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Dancing with the Stars: Season 5

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ABC has announced the new cast for Season 5:

Melanie Brown a.k.a. Mel B. a.k.a. Scary Spice (singer - The Spice Girls)

Sabrina Bryan (singer - The Cheetah Girls)

Helio Castroneves (pro race car driver)

Mark Cuban (owner - Dallas Mavericks/loudmouth)

Jennie Garth (actress - Beverly Hills 90210)

Josie Maran (model)

Cameron Mathison (actor - All My Children)

Floyd "Pretty Boy" Mayweather (pro boxer)

Wayne Newton (If you have to ask, you'll never know . . . )

Marie Osmond (See Wayne Newton)

Albert Reed (model)

Jane Seymour (actress)

Initial thoughts:

Josie and Albert are in trouble already -- no fan bases.

Cameron should go far based on his rabid soap fan base.

Didn't Jane Seymour start out as a ballet dancer?

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I did some Jane Seymour research:

The friendsofjane.com site states that Jane Seymour trained as a ballet dancer, made her debut with the London Festival Ballet in her teens and appeared with the Kirov Ballet (!) at the age of 17. She sustained a career-ending injury at that age so she turned to acting . . .

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I did some Jane Seymour research:

The friendsofjane.com site states that Jane Seymour trained as a ballet dancer, made her debut with the London Festival Ballet in her teens and appeared with the Kirov Ballet (!) at the age of 17. She sustained a career-ending injury at that age so she turned to acting . . .

Gee. That's not too bad....

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Jane Seymour will be blogging about her experiences on the program.

From the press release


Jane Seymour to Blog Daily about "Dancing With the Stars‰ Experience

Emmy-winner and "Dancing With the Stars‰ contestant Jane Seymour will be writing a daily blog on Eons.com, a social networking site for the baby boomer population, about her experiences on the show.

The only female contestant over the age of 50 in this year's competition, Seymour's childhood dream was to become a dancer. She was on the path to becoming a professional ballerina until she suffered a knee injury at the age of 16. Jane hopes to revisit her dream on the show this year, and will be sharing her experiences on Eons.com

The media is invited to visit the blog for behind the scenes commentary and interesting stories from Jane.

Seymour blog

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I've always found her a banal and uninteresting actress.

Totally agree with you. Can't even remember a movie of her without Googling...(which i won't, BTW)

I just could never get over how modern laundries were clearly in existence in the time of 'Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman'. Everything was so spotless it might as well have been Switzerland or something. It was probably a sort of 'touched by an angel' precursor, as it did not have any of the dirt that the old Westerns had (and needed.)

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I can’t disagree, really, but I kinda like her. (Never saw ‘Dr. Quinn,' although I'm certain papeetepatrick is on the mark.) Very pretty, and I remember thinking she was okay in a TV version of ‘East of Eden.’ I also have a strange liking for ‘Somewhere in Time,’ although it really is not good at all, and the cameraman must have been shooting her through a Coke bottle.

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Thanks, miliosr. Marie Osmond. Wow.

Never watched this show before, but i was curious. Did anybody watched the premiere tonight...?. I think Osmond's Fox-Trot was very cute...Certainly, the woman has charm. I also liked Seymour's elegant manners. and her use of the arms, (aha, pulling out some old ballet tricks, ah..? :wink: )..

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I tuned in especially to see Jane Seymour dance. Years and years ago, when I heard that she had a ballet background, I glommed onto that fact and always think of her as a dancer ("once a dancer...."). She's also undeniably one of the most gorgeous women in the world! She showed tonight (last to dance and well worth the wait!) that proper ballet training is yours for life. What a lovely performance! And, folks, she's 56 years old! And has a back problem! I can't wait to watch her beautiful technique again next week.

The men dance tomorrow. Wayne Newton is the only one I know. I remember him when he was a 21 year old, singing his signature song, a baby-faced boy who grew to be a baby-faced 65 year old man (with, it looks like, a little help from skin straightening agents?!) I've never been to Las Vegas (absolutely no regrets there :wink: ), so have only seen him perform on TV when he chanced to guest on a sitcom (Roseanne, for example). I'm mildly curious as to his dancing abilities.

