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PureDWTS Rants & Raves: To Lift or Not to Lift?

For those of you that follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed me “getting up on my soapbox” the past few weeks regarding something that has been debated from several different angles around PureDWTS: lifts.  We’ve casually kicked around the pros & cons of them: do they enhance the routine, or are they just filler? Should they be required? Should they be prohibited? Are they safe? What exactly constitutes a lift, anyway? Well here it is, kids – the place where we can really get down to the nitty-gritty of lifts.

My sudden fixation with the topic started about 2 weeks ago, while watching a movie with my boyfriend (who, as many of you know, is a pro ballroom dancer/teacher).  He kept squirming around, trying to get comfortable, and failing.  Finally, getting annoyed with all his wiggling, I asked what was wrong.  “Oh, I just strained my neck a little bit doing a lift with one of my students today.  It’s just a little sore.” Seemed benign enough – minor soreness from doing a new lift.  But over the course of the next week, the pain intensified, to the point where he was unable to turn his head to the right AT ALL, and had to turn his whole body to face me when I was talking (which was actually kind of cool, since it made me think  he was just really listening to me intently ;-)) and had to institute a temporary ban on lifting at the dance studio. He iced it.  He put a heating pad on it.  He stretched it. He used a special neck pillow. He took some Tylenol. He went and got 3 massages in one week – all to little avail.  Things were starting to take their toll on both of us, as my bf was in too much pain to ride his motorcycle, sit upright for very long, or do any sort of vigorous activity. Finally, at the recommendation of one of his students (and me, as I had been HOUNDING him about it), he finally went to the chiropractor last Friday, and after taking one look at my bf’s x-ray, the chiropractor exclaimed “Ooh, no wonder you’ve been in pain – your C4 & C5 vertebrae are wayyyy out of alignment!” A few minutes with the TENS unit and some adjusting with the chiropractor later, he was FINALLY experiencing some relief.  That was a week ago – he’s been to the chiro a few more times since then, and he’s probably 85% better. But the no-lift rule at the studio still stands until he’s back to 100% and gets the all-clear from the chiropractor.

So the most obvious question brought up by my bf’s dilemma is “Are lifts safe?” The answer: no.  Read my lips: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A “SAFE” LIFT. Sure, there are techniques to make them safer, and some are clearly safer than others, but all lifts are inherently dangerous, as there is always going to be the risk of injury from falling or being fallen on, as well as other sprains, strains, and even breaks from trying to correct a fall that is already in motion.  In fact, the very appeal of lifts is in the danger – the awe-spiring risk of doing them in the first place, and often the romantic notion of the delicate lady being in harm’s way, but protected by the strong arms of a handsome male lead.  No wonder all of my boyfriend’s students want lifts in their showcase routines! ;-)

Which brings up the next question: should they even be doing lifts in the first place? Obviously, it’s always going to be safer for a couple already experienced in lifting to be doing lifts (check out Eric Luna & Georgia Ambarian, the current world champions in the theater arts division), and it’s a downright TERRIBLE idea for two inexperienced individuals to start attempting them without the guidance and supervision of someone with experience (this is a good example of people that should NOT being doing lifts!).  But both my boyfriend’s predicament and that of the couples on DWTS is a bit more of a grey area – the situation where only half of the couple is experienced. In this particular case, I’m a firm believer that the more experienced member of the partnership is the one more likely to get hurt, regardless of gender.  Since they’re experienced, they’re going to be more likely to be hurt by the rookie mistakes of their partner, and more likely to try & protect their partner from harm…and possibly injure themselves as a result.  My boyfriend is a good example of this, as his neck injury was the result of him compensating for a student who couldn’t quite get the right leverage to get up onto his shoulder; Kym’s neck injury this past season is also a good example, as it was Hines who lost his balance and fell onto Kym, likely due to pure inexperience.  Toni Redpath (a former Australian ballroom champion & a frequent guest judge/choreographer on SYTYCD) did a great video blog a few weeks back (thanks for pointing this out, Evaine! Quite timely ;-)) which did a good job of explaining why lifts are allowed in ballroom routines on SYTYCD but not on DWTS – and the biggest reason was *drumroll* EXPERIENCE.  All the dancers on SYTYCD have some experience with dance, which makes the transition to lifting quite a bit smoother for them than a celebrity with zero dance experience. Not only does it make life a bit easier on the celebs, but it keeps the couples safer, too. 

