DWTS 11 – Blogging with the Pros

Okay, I’m having some trouble with this this season – Derek is supposed to do a weekly interview with Entertainment Weekly, but I haven’t seen it (did find one for TV Guide), and Maks is blogging for TV Guide. Found that, after searching because he didn’t tweet it this week. Is Cheryl blogging this season? What about Anna? Someone clue me in and I’ll update this post to include them too. As of right now, I’ve got Derek and Maks and that’s it. Although, that’s usually enough, for ME. ;-)

First up, Derek. One of the things I love about Derek is that he owns it. Last season he said straight up (probably too often) that Nicole had dance experience and that it was helpful to him. Other pros who shall remain nameless, cry unfair one season yet are fine with it when they get the person with advantages. Well, this season, Derek makes the best analogy ever when discussing Jennifer’s detractors. From TV Guide:

After Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough topped the Dancing with the Stars leaderboard last week with a 24, rumblings about the Dirty Dancing star’s so-called “dance experience” heated up again — an unfair dig at her, Hough tells TVGuide.com. “Would you ask Adrien Brody to play piano at Carnegie Hall? Or would you ask Hilary Swank to fight in a professional boxing match?” he says. “Jennifer learned to dance 23 years ago for that movie and she played a person who didn’t know how to dance. She wasn’t learning new routines and dancing live week in and week out. I can see why people think that, but they’re not the same.” In fact, the Emmy-nominated pro has a slightly more difficult path to a record third Mirrorball trophy as he must choreograph around Grey’s neck injury. Find out how he plans to do that and more.

TVGuide.com: I take it that means no Dirty Dancing homages, which you probably should avoid, right?
Hough: We don’t want to re-create something that’s so perfect. I definitely want to give people a different memory of her and a different experience. That routine and movie are so iconic that if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. As much as some people want to see [an homage], I think there are a lot who don’t want to see one. Plus, legally, I don’t think we would be able to reproduce it. It’s time for new things. Also, Jennifer and I can’t do as many things because of her neck injury, so I’m trying to be as creative as I can to create routines that can still be crowd-pleasing, but without highlights that other people may be doing. No crazy tricks or lifts or stunts for us, but we’re still going to put on a show.

TVGuide.com: What was your reaction when she broke down as you were choreographing because she thought of Patrick Swayze?
Hough: I was very surprised because she was excited and smiling right before. But, you know, she wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s not one of those people who will bottle her feelings up. It was uncontrollable. If she’s upset, you will see it. If she’s excited, which is the case most of the time, you will see it. You didn’t see it last week, but she’s usually cracking up and rolling on the floor with peals of laughter. She’s very expressive, a lot of fun and full of energy. The Viennese waltz was very, very emotional, but that’s not her true personality. You’ll see new side of her in the jive. I want people to see that fun-loving side of her because that’s who she is.

And the most exciting part of the interview, for me? :-)

TVGuide.com: Your Emmy-nominated paso doble with Chelsie [Hightower] last season remains awesome. Any plans for another musical/dance number this season?
Hough: Yes, definitely. I have an idea kicking around. It’s the early stages and I haven’t decided who’ll be part of it yet. It’ll keep it very minimal and very stripped down. So keep an eye out!

Next up, Maks – and I have to say that TV Guide is using a MUCH better picture of him than what past blogs have used. I’m also liking his attitude going into this season as well. Much more positive, so far. Also from TV Guide:

I know some people are saying already that Brandy “has an edge” or “has experience.” Listen, I don’t care. People are going to say what they’re going to say. We just have to go out there and do our best. Was Brandy good Monday? Yes. Was she perfect? No. I feel like there’s never going to be anybody who does amazingly the first performance who’s never had any training before. Brandy, even though she’s never danced, I’m banking on her stage presence. I just need that ability to perform from her. You want to call it dance experience. Fine. This was my pep talk to Brandy before we went onstage: “You need to dance like you dance in rehearsals, wearing sweats and no makeup, no glitter.” Why? Because your best level is usually achieved in rehearsals. On the day of, you have negative emotions and positive emotions, both of which pull you away from achieving your optimal performance. That’s why we always say that you’re never going to be as good as you are in practice.

I thought Audrina did great. She had some trouble getting on beat in the beginning, which was unfortunate. Since they were the first couple of the season, the crowd was very excited and went insane after they were announced. They were so loud that she couldn’t hear the first notes — not good since she started with a solo, which was ballsy and showed her confidence. Unfortunately, she couldn’t hear the beats from the orchestra. Luckily, she and Tony were able to recover, but I think she definitely would’ve gotten a better score if not for that. I told Tony that next time, he should start her off closer to the orchestra so she could hear the beats.

