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DWTS4: Randall’s Costume Retrospective, Week 3

Randall has been incredibly busy traveling lately, but he is still gracious enough to offer his insight on our favorite costumes from seasons past :-) Let’s see what he has to say about the tango & jive costumes from week 3 of season 4!

Apolo & Julianne’s costumes: “Definitely a LOT of fun paying tribute to Uma/John with a retro style costume.  Apolo looked great with his slick and shiny hair pulled back ala John Travolta.”

*photo courtesy ABC/Carol Kaelson 

Billy Ray & Karina’s costumes: “Looking back at these photos, I don’t even recognize Billy Ray nor Karina!!!  I think that Billy Ray looks BEYOND dashing in his tango costume – sophisticated, masculine and definitely elegant.  And Karina! The upswept hairdo, and that magnificent gown…..killer looks for a good tango!  The sleeveless jacket for Billy Ray was great, as it minimized any raising of his shoulders, which is SO difficult to control when dancing a ballroom dance, especially the tango, which automatically creates tension in the shoulders.  Without suit sleeves, the softness of the shirt minimized any tenseness that may have occurred while dancing.”

*photo courtesy ABC/Carol Kaelson

Laila’s costume: “The palazzo pants were a nice twist on the typical tango costume, and with Laila’s long legs, they really soared!  The snake/serpentine rhinestone trim along that (long and sexy) back in navy and hematite stones – stunning!  Laila has such a phenomenal physique that we wanted to showcase her beautiful shoulders, and went with a sports cut halter neckline.  What great shoulders, huh?”

*photo courtesy ABC/Carol Kaelson Read more..

February 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!

PureDWTS Exclusive! An Interview with Randall Christensen, Part II

Last week, we gave you part one of our exclusive interview with Randall Christensen, the costume designer for season 2-12 of DWTS.  Now read on for more insight from the man behind the costumes…as well as some exciting news! :-D

What are some of the shows that stood out for you the most when you costumed them, and why? (i.e. certain theme nights, specific seasons, finales, etc.)

Randall Christensen:  Movie/Broadway or TV night is always great fun.  We get to step out of character even more.  If you can dream it up, SOMEONE will wear it!  Themed nights are always fun.  Loved the Halloween show back several years ago.  Edyta as Morticia Addams (The Addams Family), Monique Coleman/Louis van Amstel in their “Ghostbusters” tear away coveralls, to “slime” green…..great fun!  Doing specific time periods are fun and challenging as well.  Doing a retro ‘50’s Paso Doble for Nicole Scherzinger was one of the most challenging, as the Paso Doble is so serious and passionate, yet the ‘50’s inspired song just didn’t go…..but Derek is a genius with choreography, and we came up with a fun yet strong look for them both.

If you could pick any of the pros, past or present, on the show to be your assistant, who would it be and why?

RC:  Hands down, Edyta Sliwinska would be a great co-designer.  She has such an eye for style!  Lacey Schwimmer has some really fun, “out there” and cutting edge ideas too.

What was the best part of your job on DWTS?

RC:  Hands down, the best part of my job was the trust of the producers, and being able to create with such freedom.  You just do NOT get that in the television industry, and that was the most rewarding thing I can imagine.  Weekly, the most rewarding part of my job was when Harold Wheeler and orchestra start playing the overture, there’s not a week that went by that I was ALWAYS there, with shivers running down my spine.  When those couples came down that stairway……truly a magical moment each and every week.  I never missed that descending down the stairs at the top of the show – NEVER! Read more..

January 17, 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!

DWTS13 End-of-Season Award Winners – Which Dance Was the Worst?

Other responses:

Hope & Maks’ rumba – 6

Ricki & Derek’s jive – 3

Hope & Maks’ first jive – 3

Chaz/Any dance from Chaz – 3 (Another one I’m tempted to throw out, because this seems a bit mean-spirited…and it doesn’t follow the directions)