But let’s say experience is not an issue.  From a choreographic standpoint, should everybody be peppering lifts into their routines? I certainly don’t think so.  Heidi always brings up an interesting argument whenever someone starts comparing ballroom on SYTYCD to ballroom on DWTS and the subject of lifts comes up: when used in excess, lifts tend be a bit of a cop-out, choreographically. It can often let bad dancers get away with not really dancing, and results in a routine that is more “flash & trash” than meat-and-potatoes dance steps – and can end up looking NOTHING like the dance it’s meant to portray.  The best example of this that I can think of is Channing & Philip’s samba from season 6 of SYTYCD.  While not inherently “bad”, the routine only has a few basic samba steps in it, and the rest was a lot of shimmying and (rather clumsily-executed) lifts.  Of course the video cuts out before the judges give their commentary, but I distinctly remember Adam actually calling out the choreographers on this one for making the routine “too lifty”.  I feel like lifts can also interrupt the “flow” of a dance if not placed properly – for a lift to work choreographically, I think it has to have proper timing & musicality, and have very fluid transitions in & out of it.  Otherwise you end up with routines like Channing & Philip’s, which feels jerky & disjointed – “Look I’m doing samba, I’m doing samba, I’m doing samba…ooh now I’m stopping samba & doing a lift…aaaaaand I’m back to dancing samba…STOP! time for another lift-and more samba….” It’s just visually…displeasing. Now don’t get me wrong – a few well-placed, well-executed lifts can enhance a routine.  A great example is Riccardo Cocchi & Yulia Zagoruychenko’s samba showdance from the 2009 America’s Ballroom Challenge (does the move at 1:06 look familiar? Derek used it at the end of his samba with Nicole ;-)).  Only one lift, and they ended up winning the showdance category, over 5 other couples – most of whom had more lifts. IMHO, you don’t need lifts to make ANY routine on DWTS (including the freestyle) look good.  Derek had no choice but to come up with alternatives to lifts in season 11, when Jennifer made it clear from day 1 that her neck injury made lifting an impossibility – and they still managed to win, and create some very memorable routines while they were at it. Their lift-minimal Argentine tango still stands out to me as one of the best we’ve ever had on the show.

So the bf & I were talking about lifts at-length the other night, and he said something that stuck with me: “You know, DWTS is great for the attention it has brought to ballroom dancing & all, but it’s really left some people with an unrealistic idea of what ballroom is and isn’t.” He went on to explain that he gets new students in the studio who are frustrated upon finding out that they won’t be dancing eye-catching routines like the ones on TV right off the bat, and many of them seem more concerned with costumes & music than technique & solid choreography.  I can imagine it gets very frustrating for dance teachers like him – especially when the demand for flashy nuances like lifts necessitates them risking their own safety.  The format of DWTS has actually forced my bf’s studio to start doing more showcase routines with their students (as opposed to focusing on good technique for competition) – and as my bf puts it, “every single one of my ladies wants lifts in her routine – and if they think one of the other ladies has more/better lifts, they’ll ask for more.  It’s KILLING me!” And me as well, since he often comes home cranky & sore and barely able to move…let alone do other activities. ;-)

So I’ve said my piece with regards to lifts…what do you guys think? LAY IT ON ME :-D

August 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!

DWTS Who Wore it Better? Part XII – More from Season 12

So the addition of the troupe this past season did have one unexpected positive effect: even more costume dittos! Which makes my job a bit easier ;-) And I’m noticing the costume department has a special affinity for red – lots & lots of sparkly, red, fringy, feathery stuff… Read more..

August 5, 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!

Will Dancing With The Stars Have More A-Lister Celebrities For Season 13?

Wow, what a coup this would be! Today, TMZ (which has been a good source for information for the the show in the past which ends up coming true) is reporting producers are on the hunt for more “high profile” celebrities for next season instead of “gimmicky” d-list stars they’ve booked in the past. Here is a take from the link for how they plan on doing it.

In order to lock down the BIG names, we’re told producers are offering A-listers complete control over their rehearsal schedule — telling them there’s NO minimum rehearsal requirements … and they can practice as little or as much as they want.

Celebs will also have final say on music selections and costume design … including colors, cuts and styles.

So far, no word if producers have signed any of the “high profile” people in their crosshairs.

So, what do you think? Will giving celebrities final say on certain things help in getting them signed? I think it might somewhat, but, in the end “money” talks the most I would think? I hope they can get some A-listers, but, I’ve liked some of the d-listers in the past and how the show has revived some of their careers or popularity. Even if it didn’t, it was great seeing them again. (IE: Jennifer Grey, Kirstie Alley, and Ralph Macchio to list a few).

July 24, 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 . For fun music and dance mixes, visit WilUnleashed Soundcloud.

Dance of the Day…. Let’s Compare Champions!

Sorry….. Things just get out of hand sometimes, things just happen! I’ve meant to sit here and post more, but I end up having shorter time frames online, and I end up doing other things.

Because I’ve been neglecting the Dance of the Day, I’m going to do a mega post now, so we’ll be video heavy today!!!

First up!! We saw Season 1’s Kelly Monaco, and Season 2’s Drew Lachey’s first week dances, and our poll has DREW as the winner, with a total of 114 votes, VS Kelly’s 26. I wasn’t going to post the results, other than the winners, but decided to for everyone, because I was surprised at HOW CLOSE some were!

