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PureDWTS Exclusive! An Interview with Randall Christensen, Part I

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

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

At what age did you start designing?

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

Who were your mentors?

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

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

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

What types of fabrics are the best for ballroom costumes?

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

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

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

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

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

*photo courtesy ABC/Kelsey McNeal

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

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

*photo courtesy of ABC

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

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

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

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

Do you have an all-time favorite? 

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

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

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

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

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

*photo courtesy ABC/Adam Larkey

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

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

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

January 9, 2012 I Written By

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

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

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

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

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

10. Kyle Massey & Lacey Schwimmer, season 11

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

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

November 19, 2011 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, 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!

Dancing with the Stars Celebrities: “What Do You Mean, I’m A Ringer??” Part 1

This is the one issue that comes up over and over again when discussing DWTS. We see it in our comments; you see it tossed about on message boards like an accusation or castigation. Almost always it’s in reference to ALL of Derek’s partners, which is just ridiculous. Most of the male pros and a few of the female pros have had a ringer of one kind at one time or another – that’s just the way it goes. NO ONE has a ringer, or “dancer” every single time – that’s abundantly clear to anyone who engages their brain.  Frankly, if we didn’t have the occasional ringer and had a season of mediocre dancing, I think people would tune out very, very fast.  I don’t mind an amusing or talented ringer – what I DO mind is the revisionist history that follows a DWTS season where the accusations start to fly.  Even the mainstream media and certain pro dancers (cough-Louis-cough) – never very clever at the best of times – chimes in on this hue and cry.  It’s quite narrow minded. And it’s just not that simple – as I will show.  :-)

How do I define “ringer” – well, for me, it’s not so black and white. ALL kinds of people have advantages over other people going into the show that have NOTHING to do with dancing.  To isolate ONE positive attribute (dance experience) and ignore the others is too simplistic and narrow minded. There are also degrees of dance experience from someone who taught dance (Mya) to someone who was in a music group which performed a lot of choreography (Nicole, Lance, Sabrina, Mel B, etc.). Even college or professional cheerleaders fall into the ringer camp, albeit a bit lower on the sliding scale than your average boy bander. There is no denying that training to be a cheerleader and learning the choreo gives you a leg up (cough) on someone like Shannon Doherty or Tom Delay. But if you took dance when you were a little girl, prior to even being a teen ager? Give me a break.  We can certainly debate if there is a real difference between cheerleading and the Pussycat Dolls – but spare me the sermons on how Joanna took ballet until she was 11. If anyone is silly enough to point to that as an advantage – well then nearly ALL the female celebrities have that advantage. Not so.

But those are your ringers with dance experience – what about someone who comes on the show and you know instantly that they are going to win?? Wouldn’t they also be a ringer? I say absolutely. If you come on the show and you’re so beloved or popular (with the DWTS Demo) that everyone knows you’re going to win, then I say that’s a form of ringer all its own. Kristi, Shawn and Donny – all extremely popular athletes and entertainers and all nearly guaranteed a win. I say “nearly” because Shawn was nearly unseated by a hot, gorgeous, very talented dancer in Gilles Marini. On paper, however, Shawn was a shoe-in.  Evan Lysacek almost falls into this camp and I thought he would win his season – but he apparently burned a few bridges in his time with a potentially huge voting block of skating fans.  I would ordinarily put someone like Jennifer Grey in this category, but not this time, simply because her liabilities really did outweigh her popularity. Being age 50 is no small thing when it comes to the task of dancing on DWTS; add in the screws in her neck and the problems with her foot and you’ve got someone unlikely to actually win. That she did win is likely a testament to Derek’s ability to choreograph entertaining routines around a fairly limited amount of motion, compared to her competitors, most of which were at least 20 years her junior.  All that said, I did give her a low level ringer status due to the age and physical ailments offsets.  I also put KirstieAlley in this group at a lower level – she’s another older, beloved, iconic actress, although possibly not at the level of Jennifer Grey. Hard to say where to draw the line on that one, as she was older than Jennifer, but didn’t have the same physical ailments.

