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DWTS 14 Week 7 Power Rankings

If there is one take-home point I want you guys to glean from this season, it’s that THEME WEEKS OFTEN SCREW THE COUPLES! No exception here – I think only two couples managed to churn out something worthwhile from the pieces of music they were given, and the rest either muddled through or failed miserably.  Consequently, I find myself cutting some breaks tonight, just due to some really bad music selections.  And let’s just say there was some “creative” storytelling going on this week…warriors & mannequins & vampires, oh my! 8O I am beyond relieved that it’s back to business as usual next week…no wacky themes to throw couples off their game.  So there’s also going to be no excuses for subpar performances…game on, kiddies ;-)

Thoughts on the team dances: I thought Team Tango (aka Team Tiny Hat :-P) was quite a bit better than Team Paso (aka Team No Shirt, No Problem ;-)).  I saw no timing issues or missteps on Team Tango – everything was in synch, and aside from a couple of small wobbles from Jaleel & Maria, I saw no glaring mistakes.  I also thought they had the more interesting floor patterns  – lots of visually-pleasing shapes and transitions.  I do think Derek was right in his claim that more couples = more interesting patterns.  It can be a good thing, if you can manage to get everyone in synch and on time…and I think that last thing is the real challenge.  I would hearby like to dub Roshon the MVP of Team Tango – the boy was a revelation tonight.  He came out with such determination and attack, and he KILLED his solo on Team Tango.  Zero mistakes, 100% commitment, 100% attack.  Bravo, Ro! Hell, I would even go so far as to say that he was the overall standout in terms of both teams – he was really the only one that made me sit up and go “WHOA!!! Where did that come from???!”  As for Team Paso – I thought they had the more exciting piece of music and had more theatricality and drama than Team Tango, but they suffered in terms of synchronization and just overall cleanliness of their choreography.  I kind of anticipated those two problems, as they had the added challenge of throwing in a lot of open work that Team Tango didn’t really have to worry about.  I loved the parts of the guys’ cape section that were actually in synch (which I must say is a pretty impressive feat), but the parts that were out of synch just kind of reminded me of my cousins playing Zorro as kids – it was a little chaotic. I could’ve done without the shirtlessness (more on that later), but I can’t say I’m surprised that they did it.  If I had to pick, I’d say Donald was the MVP of Team Paso – I loved how much control he showed in his solo, and his choreo was clean.  In the end, I’d say the scoring was just about right – I might have deducted a point from Team Paso, since the objective of the team dance for me is to stay in synch, first and foremost, and they seemed to struggle with that a bit more.

1.) Maria & Derek – I think these two were the only ones who managed to really OWN their individual dance tonight, and not get pwned by the song they were given.  I can’t say that I was wild about the vampire storyline (between Twilight, True Blood, Vampire Diaries, etc., I’m kinda over the whole vamp thing…), but they did make it work for them, and overall the choreography was clean, exciting, and a good representation of paso doble.  Did it deserve a 30? I think so…with all of the overscoring we’ve seen this season for dances that I thought were nowhere near as good as this paso (or at least had nowhere near as much content as this paso), I can’t say that I think the judges were too far off in giving it the first 30 of the season.  Given tonight’s spread, I think these two are safe.

2.) Katherine & Mark – I’m told their rumba was Game of Thrones-inspired, but as someone who does not have premium cable (and whose regular cable it only intermittently available these days – thanks again, AT&T!), I actually thought it looked more gladiator or Roman-y.  Whatever it was – I’m afraid the costuming made Katherine look kinda out of her element, and although I thought her legs looked FANTASTIC and she was at least flirting with some nice hip action, I never felt 100% commitment from her, and the routine never felt super romantic or rumba-y to me.  It tiptoed near being a good rumba, but never really reached it – and Katherine had another week of “deer in the headlights” eyes from time to time, I’m afraid.  I also have to raise a bit of an eyebrow to some creative camera work I noticed – seemed like they changed the shot so you couldn’t see Kath’s legs whenever they went for a move that might possibly get called out as a lift.  Possibly a “if the viewers can’t see it, they can’t get mad at Carrie Ann for not calling them out on it!” strategy? Who knows…but it just seemed a bit fishy to me, especially given a few other things I noticed tonight.  Overall, I think these two are probably safe this week – but I’m starting to see some cracks in her facade.  She’s not as flawless as the judges initially thought, methinks…

