Dancing With The Stars Season 16: Super Blogger Week #5

Len's side-by-side challenge

Great Opening Dance!  “Don’t Stop The Party” (Pitbull) rang through the room by the DWTS orchestra as lead by Musical Director Harold Wheeler.  I am continually impressed with the orchestra.  They duplicate the original songs superbly, and must be able play everything from classical Argentine Tango music and rhythms to Pittbull! 


A white Laser light show brought on the gals to the “look at them girls” lyrics.  We knew we were in for a great number!   Contestants performed short featurettes in lighted cages, on platforms, entering from the audience and more!  Well done, Cast!  Accolades to ALL!


Because tonight’s show followed the devastating bombing at the Boston Marathon, many heartfelt sentiments went out throughout the show for everyone in Boston.  The entire country is in shock, angry and all together, pouring out massive expressions of sympathy and empathy to the people of Boston.  I appreciated the sincere acknowledgements from DWTS.


The season’s halfway point show brings us one some of the most markedly “different” couples at the top and the bottom of the Leader Board that we’ve ever seen on DWTS.  From excellence in dance to sincerity and effort, their popularity from the fans earns them votes for extremely different reasons.


The “Side-By-Side” Challenge rules produced some amazing dances:

1.  Couples Train with a Professional couple.

2.  Dance starts with Pros only.

3.  Both couples dance side by side

4.  Celebrity couple dances on their own (longer-than-usual segment).


A great recreation of the original version of “Creole Lady Marmalade” slammed through the room for Ingo & Kym’s Cha Cha.  The professional couple joining them:  Tony Delavonte and Emma Slater.   Ingo was troubled by the steps and moves in rehearsal.  Tony and Ingo were looking waaay cool in the opening, sitting at the “nightclub table” in black fedoras and sleeveless T Shirts.  Kym had on very little and featured a large bow on her backside.  Cool crimped hair and moves from Kym and Emma gave “Marmalade” some great accents and breaks.  Ingo was a bit off on timing and moves, but he was confident and poised.  (Three 7’s from the judges.)


Jacoby and Karina (with Maks and Anna) Jived and jammed their way to two 9’s and an 8!!!  Jacoby is a SWING DANCER I’m here to tell you!!!  He incorporated his New Orleans “Skip” kicks and brought the audience to their FEET!   He did a split jump over Karina’s head—NO HANDS!!  A straight-out jump-over!  Carrie Ann thought he “hammered that Jive!”  Len and Bruno pointed out that he needs to work more on his feet. 


“Len,” Jacoby said, “with these feet….I ran a 106 in 11 seconds,” and smiled his way on up the stairs.  


Mannequins in dance costumes joined live mannequins Victor and Lindsay, along with Pros Tristen and Emma.   They had ridden in on a bicycle built for 4.  (Nice touch.)  Tristen and Emma came to life in lovely elegant white to Viennese Waltz time.  In rehearsal, Victor was distracted by the heartbreak of girlfriend problems, but he channeled his emotion into his waltz and it showed!  He was more smooth throughout in his entire performance.  Victor and Lindsay entered and danced beside them who then twirled away and turned the floor over to our couple.  Victor did a great job with poise, elegance and Waltz in general.    They received three 7’s—21.  I thought it should have been just a bit better.  Part of my own judging sometimes includes the question:  would I like to be doing this dance with that person?  The answer is YES on this one!  I would have truly enjoyed waltzing with Victor. 


Aly and Mark with Tony and Whitney choreographed a “sexy Samba” team performance.  Aly improves by leaps and bounds (literally) each week.  She has developed into a real dancer.  She still needs to work on facial expression, but this is a huge challenge since her background has trained her to perform with a stoic face.  But every week she is doing so much better!  Their side-by-side dance was so good it was difficult to tell which was the “pro couple”!  Boston is Aly’s hometown and she expressed beautiful thoughts to everyone there at home. Working with Whitney helped her with the “sexiness” of the Samba moves and earned them a 25! 


