Hello, paddlers! What’s new, you ask? Why, everything’s new this week! First, it’s a week without any absences, excuses or caveats due to cast injuries! Put your pity paddles away, for you can finally score everyone based solely on merit (does anyone actually do that?). Also new are this week’s two featured dances: the Lindy Hop (a younger cousin of the Jitterbug, as Len incorrectly called it at the top of the show) and the Argentine Tango, or, a tango with enough attitude to take on England in a war over sheep! (Watch your back, Len…)
Learning two brand-new dances can be a daunting proposition for stars and pros alike; adding to the stress is the knowledge that there will be a double elimination Tuesday night. Who will thrive and who will just plain flip?
It’s So Great How You Come Out Here and Dance Badly So Well!
David Alan Grier & Kym Johnson – David showed promise last week with the Fox Trot, and the Lindy Hop seems tailored to his wild, energetic personality. But in rehearsal, he just wasn’t getting it. He and Kym decide that it might help to watch others do the dance for inspiration, so they take a field trip to LindyGroove, a sort of weekly rave for Lindy Hop enthusiasts in Pasadena. As David & Kym watch from the sidelines, couples spin, swing and flip with wild abandon, and you can almost see the light bulb click “on” above DAG’s head.
Decked in a white tuxedo jacket with spangly shawl collar, David wolf-whistles for Kym to start their routine, set to the theme from “American Bandstand” (arguably the retroactive national anthem for this dance). The choreography is light on lifts and heavy on kicks, and while the couple lacked precision, their fun and energy is contagious. The judges lovingly let David know that he’s setting a great example for people everywhere who can’t quite dance, but try anyway. David decides to serenade an under-the-weather Samantha instead of the judges. 8 + 7 + 7 = 22 points
Bruno Bin Kimnotyzed (Tango Remix)
Lil’ Kim & Derek Hough – I don’t think anyone could have predicted just how hot this pairing is turning out to be. Kim is the perfect foil for Derek’s refined choreography, and the Argentine Tango proves to be their perfect outlet. Things weren’t as certain during rehearsals; Derek had to learn the dance himself while teaching it to Kim, and they had to abandon their usually loose rehearsal style in order to get things precise.
On the show, they certainly look the part: Derek in a double-breasted black tux and Kim in a beaded dress with black fishtail skirt. As for their dancing, as Bruno points out in his near-possessed expression of admiration afterward, the two didn’t merely dance, they told “a tale of fatal beauty, enticing strangers, with the promise of forbidden pleasures.” (Yeah, it wasn’t perfect but it was that good) Derek’s choreography is singled out (as it should be, it was intricate and beautiful), and while grumpy Len wasn’t as captivated as Bruno and Carrie-Anne, the couple’s efforts are rewarded with the first 10 of the season. 9 + 8 (boo Len) + 10 = 27
This Is Flippin’ Freakin’ Me Out!
Chuck Wicks & Julianne Hough – While there were no new injuries reported this week, there was one instance of an old injury coming back to haunt – make that terrorize – one star. Knowing that a creative Lindy Hop should include some unexpected flips, Julianne planned a gender-bending move by flipping Chuck over her back. When presented with this challenge, Chuck suddenly panicked, remembering when he hit his head in the past while playing basketball. After trying the move a few times, Julianne could see that the fear was overtaking Chuck, and she changed the choreography rather than risk disaster come showtime.
Their retro diner waiter/waitress costumes were trés cute, and the routine showcased Chuck’s self-proclaimed “goofy side”, but, like DAG before him, the goofiness wasn’t backed up by precision, and he was once again outclassed by his pro partner. It was a fun dance, but not very memorable. The judges wished that Chuck would apply more focus to his moves, and Bruno ordered a pizza to go. 8 + 7 + 7 = 22
”What Do I Gotta Do to Get an 8 Around Here?”
Lawrence Taylor & Edyta Sliwinska – The standing ovation that LT & Edyta received last week gave LT a taste of the glory there is to feel in this competition -- and he wants more! Edyta is ready to try, but after she describes how sensuous the Argentine Tango is, LT asks if he would still be married after they finished the dance. Edyta replied simply, “We’ll see…” In rehearsal, the two clash over their differing methods; L(inear)T doesn’t want to be concerned with character until after he perfects the steps, while Edyta tries to explain to him that finding the character is just as important. Perhaps Mrs. T can leave the rolling pin in the kitchen drawer this week.
To help LT refine his moves, Edyta puts in a call to hubby and DWTS alum Alec Mazo, who comes in to help Edyta demonstrate the finer points of the dance. Watching them, a light bulb goes on over LT’s head (probably at the same time DAG’s went on in Pasadena), and he feels more ready to rumble, Argentine style.
