Hector’s Introduction to Week 5:
Following the Pro Couple, or Side by Side as they are calling it, turned out to be a good idea after all! I was dubious at first, but to quote the Bard All’s well that ends well! I like it, how creative the DWTS production team is! I’m a sucker for new twists and imagination! That said, I’m also unfortunately the first to dump on the creators when the idea doesn’t work as well, like their dubious Prom Night! In general, in the making of this show, there’s a lot of improvisation, or call it serendipity. It’s part of the charm and attraction of DWTS. In this live show, things don’t always turn out ideally. This would seem logically appropriate, except big networks don’t like losing lots of money or ratings on slightly dysfunctional episodes. I might add that Tom Bergeron, master of ceremonies supreme, helps a lot in fixing and balancing this show! His humor and talent for making us trust that things are under control when they aren’t, is unparalleled!
To get back on theme, I just loved Side by Side Pros, or Three Pros and a Hapless Star! As the judges expressed (half not believing the gig had worked) it helped motivate the star contender. If you think about it, it’s a great resource, three teachers instead of one! The star gets a couple to watch, see how it’s done professionally. He also gets his teacher Pro to guide him in emulating the Pro couple! Also, the amateur gets a Pro of the same sex to better see what the gender dance role should be like. Plus, you get thrice the help in choreography! No doubt the best choreography of the night was the Derek-Kellie group, with three masters: Anna Trebunskaya, who’s excellent! Henry Byalikov, who choreographed for Baz Lhurman’s The Great Gatsby (how close was that to Cole Porter’s You Do Something To Me and the 30’s ambiance!); and of course Derek, whose genius needs no proof. Even if the judges’ apparent new agenda is to over-score Zendaya, I am giving my highest accolade to this foursome!
Here are mine and Jayne’s thoughts, in order of my performance ranking…
Kellie and Derek (with Henry Byalikov and Anna Trebunskaya) – Foxtrot
Hector: Many a dance have I seen on Broadway that didn’t look as professional as this marvelous, stylish, polished performance! I had to watch it many times, out of pure pleasure, but also because I wanted to concentrate on what each of the four dancers did. They were all so delightful, one can’t choose a favorite! Henry had such dash and elegance, such focus and calm control, as he slid across the ballroom with exquisite Anna, so drop-dead gorgeous it hurts! How ritzy 30’s was the joyful spectacle of both couples circling the ballroom in perfect sync! It was a treat to watch Hough at tandem with Pickler. He was at once dapper and comedic! His gestures and expressions were a world of entertainment rolled into one dance! (And then there was his funny imitation of Kellie’s accent, upstairs with Brooke! Derek may be a much better actor than anyone would expect!) Yet the biggest accolade I reserve for the apprentice! I adored Kellie’s blonde bombshell dance role! Bruno hailed Kellie as Harlow-like, which was period-appropriate. Kellie however was more like Marilyn in my attraction meter (obscenity not intended). Kellie is a mega-performer, she transforms herself when dancing into someone twice as attractive as she normally looks, no mean feat. On second thought, this is not so surprising. One of her big role models is Dolly Parton, who has a feminine Monroe vibe. In this foxtrot, Kellie looked a lot more Monroe than Dolly does! She was more the Cole Porter sexy, elegant female dancer than Jean Harlow or Ginger Rogers! She and Derek performed an elaborate, stylish dance full of quick transitions, side by side gigs, changing to hold. They also smoothly delivered some difficult footwork. It was fun to watch the awed faces of the surrounding audience as the pair slid across with suave panache, then turning, Kellie kicking her leg up as Derek elegantly held her!! The fun and comedy content of this dance was pure delight! These four great performers delivered in great style! Kellie sizzled and dazzled just as much as the three brilliant pros; Henry, Anna, and Derek!! Hats off to all four!
Jayne: I loved everything about this dance…from the staging, to the costumes, to the additional couple (yes, I’m partial to Henry Byalikov and I just love Anna!), to the music, to the dance itself. This was Kellie’s first Ballroom style dance of the season and she proved that she is just as capable at handling this as any of the previous style genera. The dance was smooth with Kellie providing lovely posture and extensions. Beautiful, romantic and fun!! Side by Side was brilliant, the couples staying in tandem throughout. The era used to showcase the dance brought visions of Baz Luhrmann and The Great Gatsby to me, just as Bruno mentioned. Mainly because of Henry Byalikov’s participation in the new movie about to come out, where he helped choreograph dance numbers! Wonderfully executed performance, receiving a 27 score from the judges.