I don’t think we can adequately judge The Situation yet. He says he only rehearsed for five days. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. Everybody’s got a story and his story this week was the short rehearsal time. But next week, everyone will be on an even playing field with only one week to rehearse in between dances, so we’ll if he can step it up.

Somebody clue me in on what the last paragraph means? It kinda goes back and forth – and who’s “Dennis”?? And who’s the “old man”?? Tony? :-) Oh, and I put pictures (and a little video) from the Lupus event on PureDerekHough – there’s a good number of pictures with Derek, Tony and Maks together, having fun. Which I really like to see.

The Lupus event I went to Wednesday was amazing. Tony, Derek and Brandy came. I really appreciated that she attended something that was important to me. It was great for Dennis. His mother’s spirit was around. It was a wonderful night to know you’re part of something that makes somebody else happy. Yes, we had an ab-off. The old man showed up! It was very good. All joke aside, we’re keeping him young. I believe you are who your friends are. I keep him on his toes. I think we both totally help each other out. He’s the responsible one who sometimes gives me the older brother slap on the back of the head, but then there are moments when I’m the voice of reason. We’re very close and have a lot of fun together. If we can both make it to the finals this year, I don’t know if there’s anything better than that.

ETA: I found Derek’s weekly quiz from Entertainment Weekly (I’m liking Jennifer more and more – go girl. :-) ):

Derek, where are you going in this photo? Do you think the rule “No shirt no shoes no service” does not apply to you?
We were actually at rehearsal and I was super sweaty and needed to change my shirt. Jennifer had hidden my clothes, though, so I was forced to walk out to the parking lot to my car for a change of clothes without a shirt on. I will get her back though. Someday, when she least expects it.

Are you aware that your belt is not exactly doing its job here?
As long as my pants are not on the ground, the belt is succeeding.

Is it annoying when paparazzi take your picture or do you love it?
There are a few photographers who have literally camped out at our rehearsal facility and so far they have been really respectful. There have been situations, though, where I’ve been chased in my car or when a photographer has tried to cut me off to get a reaction, and that’s just not cool.

I know that generally the producers pick the song but sometimes the dancers have input. Whose idea was it to go with a Dirty Dancing song homage right away, and are you glad you did it?
That was a production choice. It’s a beautiful song and means a lot to so many people, including Jennifer. I’m glad that the audience liked the dance so much.

How is Jennifer doing training-wise? Does her neck injury mean serious limitations for the jive, and how do you work around that?
Jennifer is amazing. She’s in fabulous shape – not just for her age but for anyone. Her flexibility is crazy – she can literally hold her leg alongside her head. It’s pretty spectacular to see. I think that every celeb has limitations that we pros have to work around and Jennifer is no different.

What song do you have this week?
We have a great Jive song that if anyone saw us out on the DWTS tour, the song will be familiar.

Cheryl’s Blog for MSN – I think I posted this one already, but it fits here too. :-) Thanks to Moey in the comments for the reminder.

This year is sure to be a lot of fun since we have a really great cast. There are so many different personalities and every season is so different, so it’s fun to learn more and more about all the cast members. This year is going to be challenging for me because I’m dancing with someone quite tall. I’ve never danced with a man so tall before in my whole dancing career. For me, it’s going to be a different challenge than I’ve ever had on the show. I’m partnered with Rick Fox who is 6’7” and I’m 5’4”, so our height difference is insane.

Rick is doing well so far in rehearsals and if he has his fan base behind him and he doesn’t do bad and continues to improve every week, then I think we might have a chance to make it pretty far. The goal going into every season is always to win or make it quite far in the competition, and I see a lot of potential in Rick. The first few days I was a little scared since I was thinking, “this guy is so tall and I don’t know what I’ll do with him,” but I just decided to start at the beginning and taught him how to walk gracefully and how to use his height and long arms to our advantage. The difference in height is so dramatic, the shoe department of the show had to make me custom 4” heels so I could at least reach up to his chest level. I have always competed in 3” heels, and even that 1” is a big difference. It’s been a challenge, but it’s been a great challenge for me the last few weeks. It’s been fun to mold someone of his height into a dancer.

Anna’s first blog of the season with Radar Online! Thanks to Heather in the comments for the heads up. :-) Unfortunately, Radar doesn’t do Embed codes so you’ll have to follow the link to see it. Radar Online