Cue that theme music!

Posted: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 by Travis Cody in
4

It's the performance finale, live from Hollywood!


That's right gang.  We've reached the end of our All Star season. 

It's Ladies' Night too.  Our final three celebrities are Shawn Johnson, Melissa Rycroft, and Kelly Monaco.  Shawn (Season 8) and Kelly (Season 1) are former champions while Melissa finished third in Season 8.

As for the remaining pro partners, respectively, Derek Hough is a three time champion (Brooke Burke, Nicole, Scherzinger, and Jennifer Grey), while Tony Dovolani and Val Chmerkovskiy have never won the mirror ball.

I think all three couples are very strong with a solid fan following.  I think any of them can win at this point.  S&D and M&T are too close to call, with K&V playing the spoiler role.  But that's just one man's opinion. 

First round is each couples' favorite routine from the season.

Kelly and Val reprise the Paso Doble from week 3.  This was a tremendous routine the first time around.  It made me pay attention and really consider that she could contend for the Mirror Ball.  The only trouble she had the first time around, if I recall, was some balance wobbles in her turns.  She has completely corrected that.  She attacked the turns with confidence.  That was outstanding.  Typically she makes a few mistakes with foot placement or balance.  And there it was; she completely missed a hold coming out of a spin and panicked, but then she pulled it back together and finished strong.  The dance had passion and aggression.  He musicality and rhythm were excellent.  She is peaking at the right time with confidence, sophistication, and style.  Lines and shapes were terrific.  Too bad about that goof.  Judges say 9.5,10,10 for a total of 29.5.  I don't know how you get a perfect score when you make such a clear mistake.

Melissa and Tony reprise the Samba from week 3.  I worry that they might over dance it because Tony wants this so badly.  This Samba is so full of tricks.  There are a lot of places to go wrong if you over dance.  The Samba roll looks much better than it did the first time.  I love the way Melissa finishes everything.  The transitions from dance to trick to dance are fantastic.  Tony put a ton of content in this routine, and they have polished up the rough edges.  In week 3, it was a bit disjointed.  Not this time.  They were smooth through the entire piece.  They had Samba bounce.  It was full of flavor.  It was technically excellent.  That excellence translated to performance.  It all flowed together.  No over dancing here.  Well done.  Judges say 10s across for a total of 30.

Shawn and Derek reprise the Quickstep from week 3.  I loved this routine.  They were taken to task for breaking the rules the first time.  This could be a risk if they decide not to tweak the choreography back within the rules.  You just aren't supposed to break hold in Quickstep.  But again...it is chock full of proper content that is danced to perfection.  It has everything you want in a first class finals dance.  I thought the same thing when they performed it earlier in the season.  I thought then, and I think now, that it is a finale performance.  The judges are going to call them on the rules though.  I understand.  It comes down to a matter of choice.  S&D could have tweaked this routine to strictly follow the rules and completely nail both technique and performance for a perfect 30.  But they chose to let it stand as originally performed, so they'll have to accept the scores.  It's the choice they made all season.  Judges say 9,8.5,9.5 for a total of 27. 

Let me just say this...Kelly completely missed a hold, but Len and Bruno scored her at 10 each.  So Len, you get stink eye for taking a point and a half from S&D, because you don't like that they didn't change their Quickstep choreography to conform to the rules.  It really wasn't necessary to dock that extra .5, particularly when you scored K&V a perfect 10 after she made a glaring error. 


Yes, those inconsistently applied standards will always bother me.  Len awarded performance to K&V, so they get a 10 even when there is a clear mistake that shouldn't be overlooked.  Yet S&D get an additional .5 point deducted for breaking rules, despite dancing flawlessly.

Here's our leader board after the first round:

30.0 Melissa and Tony
29.5 Kelly and Val
27.0 Shawn and Derek

Second round is super sized free style.  No rules.  Add effects.  Add more dancers.  Add whatever you want to create a total performance.

