So we now know for sure what the team dances are (paso doble & tango) and who’s on what team (Katherine, Maria, Jaleel, & Roshon vs. William, Donald, & Melissa). So who’s gonna win? Let’s see how they stack up. I looked at several factors that could come into play in helping to determine who has the advantage – experience level of the pros on each team, experience level of the couples on each team, number of couples on each team, what dance each team has, and other miscellaneous factors that may affect the outcome. So let’s get to it!
Pro Team Dance Experience
Derek: 6 wins (seasons 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13), 0 losses, 0 ties; average team dance score: 27.5 Cheryl: 4 wins (seasons 7, 8, 10, 13), 1 loss (season 11), 0 ties; average team dance score: 26.8 Kym: 2 wins (seasons 7 & 9), 1 loss (season 13), 1 tie (season 12); average team dance score: 25.75* Maks: 2 wins (seasons 11 & 13), 1 loss (season 10), 1 tie (season 12); average team dance score: 25* Chelsie: 1 win (season 8), 0 losses, 1 tie (season 12); average team dance score: 25* Mark: 0 wins, 2 losses (seasons 8 & 11), 1 tie (season 12); average team dance score: 23.67* Peta: 0 wins, 0 losses, 0 ties (never been in a team dance); average team dance score: 0
*Since there were 4 judges’ scores given for the team dances in season 12, I subtracted Donnie Burns’ score from the two team dances in that season in order to normalize with all of the other seasons, which only had 3 judges’ scores.
Team Tango: I’d say their biggest advantage is having Derek – the guy’s undefeated, so he’s clearly figured out the formula for what works and what doesn’t work in the team dances. Say what you will about team dances being a product of all the pros working together (I agree to some extent), but the only common denominator in every single team dance win has been Derek, regardless of what other pros have been on each team with him, what the dance style has been, etc. Many of the pros have also gone on record as saying that they tend to let Derek take the lead when choreographing the group portions of the team dance, so I’d say he probably has a lot to do with the success of each of the teams he’s on, as the judges do tend to really harp on synchonization, interesting formation patterns, and overall performance quality in the group portion of team dances. I’d say Kym is an asset as well – she’s been on a team with Derek twice before (one of those times was another team tango), and when she hasn’t been on a team with him, she’s managed to tie once, and the 1 team dance she lost was not really all that bad, IMO. I don’t really know if Chelsie is battle-tested enough to say whether she’s good in the team dance or not – but I don’t get the impression that she is one to make waves, so she will probably be very cooperative and easy to get along with. My only concern is Mark – he seemed rather volatile in the team dance rehearsals in season 12, and seems to have a penchant for very flashy, high-energy, in-your-face choreo…which doesn’ t always translate well in the team dances. I’m hoping that he lets Derek take the lead on the group choreography, and really focuses on giving Katherine some good, solid solo choreography this week.
Team Paso: While I think they don’t have quite the same edge that Team Katherine does, I don’t think they’re super weak, either. Both Cheryl & Maks have been on teams with Derek before, so they’ve probably at least picked up a few tricks and strategies – I would say Maks is probably the stronger choreographer, judging from what I’ve seen him do in other team dances and pro dances. The big question mark here is Peta – we just don’t know how she’s going to fare, since this will be her first team dance. I doubt she’s going to suck at it (I don’t think anyone has really sucked at it – except maybe the unfortunate souls in the team mambo in season 8…), but it may take her a little longer to really get a feel for how the team dances work and what to do for Donald’s solo. I think she’s probably going to rely on Cheryl & Maks for the group choreo, and isn’t likely to make any sort of big fuss, since she’s the new kid on the block.
Who has the edge in pro experience? I’ve got to give this one to Team Tango – they’ve got the only undefeated pro, and each of the other pros has been in at least 2 team dances. Read more..
Well, we’ve reached the halfway point (sort of…) of the competition. Only 7 of the 12 couples we started with remain, and each couple has 6 dances down and 6 more regular ones to go (not counting team dances, freestyles, etc.) in the 4 weeks left in the competition. Now we get down to the nitty gritty and see what everyone is really made of…because starting next week, they all have to do 2 full-length dances per week. So let’s take a look at what each of the couples has to contend with in the coming weeks, shall we?
First impressions: anyone who still has samba left to do is likely at a bit of a disadvantage, as that’s the dance that really seems to trip a lot of people up. Those who are still waiting to do Argentine tango could have a slight edge, as it seems to be a dance that can really redeem a couple when done later in the competition. I think Donald & William are likely going to struggle a bit with their remaining ballroom dances; Jaleel, Maria, and Katherine are probably going to be a bit challenged by their remaining Latin dances; and Melissa & Roshon are probably going to struggle with just about everything, since they don’t seem to be in the judges’ favor.
I’d say Jaleel actually has one of the better sets of remaining dances left to do – it’s a good mix of Latin & ballroom, and he still has both of his “extra” dances to burn through. He seems stronger in the ballroom dances than in the Latin, so I don’t see waltz, quickstep, or Viennese waltz being a big problem; and I could see him really doing well in the paso doble, since he seems to have some anger issues he needs to work out :-). He seems to have to intensity necessary for Argentine tango, but I have to say, I’m skeptical about how proficient he’s going to be at the salsa – he’s got the personality, but I’ve noticed that his footwork tends to suffer at the expense of his showmanship…especially on more energetic dances like jive & samba.
