miliosr

Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars

89 posts in this topic

When you see them in "real life" next to each other, Derek does tower over Shawn, which it why I was so surprised with this dance it wasn't that obvious.

Max with Kristie is never going to get the villain edit, so it had to happen to someone. He's the Erica Kane of DWTS, though, so maybe next season.

I find it very frustrating that I can't learn a thing about ballroom dancing from listening to the judges on this show.

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I find it very frustrating that I can't learn a thing about ballroom dancing from listening to the judges on this show.

Yes, indeed! We hear a great deal about how much sexier someone is this time around, how strong the sizzle between partners, how fun and enjoyable and so on a performance was...but almost nothing about the forms, per se. I know that DWTS is more about stars than dancing, but there could be so much more depth and richness to the judges' necessarily brief commentaries...many missed opportunites.

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I find it very frustrating that I can't learn a thing about ballroom dancing from listening to the judges on this show.

The only way to learn anything about ballroom dancing from the show is by listening to the pros in the B-roll, especially Louis since he tends to care less about what looks good on the show and more about what actually works from a dance perspective. Other pros who tend to be good in the B-roll are Mark, Derek, Kym, and Cheryl (especially in earlier seasons). Other pros who were good about technique in the B-roll in earlier seasons were Nick Kosovich, Jonathan Roberts, Brian Fortuna (really underrated) and Julianne Hough.

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IMHO there is a lot of pandering to the audience by the pro dancers, who know it can influence the voting. So Max threw a fit last season, and the audience kept him around for a few more weeks. Karina burst into tears this season, and the audience kept Karina/Apollo around to dance another week. The show's staff does have a positive vibe, but there is some manipulation going on if you pay attention. I do think the costume staff can play favorites - I mean all you have to do is look at Nancy Grace and Ricki Lake - two women with similar body shapes and see how they were dressed by the staff.

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In the Bollywood dance, Peta kept taking my eye, too -- though I think that was because she had just learned the dance, could not teach it well, and Gilles consequently had no imagery to present, whereas she was getting a grip on it and came up with some interesting plastique. The rhythms of the choreography bored me, seemed very squared-off -- but she lenghtened her spine like a snake and carried her head in very interesting positions; while his head seemed stuck in place.

Derek and Shaun, what a wonderful use of the time and the space. When he got her into that handstand in the splits, it really seemed like hte final pose of the dance, and then he pushed down on her back foot and they were off again -- it's the most exciting useof stillness I've ever seen on the show. She can DO things -- lifts of course, but she can also chaine into a rockstep and anchor the new phrase with a powerful thrust off the down beat. I'm impressed with his choreography -- kinda like Balanchine's in that it put all the tricks into a rhythmic format that gave every little step its own life and all the big ones their chance to shine. I'm kinda raving here, but I really loved it.

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Performances are spread across two nights this week so I'll post the scores after tonight's show.

Last night, Kelly, Gilles, Kirstie and Emmitt performed their individual routines while Team Call Me Maybe (Sabrina, Shawn, Apolo and Melissa) performed their group dance. If you didn't see the show, here's the group dance:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncCmzATycGw

On technique, I don't think it was '10'-worthy (from Len and Bruno). (Apolo could barely lift Karina.) But for sheer energy and entertainment value, it was great. And Sabrina and Shawn could pass for sisters in this.

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I loved Sabrina in that. I hadn't seen her in her original season, but I can see why she would have been chosen as the season's wild card.

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The show's staff does have a positive vibe, but there is some manipulation going on if you pay attention. I do think the costume staff can play favorites - I mean all you have to do is look at Nancy Grace and Ricki Lake - two women with similar body shapes and see how they were dressed by the staff.

The producers play all kinds of favorites with a lot of elements of the show. Off the top of my head, some of the things that are pretty obviously manipulated in favor of some couples: choice of pro, choice of music, tempo of music, dance choice, order of performance, team challenge, judges comments.... the list goes on and on. For example, Apolo had a very hard time managing slower tempos, so by the time rhumba rolled around, the producers gave him a rhumba with a relatively fast tempo which made it much easier for him. Conversely, some of the celebs have had Quicksteps played a molasses pace.

I actually think that costuming is one of the factors that the producers play with less, though. Costume is one of the elements that the couples have a good deal of say in, and some of it is practicality. Not to be crude, but one of the big issues is if a woman has larger sized, natural breasts because if she does, it makes life much harder for the costumer. The breasts have to be strapped down somehow which makes the costuming options very limited, especially when the woman is short like Nancy Grace. (Interestingly enough, this issue actually came up in the B-Roll a few times this year with Kelly and Kirstie.) Ricki Lake's breasts aren't as much of an issue because she's had significant breast reduction, and she actually three or four inches taller than Nancy Grace which makes a difference as well.

