Wednesday, October 22, 2014

DWTS Week 6: Pitbull steams up the ballroom


To show how much Switch Up week affects people, this week (back with partners week) was crazy and mixed up. Two of the worst dancers (Jonathan and Michael) had their best dances ever. Two of the best dancers (Derek and Alfonso) had their worst dances ever. Crazy nuttiness.

The special guest performer/judge was Pitbull, so you know ABC was all about pumping up the hotness/sexiness quotient. We had all kinds of rumbas, salsas, sambas, all over the place. This, for example, was the opening number.

Sharna, Pitbull, Witney. Courtesy of ABC7.
However (I just found this pic), this was the action LAST WEEK. I say Jessie J has Pitbull beat.

Getting all steamy up in here... Artem with Jessie J and Val.
Ahem... now where was I?

Oh yes. Week 6. It started banging out of the gate with Allison and Jonathan, who later in the show were voted off :-( (so sad). Their number on this night was stunning to watch, took my breath away. I really hope she's back again next season.

Sadly, theirs was the only number I really LOVED this week.

Then we had a whole lotta missteps, for various reasons. Derek and Bethany (whom I love normally) had to fly to Australia, and didn't have a lot of practice time (to my eyes, it showed, though the slavering judges still gave Derek huge scores). Derek said in his package: "It was the least practice time I've ever had." Enough said about that.

Alfonso and Witney, so good to be back together again, also (to my eyes) seemed to fall down. (Witney literally falling down and hurting herself in rehearsal.) Alfonso noted that doing the Carleton had hurt his groin. So both were injured. Ugh. Perhaps it's cause I just don't like hip hop music, but man, did I dislike their dance this week, overall.

Antonio is also bugging me (although that may have to do with the Jesus-filled Instagram he posted earlier in the day, which caused me to unfollow him immediately. Ugh. People, INSTAGRAM IS FOR PICTURES. Not long sermon treatises. Sheesh.) So I was not thrilled with their dance either. Also, Cheryl just works her heart out covering the fact that Antonio really can't dance. Big hat notwithstanding.

Janel, in the worst costume all season, and Val. Courtesy of ABC.
Janel and Val, whom I normally love, had one of the worst costumes (on Janel) on this show in a long time. WTF was that? Horrible. Could barely watch the dance, that outfit was so bad and distracting. And Val even had his shirt unbuttoned and I couldn't concentrate on it. Ugh.

Lea and Artem, whom I also normally like, suffered a lot from it being Artem's first season as a pro. He forgot (as the judges pointed out) that it's all about the pro focusing on the star, and making THEM look good. Lea looked too much like she was chasing whatever goal Artem had set for her, rather than being her own best self. And their dance, nice enough, suffered as a result.

Madness, I tell you, madness all around.

But then, we had others getting sanity back. Michael Waltrip, a racecar driver, went to race cars. His friends there told him how much they were rooting him on. And he and Emma returned with an amazing Argentine tango. As the judges noted, it was truly his most vulnerable dance.

Emma and Michael do an Argentine tango.
It was really nice to watch. His best dance, for sure. If he'd been doing this all along, he might not be going home soon.

As all the kids were going crazy, flying to Australia for YouTube events... ugh... the oldsters were getting real. Tommy Chong brought Peta to a tribal sweat lodge. It was awesome. I wish I could've been in there with them. I needed a good sweat after watching some of the night's craziness.

Tommy Chong and Peta sweat it out. Courtesy of ABC.
It's kind of sobering to realize that really Tommy Chong might be one deeply spiritual guy. So, of course, I loved his dance. It seemed really centered and flowing. Their sweat lodge sojourn served them well. (I threw all my votes at him at the end.)

Peta and Tommy do a foxtrot. Beautiful. I loved it.
Lastly, certainly not least, let me first say this: MARK BALLAS GOT HIS FIRST 10 THIS SEASON! FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!

OK, it was by guest judge Pitbull, not one of the normal ones, but STILL. He got one. I'm so glad.

Also, as we talk about pros who do this show right, ones who highlight and focus on their celeb, cater to them, make them look good, there are plenty of examples. Derek with Amy Purdy last season, for example.

Mark Ballas, for whatever reason, seems to be perpetually saddled with the crazies, the controversial, the religious, the prudes. Perhaps one of the reasons he is is that he deals with them SO WELL. He doesn't seem to care about what anyone else says. He's there for his partner.

In Season 19, he happens to have an 18-year-old girl from (let's just say) conservative parents. Now that is a difficult thing. (Although Val also danced with a teen when he was partnered with Zendaya, and there were no wardrobe issues there.) In any case, this particular girl named Sadie, is mindful of what kind of wardrobe her parents would accept. OK, fine. We don't quite get the shrouds from the last two seasons, but we don't get the proper costume either. Fine.

But there is a boggle. Some of the dances they have to dance are sexual dances. They just are. The rumba, the most sexual of them all.

And how do you do a stunning rumba when you are partnered with a very conservative 18-year-old girl? Who doesn't seem very enlightened in the ways of sexuality? How do you dance the sexiest dance of them all?

You hope and pray you have Mark Ballas as a partner.

Mark Ballas and Sadie do a rumba.
It was pretty, it was sweet. It was nothing her parents would be ashamed of. And mostly, I was just applauding the care with which he dealt with Sadie.

Sexuality, in any context, should only be displayed when one wants to, and is ready to. I respected Mark's choices, in this dance, and all season. Heck, with all the women he's been partnered with. He is an amazing dancer who puts his partner first.

So glad that Julianne finally saw that, and commented on it. Now if she'd only give him a 10 too!

MICHE'S TOP PICKS FOR WEEK 6
1. Jonathan and Allison (jazz)
2. Mark and Sadie (rumba)
3. Val and Janel (samba)
4. Tommy and Peta (foxtrot)

PLEASE GO HOME SOON
1. Antonio
2. Michael

Next week, we have the Team dances, and there is a chance that Derek's Team MIGHT not actually win this time. Seriously. Look at the teams.

Team Creepy for Week 7.
Team Itsy Bitsy for Week 7. 
Did we mention it's also Halloween Week?

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

DWTS Week 5: The Switch-Up and the Case for Mark Ballas

Bethany and Mark Ballas do hip hop on Switch-Up Week. Courtesy of ABC/DWTS.
An interesting thing happened during Swtich-Up Week (Week 5 of Dancing with the Stars). I switched my favorite.

The dreaded Switch-Up takes our already established pairs, and puts the celebrities (remaining) with another partner. Sometimes this has disastrous results, sometimes great ones. (Remember last season's switch of ultimate winner Meryl from Maksim to brother Val? Fantastic stuff.)

This week, maybe cause Len's still gone, we had a lot of dances not normally done, with a lot of sets and props and hooha that Len hates.

But the thing that happened to me, is that I can now see a very clear break for myself. There are PROS that I love this season, and there are celebrities. They don't really go together (in most cases).

