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DWTS 15, Week 3 – Power Rankings

Well, it was a pretty loose definition of “Iconic Dance Week” – it was really more like “Pick an Iconic Dance with music you like and just reuse that” week.  There were gimmicks galore, and the judges giving quite possibly the MOST crack-addled scores I’ve ever seen – so basically, enough to give me a headache…which didn’t help other things going on in my household tonight.  Oh well…I’ll get on with it, so I can hopefully get it over with soon…

1.) Shawn & Derek – Rules be damned – I like this routine, dammit! And just as I suspected, Len backpedaled on his challenge to the couples to “push the envelope”, and docked them points for breaking hold…fickle much? Oh well – this was fun, high-energy, had a lot of great technique, and I thought Shawn & Derek appropriately fulfilled Len’s request to “show us thing we’ve never seen before”.  The trampolines enhanced the routine, rather than detracting from it – which is more than I can say for some of the other couples’ routines.  Overall, I think the judges must be getting a pretty decent share of votes, because the judges will gush about how great their routine is – and then will score is relatively harshly.  They must not be too afraid of her being a shock elim…but this crazy low-balling has GOT TO STOP before someone good is shockingly eliminated.

2.) Apolo & Karina – Best routine of the night for me, yet again – and yet again, GROSSLY underscored.  Seriously, WTF does Apolo have to do to get a decent score from the Three Stooges???  Balance a ball on his nose while doing the samba? Juggle flaming batons while holding Karina in a star lift? This is getting BEYOND ridiculous.  Apolo & Karina danced a foxtrot that was about as close to perfect as anyone got tonight - no fumbling, perfect timing, beautiful lines, smoldering chemistry, and an intriguing concept & choreography – and they got the same score as a crazy desperate guy that hung from the ceiling like Tinkerbell, a girl who dances about as delicately as a Mack truck, and a guy who almost dropped his partner.  Oh, and only 1/2 a point more than a guy who brought a donkey as a prop.  I feel like I’m taking crazy pills, people!!! Like Shawn, the only thing I can think of is that they are see Apolo as such a threat (between his dancing & his fanbase) that they’re trying to handicap him a bit by underscoring him.  I guess you can consider this my official endorsement of Apolo & Karina as the ones to beat this season – I’ll toss a few votes Drew & Helio’s way this week, but after they’re gone? It’s all Team OhYes for me… 8-)

3.) Kelly & Val – I gotta say – Kelly is doing FAR better than I would have expected.  Obviously the chemistry with Val is there ;-), but for the first half of the routine, I actually believed Kelly as a dancer – she was steady on her turns, was moving big, and had great musicality.  Then about halfway through the routine, reality kinda kicked in and Kelly seemed to lose focus – and that’s when some of the wobbling began.  I think she may have gotten a little dizzy trying to spot her turns (and it was actually a pretty damn good attempt), and never quite recovered from that – she seemed to get a little off-time and disoriented, and although she did a good job of soldiering on, she never seemed to regain the confidence and groove she had in the first half of the routine.  Overall, I liked it – but I think Kelly’s got some serious work to do before she actually deserves a 27.  I’m wondering if Kelly’s not quite generating the buzz they expected her to – and thus they’re trying to give her a leg up.  Guess I just can’t fathom how a routine that got that sloppy scored higher than the two best routines of the night for me.  I like Kelly, but that was overscored.

4.) Melissa & Tony – I do have to commend these two on one thing – they did a lot of basic samba steps, and also managed to pick a theme that didn’t seem to steal focus away from their actual dance.  And really, I liked the routine, overall – Melissa’s legs looked great, the energy was high, and I feel like it was a nice homage to JR’s samba.  However – Melissa still seems to move really softly to me.  She was shaking it – but she seemed to be shaking it GENTLY.  And her arms, while pretty, didn’t really seem that impactful.  So at the end of the day, I’m just kinda left without a whole lot to say about these two – other than the fact that they, too, were overscored, and maybe aren’t getting the love the judges feel they deserve…hence the cushy score to shield them a bit from elimination.  Another couple that I don’t really have any beef with – but I just can’t really get excited about, either.

5.) Sabrina & Louis – As expected, Sabrina hit every step with a sledgehammer in this paso doble – and I think she may have backslid in week 1 territory a bit, when she was hitting everything so hard that she actually got a little off-balance.  There were a couple steps that came out looking kind of wonky, and I don’t know if Sabrina just didn’t hit them right, or if they were just odd to begin with.  I was actually a little underwhelmed by the choreography, on the whole – Sabrina was hitting it hard and with a lot of attack, but the steps themselves were just…meh.  I feel like she could have handled something quite a bit more intricate, and instead Louis gave her stuff that just felt more kindergarten-y to me.  Relative to everyone else tonight, I actually think Sabrina was scored about right – and I think she ought to be safe from tomorrow’s double chop-chop. But Louis has got to reign in all that energy she dances with…ooh wee.

