Hello all our DWTS faithful readers!! What a crazy whirlwind week we’ve had! There were two dances per couple, some interesting judging comments and scores, and (created?) drama for the bottom couples. Things here at At a Glance have been just has hectic! So for this week, I am leaving the helm once again to Hector. Read on to find out his thoughts on all the crazy awesomeness that is Trio week!
Sometimes I think a function of the Judges on Dancing With The Stars is to be killjoy faultfinders! It’s part of the hype! Never a night like Week 8 for Len Goodman to show it! For a couple to show passion, imagination and innovation in their performance, to go beyond the requirements, should be motive to reward them. OK, so this is an amateur dance competition to get athletes, actresses and other assorted celebrities to show if they can attract votes from the uneducated dance masses. Sometimes, though, a few of the pros, Derek being the most notable, can get the amateurs to do amazing dances that strike our imagination and make our spirits soar. No mean feat. As a matter of fact, Derek’s performances with Jennifer Grey on Season 11 is what hooked me to watch this show. I wouldn’t be watching or writing about DWTS if I couldn’t see the possibility of our amazing Pros to occasionally get a Star to reach for one. Thus, it was indeed shameful to see a judge throw a temper tantrum and downgrade the wonderful, imaginative dance creation before his eyes, the second part of Derek’s exceptional and beautiful, Parallel Dancing Paso, because it does not comply with his perceived, sometimes arbitrary, fogyish, reactionary and sterile notions. Thus I decided on this eighth dance night to rank Kellie and Derek first, by far! 60 for both dances seems to me not nearly enough. They should get an Emmy!
Kellie and Derek – Viennese Waltz & Paso Doble Trio with Tristan MacManus
Push the limits of the dance Star, the dance itself and the show; this is what Kellie and Derek did in both their dances. No higher accomplishment as far as I am concerned. Derek hit upon this new concept, parallel dancing. In parallel universes, conceptually, one dance could be the opposite of another. He decided to join their two assigned dances together, as opposites. A philosophical story no one had tried before or attempted to do (the fight between good and evil is a frequent dance theme, like bad Odile & good Odette in Swan Lake.) Thus the Waltz was the symbol of good, represented with Kellie dressed in white. The dance begins and ends with Kellie touching her reflection in a mirror placed in the middle. Looking elegant and ethereal, they circle the dance floor, doing a lovely choreographed Waltz. Beautiful shapes, spirituality and grace, danced with great feeling as Kellie was inspired to draw on true emotion, as Derek called it, instilled by her love for her grandma. The Paso Doble conversely was the symbolic dance of evil. It starts out with the lovers in front of the same mirror, Kellie dressed in the same white Waltz dress. Ominous and beautiful, intense music is heard. Evil Tristan, dressed in black, appears in front of the mirror, pulling Kellie into the reflection. Derek follows into the mirror, and the three start their Danse Macabre, with Kellie being pulled between good Derek and bad Tristan. Kellie’s white dress is then shed to reveal a symbolic black dress underneath, man’s existential fight between opposites. The music is awesome, and they forcefully and effectively dance to the stormy strains, in a choreography and parable of good and evil reminiscent of Derek’s memorable Prokofief Paso with vamp Maria Menounos. I was absolutely thrilled with the beauty of the dance to the music, intrinsically; but more so because of the meaningful intellectual concept. We were witnessing something new, exquisite, wildly original and greater than the show ever required. No one asked Derek to produce something as genial, nor expected Kellie to work her butt off (and her entire body) to look as professional as she did. No one asked Tristan to put his whole heart and soul into Derek’s concept, but he did, and the three did a hell of a great dance!
