A few things became abundantly clear to me in the midst of tonight’s show: the judges’ heads have been up William & Cheryl’s asses so long that their oxygen supply has been cut off (and brain damage has occured), Carrie Ann switches motives faster than most people blink, Maria & Derek should probably just knock boots and get it over with, Roshon is this season’s forgotten man, and Katherine’s dancing is about as exciting as eating dry white toast. Let’s just get straight into it…
1.) William & Cheryl – The pimping of these two has just gotten so out of control that I don’t even know what to say anymore – it’s inane, ridiculous, and it’s putting me off this show entirely. You guys wonder why I’m so far behind on the cheese? Because this season has left such a bad taste in my mouth, and 70% of it is because of these two and the lavish, undeserved praise they get. But since me complaining about that does little to deter them, I guess I’ll focus on the dancing, which overall was not as stellar as the judges would have you believe. That foxtrot? Ok, it wasn’t bad, but I’m still not seeing a whole lot of showmanship from William – the man looks like he’s constipated out there. And Cheryl’s still doing a whole lot of dancing around him, rubbing herself on him, and generally doing some attention-whoring of Ballasesque proportions. Go ahead and whine about how I “shouldn’t judge the celeb based on the choreo”, but when all he’s doing is standing there and occasionally gesturing, what the hell am I supposed to think? Am I supposed to just ASSUME he’s a great dancer, even though I don’t get to see it underneath all of his partner’s showboating? The dancing isn’t about William at all – it’s about Cheryl dancing around him. And that was the story of their paso doble trio as well – it was the Cheryl Burke show, with special guest appearances by Tony Dovolani & William Levy. There was a lot of walking from place to place, and William noticeably got off-time…although it was only mentioned in passing by one of the judges, while they absolutely HOSED Roshon for the same thing. I give up. There’s clearly an agenda in place that necessitates William sticking around as long as possible, and I don’t like it. With any luck, this whole mess will completely blow up in the faces of TPTB…but my luck hasn’t been so great lately, so I’m not holding my breath. These two will be safe tomorrow night…
2.) Donald & Peta – Thank GAWD for Donald! The man is the personification of what I want in a celeb on this show: he’s having fun, he’s working hard, and he’s giving us some legitimately GREAT performances. Aside from Roshon’s foxtrot, this tango was the closest thing to perfection for me in the ballroom round tonight – Donald had the attack, and the way he was snapping his head and his feet was divine! I will say that he still seems to get a bit off-balance here and there, and it seems to happen when he gets a little too excited – hopefully he’ll gain a bit more control over some of his more dynamic movements. I also have to tip my tiny top hat (which I’m still wearing from the team dances last week ;-)) to Peta, for coming up with some choreo that both pleases Len and is also pleasing to the eye – not an easy balance! And that trio dance? Wooooooooooooowwwww. Just….WOW. I think the trio idea overall kinda failed, but this was the one gem of the evening – I don’t think I could have asked for a better group than Donald, Peta, and Karina. Both ladies rock at jive, and Donald impressed the hell out of me with the way he partnered TWO ladies. You guys notice that neither of the other guys did that in their trio, right? Probably because it’s f*cking hard – something that doesn’t come naturally to a novice male ballroom dancer. So he gets a ton of respect from me for handling two very vivacious ladies, and also for just delivering a totally FUN performance…props to all three of them for that. I can only hope that Donald is growing on other people like he’s grown on me, because at this point, he’s the only one I see as a lock for the finale… Read more..
If there is one take-home point I want you guys to glean from this season, it’s that THEME WEEKS OFTEN SCREW THE COUPLES! No exception here – I think only two couples managed to churn out something worthwhile from the pieces of music they were given, and the rest either muddled through or failed miserably. Consequently, I find myself cutting some breaks tonight, just due to some really bad music selections. And let’s just say there was some “creative” storytelling going on this week…warriors & mannequins & vampires, oh my! I am beyond relieved that it’s back to business as usual next week…no wacky themes to throw couples off their game. So there’s also going to be no excuses for subpar performances…game on, kiddies
Thoughts on the team dances: I thought Team Tango (aka Team Tiny Hat :-P) was quite a bit better than Team Paso (aka Team No Shirt, No Problem ;-)). I saw no timing issues or missteps on Team Tango – everything was in synch, and aside from a couple of small wobbles from Jaleel & Maria, I saw no glaring mistakes. I also thought they had the more interesting floor patterns – lots of visually-pleasing shapes and transitions. I do think Derek was right in his claim that more couples = more interesting patterns. It can be a good thing, if you can manage to get everyone in synch and on time…and I think that last thing is the real challenge. I would hearby like to dub Roshon the MVP of Team Tango – the boy was a revelation tonight. He came out with such determination and attack, and he KILLED his solo on Team Tango. Zero mistakes, 100% commitment, 100% attack. Bravo, Ro! Hell, I would even go so far as to say that he was the overall standout in terms of both teams – he was really the only one that made me sit up and go “WHOA!!! Where did that come from???!” As for Team Paso – I thought they had the more exciting piece of music and had more theatricality and drama than Team Tango, but they suffered in terms of synchronization and just overall cleanliness of their choreography. I kind of anticipated those two problems, as they had the added challenge of throwing in a lot of open work that Team Tango didn’t really have to worry about. I loved the parts of the guys’ cape section that were actually in synch (which I must say is a pretty impressive feat), but the parts that were out of synch just kind of reminded me of my cousins playing Zorro as kids – it was a little chaotic. I could’ve done without the shirtlessness (more on that later), but I can’t say I’m surprised that they did it. If I had to pick, I’d say Donald was the MVP of Team Paso – I loved how much control he showed in his solo, and his choreo was clean. In the end, I’d say the scoring was just about right – I might have deducted a point from Team Paso, since the objective of the team dance for me is to stay in synch, first and foremost, and they seemed to struggle with that a bit more.
