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Everything posted by sidwich

  1. 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:
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. I think Bristol was really having issues with getting the "villain" edit this season. She threw herself much more into her first season, but her effort this season was decidedly lackluster, and it got worse as the weeks went on. Mark shouldn't have been so open about having to dumb down this last routine, but it was pretty obvious. The difficulty level was about where a beginner class would be after a few hours, hardly what someone with first-class, private coaching should be doing after intensive sessions. I don't think Derek wore Latin heels in the Mambo which probably dropped him about an inch and a half. Mambo is also really "in the knees" (vs. Latin and especially Ballroom which are very "pulled up") which may have made the height difference less obvious. Also, height difference matters a lot less in in Latin than Ballroom (where leg swing is all). It can even be an advantage once you get into some Rhythm dances like Mambo where the physics of having larger/taller mass with long arms leading a smaller/shorter mass can lead to some spectacular speed effects with partners who know what they're doing. 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...)
  5. To expand on miliosr's explanation, there are two extended breaks of hold and three aerials in the routine. DWTS always plays fast and loose with what the "rules" are exactly (the show is very careful to not do anything that would jeopardize its categorization as a "reality show" and not a "game show" per the FCC, and so they actually have to have rules). But those are pretty blatant violations of what the judges have described as "rules" before. As a total aside, the quickstep which was actually performed in the routine was pretty poor quality.
  6. Val's a much better teacher than Alec (and a better dancer, although that matters less in this context). He's actually grounded Kelly in some basic technique, which has made her much more stable on the floor. And I think having a feeling of knowing something of what she's doing has gone a long ways to relaxing her more on the floor which has helped her dancing immeasurably. Kelly seemed very tense in Season 1, almost too afraid to take a breath. She still not a natural dancer, but the basic technique and new relaxed movement have kicked her up to pretty good. I think Kelly and Val's relationship is also much more positive than the one she had with Alec, which always seemed very dysfunctional to me. Actually, Alec rarely seemed to have very positive relationships with his celebs.
  7. I suspect these emotional outbursts aren't uncommon among the celebs and pros. DWTS is a very physically and emotionally exhausting gig, and I would be surprised if there isn't plenty of weeping and wailing going on behind the scenes. (My personal read is that Mark and Bristol have a pretty good celeb-pro relationship). I find the choices in the B-reels very interesting this season because there is quite a bit of non-flattering drama being shown which was probably edited out in earlier seasons. Before the season started, I was talking to a friend of mine at ABC who has some dealings with the show (although she does not work directly on it), and mentioned that I was interested in what the approach to this season was going to be since it couldn't be the usual arc (learning to dance as a metaphor for new challenges). She said, yes, they'd been discussing what the storylines would be since just the journey of learning dance wouldn't work this time. I think this is some of what is playing out. On a complete aside, I saw Bristol getting coffee a few days ago. And yowza! I don't know what she's done to her face, but it now has a frozen quality that's aged her well past her years.
  8. Yes, the stars are all paid fees for appearing, and worlwide, Anderson is still a very recognizable star. Baywatch was one of the highest-rated shows internationally ever. I know people have questioned why Anderson was asked back to the show when (more stable) better dancers like Kristi Yamaguchi weren't asked back, and I think the answer is simple. They already had the female athlete slot filled with Shawn Johnson already, and they needed to cast a "bombshell." Hence, Pamela Anderson. Speaking of Shawn, if they were looking to get good results, pairing her with Derek probably was a mistake in hindsight. Derek is too tall for her, and makes her look even shorter and rounder than she is. Mark's a few inches shorter and it's not nearly as much of a problem. Derek harping on her shortness is annoying, but it's probably on his mind because it's a problem that he's still trying to work around.
  9. There are some very intriguing match-ups this season, and it's going to be interesting for a lot of different reasons. I've always maintained that this show isn't so much about the dancing per se because after all, if you want to see good dancing you can watch the Ohio Star Ball and some other competitions on PBS. It's really about the journey of learning dance, which is in itself a metaphor for how we take on new challenges and extend ourselves. What makes the All-Star season intriguing is that all of the stars are on for a second time, and theoretically, they at least have some baseline knowledge of ballroom dancing. (I realize that this more true for some than others...). Will this make the season more about the dancing? And how will a season of celebs who all have some fanbase play out. I think the jury's still out. It's also interesting in the new dynamic with the partners. Some of the pros are much better teachers/choreographers than others. How is that going to play out with new students? For example, Anna Trebunskaya is probably the best all-around female dancer in the professional field. (Karina is still probably the best female dancer overall, but across the 10 dances Anna is definitely the best). But she is a terrible teacher. She really is the classic naturally gifted dancer who can't communicate what comes easily to her. But Cheryl already gave Drew Lachey a very, very good grounding basics. Can Anna take someone who already has a foundation of the basics and bring them up another level? That's going to be interesting to watch... Conversely with people like Cheryl and Tristan who are at their best guiding beginners, are they going to be able to step it up a level with their charges this season? How will someone like Shawn Johnson take to another teacher like Derek? And how are all of Shawn's injuries which have piled up over the last few years going to affect her ability to dance? And Cheryl, Cheryl, Cheryl.... I was watching old video of her from Season 2 dancing with Louis, and as much as I always am down on her for letting her technique deteriorate to such a state, even I was struck by how different she looked then. It really was like watching a completely different dancer, and it was sad. (And I've wondered if it's part of why Louis doesn't really dance with her on the show anymore. Part of it is probably because of his relationship with Karina, but Louis never let Cheryl get away with cheating her technique like she does now. Maybe it's his instinct as her former coach.)
  10. With the addition of Sabrina Bryan and Louis Van Amstel, I'm going to put them down as my wild card. I don't think Sabrina has the fan base to take them all the way, but Louis has never had a strong dancer for a celeb partner on the show, so this should be mighty interesting. He's used to coaching competitors, and actually coached many of the pros on the show in their competitive days, so having a strong dancer in Sabrina could throw a curveball into the show.
  11. And having just re-watched the original The Blue Angel with my film club, my vote would go to Marlena Dietrich. At least this week.
  12. Yes, fascinating seeing the photos of her out of character. Without the crazy wings and costumes, she was a lovely woman.
  13. Interesting pairings for this season. I'm not sure if this the best move for the show since so much of the throughlines are about people taking on new challenges, but the dancing should be interesting. Even with the five past champions, though, my early money is on Gilles and Peta.
  14. The story of the dress is in one of the books on the Freed unit. From what I remember, Arthur Freed wasn't happy with any of the proposed designs for the "Dancing in the Dark" dress, but shouted "That's the dress for Cyd!" when his assistant came in to work one day in the $25 off-the-rack dress. Unfortunately, as Nyberg found out, the dress was no longer being made, and yes, it was quite costly to reproduce the dress for Cyd Charisse. The Bandwagon was originally a revue onstage with the Astaires, but the storyline in the movie is that the show becomes a musical comedy instead of a psychodrama. A lot of the revue numbers are in the movie, though, and the second half kind of becomes a mish-mash of numbers and Jack Buchanan kind of disappears. Oscar Levant isn't as prominent either (he asked to be dropped from "Triplets"... apparently, the knee attachments were rather painful),
  15. Ferri did perform it at one point with ABT. I remember seeing her perform it with Guillaume Graffin at the Met one season. From what i recall, it was not an ideal pairing, and I agree that it's a shame that Ferri/Bocca never performed it together. It must have been several years ago, though. The other cast that I saw that season was Julie Kent/Robert Hill.
  16. Publicly silencing ostensibly objective critics is never a good idea in the U.S. You can only imagine what the public reaction would be if ABC announced that its news programming was no longer reviewing Disney films because it didn't like the negative criticism. The concepts of free speech are so far embedded in American culture that any restrictions on criticism tend to lead to even more negative consequences as Mr. Gelb found out. As tempting as it is to silence the negative critics with one swipe, the backlash is usually ten times worse. Negative criticism doesn't go away. It just goes someplace else, and it only becomes stronger for the attempt to destroy it. In extreme cases, I've seen lawsuits ensue.
  17. Sorry, I've been finishing up some major projects this spring and haven't been watching the show as closely as I usually do. I will say that I'm pleased that the three strongest celebrities did make it to the final this year, and they're partnered with three very strong pros. Katherine, Donald and William are all very strong beginners, with strong points and weak points but unlike in previous years, I don't feel like any of them have been coasting with simplified choreography, say like Laila Ali. Mark, Peta and Cheryl have all been giving their celebs pretty well-rounded choreography for the most part throughout the competition. Cheryl is clearly looker weaker and weaker as a dancer, though, and her choreography has been decided lackluster this year. I really hope she takes the summer off and puts herself in Louis' tutelage again. I strongly feel that she needs to let her body heal from the years of dancing with beginners, get herself back in shape and rededicate herself to keep up her own technique. Peta's emerging as the new star among the female pros, and Karina's improved leaps and bounds as a teacher and choreographer. Cheryl needs to take care of herself to keep the shine on her star. In the round of 4, I will say that Maria was noticeably weaker than the final three. Although a lovely woman, Maria really lacks the strength and conditioning necessary for ballroom dancing. Derek was clearly reducing the number of weight changes she had to do in many of their routines. It was very noticeable in their Argentine Tango since it is essentially a walking-based dance. Still, Derek did really well to get her as far as he did. The Bollywood Samba was a giant mess, but I will give Derek a pass since I suspect that he was directed to do that by the show producers. (Since DWTS doesn't qualify as a game show, the producers have wide latitude in giving out the weekly music choices and "suggesting" choreographic concepts.) I liked the trio concept and hope they keep it. Donald and Peta clearly had the best routine, but they also had the easiest assignment. Jive, like most of the swing dances, lends itself to trio dancing, and a one lead/2 follow combination is relatively simple if the two follows are doing the same choreography. With two strong follows like Peta and Karina, the trio jive was pretty much a slam dunk unless Donald fell down. I was surprised that Mark and Katherine's cha-cha worked out so well, though. Cha-cha does not lend itself as well to trios as jive, but Mark's choreography worked well. I think Donald will win based both on his fanbase and how well he's done this year with Peta, but it's been a very good, enjoyable season for me.
