DWTS 4-9-2012

Now we’re seeing it: those beginning ballroom dancers. It’s a good thing too because without seeing the look of the beginning dancer among the celebrities sometime on this season’s Dancing with the Stars, all the years of training the pros have put in would have little meaning. It would appear that anyone (practically) can be a ballroom dancer and dance on television with a few days and few weeks of practice – and that is a fallacy.

Lovely Sherri, who had such spunk and conveyed emotion so well, went off. She can fulfill more of her dream to dance by continuing to learn ballroom dancing. And who knows where she can go from there. Heartwrenching to see Sherri get voted off so soon – I definitely did not expect it.

My analysis:

Katherine & Mark. Paso. My mark 8.
Since I was surprised at Katherine’s ability to show the attitude and power needed in this dance, I feel Mark’s idea to have her train with a nontraditional coach helped immensely. During the performance, Katherine lost her balance a couple times and seemed unable to maintain the style. However, she did well considering she’s a beginner. That being said, in Mark’s seeking a way to connect Katherine to the strength and power of paso doble, he failed to attend to the detail and nuances and Latin style of this dance. Let’s see if he can broaden his scope next time since he has such a gifted student as his partner 🙂

Jaleel & Kym. Tango. My mark 9.
Such odd music for tango but Jaleel was so “in” it – suave, musical, and confident – that while suave isn’t often right for tango,  it showed off Jaleel and that has merit. He embodied the music he was given. Granted, there could have been more attack, drive and flair to imbue the dance with more tango flavor, and yet because as a beginner Jaleel made this dance “his,” it became more than a beginner’s dance.

One question that arose for me was whether the judges would have awarded these two a ten IF there had been more attack and drive. From their responses to Jaleel up to this point, I doubt it. Whereas Katherine wasn’t on her legs and futzeled more than once, Jaleel looked elegant and didn’t miss a step. There was a wonderful sensuality and quality sustained to make this dance a winner in my book.

Melissa & Maks. Paso. My mark 6.
I enjoyed some of her solo moves and thought she had bravado. In general though, Melissa didn’t have the attack, drive, strength and passion of this dance. She didn’t know how to embody it and convey it kinesthetically. She also stumbled on fast parts and I felt like Maks was dragging her. Do I know what that’s like! To feel one does not have the strength nor the ability to reach back with the legs to keep up with one’s partner and so follow his lead. Strength training, endurance training, patience with oneself, learning how to stride backwards with more ease, slowly growing as a dancer, and knowing one’s limits plus having the courage to support oneself in acknowledging those limits can all help a beginning female dancer improve.

Donald & Peta. Paso. My mark 9.
Wow. Great use of the chest, Donald! Great attack, facial expression, drive and emotional appeal. This couple had the whole package. It so helped to see a female pro actually perform Paso Doble well so we could all see how’s it done. I loved this performance. Fantastic. A bit more content and they would get a ten.

Gladys & Tristan. Tango. My mark 6.
Well, it was tango moves and Gladys was ferocious. Loved the deep back bend. That being said, I didn’t enjoy the dance at all. I felt Tristan had a tough time with the music – it looked as though he was counting while he danced and he seemed at times too loose for this style. In fact, Gladys sometimes had the tango impetus more than he did. I’ll chalk it up to the music. Note to whoever selects music for the contestants: time to find more danceable music – scads of fantastic tango music out there including numbers composed and performed by Latinos.

William & Cheryl. Jive. My mark 7.
When William wowed us with his salsa on April 2, he was dancing oh so close to a native boogie. Perhaps it made some of us forget that these celebrities are nevertheless not professional dancers.

William has something. He’s sexy and he oozes that sensuality without trying – even in a dance that wasn’t natural for him. I knew I was seeing someone out of his league though this time, so I thrilled at seeing a pointed foot at times. Yes, the kicks were slow for jive, which is a crisp, fast, exciting dance, but William articulated his feet some this time and that’s an improvement from the salsa in my book. I’d like to see these two perform jive in a few months after a lot of practice. I’ll bet he could wow us.

Roshon & Chelsie. Viennese Waltz. My mark 9.
This Viennese Waltz was everything I could want from these two youngsters – musical, fluid, and so expressive. I felt Roshon’s emotion. There was depth to this number and seeing that, well, it brought tears to my eyes. If I were Roshon, I’d work on the footwork and see if Len could help with the finer touches of ballroom dancing.

Maria & Derek. Tango. My mark 8.
Put her in dance sneakers, please.

Maria did the steps, kept her frame and had the look of tango. However, she could have brought more passion and intensity to this dance. She was too sweet and light throughout. I think Maria didn’t know how to convey the weightedness that is tango. She needed extra “juice” and because her body is doing everything it can behind the scenes to heal the rib and stress fracture, she might not have the reserves she’s used to having.

When we’re young and even more when we’re American, we’re so driven. We push through things. We’re super human mentally while our bodies are of another ilk. We live by “no pain no gain.” However, there could be a new moto like “relax into it” and new languaging like ease, flow, and allow. There also could be the acknowledgment that pain is a message. Pain is telling us that something is wrong and we need to determine what is under the pain rather than pushing it under the rug.

Why am I writing about this? Because Maria is dancing through injury. And two injuries make me question. More than anything, I’d like Maria to look at what’s going on beneath the surface of her injuries. Could she have a calcium imbalance, or is she too tough on the temple that is her body? Sometimes these things are difficult to ascertain. Sometimes doctors don’t know so it becomes our job to do the sleuthing and begin the process of unearthing what might be leading us to such injuries – physical, spiritual, mental and emotional. Why? Well, because we want to continue walking, don’t we? We want to be sure a broken rib isn’t going to puncture a lung and that we will walk like the young person we are and not hobble for the rest of our lives when we’re not anywhere close to ninety.

Gavin & Karina. Tango. My mark 8.
Wonderful tango choreography. A visible spectacle. For someone who is gentle and has seemingly soft muscles, Gavin brought a physical intent that conveyed tango. He also supported Karina in being the jewel of the dance – an important role for the male. Could Gavin have been sharper, fiercer? Yes. I’d love to see if he could do it and how this dance would change. For me, the tango look that Gavin created stopped just below the neck. Still, for someone for whom dancing is not natural, Gavin gave quite an amazing performance.