Hope & Maks’ paso doble – 2

Elisabetta & Val’s cha-cha – 2

Ricki & Derek’s samba – 1

David & Kym’s rumba – 1

Ricki & Derek’s freestyle – 1

Rob & Cheryl’s samba – 1

Nancy & Tristan’s rumba – 1

Chaz & Lacey’s rumba – 1

Ricki & Derek’s paso doble – 1

Too many to list – 1

Courtney: Again, no big surprises here – looking back, I really do think Ron/Metta & Peta’s cha-cha was pretty hard to watch…and just kind of bizarre.  Hope & Maks’ tango, while very “clunky”, didn’t seem as bad to me – she was at least trying, where I felt like Ron just said “f*ck it” and was out there just winging it.  I have to give Nancy & Tristan’s jive a bit of a free pass, considering they got what I think could be the WORST jive song in the history of the show.  Chynna  had a brain fart – yes, it was hard to watch her crash & burn out there, but after seeing their encore performance during the finale, the dance itself didn’t seem quite so bad.  I would say that Rob & Cheryl’s Viennese waltz the first week had the potential to be as bad as Ron’s cha-cha, but Cheryl is such a pro at this point, I think she managed to conceal more of Rob’s flaws with backleading than Peta did with Ron’s.  JR & Karina’s cha-cha – yeah, it was a pretty hot mess, but I found that JR’s dancing in the finale was generally not up to snuff with the other stuff he had done all season…chalk it up to injury, I guess.  David & Kym’s jive was another hot mess, but again – he at least looked like he was trying.  It’s funny how effort can make or break a dance for me – a dance can be a hot mess, but I tend to cut it a bit of a break if I feel like the celeb is at least TRYING.  Likewise, a dance can be pretty good, but if I feel like the celeb is not really trying  or doesn’t really care (think Kate Gosselin) – I cannot bring myself to like it, no matter how great it may be.  Rounding out the write in category, I’ve got to raise my eyebrows at some of the responses, unfortunately.  Regardless of how one feels about Chaz’ life decisions, I don’t think all of Chaz’s dances were the worst ones this season, by any stretch – in fact, his cha-cha and samba were both pretty good, in my eyes.  And regardless of how one feels about Ricki and/or Derek, I don’t think any of their dances came close to being the worst, either – I think they may have gotten excessive praise for a few of them, but I don’t think any of them are inherently bad.  Hell, I was actually surprised that no one brought up their 80′s foxtrot – if any of their dances seemed even remotely qualified to be the worst of the season, it was that one…but again, I blame a crappy song and theme.  It’s funny that people bring up Hope & Maks’ rumba – with all the drama that followed it that week, I think it may have colored some people’s opinions of that dance for the worse; however, I actually kinda liked it, because Hope actually seemed to let go and show some vulnerability that week.  I just hated those damn flat boots she had to wear :-)

Heidi: Heh. I forgot Ron was even on this past season, so it would be difficult for me to call him the “worst” – maybe being utterly forgotten is worse than being the worst. :-)  I always laugh when someone throws in Ricki and Derek for a “worst dance” category.  She was not Derek’s best partner ever, but worst out of this group? LOL – I think a bit of envy is at play here.  I will also freely admit that Maks’ and Hope’s behavior toward the end of the season completely colored my thoughts on their dancing and, frankly, them as people.  But you know what? That is the risk you take when you persist in that type of behavior with no apologies. You have to own it.  Be responsible for it.  Like it or not, you’re on TELEVISION and what you do will have an impact on people, either positive or negative.  Now, I’ve had a negative opinion on Maks before and he turned it (and me) around with Kirstie. He may be able to do it again. But how many times can one keep making the same mistake before they just get written off?  So, at the end of the day, that is likely what you’re seeing in the number 2 ranking for Hope and Maks – unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your POV) I’m rarely alone in my opinions or reactions. I’m just not that unique. :-)  As for Tony and Chynna – I think people are very sympathetic with someone just blanking on someone and then feeling awful about it. Sympathy plays a huge part in this show, as we’ve said time and again. Plus, I think most people can see the difference between forgetting ones steps and being a “bad” dancer.  I don’t think she got voted out for blanking, I just don’t think she had a fanbase to begin with and her previously good scores had been protecting her from elimination.

Vogue: Wow, I’m shocked to see Maks and Hope’s Tango scoring so high for worst dance? 8O But, looking back at it again, I was quickly reminded of her “attitude” which was turning a lot of fans off at the time including myself. I also thought Tony and Chynna’s Tango would have scored higher as “worst dance”. In the end, I agree with who won in this catagory. Ron didn’t even seem to care and Peta seemed to have given up as well on him which I didn’t fault her a bit. If she comes back this next season, I really hope she gets a good partner. I’d really like to see her given a good chance to teach.

*photo courtesy ABC/Adam Taylor

January 16, 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!

DWTS13 End-of-Season Award Winners – Which Dance Was the Best?

You guys voted…now it’s time to reveal your picks for the bests and worsts of season 13!

