Dancing with the Stars 9-26-11

The thrilling second week of DWTS. Here’s my analysis.

Many times this show is a popularity contest and not necessarily about who the best dancer is. I wish it were not so because I know the hard work that goes into dancing since I am a dancer with many years invested in an art that requires dedication and discipline.

We know Elisabetta and Val went off and I feel it must be because she didn’t have the fanbase to keep her on as she danced wonderfully. She is better than a couple of celebs who remain.

The nitty gritty:

Hope and Maks. Jive. My mark 8.
For an athlete non-entertainer, Hope shows strongly. She has an ability to connect to the audience. She’s laid back, real, honest and enjoys the competition of it. She’s so energetic and fast and she gives it her all.

My suggestions: since her jive kicks were awkward and her feet unable to articulate the movement, she might work on that. Stretching, pointing the feet, getting footwork of some kind (massage, acupressure), soaking the feet, and practicing the basic steps very slowly as often as possible. Exploring how the foot works, rising, lowering – articulating the feet in ways she might not use in soccer such as: rolling through the foot, using the inside and outside and heel leads and toe leads as appropriate.

I have to laugh at DWTS because each season they give difficult fast advanced dances like Quickstep and Jive the second week to beginners. Why not let these celebs learn a bit and then have them wow us with these dances later in the season? Alas, the question must go unanswered.

Kristin and Mark. Quickstep. My mark 6.
She’s cute, yes. However, I couldn’t get away from noticing at times her raised shoulders, ungainly posture and loss of frame. That’s where she needs work. Her weaknesses were disguised well when she connected to Mark. He acted as a stabilizing force, but she needs to be able to find this for herself.

Her energy felt inside her and in some sense held in. Yes, she gave it her all and danced with greater confidence than before. Kudos to her for that! Though Kristin did well for the second week in, there is not the presence yet, the sparkle that there could be – and that there needs to be for a champion. What sold this dance to me? Her smile.

David and Kym. Jive. My mark 5.
Yes, David gave it his all. Unfortunately, his all is there for entertainment value. This dance was a jive and for that fast, attacked dance, David flailed. I didn’t see technique, line, or speed. David’s performance was simple.

If I were Kym, I would introduce qualities of movement to David. Like inhabiting a character, exploring movements with a range of effort used might help David. He needs to practice basic steps as well – to learn to articulate. He has a loose musculature or at any rate that’s how he seems… lacking in muscle tone. He can’t make his movements effective, direct, inhabited. I’d like to see a big change in his stance and movement quality next time.

Elisabetta and Val. Quickstep. My mark 8.
Lovely and surprisingly good. Both can feel good about their work and contribution to this performance. I won’t say more because they were voted off.

Rob and Cheryl. Jive. My mark 6.
He’s obviously shy and needs to claim himself as powerful and each dance as his own. I keep feeling like he needs to get “tribal.” Back to that in a moment.

Rob did the steps musically and yet I felt he was slow and a bit pedantic – words for someone who is still tentative, a beginner. The judges raved and that seems an injustice. Perhaps they felt it would help his sense of himself.

I want to encourage Rob to continue to give enthusiastically – to let himself focus on a place inside that feels powerful rather than doubting himself. By tribal, I mean I want him to perform as though he is dancing at a party and having a good time. When someone is fearful and lacks self-confidence, s/he lets that fear step into the body. It’s a bit like being inhabited by a ghost energetically. There are many many ways to work with this – EFT is one. NLP is another. A simple way could be to have Rob take a few moves he really enjoys that give him a sense of power and confidence and work those, practicing broadcasting himself in a part where he knows he is exactly who he is. Wonderman.

Carson and Anna. Quickstep. My mark 6.
Unfortunately, Carson’s flamboyance didn’t save him this time and that in large part was due to the choreography. I noticed his slowness in this dance, and my attention was drawn to his stiffness, lack of ease, and the movements of a beginner at ballroom. Still, he had to have worked his butt off to do this difficult dance as well as he did. I’m stunned he could smile through it all.

This time I feel it’s Anna who needs support and I think of asking someone like Derek, Mark or Tony to help with the choreography or a comedian who is known for his or her ability to move–Ben Stiller, Carol Burnett and Jim Carrey come to mind. Why? Because Carson is a personality and that is where he shines. Yes, he needs work on technique, precision and flow. However, if he isn’t allowed to be himself – to shine through antics – we won’t see his gifts and after so enjoying his bravado the first week, we may continue to be disappointed.

Ricki and Derek. Jive. My mark 8.
These two have a unique quality and work in such a lovely way together. She so enjoys dancing. However, I noticed stops and starts in which she lost all semblance of being a dancer because the dance for her stopped dead with only Derek gyrating. These moments were Ricki standing there, unable to extend her energy into the space, unable to continue the dance in her body, connecting each movement to the next. Even stillness has energy to it – a musicality and often subtle movement.

I would have liked to see more jive steps and, I want the choreography and the dance to send me. I want to marvel at the way these two connect and entertain. Ricki needs to find the nuances now, the qualities possible in each step and phrase. For some reason too, I’m feeling that Derek may be finding his way back into the show. He’s the master craftsman and something seems to be missing in the choreography… maybe he needs a greater challenge… a new sort of inspiration for the next dances… some musical or theatrical theme, a visit to an art gallery or to go watch some great pole dancing?

Chaz and Lacey. Quickstep. My mark 7.
Uneven yet enjoyable. There were moments of such beauty when the speed was there juxtaposed with moments that Chaz virtually walked through it (as others did). He has an endearing charm that comes through; however, I am concerned with the weight he’s carrying and the pain he’s been in.

Chynna and Tony. Jive. My mark 8.
I responded to them this time as the best of what I had seen so far. She was on top of it, entertaining, present, shimmering, musical. I was glad she kept her steps small so she could do them. Yes, one could say she played it safe but I didn’t sense that for a minute. To have upped the energy might have meant that she would not have had the precision she had and she might have run out of steam though I don’t actually get lack of stamina from her at all.  The way she danced enabled her to have a consistency to her performance and that consistency matched Tony. She was elegant and truly enjoyable.

Nancy and Tristan. Quickstep. My mark 6.
The steps were there. The speed was questionable at times. She’s musical and enjoys it. She’s also a tad quiet and this show is about the wow factor. There’s no razzmatazz yet from her and there can be in the quickstep. The way she did it seemed a bit staid and limited. A traditional quickstep that was a bit too slow and lacked pep at times.

JR and Karina. Jive. My mark 9.
Wow! Incredible. JR is a natural. In this wonderful, engaging choreography, he shone. The dance was precise and energetic and he really felt it. That ability to show us emotion contributes so much. His joy is palpable and uplifting. I felt connected to him from the inside out. Together, JR and Karina sold it. They sustained the energy throughout. Was it jive or lindy hop? I don’t know. I do know that dances often overlap and steps cross from one style of dance to another with different attack. JR must have worked his butt off because that did not look like a dance done by someone with no dance experience. Maybe the dancing is in his blood. The only reason I didn’t give this pair a 10 was because of the lift.

Till next time.