Jayne: This week our review will be brought to us exclusively by Hector! He’s provided a great breakdown of ALL the action of the entire two nights of dancing, drama and frivolity! Thanks Hector, for taking on the full enchilada!
We’re halfway through Season 16! Isn’t DWTS a great scenario for celebrating Stevie Wonder Night, with the glittery grand ballroom, the handsome couples swirling around, and Stevie’s wonderful, melodic and dance-able music?! Not to mention the best treat, Stevie himself, singing some of his music. Strange to have the band singers doing a Stevie imitation, though, when he’s right there. Shouldn’t they have tried a different interpretation of Mr. Wonder’s music? Didn’t matter, it was a Wonder-ful night with great music and dancing. Stevie’s music is just right for DWTS, reminiscent of disco, with a bit of funky and a lot of Motown soul, what could be a better blend? It’s fared well through the years, keeping its currency and melodic beauty. It was also cute to hear Zendaya eulogize Stevie! Proof that he sounds cool to young ears!
As expected Stevie Wonder opened his Night, center stage, with an Art Deco Mini Hollywood Bowl around him. The Troupe along with Sharna and Gleb followed with a fast, festive and fabulous dance enhancement! Loved Sasha Farber’s splashy choreography! It was brought to Wonder-ful splendor by dashing Henry, very energetic newcomer Julz Tocker and gorgeous blonde dynamos Emma, Witney and Oksana. Stevie sang beautifully, joined by young Country singer Hunter Hayes. They sounded great together! I enjoyed their duet!
As far as the competition among contenders, Stevie Wonder Night was full of interesting upsets on what was trending over the first five episodes. Will it mark a turning point? Subtle changes occurred, in my view. So, let’s move on to the main course, our exciting and by now, well-loved contenders, sweating out their dancing to Wonder-ful music! In order of my preference…
Kellie and Derek – Quickstep
Best dance of the season proclaimed Len! No kidding! It was! But not only that, the most perfect Quickstep I’ve seen, even by professionals, and such a beautiful performance! Derek decided to do away with his need to reinvent the genres, did a straight, classic Old Time (Len’s time) Quickstep, psyching up Len and giving him the formula Quickstep. Of course, Len was delighted. He called Carrie Ann’s judgment of not having constant proximity in hold, absolutely finicky! Not even professionals can do that, opined Bruno, who found the Quickstep perfect! But she can do it! said Carrie Ann. So why doesn’t she apply the same high standards to Zendaya and Val, who got a 10 from her for dances with much more obvious flaws? I have watched this Quickstep many times, and will watch it many more. So damn perfect, the timing, the speed, the exuberance, the swift, charming transitions! Kellie’s projecting a Marilyn-goes-Country appeal, she wows us! Add that to Derek’s inexhaustible charm as both a dancing comedian and dapper matinee idol. Together, they’re like the song says, simply irresistible. One forgets this is an amateur contest and is drawn irresistibly into their exhilarating act, just for the fun of it! Such sophistication in a Quickstep, it’s impossible to believe Kellie’s reached professional status in six (not easy) episodes! Her skill though, may tend to work against her as many voters appear to prefer the star to show gradual improvement. Kellie’s too damn perfect! I’m just mesmerized by her dancing, absolutely bewitched by this girl! So it seems, is Derek; he seems to adore her! Don’t blame you, Kid!
Zendaya and Val – Cha Cha
Zendaya’s tall, stylish, sassy elegance imbued this Cha Cha with a bit of her own Zendaya grace. Very different from Val’s sexy seductive Cha Cha charm, but still working to give us a great performance! It’s great to turn from her to him, zappy Tinkerbell dancing with sexy Elvis! How fresh is that in a dancing couple! They’re both good in their type, a bit strange together, but tantalizing, the Wild One and the Princess! Val’s choreography is very straightforward, with point-counterpoint, in and out, wiggly, hippy, sexy Cha Cha moves. Val’s natural Cha Cha grace serves him well, down to his graceful hands and arm movements. He looks very uninhibited and very manly. Zendaya is more stylized. Her’s is not a from the gut Cha Cha. The way she bends her long legs and the way she tends to open her legs with too much space between them is not good Cha Cha form. How charming for a young girl, though, the way she wiggles her tush, turns her head flirtatiously with pure virginal charm! The repeated turns off center while Val holds her, were well done, but it was a letdown in energy at the end. Better for Val to have designed an ending with more pizazz! Their dance was by no means perfect, but Carrie Ann and Bruno failed to see any flaws. In my view, Zendaya and Val were over-scored. There’s no way this Cha Cha was as good as Kellie and Derek’s Quickstep!
