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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!

DWTS 15, Week 6 – Power Rankings

Well, that was interesting :-P I guess that’s with the overall feeling I’m left with after country week – there were some good dances, some not-so-good dances, and just some general weirdness.  I feel like we saw, quite possibly, the messiest group dance in the history of the show – as some of you saw me say on Twitter, I thought this looked like it was just thrown together this morning, and that no one really & truly knew the choreography.  The solos were an interesting mix of desperate, messy, ambitious, and silly…and at the end of it all, I’m left with the same theory that Heidi & I kicked around earlier today upon hearing about the “judges’ score only” elimination next week: that they’re trying to subtly nudge Kelly out this week so that they can send Kirstie packing next week with a clear conscience and without a ton of backlash.  But let’s get on with the rankings, shall we?

1.) Sabrina & Louis – I’ll admit, I really enjoyed this rumba. Sabrina is really starting to grow on me, and maybe a part of me empathized with her struggles with a drug-addicted ex-boyfriend – I myself am still reeling from uncle’s passing earlier this year, due to a drug overdose.  I guess I just understand how she could feel so hopeless and agonized in that situation – and I think it reflected in her dancing.  Loved the solo, which was a nice combination of hurt and joy.  I actually thought Sabrina’s legs looked pretty damn good in this dance, and she seemed to handle all the passes & turns with finesse.  There also seemed to be a nice balance of light & shade – the dramatic, fast passes & turns contrasted nicely with the slow portions where she took the time to finish her lines.  If I had to pick one flaw, though – I think there was a trick midway through the routine that didn’t seem to come off quite right, and it looked like Louis was just struggling to lift her butt off the floor.  For that reason, I would have probably given it a 29 – but overall, I liked it :-) I think she’s got a pretty decent cushion from elimination this week – at the top of the leaderboard, she’s a full 10 points ahead of Kelly.

2.) Apolo & Karina – FINALLY!!! A breakthrough performance that the judges finally recognize just how GOOD these two are.  Admittedly, I was skeptical (and rather pessimistic) heading into this week, because I hated the song they picked and I was prepared for the judges to just kinda nitpick them to death again.  But man – Apolo seems to really handle the ballroom dances with incredible ease, and I love the way he extends his arms.  And while I was worried the emotion in this one would be kind of over-the-top, I actually thought it had a good degree of restraint, and was more celebratory than sad.  Just a lovely dance :-) And if we’re going to split hairs about the two extra points from the group dance (which I don’t really feel like complaining about too much, because it literally only makes about a .33% difference…basically peanuts), I think Apolo & Karina were the only two that really seemed hungry for the extra points and seemed to cram as many cool tricks into their solo as humanly possible – for that reason alone, I probably would have given them the points, but again…it really doesn’t matter a whole lot this week.  I feel like these two finally have a good dance (and the 2nd highest point total) to keep them relevant – it’s nice to know they’re most likely safe tomorrow night ;-)

3.) Shawn & Derek – Very cute & Western-y, just as I was told it would be :-) And it was fun watching Shawn cut loose and play a sassy little Daisy Duke character in her solo.  But here’s the thing: I actually agree with Len that there was a little too much country, and I could have done with a bit more regular cha-cha steps.  However, I feel like if they were going to call Shawn & Derek out for “too much country western”, then they should have also called Melissa & Tony out for what felt like a TON of ballet in their Viennese waltz…and at the end of the night, it was still country night, so I felt like they did have an obligation to put a certain amount of country steps into that cha-cha.  So at the end, I guess I feel kind of ambivalent about the whole thing – not really Shawn’s best dance, but not her worst, and her song was wonky, and she was kind of injured.  I’m sure she’ll be ok this week, though – and for a few weeks to come.  Thought their solo in the country group dance could have been better and a bit more ambitious, but in the end, like I said – it really doesn’t matter a whole lot.  I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what Derek comes up with for this mysterious “dance fusion” we’ve been hearing about – it sounds like something that’s definitely in his wheelhouse. Read more..

