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How to Fix DWTS – An Open Letter to Producers (Part 4)

This post is the 4th and final part of a series where I basically tell the producers of DWTS how they should change the show – it’s for their own good. 🙂  This part is more to the audience, but also for the producers.  If you want to read parts 1, 2, and 3 you can find them here:

How to Fix DWTS Part 1

How to Fix DWTS Part 2

How to Fix DWTS Part 3

A reminder for those easily induced into righteous indignation – this is NOT about the various couples but about the JUDGES and the Producers – I’ve provided examples of problems that I remember from season to season. If you get your knickers in a twist about Melissa or Shawn or Mya or Nicole or Maria, I’m not going to waste time arguing with you, I’m going to call you names (maybe to myself, maybe publicly – we’ll see) and then ignore you. Keep it on topic.

————-

I’ve never been one to believe in a high degree of manipulation of the show via the packages. I mean, let’s face it – no one MADE Maks be an ass with half his partners. And I’ve had people who work on the show tell me that what you see is usually what you get. Not to mention that after many seasons on the show, these pros know if you give the producers exciting footage, they are going to USE it. So, don’t be stupid. Take up the song “The Camera’s really on me now” by Derek Hough and Nicole Scherzinger. And suck it up. I get that the job of the producers is to get ratings. You get ratings by getting people talking. Be it a showmance or a knock down drag out fight. If you’re not smart enough to realize that camera really is recording everything you do, then it’s on YOU.  Maks and Hope really WERE awful, Karina and Apolo (sadly) really were stressed out and boring, and Drew and Anna were indeed too intense and serious. Read more..

February 10, 2013 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. :-)

How to Fix DWTS – An Open Letter to Producers (Part 3)

This post is part 3 of a new series where I basically tell the producers of DWTS how they should change the show – it’s for their own good. 🙂  If you want to read parts 1 and 2, you can find them here:

How to Fix DWTS Part 1

How to Fix DWTS Part 2

 

A reminder for those easily induced into righteous indignation – this is NOT about the various couples but about the JUDGES and the Producers – I’ve provided examples of problems that I remember from season to season. If you get your knickers in a twist about Melissa or Shawn or Mya or Nicole or Maria, I’m not going to waste time arguing with you, I’m going to call you names (maybe to myself, maybe publicly – we’ll see) and then ignore you. Keep it on topic.  And by all means – if you remember other instances of fishiness, feel free to share. I can’t guarantee we will agree, but I would be interested to hear.

Dear DWTS Producers (cont.)

We’ve talked all about the stupid scoring methods the judges have, although not really touching on how much you producers influence that scoring. It’s really hard to say what is Len being an ass and what is producer directed underscoring with the goal of drama, making it a horse race or holding on to the contestants who grab viewers attention, albeit not necessarily actual votes.  Who’s doing it and their ultimate goal? Don’t know, kinda care, really wish you would CUT IT OUT. I think it’s obvious. One only has to compare how Len scored Shawn, Nicole and Mya to see a pretty distinct pattern. I didn’t look much farther than those three, initially, but after my last posting I had to look at another talented dancer, Jennifer Grey. Jennifer didn’t suffer from the same scoring bullshit as the other three ladies. Why? Well, my guess is that she wasn’t anywhere close to “guaranteed” win (in the producers and judges eyes, mind you) that the other ladies were. She was 50 years old at the time and had some rather serious medical issues – almost didn’t dance in the finale, if you recall. Falsely crapping on her dances would seem…well, heartless.  She started the show as the sympathetic character with a very nostalgic feel. The other pseudo ringer that season was Brandy – she learned to dance for a movie, like Jennifer, and went to a performing arts high school – like Jennifer. Keeping in mind that I haven’t seen her dances since her season aired, you will note that she was getting consistently beaten by Jennifer in scoring up until week 5, when she beat Jennifer. She also beat Jennifer in week 6, then tied her in weeks 7 and 8, before being eliminated. I’m tempted to say that she had the Len curse that season….but since I haven’t watched the dances in a while I can’t really make the call. Looks like it though.

Brooke and Kristi were the high scorers nearly every week they were on the show, season 5 was all over the place, and Gilles seemed destined to win season 8, which leads me to believe that this little game didn’t really start happening until after that season. Were they getting tired of sure things, even though Gilles ended up not winning? Decided to make the game more interesting? Totally pissed that Shawn won and Gilles/Melissa didn’t?  I wish they would quit it. It’s always nice to have excitement on a show, but not at the expense of reality. Read more..