Here’s Drew’s week 5 dance.
Drew Lachey and Cheryl Burke, Season 2 Week 5 dancing the Samba to “Dirrty” by Christina Aguilera. They received a 27. They also performed in the Group Salsa, which I am not including.

Second up!! We saw Season 3’s Emmitt Smith and Season 4’s Apolo Anton Ohno’s first week dances, and our poll has APOLO as the winner, with a total of 105 votes, VS Emmitt’s 56.

Here’s Apolo’s week 5 dance.
Apolo Anton Ohno and Julianne Hough, Season 4 Week 5 dancing the Samba to “Move It”. They received a perfect 30.

Third up!! We saw Season 5’s Helio Castroneves and Season 6’s Kristi Yamaguchi’s first week dances, and our poll has KRISTI as the winner, with a total of 88 votes, VS Helio’s 60.

Here’s Kristi’s week 5 dance.
Kristi Yamaguchi and Mark Ballas, Season 6 Week 5, dancing the rumba. I did not post the song, because that info wasn’t in the video I found for this dance. They received 29.

Fourth up!! We saw Season 7’s Brooke Burke and Season 8’s Shawn Johnson’s first week dances, and our poll has BROOKE as the winner, with a total of 97 votes, VS Shawn’s 90.

Here’s Brooke’s week 5 dance.
Brooke Burke and Derek Hough, Season 7 Week 5, dancing the Jitterbug to “Don’t Be Cruel” by Elvis. They received a 29.

Fifth up!! We saw Season 9’s Donny Osmond and Season 10’s Nicole Scherzinger’s first week dances and our poll has NICOLE as the winner, with 138 votes VS Donny’s 49.

Here’s Nicole’s week 5 dance.
Nicole Scherzinger and Derek Hough, Season 10 Week 5, dancing the Tango to “Pretty Woman” by Ray Orbison. They received a 29.

Last up!! We saw Season 11’s Jennifer Grey and Season 12’s Hines Ward’s first week dances, and our poll has HINES as the winner, with 173 votes, VS Jennifer’s 156.

Here’s Hine’s week 5 dance.
Hines Ward and Kym Johnson, Season 12 Week 5, dancing a rumba to “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood. They received a 27.

That’s it! 2 Samba’s, 2 Rumba’s, and a Jitterbug and a Tango. Which Week 5 Dance of Champions did you prefer? Drew’s Samba? Apolo’s Samba? Kristi’s Rumba? Brooke’s Jitterbug? Nicole’s Tango? Hines’ Rumba?

Sound off in the comments…. Which Samba was your favorite, and why? Which rumba was your favorite, and why? Which of the other 2 did you prefer, the jitterbug or the tango, and why? Of these 6 DWTS Champions, who was your favorite? Drew, Apolo, Kristi, Brooke, Nicole, Hines.

July 22, 2011 I Written By

Just a typical, ordinary DWTS fan..

Dance of the Day… Let’s RUMBA!!

We did it! We completed our quest to review our 12 DWTS Champions, so for now, we’re moving on to other things, and we will revisit our Champions shortly. Meanwhile, you can check back on past Dance of the Day posts, and watch the 12 during their Week 1 nerves and jitters.

Season 1 Kelly Monaco and Season 2 Drew Lachey
Season 3 Emmitt Smith and Season 4 Apolo Anton Ohno
Season 5 Helio Castroneves and Season 6 Kristi Yamaguchi
Season 7 Brooke Burke and Season 8 Shawn Johnson
Season 9 Donny Osmond and Season 10 Nicole Scherzinger
Season 11 Jennifer Grey and Season 12 Hines Ward
Here’s your LAST CHANCE to vote from this round, we will be closing the polls SHORTLY, and I’m currently trying to figure out how to do the next round while we review our Champions. While that is happening….

I picked the Rumba first. I went through the responses I got from my Plea For Help, and emails that I’ve gotten (Emailing off this page won’t go directly to me, but it will get to me eventually, don’t worry!) and am picking 3 at random… And there are PLENTY more, for more posts in the future. So if you don’t see your favorite now, DON’T WORRY! Keep coming back, and eventually, we (hopefully) will see it!

First up is……………….

OLYMPIC SNOWBOARDER, LOUIE VITO AND HIS PROFESSIONAL PARTNER, CHELSIE HIGHTOWER!

From Season 9, Week 3, here’s Louie and Chelsie’s Rumba to “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler. It received an 8, 5, 7 for a total of 20 points.

Second up is…..

ACTOR AND EVENTUAL EXTRA TV NEWSMAN, MARIO LOPEZ AND HIS PROFESSIONAL PARTNER, KARINA SMIRNOFF!

