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DWTS 16, Week 2 – Power Rankings

Well jazz/jive/quickstep/WTF? night left me with some mixed feelings – some couples really rose to the challenge, while others really showed their weaknesses; I feel like some couples got too caught up in having a “theme”, while others seemed to have meltdowns in rehearsal.  And of course – the judges conveniently chastised some couples for things that they seemed to turn a blind eye to in other couples.  Let’s get right into it…

1.) Zendaya  & Val – As talented as this girl is, I did have my doubts about her fanbase – but after she trended worldwide on Twitter, I’m wondering if she might have the juice to really go all the way this season.  My god, those LEGS – if I had legs that gorgeous, I would wear shorts year-round, regardless of the temperature, because they are GORGEOUS.  Oddly enough, though they actually seemed to cause a few problems in this dance – like Val said, with legs that long, you have a harder time doing quick movements…and I felt like Zendaya did have a few moments where she really had to haul ass to get her legs where they needed to be, and she did seem to be taking some wide steps to accommodate those long legs.  Thankfully, they should only be an asset from here on out, since she has gotten jive out of the way :-) Loved the attitude and sass she had, too – really like this girl, and really like what Val is doing with her.  If they can keep it engaging and age-appropriate, they could go far.

2.) Kellie & Derek – As cool as this routine was and as well-executed as it may have been, I’d call it more of a contemporary/jazz fusion than pure jazz.  Nothing wrong with that – none of the 3 that did jazz tonight had a “pure” jazz routine – but I saw flexed ankles and more contemporary-type lifts, and in my head I heard my college dance instructor screaming “Point those toes! I don’t want to see any flexed feet, this is jazz 203, not modern 203!!!” Very cool, moody routine, and Kelly is made of rubber, I swear…plus she seems to be handling anything Derek throws at her.  But for whatever reason (and this is unrelated to whether it’s jazz or not), I was just left wanting a bit more – maybe it was the music and how there seemed to be this big build up in the beginning, and then it just ended, maybe it was the fierce hand section at the beginning and then the more flowy end, I don’t know…but I don’t really think it was my favorite Derek routine.  But Kellie is impressing me, because had I not known better, that could have been Allison Holker dancing that routine…she was that good. Read more..

March 25, 2013 I Written By

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

DWTS 15, Week 10 – Finale Power Rankings

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

Anywho…

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

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

3rd place: Kelly & Val

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

: Shawn & Derek

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

The winner: Melissa & Tony

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

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

November 26, 2012 I Written By

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

DWTS 15, Week 8 – Power Rankings

Not a whole lot to say about tonight, other than that everything felt incredibly frantic as they rush, rush, rushed to fit 14 routines into 2 hours (which was no bueno, considering the ballroom round was drastically cut short and the danced seemed to be over before they even started), and that the judges did their usual wacky scoring (which really means nothing, considering how close the margins are).  Literally, guys, this is an even bigger battle of the fanbases this time, as there are even MORE points and even SMALLER margins than the week Sabrina got sent packing.  So if somebody’s not getting the votes – methinks they’re pretty much doomed.

1.) Shawn & Derek – They’ve got the 2nd highest point total from the past two weeks, and in perhaps an even bigger advantage – a bunch of pissed off fans.  Ok, so maybe there wasn’t a ton of samba in their trio – I still think there was enough there to warrant at least an 8, and it was still a wildly entertaining routine that actually evoked more of the excitment of a pro dance to me than just a regular dance with a celeb.  The way Len was acting, it was as if Derek & Mark had walked center stage and defecated or something…while Shawn watched.  And the whole “If you go home tomorrow night, don’t blame me, blame them!” comment? Was that REALLY necessary? Just felt like a low blow and not any sort of constructive criticism.  I really think Derek probably knew they were taking a risk and choreographed more of a crowd/audience-pleasing routine than a judge-pleasing routine, intentionally – it was a calculated risk, maybe to jump-start the fans into voting.  But I don’t think he was expecting Len to take it so personally.  As for their Viennese waltz – despite it being awfully short, I thought it was quite pretty and very fluid, and Shawn had some butter-smooth turns and showed a lot of emotion.  I think they’re probably the safest from the double elim tomorrow…seems like they’re getting a lot of votes and still pretty decent scores, in the great scheme of things.

