Cue that theme music...

Posted: Tuesday, May 17, 2011 by Travis Cody in

It's the Final Four, live from Hollywood!

Just two more weeks and we'll know who dances off with the Fabulous Mirror Ball Trophy!  I'll tell you, I've never gone this late in the season without a favorite.  But as of right now, I can't decide who gets all my votes.

It's been a tough week of practice, so maybe it'll be injuries that decides it.  If they can make it through, our pairs have three dances this week for votes and judges' scores...two individual routines and a winner take all Cha Cha Cha worth 15 points to the winner.

Let's begin with ballroom for round one.

Ralph and Karina dance Argentine Tango.  I expect him to be able to take charge of this dance.  It relies on precision and drama, which he should have covered with his acting ability and his attention to detail.  I like his posture and frame, except as he pulls his middle away from Karina through some of the more difficult footwork passes.  They should keep their bodies a little closer together to really emphasize the precision of the movement.  I thought there was a lot of difficult content, but I thought that there could have been more passion between them.  I liked the performance, but I think it was missing some of the heat.  Judges say 8,9,8 for a total of 25.

Kirstie and Maks dance Viennese Waltz.  We've got high drama in rehearsal as Maks pushes hard and Kirstie breaks a little bit.  Whatever they have between them really does translate to the dance floor.  This was a wonderful mix of sensuality and romance.  Her technique was excellent, and she mixed that with performance.  She was focused on bringing the dance together with the acting, and the finished product was seamless.  She made beautiful lines with her arms.  Her extensions were lovely.  And her spins were controlled.  I loved the performance.  Judges say 9's across for a total of 27.

Chelsea and Mark dance Argentine Tango.  Chelsea is so good that it's hard not to set expectations too high for her, or even to judge her under a different standard.  I know Mark faces the same challenges with his celebrity as the other pros, but it always seems more like a professional partnership and result with him and Chelsea.  I did not care for some of the leg positions in this choreography.  They didn't seem sexy or enticing, and that surprises me.  She didn't seem as sharp and she didn't seem to finish her lines like she normally does.  I thought they danced extremely well, but I did not enjoy the performance.  Dangit.  I really wanted to like this dance.  The judges were also divided, but with little impact in the scoring.  Judges say 9,9,10 for a total of 28. 

Hines and Kym dance Argentine Tango.  Kym took a nasty fall during rehearsal and injured her neck.  I read about this earlier this week.  I did not watch the footage.  She went off in a neck brace on a stretcher in an ambulance.  Yikes!  And then they went out and performed some very difficult Tango choreography.  The lifts were standard, which I was glad to see.  Sometimes you just have to go for the basics and then perform it with precision and fire.  The emotion in the dance was clear...just to be dancing, and then to dance so well.  Hines strength was the hero in this dance, because he was aware of how delicate she could possibly be.  He was careful, but at the same time they both attacked the dance.  Judges say 10's across for a total of 30.  Now I don't think the dance was perfect, but I'm not going to argue it after the way they pulled it together after the fall. 

And now let's have some Latin for round two.

Ralph and Karina dance Salsa.  Ralph has struggled with the Latin styles all season.  He has trouble getting the right hip action, and also with smoothly connecting the movements into a cohesive whole.  He's dancing the character, which is sleesy club guy.  This reminds me a little of his Jive from way back in week 3, where it was so full of energy that it was almost out of control.  This dance seemed very rough and there was very little technique.  I don't know if I liked it, but they went for it and I guess they had fun with it.  It was hard to recognize any competition Salsa choreography.  I guess it was more of a club Salsa, but more on the raunch side than on the smooth 1-2-3 of a pure Salsa.  Judges say 8,7,8 for a total of 23.  Well that could have been worse. 

Kirstie and Maks dance Paso Doble.  I like that Maks gave her a little solo at the top of the dance.  Normally I would not care for a Paso to a rock song, but it makes sense for Kirstie for some reason.  I thought that dance had the correct attitude for Paso.  She has developed the stamina to work the choreography all the way through the dance.  She mastered the technique, the attitude, the passion, and the aggression needed to perform a truly excellent Paso.  The choreography was difficult and she handled it with precision.  Well done!  Judges say 9's across for a total of 27.

Chelsea and Mark dance Rumba.  I thought she might excel at this style and I was hoping Mark would make a sexy dance, but not over do it.  I'm pleased with the choreography.  It had passionate romance.  The movement was sinuous and sensual.  The whole intent of the story was so clear, but they built it in the choreography by suggestion and shade.  It was a combination of beautiful poses framed by smooth movement.  The musicality blended everything together.  Outstanding.  Judges say 10's across for a total of 30.  That score is well deserved.

Hines and Kym dance Salsa.  You know, the only thing wrong with Hines Ward is that he plays for Pittsburgh and I'm a Raider fan.  Other than that, what's not to like about the guy?  This is a great dance for him.  This choreography has that 1-2-3 smooth feel of a true Salsa.  And he's having a great time dancing it.  That choreography wasn't easy, but he handled it like it was nothing.  After that terrible fall, they both came out and performed like it never happened.  From the first movement, that performance had me smiling.  Judges say 10's across for a total of 30.  Now this perfect score I can't possible argue with.  Well done Sir!

Here's our leader board after two dances:

60 Hines and Kym
58 Chelsea and Mark
54 Kirstie and Maks
48 Ralph and Karina

Now we've got a winner takes all Cha Cha Cha competition.  Hines and Kym or Chelsea and Mark can practically guarantee a spot in the finale with those 15 points.  Ralph and Karina may need the points to overcome the 6 point gap between them and Kirstie and Maks.