  18. Being unpopular won't even prevent you from winning, otherwise Sean Penn wouldn't have two Academy Awards. But it does make it that much harder.
  19. Donald Driver and William Levy are definitely the strongest this season so far. They're the only celebs who made it through the Quickstep without huge "gap" issues, and generally managed to maintain their centers for the duration of the dance. Levy loses the connection here and there a couple of times, but it's pretty clean, especially for Cheryl who's not a strong Ballroom dancer. (For comparison, watch Roshon's Quickstep where he and Chelsie lose their collective center several times during the dance even though Chelsie's a pretty good Ballroom dancer.) At the moment, I'm saying that they're followed by Jaleel White, but it's hard to compare with Jaleel since he did foxtrot which is a much harder dance than the Quickstep. Maks is actually a talented choreographer and he comes into the show with one of the strongest teaching resumes out of the pros. I think he lets his ego get involved, though. After last season's fiasco, I think he's coming into this season with a huge chip on his shoulder. Derek is dragging Maria around like a rag doll. She doesn't seem to be in physical shape and she's not coordinated. I'm thinking early exit unless Derek really can work miracles. Strangely, i really like Gavin De Graw. Watching the B-roll, I expected utter disaster but he moves very musically and manages to hit his marks, which is much better than i thought he would do. Karina struggles with hopeless cases, but I can see this being a fun assignment for her after the intensity of last season. Tristan seems to be becoming the new Jonathan Roberts, specializing in older and physically challenged female celebs.
  20. Most of Gershwin's Hollywood output was written for Astaire, including a lot of his best-loved songs ("Let's Call the Whole Thing Off," "A Foggy Day," "They Can't Take That Away from Me," etc.), but it's pretty well-known that George Gershwin did not like living in Los Angeles (unlike Ira who lived in Beverly Hills for most of the rest of his life). By 1937 when most of those songs were written, Gershwin was already starting to suffer the symptoms of the brain tumor that would claim his life. Perhaps that had something to do with it.
  21. In the U.S., Universal Sports (NBC's cable sports channel) is broadcasting most of Worlds this year. Dishnetwork is finally carrying Universal Sports, so I am finally able to watch most of the programs this year. (Repeats will be broadcast over the next few days). For those without cable or access to Universal Sports, NBC is broadcasting highlights next weekend.
  22. Since he can't do the "fringe and a smile" strategy that some of the female pros use *coughPeta*, Tristan probably thinks that the spats will distract the audience from the fact that Gladys wasn't moving a whole lot. William Levy is probably the most promising male celeb I've seen out of the gate since R & B singer Mario. He intuitively gets the concept of leading from his body weight rather than his arm, and that is going to open up a lot of choreographic possibilities for Cheryl since she won't have to "muscle" as much of her dancing because of a lack of true lead. I think the footwork, stretch, etc. are fixable and I'm very sure that Cheryl will work hard at fixing them. Out of all the pros, Cheryl is smart at playing the DWTS game. She probably knew within the first few hours that she has a potential winner this season, and was planning how to make the most of it. Maks' routine for Melissa Gilbert was ridiculously difficult for a beginner. I don't know what he was thinking.
  23. I can't remember where I'd heard it, but I have heard the stat that Astaire introduced more #1 hit standards than anyone. Which if you think about it makes sense, considering his career as a leading star extended from 1925 to 1958. Besides his impeccable interpretation of songs, he also just outlasted everyone else. Speaking of, I had never heard that quote by the Gershwin before. The Gershwins wrote so much for both Astaire and his sister (Lady Be Good! really launched all of their careers in many ways) and Astaire as a solo artist... it's very surprising.
  24. Hmmm... my early money is on Donald Driver, Jaleel White and William Levy. Driver has a strong fanbase and Peta Murgatroyd is a very strong teacher and choreographer. With Driver's fanbase carrying them them in the early weeks, Peta will have some breathing room to really work with him. White and Levy both have dance experience and if they're willing to put themselves in Kym and Cheryl's hands (respectively), I think they'll do very well also.
  25. I had this exact experience w/ Tom Cruise in 1990. I saw him up close and the experience was . . . a disappointment. In real life, he was shorter and plainer than I had expected -- he was lacking in "magic". But get him on the big screen and the camera picks up that "magic". Hollywood magic works both ways, though. A number of working actors go to my local gym (not fancy, but close to many studios), and it's funny to compare how people come across onscreen vs. in sweaty real life. As noted, many actors are smaller than they look onscreen, but as tall as James Cromwell comes across onscreen, he is positively a giant in person. Paul Adelstein appears rather portly on television, but is very fit and handsome in real life. (I won't comment on who looks like they could be living on the streets...) As a total aside, Ryan Gosling is as magnetic and charming as you would expect. And a positive gentleman at the barre in ballet class!
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