Kelly and Val:  Kelly begins in the air, with Val playing Violin.  This routine is based on Dirty Dancing.  They have added a chorus and our Troupe.  The choreography isn't step for step from the movie, but it's close.  The routine evoked a similar feeling to the movie.  I thought it was very well presented.  However, the routine wasn't that difficult in terms of dance and it certainly wasn't terribly original.  Val went for staging and performance, making the most of the chemistry they have developed throughout the season.  They told a wonderful story of their relationship in dance.  I thought the piece worked very well for them.  They danced a ballroom style, which I always appreciate in a free style.  I don't mind that it wasn't difficult or really original.  I enjoyed the performance.  Judges say10,9.5,10 for a total of 29.5.

Melissa and Tony:  They tanked a hip hop free style in Season 8.  Tony has decided to go Contemporary this time to showcase Melissa's natural grace and elegance in the air.  I think this is a good choice with a lot of potential if done well.  That opening lift series was wonderful.  I love to watch how Melissa extends and creates shapes.  I like what they did.  I thought the choreography had drama and passion.  Melissa's toe point and leg extension was incredible.  I thought the piece was artistic and lyrical.  I think Tony did a fantastic job of creating that piece.  I thought it was a beautiful blending of music and movement.  I'm so used to free styles that throw a lot of random high intensity steps at you.  This dance was quieter, but much more powerful because it wasn't in your face.  Lovely.  Judges say 10s across for a total of 30.

Shawn and Derek:  Well, now at least they can't be called out for breaking any rules.  They just have to execute the routine.  And the 2012 gold medal winning US women's gymnastics squad is joining them for this free style.  Oh I see...this is a compilation of many of the styles they danced this season.  A medley of S&D's greatest hits, as it were.  Add in a bunch of gymnastics and the Fierce Five, and you get total spectacle.  That's what I'm used to seeing in a finale free style.  It had so much energy.  Plus, it was completely original.  There were some interesting tricks, particularly that opening lift.  And wow...the dive from a full standing position on Derek's shoulders to a jump somersault!  I think this dance had the most crowd appeal of the three.  I loved the whole performance.  Judges say 10s across for a total of 30.

Here's our updated leader board after both dances:
  • 60.0 Melissa and Tony - Melissa is Tony's best partner in his 14 seasons on the show.  Is it their year?
  • 59.0 Kelly and Val - Kelly has a tremendous fan following from General Hospital.  Will she be the first winner ever and the all star winner?
  • 57.0 Shawn and Derek - Shawn and Derek have made creative choices that broke rules all season.  Will they have enough fan support to overcome scoring penalties?
We voted for Shawn and Derek.  I know.  They did break the rules again, even when they had the chance to change the choreography for that Quickstep.  They easily could have done that, still made a spectacular performance, and scored a 30.  They didn't and they took a hit for it.  But you know what?  We just enjoyed them more this entire season, even with the rule breaking.  I think it has been a break out year for Derek and his choreography, and Shawn is just a joy to watch.

Tune in tonight gang.  There is one more competitive dance for scores.  It's an instant dance, but the twist is that the couples won't get the style - Jive, Cha Cha Cha, or Samba - and music until shortly before they perform.  Yikes!  They'll have to be prepared for any of the three, with choreography and costumes to go with each.

We'll be ready with our fru fru finery and our special finale night feast!

Later gang!

4 comments:

  1. I haven't watched the performances yet. I have them DVR'd and will view tonight before the final decisions. I will probably have to agree with your viewpoint. Willfully breaking the rules is going to come with a price, but so should a very glaring error in one's performance. Thanks for the outstanding review. I always look forward to them.

  1. I'm on the Melissa bandwagon, but as usual you have provided the best commentary throughout the season.

  1. Cherie says:

    All three did a really great job. I could have gone with Shawn & Derek. Their performances were really phenomenal, but the rule thing was a deal-breaker for me. Had to go with Kelly & Val because I enjoyed them so much this season. We'll see what happens tonight! Do you have you cake ready? :)

  1. Jean(ie) says:

    Ut-oh, the stink eye! Enjoy tonight's performance!