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Random notes on the women:

I didn't find anything egregious about the hip-hop that Sabrina and Mark added to their cha-cha. After the B-roll, I expected long, extended phrases of hip-hop in their routine, but really all there was was the occasional hip-hop highlight. More importantly (to me, at least) was the fact that the routine on the whole, had plenty of traditional content and was well-balanced with a good mix of side-by-side work, partnering, footwork, etc. for both the pro (Mark) and the am(ateur) Sabrina.

I also mostly liked Jennie's cha-cha a la the Piano Man with Derek. She's not nearly as powerful and strong physically as Sabrina, but on the whole this was good and well performed, also with a surprising amount of substantive content and plenty of partnering work. Derek also has her connecting to her back already. When she did the New Yorkers, she really opens her back which most beginners can't do. Derek does really need to work with her on her feet. The big, conspicuous heel leads she took during the intro really took me out of this routine for the first few eights, and she has a turn-in (vs. turnout) at times. Her feet can also get away from her at times, which makes her unsteady. She needs to learn to stay over her feet. (On a purely superficial note, I think Derek is not an ideal physical match for her. He looks too young at times.)

Josie's a mess, and in Alec, she doesn't have a partner who will be able to pull a good performance out of her. She was clearly hanging onto him for dear life. This is an example of closed partnership not showing partnering skills, but rather life-preserver instincts.

I like Marie, and I think she's the first partner that Jonathan's looked genuinely relaxed with. She's very smart as well, immediately picking up that Jonathan is one of the best at making his partner look good no matter what her limitations. This was not a difficult routine, and Marie is not physically very strong, although she's better than Josie. She's taking tiny steps, and some are unsteady. She sells it like crazy, though, and she has good performing instincts. From the B-roll, it looks like Jonathan's already working on this with her, but her neck line is driving me crazy. She really needs to work on the position of her neck and head, both to extend the line, but also to help with her head weight.

Maks really got into reducing the partnering work in his routines with Laila last year when she was struggling with it, and it seems to have carried over into this season. Really, really light on substantive content to the point where I'm withholding an assessment of Mel B. until she's performed some more.

Jane, Jane, Jane... was a bit of a mixed bag for me. The ballet training shows in her posture, carriage, lines of her body, etc. The partnering concerns me, because this was light in partnering work, and Tony's past partner have all been very weak in this department. I don't think Tony is a very good coach or choreographer, and I think his coaching skills in this particular area are very good at all. The choreography was nearly as simple as Marie's, and I think Jane is capable of significantly more. Certainly, she's capable of more than Mark Cuban, and Kym's choreography for the dot com billionaire was actually more difficult.

Tony's also going to need to work with Jane on her feet. Other major first impression is that her steps are very small, almost as small as Marie's. She's not driving into forward her steps, and she's clipping her backward steps short. She's not peeling off of her feet to take a strong step back (in fact, it looks like she's pointing her forward foot before taking the step) and her resulting steps are relatively short. Tony's also got to get her to bend her knees more to lengthen her strides and get more rise and fall action. A lot of her dancing seemed to take place on one level.

Total aside, but I missed Louis. Yes, he was rather intense, but he injected a well-needed dose of ballroom meat into a fluffy show. I like the fluff (I'm watching DWTS, after all), but I liked having the balance.

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Miliosr Report - Week One

I won't be writing as much this season due to time pressures and a general feeling of burn-out after four seasons of recaps and analyses. However, I still plan to weigh in with my thoughts on what catches my interest each week.

The Women

After the slaughterfest that was Season Four (Paulina, Shandi and Leeza out first), I was pleased to see female amateurs who look like they have some staying power. Since Kelly Monaco made it to the Final Two in Season One (and won the coveted glittery disco ball trophy), we have yet to see another female celebrity make it to the Final Two. Hopefully, we will see at least one of the women make it to the finals this season.

As for the dancing this week (the female celebrities competed with their partners on Monday night), I liked Jane the most. I guess you never do lose that ballet training no matter how many years it has been. The big test for Jane, however, will be the Latin dances:

ballet training + natural English reserve + 56 years on this planet = excellence in the Latin dances? I'm not so sure.

As sidwich has noted, Jane has another problem and that is her pro partner Tony. He had a jewel with Stacey in Season Two and he blundered as a teacher and a choreographer with her. Jane should be safe for a while on the strength of her fan base but Tony is going to have to step it up this season if he wants to make it to the finals.