2.) Emmitt & Cheryl – I find myself drawing a bit of a blank on his Viennese waltz, despite the fact that I have several notes written about it – “smooth & fluid, didn’t see the alleged mistake, not very high level of difficulty”.  I daresay that it probably left me lukewarm: no big problems, and pleasant to watch, but nothing particularly impactful or impressive.  Just as I said last week, I think the biggest problem I have with Emmitt at this point is just that he seems to have plateaued in terms of difficulty, and Cheryl really isn’t pushing him as hard as she should choreographically at this phase of the competition.  Most of the other couples are pulling out all the stops – but Emmitt & Cheryl seem to be sticking primarily to the “Do easy choreo and just charm everyone’s pants off!” method.  Their trio – ok, very cute, and I definitely enjoyed it more than I did Gilles’ trio….but 30? Really? I saw an awful lot of backleading & stationary ass-shaking going on…I think many other couples had much more difficult steps in their dances, and they did them with much more impressive execution.  I guess the judges were maybe judging more on entertainment value than level of difficulty and content (unless your name is Shawn, in which case it’s ALL about content).  I guess I’ve just kind of given up on trying to understand the judges’ motives at this point :-P Regardless, I think he’s likely safe tomorrow, but things could get dicey next week… Read more..

November 12, 2012 I Written By

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

DWTS 15, Week 8: And the Trios Are…

The couples got to pick the 3rd members of their trio dances last night after the show, and they could chose between eliminated pros from this season, or any of the members of the troupe – apparently the “2nd celeb” idea got scrapped (thank you, 8 lb, 10 oz baby Jesus).  The couple with the lowest cumulative score got to pick first.  So without further adieu, here are your trios for week 8:

Kirstie & Maks + Tristan MacManus

Kelly & Val + Louis Van Amstel

Emmitt & Cheryl + Kym Johnson

Apolo & Karina + Sasha Farber

Melissa & Tony + Henry Byalikov

Gilles & Peta + Chelsie Hightower

Shawn & Derek + Mark Ballas

We don’t know everyone’s dance yet, but I can tell you at least one of the trios is a jive, and at least one is a salsa.  Personally, I think some of these choices were a little puzzling…not sure I would have picked the same people, myself.  What do you guys think? Discuss :-D

November 6, 2012 I Written By

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

DWTS 15 – What’s Left to Dance?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 31, 2012 I Written By

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

DWTS Season 15, Week 2 – Power Rankings

Oh jive/quickstep week – a week that usually has the potential to make me cringe and shake my head.  Unfortunately, this season was no different :-( The lines have been drawn, and the judges are making some pretty clear distinctions in their scoring – at the top we have the “chosen ones” who can do no wrong in the judges’ eyes (Gilles & Peta, Sabrina & Louis), then the good dancers that the judges seem to critique/score more harshly to give the impression of “wanting them to improve” (Shawn & Derek, Apolo & Karina, Melissa & Tony), the mediocre-to-good dancers that the judges seem reluctant to really critique/score harshly (Kelly & Val, Emmitt & Cheryl, Helio & Chelsie), the mediocre-to-bad dancers that don’t really get love from the judges but still get the votes to stay (Joey & Kym, Kirstie & Maks, Bristol & Mark)…and then you have Drew, whom I’m almost convinced the judges/TPTB don’t really give a rat’s ass whether he stays or goes.  All in all, this illustrious all-star season is beginning to leave a bad taste in my mouth – and we’ve still got 8 more weeks to go after tomorrow! And please tell me I’m not the only one that’s getting sick of seeing that damn 7.5 paddle…