Zendaya and Val (with Maks Chmerkovskiy and AnnaTrebunskaya) – Tango
Hector: Could anyone ever tell this was not only Zendaya’s first Tango, but Val’s as well? It’s a tribute to Val’s candidness that he confessed as much to Zendaya. I thought all Pros were experts in every type of dance! How are they supposed to teach if they don’t know the dance? No wonder Zendaya was so grateful to the team. For a first Tango, this was terrific! Maks and Anna provided a brilliant introduction, with Anna being swirled around by Maks, her back coiled. I’ve seen Peta do that, but Anna does it so much more artistically. Val and Zen then do their Tango, well done to the music. But woe, there are many posture and poise flaws, which are crucial for a good Tango!! Nice and stylish, Zendaya has such great extensions! But her very length apparently moves her to crawl to Val’s height, which is awful form! Val in turn slouches, inexplicably! He should have straightened his back and his neck for maximum height and effect. Bad posture in a Tango, is mortal sin! I can’t understand Bruno’s and Carrie Ann’s perfect tens, when we can plainly see such obvious flaws! Can’t even understand Len’s nine, he’s such a stickler for posture! The Tango and story was fun. As Tangos go, though, I’ve seen much better dances, more state-of-the-art Tango choreography. Maks himself has delivered better Tango! Remember that beautiful Tango Maks did with Brandy? (Yet he got eliminated by Bristol! Strange things happen on DWTS sometimes.) The over-scoring of this team by the judges was blatant and inexplicable! Especially by comparison to the marvelous, special Kellie/Derek Foxtrot!
Jayne: Zen and Val tackled the beautiful Argentine Tango this week, and interestingly enough, it was a first for BOTH of them! And, how amazing was it to see the two Chmerkovskiy brothers dancing Side by Side?! Zendaya just looked fabulous, professional in fact. I loved her footwork and she seemed very in step with Val. As before, her extension is amazing, providing such beautiful lines. I was a bit concerned about her height for this dance, and it did seem at times as if she had to compress herself a bit to achieve the technical movements, but she did achieve them and performed the style artistically. She created great expression as she immersed herself into the character, very fierce as a Femme Fatale. I think that Zen benefited greatly from working with Anna in understanding more about how the character (woman) would perform, bringing that edge she needed. Receiving 29 as their score, they received the first 10’s of the season!! Quoting Val from their rehearsal clip, That’s what’s up!
Jacoby and Karina (with Maks Chmerkovskiy and Anna Trebunskaya) – Jive
Hector: What a wild Jive! Thoroughly enjoyable, bitchin’ performance! Does it matter that much that Jacoby messed up his footwork, as Len would have it? Or that he didn’t point his feet? One thing about Jones we’re starting to find out. He’s very much his own man. He does things his way, like the Sinatra song! Did you notice in the side by side dance with Maks and Anna he was not doing Jive Maks’ way, but had his own Jive vibe? Others, like Sean, tried to move in sync with the professional couple. Some, like D.L. did not because they just couldn’t keep up! I got the feeling, though, that Jacoby wanted to do it his way not because he couldn’t follow Maks and Anna, but because he had to implant his own stamp on the dance! I wonder if the couples were supposed to be in sync when side by side, doing pretty much the same steps at tandem, like in figure skating dances? Or if it was OK to do what Jacoby did, a little different, but looking good in harmony? You could see the way Jacoby moved his arms and legs, often moving his knees in and out like in a Charleston dance move, was very different to Maks’ more traditional Jive swing. Still, because Jacoby had good timing, great rhythm, and was in sync with the music, the two couples looked good together! I feel we have a bit of a star rebel here! Is he telling us: Hey! I don’t need to follow this guy Maks! I have my own style! This is my kind of dance! Maybe Jacoby has a point. We like that in a man! It’s good that he’s individualistic and self-assured, confident that he can do an exciting dance! Are perhaps the mistakes that the judges detected the result of his stubbornness to learn from a dazzling pro Jiver like Maks? Perhaps Jacoby didn’t feel the need to polish his footwork or point his feet the way Maks did because he resisted imitating him. Bruno proclaimed a testosterone fest between Maks and Jacoby! This side by side challenge seemed to have resulted in a little power match between two strong males. Maybe the power match inspired a little defiance in Jones that motivated him to deliver a lively performance! Not so much the result that we got from the others, which seemed very open to emulate and learn from the pro role models! What we got is a very enjoyable, power performance which was a lot of fun if not so perfect technically.