From Season 3, Week 5, here’s Mario and Karina’s Rumba to “The Way You Look Tonight” by Michael Buble. I know there’s an accent on the e, but I am not sure how to make them on my computer. It received a 9, 9, 9 for a total of 27 points.

Third up is……

SINGER AND PUSSYCAT DOLL NICOLE SCHERZINGER AND HER PROFESSIONAL PARTNER, DEREK HOUGH!

From Season 10 Week 4, here’s Nicole and Derek’s Rumba to “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” They also did a rumba in week 10, which was their Redemption Dance, instead of watching that one now, I chose to save it for another time. Each dance on this week of competition during Season 10 got 2 sets of scores. For Technical, it got 9, 8, 8 for 25 points. For Performance, it got 8, 8, 9 for a total of 25. The score for the night was 50 out of 60 points.

So…. Sound off in the comments. Which of these 3 rumbas was your favorite?

July 8, 2011 I Written By

Just a typical, ordinary DWTS fan..

Dance of the Day…. Let’s compare Jennifer and Hines!

Can you believe that after this, we’ll have gone back and watched the first week of all 12 of our Champions? If you missed them, you can click right here and you’ll find the links for all of the posts. Each of the posts has a poll, you can still go and vote!

I know it’s not the most ideal thing, to compare 2 people doing different dances, but each of these are the first impressions that we got of them, in their seasons. Instead of comparing dances, we’re really comparing our first impressions of them.

As I said, this is the last of our Champions First Impressions. I do have plans to come back to our Champions, just because I am having fun. We’re going to claim a “winner” of all of our polls, and we’ll see how the winners progressed, by re-watching their Week 5 dances. Again, the dances might not match up, that they’re doing the same, but it will all be partway through their seasons, so we should be able to see some progress since their first week dance.

Season 11 brought us Jennifer Grey with her professional partner, Derek Hough. Jennifer was automatically labeled as the Ringer of the Season, since she had been in the movie, “Dirty Dancing,” which had been filmed her professional partner’s entire lifetime before. Before her season, Jennifer suffered from many health problems, the most immediate was 2 or 3 surgeries to get her healthy enough to compete. And I know that people got tired of having the producers “harp” on her constant health issues while they were competing, but I do think that she, and Derek, probably dealt with more health issues during the season, than any other competitor.

JENNIFER GREY AND DEREK HOUGH SEASON 11 WEEK 1

They danced a Viennese Waltz to These Arms of Mine

Hines Ward was our Season 12 Champion, and I won’t spend much time on him, since he’s our reigning champion, and he’s still fresh in our minds. My husband is a die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan, he’s been cheering them on since he was a young boy. When we got married, he still had an (empty) can of Steelers Beer, with a photo of the team, including Terry Bradshaw. So… You know who he was rooting for to win… And he did surprise me with his smiles, and charms, and grace. Hines and Kym’s win gave Kym a record among ALL of the DWTS shows, world wide. She is (I am pretty sure) the SECOND Professional to earn 3 trophies, and the ONLY Professional to win DWTS in 2 different countries! Yes, she was a Champion on DWTS in her native Australia, before she came to our show, and she’s won with Donny, and Hines gave her the 3rd trophy (but only the 2nd on our show).

HINES WARD AND KYM JOHNSON SEASON 12 WEEK 1

They danced a cha cha cha to Club Can’t Handle Me by Flo Rida

Which one made a better first impression for you, Jennifer or Hines?

July 3, 2011 I Written By

Just a typical, ordinary DWTS fan..

Dance of the Day…. Let’s compare Emmitt and Apolo!

So, we’re going to continue comparing our Dancing of the Stars Champions, pitting two of them against the other using the first dance they did. We have 12 seasons, so we have a few more days (at least, haha). So last, we had Season 1 champ Kelly vs Season 2 champ Drew which you can see here. You can continue to vote which dance you prefer, Kelly or Drew.

Today, we will turn our attention to Season 3 Champ Emmitt Smith and Season 4 Champ Apolo Anton Ohno. Upcoming will see Helio vs Kristy, Brooke vs Shawn, Donny vs Nicole, Jennifer vs Hines. And at the end of our Champion Comparisons, I’m thinking of creating one mega post, pitting the 6 winners against each other using their Week 5 dance. Ultimately, only one can be DOD Champion, and we’ll post the final winner’s Freestyle. I could make this series go longer, but I do want to begin to focus on other things to feature in our Dance of the Day, such as favorite rumbas or quickstep or theme dance, randomly chosen, or dances requested in the comments.

It’s Emmitt and Apolo Day!!

SEASON 3: Emmitt Smith is a football player, and Carrie Ann’s original “Twinkle Toes.” His professional partner was Cheryl Burke, in her second season on the show. Season 3 was the first season I saw, and I’ve been hooked on the show since. Emmitt’s win made Cheryl the FIRST Professional dancer on DWTS to have 2 wins, and the first back to back winner.