January 20, 2013 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. :-)

How to Fix DWTS – An Open Letter to Producers (Part 2)

This post is part 2 of a new series where I basically tell the producers of DWTS how they should change the show. Cuz I’m bossy like that. 🙂  If you want to read part 1, you can find it here —> How to Fix DWTS Part 1  A reminder for those easily induced into righteous indignation – this is NOT about the various couples but about the JUDGES and the Producers – I’ve provided examples of problems that I remember from season to season. If you get your knickers in a twist about Melissa or Shawn or Mya or Nicole or Maria, I’m not going to waste time arguing with you, I’m going to call you names (maybe to myself, maybe publicly – we’ll see) and then ignore you. Keep it on topic.

Dear DWTS Producers (cont.)

Scoring – to keep the “better” dancers over the “not so much” dancers.  “Better” being highly subjective. This is another common problem that many of us have seen on the show in the mid weeks of a season.  Say you have a dancer named Hope. She’s not a great dancer, but she’s explosive when paired with the bad boy of the ballroom – good for controversy and smack talk if not much else. Well, you want your show to be talked about and there are much more “disposable” celebrities on at the same time, so what do you do?? Well, of course, you pad Hope’s scores to give her just enough of a boost that she sticks around for a couple weeks, even if there are better dancers (such as Kristin, Chynna and even David – well, maybe not “better”  in David’s case, but certainly more charming) that are at risk of leaving. Ya gotta have your ratings, right?  Now, when all the disposable celebs are gone and you start scoring Hope for real, what happens?? Well, both Hope AND her fans and the rest of the audience are saying, “Wait a second. Last week I got a much better score for a dance that wasn’t as good as this one.”  And the conspiracy theories abound. And with good reason, right?  Hope’s not even the best example of this – I’m sure my readers can come up with good-ish dancers who were intentionally over scored just so they would stay longer than the really crappy dancers, only to start getting lower scores in the later weeks – so that the *great* dancers would survive.  It’s a vicious cycle.  Of course, they don’t always get worse scores in later weeks.  I have to wonder just how much protecting of Melissa was done early on for dancing that wasn’t that great.  She got a 37 (out of 40) on a Jitterbug in week 4 that had seriously messy lifts (the in and outs mainly) – one of which was almost a fall. It kinda makes me laugh cuz Shawn was picked on for “tricks” yet this dance was ALL tricks and any dancing there was was simplistic.  CAI, Len and Paula even called them on it and they still got a 37. She got a 27 the week before on a samba that was just too precious – and a 30 when they re-danced it and she did no better on it. Me thinks they were terribly afraid of Kirstie and Emmitt, early on, when it came to Melissa, and they were pulling a Maria late in the season (see below). Except for the very last one (maybe) her tangos and pasos were routinely over scored – so soft. :::shrug::: Hope and Melissa are far from the only examples. Maria was overscored on her Jive (if Shawn had danced that dance, Len would have decimated her), either to let her be eliminated with a high score (dangerous) or because they were hoping (strangely) that she could get past Donald, who they clearly didn’t care for much.  I always thought her salsa was overscored as well.  She was definitely a better dancer than many of the others in week three, when the salsa happened, but I imagine there was some doubt as to the strength of her fanbase.  The judges/producers seem to have so many goals, it’s hard to keep track of. One of them has to be making sure the better dancers with questionable fanbases make it to the end over the crap dancers who are popular. Read more..

December 17, 2012 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. :-)

How to Fix DWTS – An Open Letter to Producers (Part 1)

ETA: Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of all those in Newtown, Connecticut tonight.

How to “Fix” DWTS – An Open Letter to the Producers. This is going to be a rather long series, judging by the length of part 1 by itself. 🙂  I tried to do it all in one post but my Word version is already five pages long and I’m less than half way done. The below is the first two and a half pages. 🙂 Oh, and I give a LOT of examples that are just that – examples with names inserted. They may or may not be accurate.  The point is likely in bold – this isn’t about individual dancers but about judge’s and producer’s behavior in a more general sense.

Dear DWTS Producers,

You need lots of help, because a lot of people can now see the man behind the curtain. And he’s just a man, he ain’t no wizard.  So, I’m going to try to help you. You may not like what I have to say and you certainly don’t have to listen to what I say.  But I AM the average viewer (sort of) and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in my growing disgust with parts of how you run your show.  Disgust seems like too strong a word, but it was the first one that popped into my head, so we’re going with it. So…read on.

