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miliosr

Dancing With the Stars

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This topic may be too low-brow for this board but is anyone watching Dancing With the Stars on ABC?

I think it's quite entertaining, actually. At this point in the competition, I would say the race to first place is between J. Peterman (from Seinfeld) and Joey from New Kids On the Block. (Sam from General Hospital has an outside chance due to all the rabid soap opera fans out there.)

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I wasn't able to see this from the beginning, so my experience is limited to last week. On the one hand, I'm fascinated, as I am with all dance, but this is more in line with watching a car wreck than anything else. I've not seen American Idol, which I understand was the model for this show, but the general tone of the comments seem like an in-joke (based on something that everyone else but me knows) and are pretty nasty.

The dancing itself is quite interesting -- I have very mixed feelings about competition ballroom dance, but the pro-am nature of this setup leads to some very intriguing comparisons.

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Hi. Just a board-related health warning that this topic should not stray from discussion of the dancing in the program.

miliosr, we do try to keep our threads as close as possible to the arts. Discussion of a popular television program is not verboten under all circumstances, but there are many places on the web where detailed discussion of popular TV shows can be found and we try to stay close to the general focus of our board. I hope you understand, and welcome to Ballet Talk! :wub:

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Here,

Described in its press materials as "a totally unique and original series," "Dancing With the Stars" is a copy of a British series called "Strictly Come Dancing."
Rockwell seems to want to say that Orwellian language now permeates entertainment publicity.

Bizarre, isn't it? :wub:

I saw it two weeks ago, I think. Holyfield had such charm and panache. I enjoyed him the most.

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My daughter sat down to watch the first episode with pen and paper in hand, all set to judge the stars that were dancing. She most definitely was taking this seriously! And she gave them all scores. Joey and Ashley were her favorites and I even allowed her to vote :wub:

It was quite surprising the next day when Joey and Ashley were at our BALLET studio being filmed rehearsing!!!

She was thrilled!

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ABC will be reairing last week's episode prior to the live broadcast tonight.

For those of you who may not have seen the program but are curious about it, the competition started with six pairs comprised of a celebrity amateur and a professional ballroom dancer (one team was eliminated last week.) Here are the celebrity amateurs in the competition:

boxer Evander Holyfield

model Rachel Hunter

Joe McIntyre (a.k.a. Joey from New Kids on the Block)

Kelly Monaco (a.k.a. Sam from General Hospital)

John O' Hurley (a.k.a. J. Peterman from Seinfeld)

reality TV show fixture Trista Sutter (eliminated last week)

Based on last week's dancing, here are my elimination picks for this week:

Should Go: Evander or Kelly

Will Go: Rachel (The best of the female competitors -- she had ballet training when she was younger -- but I don't think the fan base is there to carry her further in the competition.)

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Haven't seen this, but I can visualize what John Rockwell means when he says it's "tacky" and relatively devoid of pure dance. Those ballroom competitions on PBS -- hosted by Sandy Dennis, etc. -- were moving fast in that direction last time I watched.

But it IS dancing. It does involve respectiful and supportive partnering. It utilizes and apparently respects at least some people who actually know what they are doing. And (I assume) it omits the simple-minded aggresiveness and insult that pass in modern American culture as "edginess" and "irony." So, I'm all for it. And will tape the next expisode to watch for whatever echoes of Fred, Ginger, and ballet basics the dancing contains.

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I was intrigued by Rockwell's championing of improvised social dance, as here:

"the new popularity of ballroom dancing suggests a possible decline in free-form, solo self-expression on the dance floor. A Bush-era rejection of the dreaded 60's, if you will. To be sure, John Travolta's disco dancing was plenty rehearsed, plenty flashy. But dancing by yourself, opposite a partner but only sketchily interacting with that partner, is a lot easier than learning a real partnered dance, and hence more democratically open if less artistically interesting."

I may be reading more into this that exists, but it seems the implication is that there is no freedom of expression in structured dances.

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My predictive powers fail again but I'm not unhappy about that as Evander was an extremely deserving boot.

Based on last night's performances, here are my rankings:

1 Rachel and Jonathan

I'm in complete agreement with the judges regarding this pair. Rachel has beautiful posture and extensions and is best able to maintain a stable core. I thought she looked like Cyd Charisse in Singing In the Rain and then Bruno (the judge) said she reminded him of Cyd Charisse and Ann Miller. So great minds think alike. :)

(small gap)

2 John and Charlotte

Another strong performance by these two -- just not as strong as prior weeks. I know his facial mannerisms are controversial but I like his melodramatic mugging for the camera.

(gap)

3 Joey and Ashly

Liked how they performed the dance to the hilt but his posture issues (scrunched shoulders and a tendency to lean forward) undermined the effect. Nice period costume (WWII GI uniform) for Joey but Ashly's lack of a period costume also undercut the effect.