1.) Gilles & Peta - As great of a dancer as Gilles may be, I just find myself getting rubbed the wrong way by some of his behavior so far this season – and I’m beginning to feel the same about Peta, too.  He complains about how injured he is and how much pain he’s in all week, then performs one of the most intense & forceful jives I’ve ever seen on the show - and then he has this bizarre, kinda choked-up “moment” up in the celebraquarium that just kinda left me going “Huh?” Not gonna lie – it was bordering on Jaleel levels of awkwardness.  While I do think he did a really good jive (notice I didn’t say “great”), I think Gilles may have caught a bit of the Sabrina Bug this week – every kick & flick just felt so HARD and deliberate.  And I’m not sure if it was just the fringe on her costume or what, but Peta seemed to be dancing extra forcefully, too – and as trivial as this may seem, I seriously hope the makeup team dials back the eyeliner next week, because it gives Peta this very harsh, glaring look when she’s not smiling widely. Anywho, these two seem like they’ve got several weeks of safety ahead of them, with the level of favoritism they seem to be getting from the judges & TPTB.  I guess I just hope Gilles can have some sort of breakthrough and regain some of the charm that made him so endearing in season 8…

2.) Shawn & Derek – This jive was pretty much everything I expected – cute, high-energy, clean, & entertaining.  Even though I had already gotten a bit of a heads-up that Shawn had much better endurance than Derek, I was still kinda impressed by how…not winded she was afterward.  Just sort of a “Meh…ain’t no thang!” look on her face :-P Now while I enjoyed the Hairspray theme and a lot of the choreography that went with it, I have to say – I found myself wanting a little more basic, in-hold jive content, a little bit less of the 60′s-y themed open choreography.  And I wonder if this may be a problem with pretty much everyone who goes for a themed routine this season – everyone feels so compelled to keep the bar high that they feel the need to throw in a lot of unique choreography.  I guess that’s one way in which I agreed with Len a bit in his critique – everything in this routine was satisfactory, but I don’t know that any of it really exceeded my expectations.  Guess I’m just hoping to be blown away during iconic dances week next week, since the couples have been instructed to “push the envelope”. I just hope Derek can “push the envelope” while still including a lot of basic choreography.

3.) Sabrina & Louis – In quite possibly the biggest judging gaffe of the night, Gilles & Peta’s biggest competition for “most off-putting” couple this season managed to walk away with the high score after doing a quickstep that, while good, left me confused.   I will give Sabrina credit for calming down quite a bit this week – there wasn’t nearly as much overdancing this time.  But I did notice a couple instances where she seemed to fight the urge to really hit things hard, and a couple flicks seemed to come out a bit harder than they probably should have.  My other big complaint? I felt like they stopped every 5 seconds for Sabrina to pose in a picture line!!! Talk about disrupting the flow of a dance – I liked what she did in-hold and she did have great posture, but it just felt so disjointed because Louis seemed to be throwing her into an oversway every other measure.  For that reason, I think she was grossly overscored – considering that Apolo had, IMO, much more difficult content, which he executed with far more finesse than Sabrina did her content.  And WTF was up with that beginning sequence when they came running in??? If it was accidental, they must really be in la-la land; if it was intentional, WTF?! But as I saw many of you saying, I feel like the fix is in – somebody with influence really wants Sabrina to stick around.  Which makes me wonder if maybe Sabrina isn’t exactly “killing it” in the votes department.  But I think time will tell, as we whittle down the weaker dancers… Read more..

October 1, 2012 I Written By

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

DWTS 15 All-Stars: The Great “Previous Dance Experience” Debate – Kirstie Alley Edition

We’re finally here! Premiere day at last :-) If you haven’t yet, go ahead and check out Heidi’s “Who’s Dancing What…And When?” post to get the low-down on the performance order tonight, the voting phone numbers, and possibly a few spoilers on the music some of the couples are dancing to ;-)

Today, I take on the final (and most recent) celeb on my series examining the highs & lows of the all-stars’ original seasons – Kirstie Alley.  And if you want to get all fancy and read all the previous editions before the premiere (overachiever ;-)), you can check them out here.

