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PureDWTS Season 17, Week 6 – Power Rankings

Tonight’s episode of Sesame Street was brought to you by the words “bullsh*t” and “inconsistency”.  :-) By the time they lined the couples up for elimination with a mere 5 minutes remaining in the show, my blood was boiling – Len was an absolute terror tonight, the other two stooges were more or less his accomplices when it came to completely contradicting things that they have said in previous weeks (or even earlier in the evening).  Seems kinda obvious that they’ve been told they need to shield certain couples from excessive criticism, while piling it on others like it’s going out of style.  Len in particular has lost all credibility for me this season – he’s not the “strictly ballroom” judge he once was; now he seems to have a personal agenda, and that dictates his scores & critiques far more than any actual ballroom knowledge.  Can we ship him back overseas next week and bring in a guest judge? Pretty please? :-)

As I had kinda guessed, the switch-up dance challenge was a complete turd of an idea – and I think it was quite possibly the most ridiculous-looking thing we’ve seen them make these poor celebs do in 17 seasons.  My best guess is that, immediately following the aftermath of last week’s production Muppet voting snafu, they knew they were gonna  have to forego this week’s elimination, but needed something trivial to fill time…enter this nonsense.  God I hope this one gets permanently scrapped, cause I felt seriously embarassed for some of the couples out there…except for Bill & Emma, who seemed hip to the fact that this challenge was complete bullsh*t and just decided to have fun with it :-) Thrilled that nobody got eliminated – I was seriously scared for Bill by the end of the show.  But likely thanks to the Muppets, we get him for another week :-D

1.) Amber & Derek – I’m convinced now that there is nothing Derek can do this season to please Len – “there’s not enough content”.  “There’s too much content & it’s repetitive.” The guy is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t – and he seems to be the only one that Len picks apart for these reasons, and the only one that gets legitimately punished as opposed to just getting a warning (looking at YOU, Tony).  And the worst part: Amber just seems to be collateral damage to Len.  I actually thought this routine was a good example of samba – had a lot of textbook steps, it traveled around the room, and Derek took out a lot of the “frippery” that Len has been complaining about this season…and Amber handled it well! But Len has the nerve to whine about it being “repetitive”.  Ok Len, I’ll take the bait: maybe it was repetitive because THERE’S A FUCKING SYLLABUS OF STEPS THAT YOU CONSTANTLY HARP ON, and samba in particular is rather limited in the sequence of steps you can use to get around the room.  And dammit, every single routine is going to be repetitive to some degree – if you want a dance to look like it should, you’ve gotta use a lot of basic, characeristic steps.  Bill & Emma’s tango? Yep, repetition.  Brant & Peta’s tango? Repetitive.  Jack & Cheryl’s paso? Repetitive.  Nicole & Sasha’s foxtrot? Repetitive, repetitive, repetitive. And yet none of those other couples got scolded for it…hmmmm.  I guess my only explanation is that Amber is getting the votes she needs to stick around, so TPTB don’t feel the need to “shield” her from elimination like they do other couples – and maybe, to give the impression of this being a close race, Len feels the need to knock this couple down a few notches.

2.) Elizabeth & Val – Lizzy, Lizzy, Lizzy…I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m actually starting to feel a bit sorry for her.  This woman just seems like she’s DESPERATE to do well, and might emotionally shatter at any given moment.  By extension, I think I might actually be feeling a bit bad for Val, too, just because I’m not sure that he really knows how to handle it when Liz has a meltdown like she did during her rehearsal footage.  But anyway – I thought her cha-cha was actually pretty good, but I don’t think it was 30-worthy – as I said to someone on Twitter, I MIGHT have given it one “10” as a courtesy, and then maybe two 9’s.  I will commend Val on the fact that he must really drill proper turn technique into his partners, because Elizabeth, like Zendaya & Kelly, seems to know how to properly spot her turns, and the result is pretty nice to look at.  Can’t say I was wild about Liz’ solo at the beginning, but I guess I understand why Val put it there – it utilizes her ballet & jazz training.  My only other complaint: like a lot of other routines we’ve seen from Val, it just seemed a little bit “stop-and-go”, which interrupted the overall flow of it.  But overall, I enjoyed it, and Liz seemed to handle it well.  The fact that it was given a perfect score, however, makes me wonder if the judges are attempting to shield Lizzy from a Christina Milian-esque ouster – and I wonder if they’ve decided that she MUST be in the finale.  I get that they want to have a strong finale of good dancers, but I think anymore, it’s not just about the dancing anymore…you’ve gotta connect with the audience and really entertain them, and that’s one area where I think Liz & Val could take a page out of Bill & Emma’s book. Liz & Val seem to be more inwardly-focused and taking the competition more seriously; I think Bill & Emma, while still wanting to do well, seem more focused on putting on a good show and really making things enjoyable for viewers.  If Liz could do both, I could see her being more of a contender. Read more..

October 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!

PureDWTS Season 17, Week 4 – Power Rankings

 Overall, I think I enjoyed last night – liked that there wasn’t a particular theme, and everyone got a different dance, so as to avoid being compared against another couple.  Wasn’t particularly wild about the Ray Leeper-choreographed opening number – to quote Mama Spence, “That was a whole lot of nothing!” and goes to show that choreography created for ballroom dancers by non-ballroom dancers doesn’t always work well. 