For example, my favorite celebrity, whom I had initially chosen as my favorite this week, is Alfonso. I just dig the stuff he's doing. This week, he was switched to Cheryl, and they did a pretty amazing flamenco. It was beautiful to watch.

Alfonso and Cheryl do flamenco. Courtesy of ABC/DWTS.
Cheryl Burke has never looked better. Her flamenco was stunning. And we don't get to see the flamenco very often. It's not one of the regular dances. So all of that was very nice. (Maybe I'm still on a Carleton high from last week... dunno.)

But I was watching back the dances from this week (as I do when I write this column), and something struck me. Mark Ballas. JEEZ. Unbelievable.

I've been saying this all season long, but let me again shout this from the rooftops: WHY IS THIS MAN NOT GETTING 10s? Holy crap. This week, he did a hip hop dance with Bethany. From the very first note to the very last, it was PERFECT. He gave us a story (from the beginning to the end; loved it). He gave us incredible dancing and choreography, as he has done all season. He's savvy enough to know that hip hop is not one of Len's favs, so he does it now, and he does it with Bethany. Just perfect, all across the board.

Most of these other dances, I can watch once again and I'm done (even that flamenco), but his hip hop this week: WOW.

And mind you, he's been doing that all season with his own partner, Sadie, too. The judges went all gaga over Derek's Charleston with Sadie, and complemented the heck out of her (and it was stunning, true), but what she does with Mark Ballas has been incredible! Where are the 10s for that? C'mon, judges. Mark Ballas deserves higher scores. (I'm looking at you, Julianne.)

They rightfully took Artem to task for his burlesque dance with Janel (not enough burlesque content), yet that dance scored higher than Mark's hip hop, which had tons of great hip hop content. And it's straight-up not fair.

In other dances that I liked/loved, Val danced that nebulous category (sometimes called "jazz," sometimes called "Broadway," basically meaning whatever we want to dance to) with Lea. She, too, is one of the contestants whose dancing I really like, and like to watch. Not sure about Artem yet though.

But this dance with Val included multiple walkers... like the kind old people use. Wonderful stuff. Never been done on DWTS before either!

Val and Lea and the team of walker dancers. Courtesy of ABC/DWTS.
Those are the dances I like the best. Give me a story around the dance, make it a complete entity. (Which Mark Ballas does every week.)

Another interesting story dance was the Bollywood danced by Allison and Antonio this week.

Allison and Antonio dance Bollywood.
She's trying. She's trying so hard, gotta give her that. Her Bollywood was stunning, the best ever on this show. However, Antonio was in no way her match. Not even close.

Her regular partner, Jonathan, kinda proved that it's more him than her which is causing the low scores. He was paired with Peta, who does a mean jitterbug. Their scores were terrible.

And Witney and Michael doing disco? The less said about that, the better. (Although if someone had to dance to Car Wash, I'm glad it was the race car driver.)

And in that vein, I have to say that a large part of why I continue to vote for Tommy Chong every week (even though he is just as bad a dancer as Michael Waltrip) is that I really dig the fact that DWTS is using every opportunity to have pot-themed songs and dances for Tommy Chong (as they should). This week, no joke, he danced to "Pass the Duchie." It was supposed to be a mambo. I don't know what it was, but it made me laugh.

Ah, but let's clear out the pot smoke, and instead meditate on one of the best Charlestons ever on this show.

Sadie and Derek Charleston. Courtesy of ABC/DWTS.
Another thing, I want to really comment on how all the technical parts are coming together. DWTS has always been a miracle of costuming and sets, but the camerawork and editing both seem to have hit their stride finally . The dancers are really getting featured, as they are supposed to (catch the ending of Mark's dance to see what I mean). The cameras are where they are supposed to be to catch the best bits. And they actually catch FEET, not just faces.

Working in social media (in the Mark and Derek bits) was and is wonderful. Love that about this season. Also, Erin is really hitting her stride as a host. She actually knows what the voting methods are this season!! (YAY!) And she really asks probing, good questions. Thank whoever had the idea of hiring her. To my eyes, she is MILES better as a host than Brooke ever was.

The only downside of the technical stuff is that the music has issues. Both in song selection, and performance. Positive: we get former cast member Joey Fatone singing The Stray Cats song, "Rock This Town." (What? Brian Setzer was busy?) Negative: we get more and more taped crap, which often doesn't work (case in point: Lea and Val's song, which was loud and obnoxious), but which sometimes does (Mark and Bethany's song). When it's good ("Pass the Duchie" and "Car Wash"), it's great. When it's bad, it's painful.

That song that Allison and Jonathan danced that Gatsby thing to a couple weeks ago was a good example of new music done beautifully. Revisiting a familiar song, and putting a new spin on it. That's what I had hoped for when I heard there was a new band. Guess they're still working out those bugs.

But enough of all this. I wanna go back and watch Mark Ballas' hip hop dance again, and dream of the day when he actually gets all the 10s he deserves.

MICHE'S PICKS FOR WEEK 5
1. Mark and Bethany (hip hop)
2. Alfonso and Cheryl (flamenco)
3. Val and Lea (Broadway)
4. Derek and Sadie (Charleston)

NOT LONG FOR THIS WORLD (Need to Go)
1. Michael
2. Jonathan
3. Antonio
4. Tommy

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Friday, October 10, 2014

My Favorite DWTS: Week 4

Sadie (of Duck Dynasty) and Mark Ballas wow the crowd.
My favorite dances on Dancing with the Stars involve some combination of these things: a dance which incorporates the required number of content elements, something which addresses the theme in some way, elegance of choreography: all of which together create dance magic before us.

Usually, Derek Hough's dances have all of these things, which is also why he has won most often. But also usually, so do Mark Ballas' dances. These are dances, which at the end, leave you with your mouth hanging open, just saying: WOW. This week was one of those.

The theme of Week 4 of DWTS was My Favorite Year (as it usually is). We had the usual ones: my favorite year being when I got my big break on whatever show, or when my parent (or loved one) died or was born, yadda yadda. Bethany had a moving one with the theme of: "I thought I was ugly, but really I'm not." (A new one on these shows, admittedly.)


For me, there were really two dances which went beyond the pale this week. I am now eating my words about Alfonso getting back to the top of the leaderboard. Sheesh. When that man tries! Wow. Course, he had a built-in audience-pleasing factor: the Carleton.


I never watched the show (The Fresh Prince of Bel Air)  in its heyday, but apparently "the Carleton" dance was a thing. And people, apparently, have been clamouring, ever since they knew he was going to be on DWTS, to see him incorporate it in some way. My Favorite Year seems the perfect place to do so.

Alfonso and Witney did not disappoint this week. Wow.

