Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Dancing with the Stars-Week 8

Welcome to Dancing with the Stars! It's week 8, and if we thought things were intense before ...

This week the guest judge is Abby Lee Miller from Dance Moms. Word on the street is that she's a bit harsh with her criticism, to put it mildly. I will remain blissfully unaware because I could not watch the broadcast and had to catch up via the interwebs. (Luckily, I was also able to fix the sound on my computer, which has been out since I was forced to upgrade to Windows 7 last month. *Grrrr* @ Microsoft for ending XP support, but that's another story.)

The good news/bad news with that is that I don't know the precise order that the dancers appeared, the judges comments, their scores, or the contents of their rehearsal footage. (You see me crying over here in a corner, right?) However, I will be able to include the videos of the dances. That was something I've missed from Travis' updates when DWTS was doing a results show each week.

My first couple is Charlie and Sharna doing a Quickstep. I am loving it, right off the bat. The music is captivating me. For a change, it seems totally appropriate for the dance. Of all the dances I've seen Charlie do, this is probably the one where ice dancing has helped him the most. He has a beautiful frame and top line. Fantastic facial expressions. The footwork is intricate, and the flow is smooth and beautiful. He has the endurance to keep up the pace and make it look effortless. Very entertaining and entirely delightful. I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the star and the pro. That earns a 10 from me!

Next up is Danica and Val with a Tango. ABC is updating the videos as I go, so this one includes all the fluff. I'm skipping that and getting right to dancing. As the lights come up on the ballroom floor, I love the drama of the extreme make-up and costuming of Danica. Not hearing too much about her injury. I wouldn't have noticed it if I didn't already know about it. There's a kind of vampire vibe
about the whole presentation from the music to the costuming. This includes a bit of smoke on the floor, which makes it hard to see footwork. However, the top line looks sharp as well as the head snaps. I like the drama. Danica played the character of the sexy seductress. Very femme fetale. I'm giving her a 9, but it was almost a 10.

(Go to 1:40 to go immediately to the dance.)

Meryl and Maks dance the Rumba. What can I say? A beautiful dance. Not a Rumba. I can only imagine what Len had to say. You know those movies that are "inspired by real life events?" This dance looked like it was inspired by the Rumba. There was this feeling of tension of, "Do I, or don't I want to be with you?" That's important in a Rumba, but I didn't see the technique of the dance. I didn't see anything like latin hip motion or the lead and follow technique typical of Rumba. It reminded me more of a Contemporary piece. Well executed, so I'm going to give a 9. I wouldn't be ready to give this a 10 even if it was a freestyle. Very good, but not that over the top that I would need.

Now, we have Candace and Mark dancing Foxtrot. I would expect that Candace would do well in this style considering her aversion to being the sex kitten. The concept is cute, appearing to be a 50s/60s household fighting over the tv remote on a couch. Unfortunately, I think she backtracked this week. Top most thing in a Foxtrot is that it should be smooth. This looks a bit jarring and clunky. Good news is she looks like she's having fun. Bad news is that the edges of all her movements look a bit rough. No chance of mistaking her for a pro tonight. I have to give this one an 8.

James and Peta are up next with a Viennese Waltz. I'm glad that they have a romantic dance this week after that full on raunch last week.  There is no denying that James is a good dancer. He has great posture and a wonderful frame. He is developing a great lead. And, like the Quickstep, Viennese Waltz needs a level of endurance to maintain quality through the end. I'm sure that I couldn't do it. Very beautiful and romantic dancing. The only thing keeping him from a 10 for me were the little finishing touches. For example, they had some great pivots, but they wobbled a bit. His weight was a little too far forward. This is great in the latin dances, but it puts one a bit off balance in the ballroom dances. I think this is what shortened most of his movements when he was in partnership with Peta. I score him a 9, just a hair short of a 10.

Last couple of this round, Amy and Derek dance the Argentine Tango.  I had to watch that twice before I could even think. Astounding! So intricate, sharp, and perfectly executed that I forgot that this woman had prosthetic legs. I think that in recent seasons Derek has been getting a little bored. That is why, despite warning after warning, he has continually broke rules when choreographing for his partners. This season I think I've seen some of his best classical work because he is challenged by making Amy the best dancer regardless. He has certainly succeeded. There is one part where they use a stool to create one of the most amazing poses. They were walking on a tight rope all the way through. They didn't fall. There was something involving the stool that could have been a bauble, but 1) I'm not sure it was, and 2) It would have clearly been Derek's bauble. Amy looked completely professional and committed. 10.

On to Celebrity Dance Duels ...

First up is Meryl and Danica with the Samba. I wasn't quite sure how this was going to work. It's not a dance off. So, rather than a duel, it's more like a duet. Through about 2/3, the ladies will be dancing with their pro partners. The rest of the time they will be dancing as individuals on the floor at the same time. The group will receive a score that will be added to their previous score. I like their Samba overall. Loved the costumes. Oh fringe, my favorite! Lots of Samba content. The synchronicity was a little off when the ladies has their solo parts. I was having trouble deciding between an 8 or 9. Watched it through again, and I have to give a 9 for sure. Very good routine with some minor imperfections.

(Dance starts at about 2:37.)

Next, are Charlie and Candace dance Contemporary. This has the potential for a different dynamic. Will they actually dance together? The opening looks very awkward and disjointed to me. This seems odd since the contestants dancing with their pro partners. Then when Charlie and Candace get together, it looks amazing. The ice dancing advantage returns because there are lots of lifts with which Charlie is very experienced. Smooth and beautiful. The story seems to be two people that are stifled by their current situation who blossom together. The dancing maintains the high level throughout the remainder of the dance. I think the stiffness of the beginning was intentional to the story. I don't normally give a score on Contemporary, but if I did, it would be a 9 or maybe even a 10. ;)

Our last pairing is Amy and James dancing Jive. More and more fringe. That's instantly an extra 2 points. ;)  Great song. They don't have any control over that, but it's amazing how much a difference that can make. That whole "has a good beat and you can dance to it" thing from American Bandstand knew what they were about. (And if you don't know what I'm talking about, you may be up past your bedtime. lol) This group used their advantage to the max. Right on the beat. Making that fringe swish for all it was worth with great swivels as well as flicks and kicks. And, when Amy and James danced jive together as a couple, man, jump back. That was right on the money honey. It proves that their pros have taught them to really dance, baby. Great job. Dare I say it? I have to give them a 10!

So, all the dances have been done, and all the scores have been tallied. Who's been "voted off the island?" I'm sad to say that it's Danica. We're at that point where even good dancers are going home. If I'm honest, she's good but not great. I'd put a couple of other people in that category who are still around. Last week wasn't so great for her as far as the judges were concerned. The fan base of The Wonder Years couldn't keep her around. (I never found what the ratio of judges scores to viewer votes is this season. I think they've changed the metrics. Otherwise, Drew wouldn't have gone home so soon.) I'm really more bummed about Val. I don't think it's any secret that he's my favorite pro. ;)

My favorite dance of the night remains Charlie and Sharna that started off the night. It must have been good if I can still remember it. (This post may have taken you minutes to read, but it took several hours to prepare. *smile*)

Next week, the pressure gets ramped up even more. It's anyone's game. Unless the metrics are totally lopsided in favor of judges scores, I think that Charlie and Meryl's ice dancing fan base are going to start working against them by splitting the vote. (It's like those 3rd party candidates in elections.) It's anybody's game. Who can stay healthy? Who can handle the pressure? Who is peaking at the right time?

See you next week!


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