old – DWTS 4-5-10

A theme is given in a dance competition in an entertainment medium. The competition serves as the basis for a T.V. show.

STORY or CONVENTIONAL BALLROOM, what holds more weight? That’s the question I have to ask the judges and the show creators. I certainly no longer understand what Dancing with the Stars is. Is Len scripted or given a directive to come down hard on Derek? Giving Nicole and Derek a 6 is ludicrous. No matter what they do, they are way beyond a 6 and most of the celebrities competing. Perhaps DWTS is a drama disguised as a competition reality show and the judging is one of the ways the DWTS creators use to create conflict and drama. But as far as legitimate judging, I question squelching the gifts that these two young people demonstrated last night in a country that has obesity as a major problem for its youth.

Before I go into Nicole and Derek’s performance, however, I’m going to go through my traditional analysis of everyone who danced.

Evan and Anna. Quickstep. My mark 9.

I really enjoyed them and thought there were some nice moments where I felt their connection and chemistry. Evan is tall. I wonder how that affects his dancing. There are tall dancers on the show with similar challenges. DWTS provides an opportunity for tall contestants to become more aware of how much they’re focusing on gaining control of their bodies or relinquishing to fate what their bodies do when they’re unaware. Sometimes when a dancer is inner focused or focused on the next step or something they want to do, their face looks blank or the facial expression gets locked into place. I see this happen to Evan though he comes out of it. The fact that he had broken toes says a lot. Usually, we derive a sense of safety from our feet. Feeling flow through the feet allows us to move expressively. The couple enjoyed themselves and I thought Anna looked at ease and absolutely stunning. I’d like to see if Evan can relax into his dancing more, even when it’s quick and lively. Now that I think back because I didn’t consider it last night, I’m not clear about what story they told or if there was a story theme beyond a couple enjoying themselves, and the costuming doesn’t help me when I picture Anna in my mind.

Buzz and Ashly. Waltz. My mark 5.
Buzz was better than last week but he’s still stiff and doing steps, walking through most of his performance. I could see the story clearly, return of the colonel. I actually wasn’t sure he was a father to Ashly’s character. I think the judges are showing respect for his career and his age, though they haven’t always done so with other celebrities. At the same time, they seem to be hinting to the voting public that DWTS is NOT a popularity contest, it is a professional ballroom dance competition with ballroom pros coaching celebrities. Where the show begins to be questionable is in the choices made. How can a Buzz Aldrin hope to compete against much younger entertainers, some who are close to being professional dancers? I don’t know about the rest of the voting public, but I’m voting for the dancing, performance and choreography with a slight glance toward the rules of ballroom dance. Buzz doesn’t make the grade.

Jake and Chelsie. Quickstep. My mark 7.
Ingenious. Loved the story. Some great moments. Jake was not always fluid and smooth. The story the couple used was creative and I loved the beginning, but once the couple tried to do quickstep, the theme seemed false and rather forced on the music and the kind of dance it was. I think that the story became a bit of a trap to continue. Jake has loads of potential and I enjoy how this couple performs together.

Niecy and Louis. Waltz. My mark 8.
She stumbled and she seemed to bumble and be off in the beginning. The couple maintained a wonderful tenderness throughout though. She is quite expressive and emotional. Some of the movements chosen for her didn’t always show her off at the same time that there were moments of great depth. Unfortunately, the rehearsal bits so built up the story that I had expectations that were not met in the dance itself. I thought the whole intent was to make us feel what it would be like to have this couple unable to be together. Yet they remained together throughout and in the end.

Chad and Cheryl. Paso Doble. My mark 6.
Chad was better this week, more expressive and colorful, but somehow a lot of what he did was less dancing than posing and stepping. He doesn’t understand how to connect the steps or express his own musicality. I’d like to see Chad sustaining a phrase so that it flows with the music and so he is coming from inside out to fill the movement with himself. Cheryl looked wonderful as usual but if she wants to progress with her partner, she needs to get him to focus inside himself to make the connections he needs there instead of flirting with her and disrupting his concentration. He seems to have a rather short attention span.

Pamela and Damian. Paso Doble. My mark 6.
This time, although Pamela maintained her character, she was not fluid or connected. She could have had more attack and sharpness, but may not understand how to create it. I’m not sure what caused what we saw, the choreography which never maintained a stream of movement, or her inability to do what was given to her this time. I saw posing, stillness, confusion and a lightness to her movement that was not the right quality for this dance. It was almost as though she lost her connection to herself and wasn’t embodying the Paso and its Latin flavor.

Aiden and Edyta. Quickstep. My mark 6.
Smooth with a glimmer from Aiden of real enjoyment. Perhaps Aiden could lean into some of the movements more, but what I keep seeing in this show is the difference between a performer who’s never danced and entertainers who are dancers. For Aiden, I was actually surprised at how well he executed this dance with its speed and his physique, which would seem made for slower work. I know I enjoy him because I’m able to see “him” underneath the choreography–his charm and a kind of boyish delight in what’s he’s achieving. The story worked with this type of dance, too. Edyta’s doing a great job.

Erin & Maks. Waltz. My mark 7.
I love these two dancing together, but I have trouble with Erin because she’s one of those lanky babes who shows that she’s a tomboy. Its in her. It gives her a quality when she dances that takes away from what I could see. Instead of a graceful flower, I see this slight awkwardness. In rehearsal, where I love her personality, I saw that she leans back in her upper back and sometimes appears to be squeezing across the upper back so that her shoulders are up slightly. In the performance, the story wasn’t clear to me. I didn’t understand what the motivation was for the blindfold because I didn’t know who these two characters were. Was the Maks’ character asking the Erin character to trust? Erin has great potential as a dancer and a fluidity to her movement and I continue to look forward to her evolution on the show.

Kate and Tony. Paso Doble. My mark 5.
She doesn’t understand acting or dancing or how to convey what she’s feeling in her face or body – and that is not her fault. She’s a total beginner who probably would never have danced in her life had DWTS not come about. She walked most of the dance. Everything had the same quality. However, dancing is good for her. I saw the potential for private coaching like the acting coach provided to be of immense help to Kate in her life so that she can be more connected inside and more able to release distressing emotions and trauma from her body and mind. That Tony came up with this shows what an aware and caring teaching pro he is. Many people don’t realize that the arts as well as body-centered energy tools like Reiki, Feldenkrais, Crystalline Consciousness Technique or Rosen Method Bodywork & Movement can benefit individuals like Kate not only to release stress but to heal themselves and their lives.

Nicole and Derek. Quickstep. My mark 10. I’m with Carrie Ann–front row seat to see these two on Broadway. This dance was everything it could be. They embodied the characters and the quality of quickstep. The choreography was like a bouquet of timing, joy, emotion, and theater. It served to show off these two young people. I’m not quickstep knowledgeable and in my own ballroom training I haven’t yet learned the dance, but I can recognize steps from it and I saw some of those steps in the choreography. I knew this was a quickstep and not a rumba, cha cha, tango or waltz. Of all the contestants, this couple demonstrated story and all that can mean. They provided the highest caliber of entertainment. So I have to ask the judges–and especially Len–what do you want? Tell a story or do a conventional rule-driven quickstep? Squelch creativity and talent in young people? Carrie Ann, who do you want to win the season–Buzz and Kate types, or evocative dancers like Nicole? I believe this piece had a lot of story and craft and enough of a quickstep that a neophyte could see it. Whether Nicole or Derek win or lose this season, I will never forget what I saw on DWTS, Monday, April 5th in their dance.