But despite those two dances which really blew my mind (Alfonso again taking the top of the leaderboard this week), these two were not my FAVORITE dance. That honor belonged to this:


Val and Janel doing the sexiest, steamiest rumba you're gonna see this season (although Cheryl and Antonio were also pretty hot recently). It was just beautiful and it kicked everything off. And more and more, Val and Janel are my favorite couple.



However, we also had this (the couple who actually received the most votes from me this week): Peta and Tommy Chong, dancing to Jailhouse Rock. With Peta as a policeman. With fishnets. It so worked for me, on so many levels.

And unlike another older contestant, Tommy Chong just keeps getting better each week.

Wanna know who was voted out this week? (Well, you probably already know, but it was:)


She was a little bit wacky, our Miss Betsey, but I did enjoy her dances, and the music she chose. Gonna miss her (in some ways). Also really gonna miss Tony. He's always fun and inventive.

That leaves at the bottom (literally and in my opinion) Michael and Emma (whom I thought would be leaving this week) and Jonathan and Allison. I really like Allison and I was rooting for her, but WOW was the dance they did this week terrible! No through line. More content, yay! But just awful to watch. And I had been so focused previously on her choreography missteps that I didn't before realize that Jonathan is actually a pretty bad dancer (compared to his competition, especially). So they will be going home soon (unless she really turns it around somehow). 

I hated almost everything about this dance. Except that it did have a lot of samba content. But the music was DREADFUL, the set and costumes were garish and horrible. It was just painful to watch. Just to clarify that I'm not the only one who thought this, they scored the lowest on this week. Even Betsey and Tony (who went home) got better scores on this night. Ouch.

And it's strange, because I really didn't love the music that Mark Ballas chose for his and Sadie's number. I would never listen to it on my own, and it's not even the type of music DWTS normally plays. But it fit. It was of a piece with the rest of what he was doing as a choreographer, and I think that is the difference. His choices were sublime, hers were... UGH.

I mean, I hate to say this, but I just don't think she gets what DWTS is about, exactly. She seems bound and determined to stay on her own path, and that road is currently leaving off the show soon, and that makes me sad. It really does. Her dance to Sia's music was brilliant, because she had none of these constraints. But darlin', that is what you signed up for: to choreograph these dances for these people in this way.

I do kinda get the feeling now that she never really watched this show before. Maybe she signed on cause she knew all the other choreographers, even having worked with some.

I think people may look at DWTS from the outside and dismiss it simplistically as just another reality dance show, but it really is a very complex, layered thing. 

Take Mark Ballas' amazing dance this week, in comparison. The theme was "My Favorite Year." His partner, Sadie, chose the year she first appeared on Duck Dynasty. Sure, lots of celebrities take that route. (Alfonso essentially did the same thing. Lea had done her homage to Back to the Future the week before, so she could do a more poignant dance this week.)

What can one do with Duck Dynasty? And the dance Mark chose was samba? Duck Dynasty and samba? HUH? What can one do with that?

Well, Mark took the time-honored pairing of a hunter and a duck (man vs. animal). He was the hunter, and Sadie (of course) was the duck. She was resplendent in her feathers. He was all bearded out, like the other male members of Duck Dynasty (some of them even onstage with him). And within that (up and around and over that), he wove together a samba which touched on all the content that the judges were looking for, as well as making a statement about Duck Dynasty, using a song which has LYRICS about Duck Dynasty. Boom, boom, boom. He hit every beat.

It was frikkin' beautiful. It was stunning and magical, and I don't even like Duck Dynasty.

That is, ultimately, how you do this: content (of whichever dance you are doing) + theme + stunning choreography + heart (if you can manage it). Making a statement through choreography, which Allison seems so badly to want to do. I suggest she really pore over tapes of Mark Ballas' dance this week for how to do this show right (and still maintain your edge as a choreographer). Now mind you, a winning (as in ALL 10s) dance has to have one more thing: it has to sweep away the audience and the judges, so that they are compelled to give it tens.

Sadly, Mark Ballas' dances too often don't get the 10s they deserve (he didn't with this, garnering only 37 out of 40, and it was brilliant). But, for my money, he's the most artistic choreographer on this show, and I so appreciate him for that. But Derek's Singin' in the Rain last week, Val's West Side Story last week, and Alfonso's Carleton (to Tom Jones' "It's Not Unusual") were those showstoppers that garner 10s.

Derek's dance this week, although using poignant subject matter, was almost like a rest after what must have been immense stress from doing Singin' in the Rain. It really did nothing for me. Good thing Len was gone this week. 

Oh, and another thing. They've been having all these hokey guest judges standing in while Len is out of the country. (Last week, comedian Kevin Hart, next week Jazzy J or someone...). This week, blissfully, they let "America" vote in a new system where (well, let's just say the EAST COAST, anyway) voted right after they saw the dance. Cause they announced America's vote when they announced the judges' votes (and I know we West Coasters see it later than the East Coast). Nonetheless, it cut down on all the judges' chatter, which seemed to be dragging the show down (with four judges). "America" says nothing, just votes. I liked it immensely.

And AMERICA gave "the Carleton" a 10 also! It was awesome.

Miscellaneous notes about Week 4: Erin just looked spectacular. The most fun thing was when everyone on the balcony started doing the Carleton. Sharna choreographed a wonderful opening number. And the second most fun thing was the dance where Karina's crotch ended up in Keo's face, which Tom (ever quick on his feet) called, "a great getting-to-know-you dance."

 BTW, Val kept referring to his dance last week as "The West Side Story." It's actually called "West Side Story." (Unless he was adding a "The" to the title so it wouldn't be confused with... um, you know... that other one... In which case, that was brilliant.)

Lea and Artem scored high, but their dance also did nothing for me. Beautiful to watch, and I could tell it moved her quite a bit, but... eh... (Sometimes contemporary works for me, often it doesn't.)

Antonio's first job in NYC was a little Janet Jackson video that you may've seen. It was fun to revisit that, as well. And Cheryl makes a great Janet Jackson!

When is Len coming back? Next week, right? Next week (ooh, let's hold our breath!) is also "the Switch Up." The week that all the pros hate, and usually leaves the celebrities wanting to RUN back to their partners. Fun. Can't wait. Meanwhile, let's do the Carleton again... do it with me...

The Carleton, to Tom Jones' "It's So Unusual"

MICHE'S TOP DANCES WEEK 4
1. Val and Janel (rumba)
2. Mark and Sadie (samba)
3. Alfonso and Witney (jazz and "the Carleton")
4. Tommy and Peta (jive)
5. Antonio and Cheryl (samba)

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Sunday, October 5, 2014

DWTS S19 Week 3 Bows to Icons Past


Amazing week at Dancing with the Stars. Not only our first perfect scores, but TWO couples received them! (Including Val and Janel, above) But we will get to all that.