I think Julianne actually ended up being a pretty fair judge – granted, I think it was decided before the show started that she was simply going to echo the same score that Carrie Ann & Bruno called out, but I still feel like she gave constructive criticism and didn’t put anyone down…which Len has a tendency to do on the regular.  Not gonna lie – I’m kinda glad it was Julianne judging instead of Len during the week that Bill & Emma did their samba ;-)

As lovely and inspirational as Valerie was, I do feel like it was her time to go – she seemed to be really struggling these past few weeks, and the poor woman is probably getting really tired.  But I’m SO glad we got to see her this season, and her foxtrot from week one is probably going to remain one of my favorites :-) And god love Tristan – there’s a pro that gives a whole new meaning to “being there” for your partner.  I don’t think there are too many male pros on this show that could handle both the physical and emotional strain that having a partner with terminal cancer can bring – and he handled it with such poise. 

 1.) Corbin & Karina – For all the ado about him dancing shirtless before last night’s show, he really wasn’t shirtless for long – and it actually did fit the routine, IMO.  After he and Karina stalked around each other and let the tension build, the shirt coming off was kind of a gesutre of “Ok, now I’m throwing my hat in the ring.  It’s ON!” and it worked with mood.  Anti-shirtless brigade, take note: this is an example of the correct way to go shirtless. :-) Really and truly, I thought this paso was fantastic – Corbin never missed a beat, he was invested in it, and contrary to what the judges said, I didn’t think “his hip-hop moves were creeping in”; I actually thought he was creatively styling some of his arm & hand gestures, which I’ll take any day over limp, apathetic, purposeless moves.  Anyone else think the judges were intentionally being REEEEEALLLLY nitpicky about this one? I’d say this worthy of at least one “10” – it was that good, kids.  And I know there’s been some talk from some here about “Ehhh, I kinda don’t like Corbin & Karina, they’re desperate, they’re trying too hard, etc. etc. etc.” I’ll just say this: if this routine was the result of their “desperation” and “trying too hard” – then more power to them. :-) Read more..

October 8, 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 16, Week 8 – Power Rankings

Well, this is probably going to be a pretty short ranking, because besides nursing a killer migraine…tonight just kind of sucked.

Ballroom round? Too short, and pretty ho-hum.  Trio round? Only one real standout, a couple that were so-so, and the rest were fails.  And of course, Len continues to be a horrible human being.  I miss Andy more than I thought :-( Let’s get this over with…

1.) Zendaya & Val – First off, I probably would have picked a different song for their foxtrot – the fact that it’s a capella made it feel a bit thin & boring.  On top of that, it seemed like it took a little too long to get into the dance, and what I saw, while pleasant to watch, didn’t really excite me.  As for their salsa trio – where was the salsa? I saw a lot of vaguely hip-hoppy stuff and a lot of side-by-side actions, but very little interaction between Zendaya herself and the two guys she was supposed to be dancing with.  And I generally just found some of the choreography to be a bit odd – once again, rather stop-and-go.  It wasn’t a bad dance, per se, but I would dispute the fact that it was a salsa and call attention to the fact that the bulk of it was done individually, as opposed to in couples.  Hell, salsa’s even one of the easier dances to do with 3 people…would it really have been that hard to do a bit more work in-hold? Oh well…they’ve got a 58, so they don’t even have to worry about it…

2.) Kellie & Derek – I feel like they were the only couple tonight that really put a ton of thought into both of their performances, and even figured out a clever way to link the two together.  The Viennese waltz was very pretty, though I would have liked a little bit more of it to be in-hold, because Kellie can handle it; the paso trio was the only dance that really stuck out in my mind tonight, because it was so exciting to watch and it was the only one that actually seemed to work WITH the props they chose, as opposed to just having them there (like several other couples).  Len’s score AND his comment to Bruno about having “something up his ass”? Uncalled for, inappropriate, and I’m just done with that SOB.  If Fox can issue an apology for Steve Tyler’s behavior on Idol, then they can certainly issue one for Len’s behavior on DWTS.  Dude is seriously crossing the line.

3.) Aly & Mark – Man, they’re REALLY trying to make Aly “happen”, aren’t they? Yes, she has grown – somewhat – in her time on DWTS, but I still find her a bit underwhelming to watch.  I actually agreed with (ack) Carrie Ann about her Argentine tango – for as acrobatic & flexible as Aly is, her leg lines seemed a little…weak.  I don’t think it was 29-worthy – maybe 27-worthy.  As for the jive trio – it wasn’t bad, but it was just so BLAND.  Part of it was Aly, but I really just found the choreography to be a bit blah as well – Mark seemed to be erring on the side of safe again.  I have to wonder if she’s not getting the votes – because they seem to be scoring her awfully kindly these days.