For Kirstie’s best dance, I picked her cha-cha:

And for her worst dance, I picked her jive:

I know some of you are thinking “But Kirstie’s cha-cha wasn’t even her highest-scoring dance!!!” But I have always thought of it as Kirstie & Maks’ magnum opus of season 12 – a dance that showcased not only Kirstie’s dance skills but also her incredible ability to entertain. She may not have been the best technician (but she certainly wasn’t the worst that season, either), but what she lacked in technique she more than made up for in performance – even in her worst dance, she still managed to stay entertaining & fun to watch.  And very theatrical :-) One thing that always astonished me about Kirstie in season 12 was that, despite acknowledging that she was overweight and out-of-shape, she always seemed so light on her feet and still moved with a ton of precision – it kinda reminded me of Warren Sapp, who was a BIIIIIIG man but who was often more graceful than some of the men half his size.  Just because you may not have the perfect body, does not mean your movement quality has to suffer :-)

However, there was one drawback to Kirstie’s physical condition that did seem to hinder her, and that I worry might still be a problem this season: endurance.  I think we all were dreading the week in season 12 that Kirstie got jive, because we had seen how winded she got doing much slower dances, such as the samba.  And unfortunately, I don’t think those fears were unfounded – Kirstie did seem to struggle with keeping up with the speed of the jive, and never seemed to really get the bounce in her step that makes jive so fun to watch.  The choreo probably wasn’t the best, either, but that’s one dance where I can’t really blame Maks for taking so long to get into the dance – if your partner has bad endurance and probably won’t make it through a full-lenth 1:30 routine, try to put as little jive into it as possible, and as many rests into it as will fit.  I know Kirstie’s in much better shape this time around, but is she going to be able to contend with seasoned athletes like Apolo, Emmitt, and Shawn? Or younger, more resilient contestants like Kelly & Melissa? I’m not so sure.  Thankfully, she will get jive out of the way early this time – so if she does struggle with it, she may still be safe. 

So what has Kirstie been up to in the year & a half since her original season? She did sponsor a “100 Days of Dance” campaign for her organic food line, Organic Liasion, last summer.  Here’s a video of her dancing a Viennese waltz with “Johnny Boy”…I’m a bit partial to it for obvious reasons ;-):

Court’s verdict: Kirstie’s off-the-wall antics and showmanship could keep her in the competition for awhile – but she will need to work on endurance and her overall physical fitness in order to give some of the athletes a run for their money.

Thoughts on Kirstie?

September 24, 2012 I Written By

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

DWTS 15 All-Stars: The Great “Previous Dance Experience” Debate – Bristol Palin Edition

We’re mere days away from the premiere of the all-star season – who’s getting pumped??? :-) I find myself surprisingly excited about it, given that I was feeling pretty ho-hum about it only a few months back.  Be sure to keep a close eye on Heidi’s “Who’s Dancing What” post – you never know when someone’s cha-cha song or dance order or phone number might pop up ;-) #justsayin

Anywho, if you’re feeling nostalgic, you can view all of the previous editions of this series here.  Now buckle in, kids, because I’m about to tackle the ups and downs (but mainly just downs…) of the most polarizing contestant in DWTS history: Bristol Palin.

For Bristol’s best dance, I picked her tango:

As her worst dance, what else could I pick but that god-awful monkey suit jive?:

Ok, I will admit that Bristol is not the worst dancer we’ve ever seen on the show (I think’s a dubious honor reserved for Master P, with Kate Gosselin as the runner-up).  On the contrary, I actually thought she was relatively good the first few weeks of the competition – I even threw a few votes her way in week 1.  I think what ended up getting to me as the season wore on, though, was the fact that all the other contestants seemed to be improving by leaps & bounds…while Bristol just seemed to barely muddle through some of the dances, and hit a bit of a plateau in terms of improvement.  To add insult to injury, we were losing MUCH better dancers each week that Bristol remained – and by the time the finale rolled around, Bristol seemed to have developed a sense of entitlement, and copped an attitude when she wasn’t getting the 9′s and 10′s she felt she deserved.  In the end, she just left a bad taste in my mouth, even if some of her dancing really wasn’t all that bad.  SOME.  :-) In rewatching a lot of Bristol’s dances, I noticed that she tended to do MUCH better when she was able to stay in-hold for the bulk of it – so most of the ballroom dances she did went quite a bit more smoothly than the Latin ones.  I don’t know if Mark holding onto her and leading her so directly helped improve her confidence or what, but she moved a lot more cleanly & clearly in dances like the tango – no missed steps, she stayed on time, and had pretty good posture.  And I blame Mark for the silly air guitar break in the middle :-P