First, I wanted to apologize to the cinematographers of this fine show that I reamed in the last two columns. In checking over, doing some research on my phone, and watching the show back at ABC.com, I realized that, indeed, they had properly framed the screen--IF you have a rectangular TV (as is all the rage now). I, however, still have an older-than-dirt version, and so I couldn't see the four judges on my TV. So I apologize to them.

This business with the photos also frustrates me. I really want great photos to showcase the amazing dancing that I'm writing about, but ABC doesn't offer them (as I've mentioned). I did actually find that Getty offers them now, but you have to pay for them, of course. Which was part of the problem before: some were paying for them, others were just using them. That is the Web economy we have these days.

So they've taken that away, and what will people do? What I'm doing. Use bad screen grabs to illustrate my point. And if that's how you want to promote your shows, fine. That's what we'll do. Just makes me sad.

Two of our contestants on this week's DWTS ran into the same kind of proprietary nonsense, issues with the owner. In Derek's case, Gene Kelly's wife graciously allowed him to perform this dance. In Val's case, the West Side Story owners almost didn't let him do it. Old media MUST realize that in both cases, they were going to get a very respectful homage to the original work being presented, and that, in fact, by Derek Hough and Val Chmerkovskiy performing these on the CURRENT Dancing with the Stars, it actually only increases the value of your brand, because new viewers will be inspired to check out the original. Surely Gene Kelly's wife realizes that. West Side Story's owners almost did not.

Luckily cooler heads prevailed, because we were treated to two amazing dances. Val and Janel performing "America" from West Side Story (my personal favorite of the week) and Derek and Bethany performing to Singin' in the Rain.


Both of these dances received the season's first perfect scores. (Deservedly so. They were both breathtaking.)

Also one of the coolest things of the night was viewing a little clip of Derek Hough at like five or six doing another version of Singin' in the Rain. Classic and quite wonderful. You can see it's been in his blood for a long, long time.

But the other dances were no slouches, either. Tommy Chong's Argentine tango with Peta was astonishing.


Seriously. Wow. Just incredible.

I just love the care with which Mark Ballas handles teenager Sadie (from Duck Dynasty). They performed just a lovely number to Up.


Those were my stellar favorites. Others were also great. Antonio and Cheryl did a great foxtrot. Allison and Jonathan came roaring back from last week's bruising with a beautiful (with lots of content) tango. Alfonso and Witney (who are having a hard time getting back up to the top of that leaderboard) did a nice Austin Powers quickstep (and his son helped!). Betsey and Tony did a contemporary dance to Unchained Melody (from Ghost). Lea and Artem did a nice Back to the Future takeoff. Michael and Emma did a waltz.

Randy and Karina got voted out this week.

Oh, and for bizarre scheduling reasons, DWTS is now back down to one night. *sigh* So the results were somehow also taken from last week's voting.

And in all of these amazing set pieces, you perhaps can tell from the photos, all of the incredible technicians at DWTS deserve a huge amount of credit for recreating these classic moments from movies. As Carrie Anne gushed, "they made it RAIN in here!" It was beautiful. Big applause to all the technicians (sets, costumes, lights, everything) at DWTS. I'm sure it must've been a rough week for them.

MICHE'S FAVS FOR WEEK THREE (Movie Night)
1. Val and Janel (West Side Story)
2. Derek and Bethany (Singin' in the Rain)
3. Mark and Sadie (Up)
4. Tommy and Peta (Scent of a Woman)
5. Antonio and Cheryl (Guardians of the Galaxy)





There was an incredible Marilyn Monroe opening number, with Cheryl Burke also as Marilyn (thankfully, no blonde wig). And boys as baseball players.

Comic Kevin Hart was a guest judge, cause Len was still in England. (And btw, Tom, someone doesn't become a "movie star" just because they've been in a movie.) Hart did ok as a judge, basically just gushing and giving out high scores to people he liked. (Which was really nice when he gave Tommy Chong a 10!)

One of the reasons Alfonso and Witney's song didn't work as much for me is that unlike the iconic Singin' in the Rain, or "America" from West Side Story, Alfonso's song wasn't clearly recognized for being in Austin Powers. Here's hoping that Alfonso starts channeling his groove train again soon.


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Sunday, September 28, 2014

DWTS Season 19 Week 2 a bit off, but Oldsters Come Roaring Back


Still haven't really picked a favorite for this season of Dancing with the Stars (you?), but so far, I'm gravitating to Val and Janel. I would like someone who hasn't won a Mirror Ball to win one this time around.

So, what did we have this week? Well, the cinematographers got some lessons, and finally figured out how to fit four judges in a frame. If it doesn't include all four of them, it's not working, IMHO.

We also had a GREAT effect that is new. When the judges were commenting on a dance JUST danced, the screen split and it was shown again. GREAT effect, love it big time. Of course, right now, it just seems like a random replay, but if they got to the point where they were actually showing what the judges were referring to (a step, or sequence), that would really be awesome!

Other camerawork (like spinning around and around as the dancers are twirling, specifically seen in Derek and Bethany's number this week) was really incredible to behold. After all, they have this huge space to work with, with flying cameras, it would be nice to see them really take advantage of all that.

Another thing that is really working is the balcony area in which dancers can watch others perform, as well as comment to Erin once they get their scores. They seem to have stairs on both sides of it now (works well) and the camera makes excellent use of both this space and the backstage area, so that you really feel like you are part of the action. Those are all great things. It really makes it feel exciting and frenetic when you really see all the people who are rushing around over there.

I haven't yet ventured into their backstage cam thing. Obviously, they've given up their photos to the media thing in favor of a whole interactive thing while the show is on. Bully for them. I prefer to watch the dances going on, and not get distracted by others telling me what I just watched. I'm old-fashioned that way.

BTW, I am combining commentary from both nights, especially since pics are so hard to come by now. Let's start with the worst and go to the best.

Tavis Smiley. Jeez oh pete's. *shakes head*

Let me just say this. I have NO, ZERO, No patience for people, whoever they are, who sign up and agree to be on  Dancing with the Stars, and then don't realize that they are going to be putting in mega hours, oh, actually dancing. And training to be dancing. In fact, if you have any other kind of career while you are doing DWTS, you are going to lose. You are going to be voted out early.

It is a COMMITMENT to do this show. If you agree to do it, you should bloody well CLEAR YOUR DECKS during the time you are doing it, cause it's a LONG hard slog. GET IT? If you can't do that, if you have book tours lined up or whatever the F, DON'T DO IT. Don't waste our time and yours by signing up.

Tavis Smiley couldn't even be bothered to be on the opening show when they introduced the cast. They had to Skype him in. LAME. And if you do it the way he did it, you might wanna look at your schedule, cause you're overcommitted, and you probably need a Workaholics program. I'm just saying.

So good riddance to Tavis Smiley. Good riddance.

I feel very bad for Sharna, cause she's a wonderful partner and dancer, and she got the short end of this deal. And I'm bummed she won't be competing more this season.