3.) Donald & Peta – This was the only other couple I thought really handled their piece of music well tonight, and I thought their “royalty at court” kinda theme was a cute interpretation.  Although Donald gave it a valiant effort and I did see some really good moments (especially when he was out of hold), he did seem to have some footwork issues (a problem all of the VW’s this week seemed to have), and I thought I saw him get off time once or twice.  Then again, it was hard to tell whether someone was on or off-time this week, as so many of the pieces of music had some wacky tempo changes.  I wish Carrie Ann could have just praised them, instead of bringing up some non-issue about a lift that she herself didn’t see but thought might have been there anyway (seriously? WTF??? Just score what you saw and shut up about things you didn’t!), but I think the judges were about right in their scoring.  I think Donald’s pretty safe, but I think he still has some work to do on his ballroom frame if he wants a shot at the finals… Read more..

April 30, 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 14 – What’s Left to Dance?

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.

Jaleel & Kym – remaining dances: paso doble, waltz, quickstep, Viennese waltz, salsa, Argentine tango

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.

Donald & Peta – remaining dances: samba, jive, waltz, tango, Viennese waltz, salsa

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 :-D 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”.

Maria & Derek – remaining dances: samba, paso doble, jive, waltz, Viennese waltz, Argentine tango

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.

Roshon & Chelsie – remaining dances: paso doble, jive, waltz, tango, foxtrot, Argentine tango

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. :-P

Katherine & Mark – remaining dances: cha-cha, rumba, tango, quickstep, Viennese waltz, salsa

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..

April 25, 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 14 Week 6 Power Rankings

Tonight is one of those nights where it physically HURTS to rank. Literally, I’ve got a headache, I’m tired, kinda cranky, and overall? Kinda sad…I may have ranted and raved on Twitter, but when it comes down to it, I care about this show, and to see it become such a 3-ring circus of blatant favoritism, calculated scoring, and machinations by the judges and folks in charge? I’m just really disappointed.

And unfortunately, I think the judges may have all but sealed the fate of at least one of the couples – and if there’s a double elimination like we’ve been hearing (and I’m pretty sure there will be – they’ve gotta whittle down to an even number of couples for the team dances next week), I’m fairly certain that we’re going to lose at least one really talented couple that doesn’t deserve to get sent home yet. And if by some miracle I’m wrong – then we’re probably still going to lose two big fan favorites. It sucks whatever way you cut it, I’m afraid. :-(

ETA: Yes, I know now that I added wrong, and Maria & Derek are tied with 30 points. Doesn’t change my rankings, but I acknowledge the error…too bad I’m too tired & the site is being too moody for me to fix it :-)

1.) Katherine & Mark – Let me start off by saying this: I don’t think Katherine’s a bad dancer. Technically, she’s quite good…lacks a bit in showmanship sometimes, I’m afraid, but she’s a good dancer and I do think she deserves to stick around. But WHY oh WHYYYYY did they insist on overscoring her so blatantly??? Her samba was cute and fun, and she never got off time or misstepped…but I also never really got the impression that she was 100% in the dance, and for the first time since week 1, I actually saw the “deer in the head lights” look in her eyes again, like she was constantly teetering on the brink of messing up. It actually reminded me a lot of Chelsea’s quickstep at this time last year – technically sound, and probably 70% there in terms of showmanship, but somehow a bit…cautious. Apprehensive. Safe. Mundane. Vanilla. Take your pick…all were terms I saw being tossed around on Twitter in reference to her samba, and I have to agree. I think our reader Will actually best summed it up: “It sorta made me think of a lovely, middle class, white couple trying to ‘get down & funky’.” It wasn’t bad, and it was a valiant effort – but it was a tad awkward. I would have thought more along the lines of a 26, definitely not a 29. As for the dance marathon – sorry, but I have to call complete bull on this one. I have nothing against Katherine, but the girl was barely moving out there – every time the camera panned to her, she seemed to stuttering a bit, and looking to Mark to tell her what exactly to do. IMO, the person that wins the marathon should be someone that is constantly dancing full-throttle, giving it 100%, and always moving…like Roshon. Not someone who can only eek out chunks and spurts of good dancing. My only theory for her almost-perfect score tonight? She’s just not getting the votes…and some of you can pooh-pooh me and call me a conspiracy theorist all you want, but I cannot in good conscience say that she cumulatively danced better than everyone else tonight, and deserved the scores she got. I think both of her other 29-scoring performances (her waltz and Argentine tango), were far superior to this samba. But apparently she needed shielding from the bottom two, and based on the spread I’m seeing, I think the judges succeeded in doing just that.