Aly and Mark – Argentine Tango and Jive Trio with Henry Byalikov
Everyone seems to love, myself included, the way Aly throws herself into the dance adventure. It’s endearing to see this young girl so sensually and wholeheartedly enjoying every aspect of her journey on Dancing with The Stars. It’s also very apparent how she improves by leaps and bounds with each dance! Seeing her do that torrid, authentic Argentine Tango with Mark is a long way from those stiff, athletic, tomboy motions she did in her first dances. Also, how thrilling it is to realize she is freshly discovering the world of dance, unlike the Queen of Hip Hop who is no stranger to it! Another pleasure is seeing how well these two get along with each other! Not the Kelly-Val romance, Mark has shown Aly the romance of falling in love with his great love; dancing! She is loving it! So fond she seems of Mark as well, for showing her how to get in touch with her feelings, and how to use dance as an expressive outlet! In this Tango, she’s so in character, looks so authentic. She and Mark look like credible featured dancers in a Buenos Aires Barrio cafe-teatro. For a young girl, wow, how sexy her every move looks, and what beautiful shapes and gyration! Sensual stretched out arms and hands, lovely lifts, interlaced legs, a musical ritual of sublimated sex and sensuality! Loved that Hit the Road Jack Jive, as well, best Jive I’ve seen in a long time! What fun choreography, in collaboration with Henry Byalikov (whom Mark acknowledges as a great choreographer, Baz Luhrmann‘s choreographer no less.) Marvelously attuned trio, exhilarating rhythm, staccato bouncy fun, faces and gestures, great comedy! These three have perfect harmony, timing and energy. It was fun to see both Mark and Henry teaching Aly dance counts! Watch it several times, see their great interplay, and the wonderful leap Henry performs over the two of them coming out of nowhere in single file! The charm and originality in both these dances was exceptional. Mark (with Henry for Jive) has presented a fine choreography and got two amazing performances out of a one-time total dance rookie!
Zendaya and Val – Fox Trot and Salsa Trio with Gleb Savchenko
Didn’t like Zendaya’s Fox Trot, did love the Trio Dance – but was it a Salsa? Both dances were over-scored in my view. Perfect score for that Salsa? Are you kidding me? What’s up! Something’s rotten in the state of Zenmark! As soon as Len, otherwise so strict and persnickety, grabbed his 10 paddle for Zen’s Salsa, I knew something was wrong with his judgment that fateful night! First off though, let’s discuss the Fox Trot. When Zen and Val came out, I gasped at the beginning, so little girl amateurish! Frolicking Zendaya in a tot’s dress? What’s with the costume choice? Is Walt still alive asking for Zendaya to be dressed as Clara in the Nutcracker? Little flower dress print, Empire waist, or is her waist way up there? Silk sash and no curves showing! Could the designer camouflage for curves? Zendaya can’t seem to manage to put any curves in her dance either! What stiffness! They move into hold in nice sync, but their frolicking seems in sexless fashion. Even Val looks like an eunuch, which is an amazing transformation for him. There was nothing terribly wrong with the performance, but it lacked sensuality and the kind of sophisticated old style 30’s sexy, adult glamour that Len, of all people, loves! Now for that Salsa! As usual, it was the wrong music for Salsa! If DWTS will insist on using Samba music for Salsa, then the dancers must transform the choreography to project Salsa moves. This means sensual, curvaceous, undulating, sexy motions! What we got is jerky up and down bouncy hip hop-jive moves! No Salsa, but I loved it! Charming fun! Great harmony, good timing, grace galore. Zendaya shines over the guys and looks adorable! That said, the guys have it all over Zen on one really important Salsa element: S-E-X ! Val and Gleb have more of the required Salsa sensuality! Zendaya leads them into imitating her cute, girly, shimmy; stiff, straight, rigid. Perfect Salsa? By no means; but a very cute dance vignette! Why are you so splendidly generous Judges? Zendaya will be a great dancer – at 25! So far, she seems to be trying to keep her Peter Pan little girl look forever! One good comment about Gleb…he’s a hell of an elegant (and hunky) dancer! A Pro to watch, he projects charismatic sweetness!