SEASON 4: Apolo Anton Ohno is a speed skater, and a multiple Olympic gold medal winner. At the time he competed in DWTS, he was also actively training and racing in World Class speed skating, and he had to fit training for DWTS into his already hectic schedule for his speed skating. His professional partner was Julianne Hough in her first season of the show, she was 18 years old, the youngest professional dancer on the show. (She still holds that title, since Chelsie Hightower was 19 yo when she started on the show)

Without further ado, here’s our Champions in their first week

Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke performed a cha cha on Week 1 to “Son of a Preacher Man” by Dusty Springfield.

Apolo Anton Ohno and Julianne Hough performed a cha cha on Week 1 to “Let’s Hear It For the Boy” by Deniece Williams

Again, we’ll take a Poll… Which dance did you prefer, Emmitt or Apolo? Tell us why in the comments!

June 18, 2011 I Written By

Just a typical, ordinary DWTS fan..

Dancing with the Stars 2011 – For Your Consideration…

It’s almost that time of year, folks – Emmy Nominations. In case anyone was wondering if DWTS was serious about wanting an Emmy (any Emmy) at this point, you can rest assured they are serious enough to pay for ads in Hollywood Reporter. :-) How do I know? I’m a subscriber and check out this screen cap of an email I just got:

I think it’s WAY past time for the show and Tom Bergeron to win the damn thing already. And don’t get me started on Derek as groomsman never the groom. :-) Yes, blah blah blah, it’s wonderful to be nominated – but I want them all to WIN. :-)

Anyway, we’ve been throwing lots of questions at you guys in this hiatus thus far so here’s another one: What dances from Seasons 11 and 12 do YOU think should be nominated for choreography?? Don’t forget the pro dances, since those stand a much better chance for a nomination than a celeb partner dance. Why do I say that? Well, it’s a choreography nomination, but I think we’d be kidding ourselves if we didn’t think that execution counts. Oh, and you CAN’T include the last….probably 2 weeks of Season 12. I haven’t looked at the rules for this season, but the DVD submission date last time eliminated the last 2 or 3 weeks of Season 10 from eligibility.

What do I think?? Well, if I recall, Louis and Maks did the lion’s share of the pro dances which increases their odds. UNFORTUNATELY, I think it would be very difficult to get a nomination for a dance done with a musical act, which knocks their odds right back down again. I also think it would be tough for Mark and Val to get one because more than half of their challenge thing was non-dancing. Derek? Well, he didn’t do the choreo for any pro dances and was only on Season 11 – that leaves his dances with Jennifer. Since he’s been nominated a good bit recently, I think the odds of, say, his Argentine Tango or second Paso with Jennifer might might be okay. But the odds are slimmer than usual simply because there’s only one season to choose from. Maks might have a shot with Brandy, Mark might have a shot with Chelsea (and really, wasn’t that the whole entire point of the Wizard Waltz?)…can YOU think of any other dances that are really, truly Emmy-worthy?? Be honest now. What you also have to consider is “So You Think You Can Dance” – that show, along with some of the award shows, tends to take the lion’s share of the nominations and more often than not, the win. Why? Well, all the dancers are trained and it’s ALL dancing – no musical acts with dance accompanying. Plus, there are no rules on SYTYCD – that makes a HUGE difference when it comes to choreography. For that reason, odds are that DWTS will be limited to ONE nomination for choreo. Who will it be? Or will they be shut out entirely?? What do you think??

June 15, 2011 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. :-)

DWTS Season 12 Casting Rumors – The Typecasting of Season 12, Part II

In part one of my typecasting analysis, we took a look at who we might get from the Olympian, athlete, model, comedian, legend, & soap star categories.  Now let’s take a look at the other 6 categories and speculate on who else we might see before tonight’s cast announcement!

EDITOR’S NOTE: The site is getting hit with an extraordinary amount of hits right now (which is great! :-D) but it’s also slowing us bloggers down while we post – hence, there are no links in this edition because it’s just taking too long to add them all in.  However, you can access all of the DWTS casting rumors in Vogue’s post from the other day if you need a refresher on some of these :-)

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

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.

Possible candidates this season: I think the Lindsay Lohan rumor has been almost completely shot down, but Full House fans have been campaigning for both Jodie Sweetin & Candace Cameron Bure in the online voting.  I’ve also seen a surge of support within the past few days for New Kids on the Block member Jonathan Knight to do the show.

The Host

Previous examples: Jerry Springer, Brooke Burke, Leeza Gibbons, Mario Lopez, Kenny Mayne, Lisa Rinna, Tucker Carlson, Mark Dacascos, Rocco DiSpirito, Erin Andrews

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: Wendy Williams name has been repeated quite a bit, although Joan Rivers’ name was out there for awhile as a possible contestant.

