DWTS 4-18-11

All Things American Week.

This week’s theme didn’t work for me much of the time. Though I see some couples near the top, most of the players are still pretty close together with no front runner. There were some nice surprises though. And then there were times where I was on a different wavelength than the judges.

Ralph & Karina. Samba. My mark 7.
The beginning felt stiff and pedantic for a cowboyish samba, then it got better. Ralph doesn’t sing it partly because he’s not in it 100%. He’s not committed though he sounds like he thinks he is. I’m not sure why that’s happening. I know that personally I hesitate and hold back when I’m not sure of steps and phrasing or feel uncomfortable with some aspect of the dance. That being said, the dance did get better and Ralph seemed to have more fun later in the dance. The faster steps he did looked good. Katrina could get Ralph to use his acting ability more and see where that takes them.

Chris & Cheryl. Viennese Waltz. My mark 7.
Nice posture, presence and flow. Chris creates good lines. However, I felt the dance pedantic. It was smooth and Chris is consistent and yet the very qualities that enchanted the judges did not engage or transport me. When a dancer makes something sing, s/he reaches out energetically and pulls you in. When that happens, you’re surprised and moved or somehow feel there’s a magic going on. Maks and Mel B had that. Derek and many of his champion partners had it. To me Chris is like a Zen Master who’s not yet at the top of his game.

Petra & Dmitry. Quickstep. My mark 8.
Lovely. Great connection most of the time. Fluid. She is so charming. This is a fast, complex dance with many changing patterns, which she handled well and made look easy. That’s a gift. I noticed a few bobbles; however, nothing jarring. Interestingly, this couple is similar to Chris and Cheryl in that they maintain the same quality throughout their dance. Consistency IS important; however, so are dynamics and content. I found Petra and Dmitry slightly more engaging than Chris and Cheryl but this time this pair needed a change of dynamics and next time I want this couple to weave some more magic  to raise the level of their performance.

Romeo & Chelsie. Foxtrot. My mark 9.
Romeo really worked hard on this dance and on himself and it was evident. Much improved. Debonair. The parts in hold were quite good. Lots of character and charm. I really felt he grew technically in conveying the quality of foxtrot and in entertaining us. Romeo’s posture was so improved that he didn’t look like the same beginning dancer from earlier in the season.

Hines & Kym. Rumba. My mark 7.
Hines had the rumba flavor and hips. He always has a good time and that makes his dancing pleasant. He’s a bit stiff in the upper body. He has fluid individual movements but sometimes doesn’t know how to connect one movement to the next to sustain the rumba flow between steps so that the dance seems whole, of one piece. At one point, he stuck his leg out behind him with no finesse so that marred the quality of the dancing.

Kirstie & Maks. Foxtrot. My mark 8.
Music was anti-foxtrot and Kirstie’s costume was unflattering. I could barely focus on the dance due to these two jarring elements. Kirstie also wasn’t fully in the character as though she became self-conscious, going in and out of dance persona. There were foxtrot steps and some styling, but I felt like Len, the dance didn’t work and this couple needs a dance to work for them. I feel there’s great potential but we need to see it. I think Maks is playing on the edge of something – it seems humor is there or sarcasm but it’s not been explored enough, plumbed and brought out in a fulfilling way that clearly establishes a link with us.

Kendra & Louis. Foxtrot. My mark 7.
She enjoyed this dance the most and I could see her forcing herself to be in the game. This was her best dance yet. Lots of marching and not enough real foxtrot to sell me on it though. She is such a beginner still for this far into the season. I enjoyed her the most in this dance and yet, I somehow didn’t enjoy her at all because she has to wear such a mask to be performing for the television audience.

Chelsea & Mark. Samba. My mark 9.
Well executed, fun and sexy. They work well together and are both professionals in how they sync up. She really shook it. I thought this difficult music to samba to and yet could see the dance that it was throughout. Because I felt the dance lost momentum, I started at a 10 for them and ended with a 9. Also, Chelsea did the dance in sections or Mark choreographed it that way. A dance usually needs to flow together, and sometimes Chelsea is doing steps in isolation. She may not know how to connect one step to another or one phrase into the next. Still, this was the one of the best dances of the evening.