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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!

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

 Let’s continue on with my analysis of this season’s contestants – today we move onto Melissa.  Finally getting more into the ladies of this season! To check out any of my previous posts in the series, check out the Sabrina Bryan edition…there are links to the previous editions.  :-)

For Melissa’s best dance, I picked her samba – which I believe she performed about 3 times in a 2 week period:

For her worst dance, I picked her jive – which she never actually performed live, due to injury:

I think Melissa’s biggest asset could also be her biggest obstacle to overcome: her cheerleading background.  It does give her a bit of an edge in terms of picking up choreography, having rhythm, and just having good movement quality – but I think it also tends to make her look a bit wishy-washy in terms of ballroom technique, judging from these videos.  If my big complaint about Sabrina is that she hits everything too hard, my big complaint about Melissa is that she tends to hit everything a bit too softly and fluidly – perhaps even a bit generically.  It’s the same problem I see with some of my friends who have gone on to dance for NBA & NFL teams: their movement takes on almost a robotic, inoffensive quality, which I guess does come in handy when dancing in sync with 30 other girls and no one is supposed to stand out.  But blending into with everyone this season is definitely NOT something Melissa should be aiming for – so I think she’s going to need to sharpen up her steps and avoid any of the cheerleading “pitfalls”…are you listening too, Tony? Because I think the choreography is part of the problem, too.  I can understand falling back on her high-kicking & piroutting skills the first week – poor thing only had a week to learn the waltz.  But beyond that, I think Tony really should have avoided a ton of “cheerleader tricks” and really made Melissa focus on ballroom technique – and unfortunatley, I think the majority of their routines were less meat-and-potatoes ballroom and more “ok, you’re going to high-kick here, do a series of pirouttes there, and then do a split – and we’ll just shove some easy ballroom steps in between!”.  I’m not saying he should totally abandon her obvious dance skills – I’m just saying he should probably figure out a better way to make them more “ballroom-y”.  Some of the fundamental principles are the same – spotting turns, using your core to really elongate your limbs, etc. – and can be easily incorporated into a ballroom vocabulary.  If she can do an underarm turn using the same principles she would use to do a piroutte – Melissa could have the best damn technique of any of the dancers on the show.  But Tony MUST teach her how to apply it.  Melissa IS a good jazz dancer – now she has got to become a good ballroom dancer.

Melissa’s injury also brings up an interesting point: how are injuries going to come into play this season? With the level of competition so high and all of the couples working harder than ever before to up their game, there’s bound to be injuries – the question is, who will be smart enough to avoid them, who will be able to work through them, and who will be sidelined by them? I’m inclined to think that those who got injured on their original season (Melissa, Gilles, & Pam all come to mind) may be at a greater risk to incur the same injuries – will they be able to work through them this time? Gilles’ performance in particular seemed to really suffer due to his shoulder injury.  I think it will be interesting to see who is able to soldier through the pressure of this season, and whose injuries really affect their performance negatively.

Court’s verdict: Melissa’s a good dancer – but she needs to shake off the “cheerleader-yness” and focus on ballroom technique.  Ditto for Tony – cut back on the high kicks & pirouttes and really drill that Latin technique into her. 

So what do you guys think? Is Melissa a contender…or is she still stuck in cheerleader mode?

September 5, 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 – Apolo Ohno Edition

Today we continue our series with season 4 winner Apolo Ohno – and if you’re still playing catch-up, be sure to check out our previous editions featuring Kelly Monaco, Emmitt Smith, Drew Lachey, & Joey Fatone 8-)

For Apolo’s best dance, I picked his samba – which I still think is the best samba from a contestant that we’ve ever seen on DWTS:

For his worst dance, I picked the ill-advised Pulp Fiction jive he & Julianne did:

I think the most obvious advantage that jumps out at me when I watch these videos is chemistry – Apolo & Julianne had FANTASTIC chemistry, and I think that helped carry them through week after week.  The question is: can he forge that same chemistry with Karina? If he can, then I think these two could be frontrunners this season.  Apolo’s obviously got some natural rhythm and is comfortable moving his body, so Karina’s definitely got something to work with.  However, Apolo’s Achilles’ heel (hehe) does seem to be really refined footwork – I saw instances in both his samba & his jive (ESPECIALLY his jive) where he just seems to put his feet wherever they feel comfortable, and the end result looks a bit confused and purposeless.  POINT YOUR TOES, APOLO! I also think his showmanship could use a little work – Apolo mentions in samba rehearsals that he’s used to keeping a “poker face” in speed skating, so it’s hard for him to really use his face to emote.  He did pretty well in season 4, but I still saw a few instances of “poker face” – especially if he wasn’t quite sure of what he was doing and was trying to regain his bearings…I noticed it in his jive, whenever he seemed to foul up.  With such big personalities like Joey & Kirstie around this season, I think Apolo is going to have to really work on projecting a BIG personality on the floor – he’s got the range of motion, now he just needs the range of personality :-) I also hope that Karina is able to strike a nice balance between dancing well and not outdancing Apolo – as much as I loved Julianne with Apolo, I do think there were times that she really outshined him, and I noticed it big time in their samba.  I do think Karina is a pro that is able to find that right balance, though, so I think that’s an advantage.

Court’s verdict: Definitely one to watch, especially if he can forge a good chemistry with Karina & clean up his footwork – and if he can bring enough personality to the table to compete with big personalities like Joey & Kirstie :-)

So what are your thoughts on Apolo? Does he have the juice to go all the way?