And rumble they do! The dance feels more frenzied than furioso, and it’s hard to tell if LT is portraying an evil cad, or if he’s just in a bad mood. Edyta staged some interesting moves, but too many of them involved LT standing there and throwing her around. A couple of the tosses looked more at home in the Lindy Hop. And for some reason, their routine ended 2 beats before the music. Len’s comments were fairly patronizing, while Bruno felt that LT portrayed a menacing figure very well. Carrie-Anne split the difference by agreeing with both of them. In the kiss-and-cry, Samantha stages her own version of a froggy Camille while attempting to ask LT to give his own post-mortem. He is polite, but the menacing figure hasn’t quite left his system yet. 7 + 5 + 7 = 19
Lindy Hopalong Cassidy?
Ty Murray & Chelsie Hightower – Chelsie sees the Lindy Hop as an opportunity for the team to showcase Ty’s considerable strength. She devises lots of ways for him to toss her around, which comes with a cost during rehearsal as she lands with a thwack on the floor more than once. Ty sees this new aggressive dance as a way to overcome his nerves on the dance floor…hopefully he won’t get so calm that Chelsie lands in the hospital.
Decked out in a flamboyant tie and suspenders, Ty literally grabs Chelsie from the wings and tosses her onstage to start things off. The routine is fun, energetic and full of in-your-face acrobatics…sometimes you think you’re watching Shawn, and sometimes Melissa (can’t you just see them both seething backstage during this? Mrrr-ROW!) The routine is near-flawless, and Ty has grown by leaps and bounds since Week 1, but he still can’t get that deer-on-a-roller-coaster look off of his face while he performs. Also, they end the routine by collapsing on the floor, which I personally think is overdone. But the crowd loves it (Jewel gives it the thumbs-up from her seat), and the judges shower the team with twangy praise. 9 + 8 + 8 = 25
When Cute Doesn’t Cut It (or, Segway to Hell)
Steve Wozniak & Karina Smirnoff – Woz is (literally) painfully aware that if it weren’t for his loyal fans, he would already be watching the show from home by now. Since he can’t bat his eyes and win over the judges anymore, he decided at some point in the week to take to the streets in order to feel the love of The People. Joined by Karina and a posse of hangers-on, Woz led a Segway parade down the main drag of some backlot or market or theme park, we’re not quite sure which. Anyway, he touched hands with his followers, and got the boost he needed to rise above last week’s soul-scraping score of 10. The Lindy Hop would be the perfect match for his strengths and weaknesses…unfortunately, he and Karina drew the Argentine Tango. No smiling, no cuteness.
Karina does stage a proper tango for them, however it becomes painfully obvious mere moments into the dance that Steve is going to do a lot of standing around during the next couple of minutes. And sitting in a chair. And standing behind the chair. And shoving the chair. Karina does the driving, while Woz looks stern, flashing his pearly whites only once, and straight at the judges, while he rubs Karina’s inviting leg. It’s a cartoonish lap dance of a tango, and nobody’s buying it. The judges can barely make eye contact while trying not to be too rude, but Woz proclaims back at them, “I’m still standing!” But for how long? 4 + 4 + 4 = 12
(Hey, there’s Megan Mullally and Cheryl Hines, who are starring in a new show where they play bad mothers or something! I bet it’s gone by May!)
Snow White and the Seven Flips
Melissa Rycroft & Tony Dovolani – Melissa was meant for the Lindy Hop, and vice versa. And the timing couldn’t be better, after Carrie-Anne’s “push yourself harder” comment last week. The endless acrobatic possibilities that come with the LH could very well find Melissa pushing herself through a wall! But Tony is a great partner and I’m sure he prevented that from happening. The rehearsal footage shows them as a fun, playful, dynamic duo, who seem to attempt every way imaginable to get Melissa in the air, over Tony’s shoulders and/or through his legs. There’s a great bit where Tony sticks some toilet paper to the bottom of her shoe to get her to shake her foot properly during one step. They fumble some steps, then rejoice when they finally land them. Will all of this pep add up to a solid routine?
Melissa is a blinding vision as a pink and white polka-dotted bobbysoxer. She is literally too cute, and Tony provides contrast as her pinstriped taskmaster. They zip through a series of spins, flips, scoops and jitterbug moves with a bouncy joy that seems both effortless and exhausting. Toward the end, their last couple of flips land with more of a thud than a hop, but otherwise the couple earns their standing ovation. The judges fall over themselves with praise; Carrie-Anne even high-fives the duo. Mission accomplished. 10 + 9 + 10 = 29
The McRib: Available Only at Select Locations
Holly Madison & Dmitry Chaplin – The girl next door is still smarting, both from her rib injury and from being in last week’s dance-off. Both she and Dmitry are staring at a double elimination this week, and realize that they have to pull out all the stops with their Tango in order to survive. Unfortunately, Holly experienced some muscle strain while practicing and had to stop and visit a doctor. She was advised that she can still rehearse and compete, so back to work she went.