2.) Jaleel & Kym – Ok, I’ve gotta hand it to Jaleel – after a few kinda “off” weeks, I think he really redeemed himself this week – that cha-cha was high-energy, on-point, and entertaining. But 29-worthy??? Ai ai ai…these judges were trying to give me a coronary, I swear. It was the strongest performance of the night for me, but I don’t think I would have given it more than a 28, tops – still a little bit of wobbling & “happy feet” going on here and there, and I feel like he still kinda looks to Kym to give him a visual cue of what to do from time to time. As for the dance marathon – he & Kym seemed to be doing the same lift every time the camera panned to them, so based on that, I guess they did pretty good…but see, that’s the thing about the marathon that I absolutely HATE: the production staff is controlling what we get to see, so for all we know, Jaleel may have been killing it out there, while Katherine was just kicking it in the proverbial shins…but because the camera footage we saw was so limited, TPTB can claim plausible deniability, and say that Katherine was really the better dancer based on the entirety of her performance in the marathon. But of course, it’s an entirety we’ll never see, and we just have to trust that the judges made the right decision. Well I, for one, do not trust the judges :-) But alas, I can’t really say for sure whether or not Jaleel did fantastic in the marathon – but he did look like he was having a good time, and I thought what he & Kym were doing was at least more inspired than what Willy Boy & Cheryl were doing. So where does that leave Jaleel this week? Likely far from the bottom 2 or 3, given the spread, and the likely boost in votes he’ll get from being in the bottom 2 last week.

3.) William & Cheryl – I’ve gotten to the point with these two where I don’t even want to say anything about them anymore, because I feel like I’m just repeating the same stuff over and over again, and there are still some Kool-Aid drinking wackos that refuse to believe any of it…but I do think I saw a glimmer of hope this week, because at least 2 of the judges seemed to be a bit more critical of these two this week. Yes, I will say that William had some pretty good hip action in his rumba – but once again, he barely moved out of place, and once again, Cheryl danced around him. Let me be clear: a dance where the man barely moves out of a 2-foot radius for the bulk of the dance is not something I can truly label as “good”. Yes, he was “there” for her, but beyond that, I don’t feel like he really did much. And I agree with Len – it got a little too raunchy. Hell, it’s been too raunchy for awhile now – I’m tired of the flash and trash and I want to see William truly DANCE. Want me to believe that he’s a legitmately good dancer who deserves such ridiculously high scores week after week? Then challenge Cheryl to not get all breathy in William’s face or rub herself all over him like a cat on a scratching post, and make her really TEACH him. As for the marathon? Pffft. Since when is sliding around on the floor with your shirt open “Motown”? Or even particularly creative? Once again…flash & trash. But he’s sufficiently shielded from the bottom 2 once again, so he lives to dance another week. But I daresay it won’t be a cakewalk to the finale for him…more on that later this week ;-)

