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The Pros & Cons of the DWTS Pros – The Maks and Cheryl Edition

This is a part of the Pros and Cons of the DWTS pros Series. You can check out all the posts in this series here.

Maksim Chmerkovskiy

Marianya: Maks, Maks, Maks. The best thing since sliced bread… NOT! *evil cackle* Ok, all kidding aside, he’s actually a pretty good teacher, and is not that bad looking… as long as he keeps his clothes on. I mean seriously, the shirtless gimmick only works once and it’s over. Some people might like a few more times, but I think he’s sexy when a lot is left to the imagination. He is willing to work out of his comfort zone (as evidence to his freestyle with Erin last season, which I actually really liked), and he could handle pretty strong personalities (Laila and Mel B anyone?). That being said, Maksim (aside from some fairly recent partners) has actually done rather well placement-wise, however, add in recent placements then his average drops… que sera. since I don’t read any of the pros blogs or off the air antics I can’t, and won’t, comment on those… I’ll leave that to the other bloggers. That being said, he has done some decent choreography, but he tends to act like a big bratty kid when things don’t go his way… like crazy-Tom-Cruise-jumping-on-the-couch-only-on-a-ballroom-floor crazy. In any case, Maksim, in my opinion needs to grow up… and unfortunately I don’t see that happening anytime soon, and if he doesn’t grow up he’s going to leave a bad taste in people’s mouths down the road…

Heidi: Maks is a dichotomy for me. And my opinion of him is like one of the big coasters at the amusement park. Up, down and all around. At the start of last season, I was on one of the high hills of the coaster – but the plunge came quickly. I thought that Erin brought out a catty, snotty side of him that I really didn’t care for. Don’t throw your damn clothes at the judges when you KNOW you screwed up. And when the camera is on you after someone else dances – CLAP. Unless you’re a freakin’ 12 year old. Then, at the end of the season he and Erin both were very gracious in their loss. Then in his most recent blog, he says a lot of stuff I absolutely agree with – like the constant need the producers have to change the show. Hell, most of his blogs have chunks of stuff I agree with – but then he swings back into a#*hole territory. Up…down…up. But he’s a much better sport (most of the time) than Louis, for sure. And Marianya – while I agree Maks needs to grow up, that jumping temper tantrum was one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a long time – and you know he’ll pay for it because the show will use it over and over and over – they already have. :-) Dealing with Erin probably would have brought that out in me as well. :-) Now as a choreographer, he’s also on the roller coaster. I thought when he subbed for Derek with Joanna he did an awesome job. I think his Argentine Tango, while not as difficult as the others last season, was also very good. That leap off the stage that he got out of Erin was an example of how to use a gimmick or a risk to your advantage. It was very well played. The ONLY mistake was choosing to dance it again, up against Nicole and Evan’s ATs – who didn’t have big flashy leaps, but who were clearly much more technically difficult.  I also think that when he choreographed the tour he did a much better job than Louis did – more contemporary and entertaining. The Paso in that tour was EXCELLENT. But then he wasted a hell of a lot of time with Erin last season – lots of walking, menu waving and other non-dancing stuff. Len was right when he said that Erin was too good of a dancer for all that crap (he didn’t even get called on it half the time, either, but still complained). And you know, if you still want to do it and it fits the dance, fine – but don’t get mad when you get called on it. Grin and bear it. The anger just makes you seem dumb – because everyone knows that Len hates that stuff. As a dancer? Well, he doesn’t do that much for me, but he is certainly very talented.  I just get the feeling when he’s dancing that he thinks he’s tremendously awesome – and that puts me off a bit. I’ve seen people say that about Derek and Mark – but the feeling I get when watching them is that they’re having a hell of a good time. that has an impact. I’m actually really, really liking Brandy so I’m hoping that he does her justice and teachers her, and keeps his attitude in check. And his clothes on. :-)

Courtney: I think I can best sum up how I feel about Maks like this: I like him when he’s not all about some gimmick, be it on or off the dance floor.  In the same way I get flustered with Lacey “bucking tradition” for no valid reason, I get flustered with Maks – some of what he does in his choreography, especially like he did last season, does nothing to enhance the overall quality of the dance, and just seems like a waste of time. Heidi mentioned it – the menu reading, the stripping, the wasting of 6+ bars of music just walking from one part of the stage to another.  I know he’s got more up his sleeve choreography-wise than that! The guy has choreographed some great stuff in the past – my favorite is still his Argentine tango with Joanna when Derek was sick – fabulous, and just made that much more impressive by the fact that it was put together in the 11th hour.  If he could make every dance he did as riveting as that one, he’d be up there with Mark & Derek as the two strongest male choreographers on the show.  As for his attitude – it can be hard to swallow from time to time.  The ranting in blogs, on Twitter, and to various news outlets about how the show is “unfair”? The shirt-throwing at the judges? The loud fights with his partners during practice? All that combined, season after season, makes it really hard for me to like the guy as a person – but then, when he does have his moments of sincerity and sensitivity, it makes it that much more endearing.  I just wish those moments came more often! I’m actually really optimistic about this season though – from what I’ve seen of he and Brandy together so far, she seems like the best fit he’s had yet.  Not too feisty (like Mel B. or Erin), but not made of glass (like Debi or Denise) – I think she’ll be able to listen to him without letting him walk all over her.  I’m hoping with Erin gone that he reverts back to good, solid choreography and a more calm demeanor…because I actually do enjoy his dancing when he’s in that mode.

John: I must admit that Maks is probably my favorite male pro. I enjoy that he takes some risks in what he does. I agree that some of them may be dumb risks. I also agree that many of the risks often don’t work out, but I like that he’s trying to be unique and different. This blog wouldn’t be nearly as interesting if they all just came out and did basic steps. I love when they risk it and succeed and fail fantastically. I know many hated Maks’ choice to do contemporary for his freestyle. I loved the risk. The performance wasn’t exceptional, but I still loved that he was stretching himself and the pro in an attempt to do something special and memorable. One of these seasons someone else will do a contemporary and it will be fantastic. Just wait for it. I also I’m surprised by all this hating of him taking off his shirt. I’m a guy and so I couldn’t care less, but I have a feeling there are a lot of people out there that are happy to enjoy a shirtless Maks. We’ll definitely see in the comments to this post. Maks does have his good and bad moments (and partners), but every pro has that too. Although, I must admit that Maks and Mel B was probably the most powerful dance couple I can think of on the show. Them doing Paso Doble was the way I like to see a Paso Doble done. Off the dance floor Maks is a bit of a live wire, but that’s what makes him so interesting. You never know what he might say and I get the feeling he’s really saying what he thinks. I love the unfiltered opinions. I also can’t help but wonder how much Maks persona has been built by the producers. They have hours and hours of footage that they have to fit into a couple minute package. So, they have a lot of ability to shape the audiences opinions on pros for good or for bad. I’m quite sure every “bad boy” clip of Maks has been included on the show. It’s good TV to have a “bad boy” on the show. I know I like it.

Heidi: No, it’s not just that he’s edited that way, in my opinion. One only has to watch a lot of paparazzi video and read all his blogs…and follow him on Twitter. Maks is the only one who really complains about how he’s edited – but the camera can’t make stuff up, you have to remember it’s on you. Maks is not a bad guy, he’s just an often annoying guy. :-) I’ve never gotten the feeling from him, however, like I got from Louis last season – that he was being intentionally mean and nasty. He’s just very blunt – and then complains when people take his tone the “wrong way”. Ya can’t have it both ways – sometimes he knows that and sometimes he doesn’t. SAY what you think, Maks, by all means. But OWN it. All the time, not just some of the time. As for the shirt thing – well, it’s just been done too often and I probably wouldn’t mind if he just didn’t seem so proud of it. :-)

John: I also forgot to mention how much I liked Maks on The Superstars with Kristi Leskinen. He was competitive, but very likable. It was also fun to see him outside of DWTS and somewhere other than the dance floor. I also just read that he did some work with Le Reve in Las Vegas. Who would have thought he worked on a water based show.

Courtney: Yep, I actually did know about Maks’ work with Le Reve – Ashly’s little sister Afton & her partner Brett (remember them from the pro contest in season 8?) are actually cast members.  But I agree with Heidi – I don’t ever get the feeling that Maks is intentionally mean – just very, very blunt to the point of coming across as insensitive at times.  But never intentionally malicious. 

Cheryl Burke:

Marianya: The highest placed female pro of the cast… and second highest placed overall. Without Wayne Newton and Tom Delay she would have placed top overall on average, but alas she’ll have to settle for second. Those statistics alone is a credit to her teaching style/ability towards the celebs given to her, be it a boy band member, a football player, an actor, or anything in between, she seems to have this competition teaching down to a science. Before the dawning of the new young crop, she was the go to person for the sparkle front and center. So what happened?

Heidi: The Houghs and Ballas happened. :-) And really, if Derek hadn’t had Shannon, there would be no catching him in terms of numbers. And it’s not like he got way better partners than Cheryl – Joanna and Lil’ Kim had serious handicaps. Seriously though, not long after they showed up on the show, Cheryl really became a business woman – not that the two things were connected. Total convenient timing. That girl is *everywhere* – sponsorships, studios, attending all kinds of events – the list goes on. While I think it may have affected her on the show, I say good for her. Like Edyta has said recently – you can’t be a dancer forever. And this girl is making her mark and making a living. I’d be willing to bet that, for now, she is the wealthiest of the pros – if any of them qualify for wealthy. :-) I have a ton of respect for what she has managed to accomplish at such a young age. As a dancer and choreographer, I think she’s first rate. She’s also a class act behind the scenes – she never seems to say a bad word about anyone. She comes across as a little cool when presented with paparazzi – but Derek does too lately (thanks, Cheryl Cole), and I think they are both just tired of being harassed and don’t feel like they NEED that kind of attention. I respect that a lot too. Don’t kiss the parasites ass just to get ahead. I really have nothing bad to say about Cheryl at all. And really, put her and Derek together on a team dance and they can’t be beat. :-)

