Friday, August 17, 2018

DTWS S025, Week 6: Night at the Movies Brings More 10s



I love the opening numbers on Dancing with the Stars. Love love love them. This one (”choreographed, as always, by the amazing Mandy Moore”), to kick off “A Night at the Movies,” was especially grand. It had a whole huge story. I mean, look at this tidbit of a scene. Val is an aspiring writer, who hits the jackpot, and pulls his leading lady (Sharna) out of the chorus. This zipped by so fast on screen that I didn't even see Cheryl Burke’s pout in the moment. But it’s classic Hollywood, and so wonderful.

It just spun on and on. All those things that make you love Hollywood, in a few minutes of dancing. Just incredible.

I would watch this tremendous opening number over and over again as a movie...

Oh, and we have guest judge Shania Twain.

OK, so the goal, as they explain it, is to not only show a specific dance style, but to also convey “a specific movie genre.” Not tough at all.

MOVIE GENRE: Foreign film (Is that really a “genre”? Oh, who are we to quibble?)

DANCE STYLE: Argentine tango


Nikki notes in their package how she tends to shut down, rather than being vulnerable. Artem asks her why. She says that’s what she’s always done. He says, bluntly, well, it’s time to change. She notes, “Lot of changing here, being on this show. I let my guard down, lot of stuff.” That is a pretty constant theme from contestants. I don’t know what they expect coming in, but it’s a very emotional experience, to be on this show. It’s not just moving your body physically. It’s opening up your heart, and dancing with it.


It was pretty hard to top that amazing Argentine tango from last week, but this one was pretty amazing. The footwork was especially good, I thought.

Len: “I don’t like foreign films... You’ve got a tenderness about your dancing that you’ve got to explore more.” Shania: “That was so romantic.” Bruno: “It had that Parisian chic and poise. It’s good to see you in a different role.” Carrie Ann: “That was a stunning display of all this newfound artistry that comes from vulnerability.”

JUDGES’ SCORES: 36 (out of 40)


MOVIE GENRE: Action

DANCE STYLE: Paso doble



Drew tells us things we didn’t know: that he competed in karate for a long time, and wanted to be an action star.

They put forth a really incredible dance, with a bunch of troupe members (including Sasha!). It was quite wonderful. Amazing choreography. Wild to see Emma with black hair, though.

Shania: ”I thought the balance of the feminine and masculine was well-captured.” Bruno: “It was like Mission: Impossible meets The Matrix.“ Carrie Ann: “That was a really tough routine, filled with content.“ Len: ”I'm pleased you’re safe for next week. The finesse was lacking.“

JUDGES’ SCORES: 30 (out of 40)


MOVIE GENRE: “Western”

DANCE STYLE: Samba




The scene is Peta’s Auto Body. Correct me if I’m wrong, but they didn’t have autos in the Wild West. So the theme is a bit of a reach.

It’s supposed to be “Western,” but it sure screams Steampunk to me. I think the song is Will Smith doing ”Wild Wild West” (not sure, but I hated the song). As usual, Peta does incredible, innovative and resonant choreography. The troupe, again as usual, is superb. (Can’t go wrong with Sharna and Jenna in your number.)

But in the package, Nick was angsty about his dancing.

Bruno: ”The line dancing was fabulous.” (The rest, not so much.)  Carrie Ann: “You nailed it.” Len: “When you’re doing that solo stuff, you looked terrific. Just dance.” Shania is useless as a judge. Ugh.

JUDGES’ SCORES: 26  (out of 40)


MOVIE GENRE: Sports movie

DANCE STYLE: Paso doble



We have a rare Dancing with the Stars first here. A Zamboni® on the floor. (With a shirtless Alan driving! heh) (Props to the amazing stage crew who replicated an entire hockey arena on the dance floor.)

Oh yeah, the dance...

Some of these pros pick excellent songs to dance to, which automatically makes their dances better. Val always picks great songs (even if he hated the Chumbawumba). Tonight’s song is Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” Set to a hockey game. SCORE!!!

Now THAT’s how to do a dance to a theme. Val’s phenomenal choreography and the whole hockey concept made even shy flower Victoria look tough. Val is incredible to watch, in top form. Great, great stuff. One of my favorite dances of the night.

(LOL. Victoria’s hockey uniform is emblazoned with ”PASO” and Val’s says ”DOBLE.”)

