Cue that theme music!

Posted: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 by Travis Cody in

Welcome to Week 6.

The opening Jive/Lindy Hop/Jitterbug/Swing to Sing Sing Sing was off the hook gang!  Lacey and Benji Schwimmer choreographed that piece.

We've got two rounds of dance, individual and a challenge twist.  More on the challenge later.

Let's have our individual round first.

Bill and Emma dance Tango.  I already don't understand this.  We're dancing Tango to Cheeseburger in Paradise.  Bill has enough challenges without giving him odd music.  This is a silly fun song.  It's completely contrary to the drama and passion a Tango should have.  I think Emma did a great job crafting a Tango-ish story to go with the song.  And I think Bill did a credible job with the steps.  He didn't make any glaring mistakes.  There were just a couple of timing issues.  He had good posture and clean footwork.  Emma used tons of classic content.  Still, I would have liked to see a serious Tango here from Bill.  They didn't have much choice with the music selection, which seems to have been chosen for entertainment value more than anything else.  That's fine, but I think Bill could have done well with a standard Tango and I would have preferred to see that.  Judges say 8,8,7 for a total of 23.  I can't really evaluate the score.  I enjoyed the performance but didn't understand it as a Tango.

Elizabeth and Val dance Cha Cha Cha.  I think she did a great job in the little solo bit to begin the routine.  I like her in this style.  I've felt sometimes that she holds back the enjoyment of dance in favor of getting her steps just so.  I know she loves dance because she's said so often in rehearsal footage, but I haven't really seen it in the way she performs.  Until this Cha Cha Cha.  She seemed to let go of that need to control every movement.  She didn't look so concerned about what her hands were doing or what step sequence was coming next.  She looked relaxed and comfortable, and that allowed her to connect every movement smoothly and seamlessly.  She had great Latin hips.  She really emphasized the cheeky and sexy character of the dance rather than precise footwork.  In doing that, I think she was even more precise and sharp because it wasn't in her head.  She danced with confidence.  I loved Val's choreography.  He has brought her along with consistency.  Now that she has the confidence and control, she is just out there enjoying the moment.  That makes the whole performance enjoyable to watch.  Judges say 10s across for a total of 30.  Wow.  I'll definitely agree with that for the performance.

Leah and Tony dance Quickstep.  I like to hear her talk about having confidence and having fun.  She's getting saved by her fans, so that should make her feel like she can keep doing this.  I like the beginning of this because it lets her act a little bit before getting into the meat of Quickstep.  She's doing really well.  Tony has done a great job of making something fun for her to do.  The piece also has enough cheek in it for her to sink her acting teeth into.  I thought that was a complete performance.  She did dance with confidence and a sense of joy in what she was doing.  She danced with a wink in her step, and a bit of elegance.  I thought she was light on her feet.  She took the criticism on board from last week and turned it into positive motivation.  Excellent bounce back.  Len made a statement about Quickstep rules that required all but 10 seconds at the beginning and end of the dance to be in hold, warned the pairs who had Quickstep coming up later in the show or season that he would judge to those rules, then ignored what he said were the rules to score this dance.  Judges say 9s across for a total of 27.  So if he graded down for not enough time in hold, I'm supposed to infer that he would have scored it a 10?  Or do I infer that he doesn't care about applying the rules to this dance because he liked it and thought Leah improved over previous weeks?  I can't seem to get in sync with Len the last couple of weeks. 

Brant and Peta dance Tango.  Brant has progressed to the point where Peta can look at each distinct pose and correct the posture and frame.  That's a good place to be.  I like the aggression in this, although I'm missing that nice stalking quality I love in a Tango.  Brant's movement is properly sharp and crisp.  He kept his elbow up throughout the entire piece, and his shoulders down.  He seemed like he was leading the whole dance.  It was a shame that he lost his balance on the final pose, but that's a minor misstep.  His lines, shapes, and intensity were excellent.  Those minor corrections Peta made to each pose really improved Brant's presentation.  I enjoyed his confidence.  Peta's choreography was standard and full of content.  I've thought that Brant has a natural crispness to his movement that he needs to soften and relax for certain styles.  It seems that he is figuring out how to do that, but also to maintain the sharpness for those styles where it's appropriate.  Judges say 9,10,9 for a total of 28.  Again, Len throws a score I'm not sure I understand although I do agree that this was an excellent performance.

