Cue that theme music!

Posted: Tuesday, November 12, 2013 by Travis Cody in

It's live from Hollywood!

Well gang, welcome to my last performance recap.  After due consideration, I have decided that it's time to stop.  So we've duded up in our fru fru finery, we've got our cheese and crackers, we've cracked open a fine merlot, and we have CAKE.

Our six remaining pairs will each have an individual dance, and then it's the return of the Trio Round.  More on that later.

First it's our individual round.

Amber and Derek dance Quickstep.  She's got both of her knees wrapped this week and she's having a tough time getting through practice.  You need to be on both legs for Quickstep.  There's no hiding when your wheels aren't healthy.  I love this music.  It's more classic and Quickstep looks right to it.  Amber is keeping up, and Derek did a smart thing by not making too many super difficult steps.  There was plenty of classic content, so there shouldn't be any complaints there.  She gave it her all, but there were some issues with her posture and a couple of mistakes with footwork.  I suspect she was leaning forward a bit more to favor those knees.  I've done that myself.  She's always spot on for performance.  It's a shame that her knees won't allow her to go full out.  Judges say 8s across for a total of 24.    

Leah and Tony dance Tango.  The drama of Tango suits her as an actor.  All she has to do is keep up with the tempo and not make any footwork or posture mistakes.  I'd still like to see her extend her legs and arms.  I want her to reach out beyond her feet and hands.  Reach right out into the audience and pull them back in.  That extension and line emphasizes the drama, particularly in Tango.  These routines are seeming very short to me.  It doesn't seem like the full 90 seconds.  I liked this routine, but there just didn't seem to be enough of it.  I thought her frame was very good.  She never missed her footwork.  But I wanted more of the performance.  I was just getting into it and then it was over.  Judges say 9s across for a total of 27.

Corbin and Karina dance Waltz.  They talked in rehearsal about dancing traditional.  If you do that with Waltz, you can't go wrong.  Rise and fall.  Fairy tale.  Spins.  Twirls.  Add it all up and you get romance, and that's Waltz.  I think they did a fine job with every element.  It was a pretty dance.  I thought Corbin's frame was excellent.  He was expressive and classy.  Leah should watch some tape of the way he extends through his hands and feet.  You create entirely different and complete shapes when you do that.  You also enhance the little performance details, because that extra quarter beat on the reach helps you breathe through the phrasing.  I thought the movement in this piece was smooth and fluid, mainly due to that wonderful extension.  Judges say 9,9.10 for a total of 28.

Jack and Cheryl dance Viennese Waltz.  Happy Birthday Jack!  Cheryl gave him a mini mirror ball trophy.  Sweet!  I enjoy the shapes he makes.  Jack understands extension and pause.  His frame is excellent.  His footwork is excellent.  He always looks like he's leading in the ballroom styles.  This Viennese Waltz had all the content.  It had so many lovely turns.  It had fluidity and flow.  I thought he had tremendous control in spins.  If he could just release the tension in his hands, he'd have the entire package.  I really enjoy the way he has embraced and built on technique.  That foundation lets him dance with incredible confidence, particularly in the ballroom styles.  Judges say 10,10,9 for a total of 29.

Bill and Emma dance Charleston.  Bill was a bit stompy with his footwork.  Yes, stompy.  It's a word.  It was a bit of a silly routine.  Certainly entertaining.  But I didn't see enough real Charleston in that dance.  Or perhaps it was that I had trouble recognizing the real Charleston elements of the piece.  I thought Bill's musicality and timing were way off.  He didn't turn out on the kicks.  He wasn't able to swivel.  There was almost no bounce.  The movement didn't seem to match the tempo of the music.  Yes, he works hard and tries and puts out his best effort.  Unfortunately some of the dance styles require a minimum amount of technique, otherwise they just look bad no matter how hard you work and how much you try.  Judges say 7s across for a total of 21.

Elizabeth and Val dance Viennese Waltz.  They struggled last week, I believe due entirely to Elizabeth making the music change.  This week, Val took back control and asked her to dance what he choreographed.  She did that, and the performance was beautiful.  There was drama in the story, directed by Val's choices to leave an edge to the movement rather than to soften it.  I thought it was an unusual piece of choreography.  There was a bit more jerkiness in the movement than I typically care for in Viennese Waltz.  I prefer the smooth flow.  However, I thought this piece made lovely use of a contemporary darkness and for that creativity, I enjoyed the performance.  Judges say 9,8,9 for a total of 26.

Here's our leader board after first round.

29 Jack and Cheryl
28 Corbin and Karina
27 Leah and Tony
26 Elizabeth and Val
24 Amber and Derek
21 Bill and Emma

Now it's the Trio Round.  Each of our couples gets to add an eliminated pro or a member of our Troupe.  The idea is to make the celebrity shine.