Other responses (keep in mind I am paraphrasing, as there were some…creatively-written responses ;-)):

JR & Karina’s freestyle – 11

JR & Karina’s waltz – 7

Nancy & Tristan’s rumba – 4

JR & Karina’s rumba – 4

JR & Karina’s 1st jive – 4

Ricki & Derek’s rumba – 3

Ricki & Derek’s quickstep – 2

JR & Karina’s instant jive – 2

Rob & Cheryl’s tango – 1

Elisabetta & Val’s quickstep - 1

Ricki & Derek’s paso doble – 1

Ricki & Derek’s portion of the team paso doble – 1

Rob & Cheryl/JR & Karina’s instant samba – 1

Kristin & Mark’s samba – 1

Kristin & Mark’s quickstep – 1

JR & Karina’s “Vietnamese” waltz – 1 (I assume you meant “Viennese”? :-))

Chynna & Tony’s rumba – 1

Derek & Mark’s dance w/Charm – 1 (one of the results show dances)

Chaz & Lacey’s rumba – 1

Carson & Anna’s Vogue – 1

GET NANCY OFF THE STAGE – 1 (I have half a mind to toss this one out completely…)

None really impressed me to say they were the best – 1

Courtney: Can’t say I’m too surprised – choreographically, I think Ricki & Derek’s tango was really the strongest dance of the season, and the execution and performance value were there as well.  It’s also a great example of how a less-than-desirable song/theme isn’t necessarily a death sentence, if put in the hands of a creative pro – in fact, a challenging song can often push a pro to really rise to the occasion and crank out something incredible.  JR & Karina’s samba was fun & well-executed, but maybe not quite as creative; ditto for Rob & Cheryl’s samba.  Gotta say – I was kind of rooting for Carson & Anna’s cha-cha.  It has yet to get old for me :-) Nancy & Tristan’s foxtrot and Hope & Maks’ quickstep were both fun & light, but I actually think Hope & Maks’ foxtrot was a stronger dance, both performance-wise and technique-wise…but I feel like it got overlooked because it was wedged between two weeks where Hope didn’t do so great.  The quickstep happened during her “breakthrough” week, so I think it comparison it may have appeared better than it really was. Hope looked to me like she was holding on for dear life in the quickstep, but seemed much more at-ease during her foxtrot.  I dunno…it is what it is.  Other responses: I liked JR & Karina’s freestyle a lot, but for some reason (which I can’t really put my finger on), it’s lacking a certain something for me that would really qualify it as the best dance of the season.  I have to raise my eyebrows a bit at the fact that 4 people (or rather, 4 different IP addresses ;-)) really thought Nancy & Tristan’s rumba was the best dance of the season…I mean, the dirty glance Tristan tossed Carrie Ann’s way at the beginning was hot, but other than that…Nancy was kinda lifeless in that dance, at least for me. As I recall, the judges weren’t too keen on it, either.

Heidi: I think JR was up and down an awful lot for someone who won the show, actually – and their freestyle??  I know we discussed it at the time but I can’t put my finger on it either.  There was nothing really technical in it beyond the one or two lifts – I always seem to prefer the freestyles that stick to a lot of ballroom moves but break all the rules in terms of lifts and hold – which explains why I am a Derek fan. He generally puts a lot of ballroom in his freestyles.  Tristan and Nancy?? Just no.  I liked them as a couple, and Tristan is a cutie – but the jury is still out on his choreo skills.  Nothing I saw from them was “wow” – although I adored the Spamalot dance just cuz it was Spamalot. :-) And I’ll give credit to Maks’ fans for being loyal at least.  Best dance of the season? Nope. Their dances were just too awkward looking most of the time.

Vogue: I don’t think I’ll ever forget my jaw dropping during and after Ricki and Derek’s Psycho performance. I love it when that happens. I’m a huge fan of theatre-like dance productions anyway being a huge fan to Madonna and Lady Gaga. Derek covered all of his bases not only with the dance itself, but, with the costuming and the brilliant backdropping. This performance will go down as one of the ‘most memorable’ on Dancing With The Stars. I’ll never forget it. I also loved Maks and Hope’s Quickstep. I felt they were both finally starting to find their element with this dance. It was good to see her finally relaxing. Whatever the case, their Quickstep gets best costuming. :D

Keep watching in the coming weeks as we reveal more of the results of your voting! :-)

January 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!

DWTS Ask Courtney – What’s a “Heel Lead”?

Judging from the comments of my inaugural Ask Courtney post, it looks like many of you are baffled about this one. But fear not, I am about to shed some light on the mysterious “heel lead” Len seems to prattle on about ;-)

Before I start, though, I want everyone to stand up and take 5 steps in whatever direction you have a clear path. Did you do it? Well congratulations! You just did a heel lead. :-) Literally, all a heel lead really entails is taking a step where the first part of your foot that hits the ground is your heel, and then the ball of your foot, and then your toes. Unless you’re injured or just prefer to walk on your tiptoes all the time, this is how people normally walk. It’s a very natural motion.

