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Dancing with the Stars Music – The Live Band

I see by the comments that this is a timely article. 🙂 I highly recommend clicking the link and reading the entire article. Some excerpts from Variety:

Live band gives ‘Dancing’ lift

It’s 9:15 a.m. on a Monday morning on Stage 46 at CBS Television City. Harold Wheeler, music director for ABC’s hit “Dancing With the Stars,” is already well into rehearsal with his 17-piece band and quartet of singers for that night’s live, two-hour show.
He calls out the 3/4-time, country-flavored “Only One Road.” Standing at his keyboard, headphones on, he conducts sans baton while actress Melissa Joan Hart and her pro partner Mark Ballas waltz around the floor while the stage’s mirrored ball spins slowly, showering the room with points of light.

This is the first time that Hart and Ballas have heard what the band will play. For the previous five days, they’ve been rehearsing to a cut-down version of the original 1994 Celine Dion track.

I guess I didn’t realize they were rehearsing with cut downs right up until Monday morning. That would be…stressful for the dancers, I think. The non-pros anyway. The entire article talks about Donny talking to Harold and getting the speed adjusted – and he’s a pro! That would be pretty darn difficult for non-musicians to do, I would think. Make communicating with Harold Wheeler more challenging.

“Music is the essence of everything,” says “Dancing With the Stars” head judge Len Goodman during a break. “Without good music you will never get good dancing. Harold Wheeler and our band are unsung heroes, and the singers are fantastic. Whatever is thrown at them, they can do. Lindy hop, hip-hop, swing, every genre of music, they cope brilliantly.”

In fact, the band consists of some of L.A.’s top studio musicians and singers. Trumpeters Rick Baptist and Warren Luening, saxophonist Dan Higgins, keyboard player Tom Ranier and drummer Ralph Humphrey are among the town’s first-call players. Vocalists Darryl Phinnessee (veteran of multiple Michael Jackson Jackson tours), Carmen Carter, Beverley Staunton and Antonio Sol are not just good singers, says Wheeler, “they’re great singers.”

I think the band is great – but from time to time the singers really butcher a song, sad to say. Of course, everyone has an off night or an off performance. I guess I also never really gave them (and the band as a whole) credit for having to perform multiple genres in a given week – that is challenging.

Senior producer Erin O’Brien creates a list of “well over 1,000 songs” that the staff attempts to clear with music publishers. “And out of every 100 songs,” she says, “I may not even hear back on half. Of the rest, I may end up getting denials on half. Some artists don’t agree to the fee, some prefer that their versions get heard, and some simply don’t do business with reality shows, period.”

When the celebrities are booked, “I ask all of my dancers for song ideas and suggestions,” she adds. “We tell them, ‘tell us anything you could ever possibly want to dance to.’ Not a lot of them end up working,” she concedes.

Once tunes are cleared for use, music editor Graham Jarvis – working in the U.K. and using the internet – decides whether they are appropriate for tangos or waltzes or any of the several categories, and then creates edited versions of the songs (anywhere from 60 to 100 seconds long). It is those versions that the dancers rehearse to, until the Monday morning sessions with the live band.

I find the whole “process” of making a list of songs through the final rehearsals with the live band to be absolutely fascinating. I guess I never thought about how much has to go into just the music portion of the program. Of course I knew the Pros gave ideas and they either got cleared for use or not, but the rest of it is new and interesting information!!

I think that I vote to keep the live band – it does add an element to the show that other shows don’t have – although I think American Idol how has live music (sometimes).

December 9, 2009 I Written By

I'm a nerd and proud of it. Two degrees in geology also means I love BEER. :-) I'm also a Derek lover - proud of that too. So don't scream at those of us on this site and call us a bunch of "biased Derek-lovers" - it's just ME. :-) It may sound like I hate DWTS at times, but really, I'm just a snarky nitpicker from way back. And I'm cynical and jaded too. But I do love DWTS. :-)

DWTS Season 9, Week 7 – More Media

Reality Chat with Sabrina Bryan.