To the other competitors, I really don't like Michael, the racecar driver, although at least he is showing up and trying. But he's seriously in the two-left-feet category, and I do expect him to go very soon.

Another boggle we had this week was dear Allison Holker (partnered with Jonathan). She's a transfer from So You Think You Can Dance (which I must say, I've never watched), and she also did some (Emmy-nominated) choreography with Derek Hough. So everyone was excited about her coming over. However, DWTS is its own animal. It has its own rules and structure, and after all, it was based on the longtime history of ballroom dance competitions. That's what it still is, mostly. The judges score based on the rules of the particular dance being danced.

Even the newer ones (like jazz and modern and hiphop) that they've incorporated, they still use the rules of that dance to judge by. One of the DWTS fan sites has an Instagram where they were asking today: "Who is your favorite judge?," among other questions. Mine is actually Len, because he is a stickler for the rules. But he can also be swayed by a truly magical dance.

All of that to bring up the case of Allison Holker. She danced "a cha cha," and every single judge (including Julianne) commented on the fact that she had "no cha cha content." Poor Allison seemed gobsmacked. "I wanted to bring a fresh new take to choreography," she sputtered.

First lesson to Allison: listen to what the judges are saying. That's what they are scoring you on. You can go off and do your own thing, if you want, but be prepared to get low scores as a result. Second, whatever you think about the judges, don't say it into the camera. (Maybe you could ask Maks about this.) She was really walking a fine line this week with this. (Jonathan actually saved her.) They will probably give her a pass because she's new and doesn't know any better, as long as she keeps other comments to herself from now on. You don't take on the judges and win. Not on this show.

Also, don't get me wrong. Derek Hough pushes the choreography envelope constantly. But he has five Mirror Balls because he knows what content Len (in particular) is looking for, and makes sure that is in there, then adds his own little touches here and there. And it ends up magical. That is certainly not what Allison was doing in this cha cha. (As a viewer, I didn't vote for her.)

Karina and Randy also did a cha-cha, with (need I say it?) much more cha cha content. However, someone forgot to mention to Randy that DWTS usually does a whole ep during the season which is dedicated to the servicepeople (Army, Navy, Marines, etc.). He didn't need to do it so soon. Also, a great song blends together what the song is saying with the dance you're doing (see Val and Janel's "Call Me Maybe" foxtrot, which perfectly blended lyrics and presentation). It's highly questionable (especially if you're trying to compliment/honor them) to dance "I Can't Get No Satisfaction" to servicepeople. Cause, um, that's kind of an insult. But whatever.

And let me say this about that. DWTS previously had various theme nights. They were timed to fit in with the cast as it was evolving. The one about "My Favorite Year" ended up around the fourth or fifth week, when some of the dead weight had been weeded out, and the cast was gelled together enough to tackle an emotional dance. It always worked well and brought some poignant moments.

Don't know if this new show runner ditched all the previous themes, but the first one (a new one): "#MyJamMonday" (yes, that is a hashtag) fell really flat. Not one of the stars talked about why this particular song is "My Jam" or whatever. It was just lame across the board. Randy worked in the service people angle, but what does that have to do with "Satisfaction"? Just a song he liked? Blech. Hated this concept.

In fact, once again, Val and Janel are one of the few who really took a song I could see her jamming to, and performed it. That didn't work for a lot of folks.

So those were the outright travesties, of one variety or another. Then we had the ones in the middle, which were ok, fine. Cheryl and Antonio did a rumba (and another nice little touch is when they list the couple's phone number to call, and their names, it also says the dance they are dancing). The hottest parts of this dance were shown in close-up (of their faces). Which is great for a movie. Not so great when you are supposed to be showing a dance.

Alfonso and Witney, fresh from a kick-butt routine (which they had 3 weeks to practice), didn't do as well this week.

I will give Alfonso this: he's got charisma to kill for. And that's going to propel him through a lot of dances. But I fear that, as a pro, Witney may not be strong enough (creative enough as a choreographer) to carry him the whole way. I wish he had been paired with Sharna. That would've been a combo I could root for all the way.

Their salsa didn't do it for me this week.

Lea and Artem did a jive, splendidly. Also, Artem became an American citizen this week, so congrats on that, Artem! They are a couple to watch.

One of the highlights for me of this season is that there are two dancers in their 70s, and two who are teenagers. I would bet money that both teenagers would get to the final five, and the 70 year olds will be voted out sooner rather than later. But it won't be for lack of trying. All of them have excellent Mirror-Ball-winning partners.

Mark Ballas and Sadie (she's eighteen, and from Duck Dynasty) are fun to watch, of course. Is he cursed, or does he just ask for whichever contestant is uptight about their costuming? Season after season, he gets the religious ones, or the prudes, or the ones who have overprotective dads (this season) who won't let their daughter dance in DWTS garb. So far, at least, it hasn't harmed their dancing. At least Sadie isn't in the up-to-the-neck burkhas that last season's twit subjected us to. I have said it before, I'll say it again, it DOES affect the dance. It does, certainly, affect the voting, although all those who are adamant about Janet Jackson's nipple showing and other such horrendous stuff, look up Sadie and Mark's number, and vote for that chastity you so love.

So far, for me, it hasn't been a distraction. I just really want Mark Ballas to win another Mirror Ball, and he keeps getting saddled with these wingnuts. (For whatever reason.)

Then we have someone who is being portrayed as a wingnut, who is actually incredibly smart and fun. That would be Tommy Chong (of Cheech and Chong) and his partner, Peta Murgatroyd. He made a big show of it the first week, even bringing along partner Cheech for his opening number. It was cool.

This week, he and Peta had the salsa, and it was bright, snappy and fun. In fact, 76-year-old Tommy Chong was the first male dancer this season to bare his chest. And it was good. I really loved this number.

Another significant thing about DWTS, and any longtime pro will attest to this, it's not just about dancing. If you really give yourself to it, it can really be life-changing. This week, we had 72-year-old fashion designer Betsey Johnson. If you know anything about her, you've probably seen her in her wacky outfits. Even last week, she ended her dance with a cartwheel. Zany is her persona.

She also was one of the people in the Bottom Two last week. So this week, well-versed pro Tony Dovolani went to town on her, and had her do a makeover. Her hair was slicked back, she was dressed very elegantly. Tony even pre-empted any further wardrobe malfunctions by ripping apart her long dress (smart move, Tony), so she wouldn't trip over it.

Now, one of the ways you can win (see: Derek Hough) is to execute everything perfectly and do mind-bending choreography. Another way you can win, or at least get very very far in this competition, is to win the hearts and minds of the audience. You could be tripping all over yourself, not able to dance a lick, but if you get out there and try, and seem to be improving, the audience (us, sitting here at home) will vote for you. PROMISE. Ask Bill Engvall.