4.) Jacoby & Karina – The Viennese waltz was better than I expected, though not his best dance.  Liked the drama of it, but I thought it could be a bit neater.  Actually enjoyed their paso trio with Cheryl, but I feel like the only real problem seemed to be that there was just so much choreography jam-packed into that routine that Jacoby got a little distracted…which could explain why he just kind of flung Cheryl off to the side.  I think they just got so caught up trying to show everything that Jacoby was capable of doing that they may have overwhelmed him.  But overall, I thought he did pretty well with both of his dances tonight…let’s hope that translates into safety.  Not sure what to think after he ended up in jeopardy last week…

5.) Ingo & Kym – Eee gad…this partnership really kind of imploded this week, didn’t it? Kym seems like she’s at her wits end, and Ingo got really, really whiny this time around – that package did not do them any favors.  For all the fussing that they were doing, I think their foxtrot turned out halfway-ok…it was definitely better than Sean’s tango, despite a few little stutters.  The jive trio was basically a dud – you could tell the ladies did everything they could to ensure that Ingo was moving as minimally as possible during that dance, as they did most of the heavy-duty dancing; there was also a rather prolonged entry & exit, perhaps to cut back on the time that Ingo was actually dancing.  I think they’re definitely bottom 2 fodder tomorrow night, and might even end up going home.  They’re just getting hard to watch…

6.) Sean & Peta – Well, I think Sean is probably the weakest dancer left, and I think the judges made clear that it’s Sean they want gone tomorrow night.  The tango felt stompy & awkward, and I could tell that Peta was doing a good deal of backleading in that one.  Jazz trio? Despite having Sharna there to at least offer up some good advice, I think Sean’s trio was probably the biggest fail of the evening.  Like Ingo’s trio, it seemed like they tried to put the ladies front & center whenever they could, and had them doing most of the real moving…although I feel like there was even less actual dancing in this dance than Ingo’s, and Sean was even more awkward attempting some of the jazz steps than Ingo was with the jive steps.  I was pretty much done with Shawn a few weeks ago, and I’m definitely ready to see him go now…the question is: will it be him, or Ingo?

So was anyone else let down by this week’s dances? Go ahead and sound off, I need to lie down…

May 6, 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 16, Week 6 – Power Rankings

Well, guess tonight didn’t end up too bad after all – team samba pulled out a win (despite being at a clear disadvantage from the get-go), Len got taken to task by the audience for basically being a douchebag, and perhaps best of all: I made it through the show without committing a felony, due to my asthma medication-induced ‘roid rage :-) But that’s not to say everything was hunky dory.  There was definite overscoring (duh, Zendaya; and to a lesser degree, Ingo & Sean), definite underscoring (Jacoby), and out-and-out cruelty (which left Andy in tears…inexcusable, IMO).  Let’s get right to it…

1.) Kellie & Derek – I think I was prepared for both their quickstep and the team samba to be a trainwreck, after hearing how poorly their rehearsals were going this week…but I was very pleasantly surprised at how well Kellie kept up in this quickstep, and didn’t miss a beat.  She also seemed to correct a lot of the issues I saw with her posture last week, which was an added bonus.  Maybe not the most exciting quickstep Derek has ever choreographed, but when you’re struggling, going for simplicity (and meat-and-potatoes steps to please Len) is your best bet.  I honestly don’t remember a whole lot of their solo from the team samba, but besides a few minor stutters from Kellie, I think they handled it well.  Obviously a front-runner; now let’s hope they resist the urge to low-ball next week…

2.) Zendaya & Val – First of all, if you are not mature (or literate) enough to understand the difference between being mad at TPTB for pimping someone and being mad at the person themselves, then consider this an invitation to stop reading and come back when you’ve educated yourself.  Ok, now that we’ve got that off the table – I really think Val let her down this week, because I found his choreography in both the cha-cha and the team paso to be a bit dumbed down.  The cha-cha was good, and she danced it very well, but I’m starting to notice a lot of stop-and-go in Val’s choreography – parts where they suddenly stop and Zendaya kinda stands still while Val does…I don’t know, something.  A spin, a flourish, whatever.  And it doesn’t do her justice – the girl can handle tough choreography, so she shouldn’t need all these little pauses.  Pauses are for couples who can’t dance :-) I also think that, while she’s great at doing spin after spin after spin (and Val has actually taught her how to spot her turns – something he never really got Kelly to master), he has GOT to do something about her legs. I could have driven a boat show in between them in that cha-cha – you have to close your thighs to get the right hip & leg action.  And here they were complaining about Kellie & Derek having some space in between them while in hold…psssh.  Again, I reiterate: Val, you have got to figure out what you’re going to do with those legs…because Len will cease to be dazzled by her showmanship before too long, and he will start to get nitpicky.  She did well in their team paso…but her solo choreography felt a bit blah.  Like she could have handled something more.  I think her cha-cha was overscored, and the team paso was about right-on, but there’s no doubt she’s safe this week…and that bland team paso will probably get the encore tomorrow night.  Read more..

April 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 16, Week 5 – Power Rankings

Well, side-by-side challenge night went about as well as can be expected when you put complete amateurs (well, and a ringer or two…) next to seasoned pros with years of experience under their belts.  If nothing else, it let us see some sorely missed pros doing what they do best :-) The judges have made it pretty clear at this point who their favorites are (ZENDAYA, Kellie, Jacoby, & Aly), who they are lukewarm about (Sean & Ingo), and who is disposable (Victor, D.L., and unfortunately, now Andy), and seem to be scoring accordingly.  And dare I say that many of the pros came out dancing at full throttle…but noticeably slowed down and calmed down when the celebs joined them on the floor? No bueno.  And god bless Tom for soldiering through what had to be a tough night for Bostonians :-( Let’s get on with it…

