DWTS 4-25-11

Guilty Pleasures Week on Dancing with the Stars.

When Maks said to Kirstie, “Don’t think, let it happen” in rehearsal, I recognized it from my own ballroom dancing lessons. One of my instructors says it often.

We’re used to thinking, needing to know the steps and what comes next. When you’re following the lead though that kind of anticipation means you’re not sensing your partner so you don’t flow and you don’t know what your partner is leading you into. There’s a balance required between knowing choreography and allowing yourself – if you’re female – to follow the lead.

Choreography is a different animal. Or is it? Choreography gives dancers a blueprint of steps, moves, phrasing, styling, characterization and more. But when it’s being constructed or mapped out, there are two states of being: following the lead of the inspiration and using knowledge – of the particular dance style being used and – of what makes up a dance. This season, choreography is going to make the difference to those competing on DWTS because there is no clear champion. Choreography that is performed in a way that transports us and allows the dancers to create magic can make the difference between an 8 and a 10.

Kirstie & Maks. Samba. My mark 8.
This number was well-danced and was definitely a samba. Kirstie looked gorgeous and performed everything well. The choreography was simple, unadorned and straight-forward. It flowed. Interestingly though for a samba it was… mellow… and I didn’t find it exceptional or particularly exciting. I enjoyed it, yes. To be champions however – if this couple continues – the choreography needs content, story, theme, inventiveness – something to make the dance exceptional. If no one had done that all evening, a simple lovely dance like this would have been the best.

Chris & Cheryl. Tango. My mark 8.
Now we really see Chris’ strengths and weaknesses. He’s elegant and has an understated conservative sort of sensuality. He maintains hold and really flows. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the attack, dyamics and sharpness of tango. I think this is what Carrie Ann meant by “not enough passion and excitement.” He’s a bit bland and pedantic so there was no punctuation to Cheryl’s wonderful choreography, which had the kind of content that gave the dance more flavor than Maks’ work.

Romeo & Chelsea. Waltz. My mark 9.
Romeo is quite the charmer. His performance was just right and definitely romantic. He feels the character and embodies the music. However, he needs to finish each movement through his arms – hands – fingers instead of dropping the energy. He doesn’t have an innate sense of line yet he sold it through feeling. If he can understand frame/posture more, allowing his power (which emanates from the low belly) to come through at all times he’ll connect with the stance of dancers who train for years. Then when magic happens, which it did on Monday night, he’ll be a real romantic dance hero and garner tens.

Chelsea & Mark. Quickstep. My mark 10.
Possibly the most exciting dance and choreography of the evening. The number was well-danced, entertaining, exciting and fun. Chelsea looked like a pro and Mark’s innovative work – his use of levels, props, patterns, changes in dynamics and direction – and shape – with the leg kicked out at an angle at times – made these two winners in my book.

Kendra & Louis. Samba. My mark 9.
Was that Kendra? Wow. She can shake and shimmy and she enjoyed it. It’s the most free she’s been and Louis made sure we learned this about her. He has incredible insight sometimes. I noticed that she holds herself even while she shimmies and that might take some more work to free up, as it seems emotional and not necessarily dance-related. However, the samba and rumba are great styles for her to explore. I want to see her heart and soul in a dance. Can Kendra and Louis produce that magic?

Hines & Kym. Viennese Waltz. My mark 8.
Though he did the steps and the dance well, there wasn’t the magic a Viennese Waltz can be and needs to be this far into the season. Hines needed more smoothness, lilt and connected fluidity for that. Though Len and Bruno can talk over it and weave a myth, I have to agree with Carrie Ann and reflect what I see in how I mark.This was not Hines’ best dance. It’s subtle but there were little holdings throughout the dance so that the energy isn’t allowed to spiral up and out of him freely. It’s bound up a little bit.

We can’t be fooled by Hines’ smile and  his general “at peace” countenance. He’s good yes and in ballroom dancing being a quarterback helps him. However, there’s not enough of his soul singing when he performs for me to say he’s champion material. When I think back to the enchantment created by Dmitry and Petra in their waltz, I know a great deal of something was missing from this performance.

Ralph & Karina. Paso Doble. My mark 8.
Kung Fu Paso! Moments of strength, power and surprising engagement. There were a couple of problems that marred the performance; however accidents like Karina’s fall happen and no one is to blame. Going into this number, I was certain Ralph would not be able to bring off any semblance of a Paso, therefore I was surprised at what he was able to convey. He did quite well, although it strikes me that he needs either to take an iron supplement or something to light a fire inside. I’m not sure what’s going on under the surface. It’s not exactly a holding back from him but it may be that he doesn’t know how to access his inner fire or he’s dealing with an ongoing stressor like chronic fatigue, lack of sleep, or a virus. I hope he can get what he needs – perhaps through acupuncture or some spa days. It strikes me as funny that he played the Karate Kid and it is this martial arts calling up of energy and the spiritual concept of ease that he needs access to in his dancing, especially for the rhythm styles. Still, there is enormous potential and I hope that instead of putting out the flames of the volcano, Ralph with Karina’s help can allow himself all the power and emotion required.