Such is the case with Betsey this week. The first week, she was falling all over herself, and she was a mess. This week, she looks like Ginger Rogers, all glammed up, and was splendid. She got a standing ovation in the ballroom, including from Carrie Anne. And I voted for her. Not because of the dancing, necessarily, but because of the process that appears to be happening. She said in her comments, "I just wanted to look pretty." Almost made us cry.  (And she did, btw. Look pretty, that is.)

Emotions, capturing the hearts of the audience, will take you far in this process. Look for Betsey to go far if she keeps showing up with this version of herself.

The other 18-year-old is lucky enough to be dancing with Derek. However, she also injured herself, so that was not good. But the dance they performed (injury and all) was my second favorite of the night.

Janel and Val were my favorite.

MICHE'S TOP DANCES OF WEEK TWO
1. Janel and Val
2. Bethany and Derek
3. Sadie and Mark
4. Betsey and Tony
5. Tommy and Peta
6. Lea and Artem

Also, I normally tune out the musical acts that appear on the results show. However, there was a dance with this one that just blew my mind. Karina and Val and Peta. So incredible. Really amazing.

It was a tortured modern dance about a threesome: a man torn between two women. Very powerful. And I have to say that most of the time I ignore/forget that Maksim Chmerkovskiy (Val's brother) was involved with Karina Smirnoff (engaged to) and Peta Murgatroyd. There are other times that I really remember it. That's all I'll say about that.

On the other side of the brother spectrum, we had Julianne Hough (our new judge, and two time Mirror Ball winner herself) dancing provocatively with the hot sexy men of DWTS Season 19, which, of course, includes her brother, Derek. I know people (in both these instances) are playing characters when they dance, but still... it kinda bugs me to see Derek and Julianne in any kind of romantic scenario. And the whole Maks-Karina-Peta thing, danced by Val... Well, it was an amazingly powerful dance.

Also danced tonight was a hit song by Sia, she who won't show her face (it's her thing). All you know her by is her blonde hair (which, of course, leads me to believe that she doesn't have blonde hair in real life. In any case, Allison Holker danced this incredible pairing with a girl from Dance Moms, which made it look, at various times in the song, like this was a woman and her child and/or a woman dancing with a younger version of herself. Also very powerful and poignant. I really like Allison Holker's interpretations in this case.

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Dimple Season of DWTS (19) Kicks Off with a Rousing Number from Carlton


Alfonso and Witney wowed us the first week of Season 19.
DISCLAIMER: For the last several seasons, my blog posts about DWTS have been filled with gorgeous promotional pictures from the ABC website. To my mind, they both illustrated the lovely dances we were seeing, and mostly, promoted DWTS every week. For whatever reason, last season, ABC's posting of pictures was sporadic, and I ended up having to get a lot of them from On the Red Carpet.com (a sister ABC site). This year, all of that seems gone. For whatever reason, DWTS pictures do not seem available from Week 1 (unless you have something like this, which someone obviously took from their TV). Not my first choice. I would love to have proper pictures through the proper channels to illustrate the stories and the dances, but it doesn't seem to be happening this season. So I may have stories with only text. Sorry about that, readers. I'll do the best I can.

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Season 19 has kicked off. Well, in some cases, limped off, but in any case, it's begun. We have our usual collection of motley folk, some athletes, some stars that you've totally forgotten about, some teen things. Yawn.

We also still have Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews (yay!). We have our three regular judges (Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli, Len Goodman) with the addition of Derek's sister, Julianne Hough, to help with the judging. We also, before I get into the meat of the dancing (I'm looking at you, Antonio Sabato, Jr.), some housekeeping details. We have a new showrunner and director this year. We shall see how that plays out, when the man we had for six years isn't there to guide the ship. So far, we've seen some pretty bad camerawork and artistic choices.

For example. They have four judges now, yet have a configuration where when the votes are given, you can only see THREE of them. Lame, people. Get some professionals to do this, please. Countless really bad camera shots... where you'd only see half of Tom Bergeron as he was talking, where the star isn't even in frame, just amateur stuff. Hope they fix that, and FAST.

Also, inexplicably, for one of the contestants, we didn't get to hear Bruno's vote explanation. Sure, running short on time? Just lop off one of the judges' comments. WHAT? You have four judges now. I want to see all of them, and hear what EACH of them has to say about each contestant. Really... is that so hard?

Oh, but let's start at the beginning, shall we? The show kicked off with a taped bit showing you everyone who's on the show. OK, I'm thinking, they are doing away with the personal introduction of everyone. But no, they have that TOO! Fun.

They also have their two days back! Mondays are the main deal (2 hours), and Tuesdays are eliminations (1 hour). We'll see how it goes. (I'm not covering the second night this week, other than to say that someone, either camera person or director or choreographer doesn't seem to like Karina Smirnoff very much because in the big dance sequence, she was totally out of view of the camera. She's one of the STARS, people. Put her front and center, please! Karina and Cheryl are who we want to see, not all these new blonde dancers. Sheesh.)

So, to our motley collection of dancers/stars. Let's talk about the ones who need to go right away: Lolo & Keo (love Keo, so it's too bad) and Betsey & Tony. Also sad, because I do love to watch Tony dance, but Betsey is crazy. And can't dance. Neither can Lolo. Enough about that. (Indeed, Lolo & Keo were the first couple eliminated.)

Hedging closely into this group is Michael somebody (a racecar driver) who compared himself to Bill Engvall. Dude, you don't deserve to wear Bill Engvall's dancing shoes, and you are not going to last anywhere near as long as he did.

Comic relief is present with Tommy Chong, who could flame out fast, or surprise us and pull an Engvall. Jury is still out on that one. But as long as he lasts, Tommy Chong is darn fun to watch with Peta. And his buddy Cheech showed up to give moral support.

Two others who I'm not sure about (they could go either way) are Tavis & Sharna and Randy & Karina. Love these women, and they can both make things happen, but these two guys are still big question marks.

So that leaves this list.

DWTS WEEK ONE (Miche choices based on dances)
1. Alfonso and Witney
2. Janel and Val
3. Bethany and Derek
4. Lea and Artem
5. Jonathan and Allison
6. Antonio and Cheryl
7. Sadie and Mark

In all honesty, those seven are our competitors. One of these seven shall win this season. We shall see how a season of injury, stress, constant new dances, etc. wears on them all. Based on the first week, Alfonso and Witney are really going to be hard to catch. This man was polished. Blew everyone else away. Great way to end the first show of the new season.

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Monday, May 26, 2014

DWTS S18 SemiFinals: Derek-Amy Neck and Neck with Maks-Meryl


Derek Hough and Amy Purdy do a quickstep. Courtesy of ABC/Adam Taylor.
Week 9, aka the Semifinals of Dancing with the Stars, has no couple here who doesn’t belong here. They are all talented, great dancers by this point. Going into this point, my feeling is that I really really really want Maks and Meryl to win (mostly because Maks has never won, and Derek pretty much always wins). But there are other great dances along the way, amazing spectacles that you have to see to believe.