Amber and Riley dance Samba.  They had some struggles in rehearsal.  Derek gave her a solo to begin the dance to get her started with attitude.  He also went back to home base with a ton of classic Samba content.  This time the side by side work made sense in the context of Samba.  Amber had her Samba hips going.  I thought she did a great job with her lower body this week.  That's been tough for her from dance to dance, but this week I thought she had her feet solidly underneath her and danced right in her balance zone.  She had the double bounce, she had the Samba roll, she had the hips.  And she had performance.  Her musicality is her greatest strength.  Len seems determined not to like the things that Derek does.  I'm not sure why this week.  I thought this dance had more than enough content as well as some of the more difficult Samba elements, and I thought they were performed really well.  But Len seems to criticize Derek's choices more harshly than he praises what the celebrity does within those choices.  Derek put together a routine with some of the most difficult Samba content, and Len criticized it because he thought it was repetitive.  Judges say 10,8,10 for a total of 28.  I do understand the Derek presses the bounds when he decides he has a particular thing to say in dance.  This week he didn't do that, and Len still found fault. 

Jack and Cheryl dance Paso Doble.  Jack is channeling the Val Chmerkovskiy/Robert DeNiro angry Paso face.  No wait...I know what it is!  It's the Grumpy Cat intensity face for Paso Doble!  I like the nice stomping quality on the opening march.  Jack has the strong attitude and intensity for Paso..  He seems to have every step organized.  I don't think he quite got there with his Paso posture.  He didn't have his chest drawn forward enough and he didn't quite lead with his hips, so there wasn't a strong Spanish line.  There was great content within the dance and he really didn't make any glaring mistakes, except for a couple of balance issues.  I did like the performance.  Paso isn't a style that suits Jack, but he portrayed the attitude and aggression needed for Paso character.  He just needs to work on his Spanish line and keeping in time with the Paso rhythm.  Judges say 8,9,8 for a total of 25.  There's another score from Len that I'm not sure I get. 

Nicole and Sasha dance Foxtrot.  I like the setting for this dance.  I love the light and fluffy feel of the choreography.  It's smooth and elegant.  Nicole looked very sophisticated.  Sasha set a mood for this Foxtrot that made me smile.  The piece was charming and graceful.  I liked the way Nicole extended through her arms.  There were only a couple of places where she raised her shoulders a little bit and lost some of that frame.  But overall this is one of my favorite dances from her.  Judges say 9s across for a total of 27.  OK, I'll say it.  Nicole and Sasha spent as much time out of Foxtrot hold as Amber and Derek did last week.  Foxtrot experts will say that Nicole and Sasha danced a more classic Foxtrot choreography, and so they get the 9 from Len instead of the 7 that Len gave Amber and Derek last week.  Not being a Foxtrot expert, I call BS on that.  Amber danced what she was given every bit as well as Nicole danced what she was given this week, but Amber didn't get credit for what she did because Len was more concerned about downgrading Derek's choices.  I liked Nicole and Sasha's Foxtrot this week and have no issue with the 9s across for a total of 27.  And I don't disagree with Len's criticism of Derek's choreography last week, just the extra point he took off to throw the 7.

Corbin and Karina dance Viennese Waltz.  I'm sorry.  This is supposed to be Viennese Waltz.  I don't want this kind of intensity and drama .  I want beautiful shapes.  I want form extensions.  I want soft lines.  I want rise and fall.  I want love, not conflict.  I want a fairy tale romance.  Lots of people are going to love the overall presentation because of the Game of Thrones thing.  Corbin and Karina were portraying the raw sensuality from the show's theme, and that passion might appeal to some.  I'm not one of those people, although I appreciate what they attempted here.  If this had been a style other than Viennese Waltz, I would have loved the intensity and dramatic license they took.  I thought Karina's choreography took utmost advantage of the music.  I thought they danced well the thing they were trying to dance.  But I don't think it counted as a Viennese Waltz.  That's unfortunate.  Judges say 8,7,8 for a total of 23.  Len did grade down as he graded down the Foxtrot from Amber and Derek, so here's an instance where he and I agree that the performance did not represent the style.  However, I don't agree with the 7 because I thought the dancing was really good.  