4.) Donald & Peta – I doubt these two are in any big danger of going home this week (Donald’s just too damn lovable, and a good dancer!), but amidst all the “ado” surrounding Katherine, William, & Jaleel, I feel like Donald actually got a bit lost in the shuffle. His foxtrot was fun, clean, and entertaining, but maybe lacked a bit of the panache that made Katherine & Jaleel such standouts (and the fakey-fake hype that keeps William in the forefront). As for the marathon, I kinda had the same problem with Donald that I did with Jaleel – I just didn’t see much of him to judge on, and the parts I did see looked like the same sequence of steps repeated from his cha-cha. And I can’t really blame any of the pros for recycling choreo from their stars’ previous cha-chas…there was just too much going on this week, and there shouldn’t have been a marathon dance to begin with. So consequently, I think I was left just kinda content with Donald this week, rather than blown out of the water. Hope he gets a good dance next week, so he can slide back into the top spot…

5.) Melissa & Maks – I gotta say – Melissa actually really impressed me this week. This was the most relaxed I’ve ever seen her out on the floor, and as a result, I think her performance value & technique really improved. Very pretty, pleasant Viennese waltz. Did it blow me away? No, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. In the marathon? Once again, I’m limited by what they decided to show us, and while Melissa looked like she was having a lot of fun and really trying, I did catch a few moments where she & Maks looked like they were stalling for a second before busting their next move. As I said before, I like marathon dancers who are constantly moving, so based on that, I think these two should have gone out at least before Roshon, who I never saw stop moving. So where does that leave Melissa for tomorrow? Well she has yet to be in the bottom 2, while there are folks left who have been there before; and this week, she has a bit more of a points cushion than she’s had in previous weeks. While I do think she’ll be in the bottom 2 sooner rather than later (unless she suddenly starts getting 10′s), I think she’s safe this week, based on those below her.

6.) Maria & Derek – Like Donald & Peta, I think these two may have gotten a little lost in the shuffle this week, too, but unlike Donald & Peta, I’m a little nervous for these two. First off, I have to say – I think they got dealt a bit of a crap hand when they were the only couple that got Martha as their music. Now while I love Martha, I can’t lie – it was downright PAINFUL listening to her sing this week. Her voice is just not what it used to be, and she seemed to be really struggling tonight. Consequently, I actually think Maria & Derek could have been legitimately distracted when trying to dance to “Jimmy Mack” – hell, I know I was! At one point, when they were doing their choreography on the stairs and got a bit out of synch, it actually looked like Martha caught them off-guard…like they weren’t planning on her being that close, and consequently had to adjust their spacing to accomodate it. Aside from the minor synchronization snafu and just the overall poor quality of their music, I actually really liked their foxtrot – just a fun, pleasant walk in the park :-) Now as for the marathon…hmmmm. I actually have to agree with them being tapped out 2nd – Maria looked like she was dancing pretty cautiously, and they seemed to be doing the same sequence of cha-cha steps in hold over and over again. I haven’t done a very good job of keeping up with Twitter or any of the interviews Vogue has posted in the past few days (*guilty face*) due to my ongoing internet issues, but I guess Maria is still injured/sick? Which I guess could explain why she was so tentative in the marathon dance. Can’t say I blame her, if that was the case. But here’s the pickle they’re in: they’re currently wedged between the lowest scorer (Gladys) and the only previous appearance in the bottom 2 that is likely to show up there again this week (Roshon), and there’s a possible double elim this week – so if they eliminate the lowest combined scorer and make the next two couples duel, I think there’s a decent chance they could end up in the duel…unless they manage to overtake Melissa & Maks, the next couple up from Roshon. And I think it’s possible they could overtake Melissa & Maks…but it will depend on whose fanbase is more passionate. Both Derek & Maks have power voters, and as a tv host, Maria might appeal to the same demographic as Melissa – it could be a pretty even match. But my gut tells me that Melissa is likely gonna edge Maria out this week, and Maria will (dramatically, of course!) fall into the duel…after one kinda off-week. But I think she’ll ultimately be safe…