NUMBER ONE THING TO REMEMBER: Your viewers aren’t stupid. Except when they ARE. 🙂

Most of the viewers of DWTS have been watching it long enough that they know a good Cha Cha from a stinky Cha Cha or a boring Cha Cha. So, when you give crap to someone like Shawn and Derek for a tractor and a cow, then rave over Kirstie Alley or (worse) Bristol Palin, a good chunk of your audience is rolling their eyes. And you lose a bit of credibility. They aren’t that stupid – trust me. Even the super Maks fans recognize that Kirstie isn’t at the same level as Shawn – just one example of dozens, of course. And for obvious reasons, not the least of which is age. But I skip ahead…

These very same viewers are sometimes easily manipulated by someone with a subtle (or even not so subtle) hand – especially when some of them are pre-disposed to buy into certain manipulations.  And most people are, in some respect. “Too much frippery” or “not enough content” or “not enough in hold” or “always breaking the rules” or “no chemistry” – all things that have been true and NOT true (often within the same SHOW) and often used against one dancer but not another – again, within the same show. But you make these claims often enough (true or not) and people start to believe it. Why do you think politicians continually say things that are easily disproven if one were to look them up?? Because they know that the average person is inclined to believe what a person who they feel is in a position of authority says, especially if they hear it a lot. Like LEN, for example.  People constantly regurgitate what they hear Len say, as if he’s never wrong. Of course, they think he’s wrong when he’s talking about THEIR favorite…but not everyone else’s. Then he’s spot on. Go figure. Odds are, if you think he’s wrong once he’s actually wrong when you think he’s right too.

But Len and the judges are just part of the problem.  I’ve outlined several issues that I see with the show and how I think you could easily fix them.

Scoring – Dancers against each other or against themselves? Here at PureDWTS, we’ve raged over this issue season after season after season. There’s been a bit of arguing about it as well. Say you have two dancers…we’ll call them Bristol and Apolo. Bristol is a young woman with a questionable fanbase (and even more questionable work ethic) but definitely an attention getter, and she’s not a great dancer but not horrendous either. Apolo is very popular athlete, handsome, hard worker and a really good dancer.  Now, our esteemed judges, on week 1, give Bristol all 6.5’s while they give Apolo all 7.0’s – for the same dance style.  Um…okay. Anyone’s who’s seen them dance likely does not agree AT ALL with only a half point separation per judge, but okay. Let’s say it’s a fluke. Week 2 rolls around and Bristol gets an 18, while Apolo gets a 24.5 – AWESOME. Life is how it should be, to anyone who has watched this show for any length of time. But uh oh – Week 3. Bristol dances Paso to Living on Video (an iconic dance to all viewers) and gets 7.5’s across the board for a 22.5.  Apolo does a foxtrot and gets a 25.5. Hum. A 3-point difference between a guy like Apolo and Bristol in week 3. That’s it??It gets worse – it’s only 2.5 points in week 4.  Now, this isn’t even the most egregious example of this – I just picked those two because they were on last season. Luckily, Bristol got the boot in week 4. But in the past, better dancers have been eliminated because of the judges’ tendency to say “Oh, you’ve improved so much from your first week!!” to people who really aren’t that good to begin with. And since you started with 7’s (a ridiculous first week score – or it should be – for many or most couples) you’ve got no place to go but up. Of course, since you picked someone like Bristol for the all-star season in the first place is a whole other problem – ya kinda have to give her good scores to justify her presence on the season, eh? Anyway, the judges have a real problem with scoring someone based on how they’ve improved. Now, by itself, this might not seem like a huge problem. But you throw in a great dancer with a great fanbase who doesn’t live up to (likely too) high expectations?? They get scored MUCH harsher and you end up with a tiny spread between a great dancer and a mediocre/bad dancer.  How is that the viewers are the only ones who see how ridiculous this is?

The fix?? STOP IT. Stop ragging on the Shawns and Apolos of the cast, while praising the Bristols and perhaps your audience will start to take you seriously once again. Sure, it’s a light, fluffy dance show – but if your audience thinks you have NO credibility?? Yer still screwed.  You become as respected as Honey Boo Boo. Can’t help yourself?? Think it’s only fair to give the less fortunate a fighting chance??  Make a judge’s rule. Once you are past Week 4, the gloves come OFF and you judge the dancers against each other.  Of course, you’ll have to have real criteria that’s PUBLISHED so the fans can follow along…but we’ll get to that in a later part. 🙂 It would also help if you started LOWER. Hand out 4s and 5s…and even 3s. Then you have a place to go with the scores for the not great dancers who improve without making it look like you are punishing the good dancers for BETTER dancing.

Bottom Line: When you set the bar extremely high for dancers like Nicole, Mya, Shawn, Apolo, Brandy, Jennifer…the list goes on…just because you expect more from them, it is patently unfair. When the bar is lower for the bad dancers and result is a very small spread between the mediocre/bad and the good/great?? Shocking eliminations abound. AND your audience believes you might be rigging the show.

