Free DWTS Newsletter Want to receive the latest news on Dancing with the Stars sent straight to your email? Join hundreds of other DWTS fans who subscribe to Pure DWTS for FREE!

PureDWTS Season 18 Food For Thought & POLL: Is Danica This Season’s “Secret Ringer”?

Let me lead off with this: I don’t mind ringers.  Actually, I appreciate 2-3 in each season, for the simple reason that it ensures that we get to see some good dancing and that the bar is set high for the competition.  The show needs ringers just like it needs really bad dancers, and every skill level in between – it’s part of what makes DWTS work.  The ringers please those who just love great dancing, and the inexperienced dancers ensure we get to see some good growth arcs.

Now what I DO mind is when someone who has enough experience to be considered a ringer tries to insist that they aren’t – in our experience here at Pure, this certainly does not negate the fact that they do have a bit of an edge, and it also tends to rub some viewers the wrong way.  The viewers are not stupid – they know when their intelligence is being insulted by the machinations of the powers that be or a celeb that tries to downplay his/her experience level.  And they especially don’t like feeling like they’re being lied to.

So an interesting discussion came about when Vogue posted this video of Danica & Val’s first rehearsal yesterday. In it, Danica seems to give the impression that she’s new to this whole dancing thing - lots of giggling, clueless looks, and “Huh? What?” It’s what you’d normally expect during the first rehearsal with a celeb who’s never danced before – but considering that Danica has had some fairly extensive ballroom training, it kind of bugs.  We know for a fact that she’s taken lessons before – check out this clip of her on 20/20 back in 2008:

While working on Inspector Mom (the TV movie mentioned in the clip), she met Gocha Chertkoev, a Latin dance champion who was playing the role of a dance instructor.  Presumably, she started taking lessons with him, as that’s who we see her dancing with in the clip.  Some have argued that she “only took lessons for that movie”, and it was a “one-time thing” – but if that’s the case, then why is her picture plastered all over the newsletter from Gocha’s dance studio as recently as a year ago? And why is he plugging her book while she takes a cha-cha class?

danicabookplug

 

 danicachacha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Possibly worth noting: Gocha is also one of the judges on the Georgian version of DWTS, Tsekvaven Varskvlavebi.  Regardless, I get the feeling Danica’s lessons with Gocha weren’t just a one-time thing – they’ve more likely been ongoing.  She’s also had some dance training for another film, 21 and a Wake-Up, courtesy of Jamie Bayard (Lacey Schwimmer’s former swing partner, and of SYTYCD fame).  She talks about in more detail here, on this now-defunct post at her website. Yes, I’m aware it’s in code – that’s the only way to access it now that it’s been conveniently removed from her website (thank goodness for caching!).  You’ll see why in the excerpt below – pertinent parts in bold:

Says Danica, “I love to dance! I got hooked after learning to Tango for the TV Movie Inspector Mom: Kidnapped in 10 Easy Steps.”

Gocha Chertkoev and Shorena Gachechiladze are worldwide ballroom dance champions, and I was so lucky to be trained by them for the movie. I was a fan of Gocha’s from his TLC series, Ballroom Bootcamp. He was a real find – a great actor and dancer! Since then, I dance whenever I can — I love it! I’ve even trained with Jamie Bayard from So You Think You Can Dance”

“Perhaps I’ll end up dancing on stage or in front of the cameras again soon. I’ve been asked more than a few times about Dancing with the Stars, but I think I actually have a little too much professional training this stage. And that’s fine by me – I’m not sure I’d like the judges’ on-stage criticism very much!”

Sorry, but I’m having a harder and harder time buying the whole “I’m new at this!!!” act of their rehearsal video, and this interview that she herself posted presents some pretty damning evidence that she is, in fact, a ringer. The rehearsal video itself is a bit shady, too – my boyfriend (who has been teaching ballroom for 12 years) even remarked that “It’s almost like she’s trying too hard to act confused for the first half – she clearly has danced salsa before, she’s following him pretty easily.”  As for the second half of the video? “She’s already doing rumba walks with great hip action and transfer of weight, and she’s spotting turns like she’s been taught before.  No way Val could have taught her that in one short rehearsal.”