If you want an example of what can happen when this isn't done well, who can forget Kelly Monaco's wardrobe malfunction from Season 1?

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I did raise my eyebrows at Derek's Mambo choreography, though. Conventionally, Mambo is a "break on 2" dance with the breaks on 2 and 6 beats, but Derek and Shawn were clearly breaking on 1 and 5 throughout the entire dance. (This is very simplified. There are lots of variations such as split counts and directions of beginning the 8). The break on 1 is usually referred to as "Salsa" among ballroom dancers, and it's generally considered much easier for beginners to learn at first than Mambo because it's easier for some beginners to hear the 1 vs. the 2.

On a social dance level, there's nothing wrong with breaking on 1 vs. 2, although it was a very different effect on musical phrasing. From a competitive perspective, though, it really surprised me to hear it referred to as a "Mambo." (I'd say it surprised me that none of the judges commented on it, but at this point, I'm used to the judging panel...)

In general I'm always surprised of how many diverse rythms and music here are referred as mambo or cha cha cha, without having the slightest resemblance or even without using the real music at all. Mambo music and rythm, as invented and developed in Havana by Damaso Perez Prado in the 40's, is a very specific, different animal from what we see in DWTS.

"The Mambo dance that was invented by Perez Prado and was popular in the 1940s and 50s Cuba, Mexico City, and New York is completely different to the modern dance that New Yorkers now call 'Mambo', which is also known as Salsa "on 2". The original mambo dance contains no breaking steps or basic steps at all. The Cuban dance wasn't accepted by many professional dance teachers. Cuban dancers would describe mambo as "feeling the music" in which sound and movement were merged through the body. Professional dance teachers in the US saw this approach to dancing as "extreme," "undisciplined," and thus, deemed it necessary to standardize the dance to present it as a sell-able commodity for the social or ballroom market. The modern dance from New York was popularized in the 70s by Eddie Torres and his contemporaries who were 1st or 2nd generation Puerto Rican immigrants. This style is not danced to Mambo music, for which it is poorly suited, but instead to Salsa music."

Here's the Cuban mambo of the 40's...

And here's the Cuban mambo today...

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In general I'm always surprised of how many diverse rythms and music here are referred as mambo or cha cha cha, without having the slightest resemblance or even without using the real music at all. Mambo music and rythm, as invented and developed in Havana by Damaso Perez Prado in the 40's, is a very specific, different animal from what we see in DWTS. "The Mambo dance that was invented by Perez Prado and was popular in the 1940s and 50s Cuba, Mexico City, and New York is completely different to the modern dance that New Yorkers now call 'Mambo', which is also known as Salsa "on 2". The original mambo dance contains no breaking steps or basic steps at all. The Cuban dance wasn't accepted by many professional dance teachers. Cuban dancers would describe mambo as "feeling the music" in which sound and movement were merged through the body. Professional dance teachers in the US saw this approach to dancing as "extreme," "undisciplined," and thus, deemed it necessary to standardize the dance to present it as a sell-able commodity for the social or ballroom market. The modern dance from New York was popularized in the 70s by Eddie Torres and his contemporaries who were 1st or 2nd generation Puerto Rican immigrants. This style is not danced to Mambo music, for which it is poorly suited, but instead to Salsa music."

A good friend of mine who is a professional dancer moved to New York from Texas, and I'm afraid when he first hit the floor with the mambo that he was used to, folks snickered at him for looking like "a Puerto Rican hillbilly." New Yorkers like their mambo fast and aggressive, and competition mambo reflects that. Here is a good example from Mambo World Championships:

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That's like someone from Jerez complaining that people from Seville were dancing Sevillanas too softly. (Although I'm sure it would be expressed as rudely and as offensively as your friend heard, but I don't know how to say it.)

Competition distorts many things, such as my favorite modern era ice dance team, who, apart from style, perform all of the figure skating elements that are totally inappropriate to the form in this mambo-rhumba combination

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Week Five - Scores:

(1st score is the individual performance. 2nd score is the group dance.)