Where it gets dicey is on the dance floor. In the ballroom dances (waltz, tango, foxtrot, quickstep, and Viennese waltz), you’re (almost) always supposed to step forward on your heel; in the Latin dances, you’re always supposed to step forward on the toe. You step backward on the toe in both dances (it’s nary impossible to step backward with a heel lead…I dare you to try. You will feel silly ;-)). When Len starts bitching about heel leads, it seems like it’s usually a male celeb stepping forward on the toe in one of the ballroom dances – it leads to a very stilted, awkward gait, and seems to throw both the male celeb and the female pro off balance. It also negates the possibility of them getting the proper “rise & fall” characteristic of the ballroom dances (with the exception of tango, which has no rise & fall). This is probably most noticeable in the regular waltz, which has the most exaggerated rise & fall.

As for doing a heel lead when you’re not supposed to – the only thing that springs to mind is Derek’s infamous rant after Shannon’s rumba in season 6, where he accused the judges of overlooking some other couples “doing heel leads out there!”. I haven’t the time or patience at the moment to pore through all of the other rumbas from that particular night and look for heel leads, but I imagine that they probably looked kinda bland. Part of what makes rumba (and all Latin dances, for that matter) look cool is the hip action – hip action that can really only be done well if you’re leading with your toe. So if you’re doing heel leads in Latin dances, it probably looks like you’re just walking like a normal person – hardly the exciting movement we’ve come to expect from dancing on this show. ;-)

Hope that clears things up a bit ;-) Keep the questions coming, guys!

December 16, 2011 I Written By

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

New PureDWTS Segment: Ask Courtney

This is a feature I’ve contemplated doing for awhile, and I think now might be the right time, with one season over and the rumor mill not quite started up on the next.  For those of you that don’t know, I actually do have quite a bit of ballroom knowledge, as I’ve been dancing for about 9 years now and my boyfriend is actually a ballroom dance teacher.  Because of that, I’m probably better able to answer some of the more “technical” dance questions than the average viewer, and many of you have seen me get a bit more in-depth in analyzing the dances, in terms of technique and what have you. 

I’ve noticed that many of you seem to be getting more curious about the actual ballroom world, as well as how the rules of the actual ballroom world apply to DWTS (or, rather, how TPTB seem to TRY to apply them ;-)).  So this is the place where you can finally get answers to those burning questions about ballroom technique, certain rules, dance steps, etc. - I will do my best to give you guys thorough, relevant responses, and if there’s something I don’t know the answer to, I will defer to my boyfriend, who is a true expert on the subject :-) So if you are curious about a certain ballroom subject, feel free to post your questions in the comment section of this post, or tweet them to me @putuincespence, or you can email them to John and he can send ‘em my way.  Try to keep them fairly objective – things like “Why do ladies have to wear heels in ballroom?” or “What makes the jive so hard?”, rather than “Why does Derek stink at choreographing samba?” or “Why does Mark always wear spats?” :-P I’m not really equipped to handle subjective stuff like that, hehe. I’m going to try to answer a new question each week, at least until things start to pick up with the new season.   

So to kick off this inaugural “Ask Courtney” post, I thought I’d tackle a question I’ve seen quite a few of you ask in passing this season: Why can’t you break hold in the quickstep?

For those of you that didn’t know, quickstep is the only dance on DWTS in which the couples cannot break hold in the middle of the dance. To quote Len, they can do “a little bit at the beginning, and a little bit at the end” out of traditional dance hold, but they must remain in-hold for the majority of the dance.  Notorious violators of this rule? Mark & Shawn in their Aladdin quickstep, and Nicole & Derek in their sailor quickstep.  So why did they get in so much trouble???

The answer to this is a bit silly to me, because it’s one of the few ways that DWTS has attempted to adhere to actual ballroom dance rules – which I often find don’t really translate well to this show.  In “real world” ballroom, there are two styles: International style, which tends to be more strict and is more difficult; and American style, which is a bit more relaxed and open to interpretation.  With the ballroom dances, you can either do the International Standard style (in which the couple must remain in-hold the entire time) or the American Smooth style (where the couples are able to go in and out of hold as much as they like).  The International Standard dances are waltz, tango, foxtrot, quickstep, and Viennese waltz; the American Smooth dances are waltz, tango, foxtrot, and Viennese waltz.  You’ll notice there is no quickstep in the American Smooth style – it is only danced in the international style, thus the couples are forced to adhere to the international style, in which hold cannot be broken.  Since there is overlap in the other 4 styles, the DWTS pros can choose to dance either the American or International styles of the waltz, tango, foxtrot, and Viennese waltz – and most choose the American style, since it’s easier and allows for more creative freedom.  But even though they’re trying to adhere to “real” ballroom rules by forbidding the breaking of hold in the quickstep, they’re still not being completely true to the rule, since they’re allowing open work at the beginning & end.  In a real international standard quickstep (or any other international standard-style dance), the couple would only be allowed to walk a few feet towards each other to get into hold before dancing – any sort of open work at the beginning (i.e. Ricki & Derek’s tap sequence) is a huge no-no.  You have to be in-hold before you do ANY dancing in real quickstep.