Jacoby and Karina – Viennese Waltz and Paso Doble with Cheryl Burke
Really bad luck for Jacoby to get two dances that don’t fit him in one important night! The Viennese Waltz he did first, was not as bad as I had anticipated. He has so often been told about his lack of refinement. Not tonight, though, as Len conveniently forgot all his flaws and plugged him! Karina looked gorgeous as she flew around him in sensual abandon. Karina’s very crafty! She fits the choreography to his best abilities. She designed Waltz moves for Jacoby which were a bit wild for Waltz, but then wild and strong is his forte! She has him swivel her around, fly over her. She bravely jumps for him to catch her! Problem is, he has to be so focused on the acrobatics, he forgets to try to be dainty and graceful! Still, this Waltz was interesting and had a waltzy flavor-of sorts! Was it as ethereal, graceful and elegant as Kellie and Derek’s? Are you kidding? Cheryl, Jacoby and Karina’s Paso Doble Trio had some very good things in it! The music was appropriate, traditional Spanish bullfight music. Cheryl Burke is a good reinforcement. Different style than Karina, but meshes well. Cheryl has a casual, offhand way of connecting, both with Jacoby and with Karina. How gorgeous the two women looked! Great, round arm and hand movements. Such grace and passion as they swirl around in their silk skirts! Jacoby followed the routine well, moving from one interesting move in Karina’s design to another with confidence. Maybe too much confidence! His dogged attack to the dance was devoid of graceful footwork or arm movements. He is so big! His extended arms are so damn horizontal! I had to laugh as Jacoby did a Banderillero move attempt! This is a graceful move in which the Banderillero at a bullfight stands on his toes, raises his arms to plant banderillas on the bull. The moves in a bullfight are all very dance-like. The Torero team must have a dancer’s grace; the bullfight is really a great dance choreography. Jacoby’s a great football star, but he’s no Matador. No Torero grace! No Paso dancer either! No elegance. His last under the girls slide was hideously marred by his aggressive attack run, like he’s carrying a football! Got to say about Jacoby though; he’s humble, amiable and likable. Even when he’s doing graceless dance flubs, his performances are fun to watch!
Ingo and Kym – Fox Trot and Jive with Lindsay Arnold
Ingo’s tortured rehearsals attests as to how seriously he takes his dance journey on DWTS! Sweet to see! Ingo knows he has to compensate his lack of natural dance grace with dedicated effort. His terror of the Fox Trot proved to be unfounded. I was surprised at how well he did! Strange, but I found more Fox Trot classical content in Ingo’s Fox Trot than that in Zendaya’s! Perhaps because of Kym. Kym’s choreography was better than Val’s. Also, Kym’s dancing is so feminine and sophisticated, such curves and Oo la La! Just what Zendaya lacked, curves and femininity! To Ingo’s credit, in some respects he looked better than Val, as well! So, fair balance, I liked this Fox Trot better! Ingo looks dapper and elegant. With glamorous Kym he commands the ballroom. Nice leg movements, fair extensions, looks like a 30’s Art Deco vision, smooth and fluid! At times there’s small awkward moments. Ignore it when he extends both arms like a kid playing airplane. Ignore some sloppy footwork. Ah well, overall I liked it! How about the Jive Trio, with lovely Lindsay Arnold? Ingo’s an actor, and he can cast himself in character of the story he is dancing. So the shy, nerdy guy in glasses was a cute act. He could pull it off, dancing the Jive with the gorgeous showgirls! Still, the judges could see his movements needed to be sharper and tighter. Like say Aly, Henry and Mark? OK that would be asking for too much! He did much better than I expected! What I liked best, though, was how much enthusiasm he showed. He kept bouncing, so pleased with himself, even after the dance was over! Awww! I can see your gonna take a great memory with you, Ingo!