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

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: Lorenzo Lamas has been claiming he’s on the casting “short list” for weeks now, so we’re thinking he’s a lock. 

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

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, 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 – reality TV is often looked down upon as a way to get famous without having any talent whatsoever. 

Possible candidates this season: Aside from the omnipresent Heidi Montag rumor and ridiculous rumors about both NeNe Leakes & Kim Zolciak from The Real Housewives of Atlanta, we’ve also heard of former Idol contestant Danny Gokey gunning for a spot.

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

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: There’s been big campaigns in the online voting for both Zack Wilde & Paul Byrom, but nothing really “legit” to go off of.

The Wild Card

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

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 last season!

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: Not sure if it was the hailstorm of controversy from Bristol last season or what, but this category was booming with rumors this season – everyone from Tony Robbins to Christine O’Donnell to Al Sharpton to Brooke Mueller.  Will any of them actually do the show? That remains to be seen.

So we’re mere hours away from the official announcement, gang – who do you think is in and who do you think is just wishful thinking? Be sure to check back here for Heidi’s Casting Announcement Live Blog starting at 8 PM EST…she (and the rest of us) suffer through The Bachelor so you don’t have to :-) And make sure you’re following @puredwts & @tvblog on Twitter for up-to-the-minute updates on who’s in!

February 28, 2011 I Written By

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

DWTS Season 11 – The Myth of Bristol

Okay, I threatened to do this a while ago and now I’m doing it. I’m putting my fingers to the key board to answer the question – how did Bristol last as long as she did? Was it really a Tea Party, or just dumb luck and silly judges?

This post isn’t really even about Bristol herself – it’s about the judges scores versus the voting. People always claim that the judges scores mean nothing. Well, bull, they’re worth 50% – it’s the judges who decide whether they mean very little or if they mean A LOT. The way the judges scored most of this season, they were irrelevant. When push came to shove, in the finale, they got their act together. I argue that it should happen sooner – like Week 7 or so.

Okay, with that out of the way, let’s get back to business with a recap:

Week 1 – The Departure of The Hoff

I consider this the first, and one of the bigger, shocks of the season.  But maybe German’s didn’t realize they can indeed vote on DWTS, if they are properly educated on how to do so. :-) Anyway, the bottom scorers this week were:

– The Hoff, 15
– The Sitch, 15
– Margaret, 15
– Michael, 16
– Florence, 18
– Bristol, 18

So, that one really shouldn’t have been a shock, as he was one of the low scorers.  No surprise that Bristol stayed, much surprise that Margaret stayed. :-)  Bristol had a whole lot of people with lower scores (and less infamy) than her.

Week 2 – Dog Houses are very, very bad.

Michael Bolton and Chelsie Hightower exit the competition after a thorough humiliation. One that was hard to watch indeed.  The bottom scorers were:

– Michael, 12
– Margaret, 18
– The Situation, 18
– Florence, 19

See, the judges were already giving Bristol 22 at this point for dancing that wasn’t that good. You expect me to believe that Bristol was only 2 points behind Jennifer Grey, who did a seriously kick ass jive?? Sorry, but nope.  In any case, Bristol was never in any danger thanks to overscoring AND people who were worse than her. Anyway, Michael was no great shock really, now that I think about it.  A 12 is very hard to overcome when the next lowest was an 18.  He had to get 27,000 more votes per million votes cast in order to stick around.

Week 3 – Rainbows are bad too??

Nah, not really. Louis was saying on Twitter that Margaret going the gay pride route was what did her in, but what I really think happened was that after that first dance no one took her seriously. She lasted as long as she did because The Hoff and The Bolton were so much worse.  I don’t think gay pride had anything to do with it – but maybe I’m naïve.   The bottom scorers were:

– Margaret, 18
– Bristol, 19
– Florence, 20
– The Sitch, 20

Now we see Bristol hit the bottom 2 in scores – but Margaret is the low scorer, here. No great stretch. Marge needed 4,500 votes to catch Bristol (chump change) and there is no way that was happening. No shocks here.

Week 4 – Here’s the Situation as I see it

Poor Situation, and by extension, poor Courtney. :-) He did well making it to the fourth week though, I have to say. The bottom scorers this week were:

– Situation, 28
– Bristol, 32
– Florence, 34
– Kurt, 35

Again, we see Bristol insulated by a 4 point cushion – not a huge number, but she’s not the low scorer and Sitch was a worse dancer. For the Situation to stay, he had to get 11,200 more votes than Bristol per 1 million votes cast.  Say thank you to your judges, because they are charting the course of Season 11 history here.  That 4 points isn’t huge – but it still counts.  No great shock that Bristol stuck around when put up against a relative unknown (to DWTS audience) guy who is 4 points behind her. And him being the worse dancer helped. :-)