6.) Gilles & Peta – Now for a couple that I must CONDEMN instead of commend for their choice of theme – ok, was it just me, or did the bit with Gilles suspended above the dance floor have absolutely NOTHING to do with the tango that followed, and just kinda looked odd & out-of-place? It was a stunt for stunt’s sake – and I hate those.  Add to that the fact that the choreography of the tango was just kinda ho-hum & ordinary for me, and Gilles was just being kind of a d-bag again, and I’m left unimpressed by this one.  Gilles should be frustrated – with himself, because that desperation to win is seriously starting to mess with his actual dancing.  And he should be happy that the judges were feeling rather benevolent tonight, because I really would have given this routine more like a 23 or 24.  But I did see a glimmer of hope tonight: the dew seems to be wearing off the rose a bit where Gilles is concerned, for the judges.  They seemed less hesitant to critique him tonight than they did in weeks 1 & 2, and I think he may have realized he was getting a little carried away.  Or at least I hope he realized he was getting carried away…

7.) Kirstie & Maks - Sorry, but as highly amused as I was to see Maks doing the Mick Jagger chicken strut around the ballroom in some absurdly tight pants and a wig that would make the Beegees jealous, I found that the real star of this routine was Maks – which kind of defeated the purpose of the celeb being the focal point.  :-) Maybe Kirstie wanted it that way, perhaps to detract from the fact that she really wasn’t moving much at all – but I just kind of found the whole thing to be more style than substance.  I think part of the appeal of the original was that it was a terrible dance, but Carson did it with such gusto and personality that it became a showstopper.  This…was less of a train wreck, but felt a lot more low-energy, too.  They weren’t messing anything up, and everything was on-time…but it just felt half-assed to me.  Like they were dancing it for camera blocking instead of the actual performance.  Was it fun? Sure…but I was just left kinda wanting more.  Kirstie’s more than likely got the votes to survive tomorrow’s elimination, but I think she should really start focusing more on the content of her routines…because at this point, I feel like Bristol actually has more difficult steps than she does.  Yikes.

8.) Emmitt & Cheryl – For someone that came out as strong as he did the first week, I feel like the Emmitt we saw then has been replaced by a much lower-budget generic one…that hasn’t had the same zing the past two weeks.  I guess this routine was kind of fun to watch…in the same semi-trainwrecky way that Kirstie’s was.  But like Kirstie, I just feel like Emmitt’s not quite operating at 100% – he’s having fun, and he’s not really doing BAD, per se, but he’s also just not up to par with the likes of Shawn, Apolo, Sabrina, or even Gilles.  I think the troupe guys at the table in the background were more of a distraction than an enhancement, unfortuantely (expect to see them in the cheese…fer reals), and they actually seemed to be more energetic than Emmitt himself was.  But I did get kind of a kick out of the pencil slide he did at the end :-P Do I think Emmitt’s safe this week? Yeah.  Is he living up to the hype I saw about him in the pre-season? NO WAY.  He, like Kirstie, also needs to step it up if he wants to stand a chance up against the powerhouses this season. Charm will only take him so far!

9.) Bristol & Mark – For as terrible as their rehearsal package was (and how dumb they were for picking the famed “futuristic paso doble” to recreate) – I actually don’t think this was the worst routine of the night, in terms of technique.  I think Kirstie & Emmitt (and maybe Helio) have that one covered.  When Bristol’s actually trying (and NOT breaking rules), she’s actually not bad – I felt like she moved more than both Kirstie & Emmitt, and with more conviction.  But man – after seeing that package, the mood on the dance floore between Bristol & Mark was positively CHILLING. As in “I don’t even want to look at you, get this f%$ker away from me!” chilling.  And unfortunately, I think that may have negated really any positives they had in terms of technique - even though they were chess pieces and were supposed to be at war, the mood didn’t feel warlike & aggressive to me…it felt sullen and detatched.  All that aside – I’m left a bit uncertain about how the big blowup is going to affect Bristol & Mark’s chances of surviving the elim…if it even affects it at all.   Part of me thinks it may actually garner some sympathy votes – part of me hopes it turned enough people off of Bristol completely, so that she tumbles into the bottom 2.  But I’m preparing myself to see her sullen face yet again next week – although I’m hoping that whoever picks her dance sticks her with jive.  Mwahahaha…

10.) Helio & Chelsie – Another couple that should thank their lucky stars that the judges were feeling benevolent tonight – although in the end, I doubt it’s going to matter much, since it’s a double elim tomorrow night and I’m pretty sure these two will make a repeat appearance in the bottom 2.  Helio’s a complete joy to watch – that big goofy grin as he’s bouncing around in his zoot suit just makes me all warm & fuzzy inside :-D But on a night where everyone was pulling out all sorts of bells & whistles & crazy choreo, is a “just ok” quickstep with pretty safe choreography (and a rather noticeable gaffe) going to be enough to keep him safe? I don’t know.  He might get a bit of a surge in votes from his appearance in the bottom 2 last week, but I’m not sure it will be enough to keep him out of the bottom 2.  I’m leaning towards no, and that makes me sad :-( But I think Helio has had the right attitude about this season – have as much fun as possible and don’t hone in too hard on the win.  You listening, Gilles?

