"Dancing with the Stars" - Week 6 April 25th, 2011
Dancing With the Stars Week 6 Critique
This week the theme was Guilty Pleasures... or so it was titled. I'm not sure what the point of this theme was. When I see "Guilty Pleasures", usually think of something lustful, licentious, more carnal and crude. What we got was... "Don't Stop Believing" and "Dancing on Sunshine". Neither of those strike me as guilty, or particularly pleasurable in a physical sense. I think the title of "Guilty Pleasures" was a little misguided.
What I said last week concerning the song choice and that relation to the dance choice still applies. There were a number of songs that simply didn't match the dance they were paired with. And once again, it is the stars who suffer as students of dance. Romeo's Waltz, for instance, was not a Waltz. Musically, in order for a song to be called a Waltz, it must be written in a 3/4 or a 6/8 time signature. In other words, we count "1, 2, 3" and then start again with "1" (when we dance to a 6/8 timed Waltz, we still count "1, 2, 3"). Romeo's song was written in a 4/4 time signature. In other words, you count the bar "1, 2, 3, 4". So in actual fact, he did not dance a Waltz at all. I have complained in past reviews about the producers choosing songs that do not match the chosen dance. Take, for instance, Sugar Ray and Anna's "Foxtrot" that was done to a perfect Cha Cha song. But Romeo's Waltz this week was by far the worse one. There were not even the correct number of beats in the bar! This is far more serious than simply the character of the song versus the dance. And what bothers me the most about this is that there are many viewers watching this show who are ignorant of these facts and are taking for granted the supposed knowledge of the producers. The producers, meanwhile, are taking advantage of viewership ignorance to the umph degree. This is not okay. I have lost a lot of respect for this show.
Kendra Wilkinson & Louis van Amstel
Score: Carrie-Ann=8, Len=8, Bruno=9 for a total of 25 and a grand total of 125
I was very impressed with her Samba. Of course, the choreography took advantage of the things Kendra can do well, namely shake, shake, and more shake. Louis did a great job. Her posture has improved a lot, and we didn't have to subject ourselve to watching her bent, ungainly legs tonight because, luckily, bent legs are required for Samba!
However, she still had a few problems. First of all, you could tell she was counting at the beginning of the dance. Not only did she nod her head to each beat, but she also snapped her fingers. I'm surprised Carrie-Ann complained about Hines thinking in his Viennese Waltz, but not Kendra counting to herself. Also, her spins still need a lot of work. Even in Samba, you're expected to spin with straight legs; but for whatever reason, Kendra seems to have an inability to pull up through her center and keep her thighs closed. Because of her decrepit center and open thighs, her voltas were clunky and she was off-time in her Open Rocks, to the point where Louis had to pull her into her pivots; she almost fell off balance because of this. It was almost near the end, right before she pushed him away. Nice strip-dancing, though.
Of course, the judges cracked me up on this one. Any chance I get to watch Bruno do his little gyration thing, I'll take it. Seriously, sitting through all of Bruno's exaggerations is worth just seeing him flip from side to side in a thong with sunglasses.
Kirstie Alley & Maksim Chmerkovsky
Score: Carrie-Ann=8, Len=9, Bruno=9 for a total of 26 and a grand total of 133
She did so much better this week than any other week I've seen her since the beginning. Len was right on when he said that finally, Kirstie fulfilled the potential she showed in the season's premiere. I agreed with him 100%.
I thought Maks put together a very nice piece of choreography, with a lot of recognizable figures that she actually performed well. The choreography was very appropriate, both to the song and to Kirstie's ability and personality. Speaking of personality, I think she really brought it forward! I thought last week's was pretty good, she seemed to have fun with the "American Woman" theme, but her personality in this Samba was so much stronger! What a pleasant surprise! Her technique was great as well, and much better than the one extra point given her as compared with Kendra. The only thing that really bothered me were her arms. She has this tendency to do Chicken Wing arms, and as she and everybody else gets better, the Chicken Wings begin to stand out more and more. In the past, there were so many other problems, both in her own dancing and across the board, that something like Chicken Wings (and Spatula Hands, for that matter) simply didn't matter all that much. But now, as the season winds down to the finals, Kirstie will need to fix those Chicken Wings before it's too late!