Like this one. Amy Purdy, she with no legs and feet, has just blown our minds all season with what she’s able to do in her dancing. In this semi-finals, there are two sets of dances the couples do (seemingly no distinction between them, just two sets of dances). Derek and Amy did a quickstep (you heard me) to the Supremes. It was astonishing.

She had these springy... I wouldn’t even call them feet. Something at the bottom of her legs which had a lot of bounce to it, which enabled her to move quickly and elegantly across the floor, and kinda simulate what real feet and legs can do. It was incredible.

But then, there was also this.

Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Meryl Davis. Courtesy of ABC/On The Red Carpet/Adam Taylor
First of all, it’s Maks as Elvis. (What?) Second, and more importantly, it’s Maks SMILING. In a dance. FYI: He doesn’t smile much while he dances, over many many seasons. But look at him. He’s smiling away.

And it was just a superb superb jive. Such fun to watch.

Mark and Candace did a wonderful Viennese waltz. I love how toward the end, the finalists get the concept that the dances have to have a story. Mark Ballas does exceedingly well with this. Peta and James danced to a never-before-heard Michael Jackson song, and were wonderful.

The guest judge this week was Kenny Ortega, so it was rather daring to dance that in front of him.

But rather than any pics of them, I just want to post this.

Amy Purdy and Derek Hough do a quickstep. Mind-blowing.
Seriously. Just look at that!!!

Now, if you were to ask me who were/are the weak links at this point, I’d say that Candace’s crazy religion/prudishness (still) really bugs me, but her dancing has been amazing. But if anyone is limited, it’s Charlie White. Mind you, he did this beautiful foxtrot on this night to “New York, New York” where he looked like Fred Astaire. Just gorgeous. His milieu is definitely happy, beautiful, nice things.

For that reason, it was ill-advised, to say the least, to have him attempt to do hip-hop. Dreadful choice, dreadful dance. I believe the hip-hop had been intended for the first segment of dances. Wisely, the producers switched it out to the second half.

There was a moment (well-crafted by producers) when all of the Olympians were “in jeopardy.” (Amy and Derek, Meryl and Maks and Charlie and Sharna). Charlie White ended up being the one (as I predicted) going home first among them.

Spectacularly bad choice. Sorry, Charlie.
Of all the decisions which made up Season 18, two were spectacularly bad. One was to have 80-year-old Billy Dee Williams on. The other was to have Charlie dance a samba to this hip hop tune (“Mo Money, Mo Problems”). Wow, was this bad.

If there’s one thing Charlie White can take away from this season of DWTS, it’s that a perfect season has a mix of good (happy, positive) elements and bad (sad, tragic, dark) elements. Charlie is the best at the good elements, and he never, not once, got even close to mastering the dark elements.

But that’s OK. America needs the good elements much more. I hope he focuses his career on those, cause he is a master of that.

Now, in between the first segment of dances, we had the final Macy’s Stars of Dance, choreographed by Derek, which was amazing. (Finding it difficult to find pics of that. Sorry.)

Then, the second round of dances. We went a little more country, with James and Peta doing a samba to “Islands in the Stream” (very sexy). Meryl and Maks did a Viennese waltz, looking like they were in a barn. Very interesting and beautiful.

Mark and Candace blew me away with their jazz number.

Candace Cameron-Bure and Mark Ballas. Courtesy of ABC.
Now, Candace Cameron-Bure is about as whitebread as Charlie White, but she proved in this number what at the beginning of the season I didn’t think was possible: that she could indeed see her dance as a CHARACTER, and embrace the darker side of life, of sexuality, of passion. She was dancing to “Nasty Boys” here. And she was amazing.

Not sure what brought about her transformation, but somehow, somewhere along the way, she got it, and completely deserves to be in the Finals because of it. Wonderful dancing.

And lastly, there was Derek and Amy, dancing jazz.

Amy Purdy and Derek Hough, dancing jazz. Courtesy of ABC/Adam Taylor.
I’ve always considered that a measure of the performance of the song “Too Darn Hot” is whether you really feel hot, in listening to it. I was steaming with this one. Hot stuff, indeed.

Kenny Ortega, the final guest judge of the season, who really knows dance and is respected by these pros at the top of their game, said this, after this dance. “Derek, you redefined choreography for this generation.” (Very true words, but WOW.) Len, the curmudgeon, gave this dance a standing ovation. Big stuff here.

Amazing, amazing show.

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Monday, May 12, 2014

DWTS Week 8: Gut-wreching shocker elimination and Maks mouths off


Dance of the Night: Amy Purdy and Derek Hough do an Argentine tango

This Week 8 of Dancing With the Stars had the best-ever opening number (Mark Ballas performing a song he’d written) and the worst-ever guest judge. I had heard the moans and groans when this particular guest judge was announced, but wasn’t sure why. No, I am not on the edge of my seat every week watching Dance Moms—in fact, I had not heard of either the judge or the show until they were talking about “next week’s guest judge.”

I realized in the aftermath of this week’s show how crucial it is (if they are going to be retiring Len and bringing in someone new) that the cast RESPECT that person’s dance acumen. After all, they are the best of the best here onstage. They are pushing dance boundaries. They deserve someone better than someone on a reality show with no dance (respected) background herself.

All of the cast members pretty much took what the guest judge said, but Maks, when asked, said that he doesn’t respect “anything the woman said.” And I respect Maks’ dance judgment a lot. He seemed to say outright what all the other cast members were only thinking.

So all that tension was interesting.


Then there was this. Bruno said in his vote on this dance that he would be “devastated” if these were the two people voted off. And they were. And I shared that sentiment. I cannot believe it. But we are in the realm of all of the remaining dancers are amazing, so it really does shock each time someone wonderful goes home. Danica and Val were the first of that for me this season.

The other thing that’s happening is that those on the bottom whom you’d think would be going home are fighting hard for their survival. Candace Cameron-Bure (whom I would’ve thought would be gone by now) is turning in amazing dances suddenly. She and Mark Ballas were as surprised as anyone to hear that it wasn’t her this week.


Candace Cameron-Bure and Mark Ballas are elated to not be going home.
Candace Cameron-Bure and Mark Ballas do a foxtrot.
And, then, they do an amazing foxtrot, which is witty and frothy and fun to watch. Mark Ballas’ choreography (as usual) is stellar, and even I find myself voting for them. The one annoying aspect of CCB (her rampant prudishness) seems to have been downplayed the last few weeks and not been an issue. So what they are doing is just lovely.

Also, Peta and James. Bottom of the leader board. Peta was in tears, when they were deciding between the two couples in jeopardy. I seriously thought she was going to have a breakdown if it was them. And then, it wasn’t.