7.) Roshon & Chelsie – Ok, I give up: what exactly do the judges have against Roshon??? This poor kid got raked across the coals tonight for a rumba that I didn’t think was all that bad – on the contrary, I actually was really impressed with both his hip action and the gorgeous way he extended his arms. By far the strongest rumba of the night, even if there were “too many syncopations” (sorry, but I can’t blame Chelsie for throwing a lot of them in – that song was sooooo slow and boring). Underscored by at least 2 points, IMO…he should have gotten an 8 from Carrie Ann and a 9 from Bruno, based on their comments. Now the marathon – ugh. This guy was movin’ & shakin’ and busting all sorts of Motown moves while other couples seemed to just kinda muddle through – yet he still is the 3rd person tapped out. What gives??? Were they docking him because they weren’t doing lifts? Psssh…the fact that the got tapped out so quickly just further illustrates for me that the judges want him gone. And lord knows why, because I do think this kid can legitimately dance. But alas, I think the scoring probably did Team Rochee in this week – while he did manage to get a greater margin of votes last week to stay out of the bottom 2, I think he was bolstered by his appearance in the bottom 2 in the previous week (and Jaleel’s missteps the previous few weeks…), and likely won’t have that same boost this week to keep him safe. However, he’s still got an okayish margin over Gladys, but I think she’s got a decent amount of voters behind her, so I can’t really state with confidence which one will go straight home and which will end up in the duel – and once again, that is only if there is a double elim tomorrow night, and it plays out similarly to the double elim in season 9. I’ve waffled back & forth since the show ended about 2 hours ago, but I ultimately think Roshon will end up in the duel – and if it’s against Maria, it could be pretty close on who gets saved…as in 2 judges for one couple and one dissenting judge. But I just get the feeling that the judges are kinda done with Roshon, so it will ultimately be the other couple (probably Maria) that gets the stay of execution while Roshon is sent packing. Sad face :-(

8.) Gladys & Tristan – Gladys was just so stinkin’ cute tonight :-) She may not have had the strongest dance, and she may have forgotten a good chunk of her choreography…but she just looked like she was having so much fun, and was giving it an honest try. It was a very cute, very “Motown-appropriate” rumba – loved the little nods and “Pip skills” Tristan threw in. Marathon? Meh…I guess I can’t say I was too surprised she got tapped out first, as I think she’s the weakest dancer left in terms of physical limitations. Poor Gladys just can’t move at 67 the same way most of the other contestants move in their 20′s, 30′s, & 40′s – but man, she’s impressed the hell out of me, the way she’s come out every week and given each dancer her all, and done it with a smile. I think she’ll definitely be leaving on a high note, and will be a contestant I won’t soon forget :-)

*sigh* So waffling back & forth and some internet issues nothwithstanding, I think I’m going to lock my predicitions in as Gladys going straight home, and Roshon getting beat by Maria in the dance duel. But if it happens to be Melissa in the duel with Roshon? He may get a stay of execution. And if Roshon (and/or Gladys) manages to avoid the bottom 2 altogether? All bets are off :-P So what do you guys think?

April 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!

DWTS 14 Week 6 – Motown Week Song Predictions!

So next week is Motown week, and I could not be more pumped! Seriously guys…I love me some Motown, so this was a fun list to compile 8-)

Here’s the deal: so far, Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves, and The Temptations have all been confirmed as acts that are going to be singing live as the couples perform on Monday night.  I’m not sure if they’re going to be singing for every couple or not, and I’m not sure if the songs the couples are dancing to are going to only be songs by those particular acts – the deets are a bit murky as of right now.  We also don’t know for sure what dance Gladys has yet – our reader Magnolia (@TristanDWTSFans on Twitter…follow her, she’s cool :-)) has promised to let us know as soon as she finds out.  There’s been speculation that it’s jive, so I went ahead and compiled a list of Motown jive songs just for the hell of it :-) Since TPTB have also expressed an affinity for recycling songs in the past few seasons in particular, I’ve pored through music from previous seasons and pulled out previously used Motown songs that we might see again.  I’ve bolded the songs that are my “best guesses” for what we might see on Monday night, based on all the info above.  If we get confirmation on any more songs, we will reveal it in Heidi’s “Who’s Dancing What?” post on Sunday, and I may update this post with other pertinent info as it comes out.