Carrie Ann: “It's amazing the way you went back and forth and you blended the style of movement from the pedestrian and athletic back into the paso. You were well-rehearsed. It was so tight.” Len: “It’s the first time I’ve watched a hockey game and seen the puck go into the net.” (The goal was HUGE, and right by Len.) “The concept was terrific. Overall, it was a great job.” Shania: “That was the most innovative hockey game I’ve ever seen.” Bruno: “It was very conceptualized, but I could see a proper paso doble.”

JUDGES’ SCORES: 31  (out of 40)

Not sure what this newspaper thing was all about...



MOVIE GENRE: Spy movie

DANCE STYLE: Jive



This jive had a few things going for it: Sasha doing some great physical comedy, for one! ;-) It was supposed to be a spy theme, where these two awkwardly steal a 10 paddle (so that Len would give them a 10). (Some of these people’s concepts work way better than others...)

The best I can say about this is that I really do love to see Cheryl Burke dance, and I’m glad she’s on this season.

They have the “stolen“ 10 paddle floating near Len, as he comments. Len: “It wasn’t quite Double-O heaven.” And yet, he calls it “the best dance of the night.” Shania likes that they were both in character. Bruno: “You’re becoming a better and better performer.” Carrie Ann: “Everything about that was sinewy and sexy. It was hot.”

JUDGES’ SCORES: 37  (out of 40) (They didn’t steal a 10 from Len, but Shania coughed up one.)

Then Shania Twain sang a song about soldiers. (Thank you all for your service.) But since she irritated me the whole show, I’m not going to run a pic of it. Also, there were no pictures of her with the troupe that danced to the song, so forget it. (Dancing: Jenna and Keo, Sharna and Alan, Gleb and Hayley, and other troupe members.)

MOVIE GENRE: Animation

DANCE STYLE: Jazz



Let’s remember and give a moment of silence for the sublime Argentine tango they danced last week, to a Pirates theme. Then, this.

It starts with all the judges having 3D glasses on. Oh boy.

Then, the theme is animated (nice, sweet) and the music comes out as some rough rap stuff. UGH.

I was hating this song so much. Then Sasha (and troupe members) showed up, and it got a little better, but this was easily my least favorite number of the night. UGH.

Tom Bergeron notes that it was “our first Worm on the show since Steve Wozniak, many years ago.” Frankie did the Worm Twice in this dance. UGH.

Shania (of course) “loved it.” UGH. Bruno: “I don’t know if I was watching Frodo on acid...” Carrie Ann: “It was entertaining.” Len: “Frankie goes to Hollywood. I think you threw in every step from the ’70s and ’80s you could think of.”

JUDGES’ SCORES: 31  (out of 40)


MOVIE GENRE: Movie musicals

DANCE STYLE: Quickstep



Oh, this was a wonderful dance. Vanessa had a bit of a wardrobe malfunction, and Tom Bergeron jumped in to scoop it up so they wouldn’t trip on it, but overall, it was a great dance. The troupe was awesome, as ever, and Maks and Vanessa seemed to have a great bit of fun together in this dance.

They danced to “Let’s Be Bad,” a very fun song.

Bruno: “Absolutely gleaming with theatrical pizazz, the glamor of a ’40s musical.” Carrie Ann: “It was such a fantastic performance.” Len says he’s debating whether to give them more than an 8. Shania, again useless.

JUDGES’ SCORES: 36  (out of 40)


Then, we had a wonderful bumper and promo for DWTS Live, the show that a bunch of people are (were) dancing in (left to right): Gleb and Sharna, Hayley and Sasha, and Jenna and Keo. Fun stuff.

MOVIE GENRE: Drama

DANCE STYLE: Rumba


So, let’s look back at Witney and Frankie’s mess. There was a bunch of colorful mushrooms, and bright colors. Only in the interview with Erin did I realize they were supposed to be playing Trolls. It was a muddled mess (IMHO) that wasn’t explained by either the music or the dance.

Contrast that with this. Simple staging. A guy in a dark suit. Rain on the windowpane. But from that (and from the music and the dance, and the white piece of cloth), one can deduce that he’s just lost his love, and he’s heartbroken. This is the kind of dance of the masters on this show. A dance yes, but also a story being told.


It wasn’t the most sensual rumba I’ve ever seen, but then, he was dancing with a ghost. But it was beautiful and it told a story, and that’s everything to me. Stunning.


Carrie Ann: “Everything is one movement... from the moment you started, it was one continuous motion. Like a wave of gorgeousness.” Len: “It was well-crafted.” Shania: blah Bruno: “Gripping, magnetic storytelling. You stretch every movement to the extent, and yet, it feels effortless.”

