I mean, if they’re suddenly giving Hope (who has gotten in the neighborhood of 24′s for most of the season) a 27, it kinda sets the bar high – not to say that it’s right or fair, but it does put them in the sticky situation of having to then go even higher on dances that are better…and I would daresay that JR & Karina were head & shoulders above Hope & Maks in both dances, so I guess 60 just doesn’t feel totally outrageous to me.  Aaaaaanywho…since they really seem to have given another couple their walking papers, I think JR & Karina oughta be safe…for now.  I’m fulling expecting backlash next week, so I’m warming up my voting finger!

2.) Hope & Maks – This is the portion of my post where I remind everyone that the power rankings are not my opinion of who did the best or who I like the most ;-) , but who I think has the most staying power.  And this week, Hope & Maks seem to have quite a bit of staying power, with the scores they got. While her quickstep was a vast improvement from previous weeks (I still say her foxtrot was her best dance, though), I firmly believe that Hope deserved at least 2 points less than Rob, for the simple reason that Rob had the more difficult choreo and I thought he handled it more fluidly and with more skill than Hope did with her routine.  I think 25 was probably about right for her jive, and it was a pleasant surprise to see her staying on-time and actually having fun – but man, she still looks like she just muscling her way through it.  The catch-22 of jive is that it IS difficult & high-energy, but a well-done jive is supposed to look effortless & kinda “springy”.  Hope looked like she was about to go all Bruce Lee on someone, with the force with which she was doing those flicks! Take it with a grain of salt, but compared to a very similar side-by-side section in JR & Karina’s routine, Hope looks amateurish, with the way she’s kicking her legs out with such force.  But enough technique for now.  I know there’s still quite a bit of buzz about these 2 after last week, so I daresay they’ll live to dance another week.  Read more..

November 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!

DWTS12 Week 8 Power Rankings

Gee, funny what happens when you don’t have a specific “theme” night – you actually get some pretty good dancing, across the board! I don’t think anyone really “sucked” tonight – granted, there were no “perfect” routines, but I think all the couples stepped their game up quite a bit this week. The question is – are the judges strategically scoring in order to keep their favorites safe and get rid of the others? After tonight, I have no doubt in my mind that that’s exactly what they’re doing.  Definite over and under-scoring going on.  And it all makes me want to go back previous seasons, when there were definite ringers and we didn’t have mediocre dancing rammed down our throats as being 10-worthy.  Hmph. On with it…

1.) Hines & Kym - I found myself laughing the hardest while watching Hines dance tonight – and unfortunately, I think I was laughing AT him, rather than WITH him.  The poor guy got not one, but TWO completely silly dances tonight, and by the end of the night I’m fairly certain he felt like a complete nincompoop, especially with his teammates watching :-) What likely soothed that blow to his ego was some definite overscoring from the judges.  I’m sorry, but a 28 for a foxtrot that, in my opinion, looked kinda jumpy & flaily? Negative, ghostrider.  MAYBE 26-worthy.  Granted, Hines did seem to be having quite a bit of fun, but it doesn’t change the fact that his feet were bad, his arms were out of control, and he seemed to be a bit rushed at times.  It was fun and it made me happy, but it was overscored…sorry, Steeler Nation.  As for his instant jive…*sigh*.  I couldn’t help but smile as I watched Hines try to muddle through that one looking like a little lost black/Korean leprechaun :-D I give him points for effort, but when he wasn’t missing steps, he was barely moving his feet; and when he was moving his feet, he was missing steps.  I guess I’m a bit spoiled, after that phenomenal instant jive Kyle did last season – seriously, go back and watch it on Youtube, then watch Hines’ and tell me with a straight face that Hines’ was as good or better than Kyle’s.  I DARE you.  Kyle was fearless and didn’t miss a beat.  Hines…not so much.  I do kinda feel for Hines, though – I worry that he may have peaked too early, and thus set the bar pretty damn high for himself…because these past few weeks, I’ve found myself going “He can do better than this.” Regardless of what I think, Hines has been Mr. Consistent this season (even if Hines’ consistent isn’t in the same ballpark as a J. Grey or Nicole “consistent”), and I doubt that’s going to change.  Plus he’s got a pretty damn good cushion to keep him safe – guess your plot worked, judges. *eye roll*