To be continued in Part 2….

December 14, 2012 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. :-)

Dirty Dancing Delayed, DWTS Pro Derek Hough Screen Tested For Role…and A Bit of Rock of Ages

For those dancing fans hoping for another “Dirty Dancing” remake to happen soon, don’t count on it as plans have been delayed for another year due to casting issues. Below is more from Deadline.com. Note the mention on Dancing With The Stars pro Derek Hough and how he screen tested for the movie as did Lea Michele, Liana Liberato, and Nikki Yanofsky.

The remake of the 1987 Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey film was scheduled to be released in July 2013, but now the movie is off the studio’s release dance card at least until 2014. Kenny Ortega, who was a choreographer on the original, is attached to direct the film. No cast had been announced. However Deadline has learned that Glee’s Lea Michele, Trespass’ Liana Liberato and Canadian singer Nikki Yanofsky were screen tested as were Brothers & Sisters’ Luke Grime, Nashville Star’s Justin Gaston and Dancing With the Stars’ Derek Hough.

So, if they are seriously considering Derek Hough as the male lead (which I and many of you would love. He’d be perfect!), could they be waiting for him to be available until after the Dancing With The Stars All-star season happens? It makes a person wonder? I hope so as he just has to do the All-star season. It wouldn’t be right to do it without him. Let’s get Heidi’s thoughts…

Heidi: No, they aren’t going to wait for Derek. As big a fan as I am, that’s not the hold up. They would make him choose if that were the issue, or they would pick someone else.  For one thing, I don’t really believe that Derek is still contractually tied to DWTS beyond a season to season basis – it’s been NINE seasons. Pretty sure he can go do something else if he wants to – Julianne did after what? Five?  Anyway, another article I read from Variety said that Lionsgate bought another company (or was bought, can’t remember) and it said that they now have a very full slate of movies in the pipeline. It implied that was the reason for the delay. I think other articles assumed it was casting issues.

And I say NO to Lea Michele, although she has the right look for it. 🙂

Cross Posted from Pure Derek Hough – Derek and Julianne (and Ryan) at the Rock of Ages Premiere:

Julianne looks good, although that’s not my favorite color on her. Derek? There are no words. 🙂  Thanks to @n_s_23_23 for these.

Hee Hee…

June 9, 2012 I Written By

I'm a fashion and music fan....and I have always loved dancing too of any kind. Dancing With The Stars seems to have this way of bringing all of those things together. One of my favorite dancing quotes at the moment: "No matter what, nobody can take away the dance you've already had...." ~Gleb Savchenko . To view my photography site, see Lisa Kay Photography.

DWTS14 Casting Rumors – The Typecasting of Season 14, Part II

So we’re less than 24 hours away from finding out who is and isn’t part of this season’s cast.  Who’s pumped??? I know I am…but we’ve still got a few hours left to speculate, so let’s see what other cast types we’ve to fill this season, shall we? 😉 For those of you that may have missed it, check out part I as well.

The Teen Idol

Previous examples: Joey McIntyre, Aaron Carter, Donny Osmond, Lance Bass, Mel B., Joey Fatone, Drew Lachey, Joey Lawrence, Ian Ziering, Cody Linley, Sabrina Bryan, Mario Lopez, Kyle Massey, Chelsea Kane, Romeo

Advantages: If sales of Tiger Beat are any indicator, the teenyboppers will come out in full force to support their favorite heartthrobs/idols.  Being young & good-lookin’ sure doesn’t hurt! Many also have the added advantage of having a decent dance background, especially if they were part of a musical act.

Disadvantages: Youth can also have its disadvantages – as in immaturity.  What some might call “youthful exuberance”, others might call “immaturity” or “attention deficit disorder” – poor Cody Linley had a hard time sitting still! Emotional immaturity (a la Aaron Carter’s post-rumba meltdown in the confessional) can be especially off-putting. They’ve also got to contend with the large middle-aged female contingent of viewers/voters – they far outnumber the young viewers likely to vote for them.

Possible candidates this season: There’s that random Nicole Anderson chick that’s a friend of Chelsea Kane’s, and Heidi found some compelling evidence that rapper Darnell Robinson may be participating this season.

The Host

Previous examples: Jerry Springer, Brooke Burke, Leeza Gibbons, Mario Lopez, Kenny Mayne, Lisa Rinna, Tucker Carlson, Mark Dacascos, Rocco DiSpirito, Erin Andrews, Wendy Williams, Mike Catherwood, Carson Kressley, Nancy Grace, Ricki Lake

Advantages: Being that they’ve been at the helm of their own shows, these guys usually have the media savvy & charisma to appeal to the masses, as well as the previous exposure & recognizability.  Most (not all!) are also decently attractive, which never seems to hurt (unless, of course, you’re a model – see previous post for explanation).