Jayne: Jacoby and Maks matchup was perfect in my book. They both are similar in height and size; it was great seeing them Side by Side with their partners, they were very in sync! Jacoby brought lots of energy to the dance, working his steps well with good kicks and flicks action, although not quite as technical as it should have been with his feet. The Jive itself was wild and frenzied! I loved Jacoby’s split/bent leg trick (I have no idea what to call it but it looked good!) and of course an amazingly great leap over the top of Karina as she was standing!! Jacoby states in his rehearsal clip that he’s never gotten 9’s or done the encore and he wants both this week! And guess what?! He did it! Received 26 score with two 9s and the judges gave him the encore!
Aly and Mark (with Tony Dovolani and Witney Carson) – Samba
Hector: I was looking forward to Tony and Mark collaborating on this Samba. I was not disappointed! For the finale of Season 15, which I attended, there is a one hour prepping up of the live audience for the show. To my delight, the highlight of this preparation was asking everyone to invade the ballroom and dance! On center stage, a dais was placed and Tony went solo on top to lead the entire audience in a hot Cha Cha. Big fun! Tony was a riot up there, as he led hundreds! As soon as he’s out on the Side by Side dance floor, Tony’s exhilarating and not the least inhibited, sexily dancing with young Pro Witney, who is a dynamo! Aly and Mark join them, full of energy and pizazz! There’s good chemistry between the two males, looking bonded and at ease with each other. The girls attack the Samba with even more energy, and bump and grind! The couples then smoothly move in unison into the ballroom floor. They swirl and move forward in identical moves.so in harmony, festive, sensual and congenial! As the Pro couple exits, there’s a nice transition as Aly swirls to face Mark and do their thing, but a little missed step sends her out of whack for a bit, then recovery! She sways and jiggles and bumps and shimmies with (as Bruno well said) strong technique and best of all a more at ease attitude that makes Aly looks as if she’s enjoying her dancing journey! A bit aside: Is it only me who’s noticed Aly looks physically somewhat like (OMG) Bristol! Lightning strikes twice on Mark? This time I think Mark got a much better dancer!
Jayne: Aly and Mark performed the Samba with Tony and Witney. This was a good dance for Aly to work on bringing out even more of her sass as a dancer. Witney was great helping Aly to loosen up and be able to execute some of the moves that she hadn’t performed before. Witney is new this season to the Troupe, coming off her appearance on So You Think You Can Dance. She was my favorite on that show and I’m really happy to be able to continue to see her perform! Back to the dance…Aly came out on the floor with attitude and sexiness, she held her own with Witney in the Side by Side, working her shimmy and shake. She and Mark seemed to be having a lot of fun and kept up the energy throughout the dance. She had a little bauble, but aside from that, a very enjoyable performance. Coming down a bit in the leaderboard after their first place last week, the judges gave them a score of 25.