Sean and Peta – Tango and Jazz with Sharna Burgess
I like Sean, I like his straightforward enthusiasm for dancing. Always delivered an enjoyable performance even if his footwork gets confused, and his timing’s not too good. As far as grace and refinement, I find him better than Jacoby. As far as memorable performances and meaning, I like him better than Ingo. The judges, however never had any special love for Sean. They generally miss the charm I always see in his performances. The Judges are on his case, seems to me! They notice more his flubs than they did some of the others, and said nasty, snide comments. His runaway groom tango was fun, thanks to Peta’s abilities. I enjoyed every step, although it did lack the sharpness and bold attack one expects in Tango. He did do the steps, though, pretty smoothly and fluidly. His sizzling Jazz Trio with those two stunning dance beauties, Peta and Sharna, was undervalued and underscored by the judges, I thought. I especially liked the choreography, and the especially attractive lady dancers. The three made a handsome trio. In spite of the ladies distraction, Sean held his own. He could easily draw attention unto himself with his huge smile and devil may care attitude. I also loved the tennis shoes with the formal wear! He had good showmanship and comedic flair, as he jazzed up the ballroom with the two lovelies! Sean’s dances were richly criticized by the three judges for the usual flubs and misteps, implacably, but his special charisma went mostly ignored. Thus, on Elimination Night, their scores plus the public votes, pushed Sean out! I was very sorry to see him go, honestly! And it seems his fellow competitors felt the same. One of the shows assets is to witness the camaraderie that develops among them. Sean obviously loved his dance journey. His dances were memorable and fun to watch. His personality sparkled, just a nice, well meaning, enthusiastic, humble, every-man kind of guy. It’s always great to see every-man becoming a dancer, and fully enjoying his journey on DWTS. We shall miss you Sean.
About the Results Show
I don’t understand why they hype up the Results Show by trying to pull our leg. What does it mean when Tom Bergeron, bless his soul, says (this most decent man must be going nuts trying to figure out the production’s intentions) that Sean and Jacoby, “while not necessarily the bottom two” one of them is leaving? So they just rank all the contestants arbitrarily for more dramatic effect? Is this the way to win the public trust? Do remember Lincoln’s dictum, one cannot fool all the people all the time. I think we all would enjoy this Reality Show more with less manipulation, higher credibility! Did Sean leave but was not necessarily in the bottom? Or did they mean Jacoby or Kellie? Loved the Macy’s Stars of Dance Gravity Defying Dance, with Derek Hough and Jamie Goodwin! Innovation specialist Hough emulating Fred Astaire (with whom Derek has been often compared) and Fred’s famous Ceiling Dance. Watch the video for a better understanding of how it’s done!
The live public could see it, but the television audience just got to see Derek and Jamie dancing up the walls and on the ceiling! Treat enough! How cool! Appreciate the expense DWTS went through to produce this. Where does Derek get the time and the inspiration to produce as much? He’s prodigious! This is where hype should be directed at, great new dancing ideas! Should the judges’ hype be directed at advancing the horizons of what ballroom dance unleashed can be? Derek’s goal? Or a very narrow view of contestants following Len’s limited vision of Paso Doble and such? I think DWTS can grow both in ratings and meaning if they hitch themselves to bigger dreams and true talent! This show could be part of the American dream, believe it or not!
One last thought…Hats off to the Troupe’s Henry Byalikov
Finally, I’d like to make an honorable mention of one member of the Troupe whom I have been admiring since his debut on DWTS, Henry Byalikov. Collaborating with famous movie director Baz Luhrmann, Henry worked as a choreographer, dancer and teacher to Leonardo DiCarprio, Toby McGuire and Carey Mulligan in Luhrmann’s movie, The Great Gatsby, which opened this weekend! Congratulations Henry!
Henry shone especially this week in the great Jive Trio with Aly and Mark. He was also featured in several Troupe dances. In duos, trios, or groups, watch him for fabulous dancing! He makes perfectly controlled turns, awesome leaps, beautiful extensions, nothing every sloppy or fudged! He bounces off the floor (with Aly and Mark) and into formation like a coiled spring. Henry is a dancer’s dancer. Derek chose him for an innovative Bollywood Trio with Maria Menounos, and like this week, Len didn’t like that one either, although everyone else loved it! Also, Maria made Henry’s abs famous by complimenting him and starting the Henrymania trend! He is extremely fit, physically and for dance! Last season he performed a winning Trio with Season 15 champions Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani! In his native Australia, Henry has been a featured Pro in Dancing with the Stars Australia. One doesn’t get to be as good a dancer, choreographer and teacher as Henry out of the blue, without years of training, hard work and tons of pure talent! How wonderful if DWTS will make good use of this remarkably talented, promising dancer! Regarding Henry, hey you ain’t seen nothing yet! Take heed, DWTS!
So that about wraps it up for week 8! We’re getting down to the wire now!