1.) Maria & Derek – I think these two were the only ones who managed to really OWN their individual dance tonight, and not get pwned by the song they were given. I can’t say that I was wild about the vampire storyline (between Twilight, True Blood, Vampire Diaries, etc., I’m kinda over the whole vamp thing…), but they did make it work for them, and overall the choreography was clean, exciting, and a good representation of paso doble. Did it deserve a 30? I think so…with all of the overscoring we’ve seen this season for dances that I thought were nowhere near as good as this paso (or at least had nowhere near as much content as this paso), I can’t say that I think the judges were too far off in giving it the first 30 of the season. Given tonight’s spread, I think these two are safe.
2.) Katherine & Mark – I’m told their rumba was Game of Thrones-inspired, but as someone who does not have premium cable (and whose regular cable it only intermittently available these days – thanks again, AT&T!), I actually thought it looked more gladiator or Roman-y. Whatever it was – I’m afraid the costuming made Katherine look kinda out of her element, and although I thought her legs looked FANTASTIC and she was at least flirting with some nice hip action, I never felt 100% commitment from her, and the routine never felt super romantic or rumba-y to me. It tiptoed near being a good rumba, but never really reached it – and Katherine had another week of “deer in the headlights” eyes from time to time, I’m afraid. I also have to raise a bit of an eyebrow to some creative camera work I noticed – seemed like they changed the shot so you couldn’t see Kath’s legs whenever they went for a move that might possibly get called out as a lift. Possibly a “if the viewers can’t see it, they can’t get mad at Carrie Ann for not calling them out on it!” strategy? Who knows…but it just seemed a bit fishy to me, especially given a few other things I noticed tonight. Overall, I think these two are probably safe this week – but I’m starting to see some cracks in her facade. She’s not as flawless as the judges initially thought, methinks…
3.) Donald & Peta – This was the only other couple I thought really handled their piece of music well tonight, and I thought their “royalty at court” kinda theme was a cute interpretation. Although Donald gave it a valiant effort and I did see some really good moments (especially when he was out of hold), he did seem to have some footwork issues (a problem all of the VW’s this week seemed to have), and I thought I saw him get off time once or twice. Then again, it was hard to tell whether someone was on or off-time this week, as so many of the pieces of music had some wacky tempo changes. I wish Carrie Ann could have just praised them, instead of bringing up some non-issue about a lift that she herself didn’t see but thought might have been there anyway (seriously? WTF??? Just score what you saw and shut up about things you didn’t!), but I think the judges were about right in their scoring. I think Donald’s pretty safe, but I think he still has some work to do on his ballroom frame if he wants a shot at the finals… Read more..
Well, we’ve reached the halfway point (sort of…) of the competition. Only 7 of the 12 couples we started with remain, and each couple has 6 dances down and 6 more regular ones to go (not counting team dances, freestyles, etc.) in the 4 weeks left in the competition. Now we get down to the nitty gritty and see what everyone is really made of…because starting next week, they all have to do 2 full-length dances per week. So let’s take a look at what each of the couples has to contend with in the coming weeks, shall we?
First impressions: anyone who still has samba left to do is likely at a bit of a disadvantage, as that’s the dance that really seems to trip a lot of people up. Those who are still waiting to do Argentine tango could have a slight edge, as it seems to be a dance that can really redeem a couple when done later in the competition. I think Donald & William are likely going to struggle a bit with their remaining ballroom dances; Jaleel, Maria, and Katherine are probably going to be a bit challenged by their remaining Latin dances; and Melissa & Roshon are probably going to struggle with just about everything, since they don’t seem to be in the judges’ favor.
I’d say Jaleel actually has one of the better sets of remaining dances left to do – it’s a good mix of Latin & ballroom, and he still has both of his “extra” dances to burn through. He seems stronger in the ballroom dances than in the Latin, so I don’t see waltz, quickstep, or Viennese waltz being a big problem; and I could see him really doing well in the paso doble, since he seems to have some anger issues he needs to work out :-). He seems to have to intensity necessary for Argentine tango, but I have to say, I’m skeptical about how proficient he’s going to be at the salsa – he’s got the personality, but I’ve noticed that his footwork tends to suffer at the expense of his showmanship…especially on more energetic dances like jive & samba.
I seriously love Donald, but I think he’s got his work cut out for him the next few weeks – he’s still got two of the more difficult Latin dances left to deal with, and since he still seems to be struggling a bit with ballroom posture & frame, I think the waltz, tango, and Viennese waltz are going to be a challenge. I think he’ll have a blast with the salsa, though – I can just see the big ol’ grin on our “hunkey dunkey” football player now I’m just a bit concerned with the judges – I think they’re warming to Donald, but I don’t think they’re as willing to overlook slight errors with him as they are with Katherine, William, or even Maria. He’s gonna have to be on-point every week if he wants that “10 from Len”.
