DWTS 11-14-11

The semi-finals. Whoot! Whoot!

After pulling off all their dances, we know Hope and Maks were voted off this week. Hope consistently gave it her all – and she’s was feisty and remarkable – that’s the mark of a champion athlete, if not a champion dancer.

What is a champion dancer? Well, 1. dancers are athletes.
2. Dancers are also entertainers. And 3. dancers are also artists. Which couple of the ones left have all three?

As I reviewed the 11-14-11 DWTS and watched J.R. and Karina in their paso doble, I was struck by this semi-finals vs other seasons. After seeing J.R. in past evenings and being carried by his persona, on the 14th he looked like the beginning dancer he really is – despite of how he’s able to carry the audience with his charisma. As I brought to mind Rob, I again saw the beginning dancer showing through his performances.

I flashed to previous champions – Apolo Anton Ohno, Helio Castroneves, Kristi Yamaguchi, and others. I saw no one like them left on the show – except – Ricki Lake. However, I’m human and as much as I cheer for her and Derek Hough, I wanted J.R. and Karina to win. I don’t know if J.R. has a big enough fan base to win over Rob though, and now with an injury, I don’t see how this will play out. A champion will come forward.

Will next week’s champion win due to a large fan base with the judges obviously siding with Rob and Cheryl Burke? Will she be  Ricki with multi-champ Hough? Or, will our all American hero, natural dancer J.R. top the leaderboard with Karina Smirnoff? I guess we’ll see next week.

My analysis:

J.R. and Karina. Paso Doble. My mark 8.
I wanted to love it. I did. But J.R. didn’t know how to exhibit the strength of paso and sustain it in performance. The footwork wasn’t clean and even though he attacked every movement, it didn’t have the quality one wants for this style – which is difficult for beginning men. J.R. is like a tenor trying to sing baritone in this dance. It just wasn’t in him and it’s not his body type.

No matter what, J.R. must learn to act the part. I know he hurt his ankle and hopefully he’s addressing this. He exuded such joie de vivre after every other dance. That’s what engages us. I remembered how young he is and could see his anger at himself,  his disappointment and that he was in physical pain. I want to see J.R. regain his confidence and renew his love of dancing. That’s what’s important here – win or lose.

Rob and Cheryl. Samba. My mark 8.
This dance looked half amateur and half awesome. Rob had a very high level of enthusiasm – moments of sheer joyous musicality. For some reason the judges were over the top with this and him, again not commenting on things that were obvious to me.

Rob still dances with his appendages – throwing out his arms as though they’re there to throw off. He isn’t coming from his core and his torso is frequently still and dead. It’s his face that lights up and engages and the massive suaveness he has gives the ladies a thrill – that makes me think of a matinee idol.

There was an energy drop near the end where Rob stopped and collected and then shook his booty. When he dropped energy, he also dropped the character of Samba, the style and shaping. A dancer must always dance everything, connect stillness and movement, and true skilled dancers with years of training always do. Losing the frame, dropping energy, forgetting steps, happens to the best of us whether it’s because we’re beginners or because we no longer dance every day to be able to maintain our frame, do the style AND remember the routine.

Rob has definitely improved. Sometimes I can’t believe I’m seeing the same young man. Keep up the good work, Rob!

Ricki and Derek. Samba. My mark 9.
More samba in this than I’ve seen in other couples. Fun and musical. I could see that Ricki had worked on her shoulders and they were down. However, I would like to see more freedom in her upper body. There is restraint there, partly from her build and her not being a dancer with years of training.

Sometimes it seems as though ballroom dancing is full of contradiction. Keep your shoulders down. Have a solid frame – don’t be a noodle. Then having to express from the heart, having movement move through you from the core of you out.


J.R. and Karina. My mark 9.
This had some risky and difficult partnered moves yet J.R. exhibited the strength that was missing in his paso. He attacked while being sensual and suave. He’s not a pro, however he allowed Karina full fluidity to be the melody that the female usually is.

The amount of pain J.R. must be in I can’t imagine because of how he was after the performance. Gone was the joie de vivre and the glow of his personality. I hope he recovers sufficiently to perform for the finals.

Rob and Cheryl. My mark 9.
Strong and connected. Rob sustained this dance better than the last. His tango was of a different quality – softer and not as dynamic or thrilling as J.R.’s – yet still viable. The choreography was simpler. Near the end of the dance, Rob walked across the dance floor – walked – rather than strutting or attacking or tantalizing us, extending his body through space as an electric aware dancer needs to do.

Ricki and Derek. My mark 10.
The style already had me at a 10. A dancer brings choreography to life and when the choreography is Derek Hough’s there’s bound to be excitement. This dance built. Ricki embodied every move. She was the character. She shone. She handled the intricate footwork, the emotion, the partnered moves and lifts, and even her facial expression fit each part of this multi-layered dance. Talk about craft. Hats off to these two.

Cha cha relay. My marks:

1. Ricki & Derek
2. J.R. & Karina and Rob & Cheryl
3. Hope & Maks