Sunday, May 22, 2016

DWTS S22 Week 7 Mark and Paige Stop the Show on Icons Week

While it's true that Valentin Chmerkovskiy and Ginger Zee scored the FIRST perfect score in this evening for their amazing Viennese waltz, it's also true that Mark Ballas and Paige Vanzant scored the SECOND perfect score for this jive. (And these were the first perfect scores of Dancing with the Stars Season 22.) So, all in all, there was some stellar dancing going on in this episode.

There was also some less than stellar. We had the team dances, first time I can remember without Derek, and they pretty much fell flat. The construct was men (stars) versus women (stars). It didn't work. In fact, they were probably the worst team dances I've ever seen on this show.

Also, it was a double elimination (always rough) but the right people went home.

So, an eventful evening. But let's start at the beginning, shall we?

This was the awesome opening number, choreographed by Mandy Moore.

First up, Keo and Jodie. I've expressed previously that I think Keo is holding Jodie back. That if she'd been with a different pro, she would've gone further in this competition. I still think that. It's also curious to me (since there are so many talented pros on this show) that Keo (and somewhat Sasha) are the only ones that I've heard the judges fault for their performance, or their choreography (lacking content), or missing a step.

In this dance, the judges said that their hold wasn't close enough ("lost body contact"--aka, points off), and that even though Keo missed a step, Jodie stayed on time and powered through it. :-0

I honestly hope that Keo sits out the next season, and is not in a pro slot. I do think he was put there before he was ready. And that the only reason Keo got as far as he did this season was because Jodie was so darn good. And they get decent scores on this evening, and don't go home.

Other couples were not so lucky. Sasha and Kim, for example. Sasha has also not been this far in the competition previously. And he and Kim were good partners together, I thought. I loved this Icons dance they did to the Jackson Five's "ABC." They did this whole black light thing with part of the dance which was also fun.

But Kim Fields did not take her parting very smoothly. She felt wronged by the judges' scores (last week), and said so in her package. Let's just get some perspective here, a moment.

By this point in the competition, let's say the last two weeks, the best dancers are left. But Kim Fields, try as hard as she might, was NEVER as good as say, Ginger Zee, or Paige Vanzant. Now whether that's because of sheer talent (or lack of it) or because the other two women had better partners? You decide.

It does seem to me, however, that both Keo and Sasha seem like backup dancers still, even though they are pros. They both proved this season that they don't seem to have a concept of how much content must be packed into each dance to get into the finals. They both seemed to think that if they just put forth a pretty dance, it would be fine.

And from this vantage point, it sure seems like Ginger and Paige (for example) not only have the steps down, but have the pointed toes and the facial expressions and everything else that's required for a champion. My main problem with Sasha is not that he doesn't have a lot of energy, he does, but that he doesn't seem to be that good of an actor. Dance is a big part of this, yes, but some of these dances (paso doble, for example) require a strong command of a different character than one who just constantly smiles.

These people who get to the top, into the finals, into the semifinals, KNOW what it takes to get there. Know that it's not just who dances better than anyone else. It's a LOT of factors: dance, acting, movement, precision, choreography, luck, America's votes.

Look at Val, for example. EVERY dance he does, even in Week 1, is created with beautiful (even stunning) choreography, which is packed with all the steps that Len and the other judges are looking for. As the competition moves along, he adds more steps that he knows are going to make the judges salivate. More nuance, more detail.

Sasha and Keo at this point couldn't even keep up with all the steps that were required in the dances. "Not good enough hold"? That's a rookie mistake. A pro on DWTS SHOULD NEVER get a judges' note like that. Nor a "lack of content" note. Kim Fields route to the exit started when she danced on the Switch Up with Keo and the judges said there was "no Viennese waltz content" in their dance. (And there wasn't.)

This is not a show where you just go out there and look pretty. They are looking for, and scoring, very specific things. And if you don't know what they are (pros), I suggest you go look them up. Cause if you, as the pro, don't know these things backwards and forwards, you are doing a great disservice to your partner.

Truly, at this point in the competition, not only do the people who are actually going to win the Mirror Ball have all their steps and content DOWN, they are now adding things like flips and splits and double cartwheels. But it STARTS with knowing what the judges are looking for, and perfecting that. Using it from Week 1.

Nyle and Peta dance to U2's "Beautiful Day"
Then, as if all that wasn't already going on, we also had this. When last we left this, you'll remember that in last week's package, Nyle said that he thought Val was "his greatest competition," to which the producers asked, "Val and Ginger?" and Nyle clarified to say, "No, Val." (Basically saying that he was beyond the competitors, and thought Val was his competition.)