August 23, 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 – Joey Fatone Edition

Today I continue my series with season 4 runner-up Joey Fatone – for those who want to play catch-up, check out my previous editions featuring Kelly Monaco, Emmitt Smith, and Drew Lachey :-)

For Joey’s best dance, I picked his 2nd jive to “Jump, Jive, & Wail”:

And for his worst dance, I picked his 2nd cha-cha to “Groove is in the Heart”:

Without a doubt, Joey sure has got the showmanship portion of dancing down pat – to this day, I  still think he’s one of the most entertaining celebs that have ever graced the DWTS floor.  And he moves big – he always seemed to do a really good job of using the entire floor and stretching each step to its limit. However, the big caveat that often comes with moving big is moving sloppy – and I think Joey, being a bigger guy, sometimes loses a bit of technique & precision in the process of “moving big”.  I find it a bit interesting that he & Drew seem to have the opposite problem: Drew has the precision, but not the size & degree of motion; Joey has the size & degree of motion, but seems to lack the precision.  And unfortunatley, when it comes down to it, I think the judges will (or at least SHOULD) favor precision & technique over size & impact.  With strong technicians like Gilles in the competition, I think Joey’s going to have to work on really refining his movements, while not sacrificing the big entertainment value he brings to the stage.  I’m also noticing another possible problem – and I actually think the fault lies more with Kym: some of their choreography in their original season seems to favor style over substance.  I’m guessing that Kym was trying to really choreograph to Joey’s strengths as a showman, but upon close scrutiny, it seems like there’s a lot of “fluff” and not a whole lot of basic steps in some of their routines – I think they got called out for it big time in that 2nd cha-cha.  They may have been able to get away with excess “fluff” in their original season, but with so many talented, strong technicians this season, I don’t think they’re going to have any choice but to buckle down and give Len some good meat-and-potatoes choreography.

So now comes the obvious question: how is his time in the Vegas show going to give him an edge this season? Well I think obvious benefit is just being in the “swing” of being onstage – as I said in my post about Drew, I think anyone who has been performing on stage within the last year or so is probably going to have a bit of advantage in that they are still in the groove of performing, and are likely feeling confident in their stage presence..  Given that Joey has actually been doing ballroom for the past few months in the DWTS Vegas show, too, I daresay he is a lot less rusty than some of the others who haven’t done any dancing since their initial seasons.  In particular, he seems to have cleaned up his technique and become quite the lifter:

All in all, I think it will be a big advantage for Joey, given that it’s actually given him time to sharpen up his skills.  But I do see a few possible drawbacks, the biggest of which being burnout – Joey has already been dancing for a little over 3 months straight in the Vegas show, and although he seems to have a bit of a break between when the Vegas show wrapped earlier this month and when rehearsals begin in the next week or so, I think its entirely possible he may just get exhausted by the middle of the season.  We’ve seen how celebs meltdown after only a few weeks – can you imagine a few MONTHS? And keep in mind that the pace of the tv show is pretty breakneck compared to the Vegas show – Joey really just had to repeat the same routines night after night out there; now he’s gotta go back to learning & performing new ones (and performing them well!) in only a few days.  Keep in mind, too, that the Vegas show is a lot less “strictly ballroom” than the show – there was quite a bit of hip-hop, jazz, disco, and other genres thrown in out there.  It was what I like to call “watered-down ballroom” - and we all know that’s not Len’s cup of tea.  Will Joey be able to make the transition?

Court’s verdict: Joey will definitely be one to watch this season, but he’s going to have to clean up his technique quite a bit if he wants to be a real contender.  Kym is also going to have to focus on giving him routines with a lot of basic steps and without a ton of fluff, so they don’t get called out for lack of content.  Overall, though, I see him lasting quite awhile, and possibly even making it to the finale 8-)

So what are your thoughts on Joey? Big contender, or overrated?

August 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!

Random DWTS Trivia – Old School Latin Dancing: Yes, They Actually Danced Liked THAT!

We all marvel over the slick, complex moves and lightening-fast turns & spins we see from the pros on DWTS.  But as I mentioned in my last trivia post about Len, the way Latin is danced now is a far cry from how it looked back in the days of yore – and without saying too much, let’s just say that Latin ballroom has changed for the better since the days of Len ;-)

What has stayed the same? The timing of the dances, and some of the original steps have been adapted slightly to be a bit more impressive and a bit less…hokey.  :-) What is different? Pretty much everything else.  Case in point? Believe it or not, below is a cha-cha from the 1972 World Latin Champions:

I don’t know about you, but I am thoroughly titillated by those sweet moves…and those hot costumes :-P Notice how bouncy and campy everything is. If you’re in need of some more entertainment, I recommend grabbing yourself an adult beverage and taking in this clip of the professional samba round from the old BBC show Come Dancing back in the 80′s:

 Still craving some sweet samba jazz hands? How bout a kinder, gentler paso doble? A throughly UN-romantic rumba, complete with elevator muzak, perhaps? Look no further, because 1979 World Latin Champions Alan & Hazel Fletcher have got you covered:

 Amazing how a powder blue, bedazzled jumpsuit that would make Liberace green with envy can make the paso doble look so…sissyish.  :-) You know something is truly cheesy when, years later (in 2007), a current professional Latin couple pokes fun at the old style in their show dance – and everyone, including the commentators, has a good hearty laugh, because they all realize how silly they looked back in their heydey :-D

 I hope you’ve enjoyed this little Hump Day “blast from the past” – so the next time you find yourself complaining about a routine on the show looking dumb/hokey/boring/etc., just think: it could be worse…they could all still be dancing like this ;-)

July 11, 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!