Monday, May 12, 2014

DWTS Week 8: Gut-wreching shocker elimination and Maks mouths off

Dance of the Night: Amy Purdy and Derek Hough do an Argentine tango

This Week 8 of Dancing With the Stars had the best-ever opening number (Mark Ballas performing a song he’d written) and the worst-ever guest judge. I had heard the moans and groans when this particular guest judge was announced, but wasn’t sure why. No, I am not on the edge of my seat every week watching Dance Moms—in fact, I had not heard of either the judge or the show until they were talking about “next week’s guest judge.”

I realized in the aftermath of this week’s show how crucial it is (if they are going to be retiring Len and bringing in someone new) that the cast RESPECT that person’s dance acumen. After all, they are the best of the best here onstage. They are pushing dance boundaries. They deserve someone better than someone on a reality show with no dance (respected) background herself.

All of the cast members pretty much took what the guest judge said, but Maks, when asked, said that he doesn’t respect “anything the woman said.” And I respect Maks’ dance judgment a lot. He seemed to say outright what all the other cast members were only thinking.

So all that tension was interesting.

Then there was this. Bruno said in his vote on this dance that he would be “devastated” if these were the two people voted off. And they were. And I shared that sentiment. I cannot believe it. But we are in the realm of all of the remaining dancers are amazing, so it really does shock each time someone wonderful goes home. Danica and Val were the first of that for me this season.

The other thing that’s happening is that those on the bottom whom you’d think would be going home are fighting hard for their survival. Candace Cameron-Bure (whom I would’ve thought would be gone by now) is turning in amazing dances suddenly. She and Mark Ballas were as surprised as anyone to hear that it wasn’t her this week.

Candace Cameron-Bure and Mark Ballas are elated to not be going home.
Candace Cameron-Bure and Mark Ballas do a foxtrot.
And, then, they do an amazing foxtrot, which is witty and frothy and fun to watch. Mark Ballas’ choreography (as usual) is stellar, and even I find myself voting for them. The one annoying aspect of CCB (her rampant prudishness) seems to have been downplayed the last few weeks and not been an issue. So what they are doing is just lovely.

Also, Peta and James. Bottom of the leader board. Peta was in tears, when they were deciding between the two couples in jeopardy. I seriously thought she was going to have a breakdown if it was them. And then, it wasn’t.

Peta Murgatroyd and James Maslow do a Viennese waltz. Courtesy of ABC/Adam Taylor.
They, too, are doing stunning dancing. I enjoy watching them every week. It just gets so hard in these final weeks when everyone is so good.

We also had a poignant, story- and content-filled rumba from Maks and Meryl, which I loved.

Maks and Meryl do a rumba.
Charlie and Sharna, constantly fighting to receive a 10 from Len, after weeks of doing really challenging, amazing dances FINALLY get perfect scores across the board for this wonderful quickstep.

Sharna Burgess and Charlie White do a beautiful quickstep. Courtesy of ABC/Adam Taylor.
As if the competition of their individual dances weren’t enough, this week, they also threw in side-by-sides. But in seasons past what we had was a couple dancing side by side with two pros (so they could see how it’s really supposed to be done). This time, we had competitors dancing with each other.

Amy and Derek danced a jive with James and Peta. Meryl and Maks did a samba with Danica and Val. But (for me) the breathtaking one of these dances was this amazing heartfelt passion play, done contemporary, where Sharna and Charlie and Candace and Mark played couples. And in the midst of their dance, infidelity reared its head, so you saw this poetry of Charlie and Candace dancing together poetically, while the two other couples were fighting (through dance). Amazing work. Stunning choreography. And Candace and Charlie took my breath away.

Charlie White and Candace Cameron-Bure do contemporary.
All of these dancers deserve to be here. All of the ones left are capable of fantastic performances. I’m still rooting for Maks and Meryl to win, but it is truly anyone’s game.

Mark Ballas debuting his new single, with help from Derek Hough and Cheryl Burke.
What we learned from this night is that Mark Ballas is a formidable performer, singer, dancer, whatever he chooses to do. And that Abby Lee Miller need never grace the stages of Dancing with the Stars again. Because honestly and truly, she is beneath the talent before her, and doesn’t deserve to judge them.


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