On the other hand, in dances where she had to separate from Mark and do some of the dance on her own, she either barely muddled through or seemed to fall apart completely – case in point? The dreaded monkey suit jive.  Right off the bat, she seemed to blank on a good 10-15 seconds of side-by-side jive choreo.  Then, once the suit came off (and even that was pretty rough), she never seemed to get 100% into the groove of the dance, and always seemed like she was 1 step behind or ahead of Mark.  And although we kind of expected it, based on her complete lack of experience in performing, Bristol wasn’t exactly the best at connecting with the character of a dance – and when she didn’t know what to do, she seemed to resort to an expression that reminded her of back home in Alaska: deer in the rifle sights ;-) Maybe this time around, she’ll be a bit more comfortable and will be able to let loose and have fun.  Or not…who knows.  I’m still of the opinion that she likely won’t last past the midpoint of the competition, this time around – she’s up against much better dancers with much bigger fanbases, and I daresay she’s lost a bit of that “single teen mom” appeal she had 2 years ago.  Will be interesting to see what Mark is able to conjure up…

Court’s verdict: Probably the weakest all-around performer/dancer this season, and Mark needs to work on getting her performance value up to snuff…as well as making sure she knows her choreography and is confident enough to not forget it.  She should probably also work on her media presence – she needs to be as likeable as possible if she wants to stand a chance against some of the more popular contestants.

Thoughts on Bristol?

September 21, 2012 I Written By

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

DWTS 15 All-Star Season Music Suggestions & Wish List

So we’re at t-minus 2 weeks until the premiere, and of course, we’re all curious about what songs we might hear this season.  Since we don’t plan to reveal any potential song spoilers until just before the premiere (stay tuned ;-)), we thought we’d take this opportunity to share some of our picks for music we’d like to see on the show – as well as a few songs some of our readers suggested on Twitter.  I’ll try to update the list with songs you guys suggest, but I can’t make any guarantees.  Life gets busy :-P But make your picks good ones, because you never know who might be taking a gander at this list, looking for inspiration ;-)

Court’s picks:

Sunglasses at Night” – Corey HartSunglasses at Night - Corey Hart: The Singles - This has been my “OMG, I’ll pee my pants if they actually use this!” song pick since Guilty Pleasures week in season 12.  I am DYING to see someone (perhaps Joey or Drew) do a paso doble to this, complete with dark sunglasses and a big dose of tongue-in-cheek humor.  The cheese factor would be through the roof!
It’s Not Unusual” – Tom JonesIt's Not Unusual (Single Version) - Greatest Love Songs This song just BEGS for a Carlton Banks-esque quickstep from Mark.  BONUS: It would probably embarass the bejeesus out of Bristol in the process.  :-)
I’d Rather Go Blind” - Etta JamesI'd Rather Go Blind - Tell Mama - The Complete Muscle Shoals Sessions With Etta’s passing earlier this year, I find myself with a new appreciation for her music – and I think this would make a GORGEOUS Viennese waltz.
“Good Time” - Owl City feat. Carly Rae JepsenGood Time - Good Time - Single A totally fun, guilty pleasure song – I could see them using it for a team cha-cha or cha-cha relay.
“Cinema (Skrillex Mix)” - Benny BenassiCinema (Skrillex Remix) - Cinema (Remixes) [feat. Gary Go], Pt. 2 - EP I realize that, between AGT & SYTYCD, this song has gotten pretty overused this summer – but in both instances, it’s been used for a hip-hop routine.  But I’d like to see what some of our pros could do with it – this has a Derek or Mark freestyle written all over it.