4 Kelly and Alec

I like her "never say die" attitude and willingness to persevere in the face of criticism but she is clearly fourth best at this point. Last night's performance was this team's best yet BUT (to quote Kelly herself) "that's not saying much." Note to Alec: You should not choreograph side-by-side passages for the two of you. They only serve to highlight Kelly's weaknesses and not her strengths.

(yawning chasm)

5 Evander and Edyta

An "A" for effort but it was his time to go. He lacked speed and precision in comparison to the other competitors and he was clearly the weakest celebrity amateur.

A fun show although the two hosts need to go and the music selections were an up-and-down affair!

Edited by miliosr

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Recognizing that it's merely a matter of personal taste, I would only reverse your first and second rankings, miliosr.

I had to admit that Evander deserved to be eliminated, but there is something so unexpectedly sweet and almost naive about him. Ah, well.

I don't know what the issue is with Rockwell. Ballet, the most strictly codified and highly theatricalized of the dance forms (okay, I admit that's an arguable point), derives ultimately from popular/folk dances. The Stars' performances here, like the Sandy Duncan evenings on PBS, are similar, theatrically ratcheted up demonstrations of what just-plain-folks do recreationally and socially. It is not, however, a social thing in any real sense, nor does it pretend to be.

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FYI - USA Today has a feature on John O'Hurley in today's edition. (The New York Times also has a story about the show in the Arts section.)

In other news, Dancing With the Stars finished first in last week's ratings with 15.7 million viewers. (The show finished second in the key 18-49 demographic.)

A new episode airs tonight on ABC!

Edited by miliosr

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Thank you for the heads up, miliosr. I'm going to watch for the first time tonight, as I can't be there for "Don Quixote"..... :tiphat:

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Dreadful, dreadful result last night. No way should Rachel & Jonathan have been voted off before Joey & Ashly and Kelly & Alec.

Here are my rankings based on last night's performances:

Samba

None of the performances blew me away. Each team had problems (although the teams didn't necessarily have the same problems.)

01 (tie) John & Charlotte/ Rachel & Jonathan

First off, let me say that both John and Jonathan were costumed unflatteringly.

With that out of the way, I thought these two teams came the closest to capturing the mood and the technique of the samba. Unfortunately, both teams also had certain problems that detracted from the overall effect.

John and Charlotte had marvelous speed but Bruno was correct in saying that John's technique below the waist was slack. Rachel and Jonathan had the opposite problem -- the technique was crisper but the dance lacked kinetic energy.

(small to moderate gap)

02 Joey & Ashly

The good points: Much improved posture for Joey (less leaning forward than in past weeks), reasonably crisp technique and dynamic performance.

The bad points: Like Rachel & Jonathan, speed seemed to be a factor at times. Also, as much as I like his dynamism, he has a tendency to let his enthusiasm overwhelm his self-discipline when it comes to matters of technique. This is one team where the professional needs to be a good deal firmer with the amateur.

(moderate gap)

03 Kelly & Alec

Alec looked smokin' hot in his Aquaman shirt!

I guess I'm missing what the judges saw. I thought Kelly looked very sloppy at times and Alec's love of side-by-side passages and his own inability (or disinclination) to dance down to Kelly only makes her look worse. They definitely are a dynamic team but the technique just isn't there.

(To Kelly's credit, I loved that she took Bruno's advice and received ballet instruction prior to last night's competition. I also loved how one of the first things out of the ballet instructor's mouth was: "Shoulders down!" Too funny!!

I wanted to ask any of the board's ballet aficianados who watched the show [is anyone watching? Will anyone admit to watching?] what they thought of the ballet instructor asking Kelly to achieve perfect first position during her first class. Is this standard for an adult novice?)

Waltz

This was hard to judge as the camera work was fairly awful. A few notes:

-- I'm sure George Balanchine, watching from Heaven, hit himself in the forehead when he heard the music selection and said to himself, "I should have used "I Got You Babe" for Vienna Waltzes!" :)

-- In this era of slovenly dress, it was great seeing the guys in their tuxes.

-- Some of the moves looked a little too ice dancer-ish but I did like how Joey and Ashly "threw" themselves across the floor. It reminded me of the scene in one of the Astaire/Rogers movies where they clasp hands and fling each other over a railing.

Last thoughts on the vote:

Rachel and Jonathan weren't a deserving boot but I think they had several disadvantages. I don't know that Rachel had a consistent fan base to see her through from week-to-week. I also think Kelly and (to a lesser extent) Joey are benefiting from audience backlash to some of the judges' comments. Lastly, while Bruno's comparisons of Rachel to Rita Hayworth and Cyd Charisse were apt, I think people forget that Hayworth and Charisse had somewhat icy, remote screen personalities. I wonder if the audience didn't prefer the "warmer" performing styles of O'Hurley, McIntyre and Monaco.

