Sunday, April 26, 2015

DWTS Week 6: This is a ballroom, not a bedroom... and other mishaps of Spring Break Week

Rumer, Val and dancers doing Bootylicious.
The mechanism of Dancing with the Stars, when working properly, should be like a well-oiled machine. Though hundreds of people work behind the scenes every week to bring us this magic, we shouldn't really see or think about any of them, if things are running properly.

This week, there are a few that need to be put in the position above and administered a few spankings.

First, the problems with the music.

There are two issues (to me) with the music (music chosen, music performed). One is lack of relevance to the theme. This week's theme (for whatever reason) was "Spring Break." What on Earth does the above song ("Bootylicious") have to do with Spring Break? That's the first problem, that the songs presented in a show are all over the damn place. They used to have a cohesion and unity. Maybe when they did the overhaul of the music department they threw out the person or people who had this job.

Well, that person's absence is noticeable.

Second, and much more problematic, was presented to us this week via their incredible editors.

Mind you, the dancers are working their butts off, from the moment a show ends till the next one begins. This week, they had two dances (a regular one and a Team dance) to choreograph and rehearse and make perfect.

And the dancers work even if they are injured, even if they don't feel like it. They present every single week.

Given that high level of perfection, it is INEXCUSABLE that Dancing with the Stars had such a high-profile train wreck as they did this week. Namely, their dancer, Allison Holker received a song (and further, why aren't the dancers themselves choosing the songs? or at least suggesting them? boggles my mind). Holker rightly heard her chosen selection, Missy Elliott's Work It, and knew... since she was thinking and all... that it was a heavily sexual song, and it not only "wouldn't work for Riker" (as she said in the package), but sure as hell wouldn't fly at ABC and Disney. (Are you kidding me?)

Maybe it's got a good beat (I don't know the song, but I have since read the lyrics... HOLY CRAP!). Completely inappropriate.

(As it is, Len called out the song that Val and Rumer performed to, "Bootylicious," by saying, "It's a ballroom, not a bedroom." I think Len should take that up with whomever is picking these songs, not poor Val and Rumer.) But I digress...

Allison (and I love her more each time she does things like this) said, "Um, no, you losers, we are not performing that overtly sexual song, pick something else, please." OK, I'm paraphrasing. Mind you, the show is performed Monday nights. Pretty much Tuesday morning, they should know their next song and get into gear with it.

How is is possible in this well-oiled universe that Allison didn't get her next song choice until THURSDAY? Are you kidding me, DWTS? How is this happening?

Now, I do understand that the web of music rights is a difficult one to tread (all the more reason to have one person whose entire job it is to do this). These dancers can't perform a song unless its rights have been cleared. And even then (ask Val about West Side Story)... it may cause some heart attacks right up until show time.

But it is absolutely appalling to me that when you have the dancers working at such a high level of perfectionism that you don't have the music stuff worked out further in advance. Like before the season starts. Week 6 Spring Break, what songs can we get for that? How hard is this? Do we have professionals in this job? UGH.

Amazingly, Allison and Riker pulled out an incredible samba anyway. (Best dance of the night, to my eyes.)

I love their dancing. Bruno, after this dance, called Riker's dancing "the future of dance." Personally, I think it's Allison Holker's choreography which is the future of dance. And if she can survive working with these morons who pick her music at DWTS, she'll go far.

Ah, but let's release the anger at the people who aren't doing their jobs well to enjoy the summery madness that is Spring Break.

Also, um, when was the last time women covered their mouths to whisper something? Bizarre.
Allison and Riker performed my favorite dance. Rumer and Val, even though crotchety Len was offended, were my second favorite. Val's choreography continues to stun. What bugged me about these particular dancers doing Bootylicious was not the salaciousness of it, but that the three (women) chosen were all dancers, with dancers' butts (aka small). Ain't no "booty" going on there...

And Mark Ballas, who often performs the best music on this show... sometimes I think he works out the rights himself, sidestepped the whole music rights issue by performing Tequila (which must be public domain by now). Maybe Allison should have a chat with him about this?