Disadvantages: Many hosts are only used to hosting – as in just sitting down & talking (or dodging the occasional punch, if you’re Springer), so the lack of movement experience problem seems to come into play.

Possible candidates this season: This category seems to have EXPLODED with possibilities this season – the most solid of which being Sherri Shepherd, who was caught leaving the DWTS studio the other day.  I’m still wondering if someone fr0m GMA is part of the cast this season, since they all seemed to act so coy when announcing they’d be revealing the cast. And then we have the Maria Menounos rumor as well.

The Actor

Previous examples: John O’Hurley, Melissa Joan Hart, Steve Guttenburg, John Ratzenberger, Debi Mazar, Denise Richards, Ted McGinley, Shannon Elizabeth, Jennie Garth, Vivica Fox, Marissa Jaret Winokur, Shannen Doherty, Jennifer Grey, David Hasselhoff, Ralph Macchio, Kirstie Alley, David Arquette

Advantages: Being that their bread & butter is acting, most can usually nail the emotions of the dances. Bonus points if they’ve done any Broadway (like Winokur) because they have likely had dance experience.

Disadvantages: For lack of a better term, many of them seem to be “has-beens” – actors that haven’t been particularly active in the mainstream in the past several years – or were never that big to begin with (can anyone else think of anything John O’Hurley has been in BESIDES Seinfeld?), making it harder for them to garner votes from a public who may not remember them.

Possible candidates this season: We’ve got Melissa Gilbert & Ryan O’Neal, of course, but nothing really beyond that.

The Reality Star

Previous examples: Kim Kardashian, Kelly Osbourne, Melissa Rycroft, Steve-O, Holly Madison, Trista Sutter, Shanna Moakler, Kate Gosselin, Jake Pavelka, Audrina Patridge, The Situation, Rob Kardashian, Kristin Cavallari

Advantages: Many have achieved pop culture icon status on their respective reality outlets, making them fairly recognizable.

Disadvantages: They may be memorable for the wrong reasons – people tended to remember things like Kim Kardashian’s sex tape more than her reality show when she was on DWTS, and people seemed more focused on Holly Madison’s split from Hef than her antics on The Girls Next Door.  Many can also come across as attention-hungry & talentless(*cough*JakePavelka*cough*) – reality TV is often looked down upon as a way to get famous without having any talent whatsoever.

Possible candidates this season: Lots of talk about Ali Fedotowsky, who suspiciously moved to LA last week.

The Singer:

Previous examples: Mya, Billy Ray Cyrus, Mario, Belinda Carlisle, Master P, Chuck Wicks, Sara Evans, Willa Ford, Monique Coleman, Toni Braxton, Macy Gray, Nicole Scherzinger, Chynna Phillips

Advantages: As with the teen idols, many have had dance experience concurrent with their music careers.

Disadvantages: Most seem to be committed solely to one genre of music (often R&B or country), making it hard to appeal to a wide fanbase.

Possible candidates this season: Lots of loose lips at the Grammys about Gavin DeGraw, but it seems like less of a possibility now, considering that he is about to go on tour.

The Wild Card

Previous examples: Heather Mills, Tom DeLay, Mark Cuban, Steve Wozniak, Priscilla Presley, Buzz Aldrin, Bristol Palin, Chaz Bono

Advantages: The sheer novelty of having someone with such an off-the-beaten-path claim to fame (famous divorcee/widow, entrepreneur, disgraced politician, etc.) may be enough to have the public voting them – just to see what happens.  Being the “underdog” is a powerful thing…as we saw with Bristol in season 11!

Disadvantages: Due to their often dubious fame, people just may not have any clue who they are – I personally had to Google Mark Cuban’s name. There’s also the risk of backlash from some viewers who don’t think they’re “stars” per se, and shouldn’t even be on the show in the first place.

Possible candidates this season: Surprisingly, not too many outlandish rumors…especially since Herman Cain & Michelle Bachman have denied they’re doing the show. Phew!

So we’re getting down to the wire, kids…any last-minute predictions before the big reveal? 😉

February 27, 2012 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, 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. Follow me (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog

PureDWTS Exclusive! An Interview with Randall Christensen, Part I

A few months back, we asked you guys to submit questions for Randall Christensen, the costume designer for DWTS from seasons 2-12.  Well now that the holidays are over and we’re starting to get back into the swing of things, we’re sharing Randall’s responses 🙂

We’ve been lucky to get a chance to chat with Randall, since he has kept very busy since moving on from DWTS! He’s currently working a couture swimwear line with MiracleSuit (check out Vogue’s post on the Macy’s MiracleSuit fashion show last summer!), is working on a sportswear/ready to wear collection, and is still designing dancesport costumes for Randall Designs, Inc., his costume design company for the past 30 years.  Let’s see what this dancewear icon has to say in response to some of your burning questions 🙂

At what age did you start designing?