Let me just be clear about my issues with Len.  It isn't that he wants proper ballroom and Latin rules followed.  It's simply the inconsistency with which he applies those rules and scores.  To an untrained eye such as mine, it comes across as capricious.  It makes him seem like no more of an expert than me, deciding what I like and don't like. 

Here's our leader board after the first round:

30 Elizabeth and Val
28 Amber and Derek
28 Brant and Peta
27 Nicole and Sasha
27 Leah and Tony
25 Jack and Cheryl
23 Bill and Emma
23 Corbin and Karina

We have a performance from a couple of people called Mika and Ariana Grande.  Not my kind of thing.  But I can be distracted watching our Troupe.

Next round is called a Switch Up challenge.  Four couples dance at the same time, with the music constantly changing.  There is no specific style.  They'll just have to be prepared to interpret the music as it comes up and transition from one dance to the next.  First couple tapped out gets 1 point, then 2 points for the next, 3 points for the next, and 4 points to the last couple standing.

First up are Jack and Cheryl, Corbin and Karina, Bill and Emma, Nicole and Sasha.  Bill and Emma go out first for 1 point.  Jack and Cheryl go out next for 2 points.  Nicole and Sasha go out next for 3 points.  Corbin and Karina win for 4 points.

Second up are Elizabeth and Val, Amber and Derek, Brant and Peta, Leah and Tony.  Leah and Tony go out first for 1 point.  Elizabeth and Val go out next for 2 points.  Brant and Peta go out next for 3 points.  Amber and Derek win for 4 points.

That was actually pretty good.  I think the winning strategy was to practice basic ballroom and Latin styles and be ready for the appropriate tempo for those basic moves.  I like this challenge.

Here's our final leader board after the Switch Up points are added.

32 Elizabeth and Val
32 Amber and Derek
31 Brant and Peta
30 Nicole and Sasha
28 Leah and Tony
27 Jack and Cheryl
27 Corbin and Karina
24 Bill and Emma

Now results...Elizabeth and Val are safe.  Amber and Derek are safe.  Brant and Peta are safe.  Leah and Tony are safe.  Corbin and Karina are safe.  Nicole and Sasha are safe.  Jack and Cheryl are safe.  Bill and Emma are safe.

Uhm...that means everybody is safe?

Evidently the wrong phone numbers were shown last week, so all viewer votes were thrown out and no one goes home.  Scores will carry over to next week and we could see a double elimination.

Cool!  This is a good group and I don't mind seeing them all dance again next week.  Team dances return as well.  Excellent!

Remember I'm counting down the days to Blog Blast on 4 November with 30 days of Peace Quotes and Reasons to Blog for Peace.  It's coming up quick.  Be sure to get your Peace Globe template, decorate it, send it on to Mimi, and then post if with your thoughts on peace for Blog Blast Day, under the title Dona Nobis Pacem.

I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.  
Helen Keller

Reason 12:  Because our troops finally came home from Iraq, and I wish to honor their sacrifice to duty by wishing them peace in all the tomorrows of their lives.

We speak on one subject with one voice on one day.  Won't you join us?  You have a voice; how will you use it?  Check in at Mimi Writes or at the Peace Globe Gallery for all the details you need to make your Peace Globe and join your voice to the movement.

Join us.  You know you want to.

I believe that words have power, so this matters. 


  1. Cherie says:

    I thought Amber's Samba was terrific. Character and movement were spot on. That was my dance of the night. Mr. Crankypants lived up to his name. His scores were all over the place, and he seemed completely capricious to me last night. You give out "stink-eyes." I'm giving Len a good old fashioned raspberry. *pfffffft*