Cue that theme music

Posted: Tuesday, November 08, 2011 by Travis Cody in

It's live from Hollywood!

Our 5 remaining pairs return for two individual dances this week as they perform for a spot in the Final Four next week.  One of those dances is the instant Jive, which requires the couples to prepare Jive choreography ahead of time, then set it to the music they pull out of the hat on show night.


First it's the ballroom round.

Rob and Cheryl dance Quickstep.  This is such a technical dance.  Any issues with frame or posture are going to be really evident.  I really like this piece.  I think Rob's posture is really good.  The footwork was a little rough to start, but the overall effect of the dance was excellent.  He looked mature and elegant, and in complete control of what he was doing.  The energy in the dance was spot on.  And Rob's lines...crisp and precise.  Cheryl has really done a fantastic job with him week after week.  That was a completely sophisticated and entertaining Quickstep.  Well done young man!  Judges say 9s across for a total of 27.  Great score and well deserved.  I have no problem with him making the Final Four.

Hope and Maks dance Quickstep.  Maks took a kinder, gentler approach in rehearsals this week and I like the absence of drama.  But this style makes me very nervous for Hope.  The intro to the dance seemed awkward to me, but once they got into hold, I was pleasantly surprised.  The dress hid a lot of the unattractive quality in her legs.  (I should explain...I like the power in Hope's legsses, but I don't like the way they look when she dances)  Her dancing was much more relaxed and fluid.  Maks didn't spare the choreography and some of those runs were quite difficult.  Hope handled them very well.  The dance was happy and light, and I really felt the connection between the two of them.  I enjoyed the performance.  Well done my dear!  Judges say 9s across for a total of 27.  Another well deserved score.  Just two weeks ago I was ready for Hope to go.  Now, maybe not.

Ricki and Derek dance Waltz.  I expect a lot from this's my very favorite style and Derek is one of my favorite choreographers for it.  Ricki can do everything this dance demands...the only thing that can mar it would be her shoulders.  Perfect music.  Perfect choreography.  And I thought it was a perfect performance.  Their lines together were so beautiful.  The dance was so smooth and refined.  They never rushed.  They danced as one.  I never saw all the little things the judges picked on, except for that stumble right at the end.  That's because I don't have an eye for that stuff.  I was just lost in the lovely performance.  Pam called it mesmerizing.  Judges say 9,9,10 for a total of 28.  I didn't figure Carrie Ann or Len would throw the 10s because of the bobbles they pointed out. 

Nancy and Tristan dance Tango.  I think this is a great style for her.  Now we'll see if she can pull it off.  From the waste up, I thought she looked just fine.  Her posture was good and her frame was controlled.  She usually keeps her shoulders back and that helps with her balance.  Her problem has always been in her legs, and that pulls her off balance..  Her footwork is generally fine, but she doesn't extend her legs through each step and it makes her look awkward sometimes.  I think this was a credible Tango.  She captured the character of the dance in attitude and drama.  Judges say 8s across for a total of 24.  Credible gets her a solid score, but she'll really need her fans to vote to make it through to the semi-finals.

JR and Karina dance Waltz.  I like that they have the same dance as Ricki and Derek.  I expect as much from this performance as I did from the other two.  Another outstanding musical selection.  I don't like this choreography as much as I liked Derek's though.  This was a different style of Waltz that didn't sweep around the ballroom the way I prefer.  It came up the floor with turns and spins...those were beautifully performed.  Then it went back down the floor and there were more turns and spins...again beautifully danced.  I enjoyed the performance, but I didn't love it like I did Ricki and Derek's.  I didn't feel the magic the judges and the audience in the ballroom felt.  Judges say 10s across for a total of 30.  I don't dispute the perfect score, but the dance didn't grab me.  I just didn't feel it.

Here's our leader board after round one:

30 JR and Karina
28 Ricki and Derek
27 Rob and Cheryl
27 Hope and Maks
24 Nancy and Tristan

Next up, it's the instant Jive.