Entertainment Tonight from Tuesday

This is actually from Week 6 – Louie and Melissa

November 5, 2009 I Written By

I'm a nerd and proud of it. Two degrees in geology also means I love BEER. :-) I'm also a Derek lover - proud of that too. So don't scream at those of us on this site and call us a bunch of "biased Derek-lovers" - it's just ME. :-) It may sound like I hate DWTS at times, but really, I'm just a snarky nitpicker from way back. And I'm cynical and jaded too. But I do love DWTS. :-)

Week 6, DWTS Season 9 – More Media

This isn’t directly related to Week 6 of DWTS, but certainly worth mentioning – Maks is going back to Broadway and he’s taking Kym Johnson with him!! Congratulations to both. Excerpts from the New York Post:

After “Dancing With the Stars” finishes its season next month, it looks like Maks and Kym are going to dance on Broadway.

Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Kym Johnson, two of the best-known professional dancers on “Dancing,” are joining the cast of the hit ballroom-dance show “Burn the Floor” starting right after Thanksgiving.

They’ll perform until mid-January, a rep for the show confirmed yesterday.

Both dancers are under contract to “Dancing” until the finale, set for Nov. 24. After that, they are set to fly to New York and start on Broadway three days later.

Maybe it’s just me, but I find these “Caught in the Act” mentions in People Magazine (Oct. 29) highly amusing. 😉 Derek and Maks, out on the town – what a vision.

Another night, another Dancing with the Stars get-together at Teddy’s inside the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel! Karina Smirnoff met up with a tall guy in the front and sat down at his table where the two held hands and then started making out after a few drinks. In the back of the lounge, her ex, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, hung out with Derek Hough and his sisterJulianne and avoided any encounter with Smirnoff, who seemed smitten with her new guy. Chmerkovskiy and Hough were acting like their usual playboy-selves, chatting up female clubgoers and dancing.

Joanna’s Playboy Magazine Cover is out and it looks AMAZING!! Gorgeous!!
Joanna Krupa Playboy

Extra from Tuesday:

E! on Melissa/Mark and Louie/Chelsie Eliminations:

E! from Monday – Kelly’s Birthday Party, Julianne talks about Derek and dancing, Chuck Wicks…Then about the dancing with Kelly O, Mya/Dmitry, Aaron/Karina

October 29, 2009 I Written By

I'm a nerd and proud of it. Two degrees in geology also means I love BEER. :-) I'm also a Derek lover - proud of that too. So don't scream at those of us on this site and call us a bunch of "biased Derek-lovers" - it's just ME. :-) It may sound like I hate DWTS at times, but really, I'm just a snarky nitpicker from way back. And I'm cynical and jaded too. But I do love DWTS. :-)

Melissa Joan Hart Sent Home on DWTS

I was expecting a lot more from Melissa but she never fully delivered for me.  However she did have some fun dances and sweet costumers!!

Melissa’s best dance was her Charleston by far!  I think this was because she was in her element of acting the piece more than dancing it technically. 


Who doesn’t love fringe!  This costume was so bright and suited her personality very well!

She look’s so elegant her!  This dress was so gorgeous on her and you can tell she has having so much fun with Mark!

Thanks to Phillipe, I have pictures of her amazing Charleston dress 🙂  Or maybe I’m just a fan of the era…who knows!

I Written By

DWTS 9 Week 6 Media – Post Elimination and More

Access Hollywood post-elimination interviews with Louie/Chelsie and Melissa/Mark:

Access Hollywood with Julianne Hough and her sister Marabeth on Jules coming back (eventually) to DWTS and their thoughts on Derek/Joanna!

People Online’s TV Watch – Tuesday’s ‘Dancing’ – What you didn’t see:

Tight-Knit Group: As the dancers continue to get eliminated, the group appears to be getting closer. Throughout the night, celebs and professional dancers were always reaching out to each other and giving hugs and pats on the back. Before the dance-off, Michael Irvin, his partner Anna Demidova, Louie Vito and his partner Chelsie Hightower exchanged big hugs with each other. What? No fights? “I thought about it, but this is a family show,” Vito joked.

A Ghoulish Night: Every Tuesday before the show goes live, the dance floor turns into a dance party for the guests of the show. Since Halloween is days away and it was the premiere of Michael Jackson’s This Is It, guests learned the steps to “Thriller” and performed it all the way through. Derek Hough, a fan of Jackson and who also performed the famous routine last week for the show’s tribute to the King of Pop, watched on from behind the stage.