1.) Zendaya & Val – It was a good dance, and I was actually impressed with Val’s first venture into Argentine tango choreography – and thankfully, he seemed to eschew the multitude of lifts big bro seems so fond of, and put in some good basic steps.  Zendaya handled pretty well, and I liked the jewel thief storyline – I was worried they were going to go more the smut route, which would have felt…icky. But this was appropriate :-) So that was the good – now here’s the bad: I don’t think it was 10-worthy.  Sorry kids.  Once again, I find myself just fixated on how BENT Zendaya’s legs are – yes, I am aware she is tall, and yes, Argentine tango is usually done with a flexed knee.  But girl was damn near SQUATTING – and consequently, it made her upper body look that much more flimsy when they were in hold.  I hate when tall people (male or female) try to compensate for a shorter dance partner – it almost always looks awkward, and you don’t get the full impact of their lines.  I say stand up straight and forget about who’s taller – the bf has 2 female students that have a good 3” on him in heels, and when they’re dancing to the full extent, it’s MAGICAL…their legs just go on forever.  You don’t even  worry about who’s taller, because the lines are so gorgeous.  So with that said – these two are obviously safe (and thankfully, there were no Twitter machinations this week to tip things in their favor), but I do think Zendaya’s legs will continue to be an issue in the coming weeks.

2.) Kellie & Derek – I’ve always loved Derek’s foxtrots, and the Broadway quality & character they have to them.  This was no exception – great side-by-side, playful choreography, and Kellie seemed to handle the sweeping motions of the foxtrot well.  She seemed to get a bit stiff in her neck and shoulders at a few times, which looked a bit awkward, but other than that, she handled this routine well and I liked watching her do it.  I think she probably came the closest to mirroring her pro counterpart tonight – and I think she has Derek to thank for not dumbing down the choreography, because in most of the routines, the pros went from dancing full-on, difficult steps to dancing simple, kindergarten steps without much energy.  It gave me whiplash, at times.  But the transition in this one felt seamless – the way Kellie was keeping up, it felt more like another pro couple joining Henry & Anna on the floor, rather than “Oh sh*t, here comes the celeb, better slow it down…NOW!” So even if Kellie “doesn’t like Derek’s ways” – I think it was those “ways” that probably helped her look so good tonight.  ;-)  Read more..

April 15, 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!

PureDWTS Tribute: Julia Ivleva

Remember this gorgeous waltz that Jonathan & Anna danced in tribute to their cancer-stricken friend, Julia, back in season 14?

Sadly, Anna reported on her Twitter today that Julia passed away this morning, after a long & courageous battle with lung cancer.  She remembered her friend poignantly:

A wonderful strong talented and beautiful person left us today... Julia Ivleva ,i will miss you greatly, your spirit ,wit, honesty and charm
@atrebunskaya
anna trebunskaya

Julia’s passing touched me rather personally, as I had the pleasure of watching Julia and her husband, Igor, dance at one of the first ballroom competitions I attended, almost ten years ago.  I was struck by how powerful they were on the floor, and their showdances were always the most creative and engaging.  I feel blessed to have been present to witness the debut of one of the greatest showdances in ballroom history – when Igor & Julia proved that you can dance ballroom to any music…even Nirvana!

And a few years later, they again proved that rock & ballroom can mix perfectly, when they did this beautiful, vulnerable foxtrot to quite possibly my favorite song of all-time:

We here at Pure send our heartfelt condolences out to Julia’s friends and family during this sad time.  Rest in peace, Julia.

 

April 5, 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 15, Week 9 – Power Rankings

Well, if you’re reading this, it means enough people FINALLY stopped hitting “refresh” on the homepage that I could get logged into the dash and actually get these posted :-P And with the way things are going, things might not calm down until Tuesday morning…so if this is late, sorry, but we got hit with too much traffic and my pleas for people to scale back the traffic on Twitter went unanswered.  C’est la vie.

Maybe I’m just tired and apathetic from a full day of Thanksgiving grocery shopping and house cleaning, but I’m feeling a bit blasé about tonight – a few standout performances that I enjoyed, but overall, nothing too surprising, and I think things played out the way they should have…and as we suspected, the judges finally got real and managed to call certain couples out on the crap they’ve been getting away with for the past several weeks, and couples that have been putting in the effort finally got the love they deserved. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

1.) Shawn & Derek - In quite possibly the biggest surprise of the night for me, I actually ended up enjoying their Knight Rider bhangra the most out of any dance I saw tonight! Judging from some of the frustrated tweets we were seeing from the usually-unflappable Derek this weekend, I was fully prepared for this to be a hot mess – but it actually was the most high-energy, in-synch, and entertaining routine for me tonight.  I think the speed of it was what really impressed me – they were both moving so fast, and doing such intricate steps, and were still somehow staying almost perfectly in synch.  And the most amusing aspect? Shawn actually seemed to dance it better than Derek! :-P I also thought they managed to put that hideous Bollywood routine that Gilles & Peta did to shame, which was another perk ;-) Overall, I think they handled the wacky dance  theme challenge the best of the five couples.  Moving onto their Argentine tango – another technically flawless dance.  Shawn’s feet & legs were sharp and precise, which was the main complaint I had about Melissa’s dance – but I do agree a bit with Carrie Ann (and those words literally hurt my mouth) that Shawn & Derek had a little bit of a disconnect with the emotion of the dance.  HOWEVER – this is something for which I really have to blame the music.  “Bad” is a great song, but maybe not a great song for an Argentine tango – it’s a song about a guy asserting his authority and masculinity, and he’s doing it in a cheeky way.  It’s not about passion or the thrill of the chase between a man and a woman…so I feel like if they had actually gone the smoldery route, it would have looked a little odd and out of place given the music.  I also thought Derek did a slightly better job of really accenting the music with his choreography than Tony did.  When it came to the two Argentine tangos we saw tonight, Melissa may have had more of an emotional connection, but I thought Shawn had the better technique.  I thought they should have gotten the same score – either downgrade Melissa a point or upgrade Shawn a point, whichever.  In the end, I think they may be the only couple that is a lock for the finale…at least I hope.