I really wish they had already gotten samba & jive out of the way earlier this season Those are two dances I just don’t see Maria having an easy time with – no one really and truly nails the samba (and along with cha-cha, it’s Derek’s LEAST favorite dance to choreograph), and with the exception of Nicole, it seems like really willowy ladies seem to have trouble with the jive, as it takes more time & effort to get those long legs kicking & flicking properly. She might struggle a bit with paso, but Derek is generally pretty good at choreographing paso doble to his partner’s strengths, so I don’t think it will be too problematic; waltz and Viennese waltz shouldn’t be a problem; and the Argentine tango could be their secret weapon – if there’s one dance that might win them the pimp spot, it’s this one, as Derek has choreographed some of the most dramatic Argentine tangos over the years.
First things first: while I still think Roshon is technically the best dancer still left in the competition, the judges (Carrie Ann in particular) have made it pretty clear that they’re VERY eager to point out any mistakes he makes – so he’s going to have to be damn near perfect in every single one of these dances, if he wants to stick around. He’s done pretty well with the ballroom dances he’s had so far, so I think waltz & foxtrot shouldn’t be a problem; he also has a bit of an edge in that he’s already done the jive in the dance duel (and gotten some critiques from the judges on it), so he knows what he needs to work on. The potential problems I see? Paso doble, tango, and Argentine tango – all require a certain degree of maturity and masculinity to really pull of well, and as we saw with the rumba this week…Roshon seems to struggle a bit with being a manly-man.
Well, when you’re a pretty good dancer and the judges seem to fawn over your every move, it doesn’t seem like you’d really struggle with any remaining dances – and to some degree, I get the feeling Katherine’s gonna have it made from here on out. However, I see cha-cha, rumba, and salsa sticking out as potentially weaker dances for her – all require a certain degree of sexiness to pull off successfully, and I still don’t think Katherine is really comfortable with being sexy & sassy. Her samba was ok, but I never got the feeling that she was 100% committed (or comfortable) with it; and while I thought her Argentine tango was great in terms of technique, she seemed to have emotional commitment problems there as well. Can she pull off the sexiness? We’ll see. Given her really good track record with the ballroom dances, I think tango, quickstep, and Viennese waltz should be a cinch – provided that Mark can continue to be “good Mark” and avoid any gimmicks. Read more..
What are some of the shows that stood out for you the most when you costumed them, and why? (i.e. certain theme nights, specific seasons, finales, etc.)
Randall Christensen: Movie/Broadway or TV night is always great fun. We get to step out of character even more. If you can dream it up, SOMEONE will wear it! Themed nights are always fun. Loved the Halloween show back several years ago. Edyta as Morticia Addams (The Addams Family), Monique Coleman/Louis van Amstel in their “Ghostbusters” tear away coveralls, to “slime” green…..great fun! Doing specific time periods are fun and challenging as well. Doing a retro ‘50’s Paso Doble for Nicole Scherzinger was one of the most challenging, as the Paso Doble is so serious and passionate, yet the ‘50’s inspired song just didn’t go…..but Derek is a genius with choreography, and we came up with a fun yet strong look for them both.
If you could pick any of the pros, past or present, on the show to be your assistant, who would it be and why?
RC: Hands down, Edyta Sliwinska would be a great co-designer. She has such an eye for style! Lacey Schwimmer has some really fun, “out there” and cutting edge ideas too.
What was the best part of your job on DWTS?
RC: Hands down, the best part of my job was the trust of the producers, and being able to create with such freedom. You just do NOT get that in the television industry, and that was the most rewarding thing I can imagine. Weekly, the most rewarding part of my job was when Harold Wheeler and orchestra start playing the overture, there’s not a week that went by that I was ALWAYS there, with shivers running down my spine. When those couples came down that stairway……truly a magical moment each and every week. I never missed that descending down the stairs at the top of the show – NEVER! Read more..