Predictions:

Should go: Joey or Kelly

Will go: John (!!!)

Edited by miliosr

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Waltz

-- I'm sure George Balanchine, watching from Heaven, hit himself in the forehead when he heard the music selection and said to himself, "I should have used "I Got You Babe" for Vienna Waltzes!"  :)

I LOVE that, miliosr. I taped this on DVR and will watch it with your comments. (I don't mind knowing the results ahead of time -- indeed I rather prefer it, since you can compare your evaluations with the final results).

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I watched. :blush: I was so relieved, in the Waltz, to see the gals in gowns, rather than a few sequins held togehter by sequins. And yeah, what about that weird musical choice? :P

I disagree about Rachel, who always made me feel uncomfortable. She may have had better technique, but there was no fluidity in her upper body. I kept wanting her to take a deep breath and r-e-l-a-x. She looked like her nerves were inhibiting her ability to make the dances enjoyable for her and for us.

And it was the enjoyment factor that threw me into the Joey-Ashly camp -- at least for this week. Those two had a ball in both dances. In fact, from week to week, Joey seems to have more fun, while Rachel showed the increasing strain of competitive pressure.

As for Kelly's ballet class, I loved how it illlustrated the difficulty of something as basic as standing correctly in first position. I don't understand how Kelly could have started from Square One and learned enough in the course of a week to improve her ballroom, but, hey! Maybe there's a new career in her future -- in ballet!

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Carbro -- I would actually agree with you regarding Rachel's lack of expressiveness in her upper body. And you are also right that her nerves (especially last week) only amplified the problem. Still, there was something about this pair that I quite liked and I'm disappointed to see them go (at least at this stage in the competition.)

In regard to the impact of Kelly's ballet instruction on her dancing, I wonder if the impact was more mental than physical. It may have given her more of a feeling of control and this in turn heightened her self-confidence heading into the competition. She certainly danced with more confidence Wednesday night (if, to be ungallant, not with more skill.)

She should stick with the ballet, though, when the competition is over. I'm a casual General Hospital viewer and she has a tendency to slouch. Ballet would do wonders for her posture, especially given how petite she is.

Bart -- Glad you liked my little joke about Balanchine and "I Got You Babe". Referring to Balanchine and Sonny&Cher in the same sentence has to be a first! :P

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A, but in the old days all three might have been on the Ed Sullivan Show on a single evening.

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Next week's dances are the foxtrot and the paso doble, both of which should work in John and Charlotte's favor.

John and Charlotte are going to need every advantage they can get, though, because I think they are in real danger of being ousted next week. If what I suspect is true -- that Kelly and Alec are dominating the audience vote (with Joey and Ashly finishing second) -- then John and Charlotte must win the judges' vote to have any chance of making it to the final competition.

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I won't be able to post my full thoughts until this weekend but, once again, I think the wrong couple went home this week.

That being said, here is my prediction for next week (based on what we have seen so far):

Should win: John and Charlotte

Will win: Kelly and Alec

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I didn't see the first episodes, but I just watched the last two, and while I agree with miliosr that the wrong couple went home, I would have chosen a different couple. I thought that Charlotte and John should have been eliminated. I think his mugging is atrocious, and while he kept the frame with his arms, his middle sank towards the center, regardless of the dance. She, though, is simply gorgeous, and even more elegant by comparison, considering his presentation suggests to me that he thinks he's still on Seinfeld. She is my favorite dancer in the entire enterprise, but I don't think they should win just because of her.

After watching Hunter in the studio, I expected her to be quite fine. But when she performed the samba, she looked tight to me, and most of the routine was spent with her and her partner spaced very far apart. She didn't have Latin dance articulation that I could see. I don't know how the judges scored them so highly when there was so little interaction between the two, and their relative difficulty seemed low, compared to the couples who went in close for much more of the dance. In the final waltz, she didn't seem lifted and centered. She looked terrified, and I suspect she's a much better ballroom dancer than this samba/waltz episode would suggest.

I would hire Joey to do musical comedy any day, but I agreed with the two judges who questioned whether he and Ashly performed a foxtrot. I'm not sure who's voting in the audience, and whether they give a fig about this, but wondered whether her snippy attitude towards the judges had any effect on the audience voting. I'd rather see his silly faces than John O'Hurley's.

It sounds like Kelly Monaco barely hung on for the opening rounds, but I've been very impressed with her after these two episodes. In her samba, I thought she kept her upper body "up" which freed up her lower body, which was quite expressive. She also seems to trust her partner the most, going in very tight, and letting him fling her around without hestitation, which is rather amazing since she described herself as "chunky." And I think her soap opera training allows her to look more convincing in the conventional ballroom expressions.