Melissa/Mark and Louie/Chelsie with George Pennacchio at the LA Local ABC Affiliate:

I thought Tom Bergeron was GOD before this question he answered for AOL Television, but I really, really HOPE he’s on to something here:

Tom Bergeron, what do you think of the double elimination tonight?
Tom: I think, in all honesty, we learned that you can’t have 16 couples to start a season. We came out of the gate learning some things that I hope you’ll never see again. Having said that, though, I like the way this season is picking up. I think people are coming back. [Viewers] may have thought, “We don’t know who to support here because the body count is so high.”

October 28, 2009 I Written By

I'm a nerd and proud of it. Two degrees in geology also means I love BEER. :-) I'm also a Derek lover - proud of that too. So don't scream at those of us on this site and call us a bunch of "biased Derek-lovers" - it's just ME. :-) It may sound like I hate DWTS at times, but really, I'm just a snarky nitpicker from way back. And I'm cynical and jaded too. But I do love DWTS. :-)


I’m very sad this week because I loved Louie and Chelsie and was not ready to see them go 🙁  However, that is the nature of the show and favorites go home every week.

What I was really excited about was all the sexy outfits!  Hello Joanna in her mambo costume, SO HOT!  Kelly in her jitterbug out, SO ADORABLE!  Louie as a ‘nerd’, SO SEXY!  Donny in his train get up, SO FUN!!  And now for the good, the bad, and the incredibly hot!

Kelly and Louis
These two crack me up every single week!!!!  I love their chemistry and I love that Louis choreographs to highlight Kelly at every stage of the dance!  Her smile is infectious and her feet are getting their 🙂  Her turns are always off and her feet are sometimes very pigeon-toed but watching her with Louis is amazingly beautiful!

Melissa and Mark
I think Melissa had a lot of potential to go a long way on this show but she got to the point where she was more focused on the destination rather than the journey.  The choreography that Melissa this week was very classic waltz but I didn’t feel like Melissa connected with the piece the way it required.  The technique Mark has been trying to instill in her from day one has been going out the window since after their Charleston and I think this week it was finally all gone.

Competition Mambo: Derek and Joanna
HOLY SMOKES…these two were so SEXY!!!!  The choreo Derek gave Joanna was perfect and it really suited her well!  She is beautiful in the latin world and I can’t wait for more from these two!

I Written By

Samantha Injured Too? More DWTS 9 Media from Week 6

Coming up shortly – clips from the results show and an extremely romantic pro dance to Taylor Swift. Yes, I am a total sap.

The Insider has video up on their site that includes MOST of the couples. The accompanying write up was cute:

Samantha Harris may only co-host “Dancing with the Stars,” but that didn’t stop “The Insider” correspondent from suffering an ankle injury.

Not realizing her physical ailment, Derek Hough tried to dance with her. Backstage after the show he apologized. Samantha joked, “I’ve been waiting for eight seasons to have Derek to dance with me. He finally does it while I have a sprained ankle.”

Entertainment Tonight with Derek/Joanna and Melissa/Mark – and Derek gives pointers to one of the correspondents on the Thriller dance:

Maks’ blog gives us some insight into the competitive Mambo and how it works in the ballroom world in his weekly blog with TV Guide – no surprise he goes after the Derek naysayers and echos what I have said. Lots of good stuff in Maks’ blogs and I always enjoy them.

I was unable to watch Monday’s show because I was flying back to L.A. I saw all the performances on video and got a recap of some of the things. I saw a little bit of the mambo marathon, but heard a lot about it. I actually really like the idea. This is something we can explore and try to figure out. I think what people don’t understand is that we come from a competitive ballroom world and this is the format. Having couples dance one at a time, like Dancing does, yes, that’s awesome, but we’re used to everyone being on the floor at the same time dancing against so many other couples. I think Derek killed it with his competitive ability. We’re trying to stand out from the crowd. We have a set a routine, but there are a lot of elements that come up from within the crowd of other couples that you can play off of. I think that’s exactly what he did when he kept dropping Joanna over and over and doing that little lift thing. That’s what people are not used to seeing, but that’s when our true competitive spirit comes out. Couples that can pull it off pull it off.

I also liked the marathon because the judges, for the first time, had to judge couples in comparison to other couples. Whoever is the better dancer, wins. A lot of times, somebody gets a 7 and somebody else gets a 7 and people can’t believe it. A 7 given to someone who did an amazing job for them and a 7 given to somebody who is amazing but could’ve done better is not the same 7. In the marathon format, there was no chance for them to do that. They can’t say, “Hey Michael, you did great for what you did today. You showed improvement,” and “Mya, you should’ve done better because you’re that amazing.” They had to pick people based on how they compared to each other as dancers and not how they compared to themselves.

When you’re in a ballroom event, you start off with hundreds of couples, then you have a number of heats where more than 15 couples dance at the same time. They choose couples out of those heats and then you go to the next round. You have to stand out from the crowd and be in the judges’ memory for many heats until the end. You truly end up with some of the best at the end because they were not only able to showcase their dance ability, but their showmanship and everything else. I think that element was missing from the show. In the competition, if you’re truly great, you can draw audience attention from across the room.

I may not have been the most technical dancer, but what I was is I was a great competitor. I try to teach my students that it is very important to remember it’s 50 percent quality and 50 percent presentation. Then you can dissect presentation into many things, but it’s important to possess or develop, if you don’t have it, star quality. The idea is when you walk out on the floor, you cover the entire stage with your presence. I can go out and just stand, metaphorically speaking, or do something simple while somebody is doing flips all over the place and I can draw your attention to me. This is what we’re trained to do. If you’re better at it, you may have a better chance to win even if others may be better dancers.

October 27, 2009 I Written By

I'm a nerd and proud of it. Two degrees in geology also means I love BEER. :-) I'm also a Derek lover - proud of that too. So don't scream at those of us on this site and call us a bunch of "biased Derek-lovers" - it's just ME. :-) It may sound like I hate DWTS at times, but really, I'm just a snarky nitpicker from way back. And I'm cynical and jaded too. But I do love DWTS. :-)

Hilarious Paparazzi Video – DWTS 9 Cast and Judges

Regular readers know that I’m a hypocrite when it comes to paparazzi – I have a philosophical problem with what they do and how they make their living, yet occasionally I will use something they come up with. That said, nobody seems to mind Henry the Pap – he’s too cute and he’s NICE. So, if the celebs don’t mind, I’ll go with it.

Len MAKES this video – hilarious. OMG – cocktails or age? 😉 Little bit of everyone: Chelsie talking with gum in her mouth, Louis and Melissa being cute, Anna D. talking about her hair, Derek holding on to Joanna and his sister Marabeth and helping them across the street, Julianne, Kelly O, Louis, Jonathan and Anna T at the end.

ETA: If anyone is interested in seeing a few pictures from the party, they’re at PureDerekHough.

I Written By

I'm a nerd and proud of it. Two degrees in geology also means I love BEER. :-) I'm also a Derek lover - proud of that too. So don't scream at those of us on this site and call us a bunch of "biased Derek-lovers" - it's just ME. :-) It may sound like I hate DWTS at times, but really, I'm just a snarky nitpicker from way back. And I'm cynical and jaded too. But I do love DWTS. :-)

DWTS9 Week 6 Power Rankings

Surprisingly enough, another week goes by where I only feel “meh” about most of the routines.  Granted, I was a bit distracted (bf is in Orlando for NDC competition & he was texting me), but I did re-watch a few of the routines to see if I missed something – nope.  It seemed like the couples that danced well had no chemistry; the couples that had great chemistry seemed to really struggle with the dancing portion.  Definitely made it hard to rank this week…

…oh, and one more thing before I move on: the jitterbug bugs the crap outta me (no pun intended).  Or rather, I hate the fact that it looks so similar to both the jive and the Charleston that I feel like I’m watching the same routines over and over.  *sigh* I guess Len’s crankiness has worn off on me and now he’s all sunshine & rainbows…

1.) Joanna & Derek – I actually didn’t care much for their waltz – everything seemed like it was just a bit “off” and wasn’t as fluid as some of their other dances, and I feel like the float on Joanna’s sleeve was getting in the way of everything.  But I will say this: even when they weren’t looking at each other, I still felt a connection between them, which is something that is so often lost in the smooth/standard dances when the couples are looking away from one another most of the time.  And with chemistry playing such a crucial factor this season, I daresay it doesn’t hurt them to look lovey-dovey & be touchy-feely. Loved them in the mambo competition – Derek’s choreography was eye-catching & fun to watch, as always, and Joanna actually kept up with it well.  Thanks to that great choreo & scores (and some heavy-duty Twitter bombing by Heidi to make sure Derek’s fans pulled him through his illness! 😉 ) these two seem to come up at the top of the heap this week, and I highly doubt they’re in any danger of going home.

2.) Donny & Kym – At the request of some of Donny’s fans after my hatchet job last week, I will try to critique him as fairly as I can.  Truth be told, I wasn’t wowed by their jitterbug – Donny didn’t seem quite as crisp as he has been in previous weeks, and again I didn’t find their choreography to be as difficult as some of the other couples’.  I know someone had mentioned Donny’s busy schedule in a previous post – I fear that it may have caught up with him this week as he seemed to almost run out of steam (again, no pun intended) by the end of it.  But they did have the advantage of performing in the Money Spot (henceforth, I shall capitalize it…I would prolly slap a trademark symbol on it too, but I don’t know how to do that. LOL) and they placed 4th in the mambo competition. Wish I could say that I actually saw he & Kym dancing the mambo, but alas, I’m ADD and was having a hard time focusing (too many couples for my brain to comprehend! Aaaaaaggghhhh!) and all I saw was Donny doing some sort of shimmy over a supine Derek as he left the stage.  *shrug* Again, Donny’s fans will carry him all the way to the finals…

3.) Mya & Dmitry – Not gonna lie – I feel a bit vindicated that the judges are also pointing out Mya & Dmitry’s lack of chemistry, as some were arguing last week that they had “great chemistry”.  Don’t get me wrong – Mya is probably the best dancer on the show in terms of technique; but she’s just too cool for school! For anyone else who is a big fan of Top Gun, Mya is “Iceman” for me this season – makes no mistakes, but flies with no emotion.  Aside from their chemistry problem, I also was kinda disappointed by their jitterbug this week – took too long to get going, and generally hate any routine involving a prop.  They also pulled the short straw this week and had to perform in the Crap Spot (just pretend the trademark is there 😉 ).  But luckily, they placed 2nd in the mambo competition, which will go a long way in boosting their score.  And if Mya’s support on this blog is any indicator, her fans will keep her safe for many weeks to come…

4.) Mark & Lacey – Hallelujah! Mark is finally starting to come out of his shell and really wow me.  The past 3 weeks he’s gotten stronger & stronger (after hitting rock bottom with that awful rumba) and tonight was really quite entertaining to watch – I didn’t know Mark could tumble, and he seemed quite a bit more enthusiastic and energetic this week as well.  The cat theme was a cute, memorable touch as well – doubt anyone is going to really remember his flubs (cause there were much bigger ones happening tonight…), and I have to say his “horny” comment in the confessional from last week had me chuckling for awhile.  Middle of the pack for the mambo competition, so not terribly memorable; but I think a lot more viewers are going to start picking up the phones for Mark if he continues to improve the way he has for the past few weeks…

5.) Kelly & Louis – I think these two could make it to the finals on chemistry alone.  It’s adorable watching them interact – Kelly had me laughing so hard during the lead in when she started cussing at Louis.  They remind me of an older brother and a younger sister – always picking with each other, but friends at the end of the day.  Ok, now their jitterbug: it was cute, but not great.  While I feel like Kelly has improved from last week’s ho-hum paso, I still feel like she’s dancing timidly and is continuing to run the risk of being boring.  They came in 5th in the mambo competition, which is actually kind of admirable considering they were the only ones without a choreographed routine and were relying on lead & follow.  Kelly is still America’s Sweetheart though, and she’s likely to still get some sympathy votes from her foot injury last week, so I’d be surprised if they were in danger…