Chaz/Any dance from Chaz – 3 (Another one I’m tempted to throw out, because this seems a bit mean-spirited…and it doesn’t follow the directions)
Hope & Maks’ paso doble – 2
Elisabetta & Val’s cha-cha – 2
Ricki & Derek’s samba – 1
David & Kym’s rumba – 1
Ricki & Derek’s freestyle – 1
Rob & Cheryl’s samba – 1
Nancy & Tristan’s rumba – 1
Chaz & Lacey’s rumba – 1
Ricki & Derek’s paso doble – 1
Too many to list – 1
Courtney: Again, no big surprises here – looking back, I really do think Ron/Metta & Peta’s cha-cha was pretty hard to watch…and just kind of bizarre. Hope & Maks’ tango, while very “clunky”, didn’t seem as bad to me – she was at least trying, where I felt like Ron just said “f*ck it” and was out there just winging it. I have to give Nancy & Tristan’s jive a bit of a free pass, considering they got what I think could be the WORST jive song in the history of the show. Chynna had a brain fart – yes, it was hard to watch her crash & burn out there, but after seeing their encore performance during the finale, the dance itself didn’t seem quite so bad. I would say that Rob & Cheryl’s Viennese waltz the first week had the potential to be as bad as Ron’s cha-cha, but Cheryl is such a pro at this point, I think she managed to conceal more of Rob’s flaws with backleading than Peta did with Ron’s. JR & Karina’s cha-cha – yeah, it was a pretty hot mess, but I found that JR’s dancing in the finale was generally not up to snuff with the other stuff he had done all season…chalk it up to injury, I guess. David & Kym’s jive was another hot mess, but again – he at least looked like he was trying. It’s funny how effort can make or break a dance for me – a dance can be a hot mess, but I tend to cut it a bit of a break if I feel like the celeb is at least TRYING. Likewise, a dance can be pretty good, but if I feel like the celeb is not really trying or doesn’t really care (think Kate Gosselin) – I cannot bring myself to like it, no matter how great it may be. Rounding out the write in category, I’ve got to raise my eyebrows at some of the responses, unfortunately. Regardless of how one feels about Chaz’ life decisions, I don’t think all of Chaz’s dances were the worst ones this season, by any stretch – in fact, his cha-cha and samba were both pretty good, in my eyes. And regardless of how one feels about Ricki and/or Derek, I don’t think any of their dances came close to being the worst, either – I think they may have gotten excessive praise for a few of them, but I don’t think any of them are inherently bad. Hell, I was actually surprised that no one brought up their 80′s foxtrot – if any of their dances seemed even remotely qualified to be the worst of the season, it was that one…but again, I blame a crappy song and theme. It’s funny that people bring up Hope & Maks’ rumba – with all the drama that followed it that week, I think it may have colored some people’s opinions of that dance for the worse; however, I actually kinda liked it, because Hope actually seemed to let go and show some vulnerability that week. I just hated those damn flat boots she had to wear
Heidi: Heh. I forgot Ron was even on this past season, so it would be difficult for me to call him the “worst” – maybe being utterly forgotten is worse than being the worst. I always laugh when someone throws in Ricki and Derek for a “worst dance” category. She was not Derek’s best partner ever, but worst out of this group? LOL – I think a bit of envy is at play here. I will also freely admit that Maks’ and Hope’s behavior toward the end of the season completely colored my thoughts on their dancing and, frankly, them as people. But you know what? That is the risk you take when you persist in that type of behavior with no apologies. You have to own it. Be responsible for it. Like it or not, you’re on TELEVISION and what you do will have an impact on people, either positive or negative. Now, I’ve had a negative opinion on Maks before and he turned it (and me) around with Kirstie. He may be able to do it again. But how many times can one keep making the same mistake before they just get written off? So, at the end of the day, that is likely what you’re seeing in the number 2 ranking for Hope and Maks – unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your POV) I’m rarely alone in my opinions or reactions. I’m just not that unique. As for Tony and Chynna – I think people are very sympathetic with someone just blanking on someone and then feeling awful about it. Sympathy plays a huge part in this show, as we’ve said time and again. Plus, I think most people can see the difference between forgetting ones steps and being a “bad” dancer. I don’t think she got voted out for blanking, I just don’t think she had a fanbase to begin with and her previously good scores had been protecting her from elimination.
Vogue: Wow, I’m shocked to see Maks and Hope’s Tango scoring so high for worst dance? But, looking back at it again, I was quickly reminded of her “attitude” which was turning a lot of fans off at the time including myself. I also thought Tony and Chynna’s Tango would have scored higher as “worst dance”. In the end, I agree with who won in this catagory. Ron didn’t even seem to care and Peta seemed to have given up as well on him which I didn’t fault her a bit. If she comes back this next season, I really hope she gets a good partner. I’d really like to see her given a good chance to teach.
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!!!
So I’m guessing the judges either got laid or did shots in between JR’s paso and Rob’s samba, because they rather inexplicably got very generous very quickly with the points Definite overscoring of some parties going on tonight, although I don’t think there was so much underscoring – I thought most of the scores were right-on or kinda cushy. Oh, and in case you didn’t know, tonight’s episode of DWTS was brought to you by the reused song (if I remember correctly, all but the pasos and the cha-cha relay song were repeats) and patterned tights
1.) Ricki & Derek – Ricki was (quite literally, in her samba costume) the judges’ golden girl tonight, and managed to deliver 3 very clean, well-executed dances. Can’t say that the choreo in any of the 3 was particularly genius, but I think Derek was probably smart to keep the steps much simpler than the usual fare we see from him. Ricki’s been struggling the past few weeks, and I think it was wise to give her simple choreo that she could do well than really try to wow the judges with complex stuff. Their samba was cute, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much content it had – I think samba is my least favorite dance on DWTS, and even Derek’s choreo doesn’t usually impress me because he seems to do a lot of side-by-side, open work as opposed to real samba steps. But this actually had plenty of real samba! I liked the mood & execution of their Argentine tango, but felt a little let down by the choreo – again, I guess I’m just used to seeing dynamite A. tangos from Derek, so this felt a little…light. Their cha-cha, too, was rather simple; but compared to Hope & JR, who both looked rather sloppy to me, Ricki’s clean-and-simple cha-cha really worked tonight. Thankfully, there is a pretty good-sized points margin tonight, which should keep these two safe at the top of the leaderboard. And I’m glad – I think they very much deserve a spot in the finale. However, I don’t think they’re going to be able to go with “clean & simple” next week – with Rob busting major moves and JR likely on the road to recovery, they’re going to need to stand out.