Heidi’s picks:

“Swallowed by the Night” – The Floating MenSwallowed By the Night - Tall ShadowsMy favorite Nashville band of all time. Alternative, acoustic and entertaining as hell. This sounds like a quickstep to me, but I could be wrong.
“Goody Two Shoes” – Adam AntGoody Two Shoes - Friend or Foe Kick someone’s ass as a jive. Someone like Bristol. ;-) *snerk*
“Come Dancing” – The KinksCome Dancing - Come Dancing With the Kinks - The Best of the Kinks 1977-1986 (Remastered) [Remastered 2004]  The Kinks just make me laugh.
“Hella Good” – No DoubtHella Good - Rock SteadyReally, anything by No Doubt. I got into them thanks to the TV show Alias – loved it.
“Slow Down” – Brian SetzerSlow Down - Rockabilly Riot, Vol. 1 - A Tribute to Sun Records  Because I said so.  :-)

Vogue’s picks:

“Give Me All Your Luvin’” - Madonna feat. Nicki Minaj & MIAGive Me All Your Luvin' (feat. Nicki Minaj & M.I.A.) - MDNA (Deluxe Version)  Wow, what a Dancing With The Stars show stopper this could be if this song was done for a pro number with ALL the pros and the troupe.
“Finally Found You” – Enrique Iglesias - I’m hoping Enrique will come back for another song performance with the pros dancing to this new song. He’s such a great supporter of the show.
“Partynauseous” – Kendrick Lamar feat. Lady Gaga – This new single is yet to be released, but, you just know it’s going to make a strong showing. I’d like to see what Derek and Shawn could create for it.
“Masterpiece” – MadonnaMasterpiece - MDNA (Deluxe Version) Sorry to add another Madonna song, but, this just can’t be helped. “Masterpiece” was the theme song for Madonna’s movie last year called “W.E.”. It won a Golden Globe Award this year for “Best Original song” and she’s currently singing it on tour. It is truly one of Madonna’s best ballads to date (and I didn’t think she could ever top “I’ll Remember”). It would make such a touching song for a slow waltz and sure to melt hearts if done right.
“Una Musica Brutal” – Gotan Project Una Música Brutal - La Revancha del Tango (Bonus Track Version) I love any and all songs by the Gotan Project. You might remember Peta and Donald doing a Tango to “Santa Maria” last season. Well, “Una Musica Brutal” would be another winner for a show stopping Tango. I’d love to see it.

Lori’s picks:

“Come Wake Me Up” – Rascal FlattsCome Wake Me Up - Changed (Deluxe Edition)Since the first time I heard it, I’ve been wanting to see a Viennese waltz to this song, because it just seems to be SCREAMING out to me, that it needs some waltz choreography. It already seems to have the 1 2 3 and the rise and fall that’s needed…
“Wanted” – Hunter HayesWanted - Hunter HayesThis YOUNG kid is an amazing artist…he’s only 20, and for his debut album, he wrote all of the songs, sang every part in every song, and played every instrument on the entire album. Long process to lay each track separately.  This song is beautiful, and a nice slow rumba song (I think) and I just like the song!
“Another Brick in the Wall” – Pink FloydAnother Brick In the Wall, Pt. 2 - The Wall (Remastered)I love the conflict between the teacher and the students, and the mind control aspect….
“Gangnam Style” – PSYGangnam Style (강남 스타일) - PSY 6甲 (Six Rules), Pt. 1 - EPIt’s catchy and quirky, and a very fun song.

John’s picks:

NOTE: John sustained some kind of neck injury & is currently bedridden (#getbettersoon @techguy) so he was only able to come up with one song.  He gave me carte blanche to pick some others for him…but let’s just say he should thank his lucky stars I didn’t, because if I had to guess what kind of music John listens to, this would be my first guess;-) -Court-

“Because of You” – Kelly Clarkson & Reba McEntireBecause of You - Reba DuetsI’d love to see them dance to this song…although the band might slaughter it :-)

Reader picks:

“I Won’t Give Up” – Jason MrazI Won't Give Up - Love Is a Four Letter Word (Deluxe Version)
“Lights” – Ellie GouldingLights - Lights
“Super Bass” – Nicki MinajSuper Bass - Pink Friday (Deluxe Version)
“Give Your Heart a Break” – Demi LovatoGive Your Heart a Break - Unbroken
“One More Night” – Maroon 5One More Night - Overexposed (Deluxe)
“Someone to Watch Over Me” – Ella FitzgeraldSomeone to Watch Over Me - Ella: The Legendary Decca Recordings (Box Set)