JUDGES’ SCORES: 39  (out of 40)


MOVIE GENRE: Sci-fi

DANCE STYLE: Argentine tango





Mark Ballas, for my money, puts together the most creative, expressive dances of anyone on this show. His mixture of music and dance is impeccable, and when you throw in crazy categories like “Sci-fi Movies,” he is more than up to the challenge. (As you can see.)

This dance just took my breath away, like so many of their dances. Incredible. Just incredible.

Len: “I know it’s science fiction, but let me tell you a fact. I thought the choreography was phenomenal. I thought the dancing was brilliant.” Shania: “I’ve never seen such sharp edges look so elegant.” Bruno: “Professor Ballas, you’ve created another work of genius! It reminded me of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. But at the same time, it was an absolutely superb Argentine tango. It is the best dance of the season so far.” Carrie Ann: “You upped your game to something phenomenal. This is a side of you that I’ve never seen: so grounded, so strong. You slayed that dance. Well done.”

JUDGES’ SCORES: 40  (out of 40)

At this moment, and at so many moments during the season, I cannot imagine anyone but Mark and Lindsey winning this season. He creates what I consider the perfect dances. This was just amazing.

WHO GOES HOME?



Miche’s Favorite Dances of Movie Night
1. Mark and Lindsey (Argentine tango)
2. Val and Victoria (paso doble)
3. Lindsay and Jordan (rumba)
4. Vanessa and Maks (quickstep)
5. Emma and Drew (paso doble)
6. Nikki and Artem (Argentine tango)
7. Peta and Nick (samba)



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Monday, August 6, 2018

DTWS S025, Week 5: Disney Night Full of Magic and Miracles


Hi! Welcome to Week 5, Season 25 of Dancing with the Stars. I know there’s a theme tonight. I’m just trying to remember what it is...


Some kind of corporate suckup, ABC thing... just can’t place it...


Oh yeah. It's Week 5. It's DISNEY night.

The opening number starts with a beautiful dance with Jenna and Armin to “It’s a Small World (After All),” which kicks into a bigger opening number.

Then, as they introduce all the stars, they also name which movie they are dancing to a song from. Ugh.

Oh, but they have a different spin on it this year. Tom Bergeron informs us that it’s ”Disney Through the Ages,” ”from Mickey's early beginnings, right up through next month.”  (They are performing a song from “Coco,” which at this point had not been released yet, so that was a coup.) Also it’s the halfway point in the DWTS competition.

Wait. Val and Victoria are doing “a jazz dance to ‘Steamboat Willie’ ” (did that have music?).  For that matter, did it have Minnie? (I think not.)




I dunno. This one was a tough sell. If I remember right, this was a silent, and the only character was Mickey himself. The dance was probably longer than the whole short. But it was what it was.

Len, ”Steamboat Willie. 1928. I missed the premiere, but you were there, Tom, weren‘t you?” Oh, that Len. What a cutup. Len saw “Charleston, Lindy Hop, even a little bit of Twerking.” Bruno: “It was effortless, and it was beautiful.” Carrie Ann: “You were in perfect sync the whole time.”

JUDGES’ SCORES: 27 (out of 30)

Val says that Victoria “is Disney. She’s the epitome of magic and miracles.”

Tom does a tease for the next number, Maks and Vanessa dancing to “Snow White.” He says “the Seven Dwarfs... I think only six are there...” They cut to a different shot with an errant dwarf and Maks sitting next to him. Tom continues, ”Oh, there’s Grumpy... and the other dwarf.” (I laughed.)

Then, they show the troupe dressed up as the Mickey Mouse Club. Sasha gets a kiss from Minnie. Very sweet.


This dance (“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” from the 30s) starts with seven tiny Makses (as the dwarfs), the highlight of which was all of them saying “I‘m the show,” (perhaps Maks' most famous #DWTS line). (Made me laugh.)

For some reason, they sing “Someday My Prince Will Come” in French. It’s a nice waltz. The costumes are the best. Bruno notes how she gets out of balance in the fast spins. Carrie Ann mentions that there were moments that it seemed like she stopped breathing. But that she “had many stunning moments in that.” Len loved the “turn and lock.” And the choreography, that it was “a proper waltz.”

JUDGES’ SCORES: 24 (out of 30)


OK. We’re up to the 1940s now, with Lindsay and Mark's ”When You Wish Upon a Star,” from “Pinocchio.” Just a beautiful foxtrot.



At the end of the dance, there was an animated Pinocchio, clapping on the judges’ stand. Beautiful.

Carrie Ann: “What I loved the most is that this week you didn‘t go quirky. I know it took a lot more courage to do this number.” She also mentions that it was “one of the finest holds I‘ve ever seen.” Len: “THAT was delightful. I loved the way that every nuance in the music was transcribed into the movements you used.... I absolutely loved it.” Bruno: ”By the end, I felt like I was bathing in stardust.”

JUDGES’ SCORES: 28 (out of 30) (including a ten from Len)


Then, a wonderful bumper from the (1950s) Mickey Mouse Club (in b and w), where we actually get to learn everyone‘s names. (They never say the troupe names anymore; although pros were mixed in too—Sasha, Sharna, Jenna, Alan.)


Nick and Peta do a quickstep to “Bare Necessities” from (the ’60s) “The Jungle Book.” Peta is such a phenomenal dancer and choreographer, and I think I don’t say that enough. Nick isn’t quite up to her standards, though. The best thing Len can say is, “You came out and enjoyed yourself, and I thought that was commendable.” (Ouch.) Bruno notes that he lost a step a couple of times. Carrie Ann says “you don‘t have to be a perfect dancer.” (Um, yes you do.)

JUDGES’ SCORES: 22 (out of 30)




This was from the ’70s, Kermit the Frog was involved and something about a Rainbow. Whatever it was, I missed this show. But the Viennese waltz that Emma and Drew danced to it was quite beautiful.

Emma does her normal wondrous choreography. Every time I look at her, I see a rainbow anyway, so this song was quite fitting.

Oh Lord. They have Kermit at the judges table. Ugh.

Bruno to Drew: “You‘re getting more and more polished every week. You‘re leading well.”  Carrie Ann: “You two have become one of my favorite couples.” Len: “I liked your footwork a lot.”

JUDGES’ SCORES: 25 (out of 30)

Minnie and the female pros welcome us back with a cute bumper.



Gleb and Sasha are dancing a rumba to ’80s “The Little Mermaid.” “I need you to be very sexy and romantic,” says Gleb to Sasha in the package.

And she tries, but boy, the camera angles are all wacky and unflattering. I found this rumba to be very unsexy, even forced.

(EDITOR’S ASIDE: I apologize. From this point forward, my DVR died, and so I’m going from my notes and the YouTube videos.) :-(

JUDGES’ SCORES: 24 (out of 30)


Terrell and Cheryl do a quickstep to “The Lion King.”

Whew. I really hated this song (the music). The dance was a whole lot of the troupe moving trees around. (Sasha was the best part, frankly.) Ugh. My least favorite. That gold coat was pretty swinging though.

JUDGES’ SCORES: 25 (out of 30)

Witney and Frankie’s package has Witney saying to Frankie: “You can act, sexy, right? Cause you’re not normally sexy.” Deadpan look from Frankie.



Frankie and Witney do an Argentine tango to “Pirates of the Caribbean.” For my money, this was by far the sexiest dance of the night. This was certainly NOT the Frankie Muniz we think we know. He was a fierce, leering pirate. Yeah, he can “act” sexy, all right.

The set (as you can see) was another #DWTS treasure (props to this stage crew), and look at that eerie sea foam lighting. Just great stuff, start to finish.


Such a great dance. Such stunning choreography.

JUDGES’ SCORES: 29 (out of 30)





Jordan and Lindsay then regale us with a foxtrot from “Moana.” (To the song, “You’re Welcome.”)

(I think Jordan is the one singing this song, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda...)

JUDGES’ SCORES: 30 (out of 30) (First perfect score of the season.)



The last two dances (prior to this one) had some pretty spectacular stagecraft. But this one, showcasing the soon-to-be-released “Coco” just blew everything else away.

Artem and Nikki dance jazz to ”Remember Me” (of course) from “Coco.” Look at those incredible costumes. Whirling troupe members. Confetti! A showstopper.


One of the judges (not sure, notes unclear) called Nikki “Coco” (which isn’t exactly accurate, given the movie).

JUDGES’ SCORES: 27 (out of 30)

And who is going home?


Miche’s Favorite Dances of Disney Night
1. Frankie and Witney (Argentine tango)
2. Lindsey and Mark (foxtrot)
3. Jordan and Lindsay (foxtrot)
4. Drew and Emma (Viennese waltz)
5. Nikki and Artem (jazz)
6. Victoria and Val (jazz)



Erin Andrews was really digging Disney night.



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