Starting out seated on a stool, Holly slips off while Dmitry spins her around on it, and although she manages to get through the rest of the dance without incident, you can tell she never fully recovered from the slip. Also, the choreography for this tango was somewhat hazy, straying into fox trot and even a lindy-like flip at one point. The judges give Holly a lollipop, but don’t hold out much hope. To cap things perfectly, Holly shows off her leg bruises to Samantha. 5 + 6 + 5 = 16
Paging Dr. Bozo!
Steve-O & Lacey Schwimmer – If Holly is feeling the heat, Steve-O is tied to the stake and the flames have reached his waist. This week finds him a quivering ball of stress, unable to process any of the steps Lacey has crafted for their Lindy Hop. A quick-thinking Lacey (probably aided by a team of ABC Freudian analysts) comes to rehearsal with a clown costume and make-up for Steve, who went to clown college and got his start in the circus. This seems to lift Steve’s spirits right away, and he suits up and completes the rehearsal as a happy, stress-free clown. But will he be able to do it on show night without the makeup?
Mmmm, not so much. For starters, the choice of music is a midtempo rock tune, too slow to inspire any sparks or fire in the mushy choreography. Steve-O starts out sloppy, and stays sloppy for the duration. Halfway through the dance, it seems as if Lacey decides to be sloppy too, out of solidarity. The whole thing is a mess. Johnny Knoxville cheers from the audience, but the judges can do little more than applaud Steve for surviving the dance. Samantha tries to find a bright spot, but stops halfway through to grab a drink of water while still on camera. She must be on the extra-strength stuff tonight. 5 + 5 + 5 = 15
This Is Not a Test, Your Television Is Indeed On Fire
Gilles Marini & Cheryl Burke – Watching Gilles fret and pull his hair out during rehearsals for the Argentine Tango, you’d never guess that he is one of the true frontrunners in this competition. Until he perfects a step, he’s harder on himself than gravity’s been on Cloris. Ba-dum-chee. Cheryl tries to talk him off the ledge, and reminds him that his skills as an actor give him an edge over his fellow Tango-ists; he’s better equipped to act as storyteller as well as performer. This seems to ring true to Gilles, and we see his spirits lift and his footwork improve.
As for the actual dance…wow. While it takes a while for the choreography to catch fire, there’s no doubt that we are watching a simmering, smoldering love affair gone wrong, told in tango form. Halfway through, the footwork becomes more intricate and the movement more intense, and it builds to a powerful release at the end, and the crowd jumps to its feet as Carrie-Anne fans herself at the table. Len is ecstatic, Bruno is…in love, I think…and C-A is blushing from the hotness she just witnessed. She salutes Gilles’ wife in the audience for being so lucky, and pays Gilles & Cheryl what may be the ultimate compliment on DWTS: that she couldn’t tell who the celebrity was, and who was the pro. Without a single flip, Gilles and Cheryl truly stopped the show, and achieved the season’s first perfect score. 10 + 10 + 10 = 30
Let’s Get Physical
Shawn Johnson & Mark Ballas – Mark is happy that he and Olympic athlete Shawn will be performing the flip-filled Lindy Hop, so happy that he follows her to a local training center for a day of gymnastics and ill-fitting lycra. Mark finds his inspiration for their dance and costuming, and they begin rehearsing.
Perhaps Mark was over-inspired. The two are decked out in 70’s-era gym shorts and tube socks, and Shawn’s tank top is a glorified sports bra. In past weeks, the internet chatter has focused on Shawn’s costuming, and how it helps or hurts her desire to look more feminine. Tonight, she looks like Bart Conner, dancing with Richard Simmons. Oy. Even worse, Mark’s routine consists of 70% acrobatics and 30% dance. While they nail all the exciting flips, the dance portions feel like more of an afterthought in both design and execution. The judges notice the heaviness of their feet, and the lack of dance in their dancing, but score them fairly high for landing all the fancy tricks. 8 + 8 + 9 = 25
Tuesday night, we will be faced with a Bottom 3 instead of 2, and two couples will be rushed through their farewell dance at 10:01PM. Who will it be? Check here for iguanachocolate’s creamy rich recap!
OK, who else blushed? PM me with your confession!