That said, I thought the score was very fair. It was well done, but Kirstie is not yet at the level where she can compete with some of these other dancers.
Chris Jericho & Cheryl Burke
Score: Carrie-Ann=7, Len=8, Bruno=7 for a total of 22 and a grand total of 134
You know, I felt really sorry for Chris the entire time I watched his dance. It really felt like the odds were stacked against him. First of all, he was given such a boring song for a dance solo. "Don't Stop Believing"? Really? Nothing against it as a song, which I think is a rather good song, but not for a dance show. It doesn't have a clear beat for any particular dance, the lyrics are not emotional enough (it's really just a pep talk, to be honest), and it doesn't crescendo into a big enough moment. Then Cheryl had to muck it up even more with some terrible choreography. She should have stuck with more of an Argentine Tango flare, which could have given the show more emotion. I mean, Chris is strong, and he can hold her up while she does some crazy stuff. Instead, she gave him choreography that is difficult for students that I've been teaching for, literally, years, and wonders why Bruno called him lumpy.
Honestly, I thought Chris deserved a higher score than he got. It's not his fault the song sucked and Cheryl let him down, just like it wasn't Chelsea's fault when Mark gave her inappropriate choreography. He did well with what he was given; his posture was good, and his footwork was as good as could be expected. I think Carrie-Ann and Bruno needed to be more understanding of Chris's situation. There was nothing else he could do.
Ralph Macchio and Karina Smirnoff
Score: Carrie-Ann=8, Len=8, Bruno=8 for a total of 24 and a grand total of 137
Dance: Paso Doble
I still like Ralph, what can I say? And I especially loved his karate-chop in the middle of his Paso. Sweeeet.
As far as his dancing went, he did really well. His overall attitude for Paso was great, and he was so precise with everything. His arms were right on and perfectly timed with Karina's. And once again, Karina capitalised on the fact that Ralph can spin. Where did he learn to spin like that? I am so impressed with Ralph's spins. He did mess up a little bit after Karina's fall. After he pulled her up she tried to pick up the routine with a Chasse Cape, which naturally includes a chasse, but Ralph was a little flustered and missed the lead. However, I thought they recovered after that rather nicely. It was a hard fall for Karina, and wouldn't be surprised if she has a nice bruise or a sore hip from it. Lord knows I've fallen enough times like that. It's never fun, but the show must go on.
The score was very fair. Honestly it's too bad the fall happened, because all the dancing bracketing that fall was great. But then again, it's no one's fault. Sometimes things like that happen in dancing.
Romeo & Chelsie Hightower
Score: Carrie-Ann=10, Len=9, Bruno=9 for a total of 28 and a grand total of 139
OVERSCORED, OVERSCORED, OVERSCORED!! Okay, his posture is pretty good, although his frame does get a bit loopy from time to time. I seriously disagreed with Carrie-Ann, I did not get "swept away" at all. Maybe I'm missing something, being that I'm watching it on the television screen versus live, but it just didn't take me away.
He did have some major problems that failed to get mention. First of all, he was off-time. Part of this was his fault, an even bigger part of this was the producers' faults, and biggest part was Chelsie's fault. I mentioned in my introduction that Romeo's song was not a Waltz, being that it is written with a 4/4 time signature versus the 3/4 time signature that is imperative to characterizing a Waltz. However, that said, it sounds like a Waltz; emotionally, it feels like a Waltz. There are some songs out there that feel like Waltzes, but are unfortunately written in a 4/4 time signature. Therefore, there is a way to dance Waltz to a song in 4/4. This is where Chelsie's blame comes in: the way Chelsie taught Romeo to do it is not the way. As a result, the entire time he was dancing the Waltz, it felt off-time; the rise and fall was not correct, the swing didn't match the music, and it bothered me to no end. With a major problem like this, I would nix him out of the running for a 10 immediately,
But if the above wasn't enough, he almost lost it completely during Chelsie's aborted back-bend. Don't remember seeing that? Go back to where Celine sings the famous, "Near... far... wherever you are" and watch closely at the "wherever you are". He stumbles right where Chelsie throws her weight to the left of him and is supposed to ricochet into a back-bend. It doesn't happen. She aborted the back-bend because he wasn't secure in his footing. "Wherever you are" is right!