Courtney: Strongest and most consistent of the female pros, bar-none.  While her choreography may sometimes tend towards the fluffy and less complicated (Chad’s jive and Maurice’s quickstep come to mind) it always does seem to suit her partners well, no matter how inept they might be.  She also seems to strike a balance between being both tough & tender – she works her partners hard, but is calm in the face of their frustration, and she does seem to genuinely care about all of her partners.  I agree with what Heidi says about her being “cool” – nothing seems to ruffle her feathers, and she seems intensely focused on doing her best – it very well could be a by-product of her businesswoman side, which I also have to praise.  She’s only a year older than I am, and has already created an empire – dance studios, endorsements, sponsorships, etc.  I think she’ll definitely be someone whose name we’ll be seeing for a long time in the dance world, even if she’s not dancing herself.  If anything, the only thing that’s lacking for me on Cheryl’s part is a bit more personality – sometimes she’s just so cool and composed that it’s hard to tell if she’s happy, sad, angry, or confused.  I really wish I had more to write about Cheryl, but she’s neither pissed me off or given me goosebumps of excitement while on the show.  She’s just a very pleasant pro to watch, and I have a lot of respect for her :-)

John: I think Courtney just hit it on the head for me with Cheryl. I don’t hate her choreography. I don’t love her choreography. I don’t hate her personality. I don’t love her personality. I don’t hate her look. I don’t love her look. I don’t really love or hate anything about Cheryl. Initially I think I was partially biased towards Cheryl because she’d won twice and the American in me loves that the underdogs win or at least have a chance of winning. Of course, this was early in the show when I really thought it was more of a dance competition and less of a popularity contest. However, now that were at season 11, all of that has really worn off and I just enjoy being wow’d by a dance and the story lines of the show. I think I was also tainted a little by a short clip I saw of her early on in this highly ornate dance floor at her house. It felt like she’d kind of come from the golden spoon mentality. However, as time’s played out I don’t think that Cheryl has really played into the “I’m the champion” or “Golden Spoon” roles at all. She’s been amazingly humble when it comes to any discussion of the competition on DWTS. I also think that Cheryl does a really amazing job of making the star the star. She does dance “around them” sometimes in her choreography, but off the dance floor she does a great job highlighting and supporting her star partner. It’s almost never about her, but about the star.

Heidi: It is true that Cheryl is one of the females that has a tendency to dance around her partner, you’re right. And it annoys me at times, but then I figure what can you do with some of these guys? I kinda think the male pros have the harder job though, so I cut Mark more slack for it that I do Cheryl – I mean, the female in most of the dances has the harder moves and the male pros have to teach that. By the same token, though, the fact that the female partner generally is the one being showcased, might make it easier for it to seem she’s dancing “around” her partner instead of with her partner. Know what I mean?

John: There’s definitely something to say about the challenge being quite different for the female vs. the male pros. I’ve always been impressed that any of the pros can teach the opposite sex’s dance moves as well as they do. I agree it’s much easier for the girl pro to look like they’re dancing around the male star since in much of ballroom it is about featuring the lady.

Marianya: Well when I first started trying to figure out what to write about Cheryl, I really couldn’t think about what to say. I think after the Paso Doble and the Freestyle with Drew Lachey way back in Season 2, nothing from her seemed to wow me anymore. And then I saw the Paso Doble that she did with Tony Dovolani for Toy Story 3 and I realized that part of the reason that I really don’t know what to say about her is because she seems to have moved beyond Dancing with the Stars and as thus seems to stay above the behind the scenes drama that other pros seem to “suffer” from. In the process, she has developed into a savvy businesswoman who keeps a calm demeanor, plays it cool and collected with the cameras on and off the dance floor, and has no real drama with her pro, it’s almost like she’s the most adult of the professional dancers and she’s still in her twenties? Anyway, this development, I believe, keeps in line with wanting to keep a good reputation for her studios, especially since her name is attached to them front and center, and with the interests of the dance studios possibly in the forefront of her mind she probably feels a responsibility to be at her best behavior while on the show. Oddly enough, with all the publicity and air time on the show, Cheryl seems to come off as the most successful of the professional dancers thus far. Makes one wonder if she set off on this path of joining the show with the knowledge that she wanted to open studios down the road and as thus did what she felt she had to do to succeed. Now that she has, she just makes sure to keep that good reputation, because it’s more than just her now.

Round Up

Maksim Chmerkovskiy

Marianya: Keep the trap shut, the body covered and open up the mind, he might have a chance.

Heidi: What part of the roller coaster will we be on this season?? Jury is out.

Courtney: Cut the gimmicks, onstage and off, and you could win this whole thing.

John: Expect the unexpected, which is why I like him so much.

Cheryl Burke

Marianya: One of the youngest, while one of the most “adult”, now if only she’d “wow” me again.

Heidi: The entrepreneur – and I say that in a good way. :-)

Courtney: Cool, calm, composed, and classy.  I just wish she’d be a bit more sassy!

John: Neither here nor there. Just a solid dancer that supports her star.

September 17, 2010 I Written By

My life can be summed up in the following two quotes: 1) "I am married to engineering and am its faithful wife by day, but at night my wanderlust takes hold and the arts becomes my jealous paramour." and... 2) "Engineering is my safety net. Writing is my passion. Acting is my escape when the other two become too much." So where does dancing fit in? Pretty much anywhere at this point... =)

The Pros & Cons of the DWTS Pros – The Kym and Lacey Edition

This is a part of the Pros and Cons of the DWTS pros Series. You can check out all the posts in this series here.

Kym Johnson:

Courtney: I adore our little Aussie bombshell! What first struck me about Kym when she first joined the cast in season 3 was her sunny disposition – I can’t recall a time when Kym wasn’t in an upbeat mood, or had anything other than gracious, kind things to say about anyone and everyone involved with the show.  Seriously – this gal is a class act, no matter how inept her partner may be, or how awkward their behavior can become (I still cringe when I think of poor Kym having to stand next to a livid David Allen Grier the night he was eliminated).  A class act that can dance her butt off – her routines are always top-notch.  She’s 100% committed to every step – and it shows.  In the course of Heidi & I doing “Who Wore it Better?”, we’ve been wowed by how Kym’s facial expressions add so much to her performances – she smolders in her tangos, she’s sassy in her cha-chas, and she’s the portrait of grace in her waltzes.  Do I even need to comment on how gorgeous she is? :-D She’s stunning with both short & long hair, be it blonde or light brown, and has a smile that lights up a room…and a set of boobs that make Heidi & I green with envy.  Don’t laugh – she seriously fills out the bodices of her costumes better than any other female pro on the show! And like Edyta, her legs have no end.  Just a beautiful, beautiful girl – with an adorable, honeyed Aussie accent.  If I had to pick out any downsides to Kym (and this is hard for me!), I would say that some of her routines may not always be super difficult, or necessarily super creative – but then again, I think she likes to give her partners stuff they can handle & execute well, rather than flashy stuff that may impress the judges but just look terrible if they can’t be performed correctly.  But beyond that, if Anna wasn’t on the show – I would so have a girl crush on Kym.  Oh wait – I love both of them. ;-)

John: There really is nothing bad to say about Kym. I guess I can see some people complaining that she’s too nice and too happy and too wonderful. I agree with them, and that’s why I love her so much. Her first season with Jerry Springer was really something special for me. I can’t think of another star that danced so poorly that I wanted to see more. Kym is the reason it was enjoyable to watch. Her and Jerry just lit up the floor in a playful and fun way that made me want to watch them dance despite being a technical disaster. Kym is the professional I’d like to teach me to dance, because you know she’d hold you accountable but she wouldn’t make you feel bad in the process. Heidi probably would like someone a little rougher, but I’ll take the Pollyanna like Kym any day. Add in her great looks and awesome accent and it’s no wonder she’s loved by many and hated by few.

Marianya: This woman has been a ray of sunshine the moment she introduced herself to the DWTS with Jerry Springer as her celeb partner. Wait what? Jerry Springer? When I saw that partnership I was not thinking very many good things about it… in fact, it could have been a lot worse. But Kym immediately showed her meddle and brought out the best in Jerry Springer, not just the best, but showed America another side of Jerry Springer that was only known to his family and friends. Not only that but it gave him so many more opportunities leaving his season outside of the Jerry Springer show. With every other partner thereafter, no matter their talent level, she has been nothing but positive encouragement. Though not as precise of a dancer like other females on the show, her performance factor is one of the strongest of the pros. Kym isn’t one to overly challenge her celebs as much as give them material that she knows they could execute and execute well, which is a teaching style some would appreciate if they are just looking to have fun and not necessarily compete. That’s what makes Kym stand out in the end, she knows how to make dancing fun and enjoyable and her teaching style caters exactly to that mindset best… but if you want to compete, she’ll be able to whip you into shape and you might actually like it.

Heidi: Well, John, I would like to be taught by a MALE dancer, thankyouverymuch. :-) Kinda leaves Kym out regardless of her roughness level or lack thereof. Anyway, I’m gonna love any girl who calls my boy Derek “beautiful boy” – she’s a kindred spirit. :-) Seriously, though, she’s always a joy to watch – and she makes even the most annoying partner tolerable. She inhabits every dance regardless of the talent (or lack thereof) of her partner – like Courtney said, you can see it in her face. I was really bummed out she got injured and couldn’t do the Viennese Waltz with Derek during the last tour – Aliona did great, but I really would have liked to see Kym do it. I could also listen to her talk for HOURS.  She is one pro that can do the E! or ET correspondent thing and do it quite well.

Courtney: No joke – Kym’s voice is so soothing.  Heidi, I too could listen to her talk for hours – that mellow, laid-back Aussie accent and her bubbly (yet somehow also calm) demeanor are the auditory equivalent of Xanax.  If I had an app on my iPhone that could play sound clips of Kym (and Laurence Fishburne) talking, I would not need to be on anti-anxiety meds.  :-D And the girl is articulate, too!