Week 5 – Serious Monkey Business

This is the week where the wheels fell off, IMO.  I dare say that Michael Bolton was more than a little irate to see Bristol wear a Monkey suit and still get an 18.  I dare say that any pro who’s gotten scolded pretty harshly from Len for use of a prop (Maks, Derek, Dmitry…) was more than a little irate at the end of this night as well.  Remember when Nicole and Derek did a FANTASTIC quickstep that broke a ton of rules? Len gave them a 6. Then Len turns around this season and gives Bristol a 6 after forgetting most of her steps and wearing a Monkey suit. And you still wanna know why Bristol is still around at this point? :-) Hint: it ain’t the Tea Party – unless of course Len whipped out his silver tea set on the commercial break. :-) Check out this weeks scores:

– Bristol, 18
– Kyle, 20
– Florence, 21
– Audrina, 23

Kyle the Popular is only TWO points ahead of a girl who danced in a monkey suit. TWO.  And Audrina, who dances better on her worst day than Bristol does on her best, is only 5 points ahead of girl in monkey suit.  Florence is only three points ahead of Bristol – and three points ain’t nothing particularly when 8 or 7 people are getting votes. The voting is spread out over more people than it is in later weeks. Florence ultimately goes home, which means that:

Kyle got 5,500 more votes per million votes cast than she did, AND;

Bristol got 16,500 more votes per million votes cast than she did.

That may seem like a lot for Bristol to achieve, but in reality it is only 1.65 percent – a tiny number. Here’s another way to look at it: this was the week where you got 8 votes per phone and 8 votes per email address. So say the average person uses one phone and one email – that means only about 1,000 more people needed to vote for Bristol than they did for Florence. Of course not everyone who watches votes…but everyone who votes doesn’t use ONLY two accounts. We’re dealing in what could be very small numbers, here.

Week 6 – The Real Shocker

Okay, THIS was a shocking elimination – but after you really think about it for a bit, you realize maybe not.   Audrina is in the top two for judge’s scores and goes home. Because of Bristol? Hardly. There was a lot more at play here.  These were the scores for the week:

– Kurt, 22
– Bristol, 28
– Jennifer, 29
– Rick and Kyle, 30
– Audrina, 32
– Brandy, 36

There are FIVE people with lower scores than Audrina going into the audience vote. Five. The spread between the low scorer and Audrina is TEN points. Now that is a nice big number.  But is it shocking that Bristol stayed and Audrina when home? No – there is only 4 points between them, while Kurt is 10 points behind her.  When the second highest scorer goes home when there are 7 dancers?? It means that person wasn’t getting votes, period, not that Kurt and Bristol had huge fanbases. It wasn’t just Bristol that beat her, after all.  Kurt had to get nearly 5% more of the vote than her, or 48,500 more votes per million votes cast. Bristol only needed 1.93% – her highest margin of the season up until the finale. And of course, Jennifer, Rick and Kyle all had to make up a difference as well.

Audrina suffered from the model curse, IMO. Very beautiful but relatively unknown to the DWTS voters. Combine that with being paired with Tony and having a high score that week and you can kiss her goodbye. People continue to assume that if a dancer has a high score they are safe. Several of us on this blog had expressed concern about her longevity for these reasons. Put Audrina up against the movie icon, the fun Disney kid, the daughter of an infamous political figure, and two well liked (and well known) athletes? Then pair her with Tony instead of Derek and her odds get worse. Nothing against Tony, but, like it or not, Derek can make a model stick around longer – Joanna Krupa was far more unpopular than Audrina was popular.  With all these conditions, Audrina was never destined to go higher.

Week 7 – The Athletes Split the Votes

That’s one of my theories anyway. People who are inclined to go the athlete route had two to choose from.  Still think it’s Bristol’s fault? Nah.  This is only the second time that Bristol has been the low scorer and it isn’t by that much:

– Bristol, 57
– Kyle, 59
– Rick/Kurt, 61
– Jennifer/Brandy, 64

There is a significant problem here. First, when you hand out that many points in a week (366) and still keep the margin at 7 points between the top and bottom you actually decrease the percentage the low scorer needs to stick around. If they did the typical 30 point possible and had a spread between the top scorer and the bottom scorer of 7 points, the bottom scorer would need more than 5% to beat the top scorer. In this week, with a total points awarded of 366, there was ONLY a spread of 1.91% between Bristol and Brandy/Jennifer.  When you are talking less than a percent between the bottom FOUR scorers, of course it’s going to be anyone’s game.  Did Rick’s fans assume he was safe because of that four point cushion? Who knows? Were Kyle and Bristol fans really, really worried?? Probably. If those two sets of fans are worried, how hard do they really have to work? Kyle’s fans had to get 0.55% more and Bristol’s fans had to get 1.01% more.  Piece. Of. Cake. Odds are always good that the low scorers fans are going to vote like maniacs and it doesn’t take many maniacs to make up 1.01%.

