Thursday, April 3, 2014

DWTS Week 3: Gut-Wrencher Overload

Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Meryl Davis. Courtesy of ABC/Adam Taylor.
There is a week in Dancing with the Stars (usually early on) where you get to know the “stars” a little better. They dance to a “special year” in their lives, usually dedicate the song to someone, and many tears are shed. (Well, in good years, that’s what happens.) Some years, like last, we had celebs whose greatest life-changing moment was “booking Glee.” (Who shall remain nameless... AHEM.)

It depends, I would suppose, on the people who populate the dance floor, and what they’ve gone through in their lives. Soldiers/war heroes always have a good story for this evening. Self-absorbed celebrities, well, not so much.

In Season 18, we have “My Special Year” in Week 3. I shed tears watching it this year, I admit it. It was a special week.

It was also unusual for me. There were basically 10 couples left (one of whom, Billy Dee Williams, voluntarily dropped out, “on doctor’s orders”; to which I say, THANK YOU, Doctor!). So there was no elimination on this night. Not even much hooha about Billy Dee leaving (also, thank you, producers).

FIVE of the couples who danced on this night BLEW ME AWAY. FIVE! So much so that I can’t even name a TOP choice. Or even rank them in any way. I don’t think that’s ever happened, as long as I’ve been writing about this.

So, let me get the other three out of the way first.

The stunningly beautiful Cheryl Burke and Drew Carey.
Tony and NeNe and Cheryl and Drew did nice dances. I enjoyed them. They just didn’t blow me away like the other five.

And, it kills me, cause I really love Mark Ballas and his dancing so much, but the whole prude thing crossed Candace Cameron off the list for me. I don’t even care about them as a couple anymore.

Oh, and the kids (Cody whatever and Witney) danced to some Surfboard song of his. Yawn...

Now let’s get to the, GREAT stuff.

Kicking off the evening with a bang was Peta Murgatroyd and James Maslow. Their dance was amazing.

And, I said it in a Tweet at the time, but I’ll say it again: the music, especially for this number, is 1000% better than it’s ever been. How nice to have up-to-date songs to dance to!

Peta Murgatroyd and James Maslow. Courtesy of ABC/Adam Taylor.
Man, this song was just such a bouncy blast to watch. So much fun.

And while we’re on the subject of fun songs, Sharna Burgess and Charlie White, got out of the somber tango mood they were in last week, and played to Charlie’s strengths. Remember when I said last week that he was good at the smiling thing? Well, here you go.

Charlie White and Sharna Burgess dance to “Happy.” Courtesy of ABC/Adam Taylor.
If ever there was a song tailor-made for Charlie White to dance to, it’s Pharrell Williams’ “Happy.” Oh, you know? That song you can’t get out of your head? Yeah. That one. Smiley-faces all over the stage too. Way happy. Way fun.

I think it’s true of Mark Ballas, Derek Hough, and now Valetin Chmerkovskiy, that whoever they dance with, they make them look so much better because they are so talented as choreographers. Honestly, for season after season now (since he’s been a pro), Val has really taken my breath away with how stunning his choreography is. Danica McKellar is one very lucky woman, and this was one amazing dance (on Val’s birthday!).

Valentin Chmerkovskiy (on his birthday!) with Danica McKellar. Courtesy of ABC/Adam Taylor.
Such a wonderful dance. Amazing, incredible choreography. A joy to watch.

But it was his brother, Maksim, who continues to astonish and amaze with the depth of emotion he brings to the dance each week.

There is always a ”will they or won’t they?” thing teased with various couples during the show. Maybe it’s true, maybe it isn’t. As far as the dance, it really doesn’t matter. But there was an almost-kiss held for a really long time in this dance, which might have been powerful if it hadn’t been so carefully choreographed that it was so perfectly placed for the camera.

Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Meryl Davis.
Remember that this was the guy who was giving Charlie White lessons in how to be a “bad boy” last week. So do with all that information what you will. Whatever it was, it was a helluva dance.

But really, the most gut-wrenching dance, the one that had me (and probably a lot of America) in tears, was Derek Hough and Amy Purdy’s dance.

It’s a pretty big deal, likely a very difficult technical challenge, to choose to dance with a woman with no legs. A woman who has overcome her challenges so much that she just medalled at the ParaOlympics. Yet, still, has no legs from the knees down.

This contemporary dance that Derek created was just stunning to watch, a poem about Amy not being able to walk, yet wanting to and how, with the help of her father (who was in the audience, and to whom she dedicated the song), she was able to. Such a beautiful and amazing dance. There truly are no words.

Derek Hough and Amy Purdy dance contemporary. Courtesy of ABC/Adam Taylor.
Amy Purdy and Derek Hough
It is a dance that won’t soon be forgotten. An incredible week this time, indeed.

Oh, but let’s end on a Happy note...

Seriously. Don’t you just love DWTS’ set designers? Wow.
Next week, we get the guest judging of Miss Julianne Hough (Derek’s sister). She was (I thought) a bit unprofessionally mean to Mark Ballas last time. I hope we have none of that this time around. No need to be catty here. But then, this is also the woman who wore that racist outfit for Halloween, so maybe she doesn’t have the best judgment at all?

We shall see.

Robin Roberts was a guest judge this time, but come on. She’s gonna like everything. Please.

I like the three judges we have (Carrie Ann, Len and Bruno). These other ones just mess up the place, and cause the judging comments to run longer. Blech. But I suppose that dancers who actually know dance are better than talk show hosts, in the scheme of things.

Oh, and we also have this big “Switch” thing next week. I suspect that they were going to have it for all season, and the pros complained, so it’s only going to be one week of a Switch.

Truthfully, I don’t know how they can do it at all. These celebrities require so much coddling and hand-holding, why switch that off to someone else? Ugh.

At LEAST, we know that Mark Ballas will be paired with someone who is OK with this whole dance concept. I hope they do something really steamy and unclothed! Take that, Candace! heh

(Now who’s catty?) ;-)


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