Sunday, March 30, 2014

DWTS Week 2: It's Not YOU, It's the Character

Sharna Burgess and Charlie White. Courtesy of ABC/Adam Taylor.
It’s been an interesting season of Dancing With the Stars so far. It’s only Week 2 of Season 18, and already we have learned so much.

The thing that I love about #DWTS (well, so many things)... is that you really do learn a lot about this art form called dance, if you really truly listen.

This dance above, for example. Sharna Burgess and Charlie White’s tango, in which all-around great guy Charlie White had to enlist Maksim Chmerkovskiy so he could truly put forth a character which is two-timing and with a roving eye. (I might add that Charlie did not achieve said aim to these eyes, but his dancing was decent along the way.)

And that is something at an advanced level of dancing, I might add. Actors, for example, in their beginning days, may think they just have to stand up and say a bunch of lines. As their learning progresses, they learn that to be a good actor, they have to actually convincingly portray someone else (someone who is NOT them). And if they are a truly sublime actor, they truly become that person before your eyes. Convince you with every fiber of their being that they ARE that person, and that the words they are saying are TRUE, that is, from their very soul. That’s tough stuff. Most actors, frankly, do not attain such heights, only a handful really make that transformation.

But we learned, if we did not know it already, in this Week 2 episode of #DWTS, that great dancing involves creating a character, WHO IS NOT YOU, to inform the dance. For example, tangos. The greatest tangos, as we have seen, involve lots of passion and drama. Those participants may or may not have such passion between them, but they have to CONVINCE us they do. They have to convey the love story, and the dance is the vehicle with which to do that.

Also, anything that gets in the way of the essential heart of the drama being played out is going to detract from the dance.

I bring all this Dance Education 101 up because of what else happened in Week 2, which we saw hints of on Week 1. Namely, this.

The oh-so-patient Mark Ballas and Candace.
Now, Miss Candace has already warned us (last week) that she’s “a mom,” who won’t be partaking in any of those skimpy costumes this show struts around. I’m sure there are those in the audience cheering this decision. (Mind you, those are also the folks who had a problem with Janet Jackson’s nipple.) AND, as if that weren’t bad enough, this week, we get to see her NIX the idea of Mark taking his shirt off.

Mark and Candace were set to dance A RUMBA, arguably the sexiest dance this show offers, and she is making them dress in sackcloth. :-0

Here’s the thing, Candace Cameron-Bure, and take this advice very seriously. IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU. When you are dancing, you are a CHARACTER. And it’s not that DWTS just likes to have everyone running around in skimpy outfits. Think for a moment. You have a limited amount of time (what is it, three minutes?) to convey something to an audience. You use every device at your disposal (BRAVO to the stage crafters, lighting designers, producers and others who make magic every week on DWTS). But one of those devices is also COSTUMES.

How does one convey that this romance between two people is the hottest you’ve ever seen? In three minutes? Sorry, but it helps if you have two partially unclothed people, because it conveys some kind of sexual activity between them. It’s a shorthand that everyone in the audience understands.

I don’t give a crap that you are a Mom, and you feed your kids peanut butter and jelly on lunches. In that moment, when I am a viewer watching your dance, all I want to see is the emotion, and the sexuality, that you are supposed to be portraying. That’s it. And if you don’t give us that: THE DANCE LOSES.

Poor Mark Ballas. He had to suffer through this kind of nonsense with Bristol Palin. His interview in Week 2 noted about Candace, “you are even worse than Bristol Palin.” SIGH. I really feel for him in this.

So, in their dance, he did what he could, emoting up a storm to convey that these two people are desperately passionate in their Week 2 RUMBA, but what could you do?

The professional Mark Ballas and the prude Candace Cameron Bure.
Sorry, but this is just not selling “sexy” to me, though I can really see Mark Ballas trying hard. But they look like nuns. Horrible stuff. Eh.