Sean Lowe and Peta ( with Tristan MacManus and Chelsie Hightower) – Quickstep
Hector: I’m probably going against public favor by placing Sean fifth, over Ingo, Andy and Victor, but I’m so sure Sean deserves it! From the first dance, I was charmed by Sean’s sincere and gleeful performances. Even when most thought Sean showed little promise of brushing off the awkward arm movements and missed steps, I enjoyed his performances! He had me smiling at his childlike enthusiasm and sheer delight in dancing. Even if he wasn’t doing that well, I found Sean’s will to perform, riveting. I never feel bored, as with Ingo, for example. Eventually, everyone loved his YMCA dance, but suspected they liked it for reasons other than Sean’s dancing. In this Side by Side dance, Sean proved he could carry the performance on his own, after Tristan and Chelsie exited! Sizzling Pros Sean did get, especially Tristan, who shines bright in the hunk department as well as the dancing and likability scales! Fortunately, Sean loved Tristan, but not in the same way that Tom jokes about it! I think Sean liking Tristan went a long way in motivating Sean to learn from him. Peta (with help from Tristan and Chelsie) managed a simple choreography that worked well. The dance marathon set-up has competing couples. Tristan and Chelsie jump and circle the ballroom with a dashing, polished yet youthful and exuberant Quickstep. Hard to beat? The two couples then go side by side up on a central dais, and low and behold! Although the women are lithe and saucy, the males are the dominant dancers up there. Step by bouncy step, Sean is keeping up! Delighted, the public applauds. It’s a swinging foursome, not three swans and the ugly duckling! Sean and Peta confidently take to the dance floor after that. Sean owns it! He’s doing every step, in quick sequence. His sense of showmanship takes over and all eyes are on him. He so wants to do well, so wants to please us! He may not be as poised or as light-footed, or have the spiffy posture and flexibility of Tristan, but we’re enjoying every minute of his dance. We like his delight in dancing; we root for him 100%! Don’t spoil our fun, judges! We’re not seeing any mistakes just what he did well! Great show, his best dance yet! A swan, said Bruno! Cool it Bruno, no need to go hyper.
Jayne: Sean really turned up the fun this week, starting with the rehearsal package featuring himself twinning Tristan, copying everything from his shirt to the way he stretched in order to achieve a mirrored performance. Chelsie joined Tristan as his partner and it was fun to see them dancing together again, as I loved their Design a Dance performance last season! Overall, I believe that Sean is continuing to improve. He was very light on his feet with Peta, and carried himself with style and a bit of sassy class! Sean was able to keep up during the Side by Side sections (all that copying seems to have paid off!) and maintained good speed, energy, and expression throughout. Len said it was Sean’s best dance so far, achieving a total score of 24, his and Peta’s highest of the season!
Victor and Lindsay (with Tristan MacManus and Emma Slater) – Viennese Waltz
Hector: Although the judges gave equal scores to Victor and Ingo, I liked Victor’s Waltz much better than Ingo’s Cha Cha. Victor fell into the proper mood for the Waltz. His technique improved a lot. He had the required elegance, grace and fluidity to make the choreography work. It’s a very stylish choreography which starts with mannequins who come to life and dance! Dapper Tristan and lovely Emma take to the dance floor in sprightly, classy elegance, handsomely doing a perfect waltz. Victor and Lindsay join them with great elan and no intimidation. The couples swirl side by side with romantic flair worlds apart from Victor’s boxing milieu. I wonder why Victor was costumed in grey vest, white shirt and slacks less formally than Tristan’s white tuxedo splendor. Why make Vic less dressed? The busboy and the maitre’d? Not a pleasant impression to give! Still, after Tristan and Emma exit, the busboy manages to take over the dance floor elegantly. Victor is confident and in control. He leads Lindsay gracefully around the dance floor, with good timing and fluidity. Victor looks good and sure of himself, in what must be for him, a new, strange world of refined dancing. It must be terrifying for him to go from boxing spars and aggressive training to the sophisticated ballroom. Although, in both cases, millions are watching! What a credit to him that he could do it so beautifully! That we can enjoy it so much! All the while, his chipper, determined attitude and constant, sweet smile make us happy that he is dancing for us, and that he is learning new tricks to enrich his life, and ours! Go, Victor! Well done!
Jayne: This performance had my favorite staging. The opening brings all four dancers posed alongside mannequins up on the stage. First off Emma and Tristan come alive and descend to the dance floor, opening the sequence with a beautiful dance. Soon Victor and Lindsay come alive and join them and they perform their Side by Side portion. The couples looked lovely together, keeping in step, spinning and graceful. As they moved into their solo performance, Victor is smiling but looks a little tentative a couple of times. There was fluidity, and I liked where Victor spun Lindsay in the floor spin at the end. Overall, it was a sweet and elegant. On a girly note, I loved Lindsay’s pink and Emma’s white dresses…beautiful for twirling! After a difficult week personally, Victor seemed to keep it together and continued to show some improvement. He and Lindsay received a score of 21.