2.) Chelsea & Mark – As much as I LOVED that Chelsea stood up to Mark at the beginning of the show and made it clear that his outbursts shouldn’t be reflected as her own opinions about the show, I think these two were overscored as well.  Aaaand cue the “Mark hater!” accusations from the peanut gallery :-) But peanuts, beware – don’t come out swinging if you aren’t capable of having a mature, logical argument.  My trigger finger is comfortably rested on the “delete” button for those who chose to fling insults or try to tell people they’re wrong. Anyway…the waltz was a definite improvement, yes; but I have to agree with Len – the emotion was a bit over-the-top, and I could have done without the kiss…a kiss that early in the dance just says to me “I have nothing truly dynamic in my bag of tricks, so this is my one ‘Look at me!’ move!” It just reads as kind of desperate, and I would have preferred some sort of dramatic sweep across the floor or some well-executed spins from Chelsea instead.  What I did see from her was quite pretty – she turns well and extends her arms very nicely.  As for their salsa – let me put it this way: I know of no bona fide salseros that move with such staccato as Mark.  Didn’t the judges even say later on that salsa was supposed to be a relaxed, FLUID club dance? Mark was not moving fluidly at all, and it just made it hard to pay attention to Chelsea with him moving so spastically – plus it seemed to throw her off a bit. Yes, she did all her moves and threw some good attitude into it; but I kinda felt like she was just going though the motions of her routine, like in her head she was like “Ok, what’s next? Ok turn and look and arms and head and turn again and…” without any regard to the music.  I guess I just kinda hoped she could connect better with the music.  But hey, it doesn’t really matter what I think, because the judges have also done a quite nice job of shielding her from elimination as well. 

3.) Kirstie & Maks – As much as I love Kirstie, I would be lying if I said I didn’t think her A. tango was a bit overscored.  I was definitely impressed that Maks threw in a couple of lifts and it didn’t seem to phase Kirstie; they were smooth & well-executed.  I thought she kept up pretty well with the footwork – but there were a few moments of uncertainty, and overall I think the routine was a bit elementary.  Ditto for her salsa – I think she kept up semi-well for most of it, but it was also choreographically the least complicated of the 3 salsas we saw tonight.  She did do a pretty damn good job of getting into character, though – she smoldered in the tango and was sassy in the salsa.  But here’s my biggest problem: she’s starting to get a bit lost in the shuffle to me.  She’s neither failing miserably nor truly excelling, so I find myself with a bit of writer’s block with her – I just don’t have a whole lot to say.  What I can say, though, is that the judges clearly seem to want keep her around at least through this week (and possibly to the finale), with the way they’re scoring her.  The question is: do they love her as much as they seem to love Hines & Chelsea, or could she become a sacrificial lamb should Romeo or Ralph bust some serious moves next week? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see next week, since she too has a pretty good cushion from the judges, on top of her huge fanbase.

4.) Romeo & Chelsie – Poor Romeo certainly seemed like one of the judges’ favorite punching bags tonight.  He just couldn’t seem to catch a break – he does a tango that, in my opinion, was cleaner than Hines’ foxtrot and every bit as good as Chelsea’s waltz – and he gets scored lower than both, and Carrie Ann just can’t help but nitpick about some “iffy” footwork.  EVERYONE tonight had some moments of iffy footwork – it was just a matter of whether the judges chose to call them out on it or conveniently look the other way.  I thought his lead in the tango was great, and his head snaps were incredibly crisp and on-time.  He looked great during the pivots.  When it came to the instant dance, I have to say - I feel like Romeo was really the only one tonight that actually seemed to connect to the music, rather than just bulldozing through it.  Did he miss steps in his salsa? Of course.  But did it feel like he was actually trying to dance to the beat? YES. Plus the kid just seems to be having a blast out there – if I were in a salsa club and saw him grooving, I would definitely ask him to dance.  But alas, the judges just don’t seem to be feeling the Romeo love – by the way they scored this week, it looks to me like they’re definitely setting us up for a Ralph & Romeo bottom 2 tomorrow night.  Which sucks, because I feel like Romeo has probably improved the most of all the contestants left this season.  I think due to scoring, he’s at least cleared to make it to the semi-finals; but just watch, next week – he will be at the bottom of the scoreboard, regardless of how well he dances.  God I hate storyboarding.

