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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