This is what I mean when I say all kinds of people have advantages (and in some cases huge disadvantages) coming into the show.  You don’t get to just point and scream “RINGER!!!” unless you’re a child who doesn’t know any better.  We’re going to use this blog to actually THINK about this. We’re going to discuss how the *disadvantages* a celebrity has have just as much impact on their chances of winning as their advantages do – no one is just a ringer in a vacuum. And we’re going to list all the pros and their partners, and where they fall on the sliding scale of “ringerdom”. :-)  We’re also going to discuss the difference between dance “experience” and dance “ability” because a lot of people seem to think the two things are interchangeable.  If you need Websters, this would be a good time to pull it out. :-) I’ll also talk about the difference between hindsight (all of Derek’s partners are dancers!!!), and who were actually likely to be good on paper going in. And who weren’t.

We’re going to start with the female pros, mainly because they are easier – and there are fewer true ringers. That will be in Part II – first, some notes on how I got to where I did on categorizing the dancers over the seasons.

Notes: Read more..

September 3, 2011 I Written By

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

DWTS13 Casting Rumors – The Typecasting of Season 13, Part I

It’s that time of year, again – time to take all the wacky rumors and all the wacky casting patterns we see from season to season and hypothesize who we might actually get to see :-) This year is interesting, in that we already definitely know one of the celebs, are fairly certain about two others, and have got definite suspicions about another two – almost takes a bit of fun out of the guessing, no? :-) But I’m sure there will be at least one celeb who’s name we haven’t heard – and at least one we’ve never heard of, too…thankfully, even unpredictability becomes predictable after awhile! But let’s get it on with it, shall we? Oh, and if you’re feeling nostalgic (and want to see how effective using these cast types as a template can be), check out the typecasting of season 10, season 11, and season 12 :-)

The Olympian

Previous examples: Kristi Yamaguchi, Shawn Johnson, Apolo Ohno, Natalie Coughlin, Misty May-Treanor, Maurice Greene, Louie Vito, Evan Lysacek

Advantages: The winningest of the 12 types, their obvious advantage is their athleticism – you won’t see these guys struggling with strength or endurance moves.  In addition, the same tireless work ethic that helped them medal in the Olympics will likely carry them through the toils of the competition. They also seem to be adored by the masses, as many are seen as “hero” figures – which translates into a formidable voting fanbase.

Disadvantages: For those specializing in sports that are less “artistic” (i.e. swimming, running, volleyball), it might be a bit hard to really get into the character of the dance and truly perform to the crowd.  Previously incurred injuries (or the fear of incurring an injury that might hinder their participation in subsequent competitions in their sport, a la Misty May-Treanor) may also slow them down & limit their mobility. Read more..

August 26, 2011 I Written By

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 22, 2011 I Written By

Just a typical, ordinary DWTS fan..

Dance of the Day… Let’s RUMBA!!

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

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

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

First up is……………….

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

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

Second up is…..

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

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

Third up is……

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

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

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

July 8, 2011 I Written By

Just a typical, ordinary DWTS fan..

Dance of the Day… Let’s compare Donny and Nicole!

It’s definitely getting more difficult in choosing my favorites! It’s been said over the seasons, that the quality of the dancing has been improving, as the seasons go on, and I am seeing that! What do you think? We’re almost done, and shortly, we’ll move on to compare other things, and then come back to this. I want everyone time to watch and vote for their favorites, so when we get through the 12 seasons, we’ll come back to finish. Meanwhile, if you’ve not watched and voted for your favorites, here’s what we’re doing…

We are watching our DWTS Champions on their first week’s dancing, and comparing our first impressions of them. So far, we’ve seen Kelly Monaco and Drew Lachey, Emmitt Smith and Apolo Anton Ohno, Helio Castroneves and Kristi Yamaguchi, and Brooke Burke and Shawn Johnson. Today, we will see Donny Osmond and Nicole Scherzinger, and then following, Jennifer Grey and Hines Ward.

When we’re done, I’ll move on for a time to allow people to vote in the above polls, and we can compare rumbas and foxtrots before coming back to here. We’ll take the 6 poll winners, and put them against each other, in 2 groups of 3, and we will watch their Week 5 dances. Then we’ll take the winner of each of those, and they’ll battle it out with their Freestyles! When I announce the winners, we’ll see some randomly selected dances that we’ve not reviewed yet. Does that make sense?