5.) Ralph & Karina – I knew Ralph was going to have a rough night if he did indeed chose to dance – and I have to give him mad, mad props for doing so despite his injury.  However, what I didn’t expect was a near-complete lack of sympathy from the judges – both in scores and in critiques.  Aside from a few tiny moments of what had to be intense pain, I really didn’t notice any huge missteps in his Viennese waltz – he was still moving fluidly & extending those gorgeous arms of his.  And that smoldering pose at the end?! MAGIC.  I thought 25 was a decent score, but it wouldn’t have killed the judges to toss in an extra point for dancing injured or something.  Ralph was a SOLDIER out there tonight.  As for his instant cha-cha – cute, valiant effort by both Ralph & Karina, and like Romeo, Ralph actually seemed to let go and really have fun out there.  It was as if he just said “Y’know what? F*ck it. I’m just gonna enjoy myself…except for the pain in this leg.” :-) But man, the judges just seemed to love rubbing salt in Ralph’s wound after that dance – a fleeting moment of “nice try” followed by a barrage of “The technique wasn’t there, you got off time, yadda yadda yadda yadda…” It was all just too much for me, especially since they were soooo understanding of Kirstie’s fall & shoe malfunction…and that mess of a jive.  But hey, I guess that’s what happens when you aren’t one of the judges’ “chosen ones”.  Now I did a quick calculation of the numbers…and either I’ve done it completely wrong, or the judges really and truly screwed Ralph this time.  I mean, REALLY screwed the poor guy – I’m not sure his huge fanbase, which has saved him from the bottom several times now, could come close to overcoming it.  And then there’s my looming suspicion that Ralph may decide to withdraw tomorrow night – I know he said it’s an injury that is supposedly going to heal in a few days, but when you only have about 5 days to crank out 2 more dances, is it going to be enough? And will it be fully healed in time to deal with the demanding 4-dance schedule of the finale? I just don’t know…part of me is praying for a miracle, that Ralph’s fans manage to pull off the impossible; and part of me is kinda wishing he’d bow out gracefully and not risk injuring himself further.  It all just makes me very, very sad :-(

Well, kids, I guess that’s all I have left to say for tonight.  What did you guys think of tonight’s scoring?

May 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!

DWTS12 – What’s Left to Dance?

Six weeks down, four to go…are you guys as shocked as I am that this season is more than halfway over??? Seems like only yesterday that Mike was pelvic thrusting & Irish jigging his way out the door…;-)

We’ve got 3 weeks of regular competition left, and then the finale week.  The next few weeks are going to be crucial in helping to determine who makes it all the way to the finale and who doesn’t – and as we’ve seen, if someone has just one off-week, it can mean curtains for them during a season where there’s so many fan favorites.  So what can we expect to see?

Each couple has 4 dances left to learn (a random combo of Latin & ballroom dances), as well as the team cha-cha next week and possibly the Argentine tango (I’ll get to that later).   Starting next week, the remaining couples will have to start doing 2 dances per week , which is what usually separates the “men from the boys”, so to speak.  Usually it’s one ballrom and one Latin per week, although I’m not sure how that’s going to work out since Ralph & Hines only have one Latin dance left to do.  Lord knows this season is just wacky :-)  

Hines & Kym – remaining dances: jive, waltz, tango, foxtrot

A decent “mixed bag” left for Hines – I have a feeling he’ll do well in the slow waltz, foxtrot, and tango (since he seems to do well with slow, romantic dances and fast, aggressive ones), but I could see him struggling a bit with the jive, since he hasn’t really had a “silly” dance yet. Then again, I said the same thing about Warren not doing well with the jive, and his ended up being one of my favorites :-)

Kirstie & Maks – remaining dances: paso doble, jive, Viennese waltz, tango

To quote Evaine earlier, I’m going to go ahead and point out the proverbial “elephant in the room” – I’m not sure how well Kirstie is going to handle the jive, and I have to wonder if they’re saving it for last in order to allow her to build up her stamina.  Poor Kirstie still seemed incredibly winded 5 minutes after her samba the other night – I can’t imagine what she’s gonna be like after a jive! Of the remaining dances, I think it could definitely be her Achilles’ heel. She’ll probably have a lot of fun “sexing up” her tango & paso doble, and barring any additional shoe malfunctions, I think she’ll have a decent Viennese waltz, too.

Romeo & Chelsie – remaining dances: jive, samba, Viennese waltz, tango

Romeo has definitely proven that he excels more at the ballroom dances than the Latin ones, so I don’t anticipate him having any issues with the Viennese waltz or tango.  He may not be as technically good at the jive, but I think he enjoyed being a bit cheeky in his foxtrot, so he’ll likely inject a lot of character into his jive to make up for any iffy technique.  The samba? Oy.  I always worry when a couple gets the samba later in the competition rather than earlier – since it’s such a technically hard dance, it could potentially prevent them from making it to the finale, if they’re up against couples with easier dances. 

Ralph & Karina – remaining dances: cha-cha, Viennese waltz, tango, quickstep

Of all the remaining contestants, I think Ralph has the best group of dances heading into these last few weeks.  He’s gotten 4 of the 5 Latin dances (which he tends to struggle with) out of the way already, and he actually gets a sort of “practice round” with the team cha-cha next week before he does it again on his own.  And Ralph is VERY strong in the ballroom dances – after several “off” weeks, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him back at the top of the leaderboard with one of the ballroom dances above.  As long as he & Karina can avoid any further mishaps, I would say he’s good for at least the semi final, and possibly the final, at this point.

