What wins our hearts? Emotional connection. For me sometimes, it’s seeing someone grow. That’s especially heartening when I didn’t feel much connection with that someone and then I can.
Nancy and Tristan were voted off. She’s a character and she has chutzpah but even those of us in Bowling Green, Ohio can say that she didn’t have the emotional connection down.
Rob and Cheryl. Quickstep. My mark 9.
Wow. Great job. He was musical plus he enjoyed it – his facial expression showed that – and that was genuine. He started off a bit slow again yet as soon as he connected with Cheryl he was in it. A misstep here and there but I saw real improvement and I found myself cheering for him. Can he grow from this stage now? My suggestion: keep enjoying it, find the music before you’re out there and keep that dancing feeling inside to carry it out to the stage.
Hope and Maks. Quickstep. My mark 8.
The dance was light, breezy and it was Quickstep. She seemed to convey more ease with Maks and he helped her. However, it did look at times like Maks was hauling her around the floor and there were moments when her face showed me how hard it was and that this dance was Not as light and fun as the illusion created for most of the performance. The yellow umbrellas and colorful balloons were a nice touch. It could take some time for Hope to create artistry. However, as a skill for her to add and for the sheer fun of it, I hope she keeps dancing.
Ricki and Derek. Waltz. My mark 9.
Beautiful shaping and precision. A lovely waltz. However, I’ve grown to want more from Derek Hough and whoever he partners. Perhaps he does not have exactly the right connection with Ricki for that and this particular waltz.
While I would not have come down on Ricki, I do want Derek to switch things up a bit. I jotted down romantic until I saw J.R. and Karina and since that was sheer romance, I went back to take another look at what really was going on with Ricki and Derek this time.
There was some sort of trouble with the last pivot turns and I didn’t feel there was enough content. But more than anything, there wasn’t the emotional connection conveyed through the little surprises and nuances that are a hallmark of Derek Hough’s choreography when he’s on his game. I really had no problem whatsoever with Ricki’s dancing. She stopped but so did Rob. She wasn’t hauled around the stage like Hope had to be. She danced well. So for me, the dance with Ricki’s clarity, precision and artistry merited more than an 8. Ricki is not Hope, nor Rob, nor Nancy.
Next time, whatever the dance, I want Derek to give us the juice. What is at the dance’s core – what makes it what it is? The lilts, the connection, the celebration of space and design and the magic that is possible with waltz. And there’s always the inspiration available through watching the masters of performance on youtube. I was actually delighted recently by seeing Western Symphony for the up-teenth time as performed by Miami City Ballet on PBS and marveling again at George Balanchine’s masterful choreography.
J.R. and Karina. Waltz. My mark 10.
Beautiful. Romantic as all get out. Sheer joy. With J.R.’s smile, charisma, musicality and joie de vivre and Karina’s femininity and expressiveness – those dipping turns under J.R.’s arm twice – whoa, I was on the floor swooning! This is what waltz is for me. It transports you and Karina’s choreography did that. She was able to show off the elegance of waltz while allowing J.R. to win our hearts again and again. This was magic. He is magic and she’s right there with him. The best choreography and performance I saw so far on this night.
Now for the instant dances…
Rob and Cheryl. Jive. My mark 7.
For me this seemed a real beginner jive. Rob stepped and marched rhythmically without the light quickness needed for this dance. He looked slow on the uptake – a real Kapha state if you know anything about Ayurveda. He got better though and if he keeps dancing he could be quite a wonder.
If I were Rob’s trainer, I’d want to take a look at what he’s eating and how he metabolizes food. It’s not just about one’s weight, it’s about growing in wellness. Mind-body-spirit are involved here and there’s been a change in the way the energy feels with him, which is wonderful. Sometimes all of this takes time. We tend to forget that. In looking at this for Rob, I wonder also about Cheryl, and I’d take a look at food again with her. Something’s been going on for Cheryl for a couple of seasons though she covers it. I’d suggest that she discover some little things that bring her hope and joy. 🙂
Hope and Maks. Jive. My mark 8.
Great fun. So upbeat. Kicks much improved. What’s wonderful about Hope is how invested she is. She throws herself into it. She got hunched at times and doesn’t yet have great alignment or placement. However, the enthusiasm, energy and entertainment value fo these two was 100%.
Ricki and Derek. Jive. My mark 9.
Fun, precise and upbeat. Some stunning, clean moves even with her two slight off times. I can’t mark her down to the level of Rob and Hope as I’ve said and I don’t know why anyone would here. Ricki deserves the support the judges have in them. I’m thankful that the remarks made did not affect the voting of the viewers as it has at times. I don’t believe that anyone left on the show could come close to dancing the way Ricki did. Though she isn’t J.R. or a pro like Karina, she is her own person – and with a little more time dancing and a different focus from Hough we would all see that.
J.R. and Karina. Jive. My mark 9.
Sometimes I’m so amazed by J.R.’s ease and fluidity. He’s a bubble of delight. Some really gorgeous moves – those side kicks – timing – wow. However, I can’t go off like Bruno because I saw a stop in the beginning where J.R. seemed to be counting and getting into the whole dance. There were moments where J.R. slowed and looked tired. I felt his energy drop. Then he miraculously picked it back up and covered.
The energy drop might be the toll of the evening showing up. However, I’d look at that in two ways: first, how J.R. eats that gives him energy and sustains him, and second, what J.R. can do if his energy drops mid-evening that might help him come back up before he’s out onstage needing to go deep to find reservoirs of energy left for him.