Sabrina and Mark are strong out of the gate but she is irritating me already. Clearly, she's already developing a case of "front runner-itis". Just remember dear -- John O'Hurley, Stacey Keebler, Mario Lopez and Joey Fatone all thought the same thing and look where they ended up.

Josie and Alec were the worst of the female am/male pro pairs.

The Men

I loved Helio and Julianne together. He has a sunny personality that lit up the ballroom and he was pretty darn good in their dance. And he hasn't even done a Latin dance yet which, theoretically at least, he should triumph in.

Albert and Anna were my second place finishers. I actually think Albert and Anna employed a clever strategy this week. They knew no one has a clue who he is so they made the perfectly reasonable decision to exploit his good looks and muscled body to the hilt in the hope that he would gain some traction and not wind up in the Bottom Two due to a nonexistent fan base. The strategy appears to have worked -- they avoided the Bottom Two (for now, anyway.) I guess it just goes to show you that a pretty face and a killer bod never cost anyone any votes on this show.

The rest of the men trailed behind. I probably disliked Wayne and Cheryl the most -- his face scares me and she needs to lay off the spray tan.

The Bottom Two

At the end of the day, Josie/Alec and Mark/Kym were in the Bottom Two with Josie and Alec going.

Their ouster came as no surprise (even they seemed to expect it) as she gave a lackluster performance and has no fan base to speak of to see her through a bad week. Unlike Albert, who came out on fire precisely to build some no fan base-related traction, Josie did nothing to help herself and so found herself the first casualty of the season. I feel sorry for Alec, however -- this is the second season in a row where he has been stuck with a partner with no fan base and has exited first.

Going Forward

Mark and Kym were on the chopping block this week and they may be on the chopping block next week. With the exception of George Steinbrenner, he is probably the most disliked owner of a professional sports team in America. So, no matter how well they dance, the long knives may already be out for them.

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Notes on Week 2: Mambos

None of the mambos was that good, and that may be because many of the pros probably aren't all that experienced with mambo themselves. Other than Tony, they're all Latin dancers and Kym's really more of a Standard dancer so perhaps it's not suprising that none of the celebs really got the Cuban motion. What Cuban motion there was seemed to range from virtually non-existent to reverse-Cuban motion to Elvis.

I really did not like Julianne's choreography for this dance. I don't think she's very strong in this dance, and I would doubt that she's had that much training in it. Much of the choreography was connecting the dots between tricks that had very little to do with either mambo or partnering skills.

That being said, I do think Helio and Julianne's mambo was probably the best based on performance value, but I don't think that that's by much. I think Helio does very well in the Mambo (what there is of it), but much of the partnering he's doing during the tricks is of the "balance bar" variety. He's planting in one place, and Julianne is bracing herself against his weight to accomplish the trick, for example the leaning walkaround, the leaning crossing steps, and even the flip. What he is not doing is directing her weight and momentum to give her added speed and power, helping her shape the movement, etc. which is what a skilled partner would do to make his partner look good.

I will say that I think Mark Cuban deserves some more credit that he got. Even though his posture and feet/ankles/knees were shaky (and Kym's the shakiest of the pros in this regard), I think there were some genuine glimmers of lead-follow in this routine, which is to his credit this early in the game.

As for Len's "raunchy" comment, I don't think that "raunchy" was quite the right word, but he was trying to get at a very valid comment which is that the character of mambo is "earthy" and Jane's was very ... not earthy. Which is both a performance issue and a technique issue. The cuban motion is a natural result of the use of the feet, the ankles and the hips, and Jane was (1) dancing on top of the floor instead of into the floor (use of feet and ankles), and (2) neither completely bending or completely straightening her knees/legs. The hip action is a result of the coordination. It does not occur independently. Sometimes what sometimes happens when an inarticulate instructor tells a student to "move their hips" is that the student will obligingly try to move their hips but it's contrived movement, disconnected to what is happening in the rest of the body. Sometimes it happens because the student hasn't developed the control necessary to coordinate all the movements. (Sometimes it results in Elvis.)

As I said, I don't think that any of the celebs really "got" the Cuban motion, but I don't think Jane's problem was so much her "Englishness" vs. "One Too Many Mojito"-dom as some fundamental technique issues.