2.) Apolo & Karina – HALLELUJAH!!! They finally got the praise they deserve for their chemistry.  Loved their rumba – I thought it was the perfect combination of good choreography and good emotion, and Apolo just NAILED the technique.  And for those who poo-pooh “Man in the Mirror” as a rumba song – I think they injected far more romance into that rumba than Kelly & Val did with a song that was far more outwardly romantic.  Then there was the “Big Top Jazz” – sigh.  It wasn’t perfect – I agree that there were a few stumbles, and it felt a little frantic at times.  But I really don’t think it was nearly as bad as the judges (Carrie Ann in particular) were making it sound – the degree of difficulty was much higher than Kelly’s flamenco or Emmitt’s Lindy hop, and possibly even Melissa’s hustle, and I still think he managed to stay far more in-synch than both Kelly & Emmitt.  I also thought the lifts were amazing, and didn’t know what Carrie Ann was talking about, claiming they were clunky – I actually think Apolo could give Tony a run for his money, and I’ve always said that Tony is the best lifter we’ve ever seen on the show (and Julianne the best liftee).  Was it his best dance? No.  Did I enjoy it? Somewhat.  But hopefully it’s just a minor, mediocre hiccup in an otherwise pretty damn strong season.  I think Apolo is the strongest guy left, and deserves to be in the finale – and I feel a little bit better knowing he’s got a 3-point lead over Emmitt & Kelly, even if it doesn’t equal out to a huge margin.  I do think he’s getting a decent amount of votes – both from loyal voters who’ve gotten pissed at his low-balling this season, and possibly from the voters who go for the “hot guy”…now that Gilles is gone, at least some of them must be impressionable enough to toss a few votes Apolo’s way ;-) Perhaps I’m being optimistic there, but while I wouldn’t necessarily put money on Apolo making it through to the finale next week, I would say I’m at least 76% confident he will.  I think the judges do realize he’s one of the strongest dancers left, and probably want him in the finale…hopefully America agrees. Read more..

November 19, 2012 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 15, Week 8 – Power Rankings

Not a whole lot to say about tonight, other than that everything felt incredibly frantic as they rush, rush, rushed to fit 14 routines into 2 hours (which was no bueno, considering the ballroom round was drastically cut short and the danced seemed to be over before they even started), and that the judges did their usual wacky scoring (which really means nothing, considering how close the margins are).  Literally, guys, this is an even bigger battle of the fanbases this time, as there are even MORE points and even SMALLER margins than the week Sabrina got sent packing.  So if somebody’s not getting the votes – methinks they’re pretty much doomed.

1.) Shawn & Derek – They’ve got the 2nd highest point total from the past two weeks, and in perhaps an even bigger advantage – a bunch of pissed off fans.  Ok, so maybe there wasn’t a ton of samba in their trio – I still think there was enough there to warrant at least an 8, and it was still a wildly entertaining routine that actually evoked more of the excitment of a pro dance to me than just a regular dance with a celeb.  The way Len was acting, it was as if Derek & Mark had walked center stage and defecated or something…while Shawn watched.  And the whole “If you go home tomorrow night, don’t blame me, blame them!” comment? Was that REALLY necessary? Just felt like a low blow and not any sort of constructive criticism.  I really think Derek probably knew they were taking a risk and choreographed more of a crowd/audience-pleasing routine than a judge-pleasing routine, intentionally – it was a calculated risk, maybe to jump-start the fans into voting.  But I don’t think he was expecting Len to take it so personally.  As for their Viennese waltz – despite it being awfully short, I thought it was quite pretty and very fluid, and Shawn had some butter-smooth turns and showed a lot of emotion.  I think they’re probably the safest from the double elim tomorrow…seems like they’re getting a lot of votes and still pretty decent scores, in the great scheme of things.

2.) Emmitt & Cheryl – I find myself drawing a bit of a blank on his Viennese waltz, despite the fact that I have several notes written about it – “smooth & fluid, didn’t see the alleged mistake, not very high level of difficulty”.  I daresay that it probably left me lukewarm: no big problems, and pleasant to watch, but nothing particularly impactful or impressive.  Just as I said last week, I think the biggest problem I have with Emmitt at this point is just that he seems to have plateaued in terms of difficulty, and Cheryl really isn’t pushing him as hard as she should choreographically at this phase of the competition.  Most of the other couples are pulling out all the stops – but Emmitt & Cheryl seem to be sticking primarily to the “Do easy choreo and just charm everyone’s pants off!” method.  Their trio – ok, very cute, and I definitely enjoyed it more than I did Gilles’ trio….but 30? Really? I saw an awful lot of backleading & stationary ass-shaking going on…I think many other couples had much more difficult steps in their dances, and they did them with much more impressive execution.  I guess the judges were maybe judging more on entertainment value than level of difficulty and content (unless your name is Shawn, in which case it’s ALL about content).  I guess I’ve just kind of given up on trying to understand the judges’ motives at this point :-P Regardless, I think he’s likely safe tomorrow, but things could get dicey next week… Read more..