Andy and Sharna (with Sasha Farber and Emma Slater) – Paso Doble
Hector: Unlike the judges, I ranked Andy higher than Ingo. In their technique and footwork, they are pretty much on equal footing. Their lack of undulating moves and hip movement is also similar, that is, pretty bad. But the lack of shimmy-shimmy is more of a problem for the Cha Cha than the Paso Doble! Ingo takes over Andy on the confidence department, he’s more determined and fierce. Still, fierce and determined machismo is totally out of character with Andy. He’s cast against type for Paso Doble as much as Ingo is for the Cha Cha! So in the last analysis, I had to go with Andy for performance value. Andy’s comedic Paso farce, as Len said, more Pasadena than Paso Doble, was way more entertaining than Ingo’s lousy Cha Cha. I was not entertained by Ingo’s Cha Cha massacre. Andy, I could have watched twice, with a smiling face. As with Tony’s Cha Cha, Sasha’s Paso was very good! Dashing and gallant, such passion and grace, to Emma’s sultry, lissome allure! Sharna takes the trophy for best new Pro. Her connection with Andy is sweet and sensitive. As a dancer she’s great beauty in motion! Andy’s show was like a Three Amigos comedic Paso parody. Andy just couldn’t take himself seriously as a macho, romantic Zorro type, so he hammed it up for a parody effect. The story portrayed in this dance reads like an old silent cinema script, a bit of kink and a lot of décolletage, with Sharna held captive by our Side by Side Pros. Then, zap, big entrance with our Zorro flying into the scene to save the lady! They battle, Zorro wins, the three Pros writhe about in passionate splendor, and Andy goes through dance step by step with little Paso conviction but having and creating fun! He didn’t do a proper Paso, but I give him credit for entertainment and glee! It’s our weekly Andy show! We love it!
Jayne: Ok, I have to admit, Andy and Sharna are the couple I am rooting for! Andy’s performance was a great bit of entertainment and fun. It was just plain enjoyment. Andy skillfully made his entrance for this Paso Doble on a zip line. A ZIP LINE!! He took on the role of Zorro and attacked the dance! To make this even more fun, we get to see one of my most favorite couples, Sasha and Emma, perform together as well! As for the technical aspects when it came to Andy, this dance would not be considered a strong Paso. Andy kept up and had most of the steps, just needed to be crisper and sharper. I loved the cape work, even with the little snag at the end. I thought he handled it well. Judges gave them a score of 18.
Ingo and Kym (with Tony Dovolani and Emma Slater) – Cha Cha
Hector: It’s painfully apparent that Ingo is not in his element doing the Cha Cha. As usual, he puts in a good effort, works very hard. In a dance like Cha Cha, grace and natural rhythm are of the essence. Tony Dovolani has it by the yards. We wish Cha Cha grace transfusions from Tony to Ingo should be possible. Naghh, didn’t happen! In this case the Side By Side experience only served to make you cringe as you watched the contrast between Tony and Ingo. Pretty pathetic! Len said Ingo had the care and not the flair. Just the opposite, I thought! As much as Ingo seemed to care, and as doggedly as he tried, he never had a flair for Cha Cha! Too bad. The music choice was cha-cha-liscious, Voulez-Vous Coucher Avec Moi. Side by Side night was generally characterized by great music choices for each dance. The choreography was good! Cha-charming Emma and Kym, looking stunning, start side by side on center stage, while the boys approach from a side cafe table. Tony and Emma are simply spectacular in their short, delicious Cha Cha Master Class. Hip sway, swing out, swing in, Emma falls back, leg up! Tony holds her straight leg way up and smiles teasingly. Lots of flirty sexiness in this dance! Easy does it! The technique must not show, the timing must be perfect! Ingo and Kym join them in the middle of the dance floor. Wow! How painful! Should I soothe myself by looking left at Tony and Emma? Or suffer, looking to the right at Ingo, battling with graceful Kym? At times, he stomps, rather than steps, no pointy feet! His side kick looks like he’s kicking off a dog rather than doing a dance kick. He’s never aware one must be graceful with one’s feet, Tony’s great gift! Except for one pelvic thrust, his hips never move! How different is Kym, who’s every curve is rippling in and out in extreme counterpoint! Like she’s pleading for Ingo to move by exaggerating her hip motions! Poor Kym, she must have been going nuts trying to motivate the immovable object in front of her! The judges are right though, when they at least praise his effort. He tries so hard! Sad to say this was a sorry effort from beginning to end! How right was Ingo’s kid, cutely smiling among the audience, when he gave his dad a 3! Precocious, maybe he’ll grow up to be a good dancer.