Lacey Schwimmer:

Courtney: Ok, let me first start off by saying that I DON’T HATE LACEY.  Quite the contrary – I think she often brings a breath of fresh air to the show with her creativity & her “rebel” side.  However, Lacey is someone that I find myself getting irritated with often, and it’s usually for the same reasons I like her – her creativity & her rebellious side.  Let me try to explain. I think a big part of Lacey’s appeal (especially to younger DWTS fans) is that she likes to “bend” the rules of ballroom a bit – whether it’s going barefoot or wearing boots instead of ballroom shoes, or wearing funky costumes or hairstyles, or choosing to abandon ballroom altogether and do a hip-hop freestyle (Lance’s in season 7).  Now while I think change is good, and I agree that DWTS has never been and will never be a “real” ballroom competition, I do think there are certain ballroom rules to abide by – and one of those cardinal rules is wearing ballroom shoes, which Lacey often seems aversed to.  Why? Because they’re worn for a reason: to accentuate the movement of the legs & hips.  So when Lacey decides to forego them in order to be “different”, I don’t think it’s really fair for her to pout when she & her partner get critiqued for not having enough hip action (case in point: her rumba with Lance).  Speaking of pouting – it’s another thing that she does that just gets irksome.  She, like Louis, is guilty of making some pretty snippy comments in the media after Nicole won – and she wasn’t even on the show last season, so it really made her come across as rather petty.  She’s pouted on other occasions as well – usually after a less-than-complimentary critique from Len.  At this point, I just kinda wish she’d realize that Len is a traditionalist – so if you’re constantly trying to be “untraditional”, be prepared to get called out on it.  As for her actual dancing…I’m afraid her technique pales in comparison to many of the other female pros on the show, but I think this is more a product of her being primarily a swing dancer who has happened to have done some ballroom.  Her Latin is decent, but her ballroom – it truly makes me cringe sometimes. Ok, now that I’ve gotten all the stuff about Lacey that bothers me out of the way, there are quite a few things I do like about her – the most obvious being her prowess in the swing & line dances.  I’ve loved her lindy hops & jitterbugs, and she’s the only pro who’s given us an authentic country 2-step routine.  And she shines in the pro dances, especially the ones with a more contemporary feel – she’s surprisingly skilled in the lift department, and is up there with Chelsie as one of the best liftees on the show.  A shining example of this is the pro dance she did with Dmitry to Nastasha Bedingfield’s “Soulmate”, as well as Teddy & Tyne’s dance to Maxwell this past season, which Lacey actually choreographed.  I also have to give her props for working with some difficult partners – Lance was constantly touted as the “worst dancer in NSync”, and Steve-O was still struggling with drug & alcohol issues while he was on the show.  She managed to make a decent success out of both, so I definitely respect that. 

John: I’d like for Lacey to throw out all the rules. If they ever have a Dancing with the Stars with a variety of dance styles and no “rules” I vote for Lacey to be on the show. Plus, I guess I get a bit of a high when I see Len’s pantyhose all bunched up in a knot. I should clarify though. I like her without rules on the dance floor. I don’t really like when she goes crazy off the dance floor (ie. on Twitter). This may sound a bit contrary to my view that Derek needed to be less PC, but there’s a difference between making constructive comments and me me me comments. It’s a hard thing to do when you’re seen by 10’s of millions of people at such an early age, but it still bothers me on occasion. I actually really enjoyed Lacey with Lance Bass. That partnership seemed to work for me and created some great and memorable dances. Her other partners have been less than exciting for me and I predict that Kyle and Lacey are going to set a new low for her as far as Lacey and the chemistry with her partner. I do love when Lacey and Benji have danced together on the show. When they’re in their element it’s some of my favorite dancing to watch.

Marianya: Of all the SYTYCD imports, Lacey’s my least favorite. This is mainly because I classify her primarily as a Swing dancer, rather than a Latin dancer. Sure she’s won a title in Youth Latin Ballroom Dancing, but with her massive background in swing dancing I really don’t consider her a strong fit with the rest of the cast. That being said, she brings in a breath of fresh air that caters to the younger audience mentality of breaking traditions and expanding horizons, aka the Rebel. In reality my belief is that Lacey’s technical prowess on the dance floor is slightly lacking in the latin dances and don’t even get me started with the ballroom dances. However, when it comes to West Coast, Jitterbug, Lindy Hop, Country 2 step… etc she’s very strong… however these are all extensions of her swing dance training. That being said she has placed decently well with her partners to date… so her teaching style is strong and so is her connection to her partner. So perhaps her non-conformist style is working for her… but for me being a non-conformist can only take you so far…

Heidi: Coincidentally – or NOT – all of the dances that Lacey excels at are those that I don’t much care for. If we never have a another Jitterbug, Country 2 Step or West Coast Swing dance on the show again that would be perfectly okay by me.  She does get carried away on Twitter and  elsewhere with her me me me attitude, and yes that annoys me. But the worst was her attitude towards Nicole and others (pimping Maks/Erin’s showmance, trying to start Nicole/Derek showmance rumors, among other things) when on Daily 10 during last season. Worse than a genuine feeling that it was unfair to have Nicole on the show, was that I got the feeling that everything she said and did on Daily 10 was very self centered – that is, she was reporting what she thought the show and their audience wanted to hear. She could have (should have?) ruined her shot on one show, for the sake of another.  I guess that’s a common thing, but I don’t care for it.  All that said, I liked her with Steve-O and I particularly liked her solo with Lance during one of the team dances – that move she did where she drops to the side and Lance catches her – extremely sharp, very impressive. And not nearly as easy as she made it look. John – do NOT mention her brother’s name to me. Ick. :-) And finally, girl? Dye your hair back to dark brown – you have gorgeous eyes and the brown sets them off much better. :-)

Courtney: John, I can see where you’re coming from with regards to enjoying Lacey “throwing out the rule book” on the floor, but maybe I should amend my last statement – it annoys me when Lacey breaks rules JUST FOR THE SAKE OF BREAKING RULES.  Sometimes her little “rebellions” don’t add anything to the dance – I don’t think her rumba with Lance was any better because they did it barefoot, nor do I think her smooch with him at the end of their paso doble did anything to improve the overall quality of the dance.  Now if she took a big risk – say, doing a waltz blindfolded (a la Erin & Maks last season) – and it worked for her and her partner, then I would say her rebelliousness paid off.  And I feel I should really add that this isn’t something that just applies to Lacey – I tend to gripe on all the pros when they do silly extraneous stuff that doesn’t enhance the quality of their dancing at all.  Maks’ stripping in he & Erin’s quickstep, Dmitry having Mya spend 8 bars of music dusting the judges’ table in their jitterbug, and in retrospect, Louis’ cookie consumption in he & Niecy’s Argentine tango (which I actually liked at the time, but now find to be a bit pointless) are other examples of extraneous crap that I don’t think was necessary in those routines – I believe Len would refer to it as “mucking about”. :-) But I do agree, Heidi, about that one move Lacey did with Lance – if it’s the same one I’m thinking of, it was during the samba smackdown, and it was she & Lance’s “secret weapon”. :-)

John: I guess I like mucking around and Benji. Some of the mucking is crazy, but as long as Len’s still there to keep it generally in check it makes for great content on the DWTS Cheesecake Awards. Heidi, I agree with you 300000% that she needs to get rid of that blonde and go back to the brown. It’s fine that she tried, but it’s not working.

The round-up

Kym Johnson:

Courtney: The sweetest little Aussie you’ll ever meet – with great boobs!

John: Looks – 10, Accent – 10, Dancing – 10, Personality – 10

Marianya: Fun, flirty, full of sass and joy, definitely a total package when you just want to enjoy yourself… and probably more.

Heidi: Along with the boob envy, I could listen to her talk forever.

Lacey Schwimmer:

Courtney: I respect her need to be unique, but I wish she could balance it with ballroom tradition.

John: Rebel child with a lip on her.

Marianya: It isn’t bad to want to walk with the dark side… just keep a toe over the line.

Heidi: Very good at what she’s good at, but watch the ‘tude, girl.

September 16, 2010 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!

The Pros & Cons of the DWTS Pros – The Anna T. and Jonathan Edition

This is a part of the Pros and Cons of the DWTS pros Series. You can check out all the posts in this series here.

Anna Trebunskaya:

Courtney: Ahhh, my absolute favorite pro on this show, male or female :-D And not just because she’s a fellow (bottle) redhead! Hehe.  For me, Anna is the perfect balance of creativity and technical skill: her routines manage to combine equal parts of technically sound dance steps and also a good flash of creativity.  I think you also have to respect the fact that Anna and hubby Jonathan are the freshest from competition themselves – they’ve been competing professionally as recently as early 2009, when Anna was a professional Latin finalist with Pavlo Barsuk and Jonathan was the world smooth champion along with Valentina Kostenko. I think because of this, many of their routines are more true to “real” competitive ballroom dancing, and are looked favorably upon by the judges – especially traditionalist Len.  And while Anna may give the impression of being a feisty little redheaded Russian spitfire on the floor, she is (usually) the picture of calm & control during practice sessions with her partners, working patiently with their strengths and through their weaknesses…from Jerry to Steve to Chuck to Evan.  Only on a rare few occasions has Anna broken down in tears or anger, and has been gracious and apologetic afterwards.  Quite possibly the thing I love most about her – her marriage to Jonathan.  Those two are one of the most adorable couples I’ve ever seen, and seem to truly adore one another – anyone that follows them on Twitter can attest to the sweet things they tweet one another, especially when they’re on opposite ends of the country.  And the dances they do together? BREATHTAKING.  Some of their romantic waltzes (like the one they did to Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel”) make Edyta & Alec look like two complete strangers dancing together.  They’re blissfully in sync and such a delight to watch.  If anything, the one thing that I think prevents a lot of people from warming up to Anna is that (like many of the other eastern European pros) she can often come across as cold – I’m sure its unintentional, and more a product of English being her second language than anything else.  Like Edyta, she still seems to have retained quite an accent, which I actually find cute. ;-)

John: If you’d asked me a season ago to write about Anna, I’d have said who? Ok, I knew the name, but I couldn’t think of one memorable dance I’d seen her do. I guess it took her getting a decent partner to come out of her shell and shock me time and time again on last season of DWTS. I can’t remember how many times I went on IM last season and told Heidi, “WoW! How did I miss Anna in past seasons?” She was fun. She was sexy. She was entertaining. Her choreography was exciting and the hair, makeup and costume people figured out how to work with her red hair. I’ll be interested to see how her and the soft spoken Kurt Warner do. Kurt will be as hungry as Evan to win, but probably won’t be quite as agile. I think Anna gets worn down when her partners can’t execute and then she doesn’t know what to do. I hope that doesn’t happen with Kurt. I also loved last season when Anna admitted that she had no idea what to do with the choreography for the freestyle. She has ballroom dancing in her very core and so it was really authentic to see her struggle to go outside of that. I think she said something like, “I’d rather choreograph 1000 paso doble’s than 1 freestyle.” I found that really endearing and my heart felt for her.

Marianya: Anna T is one of those strictly ballroom pros that I love so much. She’s been actively competing in ballroom competitions through the duration of the show and her overall look is amazing. What I love about Anna is she’s able to balance a strong work ethic with having a little bit of fun. I remember in Season 2 when she worked with Jerry Rice she took a bit of his football training and showed him how it could be applied to ballroom dancing, and it worked… he ended up placing second behind Drew Lachey. She knows how to have a little bit of fun as evidence by the big afro wigs wore in the freestyle she did with Jerry. During the period of time when she wasn’t on the show and decided to compete professionally, she always came back to dance in a results show with her husband. Anna with Jonathan are absolutely flawless together, there is no better chemistry than that of a real life couple… and even then in comparison to Edyta and Alec, Anna and Jonathan seem to simply breathe as one. More often than not we have seen the two of them dance together in some ballroom routine, but they have done latin routines as a couple too. In any case, Anna’s been the bridesmaid twice now, so she’s going to be hungry to win this season.

