old – DWTS 10-11-10

On Acoustic Week danced in the round, the focus was rumba and Argentine tango. These two dances to me mean the choreography will reflect different aspects of love, romance or passion.

Kurt & Anna. Rumba. My mark Technique: 5 Performance: 7.
In rehearsal it was lovely to see Kurt dance with his wife, and what a change it made in his comfort level. When the dance ended, I wanted to say, “Don’t stop now, Kurt! Keep working on slinky hips and allowing the motion begun in the pelvic region to activate the spine so the entire body is enlivened.” Kurt needs the enlivenment, especially in shoulders and chest.

I thought him sexy and charming. He needs more flow and sometimes loses the ability to connect movements. After Bruno demonstrated how to extend the arm and hand, I though Kurt was able to imitate that. It’s wonderful to see how Kurt is growing in the limelight. He needs to allow himself to get down and really enjoy dancing – all of it – expressing music through movement. Perhaps more dancing with his wife at home would help him loosen up and flow.

Brandy & Maks. Rumba.  My mark Performance: 10 Technique: 7.
After seeing everyone, I name these two the favs of the evening (unusual for me as I tend to love Derek Hough’s work most often) and I have to say, “Whoa, Maks! Best choreography in a long time. Perfect for Brandy.” She danced it so well, carried it. The dance was romantic, fluid, connected. The couple not only belonged together, they superbly complimented each other. Brandy has such gorgeous lines. Loved the arabesque and now want my ballroom partner to choreograph one into one of my party routines. So beautiful and expressive. I was much moved.

Rick & Cheryl. Argentine Tango. My mark Performance: 6 Technique: 6.
Right upfront I have to say that I became so distracted by what Cheryl was doing and how she looked doing movements that I hardly saw Rick. The choreography was disjointed and so the couple looked like they didn’t belong together. The dance itself, i.e. the choreography, lacked focus. Though there were moments that were passionate and dynamic, too much happened and unlike Cheryl’s usual choreography there was no fluidity, no “rightness” about the dance. I didn’t feel the slinkiness and partnership that is so particular to this type of tango and the improvisational quality of it. I also felt the impetus for the movements needed to come from the man – Rick – but seemed to be coming from Cheryl.

I think a couple things happened here. Cheryl studied this form in Argentina this summer. All the information may not have gelled in a way for her to convey it to a student – Rick – or to use it effectively yet in choreography with a non-professional. As charming and natural a performer as Rick is, this is still a difficult dance for a neophyte.

Kyle & Lacy. Rumba. My mark Performance: 7 Technique: 7.
I could definitely see they worked on technique and they deserve applause for that. If I go look at the dance again, I might even score them higher on technique. However because I didn’t enjoy the performance of this rumba, though the performance was there, it was so understated in comparison to the precision and intensity of focus, I won’t change my marks. This is one of those instances in which I think the problem was the choreography that didn’t allow Kyle to really dance and shine the way he can. He’s better when he can be loose and natural. There’s a fine line between technical focus that inhibits the performer and improving technique. I know this from my own ballroom studies. I had to stop doing American tango because the focus became too technical for me. Once I simply whirled me around the room with my pro and I let go of thinking, I enjoyed dancing that form again. I had to look hard for Kyle in this dance and that worked against who he is as a person and as a performer.

The Situation & Karina. Argentine Tango. My mark Performance: 5  Technique: 4.
Well, hmm, this is a tricky one. I’m not sure I know what Karina was after this time. She seemed to lead and as I mentioned above it’s the man who needs to drive this style dance although the female can certainly go overboard in how she responds to what the male wants her to do. The dance seemed choppy and rough. He stood in so many places when he needed to dance that this attracted my attention. He was certainly maintaining intensity and focus though. Unfortunately, a lot about this dance drew attention to The Situation’s weaknesses even though Karina may have  intended what she included as entertainment.

Florence & Corky. Rumba. My mark Performance: 5 Technique: 5.
This dance started out humorous but Florence is no Cloris Leachman. So awkward in places, and age shows in her legs and torso. For me, the choices made for the dance didn’t show off Florence and that may be part of the difficulty. I couldn’t say raunchy because honestly I didn’t see it. It seemed there in rehearsal but got removed. The stepping and stepping turn was so distracting to keep looking at her feet, the feet seeming to be this relentless whisper of “I’m a little doll with no mind of my own and so I’ll go dizzy for as long as you’d like me to do this, sir.” I suppose the dance could be seen as funny in places but it was not enjoyable for me.

Jennifer & Derek. Argentine Tango.  My mark Performance: 9 Technique: 8.
Definitely saw technique and the flavor of Argentine Tango. First couple of the night to show the woman using the man as her lead and also the style of laying the head on the man’s chest. Some nice footwork, flics and swivels. I wondered why I wasn’t thrown into ecstacy by this dance and I realized it was because I went into comparison mode with previous seasons – with the choreographic inventiveness and the female partner.

I didn’t find in this dance, the choreographic surprises and creativity of past seasons, nor in performance, the extravagance and generosity of movement of some of Derek’s other celeb partners. I realize that Jennifer is older, has a variety of physical problems and is in recovery from surgery, etc. I know this does affect quality of her dancing to some extent and the look of her energetically.

In examining these issues and how they affected me, I realized what I needed from both performers – their hearts. I want to see the couple so filled with joy in what they’re doing that it is conveyed in every move they make. The dance might not even need an exceptional degree of difficulty. I’m thinking of Brandy with Maks here. To me, Maks choreographed for Brandy’s soul. The clue was Brandy remarking how she didn’t feel beautiful, having not been in a romantic relationship in  a number of years. Now Derek has such a challenge with Jennifer. It’s one he’s capable of – once he finds the key this season first to who Jennifer Grey is and then to who the two of them are together on the dance floor. I suggest looking at some of Jennifer’s remarks in rehearsal… an apology for being old-er, apologizing in general for being who she ‘thinks’ she is that she finds wanting?

Bristol & Mark. Rumba. My mark Performance: 5  Technique: 6.
She came out of herself more than any other time, which deserves acknowledgment. However, on this show, it’s not enough. Mark beginning and spinning with incredible attack drew attention to Bristol’s slowness, lack of attack, shyness and reserve. She is very careful, and really displays how much a beginner she is in every way. I feel that Mark’s trying to sell them in each dance by using tricks like taking off his shirt or taking the focus off her to him. Taking off a shirt needs motivation and there was none. It felt out of context. Perhaps, if Bristol continues, Mark might address them as a couple and choreograph for her, allowing his movements to evolve from that – the core of the dance.

Audrina & Tony. Argentine Tango. My mark Performance: 6  Technique: 6.
She doesn’t have Jennifer Grey’s technique or quality of movement so I could not get as excited as the judges did. This was difficult for me to watch because I kept seeing unstretched and what looked like sickled feet on her plus her long back that was accentuated by the costume. When she wasn’t dancing, the costume looked fine, but during the performance, I kept seeing her long narrow back and she seemed to have some kind of bad posture, almost like scoliosis or curvature of the spine. If she does actually have that spinal curvature then the choreography has to be carefully constructed so we’re not made to look so often at her back. The camera angles and the costume may have contributed to that focus, which Tony may have little control over as choreographer. But in addition to this, Audrina is not filling out the movement, breathing it. Like Len I was not transported. She looks like a beginner to me though she performs more radiantly than Bristol.