6.) Michael & Anna – Strange as it may sound – I actually really liked his waltz tonight! Yes, it was ridiculously simple choreography, and it was mostly just Anna turning and dipping; but something about it was, as I think Len put it, “charming”.  It seemed like he wasn’t trying to ham it up, for the first time in the competition.  And again, I agree with Len – Michael did actually have some nice rise & fall.  I may be a bit biased though – the song they danced to (“Wonder Why” by Curtis Stigers) has a bit of a special place in my heart (but that’s another story 🙂 ), and for once the band didn’t seem to butcher it.  They were the first ones tapped out in the mambo competition (no real surprise there), but if the past few weeks have been any indicator, Michaels fans will pull him through yet again, and a few stragglers may contribute a few votes as well after this waltz…

7.) Louie & Chelsie – Anyone else sense a bit of trouble in paradise between these two during the lead-in? I’m beginning to think Louie might be a bit sexually frustrated, hehe.  But anyway – this really had the potential to be a good jitterbug.  Louie came out strong and had more energy this week than I’ve seen from him so far – and then he dropped Chelsie.  TWICE.  Ai ai ai.  And it was all down hill from there! I almost feel like I jinxed him somehow by gushing about how he was “always there for Chelsie” during lifts & tricks week after week.  But I give Louie points for still maintaining a little bit of chemistry with Chelsie, and there was a definite smooch-a-roo at the end (a bit desperate, but desperate times call for desperate measures!).  Second ones tapped out during the mambo, so not great; but they’ve managed to avoid the danger zone the past few weeks…it’s a bit of a draw for me; they might be in danger, they might not.  But I would be surprised if they went home.

8.) Aaron & Karina – Despite the “new Aaron Carter” being a bit more mild-mannered and tolerable than the emotional tantrum-throwing one of a few weeks ago, I’m afraid the damage has already been done…and even great dancing won’t be able to boost them up.  Aaron’s waltz was alright – his arabesque turn was actually pretty good, but he still seems to do awkward things with his hands and tends to get a very intense “deer in the headlights” look when he’s not looking at Karina.  Sorry buddy, I think this new, improved attitude may be too little too late…

9.) Melissa & Mark – I almost would rather talk about Shirley Ballas than Melissa’s waltz…so I apologize for the brief digression.  I heart Shirley Ballas – the woman will kick your @$$, but she will make you the best dancer you can be.  And she’s quite a spitfire, despite appearing to be a mild-mannered British woman…love her.  Now onto Melissa’s waltz: it was stiff, awkward, error-ridden, and boring.  And they were the 3rd couple eliminated in the mambo competition.  Oh, and they were also in the bottom two last week.  I don’t see them climbing out of it this week, and I don’t see them surviving a double elimination.  And that’s all I have to say about them…pity that they’ve become so unmemorable…

Ok, official predictions for the double elimation: Aaron & Karina and Melissa & Mark, with Louie & Chelsie and Michael & Anna rounding out the bottom 4 (I honestly don’t know how the double elimation is going to work, so I’m assuming they’re just going to do 2 separate elims with 2 of the couples in the bottom 4).  But the bottom 2 have been shuffling around quite a bit the past few weeks, so we may get a surprise tomorrow…what do you guys think? Let’s hear it!

October 26, 2009 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, 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. Follow me (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog

Miscellaneous Media – DWTS Season 8 AND 9

I threw that Season 8 in there because I found Gilles on E! News in a “European” swimsuit. Ahem. Yep, never voted for Gilles when he was on the show, but he is one hot hunk of man and he seems like a real sweetheart. 🙂

Donny and Kym on ET – Donny finds out that MJ’s kids are rooting for him. (Um, so what? They’re just KIDS! Geez. They’re kids I feel sorry for because of all the hype.)

Reality Chat Part 1 – DWTS Week 5 – Melissa Joan Hart talks to Sabrina and Rosie

Reality Chat Part 2 – DWTS Week 5 – Chuck Liddell

October 25, 2009 I Written By

I'm a nerd and proud of it. Two degrees in geology also means I love BEER. :-) I'm also a Derek lover - proud of that too. So don't scream at those of us on this site and call us a bunch of "biased Derek-lovers" - it's just ME. :-) It may sound like I hate DWTS at times, but really, I'm just a snarky nitpicker from way back. And I'm cynical and jaded too. But I do love DWTS. :-)