01 29.0pts + 29.5pts = 58.5pts Sabrina/Louis (waltz)

02 27.0pts + 29.5pts = 56.5pts Shawn/Derek (rumba)

02 29.5pts + 27.0pts = 56.5pts Gilles/Peta (rumba)

02 27.0pts + 29.5pts = 56.5pts Apolo/Karina (samba)

02 27.0pts + 29.5pts = 56.5pts Melissa/Tony (tango)

06 29.0pts + 27.0pts = 56.0pts Emmitt/Cheryl (samba)

07 25.5pts + 27.0pts = 52.5pts Kirstie/Maks (quickstep)

08 24.5pts + 27.0pts = 51.5pts Kelly/Val (samba)

No eliminations this week so each couple lives to dance another day. Sabrina had a great week between her waltz and being a standout in the group dance. We'll see how it all shakes out next week, though. And Kirstie's cartwheels in the group dance tonight were the worst cartwheels I have ever seen.

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Here is a good example from Mambo World Championships:

We need to show this to some islamic terrorists, their eyes will pop out of their sockets, and then they'll be blind. Harder to construct bombs when you can't see.

In DWTS news, the Gangnam Style group dance was wacky, but not always in a good way. I think this is Kirstie's week to go, but we'll see if her church members can rally votes.

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Here is a good example from Mambo World Championships:

We need to show this to some islamic terrorists, their eyes will pop out of their sockets, and then they'll be blind. Harder to construct bombs when you can't see.

In DWTS news, the Gangnam Style group dance was wacky, but not always in a good way. I think this is Kirstie's week to go, but we'll see if her church members can rally votes.

Even from this video...I still don't get why they call it mambo when the music being played and the rythm being danced are not mambo, but SON. That will be like calling a waltz music Polka and dancing a mazurka to it...

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Week Six - Scores

01 30.0pts Sabrina/Louis (rumba)

01 30.0pts Apolo/Karina (Viennese waltz)

03 29.5pts Melissa/Tony (Viennese waltz)

04 27.5pts Kirstie/Maks (rumba)

04 27.5pts Shawn/Derek (cha cha cha) [Note: My broadcast feed was difficult tonight so I'm not 100% about Bruno's score (9.5pts).]

04 27.5pts Gilles/Peta (cha cha cha)

07 27.0pts Kelly/Val (tango)

08 26.5pts Emmitt/Cheryl (foxtrot)

Kirstie and Maks won the side-by-side group dance performed to Big and Rich's "Save a Horse - Ride a Cowboy". So, they get 2 extra points added to their score.

Tom Bergeron really is the host with the most. Tonight was Country&Western night and I cracked up when he described Gilles' goth/S&M costume as 'How the West (Hollywood) Was Won'. Too funny!

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Weeks Five and Six - Scores - Combined:

01 88.5pts Sabrina/Louis

02 86.5pts Apolo/Karina

03 86.0pts Melissa/Tony

04 84.0pts Shawn/Derek

04 84.0pts Gilles/Peta

06 82.5pts Emmitt/Cheryl

07 82.0pts Kirstie/Maks

08 78.5pts Kelly/Val

Kelly is in a world of trouble heading into tonight's elimination round. I expect we'll see her in the Bottom Two. Kirstie should be there, too, but she is like Houdini with her ability to cheat "death".

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Week Six - Elimination:

The Not Necessarily Bottom Two Bottom Two: Sabrina/Louis and Apolo/Karina w/ Sabrina and Louis leaving

Despite being at the top of the leader board, Sabrina finds herself repeating her same trajectory from her regular season. In no way was it her time to go but, in an All-Stars season, there is no slack for a weak or slumbering fan base. Her was not a deserving boot but, perhaps, was not totally unexpected.

I don't believe Apolo and Karina were truly in the Bottom Two but I'm not entirely sure who was. I am happy that Kelly and Val pulled through for another week.

Fusion week next week!

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Week Seven - Scores - Fusion Week:

01 30.0pts Shawn/Mark* (tango & paso doble)

02 29.0pts Melissa/Tony (cha cha cha & tango)

03 28.5pts Gilles/Peta (Argentine tango & samba)

04 27.5pts Emmitt/Cheryl (samba & rumba)

05 27.0pts Kelly/Val (foxtrot & cha cha cha)

05 27.0pts Apolo/Karina (cha cha cha & paso doble)

07 24.0pts Kirstie/Maks (quickstep & samba)

*Derek was injured so he choreographed while Mark danced with Shawn.

(I'll bet the producers would love for the Top 3 tonight to be the Top 3 for the finale. It would replicate the Season 8 finale which had the greatest Final 3 in the whole history of the show.)