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Notes on Week 2: Quicksteps

Best routine of the night to me was Mel and Maks' Quickstep. After last year and the cha-cha, I was starting to think that Maks had lost his talent to coach and choreograph, but this was excellent. They have good frame and speed, and Mel maintains it through the routine. Her frame is actually good enough that Maks is able to give some shaping to this routine. I think Mel misses a heel lead or two and her shoulders creep up a bit at the end, but on the whole, excellent job for a beginner.

Next best of the Quicksteps for me was Sabrina and Mark. They also have good speed and frame, but I would put this a notch lower than Mel/Maks because Sabrina can't quite maintain the head position throughout this routine. She can't quite let go enough to not want to look in the direction she's going at times, and she has trouble hanging back in the work in promenade. Still on the whole, very good.

Jennie and Derek do a pretty respectable job. Jennie has a very common beginner problem in that she starts out in good position, and as the routine wears on, she starts losing it. The frame and connection with her partner start breaking down, and by the end it's out of control.

I'd put Floyd and Karina next. Floyd's problem as is very apparent, is his posture, but there's actually a lot of good in this routine. His footwork is actually very good, and out of all the celebs, he is the one that is actually moving from his center. That is, he is truly moving his center of gravity from foot to foot. He's not wavering when he takes steps. If Karina can actually fix his posture, I think they could be in business. (And personally, I think Karina is a much better coach and choreographer than she's given credit for sometimes).

Conversely, I don't think Anna is that great as either a coach or choreographer. I think she's a fantastic dancer (better than her husband actually), but I don't think there's a lot going for Albert's Quickstep. His posture is decent, but the frame isn't that great. The connection is weak, and his footwork is a mess. He's having trouble both with alternating left and right steps, and he's having trouble hearing the beats of the music. (Actually, I think if you put Albert's posture on Floyd, you'd have one pretty good Quickstep).

I fear a little bit for Julianne that she's going to be annointed the Golden Girl of DWTS in Cheryl's wake. Because it was trumpeted up and down that Cheryl can work magic with anyone, and while Cheryl is a very fine teacher and choreographer (like Julianne), learning to dance isn't magic. It's a combination of good teaching, hard work, and yes, some ability on the part of the student, especially when you're talking about teaching someone to dance in a short amount of time. (Given time, I think anyone can learn to dance). Cheryl can teach, and Wayne can work hard, but it's hard to find a lot of positives in their Quickstep.

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I can't resist mentioning that after two weeks, I am deeply impressed by the performances (as distinct from the techniques, esp. in Mark's case) of Helio and Mark. They are not professional stage performers, but each has been able to convey such pleasure, it's hard to resist rooting for them. I guess Mark's business success rests largely on his talent for selling. It shows here, too.

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Miliosr Report - Week Two

The Dancers

I more or less agreed with the rankings this week although I was not terribly happy to see a five-way tie (Jane, Cameron, Floyd, Jennie and Albert) for fifth place. Nor was I terribly thrilled to see Jennie in a tie with the others when she and her partner Derek had a very embarassing spill during their routine.

I didn't think Helio and Julianne were quite as spectacular as the judges seemed to think they were BUT they have gelled very quickly as a pair and, I must say, their contrasting good looks are very easy on the eye.

Sabrina and Mark had another good week but her personality continues to grate.

Wayne and Cheryl deserved their last place score of 15.

The Bottom Two

Albert/Anna and Wayne/Cheryl were in the Bottom Two this week with Albert and Anna going home.

No way was it Albert's time to leave the competition but, at the end of the day, he just had too many hurdles to overcome. Like Willa Ford in Season 3, he had zero name recognition so he was completely dependent on the judges' scores to keep him afloat while he tried to gain some traction with the audience. I thought he did a good job of it in Week 1 but this week was his downfall. His dancing was mediocre and he wound up in a five-way tie for fifth. As Paulina Porizkova found out in Season 4, no-fan-base contestants get lost in the voting shuffle (and are soon ousted) whenever they finish in the middle of the pack.

I continue to be mystified as to why ABC casts models/beauty pageant contestants/entertainment reporters on this show when five consecutive seasons have shown that they will get slaughtered in the voting. The only conclusion I can come to is that ABC wants a few no-name sacrificial lambs at the outset so the bigger names won't get humiliated in the first or second week.