Aly and Mark – Fox Trot
Lovely performance! These two can touch your heart, essential for their performance to be memorable! If you can do a perfect technical performance, but not create feeling, the dancers have failed. As I observe Mark through the seasons, I can better appreciate what a good from the heart coach he is! Mark is Chaplin-esque, his performances have a wistful, heart-grabbing quality. He got Bristol Palin to the finals, isn’t that a great feat! With star dancers like Chelsea Kane, he can produce artistic dances at a very high level. One gets insight about the way Mark teaches by watching the rehearsals clips. First he shows Aly how to get in character for the Fox Trot by making funny cute faces. He even mimics what the female should do, holding his arms close to his hips, his hands sticking out playfully. He shows her what the carefree Fox Trot attitude should be. Mark then sits down with Aly and gets her to express her feelings on the Boston tragedy; her hometown. He encourages Aly to put those feelings in her dance, as a tribute to her fellow Bostonians. We recall that Mark also got Aly to get in touch with her feelings for their moving Contemporary Dance, which shot them to first place on the board! To do a tribute in dance is a perfect way to transform the sadness into something positive! Aly is so kindled by Mark’s idea that she gives him a big, spontaneous hug. Wow! What a way to get close to her heart, and inspire her to dance! The result? Just admire their Fox Trot again. It’s cute, poignant, and heart-warming! From Olympic gymnast, there she is now, looking like a Broadway star! Their routine is Fox Trot magic! When they elegantly turn in hold, circling the ballroom, you’re thinking just what Stevie’s lyric say Isn’t she lovely? When they start their side by side comedic gig, one melts. Isn’t she adorable? I didn’t think she had it in her! She does! So does he. Never taking the spotlight from Aly, Mark does little things, like putting his hand on his heart, that make this performance really special. I would have scored her at a par with Zendaya and Val, a tie.
Ingo and Kym – Tango
Never thought I would ever give Ingo a fourth place, over Jacoby, Mr. Showmanship, but yes, Ingo earned it. His overall performance was better than Jacoby! It was both technically as well as visually entertaining. For the first time, I liked Ingo’s performance. I do give a lot of the credit to Kym’s great elegance and style as a dancer, and her ability to design a choreography that seems custom made for Ingo, smooth as a well-worn glove. Every step they make looks visually appealing, with great fluidity. This Tango choreography is perfect for the handsome, tall couple. Their stylized moves produce, just like Bruno said, beautiful lines. The exquisite extensions were Kym’s, but Ingo scores as well for maintaining the flow, timing and control, in almost constant hold. How fluidly they turned around the ballroom, both impeccably dressed in black, how Kym got him to slide so smooth and look so suave is a triumph. After his last Cha Cha, I thought him incapable of keeping pace to the music without appearing jerky and awkward. I was pleasantly surprised! What looks best in this Tango is due to Kym’s good graces. See the way she moves her leg around and about him, for example. She didn’t risk for him to do any intricate Tango footsteps, kept it simple for him. Near the end, she did a beautiful leg extension, moving her back down to the floor. Ingo gets extra points for holding her by the waist and pivoting her around, while she lies back in sultry abandon. He then circles the floor and ends the Tango with a nice flourish! Bravo! Happy Birthday, Ingo, you did well! We’re all proud of you. Peanut (his cute son) should raise your points!