I seriously love Donald, but I think he’s got his work cut out for him the next few weeks – he’s still got two of the more difficult Latin dances left to deal with, and since he still seems to be struggling a bit with ballroom posture & frame, I think the waltz, tango, and Viennese waltz are going to be a challenge. I think he’ll have a blast with the salsa, though – I can just see the big ol’ grin on our “hunkey dunkey” football player now I’m just a bit concerned with the judges – I think they’re warming to Donald, but I don’t think they’re as willing to overlook slight errors with him as they are with Katherine, William, or even Maria. He’s gonna have to be on-point every week if he wants that “10 from Len”.
I really wish they had already gotten samba & jive out of the way earlier this season Those are two dances I just don’t see Maria having an easy time with – no one really and truly nails the samba (and along with cha-cha, it’s Derek’s LEAST favorite dance to choreograph), and with the exception of Nicole, it seems like really willowy ladies seem to have trouble with the jive, as it takes more time & effort to get those long legs kicking & flicking properly. She might struggle a bit with paso, but Derek is generally pretty good at choreographing paso doble to his partner’s strengths, so I don’t think it will be too problematic; waltz and Viennese waltz shouldn’t be a problem; and the Argentine tango could be their secret weapon – if there’s one dance that might win them the pimp spot, it’s this one, as Derek has choreographed some of the most dramatic Argentine tangos over the years.
First things first: while I still think Roshon is technically the best dancer still left in the competition, the judges (Carrie Ann in particular) have made it pretty clear that they’re VERY eager to point out any mistakes he makes – so he’s going to have to be damn near perfect in every single one of these dances, if he wants to stick around. He’s done pretty well with the ballroom dances he’s had so far, so I think waltz & foxtrot shouldn’t be a problem; he also has a bit of an edge in that he’s already done the jive in the dance duel (and gotten some critiques from the judges on it), so he knows what he needs to work on. The potential problems I see? Paso doble, tango, and Argentine tango – all require a certain degree of maturity and masculinity to really pull of well, and as we saw with the rumba this week…Roshon seems to struggle a bit with being a manly-man.
Well, when you’re a pretty good dancer and the judges seem to fawn over your every move, it doesn’t seem like you’d really struggle with any remaining dances – and to some degree, I get the feeling Katherine’s gonna have it made from here on out. However, I see cha-cha, rumba, and salsa sticking out as potentially weaker dances for her – all require a certain degree of sexiness to pull off successfully, and I still don’t think Katherine is really comfortable with being sexy & sassy. Her samba was ok, but I never got the feeling that she was 100% committed (or comfortable) with it; and while I thought her Argentine tango was great in terms of technique, she seemed to have emotional commitment problems there as well. Can she pull off the sexiness? We’ll see. Given her really good track record with the ballroom dances, I think tango, quickstep, and Viennese waltz should be a cinch – provided that Mark can continue to be “good Mark” and avoid any gimmicks. Read more..
Since there still seems to be some confusion on what running order positions are “good” or “bad” (even though I feel like Heidi & I have repeated ourselves ad infinitum), I thought now might be a good time to give everyone a crash course in the “Courtney & Heidi Theory of Running Order” I did more of an experimental post about running order back in 2010, but since then Heidi & I have honed our theory a bit more and it’s time for an update!
For those of you just wanting the Cliff’s Notes version, here’s the basic gist: the beginning, middle, and end of the show are the best positions, and it’s better to dance in the 2nd half of the show than the first. And why is that, you ask? The answer: ratings. If you’re still interested, read on…
So what makes going 1st an advantage? In theory, you’ve got the attention of all the folks that tuned in at 8 PM, before they lose interest and change the channel. The 8 PM-9PM time slot is quite possibly the most competitive weeknight time slot – most networks try to put their big-hitters with broad-spectrum appeal in this slot, as it’s the hour that families are most likely to be watching TV together, before the kids (and sometime grandma & grandpa) go to bed. It therefore stands to reason that TPTB would want to put a popular, attention-grabbing couple at the top of the first hour to try and hold viewers’ interest and keep them from changing the channel – say, to How I Met Your Mother on CBS or The Voice on NBC. How does it benefit the couple? Obviously they get some good exposure, but it also tends to benefit them in the voting. While we diehard viewers may start voting for a couple at the beginning of the show that may not actually be dancing until the end of the show, the average viewer may not start voting until they see a couple that really impresses them – my mom tends to vote this way. She’ll see a couple that she really likes, and even though the show might not be over yet, she’ll use all her votes on that particular couple (sometimes she’ll regret it later when she sees a couple she likes even more, but that’s neither here nor there ;-)). Going first can help a couple snare some impulse votes, before a viewer sees anyone else and change their mind. It also tends to keep them memorable, since they’re the first couple the viewers see. Read more..
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..
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…
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.
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 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
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.
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! 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. 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: