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Dancing with the Stars: Season 4

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Week Four Ratings

Performances -- 5th (18.8 million viewers)

Results -- 6th (17.3 million viewers)

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Miliosr Report - Week Five

Scores from the Judges

The judges awarded a total of 176 points this week.

01 Apolo/Julianne 30pts 17.0% 17.0pts

02 Laila/Maks 28pts 15.9% 15.9pts

03 Joey/Kym 25pts 14.2% 14.2pts

04 Ian/Cheryl 24pts 13.6% 13.6pts

05 Heather/Jonathan 21pts 11.9% 11.9pts

06 John/Edyta 18pts 10.2% 10.2 pts

07 Billy Ray/Karina 17pts 9.7% 9.7pts

08 Clyde/Elena 13pts 7.4% 7.4pts

Miliosr's Thoughts

Not a lot to add on a couple-by-couple basis as the scores were very fair this week.

Should Have Gone

I would have put Clyde/Elena and Billy Ray/Karina in the Bottom 2 with Clyde/Elena leaving.

The Bottom Two

In the event, Clyde/Elena and Heather/Jonathan ended up in the Bottom Two with Clyde/Elena leaving.

It was Clyde's time to go. He wasn't making any progress as a dancer and he was ready to go. A very fair boot.

Going Forward

With seven competitors left, it has become abundantly clear that there are two tiers in this competition. The top tier consists of Apolo, Ian, Laila and Joey and the secondary tier consists of Billy Ray, Heather and John. I suspect that the next three weeks will be somewhat uneventful in terms of departures as Billy Ray, Heather and John are most likely the next three boots.

I would bet on a Final Four consisting of Apolo, Ian, Joey and Laila. As for the Final Two, I suspect that it will be some combination of Apolo/Joey/Laila.

I have serious doubts that Cheryl will be able to three-peat with Ian. Something seems to be missing from the broth this year -- the soup just doesn't have the same flavor as it did with Drew and Emmitt.

See you next week -- hopefully I'll be more inspired by the dancing to write more!

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I would bet on a Final Four consisting of Apolo, Ian, Joey and Laila. As for the Final Two, I suspect that it will be some combination of Apolo/Joey/Laila.

As weak as he is, I think Billy Ray has as good a shot as Apolo, Ian or Laila at being in the final. The country music contingent has proven to be a formidable fanbase in the past, and he also would have support from the "Hannah Montana" fandom.

In terms of dance quality, I would say that Joey, Apolo, Ian and Laila are probably much better than the rest of the pack, but what I find interesting in contrast to past years, is that I don't really see one serious frontrunner in terms of dance quality (this is totally divorced from who I think is going to win on the basis of the combination of fandom, dance pro, choreography, etc.) All of those four have good points (for a beginner dancer) and serious weaknesses. And absolutely none of them got the required hip action right for their assigned samba/rhumba (which is not surprising. Neither of them are really a beginner level dance.)

Apolo put forward the overall strongest effort on Monday night with the most balanced and overall cleanest program. I was very impressed with the attempt at partnering, lots of very advanced lead/follow for a beginner for a couple of months. He still has difficulty with maintaining the rhythm at times especially when he's partnering. If you watch his feet carefully, they will very clearly start deviating from the samba rhythm when he's trying to lead her. (He actually cleaned this up considerably in the encore.) Still, very, very impressive for a beginner and light years ahead of where he started with the cha cha. Concerned as to how he'll do in slower dances, where this problem becomes obvious.

Which brings me to Laila. The rhumba should totally be in her wheelhouse, being a sensual dance with not a lot of speed, but the slooowwww tempo also magnifies all flaws. And in Laila's case, it magnifies the non-coordination of her hip action. She's not controlling her hip to work in opposition to her knees, and she swings her hip through too quickly. I do give her points for finally having some partnering work in her dance, although it's much simpler than any of the other contenders most of whom have already been attempting underarm turns for weeks and about at the same level as Clyde and Billy Ray (although better executed). (Still hate Maks' choice of the long skirt which he did with Willa as well, since it obscures the hip and leg lines of his partner, but perhaps that's the point).

Joey is totally inconsistent with his hips. Now you see it, now you don't. And although his posture is better, it's not great and some of his positions are less than aesthetically pleasing. However, call me crazy, but he's one of the few (perhaps the only) who is managing to consistently picking up his feet and putting them down in time with the both the rhythm of the dance and the tempo of the music, and that scores major points with me. It's actually the first thing I notice both when I'm dancing with a partner and when I'm watching someone dance. Kym needs to clean-up a ton of things with Joey, but he's actually been improving a lot in the recent weeks. I don't think this is a dance that comes naturally to him, I can see how the rhumba could have gone very badly, but it doesn't.

I hate to say this, but I agree with Carrie Ann. I think Ian needs to learn how to breathe. And not just in a metaphorical sense. I think he's literally holding his breath through his performances. And I have to say that out of all of the contestants I identify by far the most with Ian, because when I started out I would start thinking about what I was doing too much and forget to breathe and then fall over my own feet (actually, I still do all of that still, but that's another story....). He's not a natural dancer like Joey, and he's not naturally coordinated like Laila or Apolo, but it's in him to break through the plateau that he's reached. I'm just not sure he'll be able to learn to trust himself enough to do it during the length of the show.

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More random notes on Week:

I liked Julianne's choreography a lot, but Apolo's had a lot of problems with controlling his foot-to-foot weight changes, especially while partnering and especially during the slower-tempo dances like waltz. I was wondering what Julianne was going to do for the rhumba, but they got an American Rhumba with a very generous tempo (International Rhumba tempo is somewhat slower) and Julianne very cleverly minimized how many weight changes he had to do by using the chair. If you watch his feet closely when he actually gets out of the chair, he still has a tendency to fall into his steps.

I think John is being targetted to exit. That was a very wickedly fast mambo for any beginner, but especially one of his age. Both he and Billy Ray were being backled by their partners for most of their routines. And I just don't know what to say with Heather. I feel like the judges are taking on this air of "Oh, poor little crippled girl!" which I don't really appreciate, and I don't think Heather does either.

I still feel like there are major problems with Laila's frame. I appreciate that they're actually doing partnered work at this point, but most of it is still very far apart. The closed work that they are doing is very weak with a very collapsed frame and Laila looks like she's fighting him a lot. The one underarm turn that they performed (I think it's the first they've attempted and it's only SIX weeks in), was very poor. She lets her connecting arm go ALL the way behind her body which is a major no-no, no connection at all.

I thought Joey's samba was not bad. His hips are still hit and miss, but I think his posture has improved a lot, and I generally see improvement from him week to week. Samba walks were non-existent, not that any of the celebs have performed them well, but they were weak. I do appreciate that they attempted the samba rolls. I do feel like one problem with this dance may have been that Kym is not a very good samba dancer, either, because her samba walks didn't look that spiffy either. So some good moments, and some not-so-good moments in this one for me. I do feel like Joey's competitive side is starting to take hold, though, so I'm interested in how he progresses.

You know for me, Ian's best moment in this show this season was during the mock-fight with Joey during the swing. His personality, humor and playfulness came out, and I feel like that's something that's been missing during his performances this year. And strangely, much of Cheryl's strength during the past two seasons has been in bringing out her partners' personalities on the dance floor. She just hasn't seemed to be able to accomplish that with Ian this year, and I'm not sure why. The choreography she's done this year is totally competent, but it hasn't seemed very individualized to Ian, and I'm not sure if it's a question of fatigue or if she just hasn't been able to connect to anything in his personality to bring out. As much as I harp on the technical issues that Apolo, Laila and Joey have as dancers, I feel like I have a feel for them as dancers, and I don't really with Ian.

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Week Five Ratings

Performances -- 5th (18.9 million viewers)

Results -- 6th (16.5 million viewers)

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Miliosr Report - Week Six

General Thoughts

This was the first week in awhile to bring a smile to my face -- largely because of the group swing featuring all of the celebs and pros. It was something of a disaster but it was an entertaining disaster!

Scores from the Judges

The judges awarded 170 pts in total.

01 Apolo/Julianne 28pts 16.5% 16.5

01 Laila/Maks 28pts 16.5% 16.5

03 Joey/Kym 27pts 15.9% 15.9

04 Ian/Cheryl 24pts 14.1% 14.1

05 Heather/Jonathan 23pts 13.5% 13.5

06 Billy Ray/Karina 21pts 12.4% 12.4

07 John/Edyta 19pts 11.2% 11.2

Miliosr's Thoughts

Joey/Kym (samba)

Why did the singer have to butcher the Erasure song? They were one of my favorite bands during the 80s!

I wouldn't rank this as their best but it was full of energy and excitement and Joey managed to rein in the whimsical embellishments.

Heather/Jonathan (paso doble)

Everyone's been worried about how her lower body would fare in this competition but, to me, her upper body has been the real problem -- she has almost no control over it.

This was a valiant effort on Jonathan's part but Heather had neither the proper frame nor the needed dramatic intensity for this dance. And I could have done without her singing along to the song during the dance.

John/Edyta (mambo)

He tries so hard but it's just not happening. And they make an odd contrast on the dancefloor -- it's like watching your dad taking up with the sexy divorcee down the street on the dancefloor of a wedding reception.

Laila/Maks (cha cha cha)

Loved it until they did all the freestyling at the end -- save it for the free dances in the finals people!

Billy Ray/Karina (jive)

Was it even a jive?

He's a complete mess in a technical sense and yet he's oddly endearing in his horribleness. Page the Vatican -- Karina's working miracles in making him even marginally presentable for public consumption.

Apolo/Julianne (rhumba)

Oh no -- the Tucker Carlson chair of doom made its reappearance!

They have great chemistry but I hated all the business with the chair.

Ian/Cheryl (paso doble)

Ugh -- why did the singer have to butcher one of my favorite J.Lo songs?

To borrow a phrase from Arlene Croce -- what is the riddle of Ian Ziering? Why can't he let go on performance nights and show us all who he really is?? He's very easygoing otherwise and yet, in performance, he becomes this tense, jaw-clenching stranger. I have to agree with sidwich -- his best moment in this entire season was in the group swing. Freed from the burden of competition, he could just be himself and we finally saw the real Ian.

Should Have Gone

I would have picked John/Edyta and Billy Ray/Karina for the Bottom Two with Billy Ray/Karina going.

The Bottom Two

In the event, the Bottom Two consisted of John/Edyta and Heather/Jonathan with Heather/Jonathan leaving.

Even though I don't think it was precisely their time to leave the competition, I can't get too worked up about it because they were going to go sooner rather than later anyway. Heather proved herself to be a game performer but her various technical problems (the leg not being the first among them) were their undoing. Still, she should be satisfied that she made it as far as she did given the backlash regarding her failed marriage to Paul McCartney.

Finally, it was nice to see Jonathan make it a little further in the competition. Here's hoping that in the future he will get a partner who will help him make it to the finals.

Going Forward

Barring a miracle (see Smirnoff, Karina), I'm guessing that John and Edyta will go next week. What's not clear to me is who will be joining them in the Bottom Two. Based on past performances, Billy Ray and Karina should be there but I can envision a scenario where Ian and Cheryl make their first appearance under the red light of doom. None of the others strike me as being in much danger of going next week.

See you then!

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Why did the singer have to butcher the Erasure song? They were one of my favorite bands during the 80s!
Because it was Erasure's turn.

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Week Six Ratings

Performances -- 18.9 million viewers (6th)

Results -- 16.6 million viewers (9th)

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Miliosr Report - Week Seven

General Thoughts

(1) It was nice to see more Season 2 alumni -- Jerry and Kenny -- return this week for guest appearances. (This in addition to those we've already seen this season -- Drew, Lisa, Stacy.) I can't let go of the magical Season 2 and apparently neither can the show.

(2) We also had a mini-Beverly Hills 90210 reunion this week -- Ian performing and Jason Priestly, Jennie Garth and Tori Spelling in the audience. 90210 was never one of my favorite shows but it was fun to see so many of the cast members together again.

Scores from the Judges

The judges awarded 309 points. (Sorry -- I didn't work out the percentages this week.)

01 Joey/Kym 59pts

01 Laila/Maks 59pts

03 Apolo/Julianne 54pts

03 Ian/Cheryl 54 pts

05 John/Edyta 45points

06 Billy Ray/Karina 38pts

Miliosr's Thoughts

Each couple performed two dances:

Laila/Maks -- quickstep/samba

John/Edyta -- foxtrot/rhumba

Apolo/Julianne -- foxtrot/mambo

Ian/Cheryl -- tango/mambo

Billy Ray/Karina -- waltz/samba

Julianne/Karina -- foxtrot/jive

I had some problems with my DVD recording AND what did record contained a weather alert from the local news station so I'm not going to do a blow-by-blow this week. What I did see generally corresponded to the way the judges scored the contestants. The Top Four -- Apolo, Ian, Joey and Laila -- maintained their positions while the remaining second tier contestants -- John and Billy Ray -- didn't manage to make it out of the back of the pack.

Should Have Gone

Based on what I saw, John/Edyta and Billy Ray/Karina should have been in the Bottom Two with Billy Ray and Karina leaving.

The Bottom Two

In the event, the Bottom Two consisted of Billy Ray/Karina and John/Edyta with John/Edyta leaving.

John and Edyta didn't deserve to go quite yet but, as they were never going to crack the Final Four, it was a fair elimination. I must say that John proved to be a gallant competitor. He stepped in as a replacement on short notice and he didn't follow the hammy path that George Hamilton and Jerry Springer blazed. For that he deserves everlasting credit.

Going Forward

Billy Ray can't go soon enough. He knows he is past his sell-by date and no one was more disappointed than he was when John's name was called instead of his during the elimination round. Time to put him out of his misery America!

See you next week -- hopefully the DVD recording and the weatherman won't conspire to defeat me again!

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Random notes on Week 8:

I have to say I actually was rather encouraged by this week. I think almost all the celebs genuinely tried to improve their weaknesses this week in a major way, in at least one of the dances.

Even with the too-long intros, I think between the waltz and the jive, there was more substantive partnering in Laila's two dances this week than there has been in all her other dances this season put together. It made obvious what I've suspected for several weeks (that her frame and partnering are very weak relative to the rest of her dancing) and the judges called her out for it, but I was glad to see that she and Maks made the effort.

Apolo actually (mostly) stayed on beat with the Paso. I also thought this was overscrored considering he was still swirling the cape/tying the skirt for a full 4 eights of music (after the music started), and they missed their opening which through them off for the very beginning. But I thought this was a marked improvement. I do have to agree with Len that the Tango didn't really work. I felt like all the footwork was an effort by Julianne to disguise the fact that Apolo still lacked the control to perform a competent Tango basic, and the result seemed to all happen at one level with no real dynamic. It really lacked the "stalking around the floor" character of Tango.

I was glad to see Joey performed a straight-up waltz, with pretty good posture, body contact, rise and fall, etc. The mambo needed some help. If "Jessie's Girl" is too fast for an optimal Tango, Joey and Kym's Mambo music felt too slow for a good Mambo which I think accentuated Joey's problems with the dance (heavy steps, too much weight on his rock steps, etc.). The Mambo is a "spot" dance, that is, it's not supposed to move around the floor. But in the Mambo, Joey is planting his feet when he leads some of the underarm turns (which is actually the same problem Apolo had in his Jive). He's using far too much of his arm, and not enough of his hip weight to get Kym around.

First, I hate Cheryl's Foxtrot choreography. I think I feel that way every season. Cheryl's Latin choreography almost always looks much better than her Ballroom, and Foxtrot seems to be her weakest dance by far. It almost always seems to devolve into mediocre showdance, and I think Ian's Foxtrot may have had the least substantive content of all the Foxtrots so far this season, and I'm counting Billy Ray's (although Billy Ray's was executed much more poorly).

Second, I think my thing with Ian is that he just doesn't seem to be comfortable in his own skin when he's dancing. I love Ian, and I feel like I'm reliving all my issues when I was first learning to dance with him, and I really think he may have just plateau'd on this for a while. I don't know that there's anything anyone can really say to him until he really starts to accept who he is when he dances. Yes, there is a "character" to each dance, but personally, I think the only way to really portray the character effectively to to portray yourself in that character. He needs to embrace his inner diva.

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Week Seven Ratings

Performances -- 5th (tie) (19.0 millon viewers)

Results -- 9th (16.3 million viewers)

Very surprising Bottom Two last night (or at least one-half of it.) I didn't see that coming at all!

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Miliosr Report - Week Eight

Scores from the Judges

01 Apolo/Julianne 58pts 23.1% 23.1

02 Joey/Kym 55pts 21.9% 21.9

03 Laila/Maks 53pts 21.1% 21.1

04 Ian/Cheryl 47pts 18.7% 18.7

05 Billy Ray/Karina 38pts 15.1% 15.1

Miliosr's Thoughts

Ballroom Round

Truth be told, nothing really stood out for me in a good way (as compared to a bad way -- that means you Billy Ray!) While I normally don't like gimmicky performances, I enjoyed the waltz that Laila and Maks performed -- the riff on Sleeping Beauty presented Laila in a different way. Apolo and Julianne's tango was next best for me but what genius came up with the idea of setting it to "Jesse's Girl"?

Billy Ray and Karina's foxtrot was clearly the worst dance of the round -- Billy Ray basically walked his way through it. My compliments to the singer who sang "Stand By Your Man" -- she actually did right by Tammy Wynette.

Latin Round

There was some seriously crazed music in this round -- a rhumba to John Lennon's "Imagine"? A paso doble to "Oh My Darling Clementine"?? (Which, bizarrely, actually kind of worked!)

I would give this round to Apolo and Julianne's paso doble but I don't think it deserved a perfect score -- Apolo clearly fell at one point.

Should Have Gone

Billy Ray/Karina deserved both spots in the Bottom Two.

The Bottom Two

In the event, the Bottom Two consisted of Billy Ray/Karina and -- shockingly -- Joey/Kym with Billy Ray/Karina leaving.

I don't have too much to say about Billy Ray as he exits the competition. He has wanted to be gone for weeks and no one was happier than Billy Ray was when he got eliminated. So, I'm happy for him.

The real news of the night was Joey and Kym's first appearance under the red light of doom. I often criticize the show for various reasons but I have to say that the production staff handled this news brilliantly on Tuesday night. Tom and Samantha announced -- unsurprisingly -- that Billy Ray and Karina were in the Bottom Two. At this point, I assumed that Ian and Cheryl would be the other pair in the Bottom Two. To my amazement, they were the first couple to be declared safe! (And based on Cheryl Burke's "I-just-won-the-Miss-America-pageant-gasp" when they were declared safe, she and Ian were expecting to be in the Bottom two as well.)

Things got very interesting at this point as the remaining three teams -- Apolo/Julianne, Joey/Kym and Laila/Maks -- looked like they were all going to lose their lunches. I assumed (one again wrongly) that Laila and Maks would now be the other Bottom Two couple. But then Tom and Samantha said they were safe! I was flabbergasted at this point as it seemed inconceivable to me that either Apolo or Joey could be in the Bottom Two but sure enough it was Joey.

I'm not proud of my reaction but I have to say that part of me enjoyed seeing Joey under the red light of doom. The prospect of elimination sure wiped that smarmy look off of his face fast enough!

The various fan boards have been aflame with conspiracy theories about why Joey and Kym wound up in the Bottom Two. My own feeling is that a lot of people assumed Joey would coast to the Final Two and didn't bother to vote for him which, as Paulina Porizkova could tell you, is a surefire way to get eliminated from the show.

Going Forward

We are now left with a very credible Final Four. I really have no clue at this point as to what will happen next. Joey's fans got a HUGE wake-up call this week so I imagine they will be voting in force next week. But you never know until the final elimination is announced.

See you next week!

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Week Eight Ratings

Performances -- 5th (19.4 million)

Results -- 8th (16.9 million)

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miliosr,

I enjoy your reports on the competition very much and am really looking forward to this week's installment.

I admit that I am by no means an expert in ballroom dance, so perhaps I shouldn't have an opinion at all...that said I did have an opinion about this week's dances but of course the judges didn't seem to agree with me! Can't wait to read your opinion!

m2

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Thanks for the kind words mom2 . . .

Miliosr Report - Week Nine

General Thoughts

I thought it was a nice change of pace to have Joaquin Cortes as the guest performer this week. He was a welcome break from some of the pop culture retreads who have "graced" the studio this season.

Scores from the Judges

The judges awarded 237pts (and too many perfect scores) this week.

01 Apolo/Julianne 60pts 25.3% 25.3

01 Laila/Maks 60pts 25.3% 25.3

02 Joey/Kym 59pts 24.9% 24.9

03 Ian/Cheryl 58pts 24.5% 24.5

Miliosr's Thoughts

Ballroom Round

I would have given this round to Apolo/Julianne's quickstep. This dance showed them at their best -- attractive, vivacious, having the time of their lives.

I wasn't wild about Joey and Kym's foxtrot. I guess it was decent but, frankly, I was falling asleep during it.

And Maks looked great in his Nehru jacket -- that's a tough look to pull off!

Latin Round

My preference was for Laila/Maks' cha cha cha but I have to say that Joey/Kym did what they had to in terms of galvanizing their audience with their jive.

I agreed with Len that Apolo/Julianne's cha cha cha crossed that fine line between sexy and vulgar. Ian/Cheryl's jive/tribute to Elvis Presley was my least favorite dance of the round. Anyone who reads these reports on a regular basis knows I don't like gimmicky dances and this was very gimmicky. (The judges gave it a perfect score, though, so I suppose the limitation is mine and not theirs.)

Farewell Steve Sanders

Having escaped the Bottom Two last week, Ian and Cheryl met their fate this week. I have to say that their exit was a bittersweet one as Ian proved himself to be a dogged competitor and a decent dancer. Still, someone had to go this week and Ian and Cheryl were clearly the weakest remaining team (especially when it came to team chemistry.)

Cheryl Burke didn't manage to three-peat this season but she did manage to elude the red light of doom once again -- the show didn't use the red light this week.

Predictions

We are down to the Final Three and my guess is that the competition is Apolo's to lose. Barring a complete collapse next week, I'm betting on a finishing order of Apolo-Joey-Laila (although my preference would be for Apolo or Laila finishing first with Joey finishing third behind both of them.)

See you next week for the finale!

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Week Nine Ratings

Performances -- 6th (19.6 million viewers)

Results -- 8th (18.4 million viewers)

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Miliosr Report - Week Ten

General Thoughts

The finale was two hours long but felt like twenty. Still, it was nice to see so many members of the DwtS "family" again, especially Kelly, Drew and Emmitt.

I haven't mentioned him much this season but I want to make a special shout-out to host Tom Bergeron. He really is a wonderful host who keeps the show moving and keeps the mood light with his many jokes and quips. Grade for Tom: A+

Scored from the Judges

The judges awarded 259 points.

01 Apolo/Julianne 88pts 34.0% 34.0

02 Joey/Kym 86pts 33.2% 33.2

03 Laila/Maks 85pts 32.8% 32.8

Miliosr's Thoughts

Round One - Judges Choice

My favorite was Laila and Maks' paso doble which was suitably dramatic. Apolo and Julianne's rhumba was sexy but I thought there was too much posing at times. Joey and Kym's cha cha cha did nothing for me -- it looked too much like an n' Sync number insted of a cha cha cha.

Round One to Laila and Maks.

Round Two - Freestyle

As she herself admitted, Laila was at a disadvantage in this round since her size precluded the kind of lifts that Apolo/Julianne and Joey/Kym used to maximum possible advantage. As a result, Laila and Maks' Michael Jackson-inspired freestyle looked dull and static compared to what the other two teams had to offer.

Joey and Kym's freestyle to Donna Summer's "Last Dance" was my favorite. They had great moves at every turn and the lifts at the end were insane. Apolo and Julianne's freestyle was also quite good and Apolo proved himself to be a more than adequate breakdancer.

Round Two to Joey and Kym.

Round Three - Performers Choice

This was tough to rate as I thought both Apolo and Julianne's paso doble and Laila and Maks' mambo were superb. I didn't love Joey and Kym's reprise of their Star Wars-themed tango any better the second time around. I'm sorry but the music just killed it stone dead!

Round Three to Apolo/Julianne and Laila/Maks

The Winners

As I predicted, Apolo and Julianne stormed to victory on the night. At the end of the day, they were the perfect pair for this show -- high-spirited and exuberant -- but without the baggage that Joey (too "clownish") and Laila (too "cold") had.

Second-place finisher Joey confirms what I have said all along -- it doesn't pay to be the frontrunner on this show. John O'Hurley, Stacy Keebler, Mario Lopez and now Joey Fatone have all discovered that the audience likes an underdog and this year that underdog was Apolo.

While I was hoping Laila would finish in second place, I'm comfortable with her finishing in third. She was my favorite of the season and, while she didn't win, I'm happy that she managed to crossover to an audience outside of the boxing world.

I am concerned, however, that no female celebrity has finished higher than third place since Kelly Monaco won the coveted disco ball trophy in Season One. Has it gotten to the point where a female celebrity cannot win the competition? Let's hope not.

Final Thoughts

All in all, I thought this season was a nice rebound from Season Three. I still say Season Two is the gold standard for this show, though.

Having spent the better part of the spring tracking this show (and watching The Amazing Race, American Idol, The Bachelor: Officer and a Gentleman and Shear Genius) I'm taking myself off to the spa to work off those extra calories I've put on recently:

Too much reality TV + too many bon bons + too much chilled blush wine = spare tire

Season Five in the fall!

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I think Apolo is a very worthy Season 4 champ. To me, he's clearly the celeb who has come closest to becoming a well-rounded beginner. If he were to continue, I'd say that he would definitely have to work on his control and not falling out of his steps (the one major beginner weakness I see in his dancing), but even that I think he was getting somewhat better at.

As she herself admitted, Laila was at a disadvantage in this round since her size precluded the kind of lifts that Apolo/Julianne and Joey/Kym used to maximum possible advantage. As a result, Laila and Maks' Michael Jackson-inspired freestyle looked dull and static compared to what the other two teams had to offer.

This is just my opinion, but I really don't think that Laila's size was nearly the issue with this that people perceive. There are any number of "tricks" that are very doable by partners of similar size or even partnerships with an airborne partner being of greater mass, as long as the technique is there. I think the problems were twofold: 1) her frame and core/center are very weak, and 2) she doesn't trust Maks with her weight. They're the same problems that she had had with her dancing throughout the season but with aerials/lifts the issues are exacerbated by the physics involved.

I am concerned, however, that no female celebrity has finished higher than third place since Kelly Monaco won the coveted disco ball trophy in Season One. Has it gotten to the point where a female celebrity cannot win the competition? Let's hope not.

I don't think so, but for some reason the producers are having a much harder time finding viable female contestants who are willing to do the show. I think the most recent female contestant with a real shot at winning was Sara Evans. I think if Jonathan Roberts ever got a female celeb with an even semi-decent fanbase and decent sense of coordination, he could be the one to beat. He's one of the best in the country, perhaps the best, at pro-am competition which DWTS most closely resembles.

The other thing is that honestly, I would guess 90% of the television audience has minimal knowledge of dance generally, and 98% have less knowledge of the difference between a ChaCha and a Samba than Carrie Anne Inaba (who already can't tell the difference). And because of the nature of Ballroom/Latin Dance where (sigh!) the traditional metaphor is "the lady is the picture, and the man is the frame," the traditionally female part is a much flashier part than the male part which is much more about providing structure and support (and just as important if not more so).

It's much more obvious to most people that there is a difference in dance quality between Karina Smirnoff and say, Paulina Porizkova, than the difference in dance quality between the male contestants and the male pros, especially with the choreography that the better pros design for their celebs. To Joe Schmoe, it's obvious that Paulina is having difficulties with certain things but it's less obvious with say Joey Lawrence who is just standing which looks like the same thing that the male pros are doing. They have a much harder time seeing the complete lack of leading skills that Joey developed over the course of last season.

Also, with the nature of television, the lack of genuine lead/follow gets somewhat obscured since it is much more difficult to see the differences in speed and power which are obvious live.

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I am concerned, however, that no female celebrity has finished higher than third place since Kelly Monaco won the coveted disco ball trophy in Season One. Has it gotten to the point where a female celebrity cannot win the competition? Let's hope not.
I was wondering about this, too, and it didn't occur to me until I read sidwich's latest post and heard myself asking, "What about the high heels?" In my fantasy scenario, when the phone rings and the producers invite me to join the next season of DWtS, I say, "Not in THOSE shoes, I won't!" Yes, some women live in three-inch heels, but not many who I know. Even if a woman is accustomed to walking in them, dancing in them takes the challenge to another level. More changes of weight and direction = more chances to twist an ankle.

All of this makes Heather Mills' accomplishment more impressive. And what a PR coup for her! It's very hard now to think of her simply as an evil, greedy, manipulative :mad: .

Next season: Men and women in the same shoes!

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Next season: Men and women in the same shoes!

Actually, the men don't completely escape the shoe issue. Their shoes, especially the ones made for Latin/Rhythm, are also on a raised heel. I think the ones for Latin/Rhythm are usually around 1.5-2 inches. As with women, it's to help push the weight forward and extend the legline. Since the men are much less used to wearing high heels, I think the shoe issue is a toss up on DWTS. (And through the seasons, I think there has been a fair amount of grumbling among the male celebs about the shoes).

You can see close-up pictures of shoes here:

http://www.worldtonedance.com/

Incidentally, if you ever have the yen to take up Ballroom or Latin, WorldTone is the best place for shoes around. An absolutely phenomenal selection.

Generally, I think Ballroom/Latin shoes are much more comfortable than street shoes, at least well-made ones. I wouldn't go hiking in them for three hours, but they're not comparable to run-of-the-mill heels, either.

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Nice try, sidwich, but the men's shoes are like shoes with training wheels compared to the women's. It's not just the height (and the men's that were shown in Worldtone's video were maybe 1 1/2" high max), but the actual area of the base of the heel. The women's are so skinny and offer no stability.