Heidi: I love Anna, but I love Anna and Jonathan together even more. :-) They’re very romantic together – and not in a gross, icky way. Hee. Courtney, they aren’t just cute on twitter when they’re across the country from each other, but when they’re sitting next to each other, tweeting at the same time. Adorable. I never really got “cold” from Anna, but then I didn’t pay that close of attention until last season. The only time I felt like Anna failed last season was during her freestyle, and you know what? I don’t think her mistake was her choreography, but using someone else’s at that stage of the competition. Now, she had the help of more than one outside pro, possibly throughout the season, as evidenced by Travis Wall’s hastily deleted tweet in the second to last week of the competition. I don’t actually have a problem with that on it’s face, but the thing is: SHE knew Evan. She knew his personality and his strengths and his weaknesses – she should have trusted her own abilities. She’s extremely talented and I think she got caught up in the idea that the freestyle has to be the most mind blowing thing ever – and it certainly has to be good, but she let that get in her head. Girl, you’re fabulous!! TRUST it.

Heidi: I’m back again because I forgot something – Anna is at her most beautiful SANS makeup. The girl is gorgeous and I think occasionally the DWTS makeup team go a bit too nuts on her. I know this because she’s tweeted pictures of herself in her “normal” state and she’s really breathtakingly gorgeous – more so than with all that makeup on.

Marianya: Heidi and John, thanks for mentioning her freestyles I totally forgot about that. Anna’s Achilles’ seems to be the freestyle, but I can’t help but wonder if it’s because she feels like she has to create a freestyle to fit with modern viewers… and since she is ballroom through and through that added pressure just seems to overwhelm her? Oh and Courtney, you might want to have a body like Edyta, but man… Anna’s my body idol. :D

Courtney: Well I daresay all of the DWTS ladies are blessed with great figures! But Edyta is just so RIPPED.  But I do wish I had Anna’s hair, skin, & eyes – just lovely :-) And I wish I knew what shampoo she uses so that her red stays so vibrant – mine unfortunately tends to fade quite a bit by week 4 post-coloring :-(

Marianya: Wait, I thought Anna was a natural redhead? And you’re the bottle head… I’m so confused. :( But Edyta isn’t the only ripped on… Karina’s was amazing in that one pic that escapes my mind. Too bad Edyta isn’t on this season, I’d love to see the battle of the best bods.

Heidi: I think Courtney is projecting. ;-) As a natural redhead in a family of natural redheads (although I’m sad to say I’ve faded to blonde over time), Anna sure appears to have the complexion of a natural redhead. Very fair, green eyes.

Courtney: Ahem.  I have never lied about being an artificial redhead ;-) I have also been an artificial platinum blonde and an artificial raven-tressed gal (let’s just say I got bored a lot in college – I’m a natural brunette).  If memory serves from when I first fell in love with Anna back when she & Jonathan were competing in pro Latin together, Anna is a natural strawberry blonde, but started dying her hair a more vibrant red so it would show up better on the dance floor.  So she’s not a total faker like me ;-), but she gets a little bit of chemical assistance – hence the need for a red-boosting shampoo.  And while Karina does have a great body, Marianya, I have felt a bit disillusioned ever since I saw a blurb in US Weekly where she gushed about using the IT Cosmetics Airbrushed Abs kit.  Although I do admire her cleverness – as someone who’s done a few bikini contests, let me say there were definitely days I wish I had a little help to have the impossibly flat stomachs some of the other girls had!

Jonathan Roberts:

Courtney: Quite possibly the most underappreciated male pro in my eyes.  Yes, in the few seasons they’ve actually had him on the show, he’s had some pretty sucktastic partners.  And yes, he is the one responsible for the horrific doll freestyle that Marie did.  But have you seen this guy’s ballroom routines? Absolutely GORGEOUS.  Elegant, technical, creative, fluid – I could go on and on about the superior quality of his waltzes, tangos, foxtrots, Viennese waltzes, and quicksteps.  Yes, the Latin dances may be his Achilles heel (in his defense, most of his competitive career has focused on the ballroom dances, so, like Anna D., Latin isn’t really his bread & butter), but I challenge any of the other male pros to match Jonathan in both ballroom choreography and partnering.  No one is as “there” for their partner as he is in those dances, and can pull off tricky moves like reverse attitude turns with the incredible ease that he does.  And as I mentioned above – he and Anna are just a delight to watch.  Every dance they do is infused with the genuine love they feel for one another.  As cheesy as it sounds…watching those two dance a waltz makes me believe in fairy tales again. It’s just disappointing to me that everyone seems to focus on his shortfalls, rather than his successes…seriously people, just put the doll freestyle out of your mind, and focus on he & Anna’s waltz to “Unchained Melody” during the Swayze tribute instead ;-)

John: Unlike Courtney, I still believe in fairy tales. Jonathan and Anna are a great fairytale and waltz is the best. Jonathan is the most under appreciated dancer, because the ballroom routines are generally the most under appreciated routines on DWTS. They’re beautiful, but the Latin dances are WOW! People enjoy beautiful, but vote for Wow! To be honest though, Jonathan doesn’t seem like he wants to be in the spotlight. He’s just a gentleman that loves to dance. Not a bad combination, unless you want to go far in a reality TV show where America votes.

Marianya: Jonathan, I believe though I could be wrong, is probably the only male dancer that speciailizes in ballroom routines left in the competition. That’s what captured my attention about Jonathan (and Anna T once I realized that they were married)… he has an elegance and grace that is missing from many of the other male pros that could only come from someone that has focused on the waltz, tango, foxtrot, quickstep, and viennese watlz. Sometimes I would like to think that Anna came into the partnership as a stronger Rhythm/Latin partner while Jonathan was a stronger Smooth/Standard partner and as thus their yin/yang matched evenly and they balance one another out. I have never seen Jonathan “out dance” or “over shadow” his partner and he is always there for his female companions. Jonathan is even a good sport too, willing to dance the Man-go routine with Steve Guttenburg in season 6. Looks like Louis isn’t the only one in touch with his feminine side! Now if only Jonathan was on more.

Heidi: Jonathan has been hosed more often by this show than anyone else, yet you never hear him say a bad word about it. He never complains or gripes, unlike some, much more fortunate pros. And that sort of stuff really impacts how I watch the show, so I really appreciate him for that. Classy guy. It’s hard to tell, since he gets left out so often, but while I think he choreographs the best waltzes (regular and viennese varieties), I’m not so sure that he’s the best at the tangos and foxtrots – but how can you tell?? The guy gets left off the show far too often. But then, I watch this show with a different eye than the other ladies on this blog – I watch it more as a competition that has to seriously entertain me. Some pros get criticized for being flashy – but I’m here to tell you I’ve read that in a regular competition you have to STAND OUT in order to make the cut. Be flashy. And that’s how I watch the show – I dig flashy. :-) Now, Jonathan is truly flashy when dancing with Anna – that I could watch all day long. :-)

The Round Up

Anna Trebunskaya

Courtney: Absolute perfection, in a beautiful redheaded package!

Marianya:One of the strongest fiery female dancers in ballroom AND latin. :)

Heidi: I dig her – but trust yourself, girl!!

John: A redhead that’s surprisingly grown on me.

Jonathan Roberts

Courtney: Poetry in motion! Just wish people appreciated him more…including the casting directors :-(

Marianya: Amazing underused true ballroom dancer.

Heidi:Fantastically Classy guy.

John: Ballroom elegance.

September 14, 2010 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!

The Pros and Cons of the DWTS Pros – The Louis and Mark Edition

This is a part of the Pros and Cons of the DWTS pros Series. You can check out all the posts in this series here.

Louis van Amstel

Marianya: Okay, so Louis rubbed some people off the wrong way in the first season with his aloofness and stand-off-ish behavior (as depicted on screen) and I think the various celebs he has had from season to season has opened him up quite a bit (Lisa Rinna of Season 2 and Kelly Osbourne of Season 9 of note). And consider we all now have seen Louis in a dress (and wore better may I add) than Florence Henderson, I say he has opened up a lot. Add on top of that his precise dancing and strong choreography with the professional numbers I’d say he’s a pretty good package. Now I have no idea what was said behind the scenes because I don’t typically read all that stuff despite being a blogger myself, but what I have seen on screen I like and I like a lot. However, him being a “short” pro (both Mark and Corky are just an inch or so taller than him) he has only been on six of the previous ten seasons, but of all the pros he has the best non-winner placement thus far. Placing fourth twice, third once, and fifth in the last season. So he’s doing something right. I really enjoy watching him dance, and like Karina he has that strong classic ballroom feel to him that I really love, and seeing him and Karina dance together is magic to me for a non-couple.

Heidi: Believe it or not, Louis is my least favorite pro and it has nothing to do with dancing. I just think he was the most ungracious and rude pro last season – he seemed angry that Nicole was on the show, never clapped for her and Derek and looked like he’d sucked lemons after they danced. You know, if you don’t think it’s fair, take it up with the producers, but at least try to be gracious to your fellow pros and the other celebrities. I will say he did work wonders with Kelly and I really loved the two of them during her season. That said, when it comes to choreographing the tour, I was glad when Maks took over – I thought he choreographed a more entertaining, more contemporary show than Louis did. But maybe Louis was burnt out on it. And I think that’s enough of that. :-)

Courtney: I agree with both Marianya & Heidi – in the seasons he’s been on the show, he’s been doing something right technically, because his stars always seem to do decently well, even if they don’t make it to the finale; however, some of his behavior off-stage is just downright bitchy.  I absolutely ADORED him in season 9 with Kelly; but after watching a post-show interview he did after Nicole won, he came across as bitter, petty, and an all-around sore loser – complaining about Nicole having a blatant “unfair advantage” and refusing to recognize any legitimate natural talent she may have had or hard work she may have put into the the show.  Really, Louis – had Nicole NOT done season 10, do you really think you & Niecy would have won? And really, here’s my philosophy for all of the pros who think they’ve been “cheated” somehow in the course of the show: WORK HARDER.  I’m a firm believer that in the hands of the right pro, even the biggest klutz can be a legitimately good dancer – it’s just a matter of how hard you work.  Life’s not fair, and the show’s never gonna be 100% fair…so get used to it.  Be gracious.  Ok, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest – I really do respect how Louis tends to work with the strengths of his partners.  Was Niecy a great dancer? Hell no, but Louis managed to work with what she had, and played on her comedy skills to make their performances entertaining.  Was Kelly the most graceful star ever to hit the DWTS floor? Nope, but he brought something out in her that people adored, and instilled a sense of confidence in her that I’m not sure she had before.  And I think I’ve mentioned this about Louis in general before, but he really seems to thrive when he has partners with a bit of a ‘tude – his best partners (Kelly, Niecy, Lisa to some degree) always seemed to be the ones that were a little mouthy.  While this may have irked other pros (I honestly don’t see Mark, Jonathan, Tony, Dmitry, or Alec faring well with divas), I almost think it just fuels Louis – because as we’ve seen, Louis is a bit of a diva himself ;-)

John: I have a hard time really commenting on Louis. I feel bad trying to critique him when the stars he’s been paired with have been some of my least favorite stars on the show. Kelly, Niecy, and even Priscilla Presley always felt awkward to me on the show and I could never come around to liking them. I don’t really see that changing with Margaret. Man it sure seems like the producers have cast Louis with the eccentric star each season. Since I haven’t really liked any of the stars he’s been with, it’s really hard for me to fairly judge Louis. Seems like not too many people care about Louis either since I checked his Wikipedia page and it hasn’t been updated since Priscilla Presley. I can’t argue with his talent and dance ability. His partners seem to love him too. I’ll just hold out any final opinions until he has a partner that I really like.