But for now, sit back, relax, and enjoy the cool sounds of Motown - DWTS style! :-D

ETA: According to Donald’s Twitter, there’s supposedly a “Motown Marathon” dance to be done on Tuesday…take it with a grain of salt as we wait on the press release for next week to confirm.  As for a possible song? Not sure what dance this Motown Marathon is going to be, but I imagine that the music will have to be something that can be looped continuously until the marathon ends, and it probably will be instrumental only.  So in other words – I have no idea :-P In the meantime, send me your soul food recipes at courtney@puredwts.com!

Foxtrot (Donald & Peta and Maria & Derek):

“How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” – Marvin GayeHow Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) - Gold: Marvin Gaye (Laila & Maks’ foxtrot in season 4)
“Baby Love” – The SupremesBaby Love - Diana Ross & The Supremes: Anthology (Monique & Louis’ foxtrot in season 3)
“My Guy” – Mary WellsMy Guy (Single Version) - Motown 1's (Joey & Kym’s foxtrot in season 4)
“Jimmy Mack” – Martha Reeves & The VandellasJimmy Mack - The Ultimate Collection: Martha Reeves & The Vandellas (Mel & Maks’ foxtrot in season 5)
“Pride & Joy” – Marvin GayePride and Joy - Number 1's: Marvin Gaye (Jason & Edyta’s foxtrot in season 6)
“I Hear a Symphony” - The SupremesI Hear a Symphony - Number 1's: Diana Ross & The Supremes (Marie & Jonathan’s foxtrot in season 5)
“I Just Wanna Make Love to You” – Etta James I Just Wanna Make Love to You - Blues In the Night: The Early Show, Vol. 1 (Live)(Vivica & Nick’s foxtrot in season 3)
“My Girl” – The Temptations (could also be a rumba, if slowed down)
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April 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!

PureDWTS Ask Courtney: Why Do Ladies Have to Wear Heels For Ballroom/Latin?

I confess: no one specifically asked this question, but some of you may have noticed that tend to get bit irritated whenever a female celeb or pro on the show opts to forgo the traditional heels in favor of boots, sneakers, or going barefoot.  I thought I’d explain just why I get my knickers in such a twist over it :-)

There are two primary reasons why heels are worn in both the Latin & ballroom dances: the first is aesthetic, and the other is technical. Aesthetically, the shoes are worn to give the the women’s legs a long, lean appearance – the neutral flesh tone of the fabric blends nicely with the skin, giving a nice, long, unbroken line; the heels themselves of course make the women look taller, which in turn enhances the illusion of long legs.  You may have noticed that the women on the show don’t often wear colored dance shoes – that’s because a color that contrasts with the skin tends to “chop off” those nice long lines, and make the women’s legs look shorter.  Why is it so important to have long legs? Because the longer your legs are, the nicer your lines are going to look, and the better technique you’re going to show – and the happier the judges are. :-)

From a technical aspect, the shoes actually help to ensure that the ladies are using the proper technique in their dances.  Remember my post about heel & toe leads? Well the shoes that the ladies wear for Latin are specially balanced so that the ladies’ body weight is shifted over her toes – and remember, all the Latin dances move forward (and backward) with a toe lead.  The ballroom shoes tend to keep the ladies’ body weight balanced evenly on her heels & toes, much like normal shoes, as all the steps in the ballroom dances move forward on the heel and backward on the toe – just like normal walking.  The shoes alone can’t guarantee that a dancer will always have the right technique – but they certainly do help!

So let’s say a woman *cough*Lacey*cough* decides to forgo wearing the proper shoes while dancing, and instead wears something more flat-footed, like boots.  In the Latin dances, it’s probably going to result in her legs looking very short & stubby, and her lines not as impressive.  Case in point: Lance & Lacey’s cha-cha in season 7:

Or, in Hope’s case this past season, those boots just gave her a complete lack of hip action, and resulted in a very flat, boring rumba:

 The effect is a bit less noticeable in the ballroom dances, since they move so similarly to natural walking movement, and I can’t really think of a time on the show that someone has danced a ballroom dance barefoot.  However, I do remember Twitch & Kherington’s Viennese waltz routine from season 4 of SYTYCD, and I remember not being wild about them doing it barefoot, as it just looked somewhat “unfinished” and more like contemporary than real ballroom:

 So there you have it – you be the judge.  I personally think that all ballroom & Latin dances should be done in the proper footwear, and it’s only (semi)acceptable to go barefoot if you’re a pro doing a contemporary-ish pro dance.  But what do you guys think? :-)

February 15, 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!