October 29, 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 5 Power Rankings – Part II

So now that we’ve seen everybody dance both their team dance & individual dance, I can finally start to get a snapshot of where things stand heading into week 6.  As I promised in part I, I’ve really just taken my commentary on last night’s dances, copied & pasted it here, and added any additional notes I found pertinent to go along with my commentary on tonight’s dances.  I know many of you have already read the spoilers we posted last night for tonight’s show, so there aren’t probably any huge revelations for you; for those that haven’t, I doubt there are any huge revelations for you, either…it became pretty clear to me that they put the stronger individual performances on Tuesday night and the weaker ones on Monday night, perhaps in an effort to increase viewership for Tuesday night’s show.  As for the team dance – I think you guys can probably guess where I stand ;-) And the other thing that became quite evident after tonight? They are really doing their damndest to protect Gilles and ensure he sticks around.  Gilles gets the high score of night 1; 3 of the 4 couples on night 2 get the same (2.5 points lower than Gilles’) score, and the one person that even comes close still falls .5 points short of Gilles, despite dancing one of the most beautiful waltzes I’ve ever seen on the show.  The message is clear: protect the whiny, egotistical Frenchmen at all costs.  Gag me.

Speaking of week 6 – it is country week, and each couple is doing an individual unlearned dance and a group dance.  The group dance will not be scored, except the couple that does the move that impresses the judges the most will get two bonus points – which is practically nothing, in the great scheme of things, since we’re taking all of the points from this week and all of the points from next week and adding them together.  It’s gonna be a fanbase battle royale…hope you guys voted hard!

1.) Sabrina & Louis – I was skeptical about Sabrina being able to carry off such a soft, romantic dance, since she seems to hit everything so hard – but this was actually quite lovely.  She showed a lot of control and some of her lines were just beautiful – at a couple moments, I honestly thought she would fit right in on a dance floor filled with American Smooth professionals.  I even believed adoring looks she was giving Louis – and while I agree that vulnerability may not be Sabrina’s strong suit, I thought she absolutely showed it tonight in this waltz.  Funny how you call her out on it, Carrie Ann, and then give her a 10 anyway.  If you aren’t gonna nut up, then you gots to SHUT UP.  Loved the theme, loved the choreography, loved the execution – and love that someone from Team Call Me Maybe was able to give Gilles a run for his money in the individual dance round :-)

2.) Gilles & Peta – Well, guess I can’t really get too mad at the overscoring of this one, since it’s kind of become par for the course this season.  I actually thought Gilles had some really nice lines in this rumba – he was actually extending both his arms and his legs nicely.  But my big problem was that I still felt like Peta was doing all the work…and it got a little repetitive.  To concur with Len, I got tired of the leg extensions and displays of flexibility really quickly, and it seemed to slow everything down just a little too much.  It was a time-waster in an already shortened routine.  It seemed like the first part (the a cappella part) was nice, and then once the crescendo hit with the instruments it was all overwrought emotion from there on out.  I would have probably given it a 28, tops, because I felt like there just wasn’t as much content as there should have been.  29.5 is an awfully cushy score. Adding in after Tuesday night’s show: I wasn’t so upset about this score last night, but now I am, considering that Shawn & Derek did what I would consider to be a FAR superior rumba, both in terms of technique & performance, got reamed by the judges, and ended up 2.5 points less than Gilles.  The pimping is obvious now, and TPTB (and Gilles himself) seem hellbent on changing the name of the show to “Dancing with Gilles Marini!…and some other people”.  But I do feel a bit vindicated knowing that Gilles’ magnum opus of a team freestyle got called out for being a ridiculous mess and got 2.5 points less than Team Call Me Maybe…that really must chap his ass, as does the fact that Sabrina is now at the top of the leaderboard ;-) Read more..

October 23, 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!