Mark Ballas

Marianya: Okay between Mark Ballas and Derek Hough I definitely prefer Mark Ballas, he’s such a ham I love him. He’s so sweet and so cute, but he doesn’t have the choreography prowess that his “brother” seems to be blessed with. But I do know that when the two of them dance in pro numbers my eyes float more to Mark than to Derek, despite Derek getting front and center a lot of the time. In the very first pro number that they were in Mark really hammed it up… again something I enjoy. His dancing isn’t as sharp and crisp and he seems to struggle with celebs unless the celeb happens to be a ringer (Shawn Johnson and Kristi Yamaguchi anyone?). He needs to step things up with all celebs across the board to really have an impact I think. At least he’s not as lovesick as his “brother” though, and for that I am glad.

Heidi: Ha! You’ve not been paying attention to Mark for long, have you? :-) Normally, Mark is the lovesick one and Derek is the one rolling his eyes. Derek is probably regretting this video right now (at the 4:50 mark). Give Mark time, he’ll be back in love land before we know it. You and I are complete opposites – Mark is much too frenetic and hammy for me. I also think that he has a bit of a tendency try to benefit from his “brother” without giving any of that loyalty back. I certainly hope it’s different behind the scenes. Mark never once tweeted good luck to Derek last season, or asked his fans to vote – yet Derek, to an annoying degree, was pimping Mark’s musical performances. That apparent inequity in their relationship is really starting to bother me, and I’m really hoping there is more going on behind the scenes. If there isn’t – well, that’s more Derek’s fault for letting that happen than Mark’s, when you get right down to it. As for Mark as a dancer – I think he’s very crisp and fast, and I only don’t like it when he goes all hammy and frenetic like I previously mentioned – I think he’s the only male pro who will dance around his partner, or try to draw attention to himself to cover for his partner when they’re faltering, whereas several of the women do it. I don’t think that’s the majority of the time, by any means. I think he’s a very good dancer, he just doesn’t do anything for me.

Courtney: While I don’t by any means hate Mark, he’s not my favorite male pro, either.  Unfortunately, in the multitude of classes I’ve taken with his pops, I’m afraid the apple does not fall far from the tree as far as Mark is concerned – without going too far into detail, let’s just say I think he’s inherited some of his father’s less savory traits.  While it has nothing to do with his abilities as a choreographer or a pro, his revolving door of a love life tends to bother me.  He’s what I like to call a “serial monogamist” – totally in love with one girl until the next best thing comes along.  It’s hard for me to take him seriously when he’s speaking all flowery about our dear Chelsie when he was doing the same thing about Joanna just months before…and he was doing the same about Sabrina not long before that.  Or when he’s tweeting awkward things about sleeping with a Donald Duck doll since he isn’t “sleeping next to anyone at the moment”.  TMI :-( Ok, personal life aside, I do think that Mark is the only pro on the show that can come close to matching Derek in terms of energy – granted, they’re also the two youngest male pros, so that might explain why they’re the ones out in front dancing the hardest and the fastest in the pro dances.  He does a pretty good job of choreographing to his partner’s strengths and pulling the best out of them, but I worry that he often gets so caught up in the “vision” of what he wants a dance to look like that he’s reluctant to alter his routines when they clearly aren’t working for his partner – I think that’s what may have happened with Shannen’s Viennese waltz, where the poor girl just looked like she was trying to keep her head above water.  His routines are creative, though – his cha-cha for Shawn to “P.Y.T.” is still one of my all-time favorites, as is his Jabbawockee-themed freestyle for her.  And for some reason, I always remember his rumbas. But I do see what Heidi’s saying about his energy level – I think he sometimes resorts to dancing around or just flat-out “out-dancing” his partner in order to distract from a sub-par performance on their part – Kim’s dreadful mambo comes to mind.  And it actually pains me to see him do jive – literally, it hurts my lungs & chest because the boy is just absolutely spastic.  If he could just calm down a bit, in terms of choreography and performance, and pay a bit more attention to his partner’s strengths & weaknesses, I think he’d be neck & neck with Derek as the strongest male pro on the show.

John: No doubt that Mark is a ball of energy on the dance floor. It’s an interesting contrast to when I saw him backstage. He had all of his energy totally focused on his guitar. Plus, when he was asked to come and say hi he was incredibly kind to me and my wife and seemed to be totally focused on us. Which is a bit ironic since you’d think with his energetic dance style that he would be all over the place. Instead, he was incredible focused and welcoming in person backstage. In fact, it was Derek who seemed like the spastic one backstage who couldn’t focus on anything or anyone. I guess all the pros deal with the nerves before the performance in different ways. I loved Mark with Sabrina. The couple worked and the energy was incredibly fun to watch. However, ever since then his performances have seemed to be missing something for me. Sure, Kristi and Shawn were very popular, but I could just never get into their dances. I felt like Mark should have gotten a lot more out of Kim. Maybe it was all Kim’s fault, but she was a train wreck for me. Shannen was similar. I’m pretty sure Bristol is going to be overwhelmed by Mark’s energy as well. Mark needs a partner that can match his energy or it just feels awkward to me.

Round Up

Louis van Amstel

Marianya: If he can pull off a tacky dress better than the women that have worn it… he can pull off much anything else.

John: Jury is still out for me.

Heidi: Next.

Courtney: Quit yer bitchin’ and get out there and shake it! The latter works the best for you.

Mark Ballas

Marianya: Mmmm Ham…

John: I’ll take Sabrina and Mark, but leave the rest.

Heidi: Ham is too salty. ;-)

Courtney: Just reign it in a bit, dude.  When you calm down & focus, I like what you do.

September 13, 2010 I Written By

My life can be summed up in the following two quotes: 1) "I am married to engineering and am its faithful wife by day, but at night my wanderlust takes hold and the arts becomes my jealous paramour." and... 2) "Engineering is my safety net. Writing is my passion. Acting is my escape when the other two become too much." So where does dancing fit in? Pretty much anywhere at this point... =)

The Pros and Cons of the DWTS Pros – The Derek and Karina Edition

This is a part of the Pros and Cons of the DWTS pros Series. You can check out all the posts in this series here.

Derek Hough

Heidi: I don’t think it’s any secret that Derek is my absolute favorite pro – although I’ve tried so hard to hide it. LOL. Derek is my favorite for many more reasons than good looks. The boy has IT – that mystery quality. Charisma, charm – whatever it is. But besides that, he has a way with his partners, regardless of their talent or lack thereof. I’ve always gotten the feeling that he genuinely likes/loves all of them (obviously, some more than others lol). I don’t know what it is he does, but he manages to make what they do not only entertaining but very re-watchable. He just choreographs an entertaining dance while showcasing his partner very well. I think the reason why his dances mesmerize me is because he’s the most musical of all the pros. He choreographs TO the music – it’s like he sees the music and the corresponding moves that are required, in his head. When Derek says, “It’s the music’s fault” I absolutely understand where he’s coming from – I don’t think he has it in him to go against the music. Just watch that foxtrot with Nicole or his Paso with Jennie Garth – or any of the 3 or 4 dances that pissed Len off – he puts in these little finishing touches that I don’t know if most pros attempt. He’s very musically inspired in his choreography. As for his dancing? IMO, it’s the sharpest, crispest and just plain fastest of any of the men at least. In re-watching his Paso with Jennie, he starts the dance with a spin of such speed that I don’t know how it’s possible. Amazing. And hot. ;-) There’s at least one dance a season where he makes a move that is so fast and sharp that I’m compelled to re-wind to see it again.

John: Derek definitely is one of my favorite choreographers. He has a creativity in his choreography that is really interesting. I’d still like to see him choreograph on SYTYCD so that he wasn’t strapped by the rules of DWTS. It would be pretty cool to see what he might create. I guess we get it with the freestyle some, but that’s even more reason I’d like to see it. My biggest pain with Derek is when he gets up on his pedestal as “The Pro.” He had a few moments with Nicole that were a little annoying. Seemed out of character for the general happy go lucky easy going character that we usually see. Maybe the producers just cut him that way. Sure he’s in charge, but we’re not talking about Kate who totally gave up. Plus, Derek is often a little too politically correct for my liking. I’d probably do the same as him (Heidi thinks that about me I’m sure), but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to watch someone else tell me what they really think. Plus, Pure DWTS is more interesting with a little drama;-)

Courtney: What can I say about Derek that hasn’t already been said? :-) He’s truly a brilliant choreographer, he’s still in his physical prime and can execute all those lightening-fast turns and jumps, and I’m also impressed by his unexpected gymnastic abilities (I’m still floored by the tumbling pass he did during he & Julianne’s pro dance to Jennifer Hudson in season 7). I also have to give him props for thinking of clever ways to either showcase his partners’ abilities (such as Nicole’s PCD hair-flipping in her jive) or mask their weaknesses (hello, fringey pants on those with sub par hip action). And on top of that – he’s just a nice guy. Aside from his little meltdown with Shannon in the confessional after their rumba, he’s generally pretty even-tempered and charming in the press…but echoing John’s sentiments, he’s sometimes just a bit too PC for me. I’d like to see him get a little feistier when asked about bad calls made by the judges – lord knows there’s been plenty, and some of the other pros have raised hell about it. Other than that, my only other complaint is rather silly – the boy doesn’t have the greatest taste in women. I would highly recommend he stop going after the likes of Shannon Elizabeth & Cheryl Cole and go after a real gem – my PDWTS partner-in-crime, Heidi ;-)

Marianya: Without a doubt Derek is right up there when it comes to choreography. Taking celebs with any or no dance experience and making it look like they have some week after week is impressive. As much as I enjoy his dances at the moment that they are done, I don’t find myself watching them over and over again like many others seem to. Sometimes I feel like he focuses too much on wow and personality that the art of it gets lost… and once in a while I’d like to see the art of dance, something more subtler. But that’s me. He also seems to be one of the most even tempered of the pros, which although is really good I’d like to see him, as Courtney said it best, get feistier. Be a bit more out there, rather than just putting a cap on the personality factor and keeping a calm demeanor… maybe that’s what it is for me, as a person he just seems to be a blank canvas that a painter is trying to paint onto but doesn’t know what because he’s too afraid that he would create unnecessary controversy. Then again, there are moments, as John pointed out, that Derek goes, “I’m the Pro” and it turns him off completely. Or maybe it’s because I think of him as someone that I would love to meet and get to know, but is more like vodka… great in small doses but definitely not good for you in the long run.

