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Court’s DWTS Las Vegas Adventure (Live Show Review & Other Miscellanery)

As many of you know, I was in Las Vegas¬†last weekend and had the pleasure of seeing the DWTS live show at the Tropicana – which, of course, I will review for you guys, since certain other individuals *cough*JOHN*cough* haven’t managed to write the 2nd half of their review of the premiere of said show ūüėČ This post could get a bit wordy, as I took quite a few notes (and just have a really good memory, to boot) and I’ll throw in a few other possibly-unrelated-to-DWTS details for context, as well as some general Vegas¬†info, since some of you have asked about my trip¬†– so if you’re only interested in my review of the show, feel free to skip the next few paragraphs.¬† And if you hate spoilers (i.e. you want to be COMPLETELY surprised when you see the show), I’d either just skip this post altogether or just read my¬†overall take at the bottom¬†– because I’m not holding back.¬† You’ve been warned ūüėČ And special thanks go to Heidi, for helpin’ a girl out with some picture merges that were driving me cray-cray ūüėõ

So why was I in Vegas in the first place, you ask? My best friend Kendra is getting married at the end of July, and she wanted a bachelorette party for the ages – so naturally, we HAD to go Vegas :-) There were 12 of us altogether (11 rowdy bachelorettes and 1 gay bachelor, who I must say put us all to shame with how fabulously he was dressed the entire trip ;-)), and the majority of us stayed at the Flamingo, since we were able to get a great rate on standard rooms – with 4 girls to a room, it was only $82 total for each of us for 3 nights, which is pretty awesome for a well-known¬†hotel on the strip that isn’t a total dive.¬† Overall, I wouldn’t say the Flamingo is¬†a particularly special or ritzy hotel (if that’s what you’re looking for, I’d go with the Bellagio, Palazzo, or Venetian…but be prepared to shell out big $$$), but if you’re on a budget, it’s certainly more than sufficient – the rooms are clean and the decor is kitchy & cute (think 1960’s, Rat Pack, original Ocean’s Eleven – lots of dots, stripes, retro furniture, and of course, pink :-)).¬† I’m very into the nostalgia of Vegas, so the Flamingo appealed to me in that it was originally built by infamous mobster Bugsy Siegel, and legend has it that the actual motive behind his murder was to change the management of the Flamingo.¬† But anyway – if you’re in Vegas, I definitely recommend trying their Paradise Garden Buffet – it’s pretty affordable, as far as buffets in Vegas go, and is quite good…especially the brunch buffet.¬† Plus the views of their courtyard and flock of live flamingoes are gorgeous :-) Also at the Flamingo? Donny & Marie Osmond’s live show – I didn’t see it (no time, and honestly, not much of a desire), but I did see these in the lobby:

The one on the left is Donny’s costume from his freestyle with Kym in season 9, as well as his MBT (and yes, according to the guest services director that I asked, it is his real MBT – apparently he insisted it be put in the case with his costume); the one on the right is Marie’s dress from her quickstep with Jonathan in season 5 (and one of those freaky dolls she designs – guess they had to put SOMETHING there when they found out that Donny wanted to display his MBT, although I’m not sure why they didn’t display this doll instead).¬† I found Marie’s costume pretty unremarkable up close – for as fabulous as it looked on the show, upon further scrutiny, it’s really just a tan silk gown with some gems glued on; but Donny’s suit is very well-made and clearly took a lot of work.¬† Interesting how different the costumes look on tv vs. in person (more on that later). Read more..

May 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!

DWTS 14 Week 9 Power Rankings

Well kids, I’m back after a few days in Vegas, with a few fun stories to tell (be on the lookout for my review of the DWTS Live in Las Vegas show later this week!), but first, let me get back into the swing of things with this week’s power rankings – I’m gonna try and keep tonight’s kinda short, as I still seem to be suffering the effects of the time difference…or just burnout.¬† Vegas is tiring!