Randall Christensen: I started designing for my professional partner and students back in the early ‘80’s, learning the craft with “hands on” experience.  I am self-taught.

Who were your mentors?

RC: My first mentor (and still most influential) was Bob Mackie.  He was designing for Carol Burnett as well as Cher for their (respective) shows.  I was a pre-teen and tried to NEVER miss a single one of their shows, as I was mesmerized by their costumes!

Seems like things at DWTS run on a pretty hectic timetable. Can you descibe what a typical week was like for you at DWTS?

RC: A typical week at DWTS starts new on Monday/Tuesday with new designs for each couple.  If we are lucky enough to get the music by Monday (instead of typically Tuesday) I try to get the couples up to the wardrobe department to discuss concepts for the next week’s costumes.  I only get 15-20 (30 mins. tops) to listen to the music, research ideas, discuss, design and finalize.  Then the entire show is shopped Wednesday by 5pm and delivered back to the studio, where I go over every women’s design with our cutter/fitter (the mens’ costumes are done off site, by our dance tailor in downtown Los Angeles).  The costumes are cut/sewn/preliminarily fitted on Thursday, then I have celebrity fittings all day Friday. My assistant helps on Saturday with the professional women’s fittings, they’re altered and ready for the final fitting on Sunday, after the couples do their blocking for the camera.  Adjustments are made and then are trimmed, beaded, crystallized and trimmed out to completion.  Monday morning is time to review each costume before setting them in the individual dressing rooms.  We have dress rehearsal only a few hours before we go LIVE on the east coast.  During that time any last minute adjustments are made and redelivered to the couples’ dressing rooms, sometimes just minutes before they’re to go to the top of the stairs for their walk down – live!  We have to design/shop/fit/finish each and every costume in 3.5 to 4 days!!  Whew!

What types of fabrics are the best for ballroom costumes?

RC: Thank goodness for stretch fabrics, jerseys, lycras, etc.!  These help the costume to be quite comfortable as well as flexible.  We can then get a terrific fit with little to no wrinkles in the fabric.  Chiffon (both silk and polyester) are great for the ballgown skirts, due to the wonderful movement.  Charmeuse satin is a terrific vintage type fabric, reminiscent of some of Ginger Rogers’ gowns.

Are there limitations, or can you work with pretty much anything?

RC: I push the limits every chance I get!  How else can you continue to come up with fresh ideas?  That being said, some fabrics are VERY challenging!  I try not to use brocades, as they are just to stiff and unforgiving for costumes.  Not to mention the fact that they do not flow at all!  I love using natural trims, for an organic vibe, still mixing in crystal rhinestones of course.  We have to have a sparkle on almost everything.

What is the most extravagant costume you’ve ever designed for the show, and who wore it?

RC: I would say the most extravagant costume would have to be Toni Braxton’s Marie Antoinette-inspired Viennese Waltz gown (complete with powdered blonde wig and all).  To be as authentic as possible, we went to a costume house and purchased a “cage” to make the silhouette as close to the look of the era as possible.  It was almost all completely sewn by hand, on the dress form as there is no way to get that wide cage (for the hips) on the sewing machine to work on.  Quite labor intense, but what a gorgeous look!  And still, we did it in just under 4 days……I still break out in a sweat thinking about that one!

*photo courtesy ABC/Kelsey McNeal

If you could only pick one DWTS costume as your “all-time favorite”, which would it be and why?

RC: Besides Toni Braxton’s Marie Antoinette gown, I would have to say Joanna Krupa’s “Futuristic Paso Doble.”  We pushed the limits (again) of what we could do in just 4 days.  The silver silk lame with electric lights (all wired into the dress) was sensational, but a nightmare to get done in such a short time.  We had a lighting specialist up from San Diego for 3 days just wiring the darn thing.

*photo courtesy of ABC

Everyone has regrets. Have you ever looked back at a costume you’ve designed for the show and thought “What was I thinking???” If so, which one & why?

RC: Oh, I’m sure we ALL have regrets, but I have to say, we have a really good track record if you consider that from concept to completion is 4 days maximum.  The discipline the couple has to have to stick with the original design, in spite of choreographing after the design is done, a procedure which is completely backwards! That being said, each and every week I look at the costumes, making mental notes as to what we could have done better, or what I would have done differently.  The beauty is I get another chance 4 days later.