Heidi: LOL Courtney – I’ll take him! Unfortunately, Cheryl Cole beat me too it – he’s in lurve. :-) My other response is – don’t mess with success. And when he gets all “I’m the Pro” – well, I’m sorry, but that’s HOT. :-) That’s what Dmitry should have done with Mya, actually. Seriously, though, he is too PC sometimes. Always saying the right thing, never getting mad at the judges, etc. Heidi puts on Psychoanalyst hat…remember his season with Shannon? When he literally blew a gasket in confessional?? I mean, he went OFF. At the time, it was a classic case of “You bastards made my girlfriend cry” syndrome. But I think he was sincerely horrified by what he saw on TV that week and vowed that he would not let it happen again. You do see glimpses of him getting angry – kicking the cd player, ripping his jacket off and throwing it – but it seems he’s learned a little too well from a previous experience. I heard he actually wrote personal “I’m sorry” notes to everyone in the cast in Season 6. There’s something else at work there, and I’m not sure what it is, unless it’s the Mormon upbringing trying to reassert itself. Or maybe he convinced himself that his temper cost his partner – which is ridiculous because Shannon was not going to win, in any case.

John: Him (or any of them) getting all “I’m the Pro” is not hot. Although, I guess we just learned something about Heidi now didn’t we?

Heidi: It best not be hot to you, John, or I’ll have to have a talk with your wife.

Marianya: Heidi, as many people have told me over the years… until there is a wedding band on that finger it’s open season. Not that I condone that kind of behavior mind you, but a lot of others seem to. :D Nice to know that you like the controlling side of Derek, now we know what kind of guy to send to you.

Karina Smirnoff

Heidi: I don’t think I fully appreciated Karina until she wasn’t there anymore. Because of my love of watching Derek dance, I took most notice of her when she danced with Derek in a Pro dance on Season 8 – to that little Disney girl whose name is escaping me right now. I think I have Maks to thank for that. :-) Anyway, when watching her dance with Derek I realized that she is probably Derek’s equal in terms of sharp and fast – she not only kept up with him, but I watched her as much as him. And that is saying something! For as much as Aaron Carter’s personality bugged me, she really got some good dances out of him – I think she actually taught him the steps and I never got the feeling (as far as I can remember) that she danced around him – many of the female pros have that tendency, unfortunately. But what has struck me on a few occassions about Karina is that she’s fearless – how many times on DWTS (and off) has she gone air borne?? There was an opening pro dance in season 5 or 6 where she flew off the stage to Maks and then was thrown to Tony – I remember gasping out loud. Same thing when she danced with Maks at the Emmys – good lord. She dances fierce, like the Queen of the Ballroom – and I mean that in a good way.

John: I remember when I first fell in love with Karina. I was just starting to blog about Dancing with the Stars (on the predecessor to this site called Something for Nothing) and I came across this picture of Karina dancing in a DanceSport competition (which I can’t find now). In the picture Karina’s bending her back into basically a U shape unsupported by her partner other than one hand. It’s one of the most unbelievable dance pictures I’ve seen and since then Karina’s back bends have been some of my favorites. Karina’s partners have been a bit lackluster for me ever since she had Mario Lopez. He was a great partner for her. Karina doesn’t change who she is for her partner and so that makes some of her partnerships seem awkward to me. Plus, I adore that she doesn’t hide anything on the show. When she’s in front of the judges she’ll either say what she’s thinking or you can see it right on her face. It’s beautiful. I’d be totally comfortable meeting all of the pros, but I have a feeling if I were to ever meet Karina (and Edyta) I’d be like a little school boy meeting a girl for the first time. Talk about being intimidated by a strong powerful woman. That’s Karina!

Courtney: Karina is a ballroom GODDESS. Prior to joining the cast of DWTS, she was the quintessential “IT” girl in the professional Latin ballroom scene – she’s the only woman to ever make the British pro final with three different partners, and her show dances were legendary. And homegirl has brought that with her to the DWTS stage in a big way – she is by far the best female technician, IMO, as she has this uncanny ability to really sqqqqeeeezzzze every last drop of juice out of every step she takes – those hips, those legs, that torso….she works all of them 110%, and with razor sharp precision. And she puts that work ethic on her partners, too – as Heidi mentioned, she refuses to let them stand there while she dances around them. She seems to make an effort to really make those guys learn their dances, and the technique behind them. And oooh wee – she dominates the pro dances. My fave was definitely the one to “Maneater” in season 8, when she danced circles around Maks, Tony, and Dmitry – not an easy feat. So why isn’t Karina more popular with the fans? I’m guessing it’s because she can often come across as cold or detached, and this seems to be a recurring theme with some of the eastern European pros (let’s face it, Americans are pretty vocal compared to a lot of eastern European cultures!). While she is prone to the occasional snippy comment or eye roll, I daresay she’s mellowed quite a bit since she started the show, and anyone who can deal with the mercurial moods of Aaron Carter is a saint in my book!

Marianya: Karina is, without a doubt, my absolute favorite female pro. If I ever danced ballroom, she’d be the female dance I would love to emulate. I mean just look at her legs as she presses her foot against the floor… you don’t get quads like that by just dancing, but by dancing if that makes any sense. Sure she seemed to turn off a lot of people at the beginning by her poutiness and demeanor, but considering she’s from eastern Europe I’m none to surprised. Plus she’s beautiful and is able to deal with the mood swings of other people… I mean come on, if she could deal with Aaron Carter and put up with Maksim’s antics for so long, that’s saying something. :-) If you want strong, classic, ballroom dancing you look at Karina without question, and that’s really what I like… good, strong, classic ballroom.

Heidi: Is Karina not popular with fans? Or is that a myth constructed by disgruntled Maks fans? I mean, seriously, the girl is amazing and she showed a lot of class over that whole mess. I don’t think she ever said a word in the press. And why is it okay for the men to be snippy and not the women? Look out – here comes my soap box: why does Karina get put down when Maks was the one spouting off to the press (and doing the eye roll and snippy thing too)?? Someone clue me in!! Although it could be as simple as the Eastern European thing – Anna suffered the same thing until last season. But I thought Karina was great with Aaron, and following her on Twitter she seems very sweet.

Marianya: Heidi, When Karina first started, she always had this look that was pouty or she rolled her eyes or when she had pursed lips when things seemed to not go her way… a lot of people read that in a negative light. This happened particular during results or while the judges were giving their critiques… so a lot of people read Karina as a brat (to use a tamer word) or elitist. So when news of the Karina/Maks pairing came to light everyone was so against Karina thinking that Maksim could do better. Honestly Karina could do better… but that’s just me.

Courtney: Yeah, I agree that Karina has gotten a bit of a bum rap due to the whole demise of her engagement to Maks.  But her slightly diva-ish behavior in earlier seasons didn’t help, either.  Again, I think Karina has calibrated to the rhythm of the show at this point, and knows that eye rolls and pouty lips are going to get her nowhere.  It’s kind of in the same vein as Derek’s temper tantrum in the confessional – he was still relatively new to the show, and I get the feeling that new pros are still under the (false) assumption that DWTS is like a real competition – technique takes precedent over flashiness, basics are more important than entertainment, etc.  We all know that DWTS couldn’t be further from being a real ballroom competition ;-) But at first, I think the pros don’t (consciously) know that.  Hence, the indignation, temper tantrums, & outbursts during their first season or two when basic ballroom “law” is made a mockery of…but then they get used to it, and they shut their yapper and just do their best to let it roll off their back when the judges act a fool. :-)

Heidi: Well, except for Maks. ;-)

Courtney: Hehe…good point!

John: I think Karina is popular because she hasn’t hid her feelings (or she’s tried, but partially failed). If she ever became the nice girl (like Chelsie) we’d all call her a fake and she’d lose all her fans. She is who she is and we love her for it.

Round Up:
Derek Hough

Heidi: Oh please – like you don’t know. :-)

John: Great choreography, mediocre interview.

Courtney: A huge bright spot on the show with a promising future…if he can just keep focusing on his career and not his lady friends ;-) (Heidi Note: From your lips to God’s ear)

Marianya: He’s like vodka, good to have once in a while… and even then only in small doses.

Karina Smirnoff

Heidi: Queen of the Ballroom!

John: Man…now that’s a woman.

Courtney: A goddess in the pantheon of DWTS.

Marianya: This woman descends all heights of ballroom godliness.

September 12, 2010 I Written By

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

The Pros and Cons of the DWTS Pros – The Chelsie and Edyta Edition

This is a part of the Pros and Cons of the DWTS pros Series. You can check out all the posts in this series here.

Chelsie Hightower

John: How can someone not like Chelsie? She’s sweet and kind and a fantastic dancer. Yes, I have a thing for blondes, but seriously she’s just a likable person. Plus, it’s been fun to see her grow into a woman. Ok, she might need a couple more years to fully make it there, but she’s certainly grown from the baby faced little girl that first started dancing on Dancing with the Stars to the woman that she is today. I think for myself (and likely many others) Chelsie really took off when she was able to transform Ty Murray into the dancer that he became. I think many other pros would have given up and Ty’s growth would have stagnated. Instead, Chelsie kept on doing her thing and Ty stole the hearts of so many people. It will be interesting to see how she does with Michael Bolton. Having a much older man will be quite a change from what Chelsie’s done in the past. Chelsie also deserves credit for her epic Paso Doble with Derek and Mark Ballas on guitar. Plus, for those of you who don’t follow So You Think You Can Dance like I do, Chelsie and Mark’s performance of Bleeding Love on SYTYCD is a must see Chelsie moment. About 1:37 into that video, Chelsie has one of my favorite dance moments ever when the dancing just takes over the moment. Dances like this make me really want Chelsie to make the final 3 so I could see what type of freestyle she would create.