Overall, feeling a bit ho-hum about tonight – no truly stand-out performances; some overscoring going on across the board, likely to keep the margins close; and an overall lack of content in the bulk of the Latin dances (with the exception of Donald).¬† Not exactly the nail-biting semifinal I was hoping for, but thankfully, it was only 90 minutes, which may actually give me a chance to catch part of the Hawaii 5-0 finale or America’s Got Talent premiere before dozing off ūüėõ

1.) Donald & Peta – After tonight, the only thing I feel fairly confident in saying is that Donald is a shoo-in for the finale,¬†based on fanbase alone¬†– and that’s even with the 2nd lowest score of the night.¬† I don’t think there has ever been¬†a more LIKEABLE contestant to do the show – seriously, I grow to love Donald more and more every week.¬† And doggonit, some of the Pack FINALLY came out to support him tonight! Loved seeing Aaron Rodgers in the audience, cheering for “Quickie” :-) I liked his waltz, but didn’t love it – the music was throwing me a bit, as it actually seemed to make him look kind of off-time, even though he wasn’t.¬† His posture does seem to be improving, though, and he seemed to really connect to the emotion of the dance.¬† His samba was actually my favorite dance of the night – I think it was the only Latin dance tonight that truly had a lot of real content, and I loved that they opted to go a different route than the standard “shake your ass as much as you can, and we’ll just call it samba” route.¬† It had a storyline, it was different, and it was cute.¬† My only complaint? Donald seems to stutter a bit when getting back into hold from being out of hold – he seemed to miss a few hand leads with Peta, and she ended up finishing them herself.¬† Overall, I think they had a pretty damn good night, and I (knock on wood) don’t foresee any big problems with them making the finale.

2.) Maria & Derek – I’m surprised about these two for 2 reasons: despite some pretty bad injuries, they managed to crank out 2 dances that didn’t completely suck, and the judges didn’t lowball them.¬† If anything, I think they actually overscored them a bit – I don’t think their Argentine tango was even close to being as good as¬†their paso doble, although the choreography was great and Maria didn’t mess any of it up; she just seemed to dance it very cautiously, though, and her legs looked pretty soft – kinda expected for a dance done on such broken feet, but I can’t really overlook it.¬† I did love the beginning of it, though, with just their feet visibile under the curtain…kind of a nice twist.¬† I wasn’t too keen on their jive, for the simple reason that there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of jive actually in it – again, likely an attempt to baby Maria’s injuries, but I can’t really give it a free pass.¬† Maria seemed extra cautious in this dance, as the actual jive steps she did didn’t really have much bounce to them.¬† Plus I’m just getting kinda sick and tired of that damn “Tightrope” song – they use it in the DWTS Vegas show, too, and I don’t really like it there, either.¬† Not really a fan of their jive, but I can’t say it was terrible, either – it was adequate. Overall, I think the judges were awfully kind to them tonight – I like them as a couple, but tonight wasn’t their A-game.¬† However, I think their high score (though still decently close to pretty much everyone else) will likely usher them into the finale, since going into this week I really saw Maria &¬†Katherine duking it out for¬†the 3rd spot in the finale (along with Donald¬†& William) in terms of votes…and although I’m not so sure now that William has the finale all tied up, I do think Maria has done enough to make her untouchable to at least Katherine, which basically ensures she’s in the finale.¬† I think we’re in for another Hough freestyle – here’s hoping that Derek finds a way to work around their collective injuries and redeem himself a bit from his so-so freestyle with Ricki last season!

3.) William & Cheryl – William seems to have worked on his posture in ballroom, but now I see his footwork suffering.¬† That tango looked more like a paso at times – a little too stompy or marchy, and once again, Cheryl seemed to be doing all of the work.¬† There was a lot of William standing in place and moving Cheryl from side-to-side…and the big drawback to that is that Cheryl tends to backlead, so she looks like she’s moving too dramatically for the amount of¬†force William is leading her with.¬† If the guy looks like he’s not leading hard and the woman’s moving hard, it basically screams “she’s doing all the work”.¬† Not good.¬† Overall, it wasn’t¬†a bad tango – he didn’t mess up and the character was there – but it wasn’t really great, either.¬† As for their samba – *sigh*.¬† Content, people – CONTENT!!! I’m honestly shocked that Len didn’t call them out for a lot of “messing about” and “excessive gyration” in this dance – I thought Donald’s had far more content and far better bounce.¬† This seemed to be more about ass-shaking and walking from place to place than actual samba steps…yet it got a 30.¬† *shrug* I gave up last week, so I’m not going to even try this week…guess they need William around for the finale in order to really drive this ABC merger home.¬† Due to scoring, I think William going home is probably not a HUGE possibility, but I also have to wonder if he’s a whole lot better off in the votes than Katherine¬†– in terms of combined score, I think William might be the only one Katherine might have a chance of catching up to.¬† Will be intersting to see if she actually does it…