Week 8 – Well, I think it was Close.

Seriously, Kurt versus Bristol with Bristol being the low scorer – but only by a point. We know what a point really means at this point, don’t we? Nothing. In this case, it was obviously going to be one of the two of them and I wager it was very close. Of course, I base that on what happened in the finale, so of course hind sight is 20-20.  Here were the scores for Week 8:

– Bristol, 47
– Kurt, 48
– Kyle, 57
– Brandy/Jennifer, 58

Much better point spread this week between the top and the bottom – but still that 10 points only means that Bristol is 3.77 percent behind Brandy/Jennifer.  That’s a small number and it’s again the result of a higher number of points awarded.  So, if there is only 3.77 % between the top and bottom, it’s not hard to believe that there is only 0.38% between Bristol and Kurt – that’s no spread at all. I will say it again – Bristol didn’t need a miracle to stay over Kurt. Not at all. She only needed a couple dozen more fans than Kurt who were passionate about her staying. Maybe not even that many if they were power voting.

Week 9 – Tragedy

Well, I think it was a tragedy, anyway. Even though my favorite won, I would have liked to see a real competition. Brandy/Kyle/Jennifer would have been great.  But the question is – did Bristol play spoiler? Hmmm…Maybe for the first time.  But how much of it was Bristol and how much of it was Brandy herself? How much of it was the judges?? Again, the judges had a great deal of influence – look at the scores:

– Bristol, 53
– Brandy, 57
– Kyle, 58
– Jennifer, 60

Bristol only 4 points behind Brandy? Seriously?? People keep saying the judges scores mean nothing, but I think they’ve got it backwards – the judges scores mean everything, just  not in a good way. By scoring Bristol relative only to herself, THEY give her more potential to stick around longer.  Now, I understand doing that early on – but this was the 9th week and it was time to turn into a hard ass and they all FAILED.  Sometimes I think the judges think they are being tough, like above, giving Bristol a 53. Problem is, they don’t really get how the scoring and the audience vote works out either – or it doesn’t appear so, anyway. Because that 4 points equals 1.75%. How many time have I said how little 4 points amounts to? It’s a pittance. When you have Kyle being a likeable teddy bear, Jennifer Grey being JENNIFER GREY and Bristol getting all the buzz (plus the Vote for the Worst crew), Brandy is going to need more than that 4 points – she wasn’t getting any attention that week. No attention = kiss of death.

Week 10 – The Finale Tells the Tale.

And Bristol takes 3rd. And in doing so we learn the limits of her voting fanbase.   The final scores were:

– Bristol, 104
– Kyle, 110
– Jennifer, 118

Again, because so many points were awarded, the spread between them goes down even though the points difference seems greater.  That six points between Kyle and Bristol only equates to 2.75%, which is not that much greater than the spread between her and Brandy. But it is clearly enough to knock Bristol out of the game. I think there were a few things at work here – the judges finally started scoring them relative to each other, or seriously ranking them. When they do that, it makes an impact. But that wasn’t all – people finally figured out that if they didn’t want Bristol to win, they had to vote like hell for someone else. The highest number of votes in the history of the show isn’t going to benefit Bristol, as much as the Tea Party would like to think otherwise – hey, DWTS mirrors real life!! ;-)

At the end of the day, Bristol was eliminated because she couldn’t get past the 2.75% between her and Kyle. That was the largest spread she ever had to overcome over the entire 10 weeks of the competition.   Here’s a summation of where Bristol was each week – if she was the low scorer, I put the margin she had to overcome.

–          Week 1 – Not in the bottom 4

–          Week 2 – Not in the bottom 5

–          Week 3 – Margaret was low scorer, Margaret went home

–          Week 4 – Sitch was low scorer, Sitch went home

–          Week 5 – 1.65%

–          Week 6 – Kurt was low score by 6 points, Audrina went home

–          Week 7 – 1.01%

–          Week 8 – 0.38%

–          Week 9 – 1.75%

–          Week 10 – 2.75% – Bristol is eliminated first.

Now, do you still think that it’s surprising that Bristol lasted as long as she did?? I would hope not. I would also hope that people realize they have to vote for their favorite because the judges don’t put in enough of a spread between the dancers to amount to anything.

The moral of the story is – the judges scores mean everything, when they actually rank the contestants. ;-) But if they don’t?? You best vote.

December 16, 2010 I Written By

I'm a nerd and proud of it. Two degrees in geology also means I love BEER. :-) I'm also a Derek lover - proud of that too. So don't scream at those of us on this site and call us a bunch of "biased Derek-lovers" - it's just ME. :-) It may sound like I hate DWTS at times, but really, I'm just a snarky nitpicker from way back. And I'm cynical and jaded too. But I do love DWTS. :-)