Who have been your favorite celebs and/or pros to design for, and why?

RC: I count myself quite lucky to have such a great rapport with the pro dancers, and we have such fun with (and trust in) each other.  Our design sessions are quite intense and rewarding. I have enjoyed the trust that almost all of the celebrities have shown to me.  I honestly think that they put their trust in me (and their pro partner) due mainly to the fact that they are in such a foreign and vulnerable area.  They have not danced like this before, and really have to rely on our experience and expertise.  The trust that Susan Lucci, Jennifer Gray, Florence Henderson, Chelsea Kane and Kirstie Alley (to name a few) showed me was quite humbling and really rewarding!  This definitely impacts how wonderful their costumes showed on them.

Do you have an all-time favorite? 

RC:  I would have to say that as far as professional dancers, Edyta Sliwinska made ME look good!  I wish I could take credit for her beauty, but she came that way!!  That being said, I have to admit that Edyta was remarkably prepared each week, knew what looked good on her, and above all else, she left me to interpret her ideas and trusted me completely.  What a dream lady to work with!  Toni Braxton and Brandy both were appreciative, trusting and so lovely to design for.

What happens to the costumes after they’ve been worn?

RC: The celebrities have the option of purchasing any of their costumes, once the season is over.  Kristi Yamaguchi and Shawn Johnson purchased all of their costumes, along with several celebs. buying their favorite one(s).  We keep a great majority of the costumes from past seasons in a storage facility quite close to the studio.  We also keep a few on hand right in the workroom, in case we need a last minute “fix.”  We have NEVER had to use one of those yet!

We’ve noticed some get reused and others don’t. How do you decide which ones get reused?

RC: We reuse costumes based on the producers’ requirements/suggestions, as well as our guest choreographers’ ideas.  Many times (most of the time) we re-work them so that their silhouettes more readily coordinate with each of the other dancers’ looks, for a more cohesive themed look. There is just not enough hours in the week to make ALL the costumes seen on Monday’s and Tuesday’s shows.  That said, we ALWAYS make something new for our couples for Monday’s show.  The pro numbers and (pro) group numbers may get previously worn costumes, but NEVER on celebs nor their partners for Monday’s competition!

*photo courtesy ABC/Adam Larkey

Do certain pros want specific kinds of alterations (i.e. shorter hems, lower necklines, mesh inserts, etc) on costumes that have been worn before by someone else?

RC: Again, it’s all about the overall theme/silhouette desired.  Our pro dancers do have their specific preferences, and if we could accommodate them, we most certainly would.  Some of those preferences are just going to be kept secret – no use spoiling the illusion……

Tune in later this week when we reveal part II of our exclusive interview…and Randall talks theme nights, panic attacks, and his love of princess seams (?) 😉 You won’t want to miss it!!!

January 9, 2012 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, 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. Follow me (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog

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

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

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

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

10. Kyle Massey & Lacey Schwimmer, season 11

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

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

November 19, 2011 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, 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. Follow me (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog

Former Dancing With The Stars Champ Jennifer Grey Judges Strictly Come Dancing

Several of you asked if we’d report on Jennifer Grey’s appearance as a replacement judge for Len Goodman on Strictly Come Dancing in the UK last night. According to Metro, Jennifer was most impressed last night with Chelsee Healey and partner Pasha Kovalev. Right after their Charleston, Jennifer quoted a line all too familiar to us all and said, “You’re the baby in the competition. Well after that performance, no one is going to put baby in the corner.” Watch below…

There is a super write-up in the Daily Mail on the entire show last night (which also includes some great pictures). Of Alex Jones and James Jordan’s Quickstep, Jennifer remarked, ‘It was like a fine champagne. It was bubbly, effervescent, and made me feel giddy.’

Receiving some of his worst comments from the judges was Jason Donovan and his partner Kristina Rihanoff. Of their Rumba, Jennifer said, “You killed me softly with the that rumba. I think you need to dig deeper and connect more to your sexy power. I wanna feel more lust.”

Lulu and her professional partner Brendan Cole opened the show. Judging their Tango, Jennifer remarked with this: “How gorgeous are you? That was phenomenal. I don’t know what they’re putting in your porridge but I want some. Obviously, we have little slip-ups but I couldn’t help but love everything about you.”

If you go to MrAtariST You Tube Channel, you can watch Jennifer and view all the performances, the judges critiques, and scoring for the night. You’ll also be able to watch the whole episode in a couple of days at Strictly Come Dancing’s official site.