And Mark actually utilized the theme of Spring Break in his dance concept. It was joyous, and while his previous dances were a whole lotta stagecraft, this one was just straight-up dancing and fun.

Who could not have fun when dancing a salsa to Tequila? Great lifts packed in there, too.

Chris and Witney, amazingly hanging in there, had great costumes and sets to work with.

They did a Viennese waltz to Hopelessly Devoted to You. It was nice. Chris seems to be learning about this rhythm thing. The camerawork during their number was superb.

Derek and Nastia. What to say? They are now another couple who did the tango this season. Quite nicely, too, even if Len thought it was "too fast."

People who go on this show are just crazy. They think they can just slide it into some segment of their lives, when really, what they are committing to is horribly exhausting, even if all you are doing is that. So we have the saga of Derek doing 10 shows a week on Broadway, plus this show. And Nastia, going to school at NYU, plus this show, and both of them flying back and forth each week.

Nastia says in her package this week: "I just didn't think it would be this grueling."

*eyeroll* So whatever on them. It may not have affected their dance (or their Team Dance, but it sure seemed to.)

However, with this maddening schedule, something does have to give, and it did this week. Derek had an injury which caused him to drop out of his Broadway commitment (good for that). The Universe sometimes works in good ways. They have not yet announced if the injury is so serious that he'll also be dropping out of DWTS (I kinda doubt that, given his work ethic).

Guess some people just like to add high levels of stress to their lives. But sheesh...

And then, at what is now the bottom of the pack, we have Noah and Sharna.

They seemed to have (in their package) some tension because Sharna is bossing him around. I do gotta believe this man isn't really used to having women give him orders. They tried to brush it off later as, "well, it was only 10 minutes out of a whole week, and really, we're good. It's all good." Blah blah. Have I mentioned how much I love these editors this season?

Sharna's choreography of this rumba was really beautiful, though.

And then we have maybe possible lovers maybe not Kym and Robert. Really, I think they should leave this show, and go off and have a grand affair together... but that's just me.

The thing that you don't realize in most of their dances is that he's really rather pigeon-toed. This couple is not long for this dance floor, I promise you. (They danced to Surfin' Safari, also probably in public domain.)

Oh, and then, we had the couple leaving on this night. Have you noticed that thus far this season, every couple who has left the show has also danced first?

Also, note to potential Dancing with the Stars' "celebrities": If they have you dancing with multiple people, you likely suck at dancing. Every single week, Patti LaBelle has had a team of people up there on stage with her. Personally, I am so glad she is gone.

However, before she left, there was this.

Team Trouble
In addition to being Spring Break week, it was also Team Dances week. As we all know, Derek's team wins. Derek's team ALWAYS wins. Also, the losing team is always the one from which someone goes home.

This week (I believe the first since they've been doing Team Dances) is the first in which both teams tied. And someone went home from the team that wasn't Derek's team.

I loved, loved, loved Team Trouble's dance.

But in all truth and honesty, Derek's team, Team YOLO, also didn't live up to the normal Team Derek dance choreography and flash.

Just wasn't up to the normal Derek Hough standards, of Team Dances in the past. IMHO.

Oh, and since this is Bitch Column from Hell, what was up with the audio in this episode? And the sync?

Julianne's audio was awful. She was wearing some kind of dress where when she moved (which she does), it muffled the audio. I've done podcasts with better audio. Horribly unprofessional.

Then, later in the show, the whole show got out of sync. (Starting from when they did the reveal at the Team Dances about who was going home. Until somewhere in the middle of the first Team Dance.)  STOP THAT! Awful, awful, awful and very unprofessional. And it went on for MINUTES. Ugh.

Aside to Tom Bergeron: Man, I love you. That "hot pockets" joke still has me laughing. You save so many moments over the weeks. I so appreciate everything you do.

Aside to Erin Andrews: You rock so much too. I loved when you told the dancing crabs to take a hike. That was awesome.

Or, as Tom said, "If we've learned anything this week, we've learned that those crabs are going to be with us all season." We can hope not.

Tom, later, to Sasha, who was in the crab outfit: "Sasha, how many times you been in this crab outfit this season?"

Sasha: "Five times."