Marianya: Like Dmitry, Chelsie’s from SYTYCD first… as thus they will always have a piece of my affection. But unlike Dmitry, Chelsie was able to breathe through her dancing and not just ballroom mind you, but everything. She’s able to translate that into DWTS, taking her celebs and teaching them not just how to dance but how to breathe into the dancing. She takes what she has and doesn’t disguise it, she pulls and tugs at it and watches her celebs just grow. Granted had it not been for Ty Murray as her first partner she might not have the praise she has had thus far… but then again look at her pro pieces she lives in the dance and has had amazing connection with not only the Derek/Mark acoustic guitar Paso Doble mentioned by John… but with Damian later on that same season. She might be young and a very girl next door… but she doesn’t go into overtly sexy nor is she modest. To me despite her youth she’s a strong overall package and she’s only beginning to scrape the extents of what she could do… Every season I hope that she would be matched with a celeb that have the potential to make it to the freestyle round if only so the wider America audience could see what us SYTYCD fans have known for a long time.

Heidi: While I really like Chelsie, I don’t think she’s quite the phenom you all make her out to be. :-) She’s very, very good though. I would not be at all surprised to see another acoustic dance with Derek and Chelsie, possibly with Mark and Cheryl thrown in this time (like I think it was originally conceived by Derek). Why? Because that dance was a killer, it was nominated for an Emmy (and you know the producers love that) and Derek and Chelsie make a pair that the producers seem to love. Two blonds. Why they seem a tad fixated on that, I don’t know. Chelsie is certainly an able replacement for Julianne – I could hardly distinguish between the two during that pro dance to “Let is Rock” and that’s really saying something. What I really loved about her LAST season was that she didn’t allow herself to be bullied by Jake, yet she didn’t turn bitch on him either. That’s quite a talent. She is also very different from all the other pro females – not overtly sexy, but not quite the tomboy. Her manner with her celebs is fairly even – have we ever seen her pull out the tears? Or is my memory correct and she’s the most laid back of the women??

Courtney: I think your memory is correct, Heidi – Chelsie is just that laid back, and is seemingly unflappable in terms of emotion.  I wish I had her sense of calm when dealing with some of my coworkers! We saw it on SYTYCD (and John, I agree about Bleeding Love, but my favorite from her is still her “Beautiful” Mia Michaels routine :-D), and we continue to see it on DWTS. I think that’s what I love most about Chelsie: her personality.  She’s comfortable being sexy and womanly, but can still hang with the boys.  While I agree she’s been able to pull some stuff out of not only Ty, but Louis & Jake as well (her A. Tango with Louis is still one of my favorite routines), I have often complained that I find her choreography (especially her jives) to be a bit generic from time to time – her jive for Louis felt like a recycled version of her jive for Ty for me, and neither was particularly different step-wise than her jive with Jake. Maybe she just needs a little longer on the show to really grow – who knows.  But I know what Heidi’s talking about when she says that Chelsie seamlessly filled the gap left by Julianne – I am constantly wowed by her lifting prowess in the pro dances.  She was STUNNING in the “She’s Like the Wind” portion of the Swayze tribute, and her pro dance with Damian this season just blew me away.  That little blonde thing gets thrown around like a ragdoll and makes it look graceful!

John: Thanks for reminding me about the Beautiful routine by Chelsie. It illustrates so well how Chelsie has a way to get into the dance and you can feel the dance and music coming through her. It’s beautiful to watch. I agree that she can be sexy and womanly, but still hang out with the boys. Although, I’ve been trying to forget the segments from SYTYCD that talk about her liking to burp all the time. Some guys like that. I’m just not one of them.

Marianya: It’s not just that Chelsie could be sexy and womanly, and be one of the guys, but she still has that girl next door look… So in reality she one heck of a chameleon. I still remember the finale dance in Season 9 that she did with Louie to Donny Osmond singing Puppy Love and thinking just how adorable those two were. So it’s going to be really interesting to see how she plays up to Michael Bolton. Could she still be sexy and womanly without people going, “but the age difference!” and gakking all over the place.

Edyta Sliwinska

John: I’m still going through a bit of denial when it comes to Edyta. I certainly respect that it’s her life and her choice to continue doing Dancing with the Stars or not, but I’m still in denial that it’s actually what she chose to do. Although, I’m not really blaming her either. I’m mostly angry with the producers for not coughing up enough money so she had no choice but to come back, but I digress. Edyta is just something special. First, she’s gotten arguably the WORST partners on Dancing with the Stars. Sure she’s had some average partners, but she’s also been on a zillion seasons of Dancing with the Stars. You’d just think that one of those times they’d give her a reasonable partner. I guess it’s hard for me to comment too much on her choreography or ability to teach her partners. She’s probably middle of the road on both of these, but it really doesn’t matter to me. Edyta could just slowly walk around the dance floor with her partner and I’d love her just the same. In case you’re missing her too, a Google Images search for Edyta Sliwinska pays a nice homage to her.

Marianya: The mere fact that Edyta was on for ten seasons straight says something about her in regards to the producers. She brings in an audience… most likely of the male persuasion and keeps them fixated on her, even for a moment of their time. She has an amazing body, no doubt and she keeps it in check. She enjoys dancing and loves dancing with her husband… but then, how is it that after ten seasons the closest that she has never won? She went so far as second place in the season that Kristi (arguably the biggest ringer of them all) won, and third place with Joey Lawrence in a season with Emmitt Smith and Mario Lopez? Granted in the first six seasons she place sixth and above… but the last four the luck pool was running a bit thin. It would seem that in seasons that she received a celeb with potential, happens to be in the same season where there are ringers up the wazoo. What a way to kill motivation producers, no wonder she would want to walk away and try something new… hell a lot of people would. But it isn’t just the celebs that she has had, she is featured on a lot of DWTS advertising and pro dances. Anyway, I’m ranting so I’ll stop. She’s an amazing dancer all around and not in any one particular field. She doesn’t fail to disappoint, she pushes her celebs, but doesn’t overly push them either. She does sometimes put on the whole, “I’m a Pro” like others, but it works and it balances out in her sessions I would think. Granted her being good eye candy would help too wouldn’t it? In her one freestyle, it wasn’t bad… but the choreography lacked spark and wow despite it being fun… Nevertheless maybe she needs this season to really take a break to recharge her batteries… and if she comes back the producers better give her the due she deserves and STAT!!!

Heidi: Are you both on crack? :-) I love Edyta. I have no gripes with her and I see nothing wrong with her dancing or how she is with the celebs she’s handed. But I think you’re missing a couple key factors. If they were to respond to a request for more money, they’d have to give more money to all the pros – because like it or not she’s not the most popular (not even in the Top 5), she’s just the most reliable. If she were truly popular, they WOULD give her a great partner once in a while so she would stick around. Maybe that’s the problem – she’s always been there for them and she was starting to be taken for granted. Ten seasons in a row? They probably figured they could give her anyone, have the hot chick around for a few weeks and she’d be back for more the next season. I think she’s an amazing dancer with an amazing body – but don’t put her in a group pro dance because she is never in sync with the rest of the group. I can always pick her out because she’s usually a beat behind. I think the most likely explanation is the one that Mark gave – she’s smart enough to know she’s not getting any younger and she wants to expand her horizons and/or have children with Alec. Occam’s Razor.

Courtney: Echoing everyone above’s sentiments, I too love Edyta and will miss her quite a bit.  I have to give her props for sticking around for 10 seasons – especially when she was handed some real stinkers as partners for many of those seasons.  The few good ones she had (Joey, Cameron, & Jason) she really brought the best out of; I guess I just wish she had managed to make something more out of the less talented ones.  I’m one of those that’s of the opinion that a truly great pro can make even a crappy celeb a decent dancer, given enough effort.  But I would be lying if I said I didn’t get a bit bored with Edyta’s choreography the past few seasons – then again, with as long as she was on the show, I would think you’d start to run out of truly “fresh” ideas, and the poor girl was likely suffering from a major case of burnout.  I’m hoping they at least offer to bring her back for a pro dance or two (doubtful, if the split from the show was as acrimonious as we’re being led to believe), because she & Alec were wonderful to watch together – and Edyta is the only one that seems to come close to Karina in terms of precision & range of motion in her movement.  And John – believe you me, whenever I need motivation to go to the gym or to resist eating junk food, I just google Edyta…the woman has the most beautiful body of any of the female pros on the show, current or former.  Once things calm down at work, I’m planning on getting a personal trainer, and I plan on printing off one of the pix from Edyta’s Maxim shoot and telling him “This is what I want to look like.” ;-)

Marianya: How that woman keeps a body like that is beyond me. Courtney, you’re right that there’s a distinct feel of recycling lately… but she hasn’t had as many “less talented partners” as we all think, I believe she’s had all of three really bad ones, a good number that were middle of the road, and three really strong ones (I’m going to have to recheck my stats at home), so she’s had an even balance I think. I think though it’s kind of unfair that the celebs that she had done really well with were up against bigger ringers on that same season… so who knows what’s really going on?

Round Up

Chelsie Hightower:

John: Please let me see her freestyle!!

Marianya: Amazing budding talent… hope she’s around for a long time.

Heidi: I want another accoustic dance with Derek, please.

Courtney: Looking forward to seeing her continue to grow.  More pro dances, pleeeeeze :-D

Edyta Sliwinska:

John: Let me say it three times: Sexy, Sexy, Sexy!!!

Marianya: I agree that she needs a break, but she needed a good partner to keep her motivated! Way to screw with the pros producers!

Heidi: I really like her a lot – but I’m not opening a vein. :-)

Courtney: Bon voyage, Edyta – it’s been a fun ride and you will be missed.  But onto bigger & better things for both of us…I will have a body like yours by this time next year! :-D

September 10, 2010 I Written By

Better known as Charlie.

The Pros and Cons of the DWTS Pros – The Tony and Dmitry Edition

This is a part of the Pros and Cons of the DWTS pros Series. You can check out all the posts in this series here.

