One of the most important gifts dancers can share is connection, engaging viewers with a chemistry of response that is so visual that we feel it in our bodies. In the right hands emotional content can make us forget age, body type, or lack of technique.
On Dancing with the Stars, this week of story and song gave all the competitors a chance to use the power of emotional connection to take us beyond ourselves.
Wendy & Tony. Foxtrot. My mark 5.
When Wendy performed solo, she was herself and looked more at ease. The rest of the time I felt there wasn’t enough content in the dance. I kept noticing that the moves did not flatter her body. She’s a big girl and her shoulders looked pressed upward when she danced with Tony as though there wasn’t enough space for her to fit in. And maybe there wasn’t. That’s an indicator that perhaps she was too close to Tony for her breadth. Also, like many beginning dancers, Wendy has little awareness - of how to articulate her feet, legs and torso. Would a little ballet help, perhaps? To some extent, the choreography showed how genuine Wendy is, allowing her to be herself.
Chelsea & Mark. Cha cha. My mark 8.
Wow. Chelsea keeps surprising me even in her having potential from the get go. Cha cha is an appropriate dance for her development and the choreography pulled her out of herself. Though jerky and broken up at times, there were moments of connection and flow when she let herself go and expressed herself wonderfully. She’s cheeky, clean and fun. She reminded me in moments of the young Goldie Hawn. If Mark can keep his focus on her – her development, how she’ll look to us – plus continue to search out her gifts and showcase them for us, she could go far. I would really enjoy seeing Mark meet that challenge with Chelsea.
Chris & Cheryl. Rumba. My mark 7.
On the emotional conviction, I’d give an 8. Chris moves gracefully and emoted beautifully. It’s powerful to see a man express such devotion. However, there are blocks in Chris’ body and stops and starts in how he moves. What’s difficult to tell right now is if the choreography could have helped him. What I picked up from watching is how his energy looked absent from his feet to about midway up his shins. His wrestling gives him some constriction and a certain way of moving, like being stuck in a specific rhythmic phrase. At the same time, wrestling also gives him some facility with movement. What would I do if I were him? Take up Tai Chi or Akido and continue to do ballroom.
Kendra & Louis. Rumba. My mark 7.
She knows how to move and did all the steps quite wonderfully. There’s a slinkiness about her. I was confused though. I thought Kendra wanted to convey the pain of people not accepting her. I looked for that initial response of pain and sadness at being rejected by so many people. I believe that had she shown this too, the dance would have been much more powerful. Not sure what happened there, usually Louis is quite good at getting below the surface to bring out the vulnerability and assets of his partners.
Romeo & Chelsea. Rumba. My mark 6.
This dance showed Romeo’s deep feelings and the poignancy of what happened to him on many levels. He was still involved in the emotion behind the dance’s story when the judges talked to him. Unfortunately, this time more than before, Romeo appeared stiff and too stop and start in how he performed the choreography. There’s a way that he could have made the movement a flowing connected dance. I think Chelsea could bring out a lot more of him and help him really enjoy moving by focusing less on what he’s feeling and more on how to vary what he does. She needs to change some of the rhythms and dynamics in the choreography – or at least in how he executes them.
Hines & Kym. Samba. My mark 8.
Immensely enjoyable and he had fun. He does lack commitment in the way he extends and finishes the extension of his arms. Nice open chest though and a welcoming demeanor. Such a sense of ease and clarity in him. The way he holds himself and shows himself to us! Wow. Exquisite presence. One of the most remarkable aspects of this performance is how understated it was. He didn’t need to tear off his clothes. He didn’t have to shake his booty relentlessly. Truly, this was a samba to be proud of.
Petra & Dmitry. Waltz. My mark 8.
Beautiful poignant quality. Lovely. She’s so graceful and the choreography let us see her. This couple shared a magical connection as though they knew the secret language of the heart. They were able to create such an otherworldly quality. It transported me as I believe she wanted and Dmitry understood. One thing she needs to work on is her posture. She’s weak in her upper back and leans back up there a bit. I get distracted by it instead of fully pulled into the performance.
Sugar Ray & Anna. Paso Doble. My mark 6.
Had I written about him before this week my marks would have been much higher, for despite his age he can be so captivating and alive. This week though his age showed in a certain stiffness about him. The performance was a valiant attempt although the choreography didn’t allow him to show off his love of rhythm, the fancy moves of which he is capable, or his ability to connect to the audience in the engaging way he can have. There was such a need for him to maintain strength throughout this dance that it undercut his gifts. I really enjoyed watching Anna and Sugar Ray partnered her well.
Kirstie & Maks. Rumba. My mark 9.
Wow. Even with the fall this performance was incredible. Without the fall this dance would have garnered a 10 from me. The theme was about tragedy and overcoming adversity and the universe complied to give us a taste of the same thing on another level. So stunning to go from: Oh no what happened to Maks – to – Will they go on? – to – my God how they move! Such a wonderful connection between them. Such respect and considerateness. Poignant. Kirstie so graceful, giving, fluid. They spun a web through their timing and the care they both took to make each moment new. Wonderful wonderful work.
Ralph & Karina. Rumba. My mark 7.
Although the love story behind this dance was really moving, Ralph was a bit stiff this time. He doesn’t quite know how to use his emotion to come from the heart, move through the body so we see it then slowly take the emotional energy through the arms and out to the fingers. I kept seeing heart – wham – arm – stop – whenever he extended. This reoccurred and so stopped Ralph from flowing like he can. It also didn’t allow him to share the emotion he was feeling as expressively and clearly as I’m certain he and Karina wanted. Still, there’s definite potential here. After the promise of the first week, I’m sure of it and I want to see more. Karina needs to help him hone his technique and go for fluidity and polish. He can’t coast on his acting ability. I want to see him dance.