PureDWTS Exclusive! An Interview with Randall Christensen, Part I

A few months back, we asked you guys to submit questions for Randall Christensen, the costume designer for DWTS from seasons 2-12.  Well now that the holidays are over and we’re starting to get back into the swing of things, we’re sharing Randall’s responses :-)

We’ve been lucky to get a chance to chat with Randall, since he has kept very busy since moving on from DWTS! He’s currently working a couture swimwear line with MiracleSuit (check out Vogue’s post on the Macy’s MiracleSuit fashion show last summer!), is working on a sportswear/ready to wear collection, and is still designing dancesport costumes for Randall Designs, Inc., his costume design company for the past 30 years.  Let’s see what this dancewear icon has to say in response to some of your burning questions :-)

At what age did you start designing?

Randall Christensen: I started designing for my professional partner and students back in the early ‘80’s, learning the craft with “hands on” experience.  I am self-taught.

Who were your mentors?

RC: My first mentor (and still most influential) was Bob Mackie.  He was designing for Carol Burnett as well as Cher for their (respective) shows.  I was a pre-teen and tried to NEVER miss a single one of their shows, as I was mesmerized by their costumes!

Seems like things at DWTS run on a pretty hectic timetable. Can you descibe what a typical week was like for you at DWTS?

RC: A typical week at DWTS starts new on Monday/Tuesday with new designs for each couple.  If we are lucky enough to get the music by Monday (instead of typically Tuesday) I try to get the couples up to the wardrobe department to discuss concepts for the next week’s costumes.  I only get 15-20 (30 mins. tops) to listen to the music, research ideas, discuss, design and finalize.  Then the entire show is shopped Wednesday by 5pm and delivered back to the studio, where I go over every women’s design with our cutter/fitter (the mens’ costumes are done off site, by our dance tailor in downtown Los Angeles).  The costumes are cut/sewn/preliminarily fitted on Thursday, then I have celebrity fittings all day Friday. My assistant helps on Saturday with the professional women’s fittings, they’re altered and ready for the final fitting on Sunday, after the couples do their blocking for the camera.  Adjustments are made and then are trimmed, beaded, crystallized and trimmed out to completion.  Monday morning is time to review each costume before setting them in the individual dressing rooms.  We have dress rehearsal only a few hours before we go LIVE on the east coast.  During that time any last minute adjustments are made and redelivered to the couples’ dressing rooms, sometimes just minutes before they’re to go to the top of the stairs for their walk down – live!  We have to design/shop/fit/finish each and every costume in 3.5 to 4 days!!  Whew!

What types of fabrics are the best for ballroom costumes?

RC: Thank goodness for stretch fabrics, jerseys, lycras, etc.!  These help the costume to be quite comfortable as well as flexible.  We can then get a terrific fit with little to no wrinkles in the fabric.  Chiffon (both silk and polyester) are great for the ballgown skirts, due to the wonderful movement.  Charmeuse satin is a terrific vintage type fabric, reminiscent of some of Ginger Rogers’ gowns.

Are there limitations, or can you work with pretty much anything?

RC: I push the limits every chance I get!  How else can you continue to come up with fresh ideas?  That being said, some fabrics are VERY challenging!  I try not to use brocades, as they are just to stiff and unforgiving for costumes.  Not to mention the fact that they do not flow at all!  I love using natural trims, for an organic vibe, still mixing in crystal rhinestones of course.  We have to have a sparkle on almost everything.

What is the most extravagant costume you’ve ever designed for the show, and who wore it?

RC: I would say the most extravagant costume would have to be Toni Braxton’s Marie Antoinette-inspired Viennese Waltz gown (complete with powdered blonde wig and all).  To be as authentic as possible, we went to a costume house and purchased a “cage” to make the silhouette as close to the look of the era as possible.  It was almost all completely sewn by hand, on the dress form as there is no way to get that wide cage (for the hips) on the sewing machine to work on.  Quite labor intense, but what a gorgeous look!  And still, we did it in just under 4 days……I still break out in a sweat thinking about that one!

