Monday, May 19, 2014

Dancing with the Stars - Week 10

It is Part One of the Finals on Dancing with the Stars! No big, over the top opening number this week. It's kind of surprising considering what we've had all season. Maybe they are saving it for tomorrow night.

Perhaps, we have a clue when Mark comes out on stage with his right arm in a sling. That will make things interesting, especially since the couples will be dancing two routines tonight including their Freestyle. And bonus, no guest judge this week! Hoo-ray! The guest judges have been pretty hit-or-miss this season with heavy emphasis on the miss.

The first dance for the couples is "judges choice." What they've decided to do this season is choose the same dance that each celebrity did the week that they switched partners. What I did not see in any of the rehearsal footage of special coaching sessions with the judges. They usually do that. I'm not sure that it is better or worse. Just noting the change.

The first couple are James and Peta dancing Tango. It starts of with a good strong frame. Posture (so important in Tango) is pretty good, but he's hunched over tiny bit. The dance does look sharp, but it is more in a robotic way. While sharp, Tango should also be smooth and staulky, like a hunter. The song transitioned to more of a disco beat. This helped make it slightly less robotic, but still not 10 material as far as I'm concerned. I would say a solid 9. The total judges scores 29/30.

Meryl and Maks dance Argentine Tango. Their Tango from several weeks ago was magnificent, so I can only imagine what this will be. This one seems a little more jazzy, sultry. I'm not quite as transfixed as the last time, but I like it a lot! It's more lyrical. Lots of lifts and acrobatics, but not where it looks like "flash and trash," tricks to cover for lack of technique. All of the lifts look very organic and fit smoothly into the routine. They end a tiny bit after the end of the music, but I'm still giving it a 10. Total judges scores 30/30.

Candace and Mark dance Quickstep. They had a tough time in rehearsals this week, and Mark's rotator cuff (shoulder) is injured. It got much worse on Sunday and included a trip to the hospital, but he is able to play through the pain, so to speak.. The dance looks really cute, nice and sharp . It is done with a lot of energy. She's skipping around just like a flat stone across a pond, effortlessly. Beautiful dress. I really think this was one of her better dances. It might have a lot to do with the costuming and hairstyling. It's not so much that this made her look better than she really is, but that perhaps past costumes weren't quite right. She looks lovely tonight.  I would give her a 9. Total judges scores 27/30.

Amy and Derek dance Salsa. Okay, they're dancing to one of my favorite dance songs, Ran Kan Kan! I'm not sure how I feel about this Salsa. It may be more about the choreography than the execution, but it looks I don't know... awkward? I think one of the problems is that this is actually a Mambo song, and they're dancing it Salsa style. Mambo music is slightly slower, so it makes it the dance feel like it lacks energy, not as exciting as normal. I would give it a 9. However, the judges are giving gushing compliments. Sometimes dances look different live in the ballroom than on TV, so I expect 10s for the scores. Let's see; total judges scores 30/30.

At the end of the first round Meryl & Maks are tied with Amy & Derek for the highest score. Followed by James & Peta, then Candace & Mark.

Freestyles are next.

James and Peta go first. It definitely has a hard-edged hip hop vibe. They have four backup dancers. Instance music. I think it was very sharp and well-executed. My concern is about James getting lost with all of those backup dancers. I've noticed that in past finals that the contestant often gets lost in the shuffle. I think James did a little bit. The camera people also thought so because sometimes they zoomed in on him even when the routine had group work. Stylistically, Bruno said it was the Hunger Games meets Mad Max or something like that. I would have to agree. I think it was cool. So hard to score. Overall, I didn't think it was really over the top routine that I associate with the final freestyle, so I wouldn't think it qualified for a 10. However, I can't find anything wrong with the execution, so does it deserve a 10 anyway? Since I don't have paddles, I can do whatever I want. I'm going to give him a 9.5. Total judges scores 29/30.

Meryl and Maks have a freestyle that has a very Contemporary feel. In the ballroom world it would be called Cabaret. It has lots of lifts. We're watching the story of this couple's journey through the competition process. It is elegant, powerful, passionate, sexy, sensuous, but not raunchy, still classy. At the end of the dance there are people crying in the ballroom. I'm not crying, but that was really incredible. This is when I wish there was an 11 paddle. All of the judges were floored. Total judges scores 30/30, with Bruno adding the "1" paddle to make his unofficially an 11. ;)

Candice and Mark are doing a disco styled freestyle. Fun, I love the concept. It looks slightly clumsy. I don't know that I would have chosen this dance for her, but again it might be the costuming I'm really not in love with his costume on her I think she could have looked a lot sleeker in a sparkling fringe number like she wore earlier in the season. That would have made her look better, more glamorous.  There's no denying that she is shaking it. We also have gold tone backup dancers. This has a different effect than with James and Peta. They look different enough from Candace and Mark, and they're all male. She's definitely still in the spotlight. I think she performed it really well. With all of those lifts I would not have been able to tell that there is anything physically wrong with Mark either. I would score its a 9. Total judges scores 24/30.

Before we continue Tom Bergeron give props to the stage crew that change over entire set to prepare for these dances. I have to agree. Great job guys!

The final freestyle is Amy and Derek.  They also go to a Contemporary style routine, and they are also telling about their dance journey. There are beautiful lifts and lines. We also have some interesting circus trapeze or Cirque du Soleil style work with Amy spinning in mid air on a rope with one hand. Great light work from the stage crew! Now, I know why Tom was so complimentary about them. They had to set all that up during the commercial break. The entire effect was phenomenal. Yet, it was very different from Meryl and Maks' presentation. It was wonderful. They did fly, especially Amy. For execution, definitely a 10. Total judges scores 29/30. (Wow! I expected 30/30.)

Okay people, it's up to the voters. They will be so important to the final outcome.

There is still an elimination, and after the appropriate mood music while we wait we have a shocking result. It is James and Peta! I guess between Full House and evangelicals Candace has a deep fan base. Good for her. I would say of all the remaining dancers, she has improved the most. Now, she's competing against two Olympians! You go, girl! :)

Tomorrow, we have the second half of the Finals. Another Mirror Ball trophy will be awarded. See you then!


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