November 12, 2012 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 15, Week 7 – Power Rankings

Once again, I’m left with a week where these rankings are kind of a moot point, since no one is going home – so basically, take these as who I think would go home if there was actually an elimination tomorrow night.  But keep in mind that next week is a double elim, so those who don’t do so hot this week are going to have to really step their game up even more next week, because their chances of going home are even greater – and once again, the multitude of points from 4 different dances (the fusion & marathon dances this week, and a regular ballroom dance and Latin trio dance next week) is going to make the margins uber-close…even moreso than they were last week.  We’re going to have another fanbase battle royale on our hands…hope you guys have created more accounts to vote with!

Well, looks like the judges were back to hitting the wacky tobacky this week – although Carrie Ann seemed at least a bit more sober than those other two goobers.  Definite over and under-scoring going on, and I have to wonder if there are certain celebs that need a bit of protection…

1.) Shawn & Mark (Derek) –  For all the hoopla surrounding “Will Derek dance or not?”, I actually thought things turned out pretty damn good for Shawn this week – she FINALLY got that perfect 30, and I think Derek’s choreo for she & Mark was the epitome of what the judges were looking for in terms of a “fusion dance” (even if they didn’t specifically spell it out) – I literally could not count how many times they switched from tango to paso, paso to tango, and back again.  Derek delivered on his promise – he created a fusion where the two component dances melted together effortlessly, and you couldn’t tell where one ended and the other began.  And Shawn & Mark handled it beautifully – was nice to see shades of the unflappable Team Shark, but with the upgrade of Shawn’s maturity and some of Derek’s choreography.  As for the marathon dance – just as I expected, Shawn had the endurance of a Kenyan, and didn’t even seem to be getting winded, and I thought she and Mark had some great, flashy choreo that SHOULD have kept them around longer.  But as someone mentioned on Twitter (Will, maybe?), I think Mark may have gotten them tapped out when he went for the breakdancing move that left them separated for so long and Shawn…just kinda standing there.  Had he not done that move, I think they probably would have gone on to win the marathon, because they were showing no signs of fatigue.  C’est la vie.  I’m just happy that Shawn didn’t get low-balled by Len for once, and they’ve got a decent lead heading into week 8, for Derek’s return.

2.) Emmitt & Cheryl – These two are one big question mark for me.  I feel like Emmitt isn’t really doing enough to stand out amongst some of the other couples, but I also can’t shake the feeling that the judges just love him, and that he’s getting a LOT of votes.  The guy is charming, don’t get me wrong – and he’s not a bad dancer.  But I feel like he’s kinda plateaued, and the level of difficulty that he’s dancing at isn’t up-to-snuff with what the other couples are doing at this point.  I think their fusion dance illustrated this pretty well – it was better than I expected, and definitely cute and very “typical Emmitt”.  And therein lies the problem: I feel like I was seeing the exact same steps and overall mood that I’ve been seeing in the bulk of his dances this season.  There was no “upping the ante” in terms of difficulty, and we didn’t really see anything new from he & Cheryl in terms of character or mood of the dance.  I felt like I was watching a repeat of his samba a few weeks ago.  Was it a good effort, given their fusion and the song they got? Yes.  Did Emmitt dance it well? Sure.  But nothing really jumped out at me that said “This guy is a contender for the finale.” In the marathon dance, I thought they were cute, and doing just enough lifting and moving just slow enough that they didn’t exert themselves – I don’t feel like they were giving it 100%, though, and probably gone a bit harder and been a bit flashier and still been ok.  If there were an elim tomorrow, I’m fairly confident they’ll be safe.  But I think they’ll probably end up doing the jive as their trio dance next week, and I’m curious to see how Emmitt fares doing a fast dance where he has to remain in sync with not only Cheryl, but another person as well…I think his weaknesses could be on display.

3.) Kelly & Val – These two are also a bit of an enigma for me, since I can’t really tell whether the judges are going easy on her to keep her around, or don’t really care if she stays or goes…and the soap fanbase still remains untested, considering that EVERYONE beat Sabrina last week.  I generally like their fusion dance – was very cute and had appropriate amounts of both cha-cha and foxtrot in it, and I think Kelly’s cha-cha sections were actually much sharper and cleaner than Melissa’s.  But I wish Val would quit incorporating all of these spin sequences into Kelly’s routine – she’s good for the first 2 or 3, then I think she gets dizzy and tends to get off-balance…and thus, off-time.  I did see a few stutters after she finished the spins in this one.  He either needs to cut back on the spins, or teach her how to PROPERLY spot her turns.  Then we have the marathon…*sigh*.  I will say this: they did have some very fun, eye-catching tricks.  But I felt like that’s all they had – tricks.  Not many swing steps in between, and by the end, Kelly seemed to be getting pretty winded, and I saw quite a bit of them standing in place while Kelly caught her breath.  I want to see endurance in the marathon – not short bursts of energy with a lot of panting in between (which is probably how Gilles is in the boudoir – ZING! 8-O ).  If the elimination were this week, I would think they’d have enough of a bubble to stay safe – but I wonder if the tides will turn next week, as I think they’ll end up with the jive as their trio dance as well.  Kelly’s endurance sure didn’t impress me this week…and she’s gonna need even more next week.

