Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Donald Driver's Secret Weapon

First things first. Ladies and gentlemen, our Season 14 winners:

Peta Murgatroyd and Donald Driver. And here's why.

When last I examined this, I looked at the top four couples. Let's visit them again.

In fourth place (unjustly) was Derek Hough and Maria Menounos. Their ouster at fourth place was certainly an anamoly of voting, of people thinking they were safe, and not picking up the phone for them. The night that was their last, they had TWO perfect dances. TWO 30s from the judges. That is not a couple who was meant to go home.

And I am, frankly, still upset about it. So, let's just gloss over Derek and Maria's perfection.


What does it take to become a champion?

Frankly,  what it takes to win, mostly, is amazing choreography by the Pro. That's why you are going to see Derek Hough and Mark Ballas win the Mirror Ball over and over and over again (and Karina Smirnoff), because they provide stunning, breath-taking choreography for us to feast upon.

To my eyes, Cheryl Burke is a good choreographer, servicable, but she is not on the same level as Hough and Ballas. She just isn't. Added to that, her partner, William Levy got to third place mostly because he has a rabid fan following that salivated over his hot looks (and his gorgeous shaking ass). Them's the facts, m'am. In interviews afterwards, Burke tried to play down the fact that it was a pretty face that helped get "Team Fuego" to third.

No, he was pretty. That's what got you third. Own it. Embrace it.

First or Second? How do we decide?

Then we come down to our top two. Let me say this. I love Mark Ballas' choreography, more than anyone else on this show, and so I always, from the first episode, hope that he comes in first, and expect him to.

What I realized with Season 14 is that choreography only gets you so far. And while any of the top four in any other season might have won, in THIS super competitive, multi-talented season, it was not enough.

Naughty Bits as a Downfall

Katherine Jenkins, while elegant and graceful and providing stunning lines, almost from her first dance, was hindered by one thing, which ended up keeping her from the Mirror Ball trophy. She is, pretty much, a prude.

Now, I'm not saying that it's a prerequisite for a winner of DWTS to run around in scanty clothes, necessarily. It's more this. One has to own one's body as a dancer. The body, clothed or unclothed, is a vehicle for the dance. We saw, in the interview packages, how Katherine would stammer and laugh and blush when confronted with her "naughty bits." She didn't like showing them, she didn't like dealing with them. If there was one thing she was roundly consistently criticized for was that her dances "lacked fire."

William Levy was graded (perhaps too much by salivating Bruno) for being "sex on a stick." Katherine didn't own her sexiness enough. I am convinced that kept her from the trophy.

My take on it is that Mark Ballas, knowing what it takes to win this thing, was pushing her to give more fire, to get outside her comfort zone. She didn't want to, she didn't want to, then finally she did, in this dance.

Look at this picture. The man on the left is totally comfortable in his own body, and with his own sexuality. He owns this dance. Look at the woman on the right. She is not at all comfortable with the amount of skin she's presently showing (even though, as a DWTS costume goes, this is very chaste; still it was the most skin Katherine showed all season).

At the end of this dance, she "had a back spasm." Her uptightness over her costume made her pull out her back, and it was also the moment when she unconciously decided, "You know what? Second place is good enough for me. I'm really OK with that."

Don't believe me? Here are her costumes for the final.

And this:

She had white shorts on under her flapper dress. SHORTS.

Makes me sad. But that's why she got second, though her choreography was stunning and executed flawlessly.

Now, by contrast.

When you want  something so bad you can taste it...

I had Katherine and Mark in my initial picks. I had Derek and Maria. I didn't know anything really about Peta and Donald Driver (though I've always been suspicious of athletes, they do tend to win a lot).

I was blithely going on, at the beginning of the season, picking my Favorite Dance of the Week (which you can see on my Pinterest board: Mark and Katherine, then Derek and Maria. By week four though (Rock Week), it was (shockingly to me) Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd who had captured my "Dance of the Week" honor.

Their Purple Haze was not to be denied. And it was just so far above all the other competitors.

Look at this, you can already see a championship team at work.

Both competitors are owning that stage.

Or this:

Or their Viennese waltz. Or their story-filled "Mr. Big Stuff":

 What you see in these pictures are two people, singular of purpose, who both really want to win.

Peta because it was her second season as a pro, and in her first season, she was voted out first. Donald because he loved Dancing with the Stars.

This turned out to be their secret weapon. He loved the show. He loved it so much that he watched it, every season. Knew every player, watched every dance.

Where this came into play was the end.

In finals week, Donald was the one who came up with, "...well, back in Season Two..."

And they pulled a move that a similar champion had done. They danced their freestyle to country.

Dudes, it's America. America loves country music.

This was the dance that won the Mirror Ball, I promise you.

Donald Driver knew, from studying the tapes of past seasons, what it took to win. And he wanted that, badly.

And, I have to say, I am happy that they were the ones who won. They wanted it, they deserved it, and they done America proud.

Congratulations to Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd, our new Mirror Ball champions.


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