Bruno Tonioli & Len Goodman Get Their Tango On in Strictly Come Dancing Promo

TGIF!!! It’s t minus 1 hour till the weekend on the east coast, and what better way to celebrate than with this kind of awesome promo for the latest season Strictly Come Dancing, DWTS’s cousin from across the pond? 8-)

 It doesn’t get much better than Bruno & Len (and fellow judge Craig Revel Horwood) taking judge Darcey Bussell for a spin around the dance floor to some Bowie :-P I must say, Len still impresses, even years after competing himself – dude still has great lines.  Bruno wasn’t too shabby, either…although I would say the bulk of his appeal was the drama with which he carried off the steps.  ;-) Just one question: when do we get to see Carrie Ann establish some street cred like this?

Thanks to Marianya for finding this little ditty our way – she’s currently traveling and was unable to post this herself.

October 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 3 – Power Rankings

Well, it was a pretty loose definition of “Iconic Dance Week” – it was really more like “Pick an Iconic Dance with music you like and just reuse that” week.  There were gimmicks galore, and the judges giving quite possibly the MOST crack-addled scores I’ve ever seen – so basically, enough to give me a headache…which didn’t help other things going on in my household tonight.  Oh well…I’ll get on with it, so I can hopefully get it over with soon…

1.) Shawn & Derek – Rules be damned – I like this routine, dammit! And just as I suspected, Len backpedaled on his challenge to the couples to “push the envelope”, and docked them points for breaking hold…fickle much? Oh well – this was fun, high-energy, had a lot of great technique, and I thought Shawn & Derek appropriately fulfilled Len’s request to “show us thing we’ve never seen before”.  The trampolines enhanced the routine, rather than detracting from it – which is more than I can say for some of the other couples’ routines.  Overall, I think the judges must be getting a pretty decent share of votes, because the judges will gush about how great their routine is – and then will score is relatively harshly.  They must not be too afraid of her being a shock elim…but this crazy low-balling has GOT TO STOP before someone good is shockingly eliminated.

2.) Apolo & Karina – Best routine of the night for me, yet again – and yet again, GROSSLY underscored.  Seriously, WTF does Apolo have to do to get a decent score from the Three Stooges???  Balance a ball on his nose while doing the samba? Juggle flaming batons while holding Karina in a star lift? This is getting BEYOND ridiculous.  Apolo & Karina danced a foxtrot that was about as close to perfect as anyone got tonight – no fumbling, perfect timing, beautiful lines, smoldering chemistry, and an intriguing concept & choreography – and they got the same score as a crazy desperate guy that hung from the ceiling like Tinkerbell, a girl who dances about as delicately as a Mack truck, and a guy who almost dropped his partner.  Oh, and only 1/2 a point more than a guy who brought a donkey as a prop.  I feel like I’m taking crazy pills, people!!! Like Shawn, the only thing I can think of is that they are see Apolo as such a threat (between his dancing & his fanbase) that they’re trying to handicap him a bit by underscoring him.  I guess you can consider this my official endorsement of Apolo & Karina as the ones to beat this season – I’ll toss a few votes Drew & Helio’s way this week, but after they’re gone? It’s all Team OhYes for me… 8-)

3.) Kelly & Val – I gotta say – Kelly is doing FAR better than I would have expected.  Obviously the chemistry with Val is there ;-), but for the first half of the routine, I actually believed Kelly as a dancer – she was steady on her turns, was moving big, and had great musicality.  Then about halfway through the routine, reality kinda kicked in and Kelly seemed to lose focus – and that’s when some of the wobbling began.  I think she may have gotten a little dizzy trying to spot her turns (and it was actually a pretty damn good attempt), and never quite recovered from that – she seemed to get a little off-time and disoriented, and although she did a good job of soldiering on, she never seemed to regain the confidence and groove she had in the first half of the routine.  Overall, I liked it – but I think Kelly’s got some serious work to do before she actually deserves a 27.  I’m wondering if Kelly’s not quite generating the buzz they expected her to – and thus they’re trying to give her a leg up.  Guess I just can’t fathom how a routine that got that sloppy scored higher than the two best routines of the night for me.  I like Kelly, but that was overscored.

