old – DWTS 10-25-10

I am finding this season to be most unusual. To me, there is no clear leader although the judges and the writers of Dancing with the Stars seem to suggest sometimes that there is. Who the crème de la crème is however changes weekly. This week Brandy and Maks are in the lead after what appeared to be a rather unbalanced performance by Jennifer and Derek. What’s interesting to me is that Jennifer and Derek received sixes, despite their superior technique and overall abilities, while the judges overlooked Brandy’s loose feet and soft legs and posture, which detract from what would otherwise be a championship performance on the emotion and connection between Brandy and Maks alone. If Jennifer and Derek get voted off, this will seem to have been a mistake in judgment because Jennifer, minus this blip on the radar screen, is definitely one of the best dancer/performers this season.

I remember that Brandy is a beginner as far as dance goes. Actually, just because Jennifer once danced in a movie, she doesn’t appear to be a beginner. I don’t know her history after her stint with Patrick Swayze. Did she train further?

As I recall Jennifer’s dance performances in Dirty Dancing, she looked like a beginner in all of them. And according to the late Emile Ardolino, the director of Dirty Dancing, who I had the opportunity to speak with years ago, the Jennifer Grey of that time didn’t have the ease of picking up choreography or the natural dance talent of Swayze. Whether Ardolino would find this true today, I don’t know. However, it made me realize that Jennifer has had to work for what she has as a dancer now.

As far as a score to allot to both the couples, I had brain freeze. They were both good but not good. I tried to feel out the numbers. I couldn’t give the highest score to one couple over the other because they didn’t merit it somehow. Emotionally, I put Brandy and Maks at the top, but the caliber of dancing and choreography was nowhere near pro or Mel B and Maks. The emotional quality and connection  might just win the champion title though. Play to our hearts, Maks. (And Derek, what might you learn from that quality in your efforts with Jennifer?)

Audrina & Tony. Paso Doble. My mark 7.
I could already see in rehearsal her problem. Her hits to the punching bags weren’t direct, lacked force, and were held back. She punched from her hands and not from her core – from her strength. She does the steps and they all hold the same importance. There’s no passion and really a lack of connection between the pair. Tony’s doing his own thing – he’s into it and able to partner from there.

Audrina doesn’t know how to express in movement the character or emotion, the feeling behind the movement that she could have if she was engaged with the music, the love of dancing, the context of the style or story. She also doesn’t know how to connect or flow the steps so they make sense – so they have a reason for being. Without some meaning, I am not able to engage with the couple. They were, however, much better in the marathon where at least I could see that Audrina was having fun.

Kyle & Lacey. Tango. My mark 8. It got better as it went. Great intensity and connection. He lost the intensity once but on the whole, this was a tango to be proud of. I think that sometimes his body type and the imbalance in his mid-section gets in his way in a ballroom dance where it might not if he were dancing a solo.

Jennifer & Derek. Paso. My mark 8.
Besides what I said above, Jennifer couldn’t sustain the intensity they wanted for this overlong dance to the tempo of the music. The choreography didn’t have Derek’s usual spark and got repetitive. I now wonder if Derek let’s go of his internal knowing system when he hears the judges say as Carrianne did last week, “not one of your best.” If great choreography like last week’s foxtrot is put down, then Derek has nowhere to go to find a new spark at a new level. I keep feeling this low energy around him, not in how he dances or while he dances. It’s just there for me – hanging in the air.

This dance was a Paso Doble; however, the music set this air that was difficult to sustain and conflicted in some ways with the style they wanted to achieve. So in effect, besides the general wild-look of Jennifer out of balance, the music worked against them.

Rick & Cheryl. Tango. My mark 7.
Good beginner’s tango. Cheryl, of course, was at her usual pro level. For Rick, the dance could have had a bit more texture – nuances, contrasts, changes in fast/slow, ease/attack and so forth. I wanted more story and for Cheryl to bring out this man’s charisma again. I really miss that. It’s a great asset.

Bristol & Mark. Tango. My mark 8.
Their best dance. Good technique. Had the performance finally. Mark did a brilliant job with her and the air guitar worked well. Her facial expression got stoic at times but was correct for tango. This dance illustrates what can be so beautiful and rewarding about studying anything physical. Ballroom dance is helping Bristol come out of herself to find a new source of aliveness and joy. Bravo!

Kurt & Anna. Paso. My mark 8.
This team works well together. They’re cute and have personality. He had the idea of the dance and it was what he was able to perform. He’s not a dancer. He’s a beginner and he’s a big man. All of this showed. He has a lot of fans in the audience, and for them, this was a brilliant dance. It showed growth and had the flavor of Paso. However, from a judging dance knowledge base, Kurt is a beginner and what the judges said reflected that.

Brandy & Maks. Tango. My mark 8+
Brandy had great character and intensity. Their connection – exquisite! The emotional level, the honesty of emotion. I loved that. If I had only to look at their faces and upper bodies, I would have marked them 9 or 10; however, something kept taking my attention: it was Brandy’s soft muscles, which show up in her inability to reach a distinct shape sometimes, in the line of her legs and unstretched feet. Other times in her posture. Sometimes it looks like she’s awkward and she goes in and out of that look still. Even so, her passion and the intention of her in this dance were superb.

The marathon.
No way in my book did Brandy and Maks outdo Jennifer and Derek. I kept seeing Brandy’s unstretched feet, her soft body unable to arch into a distinct strong shape on Maks’ shoulder. I love the pair for their romantic natures, but per technique, intensity and choreography, J & D had it hands down in my book.