12.) Drew & Anna – I think this is one couple that just kinda got dealt a crap hand this whole season – not much love from the judges, some chemistry issues, and just some bad logistics (running order, music, etc.) I think tonight was a bad night to go first – even though I generally enjoyed their cha-cha, and liked that they didn’t seem to let the props dominate it.  Drew did get a little bit sloppy at times, and I think he & Anna may have gotten out-of-sync on some of the open choreography, but I definitely like it more than at least 3 of the other routines I saw tonight.  But in the end, will it really matter? Doubtful, considering that 3 of the 4 couples comprising the bottom 2 in the first two weeks were “middle of the road” couples that did neither good nor bad – and tonight, Drew got kinda low-balled.  At this point, I think he may be a bit out of his element – and maybe it’s time for him to go.  I still think there are 2 (maybe 3) other contestants that should be leaving BEFORE him, but I’m getting to the point where I’d hope that his scores would be improving a bit more.  Oh well – it’s been fun, Drew.  You seem to have brought out a more laid-back Anna :-)

So what did you guys think of “Iconic Dances” night? Love it? Hate it? Who’s going home???

October 8, 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 – Sabrina Bryan Edition

Let’s continue on our journey through this season’s couples today with a look at the fan-appointed 13th contestant – Sabrina Bryan.  And if you want to refer to my previous editions of the series, check out the Helio Castroneves edition – there are links to all the previous posts at the top.  :-)

I picked Sabrina & Mark’s perfect-scoring paso doble as her best dance:

And as her worst dance, I picked her foxtrot, which was the dance that ultimately sent her home:

Echoing Len’s sentiments after Sabrina’s foxtrot, the thing that jumps out at me in both dances is that Sabrina just hits everything so HARD – which is sometimes good (in dances like the paso doble & tango), but can often be bad (in slower, more fluid dances like the foxtrot).  The impact she gives each line & step seems to be a product of her hip-hop training from the Cheetah Girls, possibly mixed with some jazz/Broadway musical-style training.  If having really sharp, flashy hands is considered “jazz hands”, then I think Sabrina might have an entire jazz body – which could be problematic.  Obviously it’s a huge advantage in very aggressive dances like the paso doble (which is why I think her paso doble is her best dance), but when you’ve got a dance like the foxtrot that is supposed to be slick & fluid, and you’re hitting each line with the force of a sledgehammer – it’s time to dial back the aggression.  If she can overcome that, she’s obviously got some good musicality and stage presence for Louis to work with…but the question is: will he know how best to utilize it? Even in Louis’ stronger seasons (like Kelly Osbourne’s), I find that he often doesn’t seem to know quite how to choreograph to his partner’s strengths and weaknesses – and even though Sabrina might be his strongest partner yet, it won’t mean anything if he doesn’t know how to tap into that talent.

So obviously, like Joey, one thing that may give Sabrina an edge in this season is the time she’s spent in the Vegas show prior to now – she’s been dancing for 3 months already.  Will it help? Well…I’d say yes & no.  I’ve said it before, but I think anyone that’s been doing any kind of onstage performing the past year or so will likely have a bit of an edge, just due to their performance skills not getting rusty.  However, as with Joey, I think Sabrina spent a good deal of time in Vegas doing stuff that wasn’t “strictly ballroom” – she did quite a bit of more jazzy, hip-hop influenced stuff, and even her paso doble with Ryan DiLello felt a little watered down to me.  Is Vegas really going to help when it comes to remembering the finer points of samba & foxtrot? Probably not.  And you also have to keep in mind that Sabrina was doing the same routines, night after night – if they looked fabulous, it was because she had had weeks to perfect them.  Will she be able to adjust to back to the breakneck pace of the tv show, where she only has a few days to learn a dance? 

Court’s verdict: Sabrina’s got potential – she’s a good dancer and a good showman.  But if she wants to be a contender, she needs to soften her lines, and make sure she’s “strictly ballroom” – no hip-hop or jazz infusion.  And Louis will have to deliver some great choreography to really make her stand out.

What are your thoughts on Sabrina? Is this her season to win, or could it just be a repeat of season 5?