Anyway, onward we go! DONNY VS NICOLE!!!

Season 9 brought us Donny Osmond with his professional partner, Kym Johnson. Donny’s sister, Marie, was a contestant on Season 5, and she made it to 3rd place, and had the infamous doll dance. I had thought about using it on a day we were rewatching dances we didn’t want to relive, but instead, if you want to see it, just click the link. Donny had a show in Vegas with his sister, while he was also training and competing on DWTS.

DONNY AND KYM SEASON 9 WEEK 1, Foxtrot to All That Jazz.

Nicole Scherzinger came to us during a Season which brought us several competitors who all had the ability to win…. If they weren’t all competing against each other. However, her biggest competitor was herself, as she was the ultimate perfectionist. Tom has a great line, after the critiquing of Nicole and Derek, about parallel universes…. You’ll hear it when you watch. Bruno and Carrie Ann gave glowing critiques, while Len sat and picked it apart, showing the flaws…. I do think some critique is necessary, so that the celebrity can grow as a dancer, but couching it so that it doesn’t come across like they are a terrible dancer is important… But, Len obviously saw Nicole’s potential, and decided to make her work toward that.

NICOLE AND DEREK SEASON 10 WEEK 1, Viennese Waltz to Hold You In My Arms by Ray LaMontagne

So, which Week 1 dance did you like better? Donny or Nicole?

June 28, 2011 I Written By

Just a typical, ordinary DWTS fan..

Dance of the Day… Let’s compare Helio and Kristi!

Ah, Memories!!! One thing that I’ve noticed while watching older seasons of DWTS, is how much the JUDGES have changed! Or, NOT! They seem like the same people we see now on the judging panel, only….. Not as much! It’s like as the season passed, they’ve all become stronger versions of themselves, so that they can have the spotlight on them…. (Heidi’s Note: I’m still working on the series discussing the Judges and their “growth” or “devolution”, depending on your perspective, and Season 7 will be posted soon. Season 5 and Season 6 were posted during the last hiatus, if you want to catch up.)

We’ve been taking the time, and revisiting our twelve DWTS Champions on their first week of their Seasons. These were our first impressions that we had of them, and we’re comparing them, two at a time. Once we get through all 12 seasons, I’ve got a couple ideas rolling around inside my head. First, we saw Season 1’s Kelly Monaco and Season 2’s Drew Lachey, and you can see that post here. Next, we saw Season 3’s Emmitt Smith and Season 4’s Apolo Anton Ohno, and you can see that post here.

Onward we move and today we get to revisit our first impressions of Season 5’s Helio Castroneves, and Season 6’s Kristy Yamaguchi.

Helio’s professional partner for Season 5 was Julianne Hough, who had also won the previous season with Apolo Anton Ohno. He was the third athlete in a row to win DWTS, following Emmitt and Apolo. He’s the only race car driver that’s competed on DWTS, and had won the Indianapolis 500 twice at the time he competed. Since then, he’s added another Indy 500 win!

Kristy’s professional partner for Season 6 was Mark Ballas. She is an Olympic Gold Medalist in Women’s Figure Skating, and was one of those contestants where I was sure couldn’t be the age she said she was, she had to be younger. Yet, grow up she did, with a wonderful Professional Hockey player-husband, and the sweetest little kids….

HELIO CASTRONEVES AND JULIANNE HOUGH Season 5 Week 1. They danced a foxtrot to the TV Theme to Bewitched. This is the season where Samantha Harris took a few weeks off at the beginning of the season to bring her first daughter into the world, Drew Lachey took over guest host duties during her (way too brief) maternity leave.

KRISTI YAMAGUCHI AND MARK BALLAS Season 6 Week 1. I must apologize, because I’ve been misspelling her name, and I’m too lazy to go back and correct them all… Normally, misspelling names really bothers me. They danced a foxtrot, and the song isn’t in the info… (Heidi’s Note: Michael Buble’s “The More I See You” according to Wiki)

June 21, 2011 I Written By

Just a typical, ordinary DWTS fan..

DWTS Who Wore it Better? Part X – The Pre-Season 12 Edition!