So what’s my beef? The fact that Danica has had some pretty extensive ballroom training is being conveniently swept under the rug, while Meryl & Charlie get raked across the coals for being “practically professional ballroom dancers already!” If you’re going to cry that “DWTS is for celebs with no dance experience!” (not true, but whatever floats your boat) and that it’s “unfair” that Meryl & Charlie get to be on the show this season – then it’s only fair that you call Danica out, too.  But for whatever reason, the two Olympians are the ones fielding most of the cries of foul from viewers, while Danica flies under the radar, with incriminating blog posts being quietly removed from her site and mentions of her previous dance experience being conveniently omitted from interviews.  And to what end? I like to think that Danica herself is too smart and too confident to let a few cries of “Ringer!! RINGER!!!” deter her from being open and honest about her dancing.  I’m leaning more towards someone from further up the chain at DWTS “gently encouraging” her to downplay her dance experience – it’s happened before.  Sabrina mentioned in an interview once that she was told by producers to “dumb down” her dancing during the first few weeks of her original season, in order to give the impression of a much more level playing field.  Sabrina (honest as a girl scout) didn’t comply, but it does set a precedent for what might be going on now with Danica – or it may even be someone from her own camp, such as a publicist, trying to paint a better picture of her client with regards to the show.

I guess overall, I’m just left feeling a bit…deceived by the whole thing.  I do not like having my intelligence insulted, and trying to pass Danica off as a beginner to me is insulting.  I’m left with a bit of a bad taste in my mouth, as I did back in season 14 when Sherri Shepherd tried to downplay the fact that she took lessons at Maks & Val’s studio immediately prior to being cast on DWTS. In both Danica AND Sherri’s cases, I think the whole situation would be a lot better-received by fans had they just been honest about it from the get-go, instead of lying by omission, dodging questions, and dancing around the truth before finally coming clean.  Hiding things implies some sort of guilt on the part of the hider. :-)  I actually really like her as a person, and I’m hoping that Danica, in the interest of full disclosure, is able to be open about her previous experience – I really don’t think being labeled a “ringer” is going to hurt her OR help her.  Ringers don’t always win, and they don’t always lose.  Unless, of course, they’re paired with Derek – in which case they ALWAYS win…cause “Ugh, Derek always gets all the good partners!!!”, y’all. ;-)

So all of that being said…what do YOU guys think of Danica and her previous experience? Is she a ringer, or not a ringer?  Vote in our poll and weigh in down in the comments!

March 11, 2014 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!

PureDWTS Season 17 Rant: Really, Really Dumb Ideas About the Show (Courtesy of Facebook & Instagram)

After Elizabeth & Val’s elimination last Monday night, against my better judgement, I decided to see what fans on the DWTS Instagram page were saying about the results.  Of course I instantly regretted this decision, because I saw more than a few hystrionic, irrational, and downright idiotic complaints about everything from the scoring to the voting to the overall format of the show.  I also witnessed a horrifying lack of command of grammar, spelling, punctuation, and overall coherence when conversing in the English language 8-O And here’s what really grinds my gears: nothing has changed, guys.  The show’s scoring has been calculated the same way for 17 seasons now (50% judges’ scores, 50% viewer votes), we’ve had the same 3 judges for every season, and this is FAR from being the only voting shakeup we’ve seen in 17 seasons.  So why is everyone suddenly up in arms about it now?

We may never know for sure, but I can say this: some of the Instagram & Facebook DWTS fans have got some really, REALLY dumb ideas about the show – ideas that I’m proud to say that our Pure readers would recognize as pure poppycock in a heartbeat ;-) So of course, I just had to find a way to show you guys some of these gems – both for humor purposes and educational purposes.  All of these are actual comments, either on the DWTS Facebook page or the Instagram page, and all were posted publicly – so I’m within my rights to republish them here; but because some of these ideas are some real turds, I’ve taken pity on the commentor & blurred out any identifying details, except for the first name – cause it’s a helluva lot easier to refer to them by some name than by “idiot #1, idiot #2, idiot #3, etc”.  ;-)

Really Stupid Idea #1: The judges’ scores should have more weight.

dwtsdumbidea1

No offense, mimi, but where have you been the past 16 seasons???