So what do I suggest? Eliminate the silly “no breaking hold in quickstep” rule – it’s just a pointless vestige of the show’s often feeble attempts to mirror the real world of ballroom.  If you’re going to allow open work at the beginning and end of the dance (which I think is a good idea, as it’s more audience-pleasing than just getting straight into hold), you may as well allow it in the middle, just like all the other dances, because most viewers aren’t going to understand the reasoning behind forbidding it, anyway.

So what ballroom questions do you guys have? Lay ‘em on me, and I’ll do my best to get you answers :-)

December 11, 2011 I Written By

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

DWTS13 Week 8 Power Rankings

Let me just get it off my chest first: the judges are on crack.  Plain & simple.  And sometimes, I like the kind of crack they’re smoking…other times, I don’t.  Tonight was a bit of both.

I don’t think the instant jive really benefited anyone except JR, and even though everyone else really struggled, I don’t think it really & truly screwed anyone except Nancy - but then again, the judges seemed hellbent on screwing her over after scoring her first dance, so I can’t really say I was surprised.  Oh well…on with it…

1.) JR & Karina – I’m sure many of you saw me gushing about these two on Twitter, and I have to say – both of their routines were my favorites of the night, as they were both good dances with great entertainment value.  In fact, JR’s jive may have overtaken Kyle’s as my favorite instant dance ever. But I’m actually in agreement with a lot of you that they were not exactly worthy of not one, but TWO perfect 30′s.  I think I saw a few timing issues in his waltz where his footwork got a bit wonky, and his jive felt a bit disjointed in a few spots -  for which I’m actually going to blame Karina’s choreographic strategy, since the whole “choreograph in pieces and then put them together” method runs the risk of there not being enough transitions between sections.  However, I will say this: with all of the overscoring going on tonight, is it really all that surprising that someone got a perfect score? I mean, if they’re suddenly giving Hope (who has gotten in the neighborhood of 24′s for most of the season) a 27, it kinda sets the bar high – not to say that it’s right or fair, but it does put them in the sticky situation of having to then go even higher on dances that are better…and I would daresay that JR & Karina were head & shoulders above Hope & Maks in both dances, so I guess 60 just doesn’t feel totally outrageous to me.  Aaaaaanywho…since they really seem to have given another couple their walking papers, I think JR & Karina oughta be safe…for now.  I’m fulling expecting backlash next week, so I’m warming up my voting finger!

2.) Hope & Maks – This is the portion of my post where I remind everyone that the power rankings are not my opinion of who did the best or who I like the most ;-) , but who I think has the most staying power.  And this week, Hope & Maks seem to have quite a bit of staying power, with the scores they got. While her quickstep was a vast improvement from previous weeks (I still say her foxtrot was her best dance, though), I firmly believe that Hope deserved at least 2 points less than Rob, for the simple reason that Rob had the more difficult choreo and I thought he handled it more fluidly and with more skill than Hope did with her routine.  I think 25 was probably about right for her jive, and it was a pleasant surprise to see her staying on-time and actually having fun – but man, she still looks like she just muscling her way through it.  The catch-22 of jive is that it IS difficult & high-energy, but a well-done jive is supposed to look effortless & kinda “springy”.  Hope looked like she was about to go all Bruce Lee on someone, with the force with which she was doing those flicks! Take it with a grain of salt, but compared to a very similar side-by-side section in JR & Karina’s routine, Hope looks amateurish, with the way she’s kicking her legs out with such force.  But enough technique for now.  I know there’s still quite a bit of buzz about these 2 after last week, so I daresay they’ll live to dance another week.  Read more..