Going Forward

Mark and Kym managed to evade the Bottom Two so I guess everyone in the Dallas-Fort Worth area got themselves into gear this week. The competition should be interesting next week as the ten remaining celebrities all have followings of some sort so the fan base factor -- hopefully -- should be of lesser importance going forward. One can hope anyway!

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Random Notes:

Sabrina and Mark: Rough around the edges and not the best kicks and flicks of the night, but this was a totally packed dance from a technical perspective. I didn't mind "the worm" because I recognized about 85% of this dance as straight-up Jive syllabus, far, far more than any of the other competitors of the night, and I care less about what is not syllabus in a routine and far more about what is. Well-balanced routine. Curious to see how she's going to do with the slower-tempo dances like Waltz and Rhumba.

Mel and Maks: For me, the other technically impressive dance of the night. Kicks and flicks more impressive than Sabrina's, but the dance didn't strike me as quite as balanced and Mel and Maks don't seem quite as comfortable with each other (although they seem fine, and much better than Laila and Maks last year).

Cameron and Edyta: I finally figured out what bothered me about this dance, and I think that it's that Cameron's left arm is placed badly. He lets his arm go behind him which throws off both his balance and his frame. Edyta needs to work with him on his frame, and lifting his frame toward his partner. He needs to let it "breathe" into his partner. There's a lot of tension in his arm, and the frame doesn't come from the arms. It comes from the center (which is an advanced concept that he may not "get," but his arms look very painful to me.)

Jennie and Derek: I know what Derek was going for, which was for Jennie to get through his routine having fun and not having a breakdown, and clearly that was what was important this week. However, while this was a step forward from a performance perspective, I think the Tango was a step back technically. Her frame is much weaker, very unstable. It's moving all over the place throughout the dance. She's pulling on Derek like crazy, and her arm (like Cameron) is also going behind her.

Jane and Tony: Tony's a very fine dancer, but I don't think he teaches very well at all, at least not beginners. Jane just doesn't seem to be progressing very much. She's still not bending her knees or pushing into her steps, resulting in very small steps and hardly moving around the floor at all. I think she'd benefit hugely just from spending a few hours with a good Ballroom specialist who could just do some Ballroom 101 with her.

Marie and Jonathan: Conversely, Jonathan has a much weaker beginner in Marie, but I think he's making good progress with her. Her posture still isn't great, but her knees and feet are already working much better than Jane. Jonathan really has her moving around the floor. Also impressed that he's made significant improvement in her head position which is also probably helping her movement around the floor (use of head weight).

Wayne and Cheryl: I still think Cheryl needs to take a season or tour off, and just rest and work on her own technique again. She looks tired and uninspired, and her body has probably taken a beating dancing with beginners so much for the last three years. I hated the fan in this dance. I found it distracting, and I think it distracted Wayne from the dance itself.

Mark and Kym: I don't think Mark is terrible. He looks like a very typical beginner, and there's nothing wrong with that. I give Kym credit, because she's not a very good Latin dancer. However, she's a very able teacher, and she always seems able to get across the basic beginner concepts of a dance and keep building on them with her celeb students. I don't think Mark is ever going to be a great dancer, but he's on his way to becoming a capable social dancer with decent concepts of music, movement and lead/follow to work with.

Floyd and Karina: I like Floyd, and in a lot of ways, Floyd has more going for him than any of the other male celebs. I think if you gave him long enough, he could be superb. However, I don't know that Karina is going to be able to fix his posture issues in the relatively short time frame of the show, especially while he's training for a fight. I don't know if any one could, frankly. Posture is usually not an overnight fix.

Helio and Julianne: Part of what's appealing about Julianne is that she has a daredevil streak. She aims for the ooh-aahs, and when they pay off, it's huge. But I think she easily gets carried away. And what I didn't like about this dance is that there are a lot of high-risk tricks that really don't have a whole lot to do with Jive. While I think tricks are fun for a show like DWTS, I don't really like it when they're replacing substantive content or when you're talking injury-risk. Frankly, Helio is not an advanced enough student for some of these tricks and I really don't like the idea of putting a beginner in the position of hurting himself. What I liked about many of Julianne's routines with Apolo last year was how well grounded they were in basics. Unfortunately, she seems to be getting away from that.

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