Jacoby and Karina – Quickstep
As Len said, this is not Jacoby’s dance. It needs refinement and sophistication, qualities hard for Jacoby to produce! Is he accepting Karina’s instructions or stubbornly going his way? The way he stomps in this Quickstep, flat footed at times, seems to go against what Karina’s telling him. No pigeon toes, point your feet. He couldn’t do it consistently. Didn’t she tell him not to stoop, to keep his posture straight always? Did she tell him not to stick his butt out? Jacoby’s so big-framed, when he breaks the rhythm, stops out of sync, or makes a wrong move it stands out like a sore thumb! That first Quickstep walk, all the way over up the steps into the audience, bad idea! I’ve seen others going into the audience successfully, but Jacoby’s so huge! He looked constrained in that small space! It may have driven him to stomp. They should have moved up, down, and out quickly! I didn’t like the way Karina looked tonight! Strange, because she’s usually stunning, so well-coiffed and dressed. Maybe Jacoby dragging her around unceremoniously made her look frazzled and unkempt. To make it worse, comparing this Quickstep to Derek and Kellie’s was absolutely painful. That said, I still enjoyed Jacoby’s dance, no matter all the things I could find wrong in it! Jacoby stamps his own personality in his performances. They may not work according to the genre definition and rules, but they work as entertainment, and please the general audience. We love his daring-do, his turning the required steps into whatever he wants to do, as long as it meets his idea of fun in dance. He’s turned jumping over Karina, as a trademark Jacoby step. Karina wisely tries to mold the choreography to what he wants, or can do. The people love it! I dare say he pleases the more dance educated or refined public as well as the general public. He has a lot of stage presence and dance charisma. The demands of this program for refinement and sophistication are as strict as the audience who votes. Apparently those standards are not priorities to the voters so in my opinion it seems that Jacoby Jones has a strong chance to win the Season 16 trophy, in spite of this one bad night.
Sean and Peta – Samba
Except for the group dance, in Derek’s able hands, the Samba was not a dance fitting Sean nor Andy, who both had to do the Samba , twice, for their individual as well as their Team dance. In both cases, they did a better Samba with the Team than individually. For performance value I at first ranked Andy’s Samba over Sean’s. On second thought I ranked Sean and Peta’s Samba higher. For one, Sean made a harder effort to do a proper Samba than Andy did. Andy’s sit-com like story was nicer as a performance, and his connection to Sharna works better in performance. Sean, however, has been consistent in adapting his dances to the required characteristics. His dances are more recognizable for their type or genre. While Andy’s dances reach the heart more and are sweeter performances, it is difficult to find the Cha Cha, Paso, or Samba content in Andy’s dances. Sean however attacks each dance with zest and determination to get the required and discernible dance moves. In that respect he has been a lot more successful than Andy. Peta’s choreography kept to the classic Samba routine. She did pretty standard variations to the music, which could have looked lively and bouncy, had Sean done better. Sean seemed disconnected to the music, as well as Peta, and to any form of inhibited fun. He went through the rehearsed motions, but not showing his customary joy in it! He lacked grace and synchronicity to the music or the spirit of the dance. He seemed worried or fearful to miss steps. It was his worst dance, but not as bad as Andy’s. I enjoyed all of Sean’s performances up to this one. He has shown great improvement and great delight in his dancing journey. This time his heart was not in it, he failed make a connection with us. What went wrong? Did he suddenly lose faith in himself? Did he lack the confidence that he could Samba? It’s sad to see someone stumble and fall, especially likable Sean. I hope he recovers!
Andy and Sharna – Samba
Andy does it again! Is a pattern forming for Dancing Andy? He comes out, does a nice dancing routine that everyone thinks cute, enjoys and wins their hearts. He’s a good actor-comedian, with a very human, winsome quality, a coming from the heart expressiveness. Sharna, a terrific new Pro, provides him always with a choreography perfectly suited to enhance his histrionic abilities, or is it the other way around? Does Andy turn Sharna’s creative dance designs into his expressive medium? In his first dances, I thought his mobility was impaired, so he couldn’t do some steps, he couldn’t wiggle his tush or move sensually. Latin-dance impaired maybe? Then I saw him stage-dive on a string into the ballroom, and swirl a Zorro cape around, and thought maybe his moves were getting bigger and better. No such luck. Like the judges said, they couldn’t find the Samba in his Samba, nor the Cha Cha in his Cha Cha, and so forth. His Samba dance was vintage Andy. Andy is Teddy Bear appealing in his cute postman outfit. He’s somewhat like Jacoby. He stamps his personality in his dances, ignoring many of the required moves and steps. Yet, he always delivers an interesting, moving performance. As he weaves his cute, simple story about a postman courting a pretty girl, very effective as sit-com, you can see him more or less acting out a kind of stiff dance, but not a proper Samba. Just compare his rigid moves to Sharna’s. Sharna shakes and wiggles every part of her body sambaliciously. While Sharna undulates and bounces in sensual Samba fashion, Andy goes through the same motions in total stiffness. Can he shake his hips this way and that? Does he have any natural rhythm for Latin dances? Not visible. Still we are amused by the way he moves, like watching your Uncle Wally outdoing himself on the dance floor after having a drink too many. Andy’s very entertaining in what he does, but he’s so radical in his personal interpretation of the steps, that his dances end up looking like parody, or something other than the genre it’s supposed to represent.
Victor and Lindsay – Rumba
Victor’s Rumba was pretty poor, in my view. He had attacked past dances with gusto, for example, his nice Contemporary Dance, rich in lifts, or his two sweet Waltzes. This time, the flair was simply not there. He seemed to have thrown in the towel! His heart was not at all in this very tepid Rumba! Len and Carrie Ann encouraged him after his dance, by praising his attack and his chemistry with Lindsay. I thought his attack was precisely what was missing altogether. Maybe Len felt it would be Victor’s last dance, and decided to send him home with a nice parting comment! We could see in rehearsals that Victor didn’t have a positive dance attitude. Lindsay seemed frustrated. He’s been moping about a woman who broke his heart since last week’s Waltz. It seems this woman also broke his motivation to dance. He lacked the passion that he had formerly shown. Victor was wimpy indeed! Bruno was very blunt to him, as he parodied Victor’s stiff arm motions. Didn’t need to be blunt, but Bruno was right! Vic shows more grace in the rink, than in this dance! Victor’s usual beaming, self-confident smile changed into a pensive half smile all through the Rumba. He was just reacting passively to Lindsay’s initiatives. For a boxer, he was not showing quick reflexes in his dancing, either. When Lindsay jumped on his chest, to make him step back, he reacted slowly, as if he were surprised! If he could do that difficult Contemporary as expressively as he did, this Rumba should not have been that unknown and difficult. I’m sure his Hispanic blood and sweet natural grace should have enabled Victor to do a better Rumba than this. My theory is that he lost his spirit, for whatever reason, maybe his unrequited love. Ironic for a fighter! We will miss his huge smile and amiability!
Battle of the Teams
At the end of week 6 performances, DWTS presented a challenge between two teams of four couples each, Team Paso and Team Samba. In both team cases, their lack of coordination during rehearsals seemed to portend a train-wreck or two, which would have provided some interesting viewing had it happened. It didn’t. Come the moment, lights, camera, action! Both teams lived up to the challenge purportedly at the last minute. Their will to perform, or whatever motivated them, saved the night. The show must go on, and it did! All is well that ends well. Or maybe it was all hype. Who cares? It was great fun!
Headed by Val, Team Paso included Zendaya, Ingo and Kym, Jacoby and Karina, and Victor and Lindsay. After lowered expectations due to rehearsal snafus, Team Paso results didn’t seem that bad. It was entertaining; BUT – the choreography was plain and unimaginative. The couples’ solos were pretty deadly, except for Zendaya and Val, who showed some Olé flair, and more grace and refinement than the other couples! The judges were kind in their scoring, but not so kind in their comments. Len mentioned how bad the solos were; Bruno said the group lost sync and lacked refinement; and Carrie Ann flatly said it was a mess, that they couldn’t glue it together and the dance fell apart. It was a mess! It also seemed to me for a lost opportunity to come up with a more original choreography, it was same ol, same ol, rather than Olé diferente!