2.) Rob & Cheryl – Gotta agree with some of you that the judges made it pretty clear tonight that they REALLY want Rob in the finale. Some definite overscoring going on here – his samba, while cute, energetic, and much better than I was expecting out of him, was just not 27-worthy. 25? Maybe. But I LOVED that he looked like he was having so much fun out there! I also give him an E for effort, for attempting a barrel roll – it was stiff, but he gave it the ol’ USC try. I was a bit more torn on his A. tango – it’s a dance that definitely seems to suit him well, and he was a good leading man with clean footwork. But I don’t think he had as much content as JR, and was maybe not quite as invested as JR, either. I will say that I think he probably had the best combination of content & execution in his cha-cha – Ricki may have had the better technique, but I think her choreo was bound to look a bit simple & boring next to some of the flashier stuff Cheryl gave Rob. In the end, though, overscoring or not – I do think Rob belongs in the finale, based on his dancing. He’s still somewhat lacking in the performance department for me, so he’ll really need to hone in on that if he makes it through to next week – and I think he will, given the margin of points.
3.) JR & Karina – I really felt bad for JR tonight – he seemed like he was in a good deal of pain after each dance, and I do think it negatively affected his performances. I’m afraid I set my hopes too high for his paso – I was so excited about him having that song, that I felt a bit let down when he really didn’t knock it out of the park. He wasn’t 100% in the dance like he usually is, and I gotta say – the choreo felt a bit repetitive to me, too. LOVED his Argentine tango – I do have to credit Karina with not going too easy on him due to his injury. She gave him a lot of difficult footwork and lifts to do, and I think of the 4 A. tangos tonight, his probably had the highest level of difficulty and the most content. And he handled it well, for the most part – caught him wincing in pain a few times, but he still managed to give a pretty damn good performance. It was just sooo fluid – where Rob & Hope seemed to have a few stops and stutters in between steps, JR didn’t. His cha-cha was just ok – I think by that point, he had soldiered through about as much pain as he could have, and was just tired. It seemed a little stiff, but again, I’m thinking that had more to do with his ankle than any lack of ability in the cha-cha. If he can knock the samba out of the park, he can handle the cha-cha, no problem. When it comes down to it, I definitely think JR belongs in the finale – he’s been consistently good all season long, yet has still managed to improve a bit each week as well. Knock on wood, I think his fans alone will keep him safe this week, and he may also get a few sympathy votes due to what looked like a pretty painful injury. His biggest hurdle heading into the finale will simply be healing – right now, his injury seems to be the most inhibiting of the remaining contestants. Hopefully this is something that he can shake in the next 24-48 hours!
4.) Hope & Maks – Well, tonight was unfortunatley an example of how overscoring a couple earlier in the competition can lead to a rude awakening later on when the judges decide to get serious. Hope stuck out like a sore thumb for me tonight – all 3 of her dances paled in comparison to those of the other 3 remaining contestants. Her paso doble seemed to take forever to get started, and once she started moving, she seemed to get wobbly in her turns and ended up on the floor for several counts while Maks danced around her…again. Did it feel like the team paso all over again to anyone else? Her Argentine tango was a bit better than I expected, but man – those KNEES. They’re always bent, even when she’s mid-lift! At one point, my mom even asked “Are her legs supposed to look like that?” If she had been doing a lindy or a jitterbug, it could have looked cool and flapper-esque; but in her tango, it just looked awkward. I thought she made a decent effort in her cha-cha, but once again, it looked like she powered through it so hard that it looked awkward – those arms could be lethal weapons, the way she flings them out when she finishes a turn! I think the judges were spot-on in scoring her – I have to think to myself “What score would this have gotten at an earlier stage in the competition?” Part of the problem a year ago with Bristol was that I think she thought by making it to the semifinals & finals, she automatically deserved to be getting 9′s & 10′s…and I’m of the opinion that just because it’s the semifinals, does not mean the judges should just be throwing up the 9 & 10 paddles left & right. If it’s deserved? Absolutely. But just because it’s a certain phase of the competition? No. Sorry Hope fans, but up against the 3 other couples tonight – Hope looked pretty amateurish to me, and it will only get worse in the finale. She simply has not improved enough in 9 weeks to deserve a spot in the finale, IMO. I want a finale that’s going to be as entertaining & competitive as possible – and for me, that’s going to be best achieved with Ricki, JR, & Rob as the finalists.
So we’re one step closer to the finale!!! Who do you guys want to see advancing this week? Who should go home? And is anyone else as excited about the Muppets as I am???
And the parade of song dittos just keeps on coming. Seriously, I find myself groaning aloud each week when I see the song list – “Ugh, that one AGAIN!” or “I feel like they just used that song!!!” But alas, at the very least, it makes throwing these posts together a cinch
Lotsa dittos this past week – the only ones who managed to make it through semi-unscathed by the reuse of songs that probably shouldn’t have been reused were Nancy, Hope, & David. Guess that was to be expected, though, since there aren’t too many songs that are both Halloweenish and suitable for ballroom!
