Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Dancing with the Stars - Week 9

I cannot believe that we are already to the Semi-Finals at Dancing with the Stars. Part of the reason is that we still have five couples before this week's elimination. However, there is excitement in the ballroom as the couples have their first week of two dances.


Kenny Ortega is our guest judge this week. He is a choreographer with a long resume including Dirty Dancing. I guess I'll accept him as qualified. *smile*

Dancing first tonight with a Viennese Waltz are Candace and Mark. Beautiful top line body position. A nice flowy skirt, but it seems like she got a bit lost during the routine. Something going wonky with the camera angles. They're switching so fast. There are parts of this dance where I think she is looks as good as she has all season. As the dance ends she definitely she looks very upset. I suppose it wasn't all about the camera angles from her perspective. Overall, I would give her an 8. Total judges scores 34/40. The judges were very supportive, and Tom had a bonus announcing they are safe this week and are moving into the final.

Charlie and Sharna dance the Foxtrot. Charlie starts this dance with a beautiful solo. Beautiful pointed toes. Beautiful lines. Beautiful facial expression. He definitely has the character of the dance. Let's see if they show his feet on camera. Ends the dance with some more solo ice skater like jumps and spins. Beautifully choreographed. A very classic Fred and Ginger kind of routine. I liked it. I may have seen a couple of baubles. I might have to give this a 9 instead of a 10, but I wouldn't be upset as a judge just gave him some 10s for that. Total judges scores 40/40. (I'm also banning my use of the word "beautiful" for the remainder of this post. lol)

Amy and Derek dance the Quickstep.  Amy has special legs like para-Olympic runners use that will help her move around the floor in this very quick dance. I am very impressed with Amy's ability to handle the intricate choreography with all the kicks and flicks that are a defining characteristic of Quickstep. This is the first time this season that she has had a routine that really moved around the dance floor. She's bouncing around the floor like a pro. Her top line looks great. I think she did really great job. Very elegant. I would score 9 or 10. Total judges scores 39/40.

Derek said something quite profound while they were waiting for the judges scores. He was asked about anxiety that was building around the show going into the Finals. "Pressure doesn't exist. We create for ourselves." If we can accept that in most nerve wracking situations, we could come into them with a lot more confidence. Now, back to dancing ...

James and Peta start off in round one by dancing the Cha Cha. They are dancing to a newly discovered Michael Jackson song (co-wrote by Paul Anka). This routine includes a lot of Michael kind of signature moves like moon-walking and classic poses. It looks really great. Michael Jackson's music lends itself well to Cha Cha. (I may have done one or two Cha Cha routines to Michael Jackson songs myself.) A little bit of the dance looked a like disco, but they move into some classic Cha Cha patterns. That will make Len happy. It's very sharp. I'm trying to check out latin hip motion. He's wearing a jacket that's kind of hiding his hips. Overall the dance looks really great. Why do I want to give him a 9. I'm not quite sure. This routine would be one of those where I can't tell which is the Pro and the contestant. I just talked myself into a 10. Total judges scores 40/40.

Meryl and Maks are dancing the Jive. Its very 50s/60s looking great flicks and kicks.. And, Maks looks like he's in the cast of Bye Bye Birdie with the duck tail hair and everything. Lots of speed, and lots of character. Something for me is not quite right. Maybe it looks flat? The routine seems like it's going for a long time when I know they're shorter because each couple has two this week. That's not usually a good sign. For me, this performance wasn't over the top. However, I can't tell the difference between the Pro and the contestant, so it is still worthy of the highest score. I'm going to with a 10. One of the judges made a good point. Meryl's costume didn't create a lot of movement to accentuate the real speed of the routine. Total judges scores 40/40.

Next we have around 2 and very different dances for the couples.

Candice and Mark's Jazz routine looks very good. Candace shook off  whatever issue she had in the first dance. She's allowing herself to look sensual without being raunchy. The movement was crisp and precise. I thought it was a great dance. We'll see what the judges think. Total judges scores 38/40. (Her first two 10s!)

Charlie and Sharna dance Samba next. They start the routine by dancing on to the stage. It's hard to accept Charlie as the latin guy. He's a little too white bread. I do see that the dance includes a lot of classic Samba. He is leading really well. I'd have to give this a 9. It's just didn't have a polish that I would like in the Samba for someone that I have come to expect to look like a pro. Total judges scores 36/40.

Next up, Derek and Amy dancing Jazz. Really excellent. Very sharp. Dare I say it? It looks jazzy. lol Costuming is great with fringe, pearls, and bobbed hair. Hitting all the marks. Total judges scores 39/40.

James and Peta dance Rumba. Its a country Rumba with James in a complete Urban Cowboy costume. I thought it was really nice, but I would say good, not great. There was the constant movement I want in a Rumba on the other hand. Overall, it still looks a bit stilted. Something not quite right. No confusion between Pro and contestant. That makes this dance a 9. Total judges scores 36/40.

Dancing last are Meryl and Maks with a Viennese Waltz. It looks like it's going to be another country style. Flowy and fast. Looks effortless. When we're talking about Viennese Waltz, that is a perfect combination. To look effortless while moving that fast is great. Very elegant. Any kind of tricks or embellishments look completely organic to the piece rather than something thrown in to get some cheap applause. (It's in the second case when I refer to it as "flash and trash.") That is great choreography, Maks. Viennese Waltz is not always the most interesting of dances, but this one kept my attention the whole time. I have to give it a 10. Total judges scores 40/40.

When it comes to couples who are safe and those in jeopardy, all of our Olympians (Amy & Derek, Charlie & Sharna, and Meryl & Maks) are on the chopping block. Our civilians (Candace & Mark and James & Peta) are safe.  Early on in the competition, I thought that Charlie and Meryl would  split their fan base vote. It may be that Amy got caught in the Olympic fan trap as well.
At the same time, we may be a victim of artificial drama. As they always mention, the couples "in jeopardy" may not be the bottom three sets of scores.

The final tension inducing music plays. We are told that Amy & Derek are safe. Meryl & Maks are safe, so Charlie & Sharna are going home. He had a great night. It's too bad, but we're at a point where all the dancers are good. Anyone could be eliminated at any time. Charlie is such a class act. His response to being eliminated is that he can focus entirely on cheering for Meryl. All that practice in front of cameras doing interviews at competitions has paid off. :)

So, here we are at the end of week 9. It seems odd that we're going to go into the finals with four couples. However one of those couples may already be eliminated by the time they dance for the first round, so I don't know how that will work.  I guess that we will all find out together.

Until next week kids ...


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