November 7, 2011 I Written By

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

DWTS13 Week 7 Power Rankings

Well kids, I’m afraid tonight was a prime example of how theme nights can really sabotage some (or most) of the couples – because I feel that almost every single couple was negatively impacted by their song assignments this week.  Yes, it was kinda “fun” to have a Halloween week – but making the dancing suffer in order to fit theme? No thank you. But praise Jeebus, this week was the final theme week of the season – back to business as usual next week! Well, about as “as usual” as you can get when you’re thisclose to the finale ;-)

Thoughts on the team dances: I agree that team paso had the stronger routine of the two, however – I don’t think team tango was as terrible as everyone seemed to think it was.  I think team tango was indeed better in their group sections – everyone managed to stay very in-synch, although there were a few spacing issues; team paso seemed a bit less in-synch when all 3 couples were on the floor at the same time, and it almost seemed like they tried to avoid a lot of synchronized work, which was probably a good idea.  I was also a bit bothered by the fact that team paso seemed to have quite a few spots of what I like to call “empty space” in their dance – moments where, due to the phrasing of the music, they seemed like they were just waiting or stalling until the next accent or big move.  I think team paso better captured the aggressive, haunting feel of both their music and their dance, but probably had the song with the more difficult rhythm; team tango had the song with the easier rhythm, but probably suffered due to the fact that it lacked a lot of the theatricality necessary for the tango.  Team paso was leaps & bounds stronger in the individual sections – Ricki & Derek were their usual showstopping selves, Hope managed to keep up (although I could have done without such a long count of her on the floor while Maks kinda danced around her), and oh man – ROB.  Rob was the MVP of team paso for me - he impressed the hell out of me with the way he kept up not only with Cheryl, but with Maks & Derek as well.  I was shocked at how much better JR looked dancing the tango with his team than he did individually – guess it’s a testament to how a bad song can throw even the best dancers off their game.  David seemed a bit wobbly, but was still looked decent to me; Nancy was clearly the weakest member of team tango, but man – she was out there giving it her all.  Overall, I think the scoring was about right, and likely won’t cause a huge upset when all is said & done tomorrow night.

1.) Ricki & Derek – Alone at the top of the leaderboard once again, and she thankfully did pretty well on a night where everyone seemed to have a bit of a slump.  I must say, I wasn’t completely wowed by her paso; I could kinda tell she wasn’t dancing full-out and seemed to be babying her rib, which I can’t really fault her for – I’ve bruised a couple ribs in the past and was in so much pain I could have sworn that I had collapsed a lung.  I think Derek probably went a bit easier on her with the choreo as well, as it wasn’t exactly the same level of paso genius I’ve come to expect from him.  But once again, when you’re working with a theme like Halloween – you’re kinda forced into thinking inside the box, because they’re expecting something spooky/scary/eerie/etc, and they want to see Halloween archetypes like werewolves, vampires, ghosts, etc.  Add an injured partner on top of that, and you’re pretty limited in what you can do.  Overall, though, a nice effort with a pretty good payoff for these two – I think it will be enough to keep them safe tomorrow night. Read more..

October 31, 2011 I Written By

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

DWTS13 – What’s Left to Dance?

 So at this time last season, I did a run-down of what we can expect in the final 4 weeks of the season.  You guys seemed to like it, so I did it again :-) And this time I’m spilling who’s on what team for the team dances! Read on…

JR & Karina – remaining dances: waltz, tango, cha-cha, paso doble

A good mix of Latin and ballroom left for JR, and he’s fortunately gotten some of the harder dances (samba, Viennese waltz, jive) out of the way early. Not that I think it would really matter, give his popularity and skill ;-), but it just reduces the likelihood of a potential “Ralphing” from the judges…that is, giving a celeb a cruelly low score on a dance that they struggled with but weren’t necessarily terrible at, in an effort to oust them. I guess my only concern for JR going into these last few weeks is the more aggressive dances – tango & paso doble, and moreso the latter. So far, he’s only had to be silly & energetic (jive, quickstep, foxtrot), sexy (samba), or romantic & vulnerable (Viennese waltz & rumba). We’ve yet to see a very aggressive JR – can he muster it? I think so, but at the same time, he just seems like such a nice guy. I could see the judges pulling a “well, the steps were there, but I didn’t feel the power and anger behind them” or some nonsense like that. Those frakkin’ asshats.

Ricki & Derek – remaining dances: waltz, cha-cha, samba, paso doble

The one potential problem that jumps out at me immediately here is the samba – it’s problematic for just about everyone, but for whatever reason, it’s the one dance for which Derek’s choreo doesn’t always “wow!” me (although there have been very few sambas on this show that have actually wowed me), and that the judges seem to get particularly nitpicky about. “There wasn’t enough content”, “You guys weren’t in sync”, “Your footwork was messy”, yadda yadda yadda. I can just hear them bitching now :-P If they’re going to attempt to set Ricki up for an “off” week again, I would almost bet they’re going to do it with the samba. I’m mildly concerned for her paso, for the simple reason that I just don’t see her being terribly aggressive; but thankfully, that’s a dance that Derek seems to thrive on, so it could work in her favor. Waltz & cha-cha? Easy dances – no biggie ;-)