Also, before the show last night, Jennifer did a 60 second chat with Strictly Come Dancing’s online presenter, Nikki Dean (pictured with Jennifer above). Jennifer spoke on her biggest dance inspiration (Derek Hough and Nicole Scherzinger), her future career plans which include something dance related, her time on Dancing With The Stars, and more.

When it comes to dancing who is your biggest inspiration?
I was really just blown away by Derek (Hough) and his dancing and I just wanted to live up to his previous partner, which was Nicole Scherzinger and it was just painful every time I saw one of her dances because I just thought ‘How did that happen? How did she get there?’

Well of course you went on to win Dancing with the Stars with Derek and have starred in arguably the biggest dance movie ever, what career ambitions do you have left to achieve?
I have so many career achievements that I must do before I die, but I do know that I want to create a place where everybody can dance and experience the joy of dancing so I’m working on a project at the moment.

What was you favourite Dancing With The Stars moment?
I feel like the beginning was the best as the pressure hadn’t gotten so intense that it became a misery. It’s almost like there’s cycles and the beginning was like the honeymoon phase, we’re like ‘this is so incredible I get to dance hours every day and I get to learn all these great dances’ you have three weeks to learn basics of one dance. All of a sudden you’re learning two dances a week with only three or four days to learn a whole routine. I was not into the pressure and learning things immediately as I’m a really slow study.

When I was doing the Argentine tango that was one of the most painful weeks in rehearsal and the outcome was so exceptional that that was a real high for me.

How did it feel when you won Dancing with the Stars?
Winning at the end was amazing but I had ruptured a disc the night before in my freestyle so I was in the hospital the morning that I won in the operating room. I still had marks from the oxygen tubes on my face when I was in make up so I was a little like a zombie when I went out there. It was a little bit lacking what you think it might be as I think I was just running on fumes.

What would your advice be to this year’s Strictly contestants having been on the journey yourself?
Go for it, push yourself, break out of the pack, look after your health and do nothing else. Nothing! Just dance and eat and sleep and dance and eat and sleep.

Have you kept up the dancing since?
I wish, no I have not but there’s nearly no place to do it.

How are Strictly judges Len and Bruno perceived by American audiences on Dancing With The Stars?
They are beloved. They love booing Len and they scream with laughter at the hilarity of Bruno, I think they just love the show – they just love all of the bits of it.

You can read the interview in full here.

Sounds like a great night of TV for the UK and Jennifer was beautiful as always!! Here’s to Strictly Come Dancing’s results show tonight!!

November 6, 2011 I Written By

I'm a fashion and music fan....and I have always loved dancing too of any kind. Dancing With The Stars seems to have this way of bringing all of those things together. One of my favorite dancing quotes at the moment: "No matter what, nobody can take away the dance you've already had...." ~Gleb Savchenko . To view my photography site, see Lisa Kay Photography.

Jennifer Grey On DWTS, Derek Hough, And Judging Strictly Come Dancing

This weekend, Jennifer Grey is appearing on the UK version of the show as a stand-in judge for Len Goodman. She’s hopes to “bring honesty” to the panel. In a new promo interview with the BBC, Jennifer talks of what it was like to do Dirty Dancing and how Patrick Swayze got her the role. She also speaks about doing Dancing With The Stars in the US and a little of what she went through with her partner, Derek Hough. Great article. You can read more in a take from Film News below.

Jennifer says despite her starring role in Dirty Dancing, she is not a natural performer.

“Derek was frustrated because I’m not a dancer. I was only a weekend one. I put on Michael Jackson on my boom box,” she smiled. “I was a lover of dance.”

Jennifer confessed the show was hard work. The Golden Globe-nominated star says rehearsals were gruelling and often left her feeling vulnerable.

“It’s about embracing the opportunity and facing your fears. You have to dig so deep,” she recalled.

“Each week I didn’t feel ready. I could not get through a dress rehearsal without crying or some sort of drama. It’s very intense.”

Jennifer is appearing on the UK version of the show this weekend as a stand-in judge. The 51-year-old hopes to bring honesty to the panel of Strictly Come Dancing.

“I’m a really judgemental person!” she laughed.

“I have so much compassion, and I’m going to be really honest.”

Picture above is of Jennifer and Kenny Ortega at the 2011 Rising Stars Gala on Oct. 29th. You can view more pictures of her at this event at Zimbio.com.

Adding: Thanks to @ElmariL, here is the BBC interview;

November 4, 2011 I Written By

I'm a fashion and music fan....and I have always loved dancing too of any kind. Dancing With The Stars seems to have this way of bringing all of those things together. One of my favorite dancing quotes at the moment: "No matter what, nobody can take away the dance you've already had...." ~Gleb Savchenko . To view my photography site, see Lisa Kay Photography.