I shouldn’t even have to elaborate on why this is a downright TERRIBLE idea, but I’m going to anyway because clearly some of the simple-minded folk that are backing this turd of notion don’t seem to understand that this is likely not going to have the effect they think it will. I’m guessing they assume that judges’ scores being weighted more heavily = good dancers stay, bad dancers go.  But apparently they don’t realize that the judges aren’t exactly infallible & objective – far from it, as we’ve witnessed over 17 seasons. The judges are capable of some pretty blatant favoritism towards some contestants (William Levy, anyone?) and have undeservingly HOSED other contestants (Ralph Macchio fans, this is where you nod in agreement).  They also have a tendency to “pity score” some contestants to soften the blow (*cough*BRISTOLPALIN*cough*), with the unexpected effect of said contestants outstaying their welcome.  And then there’s their personal biases: Carrie Ann & Bruno are both easily swayed by attractive young men (regardless of how well they can actually dance), while Carrie Ann seems to turn into a green-eyed monster when it comes to scoring attractive young women, and tends to take some cheap shots when critiquing them. Len has a tendency to scold Derek at least once a season, and hand out an absurdly low score as a result.  And of course, Carrie Ann’s dubious lift-policing seems to have an effect as well…just ask Corbin & Karina, who earlier this season were penalized for a lift that didn’t even exist. We’ve also talked about the “man behind the curtain” possibly exerting some influence over the judging as well – seemed awfully convenient that William Levy was getting worshipped by the judges week after week (whether or not he was actually worthy of the worship), when he was set to launch a huge deal for Univision (which is part of the ABC family…hmmmm). People REALLY want to give these clowns even MORE power? I feel like just last year, people were complaining about how the judges were terrible and needed to be replaced!!! Another point to consider: the viewers need to feel invested in this show – they need to feel like they have a say in who stays and who goes.  And the minute you start making them feel like their vote doesn’t count or counts less is the minute you start losing viewers.  Even those that don’t always vote seem to take comfort in the fact that the viewers do have the power to overturn a bad score from the judges. Read more..

November 22, 2013 I Written By

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

DWTS Season 11 – The Great “Previous Dance Experience” Debate, Part I

Since the cast announcement, there’s been a lot of talk about whether or not some of this season’s cast members have an unfair advantage on the show due to having “previous dance experience”.  So I took it upon myself to do a little digging around to see just who out of our 12 celebs is no stranger to the dance floor…and guess what? All of them have done a little dancing before…well, at least a very loose definition of dancing ;-) So why don’t we see how they all measure up, shall we? Let’s begin with the stars with the more obvious experience: Brandy, Florence, Jennifer, & the Hoff. Watch and discuss…

First up, we have Brandy, who starred in a revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella back in 1997.  Here’s her big “dance number” – the song “Ten Minutes Ago”, where she croons with Paolo Montalban while doing some Viennese waltzing:

 

As for any experience she may have garnered in her music video days, here’s the most “dance-heavy” video of hers I could find – “Afrodisiac”:

Courtney: Ok, the first video is some pretty basic Viennese waltzing – natural turn, reverse turn, underarm turn, repeat.  And Brandy & Paolo suspiciously disappear when the extras begin the heavy duty spinning & lifting. I mean, as far as an advantage – it may save Maks 15 mintues of practice time explaining what the Viennese waltz is and what the basic movement is.  But other than that…nah. As for her video (and I think this goes for all of her videos in general) – Brandy does a lot of grooving and a little bit of basic choreo, but she leaves the hard stuff to her backup dancers.  She may be able to inject the “sexy factor” into her dances, but I don’t think she’s going to have an edge in terms of technical skill.

Marianya: I remember when I first saw Brandy and Paolo dance in Cinderella I promised myself that I would learn how to do that. And then when I went to do it, it was the most basic steps in the repertoire… talk about disappointment. Also in regards to music videos or shows, Brandy was big in the 90s, but the 90s weren’t all that dance heavy for the female soloists… at least not until Britney Spears and Co. from the Mickey Mouse club took over the music world for a spell (turn of the millennium). So really in regards to prior dance experience, none… can she pick up choreo? Definitely, but that’s something that most anyone could do… the mere fact that she’s done choreo before just edges here out slightly…

Heidi: Who choreographed that Cinderella thing? Will they own up to it? :-) Yeah, not a ringer, but I do think she has more of an advantage due to her relative youth and physical conditioning.

The verdict: Her basic knowledge of choreo may give her a SLIGHT advantage, but we think she’s going to have more of an edge from her young age & great body.

Now we’re onto Florence Henderson, who did some serious disco grooving back when she was on The Brady Bunch Variety Hour (unless you want to sit through some serious cheese, I recommend starting at the 2:24 mark to see Flo shake her groove thing ;-) ):

Marianya: I was watching this at work and was shaking my head a few times… man everyone was all over the place, it’s amazing. The steps are very basic that most anyone could pick up the choreo, I don’t think this could transcend into ballroom dancing. Plus it’s been a few decades for her… and she’s not getting any younger.

Courtney: The hustle portion is hysterical – at some point, every single one of them messes up.  Again, some pretty elementary “jazz hands” type dancing…which even Flo fouls up a few times. And this was quite a few years ago – I don’t know that Flo is gonna be as lithe & nimble now as she was then.

Heidi: Didn’t I also read that Florence was also a Broadway baby? Yup, I did. :-) I think, like Jennifer, that her age kind of equalizes any perceived benefit to having been in Oklahoma and South Pacific – but the advantage that doesn’t go away is the comfort in front of a live audience and doing a live performance. See, I think everyone has an advantage of some sort – it’s going to come down to who has the most.

The verdict: Her age will likely negate any edge she may have had from Broadway, but she may be more comfortable in front of a live audience than some of the other celebs…just don’t ask her to do the Hustle.  ;-)

Here we have the celeb who has been accused of having the greatest amount of dance experience this season – Jennifer Grey.  Now, due to the fine folks at Lionsgate Entertainment and their vigilant policing of any uploaded clips from Dirty Dancing, an embeddable copy of the famous “final dance” from the movie does not exist on the interwebs – so you can go watch it here.

Courtney: Ok, now while this iconic scene may be forever embedded in some folks’ minds as “fantastic dancing”, I think Marianya (and anyone else that has seen REAL mambo) will agree that this is pretty mediocre by most ballroom standards.  Very stiff, very obviously choreographed. And again – quite a few years ago, and Jennifer has had some health problems since then, so even if she could remember these moves, there’s no guarantee that she’d be able to execute them.

Heidi: Interesting note about this dance: I read or saw a show on Patrick Swayze and they said this was the first dance filmed and they could only do ONE take because Patrick was having…was it back issues?? There was not a lot of takes on this dance, if the thing I saw was correct. It’s possible they were talking about “the lift” too. It’s been a while. That said – I think that most people are blinded by the romance of the moment, and miss the amateurish dancing. It’s a sweet movie – but it’s not truly about dancing.

Marianya: It’s funny when you see iconic dances in movies or television and you think “I wanna be able to do that” and when you actually start learning, it’s a whole different ball of wax. Now, Jennifer has studied dance growing up, but that was how many decades ago? Sure, she could pick up choreography… decades ago, but again, so can most anyone else. I think Jennifer would be slightly ahead of the game in the ballroom dances due to her dance studies growing up, but in regards to the latin dances the most is probably the basics in mambo, but that’s it… An edge? Not enough to win, but enough to score above average I’d say.

Courtney: Heidi, I’m glad you notice the amateurish dancing as well.  I think it becomes especially obvious when you compare Patrick & Jennifer’s version to Cheryl & Tony’s version that they performed during season 2 – notice how much more fluid it looks when people who know how to actually dance mambo do it:

The verdict: She may have a slight advantage from her Dirty Dancing days, but that alone not going to be enough to take her all the way.

Last but not least, we’ve got David Hasselhoff.  Now as one of the videos that Heidi posted earlier mentioned, David has a little bit of musical theater under his belt – he’s been in the Las Vegas production of The Producers, was the lead in Jekyll & Hyde on Broadway back in 2000, and played Billy Flynn in the London production of Chicago for 3 months back in 2004.  Now while I’d love to showcase him dancing in one of these productions, I cannot find any videos of him in The Producers or Chicago, and Jekyll & Hyde is not a very dance-heavy musical.  However, I do have something even better - the Hoff getting funky in the 1976 film Revenge of the Cheerleaders:

Courtney: *hysterically laughing* Wow, those cheerleaders were loving them some Hoff! Ok, that aside, I’m sure the Hoff has some rhythm, and I think the musical theater background has helped – but then again, if my knowledge of musicals serves me, Billy Flynn & Roger DeBris (his role in The Producers) aren’t known for being particularly difficult roles, dance-wise.  Mainly a lot of jazz hands :-P What I’m more concerned about – and I’ve said this before – is that the Hoff’s mind may be a bit rusty.  Seriously- sometimes I think he’s got more than a few screws loose.  So in spite of all this experience, I think he might have trouble remembering choreography (or even being able to pay attention when Kym is teaching it).  What good is previous experience if you can’t remember it to draw from?

Marianya: Oh heaven help me. If that is what the Hoff is capable of then I foresee another Jerry Springer in the works. I saw the Hoff in the Jekyll & Hyde musical and there was no dancing in there. In fact the other parts that he has done in musical theatre were minimal if any dancing. So I don’t know if he could pick up choreo, ok he could pick up choreo but I don’t believe that he could do anything with it like Donny Osmond. He’ll ham it up, that’s for sure… but I think the buck will stop there.

Heidi: Oh my lord. What more can I say about that? I think The Hoff is going to do well on the show, but I don’t think it will be because of any perceived advantage.

The verdict: If he does well on the show, it sure as hell won’t be due to his Broadway experience – or the sizzling moves we see here!

 So there you go – some food for thought for those of you who think that some of these celebs have an unfair advantage.  But what about the other celebs this season, you ask? Oh boy – just you wait for part II…because you guys are gonna be blown away by some of the hoofing the other celebs have done in the past ;-) Did you sense the sarcasm there?

September 6, 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!