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Nice try, sidwich, but the men's shoes are like shoes with training wheels compared to the women's. It's not just the height (and the men's that were shown in Worldtone's video were maybe 1 1/2" high max), but the actual area of the base of the heel. The women's are so skinny and offer no stability.

Skinny they are (well, some of them are... it depends on the shoe), but they're actually quite stable as long as you keep the lifts in good shape. They're actually made to be stable and well-balanced. I say this as someone who barely ever wore high heels before I started dancing. They're made to feel like an extension of the foot with maximal feel for the floor and combination of slide and grip. The well-made ones are actually pretty comfortable. (And although I don't know how the shoes on the show are supplied, it's just as easy to order a pair with any type of heel you want, so you can lower/widen/flare the heel, etc. It's not hard to get a pair of 2" heel shoes if you choose to do so. Really.)

And my point is not that men's shoes and women's shoes are a one-to-one comparable, but that men's shoes have relatively high heels compared to men's street shoes (which you can see if you ever go to a ballroom competition and see men walking around in both). While most women are used to wearing 3" heels and they're generally wearing 2- 2 1/2" (Ballroom shoes) to 2 1/2-3" (Latin/Rhythm shoes) on the show, men generally aren't used to heels at all. So as far as DWTS goes, I don't really have a problem with the shoe thing, since as I said in my first paragraph, the male celebs aren't completely out of the shoe thing and it's not unusual for male beginners to have problems with the shoes.

Which is not to say that I don't think that the show needs to support its female celebs more (I just think the shoes are up there with Laila's perceived "size" as a non-issue). The judges routinely gloss over fundamental technique issues and substantively empty routines, and I think the male celebs have benefitted disproportionately. For example, the judges never addressed Joey Lawrence's lack actual frame or leading ability for example while at the same time they rarely gave much feedback on how much more technically advanced Monique Coleman's choreography or how much more fundamentally sound her technique was. Emmitt Smith's choreography at the end last year was really dumbed down, but you'd never know it by the comments the judges gave. Those things bother me a lot, actually.

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Actually, as I thought about it more, I don't think the women celebs would benefit from wearing flat/flatter shoes in the competition and what it boils down to is the "picture and frame"/"stem and flower"/insert your favorite metaphor here difference in the parts and choreography of Ballroom and Latin dances.

So much of the female part in Latin (somewhat in Ballroom, but moreso in Latin) is all about the presentation of the woman's leglines and feet, and the Latin sandals are designed to optimize that presentation and effect. They help. A lot. Flatter shoes do not give anywhere near the same effect, and the look of the leglines and feet are nearly always the first thing that anyone whether layperson or expert sees with a female dancer. On the show itself, even in Laila's Quickstep (not a Latin dance), all I could think with the flat sandals was "Ugh! Her feet are awful!", but even with great dancers, the flat shoes cut off the leglines and give a very imcomplete impression. Fair or not, it just doesn't look "right."

I don't think the show precludes the celebs from wearing any shoes they choose. Personally besides Laila's sandals, I've seen celebs wearing both street sneakers and dance sneakers without the shoe police coming after them, so I don't think there's any reason why the female celebs couldn't wear "coaching shoes" (lower heeled shoes that are made for training that look somewhat similar to the men's shoe) in the competition if they wanted, but I don't think anyone has gone there, and I would guess that (and the fact that most pros encourage their beginner female students to wear the heels to develop more consciousness of the feet) is a big reason why.

If this were a competition where the choreography that the contestants had to perform was the same or similar, I'd probably feel differently, but the requirements (besides the shoes) are really inherent in the Ballroom and Latin dances themselves (you generally don't see that many men killing themselves to snap out multiple revolutions in the blink of an eye either but it's routine on the female competitive side). There are dances where women and men generally wear the same or very simlar shoes (for example, Lindy Hop, West Coast Swing, Carolina Shag and other forms of swing), but the emphasis in those dances tends to be different (less about the legs, more about the footwork) which makes sense.

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Greetings from the spa!

Week Ten/Finale Ratings:

Performances - 4th (20.2 million viewers)

Results -- 3rd (23.0 million viewers)

Interestingly, the finale did not pull in nearly as many viewers as the finales for Season 2 (27.2 million) or Season 3 (27.5 million) did. I suspect that either the show is starting to cool a little or the absence of a household name sports star like Emmitt Smith or Jerry Rice hurt the ratings (or possibly both.)

Off to a little luxury by the spa pool!

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