4.) Melissa & Tony – I do have to commend these two on one thing – they did a lot of basic samba steps, and also managed to pick a theme that didn’t seem to steal focus away from their actual dance.  And really, I liked the routine, overall – Melissa’s legs looked great, the energy was high, and I feel like it was a nice homage to JR’s samba.  However – Melissa still seems to move really softly to me.  She was shaking it – but she seemed to be shaking it GENTLY.  And her arms, while pretty, didn’t really seem that impactful.  So at the end of the day, I’m just kinda left without a whole lot to say about these two – other than the fact that they, too, were overscored, and maybe aren’t getting the love the judges feel they deserve…hence the cushy score to shield them a bit from elimination.  Another couple that I don’t really have any beef with – but I just can’t really get excited about, either.

5.) Sabrina & Louis – As expected, Sabrina hit every step with a sledgehammer in this paso doble – and I think she may have backslid in week 1 territory a bit, when she was hitting everything so hard that she actually got a little off-balance.  There were a couple steps that came out looking kind of wonky, and I don’t know if Sabrina just didn’t hit them right, or if they were just odd to begin with.  I was actually a little underwhelmed by the choreography, on the whole – Sabrina was hitting it hard and with a lot of attack, but the steps themselves were just…meh.  I feel like she could have handled something quite a bit more intricate, and instead Louis gave her stuff that just felt more kindergarten-y to me.  Relative to everyone else tonight, I actually think Sabrina was scored about right – and I think she ought to be safe from tomorrow’s double chop-chop. But Louis has got to reign in all that energy she dances with…ooh wee.

6.) Gilles & Peta – Now for a couple that I must CONDEMN instead of commend for their choice of theme – ok, was it just me, or did the bit with Gilles suspended above the dance floor have absolutely NOTHING to do with the tango that followed, and just kinda looked odd & out-of-place? It was a stunt for stunt’s sake – and I hate those.  Add to that the fact that the choreography of the tango was just kinda ho-hum & ordinary for me, and Gilles was just being kind of a d-bag again, and I’m left unimpressed by this one.  Gilles should be frustrated – with himself, because that desperation to win is seriously starting to mess with his actual dancing.  And he should be happy that the judges were feeling rather benevolent tonight, because I really would have given this routine more like a 23 or 24.  But I did see a glimmer of hope tonight: the dew seems to be wearing off the rose a bit where Gilles is concerned, for the judges.  They seemed less hesitant to critique him tonight than they did in weeks 1 & 2, and I think he may have realized he was getting a little carried away.  Or at least I hope he realized he was getting carried away…

7.) Kirstie & Maks – Sorry, but as highly amused as I was to see Maks doing the Mick Jagger chicken strut around the ballroom in some absurdly tight pants and a wig that would make the Beegees jealous, I found that the real star of this routine was Maks – which kind of defeated the purpose of the celeb being the focal point.  :-) Maybe Kirstie wanted it that way, perhaps to detract from the fact that she really wasn’t moving much at all – but I just kind of found the whole thing to be more style than substance.  I think part of the appeal of the original was that it was a terrible dance, but Carson did it with such gusto and personality that it became a showstopper.  This…was less of a train wreck, but felt a lot more low-energy, too.  They weren’t messing anything up, and everything was on-time…but it just felt half-assed to me.  Like they were dancing it for camera blocking instead of the actual performance.  Was it fun? Sure…but I was just left kinda wanting more.  Kirstie’s more than likely got the votes to survive tomorrow’s elimination, but I think she should really start focusing more on the content of her routines…because at this point, I feel like Bristol actually has more difficult steps than she does.  Yikes.