So the official cast pictures were released on Thursday, and we could be like every other site and just post them for you to see…or we could have fun and do a new (long-awaited!) edition of Who Wore it Better? :-) Enjoy!

Battle of the hot pink, fringed cut-out Latin dress: Petra’s pre-season 12 photo shoot with Dmitry vs. Denise’s cha-cha with Maks in season 8

Courtney: It’s almost not fair to pit ANYONE against someone as gorgeous as Petra :-) And while I always thought Denise looked pretty awkward in every costume they put her in, Petra wears this one well – I think the color looks much more flattering on her that it does on Denise, and I love the loose, wavy hair and understated makeup.

Heidi: Well, Denise’s makeup is too over done when she’s wearing the dress – that was distracting to me. You can tell Petra is a model – she knows how to wear clothes. Conversely, Denise is an actress, NOT a model (or a dancer) and isn’t as comfortable in her skin in this sort of outfit. It shows.

The winner: Petra by a pose.

Battle of the white & black embroidered, ruffled “crotch doily” dress: Lacey’s pre-season 12 photo shoot with Mike vs. Lacey’s jive with Kyle in season 11

Heidi: You know this dress might be cute on someone else – but not many people. Julianne could probably wear it. But this is just not a flattering cut on Lacey and I don’t get why she insists on wearing it!! But forget about the dress…what the HELL is wrong with her damn hair!?!?! Good lord, you have hair and makeup people at your disposal and this is what you do? This is not “rebel”, this is…I hate to say trailer park is the first thing that came to mind!! Limp and lifeless. You look at pictures of Lacey with the very dark hair (which makes her eyes pop) and she looks gorgeous. I don’t get why a beautiful girl sabotages herself.

Courtney: *sigh* I have to wonder sometimes what the pros’ (or the costume department’s) motivations are for picking certain costumes for these shoots.  This is one of those times.  I always thought this costume was silly – I think someone mentioned the comically placed “crotch doilies” on it, and it just kinda reminded me of something a circus performer would wear.  As for the hair and makeup – oy.  If I hated Lacey’s bleach blonde hair last season, then I downright LOATHE this dark roots, light ends ‘do she’s rocking now.  Her makeup also seems a little drab in this photo shoot – I kinda liked the “pop” that the bright red lipstick gave her face when she wore this costume the first time.

The winner: Ain’t no winners here, move along.

 

Battle of the white-fringed, asymmetrical Latin dress: Kendra’s pre-season 12 photo shoot with Louis vs. Edyta’s cha-cha with Aiden in season 10

Courtney: It’s hard for anyone to hold a candle to Edyta in pretty much any costume, but Kendra gives her a good run for her money here! Both ladies look very pretty, but I think the white is a bit more striking against Edyta’s darker hair & skin.  I kinda wish they had given Kendra a more textured ‘do…maybe some loose waves or something to frame her face better than this straight hair.  And what’s with this pose they’ve got her doing? Does she have to pee? Or did she forget to put on undies before leaving the house this morning?

Heidi: That’s the Playboy pose. You can take the Bunny out of the mansion but you can’t take the….wait. You can take the Bunny out of Playboy but you can’t take the playboy out of the bunny. Happy Hour wuz gud. Anyway, Edyta wins on skin tone.

Courtney: I guess we should also point out that Julianne actually wore this dress recently for she & Derek’s exhibition performance in Hong Kong.  Special thanks to Lori for pointing it out :-)

The winner: Edyta by a spray tan.

 

Battle of the black lace, off-the-shoulder asymmetrical hem tango dress: Wendy’s pre-season 12 photo shoot with Tony vs. Niecy’s Argentine tango with Louis in season 10

Courtney: Eh…this seemed like a bit of a cop-out on the part of the costume folks.  “Gee, we’ve got a curvy, outspoken black gal this season.  Let’s put her in a costume that another equally curvy, outspoken black gal wore 2 seasons ago!” Kinda seemed like they were typecasting a bit with this one.  I didn’t love the dress on Niecy, and I don’t love the dress on Wendy.  I think I would have rather seen her in something with a little more impact – they’ve got the other gals wearing hot pink and bright white, why not Wendy?  I guess if I had to chose, I would have to give this one to Niecy – her overall look seems a bit more put-together.