Tom B: "You need a better agent, buddy."

Classic stuff.


1. Allison and Riker (samba)

2. Val and Rumer ("jazz")

3. Mark and Willow (salsa)

4. Derek and Nastia (tango)

5. Witney and Chris (Viennese waltz)


1. Kym and Robert

2. Sharna and Noah


Sunday, April 19, 2015

DWTS Week 5: This Disney Night a Misfire

Allison and Riker. Rumer and Val. Disney Week.
Oh, we were so spoiled with past seasons of Disney night. Who could forget Charlie and Sharna's amazing Mary Poppins dance? Or Val C's Be My Guest? *swoon* Those will long live in memory.

Nothing like that this year, sadly. In fact, everyone seemed to be misfiring this week. From just OK to cringe-inducing.

Of the dancers I liked best, it's the usual suspects for me. I love Rumer and Val forever for getting first choice at a Frozen number, and snarkily remarking, "Nah, let Nastia and Derek do that." (And they did.)

Mark Ballas, always a stunner (all season long especially) performed my least favorite of his dances this season, in a mask in which he couldn't breathe through his nose. (Fun!)

Lots of stagecraft and hooha in this one (as per usual for him this season), but this dance didn't wow me. Just something creepy about a white rabbit and a young girl... dunno...

Val and Rumer opted for a villanness instead of a Disney princess (points for them). Quite entertaining to see those samba rolls with an evil character. It was fun, but also my least favorite of their dances so far.

Really the one rollicking number which swept me out of my cynicism for all things Disney was seeing Riker as Jack Sparrow in a Pirates number. A paso doble, stunningly (as usual) choreographed by Allison Holker.

This one was swashbuckling and fast-moving, and I just loved it. My favorite number of the night.

Sharna and Noah did a foxtrot to Aladdin, as you can see.

Chris and Witney did a quickstep. He was in Grecian attire. I'll spare you the visual, though her hair was stunning.

Robert and Kym did a pretty dreadful Mary Poppins tune, and they are now in the category of "soon to be voted out" contenders.

Just gets worse and worse. Patti and Artem. Blech. Suzanne and Tony did a Lady and the Tramp thing. Ugh.

Thankfully, Suzanne was voted out this week, though I'll miss Tony's dances.

He really does great work on this show, but his partners...ugh...

Oh yeah, and that Frozen number? Ugh. By far my least favorite of Derek's dances, maybe ever.

Hokey, manipulative, cringe-inducing. Blech blech blech. Totally lip-synched to the Frozen song. Hated it so much.

Bring on next week, and Team dances! Oh yeah. Derek's team ALWAYS wins. Course, this year, I believe both Val C and Allison are on the other team... so we shall see...


1. Allison and Riker (paso doble)

2. Valentin and Rumer (samba)

3. Mark and Willow (foxtrot)

4. Derek and Nastia ("jazz")


1. Patti LaBelle

2. Robert

3. Chris

4. Nastia


Monday, April 13, 2015

DWTS Season 20, Week 4: Breath-taking and tear-jerking moments for My Favorite Year

The genius of Mark Ballas created this contemporary for Willow Shields. Courtesy of ABC.
The dance above (my own personal highlight of Week 4, Season 20 of Dancing with the Stars) literally took my breath away at the end. Normally, I don't go much for contemporary dances, but wow. It was stunning to watch.

This was, after all, the My Favorite Year week of DWTS, where the celebrities pick whatever was their most momentous year (for whatever reason). And Willow Shields, prior to DWTS, was best known for being Katniss' little sister in The Hunger Games. So guess which year she picked...?

Week after week after week, Mark Ballas is over here, creating these brilliant dances, kind of under everyone else's radar. Well, the joke's on him this week, because he received THREE 10s from the judges (still not from Len). So far, that was a season record.

The dance was just stunning, and to me, everything else this week paled next to that.

So let's go back and start at the beginning.

Most often, the My Favorite Year segment is lackluster and not well executed. This year, thankfully, they started the show with the celebrities handing each other a photograph OF their favorite year/moment/whatever it was they were talking about. Maybe not "favorite" exactly, but most memorable. The soldier chose the year his limbs got blown off to represent.