8.) Emmitt & Cheryl – For someone that came out as strong as he did the first week, I feel like the Emmitt we saw then has been replaced by a much lower-budget generic one…that hasn’t had the same zing the past two weeks.  I guess this routine was kind of fun to watch…in the same semi-trainwrecky way that Kirstie’s was.  But like Kirstie, I just feel like Emmitt’s not quite operating at 100% – he’s having fun, and he’s not really doing BAD, per se, but he’s also just not up to par with the likes of Shawn, Apolo, Sabrina, or even Gilles.  I think the troupe guys at the table in the background were more of a distraction than an enhancement, unfortuantely (expect to see them in the cheese…fer reals), and they actually seemed to be more energetic than Emmitt himself was.  But I did get kind of a kick out of the pencil slide he did at the end :-P Do I think Emmitt’s safe this week? Yeah.  Is he living up to the hype I saw about him in the pre-season? NO WAY.  He, like Kirstie, also needs to step it up if he wants to stand a chance up against the powerhouses this season. Charm will only take him so far!

9.) Bristol & Mark – For as terrible as their rehearsal package was (and how dumb they were for picking the famed “futuristic paso doble” to recreate) – I actually don’t think this was the worst routine of the night, in terms of technique.  I think Kirstie & Emmitt (and maybe Helio) have that one covered.  When Bristol’s actually trying (and NOT breaking rules), she’s actually not bad – I felt like she moved more than both Kirstie & Emmitt, and with more conviction.  But man – after seeing that package, the mood on the dance floore between Bristol & Mark was positively CHILLING. As in “I don’t even want to look at you, get this f%$ker away from me!” chilling.  And unfortunately, I think that may have negated really any positives they had in terms of technique – even though they were chess pieces and were supposed to be at war, the mood didn’t feel warlike & aggressive to me…it felt sullen and detatched.  All that aside – I’m left a bit uncertain about how the big blowup is going to affect Bristol & Mark’s chances of surviving the elim…if it even affects it at all.   Part of me thinks it may actually garner some sympathy votes – part of me hopes it turned enough people off of Bristol completely, so that she tumbles into the bottom 2.  But I’m preparing myself to see her sullen face yet again next week – although I’m hoping that whoever picks her dance sticks her with jive.  Mwahahaha…

10.) Helio & Chelsie – Another couple that should thank their lucky stars that the judges were feeling benevolent tonight – although in the end, I doubt it’s going to matter much, since it’s a double elim tomorrow night and I’m pretty sure these two will make a repeat appearance in the bottom 2.  Helio’s a complete joy to watch – that big goofy grin as he’s bouncing around in his zoot suit just makes me all warm & fuzzy inside :-D But on a night where everyone was pulling out all sorts of bells & whistles & crazy choreo, is a “just ok” quickstep with pretty safe choreography (and a rather noticeable gaffe) going to be enough to keep him safe? I don’t know.  He might get a bit of a surge in votes from his appearance in the bottom 2 last week, but I’m not sure it will be enough to keep him out of the bottom 2.  I’m leaning towards no, and that makes me sad :-( But I think Helio has had the right attitude about this season – have as much fun as possible and don’t hone in too hard on the win.  You listening, Gilles?

12.) Drew & Anna – I think this is one couple that just kinda got dealt a crap hand this whole season – not much love from the judges, some chemistry issues, and just some bad logistics (running order, music, etc.) I think tonight was a bad night to go first – even though I generally enjoyed their cha-cha, and liked that they didn’t seem to let the props dominate it.  Drew did get a little bit sloppy at times, and I think he & Anna may have gotten out-of-sync on some of the open choreography, but I definitely like it more than at least 3 of the other routines I saw tonight.  But in the end, will it really matter? Doubtful, considering that 3 of the 4 couples comprising the bottom 2 in the first two weeks were “middle of the road” couples that did neither good nor bad – and tonight, Drew got kinda low-balled.  At this point, I think he may be a bit out of his element – and maybe it’s time for him to go.  I still think there are 2 (maybe 3) other contestants that should be leaving BEFORE him, but I’m getting to the point where I’d hope that his scores would be improving a bit more.  Oh well – it’s been fun, Drew.  You seem to have brought out a more laid-back Anna :-)

So what did you guys think of “Iconic Dances” night? Love it? Hate it? Who’s going home???