Tony Dovolani

Marianya: When Tony has a partner with some measure of talent he really pushes them (Stacy Keibler and Melissa Rycroft) but on the other side of the coin when it’s a partner that doesn’t have natural talent he doesn’t challenge them nearly as much, choosing to work around them… which honestly a lot of pros do but I like to see my stars challenged… now if you have someone like Kate that simply isn’t trying, ok I get it. I do like Tony, but he’s not necessarily a favorite… though last season put a bad taste in my mouth. I’m hoping he changes his M.O. and pushes his star this season.

Heidi: Tony has an amazing smile. :-) And when he’s in good humor, he seems like a nice guy. But….and this is a big but….he can be pretty shitty too. Here’s my problem – because of working on this website I see a huge majority of the media surrounding the show and that, like it or not, impacts my opinion of the various pros – which is why I’m not crazy about either Tony or Louis right now. Tony can be good, but he can also find one great attribute, like Melissa’s ability to kick her leg high over her head, and then repeat it so often that you can make a drinking game of it.

Courtney: For me Tony’s best quality (and also one of his biggest problems) is his ability to actually use legit syllabus steps in his choreography – as I’ve mentioned before, sometimes some of the pros venture so far out of the realm of “meat & potatoes” steps in some of their routines that we’re left watching something that barely resembles a samba or a waltz. And that’s when Len gets pissy! Tony, for me, is the male pro that most often seems to take strides to stay true to the dances; we see New Yorkers in his cha-chas, we see bota fogos in his sambas, we see quarter turns in his quicksteps. But in the same token, sometimes these “true to form” routines are just that – lifeless, robotic collections of steps without a whole lot of creativity…Susan’s hustle in season 7 comes to mind. It almost reminds me of the syllabus tests we used to have to take in my ballroom lessons – very mundane execution of the steps we’d learned in front of a judge so that we could graduate to the next level. And echoing Heidi’s sentiments, Tony’s personality can be a study in contrasts at times: extremely charming in the media one minute, a total diva the next. Makes it hard to figure out which is closer to the real him…

John: Tony is like a girl on PMS (excuse the comparison for those girls who don’t do this). Seriously though, he’s this up and down emotional roller coaster. You don’t know if you’re going to get the good Tony or the bad Tony. I guess that keeps things interesting and I think that deep down he is a really sincere guy. The problem seems that he’s just a really emotional guy and he often let’s that emotion spill out. I’d think he was Italian, but maybe Albanian’s have some of those same characteristics. Very passionate about everything (good and bad). As far as his dancing, I agree he’s just to standard and textbook. It’s enjoyable to watch, but compared to a dozen other dances on the same night it gets forgotten easily. That said, I really think he’s a great teacher of those standard moves.

Dmitry Chaplin

Marianya: Ok I admit it, I’m a SYTYCD junkie, blame my auditioning moons ago… but that’s a different story. I loved Dmitry on SYTYCD and was literally squealing in my seat when I heard he was going to be on DWTS. His choreography on SYTYCD is fantastic, but I can’t figure out why it’s not shining nearly as much on DWTS. I really want TPTB to give him another chance and for Dmitry to take that chance and fly with it. He’s such a wonderful calming presense on the show and quite honestly that’s a breath a fresh air considering all the personalities on the show >.<

Heidi: I really like Dmitry as a person but as a choreographer/dancer he seems kinda dull to me. I was also screaming at the TV when he had that 10 zillion bars of Mya dusting the judges desk — “Dude! Have you never watched this show? Len is going to KILL YOU!!” I felt bad, but I also thought that he had to have heard that Len didn’t like that stuff. And especially not with a dancer like Mya. But then, how do you explain Maks doing the same thing with Erin more than once? It boggles the mind that the pro gets angry when they get yelled at for that because Len has *always* hated that stuff. If you’re going to break the rules – the rules that are very clear – don’t get mad when called on it or, in Dmitry’s case, act like you don’t understand what the problem was. I don’t mind breaking the rules, obviously, because sometimes it works in your favor. It’s a strategy. But the anger or cluelessness after? That’s just silly.

Courtney: Dmitry is a real toss-up to me. Definitely one of the best Latin guys they’ve ever had on SYTYCD, and that has carried over to DWTS. I like that he tries to make his routines very “now” by playing into certain trends in music & theme (Mya’s Hairspray freestyle, his “Hip Hip, Chin Chin” routine for Lacey & Danny on SYTYCD), but in the same token, I feel like it tends to make his dances feel a bit…cliche. Don’t get me wrong, I love his choreography; but when he opted to use “You Can’t Stop the Beat” as Mya’s freestyle after it had been used twice on SYTYCD (with better results, I might add) and just as the Hairspray resurgence was dying down, I couldn’t help but think “been there, done that”. Ditto for the samba he choreographed for Lauren & Robert this season on SYTYCD – I could damn near scream if I have to hear Debi Nova’s “Drummer Boy” one more time. Great choreo, completely overdone song. If he could just take that same routine and set it to something a bit more unexpected, I think he would blow a lot of the other male pros on the show out of the water.

John: I agree that Dmitry has been a DUD on DWTS. Even his shirt taking off hasn’t taken off the same way that it did on SYTYCD. Maybe that’s because Tom Bergeron is the host and not Cat Deeley. Unfortunately, the only dances of Dmitry’s that come to mind are the “Hip Hip, Chin Chin” routine and the “Calle Ocho” routine he did on SYTYCD. I can’t think of any memorable ones on DWTS. Plus, the “Calle Ocho” he did with Nappytabs. Not to mention Dmitry’s personality is missing. Maybe it’s a language problem that he can’t get out what he wants to say, but I love when a pro’s personality entertains. For example, we can always expect the unexpected comment or face from Karina. Dmitry has none of that.

Heidi: I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think calling him a “dud” is a bit harsh. And taking off your shirt gets old after a while – I’d prefer he leave it on, because it seems desperate on DWTS. Anyway, I think that Dmitry suffered from Mya more than Mya suffered from him, if that makes any sense. We have comments from a couple of you regarding Derek and an occasional “I’m the Pro” attitude, but it’s THIS attitude that Dmitry needed to have with Mya. Derek is the most successful pro on the show and this might just be one of the reasons. It’s kind of a shame that he didn’t have a chance to learn like the other pros have had – the show is at the point that if you’re a new pro you best make your mark.

Marianya: In some ways I agree with you, Heidi. But there are other pros that put the “I am the Pro” attitude and it backfires in one way or another. You might be right that Dmitry should stand his ground more when dealing with his celebs. Whatever the case may be, I still believe he needs more time on the show to prove his meddle, because he’s a lot better and more as a dancer than people think of him as.

Courtney: There’s definitely a fine line between a pro letting their celeb have some input, and the pro asserting their authority. In the case of Dmitry and Mya, given her extensive background in dance, I don’t think it was a terrible idea to let her have SOME input…after all, she knows her strengths and weaknesses, and could offer up some fresh ideas (granted, he doesn’t necessarily have to TAKE those ideas). It worked when he let her throw out some ideas for her ’70s samba – it got a 30, and was one of their more memorable performances for me that season (and not just because of Dmitry’s porn ‘stache, hehe). And I know we’ll never know for sure, but I have always wondered if their disastrous freestyle could have been salvaged if they had gone with Mya’s idea instead of Dmitry’s – because clearly the latter’s did not work at all. But on the other hand, there are certain times when a pro just needs to buckle down and tell his/her celeb to just trust them – the best example I can think of is Tony with Kate. I know I caught a lot of flak from some of you when I ranted about how Kate just needed to shut up and listen to Tony instead of complaining about the steps he was giving her. But seriously – what makes Kate, somebody with ZERO dance background, think that her ideas are going to be any better than the ones that Tony, a seasoned pro, is giving her? Tony was right to put his foot down. Then there’s the case of Maks and Erin and her freestyle – not a bad idea to let Erin tap into some of her dance experience, but I think Maks should have reigned her in a bit when the routine got too far out of their comfort zone. It’s a delicate balance, the whole “let your celeb have input” vs. “I’m the pro!” debate.

John: Heidi, I think it’s funny that you think calling him a dud is harsh, but then you go on to say all negative things about him. Seems to prove the point. Imagine if he wasn’t lucky enough to get Mya who is a great dancer? Would Dmitry have any other memorable dances on DWTS? I still love him on SYTYCD, but he’s done nothing for me on DWTS (much to my disappointment).

Round Up:

Tony Dovolani

Marianya: Used to like, but doesn’t really give a crap about anymore. Meh

Heidi: Double Meh

Courtney: Hit or miss, depending on both his choreography & his mood

John: Like a wave on an ocean, lots of ups and downs.

Dmitry Chaplin

Marianya: Oh hell yeah! :D Give me some of that hunka burnin’ love.

Heidi: In the words of Randy Jackson, “He’s a’ight, but I’m not feelin’ it dawg.”

Courtney: I like what he has to offer, I just wish he’d step up his game a bit!

John: Must be the rules, or the fear of Len which hampers him.

September 8, 2010 I Written By

My life can be summed up in the following two quotes: 1) "I am married to engineering and am its faithful wife by day, but at night my wanderlust takes hold and the arts becomes my jealous paramour." and... 2) "Engineering is my safety net. Writing is my passion. Acting is my escape when the other two become too much." So where does dancing fit in? Pretty much anywhere at this point... =)

New Pure DWTS Series – The Pros & Cons of the DWTS Pros

UPDATE: You can check out all the posts in the Pros and Cons of the DWTS Pros Series as their posted.

I’m really excited to announce that we (Heidi, Courtney, Marianya, and myself) have been working hard on a new series of posts where we discuss the pros and cons of each of the Dancing with the Stars Pros. That’s right. All four of us share our perspectives on what some might call the real stars of DWTS: the Professionals. Seriously, the pros on DWTS have become stars in their own right.

I think you’ll enjoy the series of posts, because we really don’t hold back in our opinions of the dancers. Remember that they are just our opinions. In fact, even amongst ourselves you’ll find that we have different opinions about the various pros. We think that’s healthy and we welcome you to have your own opinions about the pros we discuss and that you share your opinions in the comments.

We don’t claim to be unbiased in our posts since we think that’s impossible. Everyone is biased. This series of posts will display the Pure DWTS writers’ biases front and center. For example, if you ever wonder why I always ooh and ahh about all the blonde pros, you can just refer back to these posts to remember how much I love the blondes. Plus, we figured this would be something interesting for our readers to enjoy while they (and we) wait for the DWTS premiere.

We’ll be posting about each of the pros 2 at a time from now until the start of the show in no particular order (basically as they’re finished). So, if you don’t see us talking about your favorite pro, just be patient. We’ll get there.

September 6, 2010 I Written By

Better known as Charlie.