Chelsea & Mark – remaining dances: rumba, paso doble, waltz, tango

Hmmm…Chelsea’s got 2 rather aggressive dances left: paso doble & tango.  I’m just not sure how well she’s gonna be able to embody that, since she always seems to be smiling :-) No doubt she’s got the dance skills – let’s just hope Mark can give her some good, non-rule-breaking choreo for the dances she has left, because at this point, I don’t know that the judges are going to be so forgiving of “risk-taking” choreography.  One ho-hum score from some disgruntled judges could mean the difference between staying & going.

Kendra & Louis – jive, paso doble, waltz, tango

Hehehe…oh boy.  Kendra’s got her work cut out for her :-) Honestly, of the dances she has left – I’m not sure there’s any that she’s really going to do remarkably well at.  She’s shown that she’s not exactly adept at (or fond of) the ballroom dances, and she only seems to do halfway well at Latin dances where she can “shake it”.  No really good “shake it” dances left – and I could see her trying to bounce around in the jive, but it looking kinda awkward…with her ample bosom doing most of the bouncing instead.  Luckily for us, I don’t think she’s going to be able to last through next week, so we likely won’t have to suffer through any of the potential awkwardness of her attempting more than one of these dances.

So what’s going on with the team cha-cha? It’s next week, and it looks like the teams are Hines, Kirstie, & Kendra vs. Romeo, Chelsea, & Ralph.  I would say that youth & higher cha-cha scores tips the scales in favor of the Romeo-Chelsea-Ralph team, but I think the Hines-Kirstie-Kendra team has probably got the better choreographers.  Could be a pretty even match-up…but we’ll save further discussion for Heidi’s “Who’s Dancing What?” post on Sunday :-) Maks tweeted something ambiguous last night about “In Your Arms”, which has got some people wondering if his team got Kylie Minogue’s “In Your Arms” as their song.  I would say that everyone is also going to do one unlearned ballroom dance next week, but apparently Chelsea & Mark have already said they’re doing the paso doble and Romeo & Chelsie said they’ve got the samba, so who knows.  And the wackiness of season 12 continues. *sigh*

What about the marathon dance? Sorry to disappoint, kids, but my spidey sense is telling me there probably isn’t going to be one this season.  The marathon dance is usually done when 7 couples remain, which would have been this week, but it looks like the “Broadway” (WTF?) marathon that was planned at the beginning of the season was scrapped without explanation by TPTB.  Why? Evaine & I theorize (and mind you, this is complete speculation on our parts, so take it with a grain of salt) that maybe they were waiting to see if Kirstie’s endurance increased during the season to see if she could handle a marathan dance.  Judging from her breathlessness post-samba this week – I’d say she probably couldn’t. So the marathon dance was scrapped, and Hanson was mysteriously added to the roster of musical guests at the last minute to fill up the time that would have been allotted for the marathon dance.  For those of you still holding out hope for one – there really isn’t much point in doing one with 5 people or less, so you might want to just save your enthusiasm for next season ;-)

When are they gonna do the Argentine tango??? I haven’t heard anything official saying whether or not they’re going to do it this season, and if so, when they’re going to do it – but I think it would be a very dumb move of them to scrap one of the most popular dances with viewers.  Looking at the dances that are left and the time left to do them in, it looks like they are still one dance short, if they’re going to have the couples doing 2 dances per week.  Since no one has done the Argentine tango yet, it would make sense to me that they’d probably have everyone do it the same week – maybe in a relay or “smackdown” fashion, as they’ve done in seasons past, with everyone doing a short routine, one at a time, back-to-back, to the same song.  Not exactly the intimate feel I like my Argentine tangos to have, but if it’s the only way I can take it, cool.  Keep in mind this is completely just Courtney speculating – this is not the official “word” on the fate of the A. tango.  So just in case they do ix-nay it…I wouldn’t get your hopes up.

Are they going to do the “Instant Dance” again? They said “yes”, at the beginning of the season, but then again, they also said “yes” about the marathon dance coming back…so once again, I’m not sure.  It wouldn’t surprise me if they made one of the couples’ remaining dances an “instant” dance – most likely one of their remaining Latin dances – and if we’re basing it on historical data, it would probably be during week 8, as that is when it happened during season 11.  That’s the best info I can give you…I’m sure we’ll hear more within the next week or so.

Alright, so there’s your overview of what you can expect (or not expect) during weeks 7-9.  Who do you guys think has the edge heading into the last 3 weeks of the season? Who do you think could be in trouble? DISCUSS :-) And be sure to stay tuned later today for the usual post-elimination media featuring Chris & Cheryl (gotta give Vogue some time to compile ;-)), and further info on what dances we’re going to see next week in Heidi’s weekly “Who’s Dancing What?” post on Sunday! :-D

April 27, 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!