4.) Katherine & Mark – Oy…just not a whole lot to say about these two tonight that I haven’t already said in previous weeks.¬† I found their quickstep to be rather bland – not just in terms of entertainment, but for once I actually saw Katherine get a bit tentative & hesitant in her choreography.¬† Some of the bouncing around seemed awfully timid¬†– like Maria’s jive.¬† There was nothing glaringly WRONG with their quickstep, but it just didn’t seem to make a ton of impact…it was ok, but not great or terribly memorable.¬† Sorry, but I thought their salsa was bizarre mess – another dance suffering from a noticeable lack of content, and Katherine seemed to be struggling to keep up – and whatever happened at the end that made her freak out just made me cringe, as it seemed like the final nail in the coffin for Katherine on an off-night.¬† She’s at the bottom of the leaderboard now, and I while the spread seems pretty close, I don’t think she has a prayer of beating¬†Donald (the next person up) in votes, or Maria in combined score – the only person I could see her POSSIBLY catching up to in order to earn herself a spot in the finale is William, and I think ultimately his fans will come through and keep him in for the finale – which may leave Katherine out in the cold…which sucks because I do think she’s the strongest dancer left technically, but she also seems to lack connection to the dance and the audience.¬† Kinda stinks that she’d be eliminated this close to the finale, but hey – it happens every season, and the show still goes on.

So who you guys actually see moving onto the finale vs. who do you hope is moving onto the finale? ūüėČ


May 14, 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!

DWTS 14 Week 8 Power Rankings

A few things became abundantly clear to me in the midst of tonight’s show: the judges’ heads have been up William & Cheryl’s asses so long that their¬†oxygen supply has been cut off (and brain damage has occured), Carrie Ann switches motives faster than most people blink, Maria & Derek should probably just knock boots and get it over with, Roshon is this season’s forgotten man, and Katherine’s dancing is about as exciting as eating dry white toast.¬† Let’s just get straight into it…

1.) William & Cheryl – The pimping of these two has just gotten so out of control that I don’t even know what to say anymore – it’s inane, ridiculous, and it’s putting me off this show entirely.¬† You guys wonder why I’m so far behind on the cheese? Because this season has left such a bad taste in my mouth, and 70% of¬†it is because of these two and the lavish, undeserved praise they get.¬† But since me complaining about that does little to deter them, I guess I’ll focus on the dancing, which overall was not as stellar as the judges would have you believe.¬† That foxtrot? Ok, it wasn’t bad, but I’m still not seeing a whole lot of showmanship from William – the man looks like he’s constipated out there.¬† And Cheryl’s still doing a whole lot of dancing around him, rubbing herself on him, and generally doing some attention-whoring of Ballasesque proportions.¬† Go ahead and whine about how I “shouldn’t judge the celeb based on the choreo”, but when all he’s doing is standing there and occasionally gesturing, what the hell am I supposed to think? Am I supposed to just ASSUME he’s a great dancer, even though I don’t get to see it underneath all of his partner’s showboating? The dancing isn’t about William at all – it’s about Cheryl dancing around him.¬† And that was the story of their paso doble trio as well – it was the Cheryl Burke show, with special guest appearances by Tony Dovolani & William Levy.¬† There was a lot of walking from place to place, and William noticeably got off-time…although it was only mentioned in passing by one of the judges, while they absolutely HOSED Roshon for the same thing.¬† I give up.¬† There’s clearly an agenda in place that necessitates William sticking around as long as possible, and I don’t like it.¬† With any luck, this whole mess will completely blow up in the faces of TPTB…but my luck hasn’t been so great lately, so I’m not holding my breath.¬† These two will be safe tomorrow night…