Heidi: I dunno, I think the cut of the dress works better on someone taller, like Wendy. Either way, I don’t like that cut high at the hip and then long in front.

The winner: A rough tie – Wendy wins for fit, Niecy wins for ensemble.  But neither is perfect.

Battle of the sparkly, silver-ruffled rumba dress: Karina’s pre-season 12 photo shoot with Ralph vs. Karina’s rumba with Aaron in season 9

Courtney: This dress came from the season where Karina seemed to be having a love affair with ruffles – almost every costume she wore seemed to have them! Some of you may also recall this dress as the one she was wearing when Aaron had his post-rumba meltdown in the confessional :-) Anywho…I guess it’s kind of a pretty dress.  Not necessarily my favorite rumba dress (there have been some gorgeous ones over the years), but it looks nice on her. Funny how it almost looks like it’s pale blue when she wore it in the rumba, and it clearly looks silvery-white here.  Gotta love the magic of photo shoot lighting. I gotta give this one to photo shoot Karina for the oh-so-dramatic poses :-)

Heidi: I think this dress is very pretty – but she wore it for a Rumba?? Seems very strange for a Rumba dress – of course, it was a Rumba with Aaron, so that could explain it. :-)

The winner: Photo shoot Karina…because the only drama comes from her pose, rather than her unstable partner :-)

 

Battle of the hot pink-fringed Latin dress: Chelsea’s pre-season 12 photo shoot with Mark vs. Lacey’s Team Kristi cha-cha with Kyle in season 11

Heidi: Chelsea is darling. And too tall for Mark – I wish she was dancing with Derek. :-) I smell future showmance. And exploding Bristol/Mark shipper brains. :-) She looks great in this dress and is confident enough to wear it well. I predict top 3 with these two – either that or a shocking elimination. I still don’t like Lacey’s blonde hair, so I have to go with Chelsea.

Courtney: Ok, Chelsea may be the cutest thing EVER :-) Out of all the celeb ladies, I think she looks the best in the costume they chose for her.  Love the flirty pink color, the fringe, and her adorable blonde bob.  Just darling. Lacey looks alright – definitely not the worst costume she wore last season, but the hot pink with the bleach blonde hair just looks kinda…Barbie-ish.

The winner: Mark, no question. *drum riff* :-)

 

Battle of the black tuxedo-inspired dress w/ruffled neckline: Kym’s pre-season 12 photo shoot with Hines vs. Kym’s freestyle with Donny in season 9

Courtney: At first blush, this may not even look like the same costume – but if you look at it a bit more closely, you’ll see that they just removed a lot of the tuxedo details, slapped on some ruffles, and turned it into a simple black Latin outfit.  I think she also wore it for the opening pro dance for the season 11 finale. I kinda like the simplicity of it now, without all the cheesy tuxedo stuff – although the bowtie in the back is a bit odd.  Whichever way you look at it, it makes her legs look miles long!

Heidi:I dunno, I have to go with the cheesy tuxedo version mainly because I don’t like the black ruffles at the neckline or the way it’s cut around her legs in the other version. Plus she’s really rockin’ out the hair in the tuxedo version – she makes the best, fierce dance faces ever, too – as we’ve mentioned before. :-) So, I have to go with the in action shot versus the posed one.

The winner: Cheesy tuxedo Kym, for all-around fierceness!

 

Battle of the white-fringed, sparkly-neckline Latin dress: Chelsie’s pre-season 12 photo shoot with Romeo vs. Chelsie’s cha-cha with Jake in season 10

Courtney: I actually really like this dress on Chelsie, even if I never did quite understand how it fit in with the “Risky Business” theme of she & Jake’s cha-cha.  And I dig the fiercer, more mature look she seems to be sporting this season – I like the straight hair better than the crimpy ‘do they gave her the first time around, and I’m glad they 86’ed the long black gloves.  Only one complaint: don’t she & Kendra kinda look like the Bobsy Twins? White, tiered-fringe Latin costumes with rhinestone trim & long, straight blonde hair.  Wish they had put one or the other in a colored costume, just to set them apart…both are gorgeous.

Heidi: For it to fit the Risky Business theme wouldn’t she also have to be wearing a man’s dress shirt?? Or am I remembering that movie wrong?? And doesn’t it always seem to come back to hair with us when we’re talking dresses?? :-) And yes, her dress is too close to Kendra’s – but I don’t think it’s wardrobe’s fault. There is video of Derek picking what he wants to wear and I see no reason to think that the celebs don’t go through the rack and pick what they want. The only thing is, I think they went with a color tone last season so they may have only brought clothes that went well together. Anyway, I’m with you on this one.

Courtney: You’re remembering the right movie – although Rebecca DeMornay never wore a men’s shirt in Risky Business.  She did, however, wear a pretty sexy black trenchcoat & matching fedora…kinda wish they had went with that to maintain the movie theme, but unfortunately I think the men’s-shirt-over-tightie-whities look is so iconic that no one would have remembered the trenchcoat/fedora ensemble. FAIL.

The winner: Photo shoot Chelsie, for not having Fake Jake as an accessory.

 

Battle of the beaded black-mesh Latin dress with the plunging neckline: Anna’s pre-season 12 photo shoot with Sugar Ray vs. Kym’s cha-cha with the Hoff in season 11

Courtney: I seriously think this might be my favorite Latin dress on the show, EVER.  Kym was a total bombshell in this getup – the long legs, the smokey eyes, the sexy bedhead hair, the great boobs – I wanted to be Kym in that outfit.  Minus the whole having to dance with the Hoff part, of course – that was painful to watch. Anna looks great in it, but as I always say, it’s hard to out-fox Kym & her awesome boobage.

Heidi:HEY!! I was gonna use “awesome boobage”. :-) I think we’ve been blogging together a long time. :-) Gotta agree with you. Not only awesome boobage, but better skin tone and hair for that particular dress.

Courtney: Indeed we have, dearie :-) “Awesome boobage” is also a memorable line from an episode of South Park where Kenny hallucinates about boobs.  But on a slightly off-topic note, I think (don’t quote me on this, because I haven’t done the research) this is the first time that a female pro has worn a costume for a pre-season shoot that was originally worn by another female pro.  For the promo shoots, the pros seem to just pick out costumes they themselves have worn in the past and really liked…or that a celeb has worn in the past.  Wonder how/why Anna ended up with Kym’s costume from last season…did she just not have any black costumes of her own to wear?

The winner:Kym’s awesome boobage.

 

Battle of the short purple Latin dress with black lace overlay: Cheryl’s pre-season 12 photo shoot with Chris vs. Cheryl’s “Toy Story” paso doble to Gipsy Kings with Tony in season 10

NOTE: We searched high and low for a decent quality photo of Cheryl in the Gipsy Kings performance – to no avail.  Screen-capping was equally unsuccessful. So while a side-by-side comparison is impossible, you can check the dress out in action on YouTube. And here’s a special shoutout to our reader Ryan, who pointed this one out to us when we were stumped on where we had seen this dress before :-)

Heidi: I like it, it’s cute – I think Cheryl really likes the lace overlay deal though.

Courtney: It’s a cute dress – but I’m not wild about it.  Kinda seems similar to a lot of other dresses Cheryl has worn.  I do think it’s funny that Cheryl’s pose for this season’s promo photo is identical to last season’s.  I guess it’s become her signature pose,  now that she’s gotten extensions :-)

The winner: Ummm…Cheryl.

 

And a special note on Kirstie’s dress…

As far as we (and our readers, who’s help we solicited) can tell, the dress Kirstie is wearing has never been worn before on the show – or was worn so long ago that no one can remember when.  If you think otherwise, and can provide the specific instance of when this dress was worn (i.e. “Cheryl wore this for her paso doble with Maurice in season 7”) or, better yet, a picture of when this dress was worn, we will post it in a future edition of “Who Wore it Better?” and give you credit :-) But until then, enjoy some commentary from Heidi & I…

Courtney: This dress looks comfortable.  Kinda like a nightgown.  I’d wear it!

Heidi: Definitely straight out of the boudoir – and that’s where I’d wear it too. :-)

Alright, folks – thus ends another edition of “Who Wore it Better?”.  Hope you enjoyed Heidi & I’s warm-up round of snark before we resume the Cheesecake Awards :-) So who do you guys think will be this season’s fashion plate? And who will be this season’s fashion victim?

March 6, 2011 I Written By

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

Dancing with the Stars – History of the Judges Scores, Part 2

Part 2 in my series about the Judges Scoring History covers season 6 of Dancing with the Stars; the season of Kristi Yamaguchi and Mark Ballas (read Part 1 here). Prior to re-watching the season, I remembered it as a season in which Kristi dominated. I don’t think, anymore, that that is necessarily the case. She is still probably the biggest ringer the show has ever cast, when looking at it from a fanbase AND experience point of view, but she didn’t dominate the show in like I remember. I also never got the feeling – like I did with Nicole – that the judges were purposely underscoring her in order to make it look more like a horse race. In fact, I have very few gripes with the judging in this season, period.

Here were the scores from Week 5, onward:

Season 6 Weekly Scores (Part I)

Celebrity Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8
Kristi 29 (Rumba) 30 (Jive) 26 (V. Waltz) 29 (Quickstep)
28 (Cha Cha) 26 (Samba)
Jason 27 (Rumba) 24 (Cha Cha) 29 (Quickstep) 29 (Tango)
26 (Paso Doble) 23 (Samba)
Christian 23 (Rumba) 27 (Foxtrot) 25 (V. Waltz) 28 (Tango)
21 (Samba) 29 (Mambo)
Marissa 24 (Samba) 26 (V. Waltz) 27 (Tango) 25 (Foxtrot)
25 (Rumba) 25 (Mambo)
Mario 27 (Samba) 28 (Rumba) 24 (Foxtrot) 27 (V. Waltz)
27 (Mambo) 26 (Jive)
Shannon 23 (Samba) 24 (Rumba) 27 (Tango)
24 (Rumba)
Marlee 22 (Samba) 21 (Mambo)
Priscilla 21 (Rumba)

Season 6 Weekly Scores (Part II)

Celebrity Week 9 Week 10 Week Finale
Kristi 29 (Tango) 30 (Cha Cha) 30 (Jive)
28 (Jive) 30 (Freestyle)
Jason 28 (Foxtrot) 24 (Cha Cha) 30 (Quickstep)
27 (Paso Doble) 27 (Freestyle)
Christian 27 (V.Waltz) 26 (Cha Cha)
29 (Samba) 26 (Freestyle)
Marissa 26 (Quickstep)
26 (Rumba)

– Week 5 – The judges essentially raved about Mario and Kristi, while all the rest got constructive criticism. I think the judges gave Marissa an accurate score, but were quite harsh on Priscilla and Shannon. Both of them, in addition to Christian, were underscored, particularly when compared to Marissa. Christian, frankly, was robbed. They gave the encore to Kristi, but I was shocked to realize that, IMO, the best dance of the night belonged to Edyta and Jason.

– Week 6 – Here we see, again, a bit of over-scoring – Christian had been in the bottom 2 the previous week, so this week he gets raves on a dance that clearly seemed rushed to me. Again, Mario and Kristi get raves, and Marissa gets handled with kid gloves. Marissa isn’t a “bad” dancer, per se, but she isn’t as good as Shannon or Pricilla. I often think that if you dance better than the judges expect, you get better scores than people who danced better – if those people are expected to dance better. Follow me? Anyway, Mario would have gotten a higher score if not for the lift police. I don’t disagree with the judges and Shannon’s hips (she has none, lucky beyotch), but the words exchanged with Bruno were quite harsh – the look of utter shock on Shannon’s face was hard to look at and that shock is a likely catalyst for what comes later…but more on that later.

– Week 7 – This is the week where everyone has one good dance and one not so good dance. And that pretty much sums it up. I would say there’s a trend between this season and Season 5, but it can likely be chalked up to the first week with two whole dances. The only scoring that impressed me as off (other than Marissa) was Jason. As much as I loved him, I thought he was slightly overscored in his quickstep. I just don’t get the love affair they have with Marissa. I mean, she’s not a “bad” dancer, but I don’t think she’s always worthy of the scores she gets. I think she might be getting the “personality” score.

– Week 8 – A week later than Season 5, we hear the old mantra of “that was good, but not quite good enough for heading into the semi-finals. Marissa got it, as did Jason on his second dance. Christian did not get the talk, he actually got raves and this was the week after he tore his tendon in his arm. He actually did very well, but I thought that he was not as good as Mario who was scored lower. Kristi got her usual raves although she and Mario both got some flack for their second dances. Kristi because her Samba was “awkward and out of control” – and I absolutely agreed with that assessment. WAY too much stuff in that dance. Mario’s feet were apparently bad or “rough” – but still, better than Christian. While I agreed with Jason’s critiques, there is no way he was 3 points behind Kristi in the second dance. As for Marissa, she is far below the other dancers in terms of quality.

– Week 9 – Marissa gets a break (a little) on the scores, much like the semi-final ease up in Season 5. She still gets a good bit of criticism (lack of body content in hold, missed leap on the run), including the “It’s not a semi-final dance” for the second one. But her quickstep was pretty good, so I can see the improvement in score. On the other hand, Kristi, Christian and Jason all get basically rave reviews with minor critiques thrown in. Kristi got the “too hectic” from Len on her Tango (agreed) and the “hair out of sync” from Carrie Ann on her Jive (agreed) – which was really Mark out dancing her a bit, like he has a tendency to do with all his partners on Jive. Christian was “occasionally flatfooted” on his Viennese Waltz. I take it back, Jason was not critiqued at all and in my notes I have the words “slightly over rated” for his Paso Doble. That’s okay, because I have “underscored” next to his Foxtrot. :-)

This is a random note, but I noticed that Marissa got harder dances, while Kristi got dances that were perfect for her. The dances on this night were determined by “random draw” and I always wonder about those and if they are REALLY random. At the end of the night I also felt that Jason out danced Kristi, even though she beat him by two points.

– Week 10 – Jason and Christian are pretty much left in Kristi’s dust. She is the most consistent and technically superior of the three so that’s no big thing. Not much point in discussing the scoring, although I will say that Christian’s injury does catch up with him – I didn’t get the feeling there was underscoring going on to prop up Kristi. As for Jason – the Cha Cha was clearly not his dance, especially not in a “cha cha challenge” where they all dance to the same song one after the other. Not that Kristi needed propping. I predicted as soon as her name was announced that she would win. She’s *Kristi Yamaguchi* after all.

Season 6 Summary – On finale night, Christian is announced as 3rd place before there is anymore dancing. After that, both Kristi and Jason are given perfect 30’s – pretty safe, since Kristi is still 9 points ahead. I didn’t note whether I found Jason’s score to be valid or not, since it really didn’t matter at that point. No one is going to over come a 9 point lead against Kristi. That’s not to say the scores weren’t valid – they were. I had very few problems with how this season went down. No real surprises. No shocks. They did make a point, from time to time of saying that a dance wasn’t up to par for a given point in the season – which is how it should be.

Random Observations:

  • Christian and Jason’s bromance is the sweetest thing about this season.
  • Kristi wasn’t the phenom that I remember her to be. She’s very, VERY good, but I actually enjoyed Christian and Jason more, from an entertainment standpoint.
  • Week 8 this season was the first non-bottom 2 reveal.  I’m waiting to see what season they do away with it altogether and if it becomes obvious WHY they do it.
  • Len did his Master Class with the remaining couples in Week 9 – I had forgotten how hilarious he can be. This one ends with him in a limo with Kym. :-)
  • Mark DIDN’T have polka dots in Kristi’s 1st Jive costume other than her hair bow – yes, you know this is remarkable if you’ve been paying attention. He did succumb to the polka dots for their jive in the semis.
  • Derek hurts his neck, then gets food poisoning, then has a meltdown with Shannon the confessional – who was saying he’s never been challenged?? :-) Anyway, the meltdown – they apologized over and over and over and both seemed to regret it. Somehow, that got lost in the discussions of the subject well after the fact.
  • This season had one of the great Pro Dances that seem to have faded away in the seasons since.
  • February 27, 2011 I Written By

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