Cue that theme music!

Posted: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 by Travis Cody in

It's the semi finals live from Hollywood!

That's right gang.  We're just one week away from the finale.  This week our 5 remaining couples have two dances again.  One round features songs from Michael Jackson's Bad album, celebrating 25 years since its release.  Another round features the dance styles and themes our pairs picked for each other during last week's results.


Our Dance Troupe and some guest dancers lead off the show with a great routine to Smooth Criminal and The Way You Make Me Feel. 

OK.  First round is the wacky dance styles and themes. 

Melissa and Tony dance Caveman Hustle, chosen for them by Kelly and Val.  I've never seen Tony struggle like this with his choreography.  And then he hurt his back during rehearsal.  I like the way they staged this dance.  And I can see the Hustle in the choreography.  Hustle is all about rhythm and repetition.  I really like the interpretation.  This had the potential to be silly, but I thought they avoided anything too ridiculous.  I thought they nailed the theme with staging and costumes.  Then they went out and nailed the dancing too, with just a few minor balance issues in some turns.  The entire performance was totally entertaining.  Judges say 9,9.5,9 for a total of 27.5.

Shawn and Derek dance Night Rider Bhangra, chosen for them by Emmitt and Cheryl.  Bhangra is a Punjab folk dance, according to Wiki.  I have no idea what it's supposed to look like, but they have to dance it to the theme from the show Night Rider.  Oy.  Derek did a smart thing by bringing in an expert.  Oddly enough, the mix of music and dance style actually worked.  It's similar to Bollywood with the high energy and big movement.  Call it Indian hip hop.  I loved the performance.  The style suited Shawn's energy and Derek's personality, plus it suited their style together.  Shawn finally is out of breath after a dance.  And they got raves from Len, so no stink eye!  Judges say 10s across for a total of 30.

Apolo and Karina dance Big Top Jazz, chosen for them by Gilles and Peta.  He lost his balance right at the top, and that kind of threw off the timing.  I like Karina's choice to go for modern jazz.  It fits the idea of a circus.  She has also decided to go all out for really difficult choreography.  Unfortunately I didn't really care for the performance.  They had a lot of side by side work that was designed not to be synchronized, but I thought that made the dance look disjointed.  The whole thing looked very awkward and stilted.  I agree with Bruno that it was edgy with a mix of varied jazz styles.  But creative artistry doesn't always overcome what it looks like to a viewer.  To me, the routine just didn't look like it came together.  I wanted to like it, but I didn't.  Judges say 8.5,9,9.5 for a total of 27. 

Emmitt and Cheryl dance Espionage Lindy Hop, chosen for them by Shawn and Derek.  This is to the song Secret Agent Man, which doesn't seem like it would have a Lindy Hop beat.  Oh noes!!  Cheryl is trying to blow up the Glittering Globe of Glory!  Stop her Emmitt!  I was right...the tempo is a bit slow for a really balls-to-the-wall Lindy Hop.  But they did put a lot of energy into the performance.  I liked the way they staged the story.  They went for a bit of a cartoon feel to the choreography and Emmitt was surprisingly effective.  I thought the performance was wacky and silly.  It did look a bit sloppy in places.  I would have liked a bit more hop in the Lindy, but the point was to style the dance around the theme and I thought they did that well.  Judges say 9s across for a total of 27.

Kelly and Val dance Surfer Flamenco, chosen for them because it was the last style left on the board.  Flamenco is hard enough without trying to combine it with a surfer theme.  The music turns out to be perfect.  The surfer theme is in the music and in the beach scene behind them.  Then they ended the dance with Flamenco steps in a 2" pool with bathing suits, which ended up being slightly awkward for Val.  I think they definitely attacked the dance.  It was dramatic and aggressive.  I applaud them for the energy and the way they owned the floor.  It seemed like it was a bit more Paso Doble than Flamenco though.  I thought the performance was fantastic, but maybe not quite enough those Flamenco shapes.  Still, I did enjoy the performance.  Judges say 8,9,8.5 for a total of 25.5. 

Here's our leader board after the first round:

30.0 Shawn and Derek
27.5 Melissa and Tony
27.0 Emmitt and Cheryl
27.0 Apolo and Karina
25.5 Kelly and Val

Now our second round features music from MJ's Bad.

Melissa and Tony dance Argentine Tango to Dirty Diana.  I'm surprised they didn't redesign some of those lifts because of Tony's back.  But if they hadn't said he was injured, I never would have been able to tell during the dance.  Everything was smooth and seamless.  The transition into those lifts and tricks was excellent.  And that complicated thing at the end was perfect.  That had the potential to really go wrong.  But they nailed that routine.  They had a bit more space between them in hold than I would have liked, but that's just picking nits.  This was an outstanding performance with energy and precision, hi-lighted by those amazing lifts.  Well done.  Judges say 10s across for a total of 30.  Yup.