To me, he deserved a 26 or so. He wasn't much better than Kirstie, and he almost lost it in that back-bend. Even if you give him all 9s, I would agree more or less. But a 10 denotes a perfect performance, and Romeo was far from that. A stumble does not equal perfect. Sorry to be cold, but it's true.
Chelsea Kane & Mark Ballas
Score: Carrie-Ann=10, Len=9, Bruno=9 for a total of 28 and a grand total of 142
This was such a cute routine! For the second week in a row, my favorite routine. Chelsea had everything down, from the character to the footwork, to the posture. She came onto this show already a good dancer, and now she is turning into a good Ballroom dancer, which is much more difficult and technical. Mark is doing a good job with her.
That said, her frame was a little stressed, but I would have to blame that on Mark. He held his left arm too wide, pulled her right arm out until it was almost straight. This caused the stress I saw. The choreography was extremely difficult, and the complexity of the footwork showed in her frame during the most difficult pieces. During those instances, I saw her frame and posture completely fall apart. I'm not surprised if most people don't notice it, because the untrained eye would be drawn toward all those boppy and hoppy kicks. And, because there was stress in her frame, it gradually deteriorated as the dance went on and Chelsea got tired.
However, I still think it was very good, and I agreed with the score. I didn't see the wobble Bruno talked about, but the score was very fair. Her performance was far above Romeo's, and was undoubedtly my favorite of the night.
Hines Ward & Kym Johnson
Score: Carrie-Ann=9, Len=9, Bruno=9 for a total of 27 and a grand total of 148
Dance: Viennese Waltz
It's so funny that everyone made such a big deal about Hines dancing with a pillow. If only they knew how many hours my students spend dancing with pillows, purses, beach balls, you name it! Dancing with inanimate objects is a great way to reinforce those basic principles of frame and posture. So now that we know what Hines did was nothing out of the ordinary, let's continue with the critique.
I thought overall he danced very well tonight. As I've said before, I like Hines. He's very good and has great stage presence and wonderful connection with Kym. It's obvious they get along really well. He also has beautiful posture and a more than acceptable frame. However, his flat feet still bother me. He fails to roll through his feet, which holds him back from moving as smoothly and effortlessly across the floor as he could. It would be nice to match an effortless movement with the effortless smile he already has. Also, he lost his beautiful frame during his pivots. He allowed his left arm to lead into the pivots, causing a misbalanced frame during a step when, honestly, a balanced frame is extremely important. Lastly, I still think he has worse Spatula Hands than Ralph, but it doesn't seem to bother Bruno. I think Ralph in general just bothers Bruno.
I agreed with both Len and with the score. I was smiling to myself as I listened to Len, because I had just been telling Simeon that very thing, that he doesn't roll through his feet enough, and gesturing the exact same way Len did, right before Len said it. That hand gesture, by the way, is a very "Ballroom" thing to do, as strong and active feet are so important to good ballroom dancing. But as far as Carrie-Ann went, I didn't agree at all. In fact, I thought Romeo looked like he was thinking much more than Hines did. But then again, I would have given Romeo a 26, and Hines's score was perfect right where it came in.
The dancing is getting better week by week, and that means the standards are going up. In the reviews of the upcoming weeks, I am going to be much more harsh and discerning, as the scores creep higher and higher into the 9s and 10s. And I will not just be critical of the dancers, but of the judges themselves. After all, what good is a score if there is no value attached to it? The competition is getting close, and only time and longevity will tell how it will all pan out.
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