Peta Murgatroyd and James Maslow do a Viennese waltz. Courtesy of ABC/Adam Taylor.
They, too, are doing stunning dancing. I enjoy watching them every week. It just gets so hard in these final weeks when everyone is so good.

We also had a poignant, story- and content-filled rumba from Maks and Meryl, which I loved.

Maks and Meryl do a rumba.
Charlie and Sharna, constantly fighting to receive a 10 from Len, after weeks of doing really challenging, amazing dances FINALLY get perfect scores across the board for this wonderful quickstep.

Sharna Burgess and Charlie White do a beautiful quickstep. Courtesy of ABC/Adam Taylor.
As if the competition of their individual dances weren’t enough, this week, they also threw in side-by-sides. But in seasons past what we had was a couple dancing side by side with two pros (so they could see how it’s really supposed to be done). This time, we had competitors dancing with each other.

Amy and Derek danced a jive with James and Peta. Meryl and Maks did a samba with Danica and Val. But (for me) the breathtaking one of these dances was this amazing heartfelt passion play, done contemporary, where Sharna and Charlie and Candace and Mark played couples. And in the midst of their dance, infidelity reared its head, so you saw this poetry of Charlie and Candace dancing together poetically, while the two other couples were fighting (through dance). Amazing work. Stunning choreography. And Candace and Charlie took my breath away.

Charlie White and Candace Cameron-Bure do contemporary.
All of these dancers deserve to be here. All of the ones left are capable of fantastic performances. I’m still rooting for Maks and Meryl to win, but it is truly anyone’s game.

Mark Ballas debuting his new single, with help from Derek Hough and Cheryl Burke.
What we learned from this night is that Mark Ballas is a formidable performer, singer, dancer, whatever he chooses to do. And that Abby Lee Miller need never grace the stages of Dancing with the Stars again. Because honestly and truly, she is beneath the talent before her, and doesn’t deserve to judge them.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

DWTS Week 7: Sexy Sweaty Skimpy Latin Night

Meryl and Maks doing a salsa. Courtesy of On The Red Carpet/ABC/Adam Taylor.
Controversies and injuries permeated this week’s episode of Dancing with the Stars. It was Latin Night, which translated to sexy, steamy, and mostly not a lot of clothes. (I thought it was wonderful!) Some others did not share that view.

Host Erin Andrews’ best move so far this season was to goad #DWTS viewers to vote (via Twitter) whether or not Tony should dance with his shirt off or on. Of course, the vote was “Off.” Sadly, the couple’s fate also ended up being “off”...the show. Although they were due to be ejected, IMHO. They were my least favorite at this point in the competition. NeNe never really got the whole complicated steps part. She definitely had the big personality down, but dance isn’t all about that, sorry.

Interesting changes this season to DWTS. As you can see, costuming is not what it once was, it’s much more modern and with the times these days. So too, the music. Much more heavy beat, club kind of music. I do think it’ll go far to bring in a younger audience, but still not sure if I like it.

Val and Danica do a samba. Courtesy of ABC/Adam Taylor
Let’s jump to the injuries. Danica broke her rib, yet still decided to dance. I do believe that if she were not injured, this dance would’ve been one of my favorites all season. But they opted not to do any of the lifts they had planned.

This dance also brings up something which I find curious about this season. Previously, the dance being judged was only the two people at hand. More and more this season, the dancers are bringing in the troupe as backup. Certainly it adds more depth to the presentation, but I don’t know that it’s entirely fair to those who only dance with two people.

Val and Danica do a steamy samba.
Also dancing with a passel of people (and no injuries!), in the dance I considered the dance of the night, were Maks and Meryl, doing a salsa. (See pic above.) I still love this pairing and what they are doing with dance the most, and want them to win.

Also on the injury tangent, we have Derek and Amy. They had an amazing rumba that they performed. Very sexy, very sensual. The pictures don’t even do it justice. It was just fluid poetry to watch.

Derek Hough and Amy Purdy do a tantalizing rumba.
But sometime after their dance, she got injured and had to go to the hospital midshow. She was unable to participate in the team dances, and they had to judge it from the rehearsal footage (which was amazing).

Here’s hoping that both injured competitors regain their health swiftly.

There were other controversies. Meryl (one half of the Charlie and Meryl ice dancing gold medal team) is knocking out 10 after 10 after 10 being paired with Maks. Charlie, not so much. Sharna, to her credit, is choreographing some amazing stuff, but I think that Charlie is his own worst enemy here. I really do think that in ice dancing (or ice skating competition in general) it really is all about the scores. With dance (and DWTS in particular), it’s about the dance, and Charlie is forgetting that. Or needs to learn it.

They were tasked to do a paso doble (which we haven’t seen nearly enough of this season yet).

Sharna Burgess and Charlie White. Courtesy of ABC/Adam Taylor. 
This picture really says it all (why their scores were not 10s). She is totally in it, and he looks like he’s still struggling. Sorry Charlie, but I can promise you this. You are going to be voted out of this thing before Meryl is.

Now we get to the big controversy that’s blowing up social media. Mind you, these are the people who got all up in arms about Janet Jackson’s nipple, so I tend to ignore them.

In one corner, we have the Candaces of the world (who actually send her children out of the studio during Peta’s dance!), and then we have this.

Latin dances are supposed to be hot, steamy, sexy. On this night, there was no more sexy one than Peta and James’ samba. Her choreography was stunning, the concept was great. He’s a gas station worker, and she stops by for some gas. Along the way, they are stripping off each other’s clothes, and she’s dancing most of the time in skimpy lingerie. I thought it was awesome.

Peta Murgatroyd and James Maslow do a steamy samba. Courtesy of On the Red Carpet/ABC/Adam Taylor.
Now, on the other side of the spectrum... At the beginning of Latin Night, when I saw what Candace was wearing, compared to the others, I thought she looked like a nun. Certainly we knew she wasn’t going to be wearing what Peta was wearing. However, that being said, I was pretty stunned when I really enjoyed their Argentine tango. Candace seriously rocked it.

Candace Cameron-Bure and Mark Ballas do an Argentine tango.
Mark Ballas and Candace Cameron Bure do an Argentine tango. Courtesy of OTRC/ABC/Adam Taylor.
It was also interesting that Candace and Mark went to a sports psychologist as part of their package, and she admitted that she’d never been in therapy! (An actress never before in therapy? WHAT?) Anyway, it had the result of making her more vulnerable and human to the audience. She remarked that she felt like she had been letting Mark down, and I am glad she came to that realization, because her dance tonight was much better.

So, as much as I hate to admit it, Candace does deserve to stay another week. I was proud of her.

Our lovely hosts, Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews. Ricky Martin, guest judge, behind.
The losing team.
As I predicted last week, Derek’s team (again) won the team dance, and someone from the losing team went home.

The winning team (minus Amy Purdy, who was in the hospital). Courtesy of ABC/Adam Taylor.

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