Normally stoic Robert (the "Shark") got teary eyed (and us with him) talking about how he and his mother used to watch DWTS, and he danced to one of her favorite tunes. Which was really beautiful.

Olympic gymnast Nastia danced to the music which won her a gold medal, which was an interesting twist. She and Derek got the season's FIRST 10 for their efforts.

The judges mentioned the lack of passion between these two dancers (Derek and Nastia) and that it was "all technique." I kinda have to agree, though on technique it did warrant the 10s. But this couple still hasn't lit my fire.

A couple who HAS, and who just keeps bringing it, week after week, are these two. Allison and Riker. First of all, they keep picking the good music (as do Mark and Val, I must say). This week, they danced the tango to "Shut Up and Dance with Me."

Mind you, now, I said TANGO. Most often on this show, couples opt for the Argentine tango, because you can do lifts and there are those snazzy kicks you do. But the TANGO requires couples to stay in hold THE WHOLE TIME (also why people don't usually do that, cause it's HARD). They did it in this song, and it was stunning to watch. In hold even dancing down stairs. This was breath-taking of another kind.

Bachelor Chris hung in there another week, by doing a nice rumba with Witney.

Notice the roses on her gown. (Get it?)

Patti LaBelle did "have more steps" this week, but ugh. Enough already.

And Suzanne Somers did what seemed to be a touching remembrance to her Jack Tripper, the wondrous John Ritter. But the fact that she didn't even mention Joyce DeWitt felt a little grating to me. It was, after all, THREE's Company, not 2. You can't ask us to love and remember a show, but only remember your version of it. Ugh.

Noah and Sharna did a patriotic contemporary. Also my least favorite of their dances so far, but they are still very much contenders.

So, my top three, from week to week are Mark and Willow, Allison and Riker and Val and Rumer. This week was probably my least favorite so far of the presentations by Val and Rumer, but only because the other two favorites blew me away so much.

Oh, and Week 5 is Disney Week again, so there's that to look forward to... Ahem...


1. Oh my God... MARK and Willow (contemporary)

2. Allison and Riker (tango)

3. Val and Rumer (waltz)

4. Derek and Nastia (Argentine tango)

5. Kym and Robert (waltz)

Kudos to the amazing Costume department, who is consistently doing great work this season (no dresses to be tripped over!), and the set people, specifically James Yarnell, who recreated the Three's Company set.


1. Patti LaBelle

2. Suzanne Somers


Sunday, April 5, 2015

DWTS Week 3: Separating the Irritating from the Sublime

Allison and Riker. Week 3. Courtesy of ABC.
Let me start off with this. One of my pet peeves (in any season of Dancing with the Stars) is the supreme arrogance of stars who SIGN UP FOR THIS SHOW and then decide that everything else in their life is more important. Whether that's their kids, or their day job of a full-time soap opera, or some kind of football draw thing, or other modeling contracts. Whatever the heck it is, it irritates the crap out of me.

Here's how it's supposed to work, "celebrities": You sign up for the show, you devote every waking hour that you have to getting this complicated choreography right. You dream about these dances, and how you can make them better by doing better. EVERYTHING ELSE in your sorry life gets put on hold.

That's how it works. Too many people "go on Dancing with the Stars" because they think it's a thing... something that would look good on their resume. Something they can squeeze in between all the other things they really want to be doing. WELL, STOP IT.

Or, like our besotted Charlotte this week, who couldn't concentrate because of all the modeling offers she was now fielding, YOU GET VOTED OFF. Or, maybe she knew she couldn't dance a lick and just wanted to get the heck out of there, once she realized how darn hard it actually was going to be. Either way, I'm glad she's gone. I couldn't applaud fast enough for the exit of that talk show host last season who couldn't be bothered to actually learn the steps. UGH.

So, Charlotte's gone. Boo hoo. (Props to Costumes for Charlotte's amazing outfit.)

Keo and Charlotte. Courtesy of ABC.
BTW, Bruno was taking all kinds of flak for saying, "well, you're not going to win the Nobel Prize for Physics." To which wonderful host Tom Bergeron piped up: "Well, Bruno, neither are you." Both things are true.