Team Samba was headed by Derek, and included Kellie, Andy and Sharna, Aly and Mark, and Sean and Peta. In contrast to Team Paso, I found the Team Samba Dance delightful. So much fun! The music was very catchy, and (most of) the Team members ably bounced to its contagious rhythm! The whole dance had a genuine Disco-Samba flavor. It looked like a Samba placed in the Disco Dancing era. Reminded me of Derek’s past 50’s Paso, with Nicole Scherzinger, a fusion which Derek managed to do expertly. Blending this may not have been as hard, but it was twice the fun. The funky Disco costumes were a riot! All those swirls of oranges, sexy short-shorts, bandannas, dark glasses and huge mustaches! Funny and nostalgic! The dance really looked like Samba’s supposed to look, down to the arm swirls and hip swaying this way and that. The choreography was simple and clear with geometrical patterns of couples circling the Disco ball (what fun!), then after the sizzling solos (much better than Team Paso solos), the couples separate into two rows and go samballistic! I loved it!
Judges Favor of Team Samba Not Endorsed By Public
In spite of the obvious difference in quality between the two Team Dances, the public majority voted for the much inferior Team Paso to do the encore and each couple to receive an additional 3 points to their scores. How could this happen? The shocking voting results (for purists, and others who believe quality should win over inferior performances) was a reality check. It appears many voters are not about quality dancing, but about popularity. The big vote getters were in Team Paso. Zendaya, the Disney queen, has a host of teenie boppers voting for her. Jacoby has the big football fan base. And there you have it. One of these two will win the Mirror Ball trophy in my opinion. I had thought Jacoby, but maybe it’s Zendaya? Another factor I have considered in my public voting reality check, I’m told, is that Derek may suffer from those who think he’s too good, leading to too many Mirror Ball trophies. In other words, someone else should have a chance. A third factor could be that voters don’t like the purported female ringers who have lots of dancing ability and refinement from the get-go! The voters prefer those who don’t have as much ability, or may not be as good or as refined, but who show the most improvement. With regards to all these factors or theories, Jacoby Jones should be the most likely to win. Yet, who knows? Teenie-bopper power might overrule, and conquer the Season!
About the Results Show
I just want to mention before ending, the spectacular Latin Night Preview Dance, which I found very special! This fiery tribal extravaganza was choreographed by abs savage Henry Byalikov. I was told Henry whipped it up with short notice. Wow! It featured DWTS super talented Troupe dancers, plus Sharna, Gleb, and Jaymz Tuaileva. How great was that! One of the best group dances I’ve seen on DWTS! A tour de force, passionate, sexy Fire Dance, with scantily clad, terrific dancers slithering about in primitive splendor. Can they top this for Latin Night? That was certainly a hot, wild and exciting preview! It all came together beautifully with perfect atmosphere: lighting, fire, music, costumes, even a muscular fire juggler! Did I mention the dancing was breathtaking and the choreography sensational? Congratulations, Henry! We want more!
Kellie and Derek did a flawless (except for Carrie Ann), very stylish Quickstep, and also led in the Team Samba that Derek ably choreographed. Because of the lower scores in their dance, Team Paso members’ scores went south. Final judges votes and Team Dance points tally for the night found Zendaya and Val in overall third place, and Aly and Mark shot up to second. Biggest upset was for Jacoby and Karina, who ended in the bottom three. Jacoby is our Dark Horse, consistently following the three more refined young ladies, Zendaya, Kellie and Aly. I think he may improve and eventually ascend from fourth place and take over the girls. It wasn’t promising for him to fall to the bottom three when we’re just through the midpoint, with Sean moving up to fourth place, Ingo fifth. This upset although, may not mean much, as it was the team dance scores that mostly precipitated the changes. It was, however, an intriguing change of events. In the end, our smiling friend Victor the Boxer, seemed to have lost his steam. His low scores placed him last, and sadly the voters failed to save Victor and he was eliminated.
So, on to next week – Latin!