Shawn and Derek dance Argentine Tango to Bad.  I love the kick walk down the stairs.  This song really lends itself to the stalking quality I love to see in a Tango.  Derek used the tempo change really well in his choreography.  This dance wasn't as reliant on the lifts as Melissa and Tony's.  This choreography was more about the lines and style, as well as crisp footwork and leg hooks.  The flavor was more elegant and the shapes were great.  I thought the dance interpreted the music really well.  Carrie Ann thought it lacked the passionate connection between the two of them, but I thought it had more than enough flair and drama.  Judges say 9,10,10 for a total of 29.

Apolo and Karina dance Rumba to Man in the Mirror.  I've been wanting to like his dancing for the last 3 weeks.  Now he has finally given me something to like.  I thought he was completely relaxed and in the moment.  He didn't look concerned about the steps or the movement.  The connection with Karina was the best I've seen all season.  This was the time for him to bring his A game and he did.  This was one of those performances that invites you into the dance and lets you experience the emotion.  It was sensual and romantic, and it also had an elegant quality.  There was a freedom in Apolo's dancing that has been missing since the first week.  He was calm and in control.  Excellent work.  Judges say 10s across for a total of 30.

Emmitt and Cheryl dance Tango to Leave Me Alone.  Emmitt threw down with a little MJ step to begin the dance.  They definitely have the attack attitude.  I like Cheryl's choreography.  She's had to step up the difficulty and Emmitt responded to it.  I'm not sure if he took complete control as the lead in the dance, but he was quite strong and intense.  There were issues with technique and footwork.  With straight Tango, the hold is really important.  There isn't as much freedom, and Emmitt is always at his best when he can dance relaxed.  Plus, he can't fall back on his charm in a dance like Tango.  I enjoyed the performance, as I usually do with Emmitt and Cheryl.  Judges say 9s across for a total of 27.

Kelly and Val dance Rumba to I Can't Stop Loving You.  I like the intimate staging with the lights in the round.  I have to give it to Kelly.  She has really developed into a credible performer.  And Val has proven that he can be a strong teacher and choreographer.  This choreography is a celebration of the friendship they have developed between them.  They have had tremendous chemistry all season, and it has shown in almost every dance.  It was definitely front and center in this dance.  It was passionate and emotional without being overwhelmingly sexual.  That's the line you walk with Rumba choreography.  They controlled the quick-slow-quick.  Len calls it light and shade.  It's what emphasizes the moments and the shapes.  Nice work.  I really enjoyed the piece.  Judges say 9.5s across for a total of 28.5.

Here's our final leader board after both dances:

59.0 Shawn and Derek

57.5 Melissa and Tony
57.0 Apolo and Karina
54.0 Emmitt and Cheryl

54.0 Kelly and Val

We voted for S&D, although if we'd had more votes we would have thrown some to M&T.  It's time for Tony to win.  He and Melissa are dancing so well right now.

It's a double elimination tonight.  We're skipping a Final Four and going straight to 3 couples for next week's finale.  I think it's anybody's game.  We'll see which fan bases come through.

You know the drill.  Tune in tonight for results and then check back here for my encores and results recap.  Just one week until we find out who dances away with the Glittering Globe of Glory.


  1. Just loved the tango with Melissa. Some of those tangled down his body lifts and falls looked impossible until you saw it. Great show.

  1. Anonymous says:

    I saw a bit of the dancing when we got home from the basketball parent meeting. I can't believe the finale is next week. Cake time, then, eh? ;-) GGG

  1. Cherie says:

    Looks like Carrie Ann had the cranky pants on this week. I thought that her comments were way too tough for dances that weren't ballroom styles. (Those couples had the most disadvantage.) Melissa and Tony's lifts were incredible in the Tango routine, but I was back to not seeing the dance quality that everyone else is raving about. I thought Shawn and Derek's had the sharpness and the finish that Melissa & Tony's was lacking. I'm still on the Kelly & Val train, so my votes went to them. The main problem I have with them is that Val is such a beautiful dancer that I wind up watching him instead of Kelly. I'm not sure whether it's me, or he's putting himself too much on display in the choreography. ;) Overall, I think that everyone gave it their best effort. The scores are close enough that it's up to the fans. I think that all of the couples have earned the right to be in the finals. Great season! I'll be very sorry to see it end.

  1. Jean(ie) says:

    So what's the treat du jour for tonight's show? Stay warm and dry. I feel like a duck.

    And you know what? I can't dance. No rhythm. :-)

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