September 10, 2012 I Written By

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

DWTS 15 All-Stars: The Great “Previous Dance Experience” Debate – Gilles Marini Edition

 You guys know the drill by now – check out the Melissa Rycroft edition and you can backtrack back to all the rest of the previous editions ;-) Today we finish up with this season’s guys by taking a look at Gilles… 

I picked Gilles’ Argentine tango as his best dance:

 And as his worst dance, I picked his jive:

 No doubt, Gilles has got the full package (no pun intended…): he’s got the stage presence, he’s got great technique, and he’s got an amazing personality to boot.  I still think his Argentine tango is one of the most impressive we’ve ever seen on the show – and that’s a big credit, considering season 8 was the first season that Argentine tango was performed on the show (and consequently, some of the pros were left a bit clueless as to what to do), and Gilles & Cheryl’s routine wasn’t particularly flashy or chock full of lifts, like so many we’ve seen in recent seasons.  What made it great was it was a good, simple, well-executed routine in which they really focused on the character of the dance, rather than going for every flashy, impressive step they could find.  I think almost all of Gilles’ routines are the perfect example of how you don’t need a bunch of flash & trash to get good scores - if you’re focused enough on the dance itself that you can make every step speak volumes.  Gilles is a technician – and he’s a HUNGRY technician, who is highly motivated to do well this season.  While I think every contestant is going to need some degree of “hunger” to do well this season, I fear that Gilles’ hunger could end up hurting him in the end – such is the case with his jive.  I think it’s apparent from the rehearsal footage that Gilles was just not having an easy time with the jive, and it was really getting to him.  I don’t think it helped much that Cheryl seemed to throw everything but the kitchen sink into this routine, and wasn’t exactly a nuturing partner when Gilles was really struggling – but what became apparent in the dance itself was that Gilles was just pushing himself too hard, and I really think it ended up causing him to falter.  The guy that was always in rhythm and in the pocket was suddenly off-time missing steps, and worst of all? He didn’t look like he was enjoying himself anymore.  The dance just became a Herculean task to complete.  And I think that’s one possible hurdle Peta’s going to have to contend with this season – Gilles’ tendency to push himself so hard that he stops enjoying himself.  Gilles seems more determined than ever to win this time around – and it’s bordering on Brandy Syndrome (being so desperate to win that it actually becomes off-putting). Being so intensely focused on the end goal can often result in couples losing sight of what’s important – having fun.  A couple can dance a routine flawlessly, but if they look like they’re getting a root canal while they’re doing it? Fuggeddaboudit.

In some ways, I think Gilles getting Peta instead of Cheryl may actually be beneficial – I know I’ve expressed some skepticism about the whole Gilles/Peta partnership, but after watching Cheryl’s demeanor in she in Gilles’ rehearsal videos (and watching footage of Peta with Donald last season), I think Peta may actually be more effective in keeping Gilles’ feet on the ground and reminding him to enjoy himself.  I almost think a repeat Gilles/Cheryl partnership would be so determined to win that the end result would be kind of scary-focused on the dance floor – and they’d lose a lot of the appeal they had the first time around.  I just hope Peta doesn’t get excited puppy syndrome because she’s got such a skilled partner, and proverbially pee all over the dance floor by trying to cram as many impressive & difficult steps into their routines as possible.  Not everyone can handle a Nicole Scherzinger-level of choreographic difficulty.  :-)

Court’s verdict: Unlike many of the other contestants this season, I think Gilles’ biggest struggle is just going to be letting loose and not taking himself too seriously.  It’s going to be up to Peta to keep him on the right track and enjoying myself, while forging a good chemistry and not trying too hard to choreograph a bunch of crazy stuff to get the judges’ and viewers’ attention.  QUALITY, not quantity. 

Now let’s hear your thoughts on Gilles.   Do you think he can finally nab the MBT with Peta…or will he flame out in the process?

September 7, 2012 I Written By

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