Saturday, March 19, 2016

DWTS Season 21 Semis: Tamar Leaves, Jenna Becomes a Star

Season 21 of Dancing with the Stars was pretty amazing. Lots of amazing things happened. But to my eyes, none more amazing than this.

Let's just cut to the chase. Saddled with a somewhat uncooperative and very overworked partner all season, who by this episode (the Semi-finals) was too sick to even compete, this episode, and this dance, to me felt like a reward for Valentin. (58 minutes into the show).

It certainly was a reward for the audience.

Miss Jenna Johnson, if you don't know her, has long been (seasons long) a sexy little background dancer. One of the troupe you could always count on to add some sparkle and always hit her marks.

Oh, but holy crap, THIS DANCE! As anyone who reads this blog knows, I've been covering DWTS for many seasons now. I love their dancers and the dances they create. In the 10 years I've been watching, there is NO single dance which I have personally replayed and rewatched more than this tango between Jenna and Val.

And it's just everything about this. The fact that reigning champion Valentin Chmerkovskiy deserved a better partner than Tamar Braxton this season. The fact that Jenna has been dancing on the sidelines too long. The dance itself, so exquisitely choreographed. The dress she's wearing. The suit he's wearing. The camera angles, the way they swoon over her body. The swoops and dips of the camera matching what Val and Jenna are doing. The song... so many words in this song... Jenna has a habit of mouthing the words. In this song, that totally worked. (Cause it's the heroine of the song singing it.)

If only she can master staying in character a bit more, she's as good as any pro currently competing.

Cause, man, does Jenna SPARKLE. And her and Val, at the top of his dancing form? Wow.

Just a moment, I have to go rewatch that dance again.

Hot? Did I mention how HOT it is?

Oh, so good. Do yourself a favor and seek it out. For my money, it is the best dance of Season 21, one of the best dances I've ever seen on this show. And producers: PLEASE make Jenna a pro next season. Enough with the lame Lindsay already. This woman (Jenna) has star quality.

This was from the dress rehearsal where Jenna played Val's GF/Wife/Whatever, and they danced to Wicked Game. Amazing stuff, such great choreography.

 But ok, fine. Let's get to this week's real show.

In the main competition, there was some of this:

(A really stupid contemporary dance, that I didn't like even a little bit.) This was Carlos and Witney, who consistently choose the worst music to dance to. And considering how moving and mind-blowing last week's contemporary by Carlos' wife was... this was just an insult to even watch.

Oh, and the "rope is God. Cause he gets me through Life." Um, ok.

This tango. Ugh. (First, kudos to the costume department, who are just firing on all cylinders this season. Such a beautiful dress on Sharna here, and on Jenna later.)

But considering the tango we are about to see, this one just lacked all steam. Nick Carter is really in his head too much to be a decent dancer. Although I do give props to Sharna's amazing choreography. It's really stunning how she works part of each person's background and personality into her choreography. That artistry is really beautiful to watch.

Also, there was a little meltdown early on, missing steps, that she just powered through (and got Nick through). Big props to Sharna for that. But Nick, hey, we aren't supposed to have stuff like that by this point in the competition.

Nor is he (to my eyes) consistently a good dancer. Some people just can't figure out the whole character thing, and that just because you're being steamy with someone onstage doesn't mean you're really being steamy with them. (Nick) Well, in any case, this tango wasn't steamy, so I'm glad we had Val and Jenna in a short bit after this, to remind us of what tangos are supposed to be.

We had Bindi and Derek doing this:

(An underwhelming salsa, which Julianne correctly noted that there wasn't really much steaminess to...)

And we had our hero, Alek, dancing a waltz to America the Beautiful. (I am so not kidding.)

If you're a flag-waver, this was the dance of the night for you!

SEMI-FINALS Single Dances Miche Favs

1. Valentin and Jenna (oh, oops, didn't count, oh well)


2. Bindi and Derek (salsa)

3. Lindsay and Alek (waltz)

4. Sharna and Nick (tango)

5. Witney and Carlos (contemporary)


THIS is the point where the Valentin-Jenna dance happens. 58 minutes in. Go watch it. Seriously.

Then we have the stupid "Dance Off" that I'm just going to skip... oh wait... watching it again, I forgot about the amazing samba roll that Derek threw in. Incredible. The judges were bowing to him for that....

And now, we have a whole 'nother show: the Trio round!

Man, oh man! One of the best things about this show is when the creativity of the dancers gets unleashed. In this Trio round, Bindi and Derek worked with Mark Ballas (one of my DWTS favorites) to create this stunning "jazz" piece, with a box and a light. They are just in a class by themselves, and really have been all season long.

Then, we had this.

The hotness between Emma and Alek was an amazing part of Season 21. So glad they brought it back for a moment with this Trio of an Argentine Tango. Quite wonderful to watch.

Witney, Carlos and Karina Smirnoff (love her!) do a Charleston for their Trio.

Peta Murgatroyd, Nick Carter and Sharna do a Salsa. Peta admitted that she used to have Nick Carter... well, Backstreet Boys... posters up on her wall...

And then, we have the manufactured drama fake out of an elimination round in which SURPRISE no one gets eliminated because Taymar's illness eliminated her. So all of these couples go to the Finals next week. Woo hoo.

1. Bindi, Derek, Mark (jazz)
2. Emma, Alek, Lindsay (Argentine Tango)
3. Peta, Nick, Sharna (salsa)
4. Carlos, Witney, Karina (Charleston)