I didn't read the Rockwell article before it went into "paid" status, but the studio work and the dancing itself, apart from some rather bizarre musical choices, is recognizably serious. What is tacky in my eyes, is the noise that surrounds it -- the too vivid hosts, the silly post-performance "interviews," the sadistically long pause before eliminating the last couple, and the judges who look and sound like they're auditioning for a Pee Wee Herman special, regardless of their credentials. That's when it's wonderful to have the fast-forward option on the TiVo.

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After taking to my bed for a week after the ouster of Rachel and Jonathan, I've managed to rouse myself long enough to post my thoughts on this week's competition:

The Foxtrot

01 John & Charlotte

While this wasn't nearly as wonderful as the judges led us to believe, I do think John and Charlotte came the closest to conveying the crisp footwork, dynamic turns and sparkling elegance of this dance. And Charlotte looked absolutely spectacular in her costume.

(small gap)

(tie) Joey and Ashly

Kelly and Alec

I would put the remaining two couples in a tie. While Joey and Ashly may not have been better than Kelly and Alec, no way should their scores have been as low as they were. I would probably give a very mild advantage to Joey and Ashly just because Kelly's costume was hideous. That being said, I did like that dramatic fall Kelly did. Kelly unleashes her inner Limon dancer! :speechless-smiley-003:

Paso Doble

01 Joey and Ashly

I'm going to take grief for this but I thought this was their best yet. Finally his posture issues have disappeared and he looked taller as a result. Despite the musical handicap, they had good speed and displayed well-articulated steps.

(small gap)

02 John and Charlotte

Would you like eggs with that ham, Mr. O'Hurley? I normally like his facial expressions but it was a bit much this time. The technique was OK but I thought that all the melodrama made it seem more like parody than performance.

(gap)

03 Kelly and Alec

I thought this was a mess. The judges got all over Joey and Ashly for not having enough foxtrot in their foxtrot. Where was the paso doble in this couple's paso doble? I felt like they did the bare minimum of steps and then brewed up a weird mixture of Latin dance cliches and Kelly's gyrations. And Alec, while smokin' hot, has strangely expressionless eyes.

(For the record, while I'm not a fan of the Kelly and Alec pairing, I want to give credit to Kelly for showing dramatic improvement over the course of this competition. She is a hard worker (rehearsing with Alec on the General Hospital sound stage between takes), accepts criticism and learns from it, and has proven herself to be a tough competitor.)

I'm sticking by my prediction from a prior post even though everyone I talk to tells me that they think John and Charlotte are going to win.

Going forward to the next edition of this show, there is one immediate change that needs to be made and that is to dump co-host Lisa Canning. Tom Bergeron has grown on me and he is doing a good job keeping the show (which is live) on schedule but his co-host is just terrible. She cannot even read off of a teleprompter!

Here's hoping that the producers can land Christopher Walken for the next edition . . .

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Wouldn't you know that my unreliable predictive powers proved to be reliable this week . . .

I set my VCR improperly (accident or subconscious desire to avoid my least favorite pair winning the competition?) so I can't comment on this week's dancing. I will say that Kelly and Alec were in a commanding position to win once they made it through the first rounds. Since they were obviously winning the audience vote week after week, all they needed to do was to survive the jury votes long enough to take the fight directly to John and Charlotte.

I'm looking forward to Dancing With the Stars 2 -- hopefully with some changes:

1) Co-host Lisa Canning needs to go -- NOW!!!

2) The audience vote and the jury vote should be counted in the same week. The producers could emulate American Idol by having a one-hour competition show on one night and a half-hour results show the following night. This would take out the lag time in the audience vote.

3) Better music. John and Charlotte lucked out with some of the music they had to dance to but some of the other comeptitors were really handicapped by the musical choices.

FYI -- Last week's episode was the # 1 rated show in America with 18.6 million viewers. It was also # 1 in the 18-49 demographic with 7.3 million viewers.

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3) Better music. John and Charlotte lucked out with some of the music they had to dance to but some of the other comeptitors were really handicapped by the musical choices.

Was the music chosen for them? If that's the case, then no wonder some of the dances didn't look in the right genre. The music indicated another type of dance. I had thought the pros in the couple chose the music.

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I set my VCR improperly (accident or subconscious desire to avoid my least favorite pair winning the competition?) so I can't comment on this week's dancing.

No fair, miliosr! :huepfen024:

I was counting on your report, because the cable feed to my vcr is not good, and I, too, was out.

Interesting (and encouraging) that the ratings were so high! I'm willing to bet that next year every network will have its own version.

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