The Quick Step is ALWAYS a fun dance and this was Sean’s BEST dance.   He executed some impressive footwork and projected genuine fun and humor!  Training time with Pros Tristin and Chelsey Hightower, made a noticeable difference in Sean and Peta’s performance.


In an attempt to look identical to Tristin, Sean shadowed Tristen’s every move in rehearsals—from shoe-tying to stretches!  They performed their side-by-side segment on a mirror-tiled platform and then Sean and Peta hit the floor!  Sean’s footwork was lighter, fluid and elegant. Three 8’s from the judges—24 total!


Derek and Kelli were charged with dancing the Fox Trot--their first actual, Ballroom dance.  They have done Jazz, Cha Cha and Contemporary styles, but this one needed to be HIGHLY technically correct.  Henry and Anna assisted in technique training in rehearsals which alleviated huge frustrations for Derek.  (It’s a tough teaching gig when you must teach technique and choreography to a new dancer.)  Anna was an invaluable coach for Kelli.  Their classic “It Had To Be You” number was straight out of a “Gatsby PARTY”—including a white Baby Grand Piano!  Kelli was Jean Harlow incarnate!  Comments from the judges included, “Fabulous!”  “Your Fox Trot was a HOT Trot” and “You put the oooooo in smooooth!”  Three 9’s!  27.  Way to go Kelli!!!


TANGO TIME for D.J., Cheryl, Sasha and Chelsey!  For a new dancer, the positioning, steps and movements of Tango are extremely difficult.  D.J. gave it his every effort.   I loved their silhouette opening, D.J. and Cheryl smashing through the paper and down the steps to the floor. He did a great job of focus and made it through the Tango in admirable fashion. He was stomping a bit in his Tango walks—a little too intense and a little too crouched.  Len noticed a lot of differences in the side-by-side segment. 

D.J. asked, with his usual good nature,

“Len….was it the hair that did it?”                                         Three 6’s – Total score 18


Val had NEVER DANCED the Argentine Tango!   (We’re all a little shaky at this point!)  However, with pros like Maks and Anna and a partner like Zendaya, chances were great that they would pull this off—in style.  Argentine Tango is a dance filled with sharp, effortless, snappy moves and legwork and it takes years of practice to successfully conquer this dance.  But they were absolutely awesome!  Moves were strong with elements of perfection.  I loved Carrie Ann’s description of Zendaya’s movements:  “It’s like watching Stylized life happen!”  I agree!  Her dancing is extremely descriptive of the emotion of each dance and she has the amazing ability to compensate beautifully for her height.  We saw outstanding scores of TWO 10’s and one 9.  Total high score for the night:  29!!


Andy is back with all the determination of a real Matador facing the bullfight in his Paso Doble.  He Zip Lined, Zorro-style, from high above the crowd, across the dance floor and landed on the stage for his opening!  Sharna choreographed some great “cape segments” for him.  Their side-by-side segment featured both he a Sasha, in perfect unison whirling their capes without a flaw!  The judges weren’t real happy with his heavy steps and he lost the cape toward the end.  His scores were only 6’s.  Total 18.


The addition of the 2 pros added a surprising amount of improvements to each and every performance!  I think Len’s Challenge is a “Keeper”. 


Next week:  GREAT SHOW AHEAD!   “Stevie Wonder Week”.  Stevie will perform and dancers will dance to Stevie Wonder songs, highlighted by more “team dances” lead by the 2 high-scoring couples:  Kelli and Derek and Zendaya and Val. 




D.L. Hughly and Cheryl were eliminated.  Okay…..SOMEONE has to go.  This was a tough one to watch because D.L. has given us so many great moments—so many smiles and reasons to cheer.  We know his dancing doesn’t measure up to Zendaya or Kelli, but if there were points awarded for “heart”, he would be at the top of the Board.


………until next time.

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