Let's see how this third round breaks down.  Two pairs compete in an instant Cha Cha Cha, 1st against 4th from the leader board after two dances, and 2nd against 3rd.  Then the winners of those matches will compete for the 15 points.  Nobody else scores.  The idea here is to reward the better dancers without any input from viewer votes. 

First up it's Hines and Kym versus Ralph and Karina.  Hines and Kym take the floor first.  Hines is a little slow to get into the choreography, but he relaxes into it pretty quickly and dances very well.  Next, Ralph and Karina step in, and he's still struggling with his hip action although he attacked the choreography and gave it his best in a style that just doesn't work for him.  I'll have to give the round to Hines and Kym, and so do the judges in a unanimous vote.

Next we have Chelsea and Mark versus Kirstie and Maks.  This should be your typical tough 2 seed vs 3 seed battle, because both celebrities are outstanding at Cha Cha Cha and there doesn't seem to be a clear favorite.  I remember the issue I had with Chelsea's first Cha Cha Cha...she dances so tall.  She seemed stiff instead of relaxed in this performance.  Now Kirstie has that sexy, relaxed hip action.  The movement flows and seems very natural, even if she's not completely sure of her steps.  This is a tough call.  My heart leans toward Kirstie, but I wonder if the judges will go with Chelsea's clean and precise steps.  Fun and flirty versus sensual.  I don't know!  Judges say Chelsea and Mark, again in a unanimous decision.

So now it's Hines and Kym versus Chelsea and Mark, and they get their music right now and have to put the choreography to the music during the commercial break!  Yikes!  Chelsea and Mark win the coin toss and elect to dance second.  

DAMN YOU AT&T and ABC!!  Don't put scary NCELMs on the TV when I'm watching my Dancing!!!  Hokey smokes Bulwinkle!!  I hate that commercial.

Breathing...breathing...kitties bunnies and puppies...breathing...breathing...kitties bunnies and puppies.

OK.  Winner takes all Cha Cha Cha.  Hines and Kym are up first.  It's basically the same choreography...what can  you do knew in 4 minutes?  You just have to go out and do your thing.  Hines hits it smooth and relaxed.  Same with Chelsea and Mark.  But this time I thought she was less about posture and more about movement.  There were a couple of places where she got a little bit lost.  This is a tough decision.  I thought they both did great.  I can't choose.

Judges say the winner is...Chelsea and Mark in a unanimous decision.  I can't disagree.  I couldn't disagree if it went the other way either.  I think Chelsea and Hines are the two best celebrity dancers.

Here's our final leader board with the winning points added:

73 Chelsea and Mark
60 Hines and Kym
54 Kirstie and Maks
48 Ralph and Karina

And we still don't have a favorite!  I like something about each of our celebrities, and they are matched with four terrific pros.  There's no one to vote against.  They all handled all the dancing so well, despite injuries and exhaustion.

Votes for all!  Somebody else can choose.  We will continue to enjoy each celebrity until one of them wins the Glittering Globe of Glory.

Tune in tonight for results, and check back here tomorrow for encores and my results recap.

Later gang!


  1. Debra says:

    I have to work every Monday and Tuesday night so I look forward to reading your reviews of the performances. I'm pulling for Kirstie and Maks!

  1. Jamie says:

    Sorry about the NCELM. I've dropped Ralph from my voting. He just doesn't seem to commit to his partner. Like him and the dances but he's still too self involved from this stage of the competition. For the others, I don't have a clue.

  1. Jamie says:

    Every woman over 50 must be booked on Dancing with the Stars immediately Kirstie.

  1. Travis, I have enjoyed this season of DWTS so much. They are all so good. I am pulling for Kirstie.

  1. Cherie says:

    Like you've said, it must have looked different in the ballroom than on tv because I wouldn't have tagged Chelsea the belle of the ball at all. I thought that Mark made the footwork in the tango too complex, so he out danced her and made her look bad. And she looked very stiff (and high like you said) in the Cha-Cha (as opposed to sharp and precise). But the judges were so overwhelming in their gushing that they must have seen something that I did not. I was really impressed with the risks that Ralph took, and I thought they worked, so my votes went to him. (Though I think that Kirstie danced great too.)

  1. Saw all but the Cha-Cha as I had something to do then!

    Think Ralph is gone... too bad, I like the Karate Kid...

    Chelsea and Hines will duel it out next week

  1. Anonymous says:

    I cried when I saw the injury. Cried again when I saw Hines crying after the dance. I'm glad she's ok, but I noticed they took that move out of the routine. Good thing. Yikes! It's been a good show. Loved the clips from the Steeler staff - even former coach, Bill Cower. It helped me miss football a little less. I think I'm pulling for Hines.

  1. Debra: I'm always glad to help!

    Jamie: That is a bad commercial. Ralph did struggle last night with the styles, and I think that had a lot to do with seeming like he had no connection to Karina.

    Pam: It's been an excellent season.

    Cherie: I have noticed that sometimes, with a very good partner, Mark sometimes over estimates his celebrity partner and ends of dance beyond her skill level. Chelsea mostly measures up, but with the extra dances, maybe Mark needed to dial it down just a little.

    V: You're probably right. It's a pretty significant deficit to overcome.

    GGG: That was such a scary fall. I'm just glad Kym is OK.