October 8, 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 All-Stars: The Great “Previous Dance Experience” Debate – Bristol Palin Edition

We’re mere days away from the premiere of the all-star season – who’s getting pumped??? :-) I find myself surprisingly excited about it, given that I was feeling pretty ho-hum about it only a few months back.  Be sure to keep a close eye on Heidi’s “Who’s Dancing What” post – you never know when someone’s cha-cha song or dance order or phone number might pop up ;-) #justsayin

Anywho, if you’re feeling nostalgic, you can view all of the previous editions of this series here.  Now buckle in, kids, because I’m about to tackle the ups and downs (but mainly just downs…) of the most polarizing contestant in DWTS history: Bristol Palin.

For Bristol’s best dance, I picked her tango:

As her worst dance, what else could I pick but that god-awful monkey suit jive?:

Ok, I will admit that Bristol is not the worst dancer we’ve ever seen on the show (I think’s a dubious honor reserved for Master P, with Kate Gosselin as the runner-up).  On the contrary, I actually thought she was relatively good the first few weeks of the competition – I even threw a few votes her way in week 1.  I think what ended up getting to me as the season wore on, though, was the fact that all the other contestants seemed to be improving by leaps & bounds…while Bristol just seemed to barely muddle through some of the dances, and hit a bit of a plateau in terms of improvement.  To add insult to injury, we were losing MUCH better dancers each week that Bristol remained – and by the time the finale rolled around, Bristol seemed to have developed a sense of entitlement, and copped an attitude when she wasn’t getting the 9’s and 10’s she felt she deserved.  In the end, she just left a bad taste in my mouth, even if some of her dancing really wasn’t all that bad.  SOME.  :-) In rewatching a lot of Bristol’s dances, I noticed that she tended to do MUCH better when she was able to stay in-hold for the bulk of it – so most of the ballroom dances she did went quite a bit more smoothly than the Latin ones.  I don’t know if Mark holding onto her and leading her so directly helped improve her confidence or what, but she moved a lot more cleanly & clearly in dances like the tango – no missed steps, she stayed on time, and had pretty good posture.  And I blame Mark for the silly air guitar break in the middle :-P

On the other hand, in dances where she had to separate from Mark and do some of the dance on her own, she either barely muddled through or seemed to fall apart completely – case in point? The dreaded monkey suit jive.  Right off the bat, she seemed to blank on a good 10-15 seconds of side-by-side jive choreo.  Then, once the suit came off (and even that was pretty rough), she never seemed to get 100% into the groove of the dance, and always seemed like she was 1 step behind or ahead of Mark.  And although we kind of expected it, based on her complete lack of experience in performing, Bristol wasn’t exactly the best at connecting with the character of a dance – and when she didn’t know what to do, she seemed to resort to an expression that reminded her of back home in Alaska: deer in the rifle sights ;-) Maybe this time around, she’ll be a bit more comfortable and will be able to let loose and have fun.  Or not…who knows.  I’m still of the opinion that she likely won’t last past the midpoint of the competition, this time around – she’s up against much better dancers with much bigger fanbases, and I daresay she’s lost a bit of that “single teen mom” appeal she had 2 years ago.  Will be interesting to see what Mark is able to conjure up…

Court’s verdict: Probably the weakest all-around performer/dancer this season, and Mark needs to work on getting her performance value up to snuff…as well as making sure she knows her choreography and is confident enough to not forget it.  She should probably also work on her media presence – she needs to be as likeable as possible if she wants to stand a chance against some of the more popular contestants.