*photo courtesy ABC/Kelsey McNeal

If you could only pick one DWTS costume as your “all-time favorite”, which would it be and why?

RC: Besides Toni Braxton’s Marie Antoinette gown, I would have to say Joanna Krupa’s “Futuristic Paso Doble.”  We pushed the limits (again) of what we could do in just 4 days.  The silver silk lame with electric lights (all wired into the dress) was sensational, but a nightmare to get done in such a short time.  We had a lighting specialist up from San Diego for 3 days just wiring the darn thing.

*photo courtesy of ABC

Everyone has regrets. Have you ever looked back at a costume you’ve designed for the show and thought “What was I thinking???” If so, which one & why?

RC: Oh, I’m sure we ALL have regrets, but I have to say, we have a really good track record if you consider that from concept to completion is 4 days maximum.  The discipline the couple has to have to stick with the original design, in spite of choreographing after the design is done, a procedure which is completely backwards! That being said, each and every week I look at the costumes, making mental notes as to what we could have done better, or what I would have done differently.  The beauty is I get another chance 4 days later.

Who have been your favorite celebs and/or pros to design for, and why?

RC: I count myself quite lucky to have such a great rapport with the pro dancers, and we have such fun with (and trust in) each other.  Our design sessions are quite intense and rewarding. I have enjoyed the trust that almost all of the celebrities have shown to me.  I honestly think that they put their trust in me (and their pro partner) due mainly to the fact that they are in such a foreign and vulnerable area.  They have not danced like this before, and really have to rely on our experience and expertise.  The trust that Susan Lucci, Jennifer Gray, Florence Henderson, Chelsea Kane and Kirstie Alley (to name a few) showed me was quite humbling and really rewarding!  This definitely impacts how wonderful their costumes showed on them.

Do you have an all-time favorite? 

RC:  I would have to say that as far as professional dancers, Edyta Sliwinska made ME look good!  I wish I could take credit for her beauty, but she came that way!!  That being said, I have to admit that Edyta was remarkably prepared each week, knew what looked good on her, and above all else, she left me to interpret her ideas and trusted me completely.  What a dream lady to work with!  Toni Braxton and Brandy both were appreciative, trusting and so lovely to design for.

What happens to the costumes after they’ve been worn?

RC: The celebrities have the option of purchasing any of their costumes, once the season is over.  Kristi Yamaguchi and Shawn Johnson purchased all of their costumes, along with several celebs. buying their favorite one(s).  We keep a great majority of the costumes from past seasons in a storage facility quite close to the studio.  We also keep a few on hand right in the workroom, in case we need a last minute “fix.”  We have NEVER had to use one of those yet!

We’ve noticed some get reused and others don’t. How do you decide which ones get reused?

RC: We reuse costumes based on the producers’ requirements/suggestions, as well as our guest choreographers’ ideas.  Many times (most of the time) we re-work them so that their silhouettes more readily coordinate with each of the other dancers’ looks, for a more cohesive themed look. There is just not enough hours in the week to make ALL the costumes seen on Monday’s and Tuesday’s shows.  That said, we ALWAYS make something new for our couples for Monday’s show.  The pro numbers and (pro) group numbers may get previously worn costumes, but NEVER on celebs nor their partners for Monday’s competition!

*photo courtesy ABC/Adam Larkey

Do certain pros want specific kinds of alterations (i.e. shorter hems, lower necklines, mesh inserts, etc) on costumes that have been worn before by someone else?

RC: Again, it’s all about the overall theme/silhouette desired.  Our pro dancers do have their specific preferences, and if we could accommodate them, we most certainly would.  Some of those preferences are just going to be kept secret – no use spoiling the illusion……

Tune in later this week when we reveal part II of our exclusive interview…and Randall talks theme nights, panic attacks, and his love of princess seams (?) ;-) You won’t want to miss it!!!

January 9, 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!