2.) Donald & Peta – Thank GAWD for Donald! The man is the personification of what I want in a celeb on this show: he’s having fun, he’s working hard, and he’s giving us some legitimately GREAT performances.¬† Aside from Roshon’s foxtrot, this tango¬†was the closest thing to perfection for me in the ballroom round tonight – Donald had the attack, and the way he was snapping his head and his feet was divine! I will say that he still seems to get a bit off-balance here and there, and it seems to happen when he gets a little too excited – hopefully he’ll gain a bit more control over some of his more dynamic movements.¬† I also have to tip my tiny top hat (which I’m still wearing from the team dances last week ;-)) to Peta, for coming up with some choreo that both pleases Len and is also pleasing to the eye – not an easy balance! And that trio dance? Wooooooooooooowwwww.¬† Just….WOW.¬† I think the trio idea overall kinda failed, but this was the one gem of the evening – I don’t think I could have asked for a better group than Donald, Peta, and Karina.¬† Both ladies rock at jive, and Donald impressed the hell out of me with the way he partnered TWO ladies.¬† You guys notice that neither of the other guys did that in their trio, right? Probably because it’s f*cking hard – something that doesn’t come naturally to a novice male ballroom dancer.¬† So he gets a ton of respect from me for handling two very vivacious ladies, and also for just delivering a totally FUN performance…props to all three of them for that.¬†¬† I can only hope that Donald is growing on other people like he’s grown on me, because at this point, he’s the only one I see as a lock for the finale… Read more..

May 7, 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!

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 Рremaining 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 Рremaining 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 ūüėÄ 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. ūüėõ

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!

DWTS 14 Week 3 Power Rankings

Well thanks to the majority of tonight’s performances, I now have red, puffy eyes and a runny nose – and no, the show did not give me a rhinovirus :-) Even though I tell myself I’m not going to, I still get verklempt each season when personal story week rolls around, and end up a big, blubbering blob of hormones that is willing to overlook some pretty glaring technique errors and overall mediocrity & lack of content¬†ūüėõ

Tonight, however, I refuse to overlook to continual over/underscoring and favoritism by the judges, and what I felt to be a rather contrived display of emotion on one individual’s part.¬† Shall we get to it? :-)

1.) Katherine & Mark – I always find myself without a whole lot of notes on these two.¬† What more can I say, other than that she’s beautiful, a great dancer, and an overall likeable person? :-) Thought Katherine danced a lovely waltz, and it’s becoming clear to me that the ballroom dances are really going to be her forte, and perhaps the rumba as well – any dance where she can really show off that posture and those gorgeous arms.¬† Was there a lot of actual waltz steps in this one? Well,¬†no, but on the whole, I don’t think anyone had a TON of real content and syllabus steps in their routines tonight…so I guess I really can’t fault anyone too much for that.¬† With the points spread being relatively close tonight, I can’t say for sure that ANYONE is truly safe…but I think Katherine is probably safe this week.¬† I think she is growing her fanbase, and seems to have kept Mark relatively calm this season.¬† I enjoy watching these two dance :-)

2.) Donald & Peta – I don’t think they had the best routine of the night (or even the best rumba), but man – Donald is endearing himself to pretty much EVERYONE, myself included :-) I don’t think I’ve heard a single unkind word about the guy from any of the regulars here, and the fact that he has managed to go from dancing 3rd, to dancing 10th, to getting the pimp spot in 3 weeks tells me that he is proving to be a force to be reckoned with¬†– he’s probably pulling in quite a few votes.¬† And I do see him improving each week – I love that he devotes himself 100% to¬†his performance each week, and is a joy to watch, but the guy is legitimately improving as well…his arms, legs, hips, and posture have all gotten noticeably better with each week.¬† And I think if last season was any indicator, we shouldn’t underestimate the ones that slowly & steadily improve each week, as they’re the ones that could sneak into the finale out of nowhere…I think I’ve finally decided that he is indeed¬†our dark horse this season :-) Watch out, Katherine, William, Jaleel, & Maria!

