Cue that theme music!

Posted: Tuesday, November 22, 2011 by Travis Cody in

It's live from Hollywood!

Well gang, we've reached the performance finale of Season 13.  Of course, that means that we get to see each of our remaining 3 pairs perform two dances, one of which is the highly anticipated freestyle where anything goes.

First, each couple dances a style they haven't yet tried.

Ricki and Derek dance Cha Cha Cha.  Carrie Ann visits rehearsal.  One of the things I appreciate about Ricki is that she usually dances with confidence and assurance no matter if she's nervous.  She may be insecure in some of the styles, but she usually keeps her composure.  Her posture is always contained and controlled, even if she gets the steps wrong.  I really liked this Cha Cha Cha.  Ricki has an elegance and grace about her that is very appealing to me.  I liked her musicality in this piece.  The dance had sensuality and a bit of cheekiness.  It wasn't perfect, but it was definitely smooth and relaxed.  Judges say 9s across for a total of 27.

Rob and Cheryl dance Waltz.  Bruno visits rehearsal.  I really wanted to like this dance, but the musicality felt off to me.  It looked like they were dancing at a different tempo than what I was hearing.  I think I know why...I often can't hear the rhythm.  Rather I hear and feel the melody.  And I think they were dancing to the rhythm.  That's why it looked awkward to me.  I did see some issues with his posture.  He kind of hunched a bit, and I think that pulled him off balance in a couple of places.  I did like the rise and fall, but his footwork occasionally looked plodding.  It was a good effort, but in a Waltz I want a fairy tale and I thought this dance fell short of that.  Judges say 9s across for a total of 27.

JR and Karina dance Cha Cha Cha.  Len visits rehearsal.  I love this music for Cha Cha Cha.  He's dancing through that ankle, but he doesn't look as smooth on his feet as he did before the injury.  But the thing I like about this dance is his confidence.  He was confident, even when he missed a step and got ahead of the music.  He performed the character, and that hid a lot of the problems and mistakes in the actual dancing.  He went off time.  And it seemed like Karina may have scaled back the choreography in this dance to spare the ankle for freestyle.  I didn't see enough Cha Cha Cha content for my taste...certainly not as much as Ricki and Derek had.  Judges say 8,7,9 for a total of 24.

Here's our leader board after the first round:

27 Ricki and Derek
27 Rob and Cheryl
24 JR and Karina

Next up, it's freestyle.  These dances can go horribly wrong, or amazingly great.

Ricki and Derek...Derek has chosen a combination of ballroom and Latin styles for a show dance routine.   I prefer when the pros show off the technique they've been teaching all season.  This dance had energy and a ton of content from almost every style.  Plus it had crazy lifts and tricks that were well integrated into the choreography.  That last spin at the end was so fast it made Ricki dizzy when Derek finally put her down.  Wow!  All the movement was connected throughout, and some of it was hard to connect.  This freestyle definitely lived up to my expectations.  Derek has won every final he's been in, and he and Ricki certainly laid down the challenge with this performance.  Judges say 9s across for a total of 27.

Rob and Cheryl...Cheryl choreographed one of the best freestyle dances for Drew Lachey.  Cheryl had also chosen more of a show dance for Rob, which I think makes the most sense for Rob.  I think this is his strength, and Cheryl was smart to emphasize it and show off how far Rob has come in this competition.  This dance began with a Foxtrot feel and ended with Quickstep.  In the middle, it had difficult lifts and tricks.  I loved the concept and the staging of the dance, and I thought the presentation was outstanding.  There's no doubt that all those lifts were difficult and Rob handled them pretty well.  That's a winning freestyle right there.  Judges say 10s for a total of 30.

JR and Karina...Little bit of a scary rehearsal with Karina really wanting to got for some outrageous tricks and JR putting on the breaks.  And Karina panicked some about the lifts during dress rehearsal.  They've gone for Salsa inspired choreography...with a really great lift at the beginning that could have gone very wrong, but didn't.  They have quite a bit more side by side than the other two pairs.  This kind of routine really needs to be in synch and sharp for me to enjoy, and I didn't think it was.  There were some very difficult tricks and they certainly had the energy.  But I didn't care for the performance.  Most of it felt out of balance to me.  However, I appear to be in the minority because the judges and the ballroom audience thought it was great.  Judges say 10s across for a total of 30.

Here's our leader board after both dances:

57 Rob and Cheryl
54 Ricki and Derek
54 JR and Karina

I'm OK with any of these three couples winning.  I have a soft spot for Karina since she is the only pro in this season's final who hasn't won, and I think JR certainly has the fan base to win it all.  Our preference is for Ricki and Derek, but I feel like she had to win the night to make the final two.  I have a sneaky suspicion that Rob and Cheryl have the momentum now to pull off the upset.

Congratulations to all three pairs.  Each couple has one more dance for scores tonight during the results show.  Then one pair will be eliminated and our final two will get a final dance.

Tune in tonight to see who takes the coveted Fabulous Mirror Ball Trophy!  And check back tomorrow for my final encores and results recap.

Later gang!


  1. Akelamalu says:

    We're getting to the final stages of 'Strictly Come Dancing' here.

  1. I think Derek is the best and smartest choreographer on the show. He just has a way of engaging his partner with every dance and making it look effortless. Frankly, I didn't think Rob and Cheryl deserved the perfect score. Rob looked a little awkward at times, like he couldn't hear the rhythm either. JR just had a bad first effort and it will probably cost him in the final voting. Great season though.

  1. Ivanhoe says:

    Oh boy! What a nail-biter! I still root for my Ricki :)

  1. So what kind of cake are you serving for the finale? Best of luck to the three pairs.

  1. Cherie says:

    It will be exciting to see! :)

  1. Seems like Rob is hitting his stride and, with the injury JR is losing his.

    I thought Rob free-style was worth the 30. I did not feel the same about JR's, but by doing that, the judges put him into the tie with Ricki

    Going to be interesting indeed