Group swing dance marathon points:

01 10.0pts Melissa/Tony

02 9.0pts Kelly/Val

03 8.0pts Shawn/Mark

04 7.0pts Emmitt/Cheryl

05 6.0pts Apolo/Karina

06 5.0pts Gilles/Peta

07 4.0pts Kirstie/Maks

No elimination show this week due to Election Night coverage. Double elimination next week.

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Week Eight - Scores

Round One:

01 30.0pts Melissa/Tony (quickstep)

02 29.5pts Shawn/Derek (Viennese waltz)

02 29.5pts Gilles/Peta (quickstep)

02 29.5pts Apolo/Karina (tango)

05 28.0pts Kelly/Val (Viennese waltz)

06 28.0pts Emmitt/Cheryl (Viennese waltz)

07 27.0pts Kirstie/Maks (Viennese waltz)

Round Two - Trio Dances:

26.0pts Shawn/Derek/Mark (samba)

I gave up at this point. Seeing Carrie Ann give them a '10' for a samba with no samba content, I had had enough. At least Len slammed them and gave them a '7'.

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Absolutely lovely performance from Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild as well as Anna and Val! What a pleasure it was.

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Week Eight - Eliminations:

First Elimination: Kirstie/Maks

It was Kirstie's time. to go She lasted longer than she should have so there's nothing unjust about her departure. From the loud ovation she got, she showed she was an audience favorite so, from that standpoint, she left on a high note.

(The producers killed the "suspense" by having Kirstie/Maks and Kelly/Val face an elimination round together. Prior to the elimination, Tom announced that Val would be dancing with Anna and two dancers (Robert Fairchild, Tiler Peck) from the New York City Ballet later in the show. No way would they have eliminated Val and then had him dance.)

Second Elimination: Gilles/Peta

Well, if it's possible for an elimination to be a shocker and a non-shocker at the same time, this elimination shows how. He was a huge fan favorite (w/ Cheryl) in Season 8 and, in my opinion, should have beat Shawn in the final. But, on the second go-round, the magic wasn't there. He danced well but he never had with Peta what he had with Cheryl. In its place, there was this strange mix of desperation and tawdriness. A sad end for a beloved competitor but that's how it breaks sometimes on this show.

So, the five remaining couples are:

Shawn/Derek

Kelly/Val

Apolo/Karina

Melissa/Tony

Emmitt/Cheryl

Double elimination again next week!

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Week Nine - Eliminations:

Sorry gang -- I didn't have time to do the scores this week . . .

First Elimination: Apolo/Karina

I would have put them ahead of Emmitt and Cheryl but, at this point, the remaining couples are all strong so someone had to go. A valiant effort on the part of this team although I never thought their chemistry was quite as good as it was with Apolo and Julianne in his original season.

Second Elimination: Emmitt/Cheryl

Well, color me surprised! When the final elimination came down to Emmitt/Cheryl and Kelly/Val, I thought for sure that Kelly and Val were done for. On the merits, I'm perfectly OK with Emmitt and Cheryl leaving as I thought Emmitt was the weakest competitor left. I'm just shocked that Kelly's fan base proved to be stronger than Emmitt's.

The Final Three will be an all-female affair: Shawn, Kelly and Melissa. (Is this the first all-female final ever?) What a curious turn of events given that the men's field, at the start of this season, looked so much stronger than the women's field.

As for predictions, my heart is with either Kelly/Val (my favorite couple this season) or Melissa/Tony (potential for his first mirror ball trophy) but my head tells me Shawn will be tough to beat.

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Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm... I'm not surprised. In all the dances, if it was the amateur who looked the best, I thought they'd win -- and they did. Karina always outshone Apolo, and Cheryl never looked less interesting than Emmitt.

Not that the fans don't make the difference -- BUT -- the fans can I repeat they CAN tell when Shawn and Melissa and Kelly are the ones that shine. That's the way it worked out -- and it's the work of good leads -- the choreographer is also leading, and the follow gets to shine. Melissa has line, and Shawn has dynamics. It's between the two of them, Melissa is a bottom, Shawn is a top. Maybe I should say, Melissa dances for sentiment, Shawn for joy. That's what I think. or what Tony and Derek think -- and look what they do for them Way to go, guys.

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I disagree about Kelly, whom I like, but who I think is a bit wooden.

I'd love to see Melissa win, if only for Tony's sake and for how Derek manipulated the choreography. (Geoffrey Zakarian won "The Next Iron Chef with flagrant rule-breaking, so I understand the logic, even if I don't respect it.)

Kristi Yamaguchi was on one of the celebrity faux-interview shows to plug her new clothing line, and she was asked directly if she was asked to be on the All-Stars sow, and she said no.

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