Thoughts on Bristol?

September 21, 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 “Who Wore it Better?” – The Pre-Season 15 All-Star Edition, Part I!

This season, we opted to do things a bit differently – as we have with just about every other regular feature we do each season, since the format is a bit wacky, to say the least :-P First, we’ve divided WWIB into two parts – mainly to accomodate the fact that Kirstie & Maks’ and the 13th couple’s (who we now know to be Sabrina & Louis) promo photos have yet to be released, but also to buy us some time for the labor-intensive task of finding good pictures for some of these :-) Secondly, we’ve included the couples’ promo photos from their original seasons for comparison as well.  But as always, we’ve offered up our usual snark commentary on each of the costumes, for your enjoyment 8-)

Battle of the turquoise & black lace corset dress/Kelly & Alec vs. Kelly & Val:  Kelly & Alec’s season 1 promo pic vs. Kelly & Val’s season 15 promo pic vs. Edyta in the season 9 pro tango demo

Courtney: The Iceman cometh! Wow, even Alec’s promo pic screams “I have no emotions” to me.  And while Kelly is a bit better, I still wish she’d actually smile in her promo pics – the whole “smoldery non-smile” she does just seems like she’s trying too hard to me.  And I’m probably the only one that feels this way, judging from some of everyone’s initial comments on the promo photos, but I’m not really all that wild about Kelly & Val’s pic…you’ll see I’m not much of a fan of the couples that went the “smoldery” route with their promo pix.  As for the costume itself – gotta go with Edyta on this one.  Granted, it’s hard to hold a candle to Edyta in pretty much ANY costume, but I think I like it better with a lace skirt, as opposed to a fringed one.  And while I was cursing under my breath while putting this edition together about how BAD some of the costumes have gotten since Randall left, I thank my lucky stars we’re not still stuck with Designs to Shine, who costumed the first season. Can we say “tacky”? 8-O

Heidi: Val sez, “You…are sooo sexy.” To which Kelly sez, “You are sexy, but I am sleeping with my cousin’s best friend’s husband’s brother and am simply toying with you as a cover to hide our true looove….” That is my long winded way of saying, Kelly is a soap actress…they only do smolder.  Sometimes well, sometimes not – and Val is a huge step up from Alec in terms of emotion and Kelly has evolved to smoldering with her mouth *closed*. :-) The dress you ask? I go with Edyta sans fishnets.  Although I think it’s cuter in the shorter length.

The verdict: Just say no to soap opera smolder.  Read more..

August 28, 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!

Louis Van Amstel Choreographs Samba for So You Think You Can Dance

Last minute “set your DVR’s!” alert – Louis is appearing on tonight’s episode of So You Think You Can Dance.  He tweeted earlier today that the samba he choreographed for ballet dancer Chehon and ballroom dancer Witney will be opening the show tonight:

@ watch #SYTYCD tonight on FOX 8/7c. @ and @ open the show tonight with their Samba! :-)
@LouisVanAmstel
Louis van Amstel

So for those Louis fans looking for their fix, stop whatever you’re doing, and go set your DVR to record the show at 8 pm EST on FOX.  Louis has choreographed some pretty awesome stuff for SYTYCD, so this should be a great routine.  Remember that awesome tango he choreographed for Melanie & Marko last season?

And I think Heidi & I are both pretty thrilled that they have not one, not two, but THREE ballroom dancers on SYTYCD this season! Let’s hope they have some staying power.  I think John is probably already smitten with Witney in particular…anyone else think she could be the second coming of Chelsie? ;-)

Be sure to check out our sister site, Pure So You Think You Can Dance, and follow them on Twitter @puresytycd for more updates! :-D

UPDATED: Here are videos of Chehon & Witney’s rehearsal with Louis, as well as the performance itself, for those who missed it :-)

 

July 11, 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!