August 30, 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 – Drew Lachey Edition

So far, we’ve taken a look at both Kelly Monaco & Emmitt Smith’s original seasons on DWTS.  Today, we backtrack a bit to take a look at Drew’s original season :-)

For Drew’s best dance, I waffled back & forth between he & Cheryl’s tango & paso doble…but I ultimately picked their famous “Thriller” paso doble, as I think it best shows off how Drew was the total package of skill & showmanship:

And while I noticed that Drew & Cheryl didn’t really have any truly terrible dances in their original season, per se, I ended up picking their week 1 cha-cha as their worst dance, because Drew looks a bit awkward and unsure of what to do with his hands:

Ohhh, how I DON’T miss the days before the show began broadcasting in HD :-P Once again, I’m struck by the same thing I see when watching Emmitt & Kelly’s dances: the quality of dancing on the show has improved drastically since the first few seasons. Even though I think Drew was much better than Kelly & Emmitt from a technical perspective, I still think he’s going to be hard-pressed to match up with the skill of Joey or Gilles (two guys who didn’t even win their respective seasons), right out of the gate.  I also think the choreography back then wasn’t as good as it is now – and that could prove problematic for all 3 of the early winners (Kelly, Drew, & Emmitt), as the pros have all stepped their game up quite a bit since those seasons.  It could be a bit jarring for them to go from easily handling the choreography on their own seasons, to having to fight tooth and nail to just get a decent score each week of the all-star season, with the bar being raised so much.  On the plus side, Drew seems to have a good deal of “attack” to his dancing – he isn’t hesitant or wishy-washy, and goes for everything 100%.  Seems very confident out on the floor, and doesn’t seem to have any glaring timing issues.  But man – I had forgotten how short Drew is.  He moves “big” for his size, and does seem to extend his limbs impressively far, given his stature – but I’m picturing him next to the very willowy Gilles, who had quite possibly the most fantastic extension in his arms & legs of any guy I’ve ever seen on the show (except maybe Roshon, but I swear that boy was made of rubber!)…and I’m just imagining that poor Drew is just not going to measure up, no matter how far he stretches.  Not his fault – but it’s unfortunately the hand he was dealt by nature.  Part of me thinks he may have been physically better matched with Chelsie, since she would have given him an extra 2″ of leeway, but I do think he may actually have an advantage with Anna – these two seem to have really hit the ground running with “getting themselves out there” since the announcement of the cast.  They are tweeting up a storm, have set up an official Facebook page which they are updating frequently with videos and pictures, and just seem to have forged a really great partnership – I seriously can’t stop smiling when I see these two!

So what, if anything, has Drew done since season 2 to keep his dance skills sharp? Well, he has been practicing for the 98 Degrees reunion tour, and they actually performed on the Today show yesterday:

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Ok – admittedly, 98 Degrees was the boy band of the 1990′s that did the least amount of dancing…and the little they did do was pretty basic “work the mic, jazz square here, hand gesture there”-type stuff.  But Drew actually seems to be taking this choreography, no matter how cheesy it looks, pretty seriously – he’s snapping his head nicely, making good eye contact, and staying on time.  And as crazy as that sounds – I think that may actually be an unexpected advantage he has this season.  I know everyone seems eager to point out that Joey being onstage in the Vegas show is huge advantage this season, and it is – but I would argue that really ANY contestant that has been onstage in some song & dance capactity within the last year or so has probably got an advantage.  Gotta keep those performing skills sharp!

Court’s verdict: Drew is obviously going to have to step up his game quite a bit in order to compete with more recent contestants like Gilles – but he could be a bit of a dark horse this season, given his work ethic and the chemistry he has forged with Anna.  He is probably the most skilled of the “early” champions, and if he’s willing to put in the effort (and Anna can give him some good choreography), he could give some of the favorites this season (Gilles, Joey, Shawn, etc.) a good run for their money.  One to watch, for sure!

So what do you guys think of Drew? Possible dark horse…or a possible dud?

UPDATE: Thanks to @BeerBabeSuzi (an NKOTB friend of mine who also runs a fantastic 98 Degrees fan site that’s been around for 10 years!), here’s some video of 98 Degrees performing at the Mixtape Festival in Hershey, Pennsylvania over the weekend – and it looks like Drew has been practicing his Latin hips ;-) The song is “Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche)” and it starts at about the 2:50 mark.  Check out Drew on the right, getting pretty into his dance moves ;-)

August 18, 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!

DWTS 14 End-of-Season Award Winners – Which Dance Was the Worst?