Battle of Evanescence “Bring Me to Life”
As most of you already know, it was Evan & Anna’s paso doble song in season 10:
And then, this past week, it was the song for Team Paso Doble:
Court’s take: I have to say I was a bit shocked that they were reusing the music from a very memorable routine, and I gotta give this one to Evan & Anna. Both routines are great, and this song is damn near perfect for a very dramatic, intense paso doble – but compared to Evan & Anna, who were absolutely KILLING their routine, team paso doble was just kinda kicking it in the shins. And on a side note, it’s amazing what you notice when you watch these routines the 2nd or 3rd time around – Evan looks a lot better than I remembered him being at the time (guess a few seasons of subpar dancing will make you recognize REAL talent even more!), and Hope looks off-time in several parts of team paso. That cape section Evan did was SUPERB.
Battle of Rihanna’s “Disturbia”
Lance & Lacey had their tango to it in season 7, Lacey’s very first season on the show:
And it was Team Tango’s song this past week:
Court’s take: Why oh whyyyy did they pick this song to reuse for a tango??? I mean, the lyrics are edgy…but the beat is so clubby & dancey. Not edgy enough for a tango, IMO. But anyway. As overrated as I thought Lance & Lacey’s tango was at the time (and I still kinda do), it was better than team tango’s interpretation of the song. I liked how Lance & Lacey went the classy-edgy route, with the dark costuming and slight tweaks in choreo to make the dance feel “creepier”; in retrospect, it just seems like team tango was doing a regular tango in straightjackets and kinda let that be our only indicator that it was a scary Halloween tango. I will say this, though: I still think Lacey’s ballroom is horrid. You could drive a boat show between her & Lance…and that footwork? Yeesh. And as ho-hum as I felt about the team tango on the whole, I actually really liked JR & Karina’s section, upon second viewing. Liked that body wave move they did in reverse
Battle of Beyonce’s “Sweet Dreams”
It was first used as Chad & Cheryl’s tango in season 10:
And then it was Ricki & Derek’s paso this week:
Court’s take: Considering that most of you probably didn’t remember that it was Chad & Cheryl’s tango, you’ll probably agree that Ricki & Derek had the better interpretation Chad & Cheryl were just a non-event to me – it was just a garden-variety example of their usual routine each week that season, with Chad just kinda walking through the steps while Cheryl danced circles around him. I think I remembered Cheryl’s dress more than the dance itself – that was during her sheer-skirted ballgown phase, and I remember the back being vaguely…thong-like. It may not have been the most compelling paso doble that Derek has ever choreographed, but for me it at least managed to take a step beyond the stereotypical Halloween schlock we saw this week. Plus I just kinda dig Little Red Riding Hood – my favorite Halloween costume everrrrrr.
Battle of Ray Parker Jr.’s “Ghostbusters”
Monique & Louis had it as their cha-cha song during the first Halloween show back in season 3:
And JR & Karina got it as their tango this week:
Court’s take: This is almost a no-contest to me – Monique & Louis!!! The song was positively sucktastic as a tango and I think JR may have been 2nd only to Nancy in song screwage this week. Wayyyy too hard to keep timing. And let me just say this: I think Monique may be one of the most underrated contestants that’s ever been on this show, and I think Louis is capable of being every bit as creative as Derek, Maks, or Mark – when he has the right partner I loved this cha-cha – it was fun, cute, cheeky, creative, and yet still a proper cha-cha. And Monique is like the DWTS-conceived love child of Kyle Massey & Lil Kim – she was a sassy showgirl like Kim, with the skill & youthful appeal (and Disney pedigree) of Kyle. That girl could DANCE, too – kinda makes me wonder if she would have fared better (and possibly won) if she was in a less-competitive season.
Battle of “The Addams Family Theme”
Another gimme from the original Halloween episode in season 3, it was Joey & Edyta’s tango:
And Rob & Cheryl had it again this Halloween episode:
Court’s take: This is a little bit of a weird one for me, as I’m not particularly fond of “The Addams Family” as a tango – even though it has a strong tango beat, it just seems…hokey. And I think both guys had different strengths in their respective routines – Joey’s was definitely better from a technical standpoint, but I thought Rob played the character a bit better. I enjoyed both for different reasons. But overall – I just don’t ever want to hear this song again on DWTS!