Nancy & Tristan – remaining dances: tango, Viennese waltz, samba, jive

Ummm, yikes. Samba is the obvious troublemaker here, and the jive is probably not going to do Nancy too many favors, either. One requires a fairly significant amount of technique (which I’m not sure she can muster); the other requires stamina, which I also have yet to see from Nancy. So far, she’s kinda lucked into getting much slower, easygoing dances; she hasn’t really had to haul ass in a dance, which is why I could also see the Viennese waltz being problematic. She just seems to move soooo slooooow sometimes…I’m having nightmarish visions of her losing time in both her Viennese waltz and jive in several places. And then there’s the tango. *sigh* We saw how well she did the first time she had an aggressive dance – her paso looked more like a leisurely stroll in the park than a bullfight. But who knows – maybe she can summon her inner tart for the tango, now that she’s shaken her stuff in the group dance ;-) But MacGrace fans, I’d buckle in for a rough few weeks ahead – because I think Nancy may have the toughest group of dances to deal with, out of the remaining couples :-(

David & Kym – remaining dances: waltz, foxtrot, cha-cha, samba

The dreaded samba strikes again! I could see poor David stumbling through that one with a bit of a “deer in the headlights” look on his face – no doubt, he’d give it his best shot, but I’m not sure he’d succeed.  He probably will be fine with the waltz & foxtrot, since he seems to be doing better with the ballroom dances; he could falter a bit with the cha-cha, since Latin hip action seems to evade him – but I daresay it wouldn’t be as hard on him as the samba.  Honestly, if he can soldier through the samba, I think he could have a decent shot at the finale…if he keeps up the improvement we’ve seen from him in the past few weeks, and can avoid being…well, creepy.  :-)

Rob & Cheryl – remaining dances: waltz, tango, quickstep, samba

Again, the big red flag here is the samba – somehow I don’t see Rob getting his hips moving like JR’s, or with as much energy. The samba, to me, is the dance that truly separates the men from the boys and the women from the girls – it’s hard, and as I said before, the judges seem uneccessarily nitpicky about it.  However, I’ve also noticed that they might tear a samba apart in their critiques, but still give it a halfway-decent score.  Maybe someday I’ll look at the scoring closer and see if they maybe cut breaks on the samba, points-wise.  Anywho! I could see Rob really doing well at his remaining ballroom dances – from what I saw in his foxtrot, he seems to have a flare for the ballroom as opposed to the Latin.  Quickstep could be a potential problem if he can’t come out of his shell a bit more, and he may need to intensify his blank stare in order to succeed in the tango…but I could see him having a shot at the finale, too.  Interesting indeed.

Hope & Maks – remaining dances: waltz, quickstep, samba, paso doble

Yet another couple who still has the pesky samba to contend with.  Hell, at this rate, the samba could be the deciding factor in who gets that coveted 3rd spot in the finale – whoever manages to muddle through it alive could be a possible candidate! Haha.  I know a lot of Hope fans have been saying “Just wait till she has the paso, she’s gonna be awesome!”, but I’m still skeptical – especially after watching her muscle her way through that tango.  Yes, paso requires strength and aggression; but it’s still a dance, and it still requires some degree of finesse and restraint.  Can she muster it? I’m not sure.  Waltz could also be problematic, since it requires a grace I have yet to see from Hope – and because it’s so slow, any potential snafus are going to stick out like a sore thumb.  Quickstep? Could go either way – if she’s able to let loose and have fun like she did in the foxtrot, I think she’ll do well; but if she goes stiff and tight like she did in the jive, it could be disasterous.   

So what’s going on with the team dance? It’s this coming week (Week 7) and the teams are Ricki & Derek, Rob & Cheryl, and Hope & Maks vs. JR & Karina, David & Kym, and Nancy & Tristan.  Ricki’s team is doing a paso doble; JR’s team is doing a tango.  Heidi will reveal the songs in her “Who’s Dancing What?” post on Sunday. Now while I’m somewhat relieved that they’ve taken a break from the team cha-cha, I’m a bit concerned that this won’t necessarily be an evenly-matched face-off – the same two dances were the team dances in season 9, and team tango basically annihilated team paso.  Then again, team tango also had Derek, who thus far is undefeated in the team dance, and choreographed a dynamite team paso in season 7.  I’d say Kym is probably the 2nd most successful (2 team dance wins, and 1 tie), followed by Cheryl (2 wins, 1 loss).  Quite possibly my biggest concern: the dynamic between the pros on team paso.  Derek & Maks worked great together on the team Apolo cha-cha in season 11; but in light of some of the conflict this week, is it going to create any friction? I would hope not, but you never know.  Will be interesting to see how Tristan fares in his first team dance, and on a team with his main squeeze, no less ;-) I’m tentatively saying team paso will take this one, just based on the pros on that team having previous experience.