This week, Peta (who also knows what it takes to win this competition) tried to walk all that back, by saying that Nyle's comments were "taken out of context." No, no, they weren't. They played the entire thing. They played the incredulous producers, and Nyle repeating his comments, to explain further. They weren't out of context at all.

And she tried to use the old trope that "I want you to aspire to be as good as a professional," which is the same nonsense Val used last season when Tamar got all uppity and arrogant, saying she was better than everyone else.

Whatever. He said it. It cannot be unsaid. I refuse to vote for him further, no matter what dances you come up with.

Thankfully, we then had a fabulous bumper (Jazz Funk... have they ever danced that on this show?) to Beyonce's "Crazy in Love" that Tom Bergeron noted was the first ever dance on DWTS. Thank you, Jenna, Shannon and Hayley for that. Quite wonderful. Great palate cleanser.

Sharna gives herself a 10 after pulling up her corset from her wardrobe malfunction.
And we go right from that sexy time into Sharna's first ever wardrobe malfunction. The East Coast feed may've gotten it live, but sadly, by the time it aired on the West Coast, said nipple had been airbrushed. :-(

I thought it was a great tango before that (to the Rolling Stones). Sharna, at least, knows that although Antonio has a million-dollar smile, in a tango or paso, it doesn't work. Antonio, to his credit, put forth a somber, darker mood in this dance. He calls it, "a different side of 'Business Is Boomin.' " Maybe you can't teach a football player how to act, but if you can at least get him to project a different mood, it's halfway there. Great work by Sharna.

As Tom directs them to leave, he says, "Go up to the Skybox, it's warmer up there." Heh. We love you, Tom Bergeron.

This was a beautiful, sweet dance. Nice costumes, great choreography by Lindsay. However, I take issue with the fact that it's "Icons Week," with people doing songs by their favorite "Icon," and this was introduced as from Aretha Franklin. In point of fact, this song was written for Dionne Warwick by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. So, if you're going to focus on an Icon, at least pick the person who actually wrote the song, and/or made it a hit. C'mon. So much perfection in this show, and they get sloppy with something like this? Ugh. (Also, they are dancing to NEITHER the Dionne Warwick version, nor the Aretha Franklin version. I think it's the show's singers who sang it.)

Next up? Ginger and Val.

First, she's wearing this gorgeous dress that is low cut in the back, and the opening shot is of her back. It looks like she's wearing Spanx or something, pulled up really high (like halfway up her back). Very strange. (A night of weird wardrobe problems, it seems.) Anyway, to the sublime.

They did this opening sequence with mirrors all around. Just stunning. Worked amazing for the Viennese waltz, where it's all about turning and rotating. And these Chmerkovskiy brothers sure know their way around a Viennese waltz. Valentin's choreography just continues to take my breath away. He had this move at the end, where he is swirling her by holding her back. Just amazing. Stunning. There aren't enough adjectives. They received a perfect score, and deservedly so.

I hope others are taking note of the wonderful steps that were in this dance.

Then, we had this one. I'm not sure, but in the package, both of them seemed to say they didn't know who Elvis Presley was. Witney: "He was the King of Rock, right?" *eyeroll* Seems to me like people shouldn't be doing an "Icon" unless it's an icon who means something to them. But whatever. I'll let this photo speak for what the dance was.

Von ends up getting booted on this show (one half of the double elimination), and I was glad. He wasn't even doing the level of what Antonio was doing, to say nothing of the competitors above that.

And finally, another sublime dance.

Tina Turner's "Proud Mary" is always a butt-shaker, but if you coulda seen the amazing jive that Mark Ballas choreographed to this song! Wow.

They had a triple cartwheel, where Paige does a cartwheel, then Mark does one on top of that, then Paige again, so they are like a spinning wheel for three revolutions...they had planned that for their salsa, but Mark hurt his back, so they brought it out for this one. Wowza.

Certainly one of the best versions of "Proud Mary" I've ever seen. Deserved its perfect score.

And then, too soon, the sublime is over, and we have this.

The men stars dance to James Brown.
The women dance to Beyonce.
The less said about all that, the better. Except to note that there was another wardrobe malfunction in this dance, with some of the women losing their skirts at the wrong moment.

1. Mark and Paige (jive)
2. Val and Ginger (Viennese waltz)
3. Sharna and Antonio (tango)
4. Lindsay and Wanya (foxtrot)
5. Sasha and Kim (samba)


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