Rob and Cheryl dance to Maneater.  I didn't care for the opening because it exposed one of Rob's biggest weaknesses, which is that he can often be very stiff.  Once they got into the Jive steps, he loosened up.  Some of his footwork was crisp and clean.  I thought his flick kicks were good.  But I didn't think the energy was what it should have been and a certain sharpness was missing.  He needs more time to add the finishing touches that complete the performance.  There weren't any real mistakes, but I think with more time to prepare with the music, Rob would have done better.  Judges say 8s across for a total of 24.  Solid score.

Hope and Maks are up next.  She is so much more relaxed this week than she has been in past performances.  This can't be the same girl I've been watching for 6 weeks.  Her energy is up.  She's hitting all the steps.  She's engaging with the crowd.  Her kicks look great.  It's like something clicked on in her head and she just started getting it.  This was way better than the first Jive.  And Len took off his Cranky Pants to praise the dance.  He even stood up!  Great job!  Judges say 8,9,8 for a total of 25.  Well done again!  Makes me wonder how Hope would have progressed if Maks had taken this less intense approach to teaching her from the beginning of the season.

Ricki and Derek dance to Land of 1000 Dances.  Love this musical selection.  They had perfect music for both dances.  The first time they danced Jive, I thought it was great.  I expect a lot here.  She looked to Derek quite a bit for guidance into the next series of steps.  She covered it well, but there were moments of uncertainty that sometimes stalled the connection from movement to movement.  And no wonder!  That was really ambitious and demanding choreography.  The dance was really fast.  I thought the performance was fantastic.  They could have gone for something a little more simple and possibly nailed it.  But I like the aggressive choice and I enjoyed the performance.  Judges say 8s across for a total of 24.  I don't agree with that score.  There were certainly a few bobbles, but I thought the overall effect of the performance was 9s.

Nancy and Tristan are up next.  The problem for Nancy in this dance is going to come from her legs...she just doesn't raise her knees and doesn't get good crisp kicks.  She lost her place a little bit, but Tristan helped her cover.  When she was confident in her steps, I thought she did pretty well.  Her swivels were terrific and I loved the cartwheel at the end.  Again, the dance was credible.  Unfortunately, credible isn't going to be good enough.  All of the deficiencies she has in her dancing were evident.  But here's the thing...her journey in this competition was the story in that Jive.  She trusted Tristan to get her through it.  When you learn to trust your partner, that's a win.  Judges say 7,6,7 for a total of 20.  Ouch.  She'll really need the votes.

JR and Karina dance to Tutti Frutti.  That's a fantastic musical selection for Jive.  I enjoyed the first Jive they did, although the judges gigged them for too much Lindy Hop.  This is more ambitious choreography.  The dance is full of tricks, but I thought they also had moments when the movements weren't completely connected and smooth.  I thought the musicality was off a couple of times.  The dance was a lot of fun and I enjoyed the performance, but as with their Waltz, there was something off for me in this dance.  I'm not in love with it like the judges were.  I'll have to watch both dances back to see if I'm overly critical.  Judges say 10s across for a total of 30.  This score I'll dispute.  In my opinion, they had too many musical breaks for that to be perfect.  And if Ricki and Derek lose points for foot bobbles, then JR's bobble on the slide at the beginning should have kept this from a perfect score.

Here's our final leader board for the night:

60 JR and Karina
52 Ricki and Derek
52 Hope and Maks
51 Rob and Cheryl
44 Nancy and Tristan

I like JR and Karina, but count me as part of the small group who wasn't over the moon about either performance.  And that has pushed me to my choice for the season...all my votes went to Ricki and Derek.  That's my pair.

Pam was irritated with the judges for withholding 10s from Ricki and Derek for what she thought was a mesmerizing Waltz, and for not throwing 9s across for their Jive.  She thought they were picky on both performances, and she thought they were overly generous with JR and Karina.  So she has chosen's Ricki and Derek for both of us.

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

Later gang!


  1. I missed the last dance from JR and Karina, but I think the judges are cutting him more slack than the others.

    Maks has always been a problem for me. He seems to want the drama for more camera time.

    OH well...great recap as always

  1. Ivanhoe says:

    I watched just the first hour, but it was good. I enjoyed JR and Ricki the most. I hope they are both in finale :)