Jayne: Rehearsal clips revealed Ingo working hard to try and master the flavor of the Cha Cha. Tony was an excellent draw to help instruct him in the finer points of leading and form. When Ingo landed on the dance floor, he tackled it head on and brought sass with lots of attitude. He sustained good hip action with his pelvic thrusts, but needed to be better technically when it came to the actual Cha Cha movements. During the Side by Side part of the dance, Ingo seemed a little less sure. Even still, he carried a great air of confidence otherwise during the dance. His and Kym’s 21 point score from the judges was lower than last week, but still keeps them in the middle of the pack. It was great to see last year’s champion dancing again, and the lovely Emma partnering him. Emma needs to be a Pro, like tomorrow! On another note, Kym’s barely there outfit was quite distracting to me! I was sidetracked trying to figure out just how it was staying on!
D. L. and Cheryl Burke (with Sasha Farber and Chelsie Hightower) – Tango
Hector: I already knew D. L. was the ninth little Indian gone. D. L. has paid the price, so I don’t feel like adding insult upon injury. Thus, although I ranked him last, I think deservingly, as a farewell gift I will be a good sport, and say what was good about D. L. I will refrain from mentioning what was bad about his dancing. Mmmm, let’s see…he went through the whole routine from beginning to end and did all the required steps without falling down or anything. That part when he stepped backwards in typical Tango fashion, for about ten feet, with Cheryl hanging on to him! How impressive was that! So he didn’t do too well by comparison with Sasha and Chelsie in his Side By Side, said Carrie Ann. So why match him with a pro like Sasha, who has so much spark, sizzle and energy! Can this be fair? Like our other comedian, Andy, D. L. was always fun and funny. He made good jokes all through his duration. Not as winsome as Andy, who tugged at your heartstrings, but funny nevertheless. He struck me at first like he was very out of his comfort zone and that his self-effacing humor was laced with real torture. It seemed like he was sorry to have said yes to DWTS! What was I thinking he appeared to be mumbling. I didn’t enjoy that attitude, like he didn’t want us to see him sweat! Maybe I was wrong. He did put in more effort on the last three episodes. He didn’t seem energized enough, though, for me to be enthusiastic about him. Len was so right. He never showed much of an attack neither in the tango, nor his general dancing attitude. That may be the reason why he didn’t break out. Was he afraid to try hard and do badly? I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
Jayne: Unfortunately this was D.L.’s swan song, but I felt that he went out with a good attitude and effort. To his credit, he never gave up, continuing to work on improving his performance each week. With doing the Tango, I felt that D.L. had a strong approach, his and Cheryl’s Side by Side was actually pretty together with Sasha and Chelsie’s. He could have been a little smoother and better in his technique, but all of that comes with time. He landed an 18 score for the evening, and although that was tied with Andy and Sharna, he wasn’t able to cover the gap in viewer votes and his time ran out.
What a great original, creative, dancing in space opening number that was for the Results Show! Mark and Derek’s design! Kudos to both and the impressive Pro dancers in it! My biggest eulogy, though, goes to the 10th dancer in the unique choreography…the visual effects and whoever designed them! This is as much a part of the choreography as the dance or the dancers. I wonder if Mark and Derek had a hand in integrating them into their choreography, or if was put in after the dance. However it was done, it was a brilliant collaboration, something new, very original and effective.
As for the other special performances, personally I have a thumbs down for the Selena Gomez song and dance number! A bit long and boring for my taste! How can this live up to last week’s Andrea Bocelli and Jennifer Lopez? Thumbs up to Kerli, haunting song and vocals, and Stacey Tookey’s sexy Macy’s Stars of Dance choreography! Loved it! All in all, DWTS week 5 Season 16 was a HIT!