3.) William & Cheryl – Grrrr….I can’t believe we’re in week 3 and the over-the-top tongue bathing is still going! This was an ok-to-moderate salsa – I wouldn’t say it was stellar and I wouldn’t say it was bad, either.¬† But a 28??? C’mon, one point less than the top scorer, who did one of the best waltzes I’ve seen on the show to date???! I don’t get it…I just don’t get it.¬† William doesn’t miss steps, and he stays on time; but I also feel like he never truly gets into the dance, and always dances so apprehensively, like he’s afraid he might hurt himself.¬† Cheryl needs to take time out from her busy schedule of designing atrocious costumes from herself and actually bring him out of his shell a bit more, and work on his range of motion.¬† Luckily for them (and not so luckily for us), I don’t think they’re going anywhere anytime soon, with all the judges blindly worshipping his every step.¬† Ai ai ai. Read more..

April 2, 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!

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. ūüėÄ

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!

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 ūüėČ

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. ūüėČ

Hope that clears things up a bit ūüėČ 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!

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?” ūüėõ 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!

DWTS13 Finale Week Power Rankings – Who Will Win?

Gotta say – going into tonight, I couldn’t recall a time I was THIS EXCITED to see a finale since maybe season 10.¬† Nor have I ever felt this invested in the outcome of a season of the show as I am in this one…seriously guys, I might lose my faith in humanity if JR does not win.¬† Fair warning. ūüėČ

Anywho – as much as I hoped this would be a good, clean, honest finale, there unfortunately seemed to be some shady business afoot.¬† DEFINITE overscoring, and I think you all know who I’m referring to.¬† Overall, the “last unlearned dance” round was pretty underwhelming & lackluster, and the freestyle round only slightly made up for it for me.¬† But let’s get on with it, shall we? Gonna do things a little differently tonight – I’m gonna start with 3rd place and work my way up to the winner, and I’m going to try to guesstimate how things are going to pan out tomorrow night.

3rd place: Rob & Cheryl

As much as Rob may have endeared himself to me this season, methinks he wasn’t as good as his scores would lead us to believe this evening.¬† The waltz was pleasant – if not¬†a bit goofy.¬† That whole “run towards one another and I’ll run around Cheryl as she spins” move made me chuckle¬†a bit…my mom busted out laughing, and said “It looks like he’s going around the Maypole!” And I had to laugh too – because that’s exactly what it looked like.¬† ūüėõ Some footwork & timing issues as well, but overall I wouldn’t say it was painful to watch…just…goofy. :-) Now the freestyle.¬† *sigh* I liked the idea of it, I really did.¬† And I thought it was smart of Cheryl to go with something that seemed to play on Rob’s strengths.¬† But that was by no means a 30-worthy routine.¬† Seemed like Cheryl did most of the tough stuff (it was like Gilles’ freestyle all over again), and it just took too long to really go anywhere.¬† Rob did the best he could with what he was given – little imp.¬† Got a bit scared when he was spinning around with Cheryl on his shoulders, though – thought I was gonna have to use my physics minor to calculate tangential velocity as she flew across the room.¬† I think Rob really likes going around in circles, hehe. Cute idea &¬† choreography – but it was just lacking in content for me, and I don’t think I’m completely alone.¬† So why, then, did the judges give it a 30? *shrugs* Who knows.¬† Part of me thinks they might be trying to shake up the top 2 by displacing Ricki or JR; part of me thinks this could have been a strange strategy for spurring Ricki & JR fans to vote even harder.¬† I honestly can’t give you a theory that’s 100% sound or reasonable.¬† But I am gonna put my faith in humanity (god help me) and say that Rob will probably get 3rd in the favorite dance round tomorrow, and won’t get the points to overcome JR or Ricki.¬† But it’s been nice seeing Rob evolve from kind of a douchebaggy guy to a goofy but kinda lovable guy that managed to emerge from the shadow of his harpies-er, sisters. ūüėČ Read more..

November 21, 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!

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 ūüėČ , 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!