This is a woman who made her fame for eating a burger in skimpy clothes. She's a model with big boobs, and that's pretty much all she'll ever be. Sorry, but that is the truth.

And I'm glad she's gone.

Next, on Miche's mode of irritation this week, we have the other celebrities. Not that I have anything against older people in general. I am one. But I don't go on DWTS either.

Older celebrities who need to go, and soon, are Suzanne Somers and Patti LaBelle.

Mind you, Tony Dovolani is wonderful, and he seems singularly focused on whoever his celebrity is, and I do love him for that. However, when you have celebs doing backflips and somersaults, it's hard for a 70-year-old to compete. It just is. Sorry, Tony.

Love Miss Patti LaBelle's singing. Wonderful. As a dancer, she looks like she can barely walk across the room, much less dance. She shot down Artem's idea of lifting her anywhere. All of that makes for some limiting movements.

Artem suffering through this nonsense with Patti LaBelle. Courtesy of ABC.
She doesn't want to be lifted, she doesn't really want to move all that much, and she's damn sure not gonna "hop." (Which is what this was supposed to be.). Please vote her off, and soon. She's irritating.

They do know, these celebrities, that going on Dancing with the Stars involves, um, you know... DANCING? Right? *sigh*

So, psst... Chris, the Bachelor? Come over here a minute... let me whisper this in your ear. If you want to hang on until the middle of the season, try to just put forth a minimal effort to keep you in the pack. They have to get rid of all this deadweight, and that's going to take a minute. And if you keep doing dances like this Argentine tango you did, you can really hang on, even though you really can't dance a lick either.

Chris and Witney. Courtesy of ABC.
But let's get back to some of the couples who are gladdening my soul these early weeks... Like this one.

Valentin Chmerkovskiy and Rumer Willis. Courtesy of ABC.
This brings up an interesting and not-unnoticed point. Most of the other couples were laboring under the "Latin Night" theme, doing Latin dances. However, perhaps because they are like a rocket so far ahead of the pack, someone (a producer?) gave them additional instruction that no one else seemed to get. Everyone else on this night just did straight dances. For some (inexplicable) reason, Val and Rumer had to do a mashup dance of disco and salsa.

Which, of course, they aced. So they are pretty much still far ahead of everyone else.

Well, except for this.

Riker and Allison (who also inexplicably threw an Aztec theme in there) did this amazing salsa. Just incredible. Just worlds of precision and technique away from whatever the hell it was Patti LaBelle was trying to do out there.

Loved their dance, packed full of salsa content. Modern and unique choreography. Stunning.

Then we had Art Piece Number 3, aka Mark Ballas and Willow Shields.

Mark Ballas and Willow Shields. Courtesy of ABC.
I honestly think that a partner could just walk through whatever Mark Ballas tells them to do, and get to within an inch of the finals. This was a stunning paso, with stark comparisons of fire and ice. Just beautiful, and thought-provoking, and stunning to watch. Willow Shields is very lucky indeed.

Noah and Sharna continue to surprise. Their package talked all about how they practiced with a prosthetic arm, which they finally opted not to use.

Noah and Sharna do an Argentine tango. Courtesy of ABC.
Despite this, they did some pretty spectacular lifts. I thought their Argentine tango was just spectacular.

Lastly, we get full-circle to Derek and Nastia. I was on a tear at the beginning of this post about people who choose to do other things rather than devoting themselves full-time to the season. However, we all know that Derek could just about sleepwalk through the season and still end up in the finals. He has "10 shows a week," on Broadway. She has classes at NYU. They fly back and forth every week to tape the show. Sorry, but I am kinda rooting for them to lose (given all I said in the beginning). But being Derek, I do think he's going to get pretty far along anyway.


1. Allison and Riker (salsa)

2. Valentin and Rumer (disco salsa)

3. Sharna and Noah (Argentine tango)

4. Mark and Willow (paso doble)

5. Derek and Nastia (samba)


1. Patti and Artem

2. Suzanne and Tony

3. Michael and Peta

4. Chris and Witney