4.) Melissa & Tony – She may be at the top of the leaderboard this week, but it’s exactly that fact that makes me worry that the judges feel the need to protect her – could she have been the other half of the unknown bottom 2 with Sabrina last week? I’m really starting to wonder.  I liked their fusion dance, but I didn’t love it – I thought the tango part was far better than the cha-cha part, and the cha-cha part embodied what seems to be my biggest complaint about Melissa: that she still dances a bit too softly.  She’s had ballroom dances the past few weeks, and she seems to hit a bit harder in those (likely because she has Tony leading her), but not that I’ve seen her do Latin again, I’m reminded that she still tends to move kind of “pretty” and delicately, and she never really got a lot of punch in her cha-cha.  I do think the tango section was an improvement over her tango two weeks ago, though.  I think they were really overscored, though – I don’t think I saw enough impact from Melissa (or enough hard-hitting choreography from Tony) to really justify that 29, when I thought Emmitt, Apolo, and Kelly all performed better and got higher scores.  I like Melissa, I really do – and I do think she deserves to be in the finale.  But I can’t overlook some of the lingering problems she seems to have with her dancing, and I think the judges were very, very kind to her this week.  In the marathon dance, I think she got lucky that Mark kinda whiffed it for he & Shawn with that breakdance move, and that Kelly was rapidly running out of steam…because I’m not sure that she & Tony would have won the marathon dance otherwise.  I do think they had a good strategy, though – they paced themselves well and stuck with a lot of basics that were sure to please Len.  I don’t necessarily think they had the best tricks or the highest energy level, but in the end, endurance won out over flashiness, and I am glad they won…like I said, I have nothing against Melissa, or any of the other remaining Team CMM members :-) I’m curious to see what she gets as her trio dance next week – she’s still got rumba and paso left, and since I can’t really picture a rumba trio (kinky…), I’m guessing she’s got paso…which could be problematic, considering it’s the man’s dance.  Could this week’s high scores been an attempt to shield her from a possible fall next week?

5.) Apolo & Karina – I’m seriously going to have to run the numbers for whether certain running order positions get screwed in scores (ugh…my brain hurts just thinking about it), because I can only imagine the questions I’m going to get from Apolo fans wanting to know why he got low-balled for what I thought was one of the better dances of the night.  I don’t have a good answer for you, kids, because I haven’t run the numbers to determine whether going first means that you’re going to get low-balled in the scores.  I’ll admit, their fusion dance felt a bit frantic at times, and I saw a few minor bobbles, but overall, I really thought it was intense and entertaining – and that Apolo was really giving it 110%.  I’d definitely say it had a higher difficulty level than everyone except Shawn tonight – Karina didn’t hold back on the choreo, so I do have to give her credit there.  Seeing Apolo doff his shirt was an added bonus ;-) I have to wonder if wearing JR & Karina’s infamous “newsies” jive costumes was a bit of bad juju for Apolo & Karina in the marathon dance – because like the jive she & JR did a year ago, the judges didn’t seem too fond of Karina & Apolo’s moves in the marathon.  :-( Oh well.  I’m just glad they outlasted Gilles ;-) I would be slightly worried for them this week, but I think they have the potential to come back in a major way next week, considering they have another ballroom dance to do (and Apolo seems to thrive with those), and they’re probably going to end up doing a jive trio as well (it will be the week of a million jive trios!), and I think Karina has the potential to rock the choreography for it.  I’m not losing hope yet ;-)

6.) Gilles & Peta – In quite possibly the most crack-addled critiquing and scoring of the night, the judges lavished all kinds of praise over this nonsensical “fusion” dance – first of all, WHERE THE HELL WAS THE SAMBA???? I think I saw a few samba runs and maybe a roll or two at the beginning, and then these two knuckleheads spent the rest of the dance doing Argentine tango…and crappy Argentine tango, at that.  These two seemed to be moving in slow motion, compared to the music – wayyyy too much standing in place and relying on the impact of slow movement.  And sorry, but this was all on Peta – I just don’t think she’s a good Argentine tango choreographer, and knowing Gilles, he was probably so fixated on how much he wanted to do the Argentine tango (and how much he DIDN’T want to do the samba) that he convinced Peta to minimize the amount of samba and maximize the amount of time he could spend reliving his Argentine tango glory days of 3 1/2 years ago.  I would almost put money on it that it went down that way – and it’s for reasons such as those that I’m really starting to get flustered with Peta.  As I’ve said for awhile – I get the feeling that Gilles is driving the bus, and Peta’s just letting him, while periodically shaking her head in shame at his reckless driving.  She needs to put her foot down – both choreographically, and in terms of Gilles’ behavior.  Glad they got a bit of a wake-up call in the swing marathon, because I didn’t really see them doing a whole lot.  I’m wondering how he’s going to fare next week, because he’ll probably end up with paso doble as his trio dance – and while it is the man’s dance, he’s going to run the risk of getting upstaged if they pick another guy to be in their trio, and I’m not sure he could handle leading two ladies.  It shall be interesting to see…it shall also be interesting to see if he’s actually getting a ton of votes or not.  I’m not entirely convinced that he’ll even make it past next week…