What about the marathon dance? Sorry, not gonna be one this season.  The group dance basically replaced it, which I’m actually kind of thankful for – the marathon dance seems to favor those with particularly high endurance, so I’m not sure Nancy, Chaz, or even Rob would have fared well in it.  At least the group dance was just a fun little ditty that let us see the couples in a new light. 

When are they gonna do the Argentine tango/salsa? Not 100% when, but they are coming.  If I had to guess, I’d say they’re probably going to follow the pattern of last season, and they had these dances in weeks 8 & 9.  And if my spidey sense is correct, some of the couples with only 1 Latin dance remaining (like Rob & Cheryl) COULD end up with salsa as their instant dance.  Also in the vein of last season: for the couples who still have the standard tango remaining, they may end up doing the Argentine tango instead, and skipping the standard one altogether – that’s what happened with both Chelsea & Kirstie last season.  However, if a couple has already done the standard tango, I’m thinking they’ll probably do Argentine tango as well – that’s how it played out with Hines.  And then he ended up never doing the regular waltz.  *shrug* Go fig. 

Are they going to do the “Instant Dance” again? Yes, in week 8.  And as always, it will be a Latin dance – so that week, the remaining couples will likely all do one regular ballroom dance, and then an instant Latin dance. 

Do you know if the “Winner Take All” dance is coming back? Praise 8 lb 10 oz baby Jesus, it is NOT COMING BACK! :-D Apparently it was wildy unpopular…can’t imagine why. *snicker* But I do like to think Heidi & I had something to do with its demise, since Heidi was the one that first noticed what a crock of crap it was, and I just basically shouted it to the heavens.  :-P But just because there isn’t a WTA dance, don’t assume that everything is going to be business as usual – I could see them rehashing the smackdown or medley dance, just to fill time and have something “different”.

Vogue here adding some video footage of the Teams practicing 4 hours after the Results show last night:

October 26, 2011 I Written By

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

DWTS13 Week 5 Power Rankings

COWABUNGA!!! I don’t know about you guys, but I sure had fun during 80s night 8) I love how it brought out the fun side in all of the couples.  Plus it felt like I was listening to the 80s mix on my iPod.  Always a plus ;-)

Can’t say I’m terribly surprised at how things stacked up tonight, although I hope that the voting does help a few couples who I’m not quite ready to let go of yet.  Gotta say – song selection tonight really seemed to trip some up and help others out.  Hope it’s not the final nail in the coffin for a few couples!

1.) JR & Karina – I definitely breathed an audible sigh of relief about 15 seconds into this dance when I realized that JR was gonna slay it, instead of going down in flames like I thought he would with that wretched song :-P It was one of the better sambas I’ve seen on the show – JR managed to cut loose and really get his hips working in a way that most celebs attempting the samba can’t.  The bounce wasn’t quite there, but he more than made up for it in sheer energy & fun.  The dude even managed to do SEVERAL samba rolls in a row! Quite a feat, considering my bf doesn’t even like to do them in competition…let alone teach them to newbies.  And best of all – it was nice to finally see him getting proper credit from the judges, both in comments and in critiques. No wishy-washy “8″ paddles, no “Well, it was pretty good, BUT-”…just a sincere, “Well done, JR!” Considering the kinda crazy points spread tonight, I think the likelihood of them being in danger is about the same as Len doing the Safety Dance tomorrow night ;-)

2.) Ricki & Derek – Wish I could say these two conquered their crummy song the same way JR did, but unfortunately Heidi & I’s qualms about “Easy Lover” as a foxtrot weren’t unfounded – this dance felt awkward & disjointed, although not necessarily terrible in the technique department.  The judges were right about one thing – the parts in hold were actually quite lovely, and were indeed a proper foxtrot.  The parts not in hold weren’t quite so lovely, but in the same token, why harp on someone for doing the Roger Rabbit if it’s freakin’ 80s week? It’s not like they did it for a very long time, and I felt like it was in the character of the dance, with the “80s prom” kinda theme it had going on.  It’s the same beef I had with the judges last season when they ripped apart Ralph’s “Sweet Home Alabama” samba – honestly, what did you expect them to do, given the song & the theme? *sigh* Whatever…I kind of expected them to manipulate things so that Ricki had an “off” week, so I can’t say I’m shocked and awed.  Just annoyed, as usual :-) I wouldn’t go so far as to say they’re completely safe (the points spread this week is looking pretty precarious…), but I will say that I think there are couples more LIKELY to head home.  Besides, they might benefit from a bit of rage-driven power voting this week, since the judges decided to be asshats :-P  Read more..

October 17, 2011 I Written By

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