Amber and Derek are joined by Mark Ballas to dance Salsa.  The performance quality was high in that dance.  It had energy.  With the bad knees, she's limited.  She can't get across the floor, and she can't push off her feet to get more hip action.  The dance was essentially static, except when Derek and Mark lifted her to move across the floor.  Typically Salsa is characterized by constant flow, and this choreography had stops and starts as it moved between work in hold and side by side by side work.  Overall the dance was entertaining and I enjoyed it.  It's just a shame that Amber's knees keep her from doing some of the things I'm sure she's capable of.  Judges say 9s across for a total of 27.

Leah and Tony are joined by Henry Biyalikov to dance Jive.  HA!  They've decided to play the judges in their routine.  That was surprisingly effective.  Not only were the characterizations excellent, but the dancing was nearly flawless.  The piece was well designed.  The parodies weren't mean.  The choreography was difficult and full of outstanding Jive content.  There were a couple of issues with Leah's kicks and flicks.  I would have liked to see them a little sharper and cleaner.  But the routine was so entertaining that those things are easy to overlook when taking in the whole.  Judges say 9s across for a total of 27.

Corbin and Karina are joined by Witney Carson to dance Jazz.  That was really good gang.  This is right in Corbin's wheelhouse.  He's a Broadway performer and this routine was straight off a Broadway stage.  It had character and pizzazz.  The choreography built from note and movement one.  It had a Fosse-esque quality to it, interpreted by all three dancers.  There wasn't anything to dislike about it.  The rehearsal footage showed Corbin taking a more active role, adding his ideas to the piece.  It seemed like all three dancers were able to meld individual styles into a cohesive and complete routine.  Judges say 10s across for a total of 30.

Jack and Cheryl are joined by Sharna Burgess to dance Samba.  Let's see if Jack can turn loose and just dance a Latin number.  Oh he's done it.  He's got some Latin hips going.  He gave in to it.  He got some Samba bounce.  He completely embraced the character and the cheesiness in the story.  That brought this performance up to a level he hadn't quite been able to reach in Latin styles.  The routine was clever and creative, without being too silly.  Yes, sometimes he was flat footed and he did get a little out of control when trying to dance between the two Cheryl and Sharna.  But when he danced in hold with Cheryl, he did have solid posture and frame.  I thought the whole performance was entertaining.  Judges say 8,8,9 for a total of 25.

Bill and Emma are joined by Peta Murgatroyd to dance Salsa.  We have a Willy Wonka Salsa.  Well, there wasn't a whole lot of actual Salsa in the routine.  What there was...well, I can't say Bill danced it very well.  It was another silly routine, designed principally to entertain.  I suppose it was successful in that respect.  But there really wasn't any musicality or rhythm.  There was no technique.  It was just a combination of bizarre choreography and movement.  It's really unfortunate for Bill, because in the early part of the competition he was learning and improving his technique.  I thought he actually had potential to do fairly well.  But he has regressed in the last few dances, almost as though Emma has given up on the teaching and just gone for the entertainment value.  I guess that's one choice.  Judges say 7s across for a total of 21. 

Elizabeth and Val are joined by Gleb Savchenko to dance Salsa.  This is some classic Salsa.  The flow never stopped.  The choreography was so difficult.  I thought Elizabeth lost timing a couple of times.  But the neat thing about dancing with Val and Gleb was that they kept time and synch between them so that Elizabeth became a center piece.  That meant that when she was off time, it looked like it was by design.  Val's choreography was outstanding.  It make the most of Elizabeth's strengths.  I thought the way they transitioned Elizabeth between them was excellent.  They kept her right on the edge of balance.  Just as it looked like one of those turns was going to trip her up, one or the other of the guys was there to save the movement and make it look like a natural progression in the routine.  Judges say 10s across for a total of 30.

Here's our leader final board with the scores from both rounds.

58 Corbin and Karina
56 Elizabeth and Val 
54 Leah and Tony
54 Jack and Cheryl
51 Amber and Derek
42 Bill and Emma 

Results...Corbin and Karina are safe.  Jack and Cheryl are safe.  Amber and Derek are safe.  Leah and Tony are safe.  Bill and Emma are safe.

That means Elizabeth and Val are eliminated.

You know, I can't say that's the wrong result because it's about who gets the fans to pick up the phone and vote.  Having said that, it's not really the right result.

And that's a wrap for me gang.  I've enjoyed sharing my dancing thoughts with you over the years. 



  1. I realize that all good things must come to an end, but I am truly going to miss these re-caps. I get more information from your analysis than I do from the "experts" who are simply trying to make good TV drama. Thanks for your commitment to the task and for sharing your knowledge of ballroom dancing with the rest of us. Peace to you and yours.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for all the dancing info you have taken the time to share. All the best! GGG

  1. Akelamalu says:

    Jack's mother (Sharon O) has been touting for votes for him on Facebook - well it's what mother's do, she's so proud of him!

  1. Cherie says:

    Based on the limitations of her injuries, I wouldn't have been surprised if Amber had been eliminated this week. Maybe, the bigger test will be with next week's elimination with the week delay of viewer votes. That obviously hurt Elizabeth and that "interesting" jazz routine last week. We'll see if the Bill E steamroller continues on next week. I felt that his dances were truly awful. However, his fans are very faithful and straight in the middle of the demographic that watches the show. He well could make it into the final.