7.) Kirstie & Maks – I really hate to harp on these two TOO much, because I do think Kirstie did a wonderful thing by helping to arrange the convoy to NYC and they probably lost a good deal of practice time as a result – but I do think they really stumbled this week in the fusion dance.  The first half was actually quite good – I actually liked this quickstep better than the one they did a few weeks ago.  But the minute it came time to transition into samba…it all kinda fell apart :-( She lost time, there wasn’t any bounce…and I think she and Maks stopped having fun as soon as the samba kicked in.  And really, that’s when I really notice Kirstie & Maks’ shortcomings as a couple – when they stop having fun.  It’s their biggest asset, and once they lose it…I’m afraid there’s not much else to keep me interested.  But I do credit Kirstie for acknowledging that she just didn’t do well, rather than trying to make excuses for why her dancing wasn’t up to snuff (which is a move out of the Gilles playbook, by the way).  No big suprises in the marathon – they were the first out, and probably should have been.  Unfortunately, I think the end may be nigh for Team KStick – I think they’re probably going to end up with paso doble as their trio dance, and I don’t really see Kirstie knocking it out of the park…especially if Gilles and Melissa are doing it, too.  But who knows…stranger things have happened.  The person at the top of the leaderboard went home last week.

So what did you guys think of fusion night? If someone were to get eliminated tomorrow…who do you think it will be? And how do you think things will shake out next week?

November 5, 2012 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 15 – What’s Left to Dance?

So obviously, this season is beyond wacky – double eliminations, no eliminations, new dance styles, guest judges, the whole shebang.  And there have been quite a few questions about what dances are being done each week…while I don’t pretend to have a super-clear picture of how the rest of the season is going to unfold, I do have a little bit of info, and I think the bulk of our readers are smart enough to deduce a lot of things :-) So here’s my best (educated) guess at how the rest of the season will unfold – and keep in mind that, like other things this season, some of the stuff in this post has the potential to change.  The double elim’s were scheduled for weeks 4 & 6, and then were moved to weeks 3 & 8 without explanation.  It’s kind of a crap shoot, kids.

First things first: the question I’ve been seeing the most is “Will the couples be able to get through all of the 10 regular ballroom & Latin dances by the finale?” While I can’t say for sure, in all likelihood I doubt they will, given how many other extraneous dances they seem to be trying to fit into the schedule – unless they try and double or even triple up dances in some weeks, which I think is just asking for trouble.   So it’s entirely possible that you may not see Gilles doing a quickstep, or Shawn doing a samba, or Apolo doing a tango, etc. Sorry kids – don’t shoot the messenger.  So every couple has 5 regular dances still remaining – here they are, in no particular order.

ETA1: That’ll teach me not to look more carefully before hitting “post” ;-) I see now that Shawn & Derek ALSO have a fusion dance comprised of 2 dances they have yet to do, just like Gilles & Peta…while everyone else has done one of the dances in their fusion this season.  If I didn’t know any better, I’d say there was a bit of pre-planning in who picked what…but I can’t imagine any way they could do that, judging from how sloppy & disorganized the selection process seemed to be.  Guess it’s all just a coincidence. 

ETA2: Since this seems to be just too difficult for some to process on their own, let me spell this out loud and clear: THERE ARE TWO DANCES NEXT WEEK.  TWOOOOO.  NOT THREE.  I know you saw Apolo’s tweet about 3 dances – the dude is referring to the fusion dance (which is ONE DANCE) as two dances, since it is two dances mashed together into one routine.  Then there is the swing marathon.  1 fusion dance + 1 marathon dance = 2 dances.  I can assure you, there is not some 3rd “secret dance” that the powers that be are going to spring on us at the last minute. Got it? Good, cause I’m done spoon feeding information to anyone that can’t be bothered to read this post.

ETA3: Small update – there will be one more dance this season (in week 9) that is a “new” style that the couples will pick for one another.  No, I don’t have the list.  Still not a peep about the Argentine tango – so at this point, I’m assuming we aren’t going to see it. 

ETA4: Looks like they scrapped the idea of having celebs as the 3rd member of the trio dances, and we’re back to using pros (and troupe members) – phew! Also looks like salsa has been thrown into the mix as a possible trio dance, and it’s been confirmed: back-to-back double elims in weeks 8 AND 9 8-O Start making those extra verified accounts, kids…

Gilles & Peta – remaining dances: samba, paso doble, waltz, quickstep, Viennese waltz

Ruh-roh! Gilles only has 2 “sexy” dances left for him to get overscored on, based solely on his sex appeal.  Then he’s got three of the pretty staunch ballroom dances to contend with – any bets on which of the 3 (or more) that he miraculously won’t get to this season? I could see him somehow dodging the waltz, since that seems to be a dance that has to be amazing in order for a couples to get votes. If there’s any dance I’d say Peta might struggle with choreographing, it’s the quickstep – for the simple reason that she’s only choreographed one so far on the show (for Donald) and I recall thinking it was a tad weak.

Shawn & Derek – remaining dances: samba, paso doble, waltz, tango, Viennese waltz

I think the fact that these two still have paso doble left bodes well for them – it’s a dance for which Derek almost always comes up with stellar choreography.  Viennese waltz will probably be a good one as well.  I do worry about the samba a bit, though, because it’s a dance that Derek has said is one of his least favorite to choreograph, and if I recall, it was one that Shawn got mixed reviews for on her original season.  I wonder if it would benefit them to use it as their trio dance. Read more..

October 31, 2012 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!