Well kids, I’m afraid tonight was a prime example of how theme nights can really sabotage some (or most) of the couples – because I feel that almost every single couple was negatively impacted by their song assignments this week. Yes, it was kinda “fun” to have a Halloween week – but making the dancing suffer in order to fit theme? No thank you. But praise Jeebus, this week was the final theme week of the season – back to business as usual next week! Well, about as “as usual” as you can get when you’re thisclose to the finale
Thoughts on the team dances: I agree that team paso had the stronger routine of the two, however – I don’t think team tango was as terrible as everyone seemed to think it was. I think team tango was indeed better in their group sections – everyone managed to stay very in-synch, although there were a few spacing issues; team paso seemed a bit less in-synch when all 3 couples were on the floor at the same time, and it almost seemed like they tried to avoid a lot of synchronized work, which was probably a good idea. I was also a bit bothered by the fact that team paso seemed to have quite a few spots of what I like to call “empty space” in their dance – moments where, due to the phrasing of the music, they seemed like they were just waiting or stalling until the next accent or big move. I think team paso better captured the aggressive, haunting feel of both their music and their dance, but probably had the song with the more difficult rhythm; team tango had the song with the easier rhythm, but probably suffered due to the fact that it lacked a lot of the theatricality necessary for the tango. Team paso was leaps & bounds stronger in the individual sections – Ricki & Derek were their usual showstopping selves, Hope managed to keep up (although I could have done without such a long count of her on the floor while Maks kinda danced around her), and oh man – ROB. Rob was the MVP of team paso for me - he impressed the hell out of me with the way he kept up not only with Cheryl, but with Maks & Derek as well. I was shocked at how much better JR looked dancing the tango with his team than he did individually – guess it’s a testament to how a bad song can throw even the best dancers off their game. David seemed a bit wobbly, but was still looked decent to me; Nancy was clearly the weakest member of team tango, but man – she was out there giving it her all. Overall, I think the scoring was about right, and likely won’t cause a huge upset when all is said & done tomorrow night.
1.) Ricki & Derek – Alone at the top of the leaderboard once again, and she thankfully did pretty well on a night where everyone seemed to have a bit of a slump. I must say, I wasn’t completely wowed by her paso; I could kinda tell she wasn’t dancing full-out and seemed to be babying her rib, which I can’t really fault her for – I’ve bruised a couple ribs in the past and was in so much pain I could have sworn that I had collapsed a lung. I think Derek probably went a bit easier on her with the choreo as well, as it wasn’t exactly the same level of paso genius I’ve come to expect from him. But once again, when you’re working with a theme like Halloween – you’re kinda forced into thinking inside the box, because they’re expecting something spooky/scary/eerie/etc, and they want to see Halloween archetypes like werewolves, vampires, ghosts, etc. Add an injured partner on top of that, and you’re pretty limited in what you can do. Overall, though, a nice effort with a pretty good payoff for these two – I think it will be enough to keep them safe tomorrow night. Read more..
So at this time last season, I did a run-down of what we can expect in the final 4 weeks of the season. You guys seemed to like it, so I did it again And this time I’m spilling who’s on what team for the team dances! Read on…
A good mix of Latin and ballroom left for JR, and he’s fortunately gotten some of the harder dances (samba, Viennese waltz, jive) out of the way early. Not that I think it would really matter, give his popularity and skill ;-), but it just reduces the likelihood of a potential “Ralphing” from the judges…that is, giving a celeb a cruelly low score on a dance that they struggled with but weren’t necessarily terrible at, in an effort to oust them. I guess my only concern for JR going into these last few weeks is the more aggressive dances – tango & paso doble, and moreso the latter. So far, he’s only had to be silly & energetic (jive, quickstep, foxtrot), sexy (samba), or romantic & vulnerable (Viennese waltz & rumba). We’ve yet to see a very aggressive JR – can he muster it? I think so, but at the same time, he just seems like such a nice guy. I could see the judges pulling a “well, the steps were there, but I didn’t feel the power and anger behind them” or some nonsense like that. Those frakkin’ asshats.
The one potential problem that jumps out at me immediately here is the samba – it’s problematic for just about everyone, but for whatever reason, it’s the one dance for which Derek’s choreo doesn’t always “wow!” me (although there have been very few sambas on this show that have actually wowed me), and that the judges seem to get particularly nitpicky about. “There wasn’t enough content”, “You guys weren’t in sync”, “Your footwork was messy”, yadda yadda yadda. I can just hear them bitching now If they’re going to attempt to set Ricki up for an “off” week again, I would almost bet they’re going to do it with the samba. I’m mildly concerned for her paso, for the simple reason that I just don’t see her being terribly aggressive; but thankfully, that’s a dance that Derek seems to thrive on, so it could work in her favor. Waltz & cha-cha? Easy dances – no biggie
Ummm, yikes. Samba is the obvious troublemaker here, and the jive is probably not going to do Nancy too many favors, either. One requires a fairly significant amount of technique (which I’m not sure she can muster); the other requires stamina, which I also have yet to see from Nancy. So far, she’s kinda lucked into getting much slower, easygoing dances; she hasn’t really had to haul ass in a dance, which is why I could also see the Viennese waltz being problematic. She just seems to move soooo slooooow sometimes…I’m having nightmarish visions of her losing time in both her Viennese waltz and jive in several places. And then there’s the tango. *sigh* We saw how well she did the first time she had an aggressive dance – her paso looked more like a leisurely stroll in the park than a bullfight. But who knows – maybe she can summon her inner tart for the tango, now that she’s shaken her stuff in the group dance But MacGrace fans, I’d buckle in for a rough few weeks ahead – because I think Nancy may have the toughest group of dances to deal with, out of the remaining couples
David & Kym – remaining dances: waltz, foxtrot, cha-cha, samba
The dreaded samba strikes again! I could see poor David stumbling through that one with a bit of a “deer in the headlights” look on his face – no doubt, he’d give it his best shot, but I’m not sure he’d succeed. He probably will be fine with the waltz & foxtrot, since he seems to be doing better with the ballroom dances; he could falter a bit with the cha-cha, since Latin hip action seems to evade him – but I daresay it wouldn’t be as hard on him as the samba. Honestly, if he can soldier through the samba, I think he could have a decent shot at the finale…if he keeps up the improvement we’ve seen from him in the past few weeks, and can avoid being…well, creepy.