Later, when the judges scored her negatively for doing an unsexy rumba, she had the balls to say, “I want to reserve certain things for my husband.” Jeez, woman, get off the stage. We are not asking you to have sex with Mark Ballas in front of us. This is a CHARACTER and it’s in service of the DANCE. If you don’t get that, well, frankly, you shouldn’t have signed up for this show.

Let me show you a contrast.

James and Peta do a salsa (also a very sexy dance). In his interview, he jokes about doing it fully nude. Now THAT would be a very sexy salsa. All 10s! Ahem... anyway... their dance was STEAMY. They were my second favorite of the week. Look.

Peta Murgatroyd and James Maslow do a samba. Courtesy of ABC/Adam Taylor.
Steamy, right? Sexy just dripping from this picture. Now there is also nothing in this photo that one would have to “save for their husband.” The dancer, Peta, is conveying mostly by her costume, that the salsa is one sexy dance. That’s the deal here, Constance.

And guess what? James and Peta were the second-highest scorers of the night.

Also, if you think of dance in a kind of feng-shui way, you don’t want to throw up anything which is going to block the emotion and the sexuality you are trying to convey. Taking a stance of “I’m not going to do that, and I’m not going to let you as my partner do that either,” just ruins it. There’s no other way to say it.

I am simply crying for Mark Ballas right now.

But OK, to the rest of the show, and those who DO get it.

Those voted out this week (two couples) were Diana Nyad and whoever it was she was dancing with, and Karina and her lunkhead hockey player. Hopefully we will see Karina back during that Switch Up thing at least. But honestly, I’m really glad to see both of those couples go. Will be glad to see Billy Dee Williams leave very soon too. And, as much as I love Mark and his dancing, I really hate what Constance is doing, so Goodbye to them soon too... (hopefully).

Oh, but let’s talk about what we enjoyed this week, shall we?

We had this:
NeNe Leakes and Tony Dovolani do a jive.
And this:
Cheryl Burke and Drew Carey’s jive.
Speaking of hotness, and not afraid to show it, we had this:
Danica McKellar and Val Chmerkovskiy do a hot samba.
A continuously amazing pair: Derek Hough and Amy Purdy, who did an incredible swing dance this week.
Derek Hough’s amazing swing choreography with Amy Purdy.
Derek, as always, had amazing choreography. But look at this swing move (above). He swung her whole body around, in time to the music. Incredible.

With the ice dancing couples, let’s start with Charlie and Sharna. As mentioned a bit above, one of Charlie White’s greatest challenges in this show is not the choreography, but to unlearn the concept of constant smiling (which you have to do in figure skating). Also, the tango, which he attempted this week, is about anger and volatile passion, whereas Mr. White seem like a total pussycat.

So, the steps were there, but the bubbling passion underneath (to me) was not. I hope they get a chance to do another (maybe Argentine tango) later in the season, when he’s worked on this concept a bit more.

Also, they danced to a song which said, “I’m Addicted to You,” and Charlie’s stage direction was to be looking out at other women in the audience. Clearly, if one is addicted to someone, that person is all they can think about, so the song (as far as character motivation) didn’t work at all for me.

Sharna Burgess and Charlie White do a tango.
However, bravo to the costumers who are doing more with sheer fabrics so that you can see the feet of the female dancers. This one, on Sharna, was just stunning and mesmerizing. (And while we’re talking costuming, can I just say how much I love that they are wearing sneakers much more, both women and men?)

But my favorite dance of the night was the other ice dancing couple, Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Meryl Davis. Maks called it, “the most lift-y routine I’ve ever done.” He says he’s “way too old for this,” but I thought he looked just great out there.

Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy swinging.
And the interplay between Maks and Erin was once again golden. Love it!

All in all, some really great dances already at Week 2. I don’t know about you, but I’m still thanking the lucky stars that Maksim is back.
Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Meryl Davis do a swing. Courtesy of ABC.


1 comment:

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