I think it’s safe to say that this one is pretty cut & dry :-P

Other responses:

Sherri & Val’s jive – 3
Maria & Derek’s jive – 2
William & Cheryl’s rumba – 1
William’s porn “dance” sequences - 1 (Normally I’d eliminate this one for ambiguity, but I’m curious – what’s a porn dance? :-P)
William & Cheryl’s finale cha-cha – 1
William & Cheryl’s quickstep - 1
William & Cheryl’s Argentine tango – 1
William & Cheryl’s paso doble – 1
Katherine & Mark’s 1st jive – 1
No bad ones – 1
NO comment – 1 (Then what do you call your write-in response?)

Courtney:  Poor Martina…she was kind of a shoo-in, methinks.  It was really kinda hard to watch that jive…she just got so awkwardly off-time and never really regained her footing, and you could tell she was really frustrated.  I don’t think that costume did her any favors, either – shame on you, Tony, for dressing your partner in a bedazzled tuna net! Mama Spence voted for William & Cheryl’s jive, because she loved watching the part where William tries to swing Cheryl around and her foot awkwardly thunks on the floor – repeatedly.  And she laughed heartily each time. :-) I think the worst part of that routine was that, by the end of it, I think William was to the point of “f*ck it” and just half-assed the last few bars.  As for the rest of the dances – I think a lot of them suffered because of bad song choice.  Unless you’re a pro who ROCKS at doing out-of-the-box-but-still-proper dances, you’re probably gonna get screwed by a bad song at least once per season.  The Shaft routine? Now that was just a hot mess. :-P And in a move that will probably surprise some of you, I’m actually gonna disagree with all the William write-ins - I actually never thought he was a bad dancer.  Far from it – dude had some natural talent.  But what turned me off is how much they were hyping him, and how oversexed his routines became.  But despite that, I still don’t think he had the worst dance of the season.  Even though I enjoy seeing Mama Spence crack up at his jive :-)

Vogue: As much as I hate to admit it, the voters in this Poll pegged it. Being I was a huge tennis fan of Martina’s, I was really hoping she’d stun the dance world like she did her tennis days back in the day. But, oiy,…as soon as I saw her costume for the Jive, I cringed and could foresee her fate. From there, it just got worse. I felt so sorry for her. It wasn’t like she was trying. Like Court, I blamed Tony for the costume. This dance was proof positive how a costume can set the tone. Even still, she was lagging in time. It was sad and painful to watch. She knew it was bad too. As for the other dances, I was shocked (yes, I am pathetic) to see Jaleel and Kym’s Shaft dance have the outcome it did. I wasn’t a fan to Jaleel all season, but, the Shaft dance actually made me smile and laugh. I liked how it kind of poked fun of him. It was so “him” too.

Heidi: How can you NOT blame Tony for the costume since he’s the one that repeatedly uses that type of costume on his partners? Take a look back at some of Melissa’s dances with him. At least it was better on her. I think Martina looked in the mirror and could no longer focus on dancing because of that horrible costume. Horrendous. Gawdawful. Worse than the dance even. As for William – yeah, he wasn’t a horrible dancer, but he was also not the best thing since Gilles like they promoted him – and I laugh every time I see that Jive too. :-)  Of course, it gave Cheryl something to blame and she ranted about that shoe to anyone who would listen for days afterward.  As for the other write ins – why take the time to write no comment or no bad ones?? And I also think that anyone who writes in Maria or Katherine is someone with an axe to grind. Disgruntled William fan? :-) Same goes for Sherri and Val’s dance, actually. Worst?? With Martina in the running? Right. 

*photo courtesy ABC/Adam Taylor

June 18, 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 14 End-of-Season Award Winners – Which Dance Was the Best?

Lesson Court learned from putting together these awards: perhaps the “other” option should be eliminated, starting with next season’s end-of-season awards :-P I got an insane number of write-in responses for the “best dance” and “celeb you most want to see on the all-star season” categories, and let’s just say it was no easy task weeding through all of the write-ins 8O I also learned that some people are too lazy (or inattentive) to click “read more” and vote in the other categories, and as a result we got almost double the number of votes for the “best dance” category than we did everything else.  I love our readers, but sometimes they drive me a little bit bonkers :-P

Other responses:

Donald & Peta’s freestyle – 23
Melissa, Maks, & Val’s samba trio – 10
Katherine & Mark’s Argentine tango – 8
Maria, Derek, & Henry’s samba trio – 4
Katherine & Mark’s jive – 4
Maria & Derek’s rumba – 3
Roshon & Chelsie’s freestyle – 3
Katherine & Mark’s freestyle – 3
Maria & Derek’s Viennese waltz – 3
Katherine, Mark, & Tristan’s cha-cha trio – 3
Sherri & Val’s foxtrot – 2
Team Paso Doble – 2
Maria & Derek’s Argentine tango – 2
Katherine & Mark’s 2nd paso doble – 2
William & Cheryl’s samba – 2
Gladys & Tristan’s cha-cha – 2
Tristan & Karina’s waltz demo – 1
Tristan & Chelsie’s DaD samba – 1
Melissa & Maks’ paso doble – 1
Katherine & Mark’s samba – 1
Roshon, Chelsie, & Sasha’s paso doble trio – 1

Courtney: Can’t say I’m too surprised at the results – the two that I predicted would do well ended up on top, and the rest got a small share of votes, likely from diehard fans of that particular couple.  I do think the jive trio was the dance of the season – the fact that they took a dance that was hard to do with only 2 people and managed to create something fun, energetic, and proper with 3 people was beyond impressive to me.  And the fact that they DIDN’T get a perfect 30 for it??? APPALLING.  I seriously think people don’t realize how HARD it is to lead 2 women – and Donald’s the only one that took on that challenge in his trio dance, and he KILLED IT.  I didn’t see Roshon or William trying to lead two ladies.  Maria & Derek’s paso was good – for this season.  I just can’t seem to get too excited about it, though, because it just wasn’t up-to-snuff with the paso choreography I’m used to seeing from Derek.  As for all the other responses – I think they all were those couples’ best dances, but probably not the best dance of the season.  Write-ins? It’s the usual smorgesbord of random dances, and I usually find myself shaking my head reading some of them, and saying “Really? You REALLY think that was the best dance?” But alas, different strokes for different folks.  :-) The only one I’m gonna comment on is Donald & Peta’s freestyle…and I guess Katherine & Mark’s, too.  I always shy away from including those as options in the “best dance of the season” category, because it seems that, unless a couple REALLY picks a dud, it’s a dance that most couples do well with, and the scoring is pretty inflated – it almost seems like too much of a gimme.  That said, I did really enjoy Donald’s freestyle – but I didn’t think the level of difficulty was as high as his jive trio was.  And I thought Katherine showed better endurance in her jive than in ther freestyle.

Vogue: Court, you took the words out of my head this time. My favorite dance of the season (and the dance I thought was the best) was Donald and Peta’s Jive trio. Donald’s fast leg and footwork amazed me at the time. So much so, I screamed to my husband in the other room to come watch (and we had to replay it after the show several times …which I don’t ever remember doing with him as long as I’ve been watching this show). Our mouths literally dropped to the floor especially when Donald jumped over the top of both girls. 8O A blow away for me as well was their Freestyle. I also loved their Paso Doble and Argentine Tango with the amusement ride twirl. Other stand out dances for me that I thought were the best were Derek and Maria’s Bollywood Trio dance and Paso Doble. Looking back now, I will remember Derek and Maria’s Bollywood Trio dance the most of their dances even though it probably wasn’t her best dance technically, but, it was different, so creative, theatrical, and entertaining. Another dance I have to give props too is also William and Cheryl’s Argentine Tango. I loved all the passion in that dance. William was so into his character and I loved his tails which is when he looked the sexiest in my opinion. :) Anyway, great poll and results!!

Heidi: Yeah, I agree with the top two – by a MILE. Say what you want about the “talent” this season, but Donald and Maria were the two most memorable. As for Derek’s choreography –  I think that Maria was one of his least naturally talented partners EVER (she’s in a club with Joanna and Shannon and wouldn’t have gone as far with ANYONE else), yet his dances with her were just as memorable as anything anyone else did. That’s quite an accomplishment for both of them. He has a way of doing that. He was really challenged with her – she wasn’t naturally talented and she was pretty injured the whole time.  Poor Derek though – he’s set his own bar too high. :-)  But the Bollywood Samba I also loved, and their rumba just because they were so into it.  As for the write ins?  Sad to say I don’t actually REMEMBER a lot of those dances. Most of Katherine’s dances have left my brain. Oddly, several of Willy’s I remember out of sheer disgust.  Someone wrote in DaD?? All I remember is Chelsie almost getting blown off a table. :-)

 

 *photo courtesy ABC/Adam Taylor

June 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!

Vote for Your Favorites in the PureDWTS Season 14 End-of-Season Awards!!!

 Ok kids, it’s time once again to vote of our biannual “end-of-season” awards…our sort of “wrap up” for season 14, where we see what you guys think were the highs and lows of this season :-) If you want to get a feel for how these awards work, you can check out previous seasons’ award recipients here.

First, the rules: I’ve picked what I deem to be the most likely candidates (with the strongest chance of winning) for each category – of course, some of you are going to disagree, and that’s fine.  If you don’t see your pick listed as an option, you can write-in your own nomination in the “other” box.  But here’s my biannual disclaimer about the dreaded “other” box: if I can’t read what you wrote because it’s badly misspelled/grammatically nonsensical/generally incoherent, YOUR VOTE WILL NOT COUNT.  If your response to the question does not make sense (i.e. you simply vote “Donald” for best dance), YOUR VOTE WILL NOT COUNT.  If you simply repeat one of the already listed responses because you can’t be bothered to actually pay attention, YOUR VOTE WILL NOT COUNT.  If you’re just generally being a nudnik and giving harassing responses, YOUR VOTE WILL NOT COUNT.  *shakes head* I still can’t believe that I have to give this spiel twice a year…

…anywho, we’ll give you guys a week to get your votes in, and then we’ll reveal the results in a series of posts starting next week.  Now ready…set…VOTE!!! :-D

Read more..

May 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 14 Week 10 – Power Rankings for the Finale

For a second there, I was sure this night was a complete wash…and then Donald reaffirmed my faith in humanity with one of the most adorable freestyles I’ve ever seen on the show :-D

Not a whole lot to say that most of you haven’t already said on Twitter – there was definite overscoring going on (William), and definite underscoring going on (Donald), but in the end, I doubt the scores are going to matter a ton…because this seems like it’s going to be the fanbase battle royale for the MBT.  And if the response I saw after one couple’s freestyle was any indicator – I think they’re a shoo-in for the MBT ;-) Let’s do things in reverse tonight, starting with who I’m predicting for the 3rd place finisher…

3rd place: Katherine & Mark

Honestly, it were up to me, these two would be a definite 2nd place – but I’ve got a gut feeling that they may have gotten a little lost in the shuffle tonight, in between the judges’ golden boy and the charismatic dark horse.  I thought her paso was pretty damn good – she definitely danced with more assuredness and confidence than her first paso, and the choreo was clean, proper, and exciting.  My only complaint: it seemed to highlight Mark more than Kath, but I guess I can’t fault them too much, as paso is really the man’s dance…which just further drives the point home for me that the judges kinda screwed her a bit when they gave her the paso in the first place.  As for their freestyle – I have to commend Mark for returning to the tried-and-true formula for freestyle success: he picked something that was relevant to his celebrity, he made sure it was high-energy, and he included quite a bit of actual ballroom steps to please Len.  I think it would have been a strong competition for Donald, if only Kath hadn’t lost a bit of steam in the middle and gotten a bit stuck in the lifts.  But I liked the flapper theme, and thought Kath singing at the beginning was a great way to really make the routine relevant to her – I just wish Mark had toned it down a bit, so she could have actually made it all the way through the dance with the same high level of energy.  Ok, so they’ve got the high score – but it’s only one point more than the other 2, so it may as well be nothing…and I’m sorry, as gorgeous and talented as I think Kath is, I don’t think she can compete with the raging hormones of Willy’s fans or the magnetic personality that Donald’s fans are drawn to.  Like Ricki last season, who also had the high score after the first night of the finale (and also the first dance of the 2nd night), I think Kath may be relegated to 3rd :-( However, I would love to be wrong and have her take 2nd…provided it bumps Willy into 3rd ;-)

2nd place: William & Cheryl

I guess hoping that the overscoring would stop in the finale was wishful thinking, as I was not particularly wowed by either of Willy’s dances tonight…and the fault for that lies more with Cheryl than anyone else.  William didn’t mess up, and what he did in both of his dances was technically good – he even looked liked he was having fun, which was something I had yet to see from him this season.  But here’s the problem: the level of difficulty for both of his routines was pretty pathetic…and I genuinely feel sorry for the guy, because I think Cheryl really let him down with the choreography tonight.  Their cha-cha just felt like a recycled version of their first cha-cha, which wasn’t very impressive in terms of choreography – his hip action seemed better this time around, and he seemed more relaxed, but there was nothing particularly impactful or exciting about it.  He could have handled more – but Cheryl didn’t give it to him.  And I’m sorry, but if another contestant pulls a Miss Cleo and predicts exactly what you’ll do in your freestyle (Donald knows what’s up), then you’re probably a one-trick pony without much of an edge.  Sorry, but this freestyle was a cop-out – I’m all for picking something relevant to your partner, but this felt like nothing different than what I’ve been seeing the past 9 weeks: a bunch of gyrations, dips, ass shaking, and vaguely salsa-y moves.  Even the lifts were pretty elementary - William’s a muscular guy, and he could have handled more heavy lifting.  He didn’t mess up, and he seemed to have fun – but the choreography didn’t show me that he was really a great dancer. Overall, at the end of it, I was just kinda left saying “So what else is new?” But I’ve got a feeling that hormones will prevail tomorrow night, and at least carry William into the final two…with his complacent partner, who probably didn’t even bother choreographing anything truly innovative, because she knew they’d be overscored anyway – just like they’ve been all season.

The Winner: Donald & Peta

The last remaining couple untainted by the fishy overscoring of this season – and thankfully, I think they came across as the most likeable, as well :-D While I SOMEWHAT agreed with Len that their Argentine tango was a tad on the safe side, I still think it was underscored, given that William & Cheryl just regurgitated their first week cha-cha (which is probably the ultimate “safe” move), and the first go-round, Len bitched that their Argentine tango “lacked content”.  So they gave him more content…and now it’s “too safe?” Poor Donald just can’t win with Len.  Whatever.  Len sure couldn’t bitch & moan after that freestyle they did, though – it was EASILY the best of the night, as the energy was through the roof and stayed there the entire routine, and Donald totally pwned those lifts.  And really – who would have guessed that Donald would pull out the country card and get out there and line dance? That was fresh & unexpected – yet somehow still strangely relevant to Donald, as I think it really showed us how multi-talented he is…and a goofball, at that :-P I’ve got a good feeling about tomorrow night, that justice will somehow prevail and the grand plans of TPTB will be squashed by a legion of fed-up fans voting for the little Quickie That Could…suck it, Univision merger ;-)

So who do you guys think will walk away with the MBT tomorrow? And how do you think this “24 hour dance challenge” will turn out? If they don’t rank the routines (30, 28, 26), I’m totally predicting they cop-out and give all three of them 30′s, just like instant samba last season.  But aside from that…which returning stars are you most looking forward to seeing? I’m all about some Jack, Gladys, & Roshon, myself ;-)

May 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!

Court’s DWTS Las Vegas Adventure (Live Show Review & Other Miscellanery)

As many of you know, I was in Las Vegas last weekend and had the pleasure of seeing the DWTS live show at the Tropicana – which, of course, I will review for you guys, since certain other individuals *cough*JOHN*cough* haven’t managed to write the 2nd half of their review of the premiere of said show ;-) This post could get a bit wordy, as I took quite a few notes (and just have a really good memory, to boot) and I’ll throw in a few other possibly-unrelated-to-DWTS details for context, as well as some general Vegas info, since some of you have asked about my trip - so if you’re only interested in my review of the show, feel free to skip the next few paragraphs.  And if you hate spoilers (i.e. you want to be COMPLETELY surprised when you see the show), I’d either just skip this post altogether or just read my overall take at the bottom - because I’m not holding back.  You’ve been warned ;-) And special thanks go to Heidi, for helpin’ a girl out with some picture merges that were driving me cray-cray :-P

So why was I in Vegas in the first place, you ask? My best friend Kendra is getting married at the end of July, and she wanted a bachelorette party for the ages – so naturally, we HAD to go Vegas :-) There were 12 of us altogether (11 rowdy bachelorettes and 1 gay bachelor, who I must say put us all to shame with how fabulously he was dressed the entire trip ;-)), and the majority of us stayed at the Flamingo, since we were able to get a great rate on standard rooms – with 4 girls to a room, it was only $82 total for each of us for 3 nights, which is pretty awesome for a well-known hotel on the strip that isn’t a total dive.  Overall, I wouldn’t say the Flamingo is a particularly special or ritzy hotel (if that’s what you’re looking for, I’d go with the Bellagio, Palazzo, or Venetian…but be prepared to shell out big $$$), but if you’re on a budget, it’s certainly more than sufficient – the rooms are clean and the decor is kitchy & cute (think 1960′s, Rat Pack, original Ocean’s Eleven – lots of dots, stripes, retro furniture, and of course, pink :-)).  I’m very into the nostalgia of Vegas, so the Flamingo appealed to me in that it was originally built by infamous mobster Bugsy Siegel, and legend has it that the actual motive behind his murder was to change the management of the Flamingo.  But anyway – if you’re in Vegas, I definitely recommend trying their Paradise Garden Buffet – it’s pretty affordable, as far as buffets in Vegas go, and is quite good…especially the brunch buffet.  Plus the views of their courtyard and flock of live flamingoes are gorgeous :-) Also at the Flamingo? Donny & Marie Osmond’s live show – I didn’t see it (no time, and honestly, not much of a desire), but I did see these in the lobby:

The one on the left is Donny’s costume from his freestyle with Kym in season 9, as well as his MBT (and yes, according to the guest services director that I asked, it is his real MBT – apparently he insisted it be put in the case with his costume); the one on the right is Marie’s dress from her quickstep with Jonathan in season 5 (and one of those freaky dolls she designs – guess they had to put SOMETHING there when they found out that Donny wanted to display his MBT, although I’m not sure why they didn’t display this doll instead).  I found Marie’s costume pretty unremarkable up close – for as fabulous as it looked on the show, upon further scrutiny, it’s really just a tan silk gown with some gems glued on; but Donny’s suit is very well-made and clearly took a lot of work.  Interesting how different the costumes look on tv vs. in person (more on that later). Read more..

May 19, 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!