Rob & Cheryl – remaining dances: waltz, tango, quickstep, samba
Again, the big red flag here is the samba – somehow I don’t see Rob getting his hips moving like JR’s, or with as much energy. The samba, to me, is the dance that truly separates the men from the boys and the women from the girls – it’s hard, and as I said before, the judges seem uneccessarily nitpicky about it. However, I’ve also noticed that they might tear a samba apart in their critiques, but still give it a halfway-decent score. Maybe someday I’ll look at the scoring closer and see if they maybe cut breaks on the samba, points-wise. Anywho! I could see Rob really doing well at his remaining ballroom dances – from what I saw in his foxtrot, he seems to have a flare for the ballroom as opposed to the Latin. Quickstep could be a potential problem if he can’t come out of his shell a bit more, and he may need to intensify his blank stare in order to succeed in the tango…but I could see him having a shot at the finale, too. Interesting indeed.
Yet another couple who still has the pesky samba to contend with. Hell, at this rate, the samba could be the deciding factor in who gets that coveted 3rd spot in the finale – whoever manages to muddle through it alive could be a possible candidate! Haha. I know a lot of Hope fans have been saying “Just wait till she has the paso, she’s gonna be awesome!”, but I’m still skeptical – especially after watching her muscle her way through that tango. Yes, paso requires strength and aggression; but it’s still a dance, and it still requires some degree of finesse and restraint. Can she muster it? I’m not sure. Waltz could also be problematic, since it requires a grace I have yet to see from Hope – and because it’s so slow, any potential snafus are going to stick out like a sore thumb. Quickstep? Could go either way – if she’s able to let loose and have fun like she did in the foxtrot, I think she’ll do well; but if she goes stiff and tight like she did in the jive, it could be disasterous.
So what’s going on with the team dance? It’s this coming week (Week 7) and the teams are Ricki & Derek, Rob & Cheryl, and Hope & Maks vs. JR & Karina, David & Kym, and Nancy & Tristan. Ricki’s team is doing a paso doble; JR’s team is doing a tango. Heidi will reveal the songs in her “Who’s Dancing What?” post on Sunday. Now while I’m somewhat relieved that they’ve taken a break from the team cha-cha, I’m a bit concerned that this won’t necessarily be an evenly-matched face-off – the same two dances were the team dances in season 9, and team tango basically annihilated team paso. Then again, team tango also had Derek, who thus far is undefeated in the team dance, and choreographed a dynamite team paso in season 7. I’d say Kym is probably the 2nd most successful (2 team dance wins, and 1 tie), followed by Cheryl (2 wins, 1 loss). Quite possibly my biggest concern: the dynamic between the pros on team paso. Derek & Maks worked great together on the team Apolo cha-cha in season 11; but in light of some of the conflict this week, is it going to create any friction? I would hope not, but you never know. Will be interesting to see how Tristan fares in his first team dance, and on a team with his main squeeze, no less I’m tentatively saying team paso will take this one, just based on the pros on that team having previous experience.
What about the marathon dance? Sorry, not gonna be one this season. The group dance basically replaced it, which I’m actually kind of thankful for – the marathon dance seems to favor those with particularly high endurance, so I’m not sure Nancy, Chaz, or even Rob would have fared well in it. At least the group dance was just a fun little ditty that let us see the couples in a new light.
When are they gonna do the Argentine tango/salsa? Not 100% when, but they are coming. If I had to guess, I’d say they’re probably going to follow the pattern of last season, and they had these dances in weeks 8 & 9. And if my spidey sense is correct, some of the couples with only 1 Latin dance remaining (like Rob & Cheryl) COULD end up with salsa as their instant dance. Also in the vein of last season: for the couples who still have the standard tango remaining, they may end up doing the Argentine tango instead, and skipping the standard one altogether – that’s what happened with both Chelsea & Kirstie last season. However, if a couple has already done the standard tango, I’m thinking they’ll probably do Argentine tango as well – that’s how it played out with Hines. And then he ended up never doing the regular waltz. *shrug* Go fig.
Are they going to do the “Instant Dance” again? Yes, in week 8. And as always, it will be a Latin dance – so that week, the remaining couples will likely all do one regular ballroom dance, and then an instant Latin dance.
Do you know if the “Winner Take All” dance is coming back? Praise 8 lb 10 oz baby Jesus, it is NOT COMING BACK! Apparently it was wildy unpopular…can’t imagine why. *snicker* But I do like to think Heidi & I had something to do with its demise, since Heidi was the one that first noticed what a crock of crap it was, and I just basically shouted it to the heavens. But just because there isn’t a WTA dance, don’t assume that everything is going to be business as usual – I could see them rehashing the smackdown or medley dance, just to fill time and have something “different”.
Vogue here adding some video footage of the Teams practicing 4 hours after the Results show last night: