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DWTS13 Freestyle Retrospective: The Top 10 Worst Freestyles in DWTS History

So every season, as we draw nearer & nearer to the finale, it seems like the question on everyone’s lips is “What are they gonna do for their freestyle?” We debate which pros are the stronger freestyle choreographers, which celebs can handle the lifts, who’s got the most dance skills, who is going to struggle, etc. So Heidi & I decided to tackle the big question: what makes a good DWTS freestyle?

While everyone may argue over what works and what doesn’t, with 12 seasons under our belts, we have enough historical data to see some patterns – and there are definitely some things that all good freestyles seem to have in common, and some things that the bad freestyles have in common. Today we’re starting with the worst – these are examples of what this season’s finalists should likely avoid, and of which they should probably try to do the opposite :-)

A little insight into how we arrived at this list: I made a list of my own, and then bumped it against a list Heidi made and we looked for similarities. I also asked for suggestions on Twitter, to see if my finger was on the pulse of the more dedicated viewing audience; I polled my co-workers (likely more representative of the average viewer than most of us lurking on the Net ;-)) as well to get their thoughts. Turns out, most of you guys came up with the same examples of good & bad – which is good, since it shows that opinions on freestyles seem to be pretty universal. But without further ado, I give you the top 10 WORST freestyles in DWTS history:

10.) Chelsea Kane & Mark Ballas, season 12

Courtney: This was one that a lot of you seemed divided on – some of you loved it, some of you hated it. I ultimately decided to include it in the “worst” list because it seemed to have something in common with a lot of the other freestyles on this list: it wasn’t reflective of the celeb it was meant to showcase. Yes, it was high-energy, it was well-executed (for the most part), and it was entertaining – but what did it really have to do with Chelsea? While she managed to keep up with Mark fairly well and got through the choreography, I never really got the feeling that it was a routine she really felt connected to, or that she even would have picked for herself. It was as if she had given Mark carte blanche with the routine and he chose everything – the music, the costumes, the theme, etc., and Chelsea was just along for the ride. I think choosing an obscure song didn’t help, and the choreo seemed to showcase Mark more than Chelsea – the poor girl just seemed to be trying to keep her head above water. Add to that some bland costumes and a wardrobe malfunction, and you’ve got a freestyle that’s overall just “Meh.” Definitely not 30-worthy, IMO.

Heidi: Well, this one I would have put in “dishonorable mentions” but it’s almost in that pile anyway, at slot #10. :-) The problem here, like you say, was Chelsea wasn’t connected to it (and similar ideas appear throughout this post). Not only that, but the music didn’t really match the costumes and none of it matched the choreo. It seemed all mixed up to me. It had a latin flavor, yet they were doing a light hip hop type choreo (I don’t really know how else to explain that) and their costumes matched neither. Then – why the lights and the bike?? I feel like I missed something on this one. There was also a section where it seemed like they just went from one cool trick to the next. The best freestyles (including some of Mark’s) had a good bit of actual ballroom dancing thrown in in places. This one is just a bit weird for me.

9.) Evan Lysacek & Anna Trebunskaya, season 10

Heidi: PEOPLE, unless your pro is Dmitry – do NOT argue with them about choreography. At all. Geez. That said, this is another freestyle that was good on paper, but in execution just didn’t work for some reason. Clearly it worked in person, since the studio crowd loved it…but the dance didn’t seem to fit either Evan OR Footloose. When Derek did Grease with Brooke, there was a clear, but brief, homage to the movie. The dance went with the song and it worked perfectly for Brooke. When he did a song from Dirty Dancing with Jennifer – again, a subtle, brief homage to the movie and it worked for Jennifer because, of course – she was in the movie. I think by the time they get to the freestyle the pros are just drained and they forget to really tie it altogether – and if you pick an iconic song, you have to really tie it altogether so that the dancing fits the iconic song but also works for your partner. It seems like this dance doesn’t fit either. He didn’t dance it badly by any stretch, but neither did Gilles in their Flashdance freestyle. That doesn’t make it good.

Courtney: I was always a bit puzzled as to why they picked Footloose – did one of them really, really like the movie? Or was it just another easy, dance movie theme to go with? I think that’s the one big difference between a freestyle like Jennifer’s and a freestyle like Evan’s (or Mya’s, or Gilles’, or Stacy’s – see below) – relevance. Dirty Dancing was relevant to Jennifer; but was Footloose really relevant to Evan? I want a freestyle to basically sum up a partnership for me – I want it to feel like both the celeb & the pro connect to both the dance and each other, and for the routine to feel like a nice closure to their season together. For me, going with Footloose as their theme left more questions than answers. Ooh, and can I just say that I think bringing in an outside choreographer is the absolute kiss of death? It doesn’t see to mesh well with the chemistry the couple has forged over the course of the season, and usually leads to coupled being led dangerously out of their comfort zone. And both Evan & Anna seemed uncomfortable with this one – almost pained, at times. Read more..

November 16, 2011 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!

Dancing With The Stars Past GROUP DANCE Review!

This is going to be quick, not much commentary, just the facts. Or rather, the videos. I’ve found myself much busier than I plan to be… But, to get us ready for the fun Group Dance, I’m searching for the videos of the group dances from past seasons. When possible, I’ll post the practice sessions, also.

Season 1, Viennese Waltz. Rachel Hunter and Jonathan Roberts, John O’Hurley and Charlotte Jorgensen, Kelly Monaco and Alec Mazo, Joey McIntyre and Ashly DelGrosso.

Season 2, Salsa. Drew Lachey and Cheryl Burke, Jerry Rice and Anna Trebunskaya, Lisa Rinna and Louis Van Amstel, Stacy Keibler and Tony Dovolani, George Hamilton and Edyta Sliwinska, Tia Carrere and Maks Chmerkovskiy.

Season 3 Disco. Monique Coleman and Louis Van Amstel, Joey Lawrence and Edyta Sliwinska, Mario Lopez and Karina Smirnoff, Jerry Springer and Kym Johnson, Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke

Season 4 Swing. Laila Ali and Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Apolo Anton Ohno and Julianne Hough, Joey Fatone and Kym Johnson, Billy Ray Cyrus and Karina Smirnoff, Heather Mills and Jonathan Roberts,John Ratzenberger and Edyta Sliwinska, Ian Ziering and Cheryl Burke

Season 5 Rock and Roll Helio Castroneves and Julianne Hough, Jennie Garth and Derek Hough, Sabrina Bryan and Mark Ballas, Marie Osmond and Jonathan Roberts, Jane Seymour and Tony Dovolani, Cameron Mathison and Edyta Sliwinska, Mel B and Maks Chmerkovskiy

Season 6 Country Western. Sorry, my brain has melted, and I don’t remember the names of the people I’m seeing in the video….. I know them all, but their names are no longer connected. In my brain.

Season 7 Old School Hip Hop Thanks to Gitte and Elara for helping to find this one….

Season 8 1960’s.Lawrence Taylor and Edyta Sliwinska, Ty Murray and Chelsie Hightower, Lil Kim and Derek Hough, Shawn Johnson and Mark Ballas, Chuck Wicks and Julianne Hough, Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani, Gilles Marini and Cheryl Burke

Season 9 Hustle. Louie Vito & Chelsie Hightower, Melissa Joan Hart & Mark Ballas, Kelly Osbourne & Louis Van Amstel, Mark Dacascos & Lacey Schwimmer, Aaron Carter & Karina Smirnoff, Donny Osmond & Kym Johnson, Joanna
Krupa & Maksim Chmerkovskiy (in the place of Derek Hough who was out with the flu), Mya & Dmitry Chaplin, Michael Irvin & Anna Demidova and Natalie Coughlin & Alec Mazo

I think that’s all…

October 24, 2011 I Written By

Just a typical, ordinary DWTS fan..

DWTS11 Preliminary Power Rankings – Part I

It’s that time of the year again! Time for me to do my preliminary power ranking of this season’s couples as a sort of prediction of how things will play out between now & November.  For those of you who have no clue what I’m talking about (or just need a refresher from last season ;-) ), I do a weekly ranking of the couples after each performance show that is basically a measure of how likely they are to stick around that week.  Now this is NOT a ranking of who danced the best; we all know that just because a couple is at the top of the leaderboard, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re safe.  This is a far more comprehensive ranking – it takes into account not only a couple’s performance, but also how well-liked they are, how well-known they are, how strong their voting demographic is, how memorable they are, etc. 

I correctly predicted last season’s top 5 before the season even began – I’m hoping to best that this season by correctly predicting the top 6 ;-) But anywho, here’s my bottom half – the 6 couples I don’t think we should get too attached to, because I don’t foresee them sticking around for long…but there are always surprises!

 12.) Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino & Karina Smirnoff – I really did have high hopes for these two, but unfortunately I just think they have too many odds stacked against them to last past the first week – that is, unless The Sitch turns out to be a natural, because they haven’t even started practicing yet.  And they likely won’t until the week prior to the show, if what Karina’s tweeting is correct, since he’s wrapping up taping of the current season of Jersey Shore.  Speaking of that show – I’m on the fence as to whether it’s going to be a boon or a burden for him.  I said that I didn’t think Wildboyz & Jackass fans would tune in & vote for Steve-O, but he lasted until week 5…but I think Steve-O was also getting a bit of a sympathy vote from his recent stint in rehab.  I’m not sure there’s anything for voters to feel sympathetic about as far as Mike’s concerned.  And Jersey Shore is a really polarizing show – people either love it or hate it, so I hope to god that Mike is charming as can be if he wants to stick around.  Karina is a pro that seems equally as polarizing – people seem to either adore her or loathe her (I’m in the former camp), and I’m afraid that her voting fanbase is just not going to be able to compensate for any lack of votes on the part of his fans.  I hope to god that I’m wrong, because I really would like to see how these two do…but I’m preparing myself to see Mike join the infamous “first eliminees” club.

11.) Kyle Massey & Lacey Schwimmer – The only reason I see these two lasting longer than Mike & Karina is Lacey’s fanbase: she seems to have a decent-sized one, and they seem to be the type that are very motivated to vote.  Echoing Heidi’s sentiments, Kyle is definitely the celebrity that has people going “Who?” this season – even co-workers of mine that have kids who watch Disney religiously were drawing a blank when I mentioned his name (and yes, for those of you who are new, I do use the ladies in my office as a sort of sample demographic – most are in their 30s & 40s with school-aged kids, which seems to be the biggest viewing demographic of the show).  As for his dance prowess, if Lacey’s tweets and the rehearsal pictures that have been released are any indicator, then Kyle seems to be a bit of an awkward mover – and a jokester, so Lacey may have a hard time getting him to focus.  Kyle may benefit slightly from the “mom” vote, but unless he’s really pretty good…I don’t think these two will last past the first few weeks.

10.) Bristol Palin & Mark Ballas – If Kate Gosselin’s longer-than-anyone-could-have-expected tenure on the show last season was any indicator, it’s that America loves controversial celebs – and I daresay Bristol has that position covered this season.  Just like Heidi, I don’t see her getting sent home any sooner than week 3 – heck, I could even see her lasting until week 4 or 5, at the expense of a better dancer.  I actually see her lasting longer if she’s exceptionally bad – just like viewers latch onto the best dancers, they also seem to enjoy keeping the bad ones around…everyone loves watching a train wreck.  Mark’s also got one of the bigger fanbases on the show, so even if people don’t particularly care for Bristol, they’ll vote to keep Mark in the game, especially since he was eliminated so early last season.  Judging from the rehearsal photos, it looks like Mark’s got his work cut out for him – Bristol definitely looks awkward.  She’s also been pretty quiet and mundane in the media, so I don’t think she’s gonna make a huge impression in anyone’s minds – unless she’s just a really bad dancer.  In which case, George Lopez may dub her this season’s Kate, and take it upon himself to campaign to keep her in…that fool.

9.) Audrina Patridge & Tony Dovolani –  There’s been a good amount of debate so far about whether Audrina’s gonna sink or swim…I’m leaning towards the former. Audrina’s done a little bit of modeling, and I don’t know of any dancing she’s done (besides what you do in a smoke-filled club), so I’m inclined to think that she’s gonna go more the route of Holly Madison and Kathy Ireland than Melissa Rycroft or Stacy Keibler.  Don’t get me wrong, she seems like a very sweet, pretty girl – a very sweet, pretty girl that’s not gonna make a whole lot of waves, good or bad.  And unless she’s got some hidden skills we don’t know about (superhuman flexibility, gymnastics, etc.), I doubt Tony’s choreography is going to really showcase her well.  As for voting power…I know The Hills had a cult-like following, but at the same time, just because someone likes that show doesn’t mean they necessarily like Audrina (I’ve known plenty who watched the show who absolutely despised her, for whatever reason).  And Tony’s gotten sent home fairly early before – I don’t think he has the voting fanbase to carry them both.  Oh well…at least she’ll look pretty in the costumes!

8.) Margaret Cho & Louis Van Amstel – No doubt, these two will be the comic relief this season.  I didn’t think anyone could top the hilarity of Niecy & Louis, but this very well may do it!  Do I think that Margaret is going to be a stellar dancer? Hell no, but neither was Niecy – I’m pretty sure she & Louis realized that pretty quickly, which is why they went to town working the comedy angle, and it worked for them.  Margaret is a well-known comedian, so I could see die hard fans of hers coming out to vote; Louis is a bit more of a wild card, as I don’t really know if he has the broad-spectrum appeal of Derek or Mark – he does, however, seem to have the support of the LGBT community (as does Margaret), which quite a powerful demographic.  I don’t think that alone (and their schtick) is going to carry them through to the midpoint of the competition, though, and I’m not sure there’s a whole lot for Louis to pull out of her in terms of real skill.  Margaret is also known to get a bit bawdy in her comedy – something I think she may have to reign in if she doesn’t want to risk offending a good part of the voting audience.  Overall, I think they’ll be fun to watch – but the humor will eventually wear thin and pale in comparison to better dancers and bigger fanbases.

7.) Michael Bolton & Chelsie Hightower – I know some people don’t really have high hopes for these two, but I think some people are really underestimating Michael’s appeal – I remember grown women & teenagers alike going CRAZY for this guy in the early 90s.  As in screaming, crying, and bra-throwing crazy.  And to be honest, the guy has aged pretty well – he’s definitely not terrible to look at (thank god he got rid of that ratty-ass hair!), and he’s still making music.  I would bet those same women from 20 years ago still carry a bit of a torch for him, and they will step up to the plate & vote.  As will the growing population of Chelsie fans – I think she’s all but filled in the role of the blonde, Mormon girl-next-door left vacant by Julianne.  Will Michael be one of the breakout dancers of this season? Meh – probably not.  But I do think he’ll make an honest effort, and I daresay he won’t be nearly as bad as some other guys.  And honestly, I’m actually starting to warm to the idea of he & Chelsie together…it doesn’t seem like quite the odd couple that it first appeared, especially when you compare them to Ashly & Buzz (which, oddly enough, seemed to work as well).  I honestly vacillated between putting them at 6th or 7th – and I still think they could potentially make it to the top half of the pack.  But I think it’ll hinge upon how the couple I placed at #6 does…

…and with that, I give you the first half of my pre-season power rankings ;-) Curious about who I have making it to the finale, and who I have taking home the mirrorball trophy? Then stay tuned for part II…and I’ll give you a hint: my winner is different from the one Heidi predicted ;-)

September 9, 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!