In a fairy tale world, (say it with me, in your Movie Trailer Narrator’s voice) a young maiden got to try a pair of dancing shoes. Pixies sewed sparkly, feathery gowns and artists painted her face; people came from near and far, to see her twirl by moonlight. Some even left their sofa. Entranced by the spectral light that shone by night off the Magic Disco Ball, this magical princess spun and twirled, leapt and whirled. It was the Disco Ball Trophy: it beckoned to them all...six men, five women; only four remained. Princess Monique was the last maiden still standing; all of the others had been done in by the evil Witch of Swiffer Hollow.
Someone must win the Magic Disco Ball Trophy and break the Witch’s evil spell. Who will it be? A Care Bear, a Sly Serpent, a Court Jester and a Fair Maiden. Which of our Fantastic Final Four will continue the Quest, and who will fall?
The Wizards of Waltz show us the past: we see Mario’s waltz, Emmitt’s Rumba, Monique’s Cha Cha. Which will be favored tonight, for a repeat performance? Ahh, the Fair Maiden and...well, he’s too grabby for Prince Charming. So let’s can the fairy tale talk. Monique and Louis are up, with their “Muggers a Go Go” to Ghostbusters. Also known as their “ChaChaCha”. Monique, Monique, Princess Fair. With the ratty style upon your lovely long hair. Prince Charming is not here today. A slimy frog has come to play. Run and get your golden cup. Why won’t Louis let you up?
And deep within the walls of
a Studio City trailerthe CBS Castle, two of our lionhearted crew make their confessionals. That is, the entire group bespoke the difficulties of their Quest - but this crystal ball has only captured two of them. Alas, poor Princess! What is this spell that has been cast upon your dance partner? In all the minutes of your saga, Laser-Eyes Louis hath set his stony gaze upon you, and he maketh not a sound.
Never you Fear. Ever resourceful Magician (in training) Mario shows he can still manipulate a situation:
Next, more loveliness - Willa Ford will sing the Oscar-winning theme to the movie Fame.
It’s a hopeful song about “lighting up the sky like a flame” and “living forever”. The Tv series based upon this 1980 film was also hugely popular in the UK. I’ve noticed the show’s choreographers favor dance numbers inspired by this decade - but, no matter. Many of the viewers probably favor it, too.
Since this is Dancing With The Stars, as always during the musical guest star segments, we’ll see dancers perform. The DWTS hoofers chosen for this song are: Maks (Willa’s ex-partner), Edyta (Joey’s partner), Cheryl (Emmitt’s partner), Tony (Sara’s ex-partner), Elena (Tucker’s ex-partner), and Louis (Monique’s partner).
The three men stalk onto the dance floor toward Willa, as she begins to growl out the song Irene Cara made famous. But, Irene isn’t here today, nor was she once on DWTS, so here’s Willa Ford. Well - she has pretty blond hair! And she keeps time with the orchestra. The hulking hunks close in around Willa, then surround her. The women then join the men, and all six dancers circle Willa before skipping down the mini-staircase to the dance floor. What follows is a group and couples dance found in many MTV music videos of the 1980s. Basic partners dancing circa early ‘80s discotheques (what are called ‘clubs’ today) and synchronised steps similar to ones seen in the “Thriller” or “Love Is A Battlefield” music videos.
At least the dance clothes are items people might have worn in the 1980s. (A huge improvement from the purple no man’s land monstrosities from an earlier show.) Large stripes and polka dots were also very popular then - but these dark, solid colors and conservative cuts are also authentic. I’ll let the photos do the talking now...But I do have to say, Maks...what happened? Someone’s given Maks the prototypical Los Angeleno haircut for men. He looks...American *shudder*. I prefer the Rasputin crossed with Chippendale dancer crossed with Cirque du Soleil stilt man that Maks was rocking before. Oh, well. I guess if Maks toured middle America (with the DWTS tour starting soon) with that mesmerising vibe, too many housewives would run off to join the circus. Children would grow up without their Wheaties. It would be chaos.
Back to reality, or the dance segment that passes for it in this recap: When the dancers pair off, it’s Maks and Edyta, Tony and Elena (who compete as a team in real life, in Rhythm dancing) and we see Louis and Cheryl partnering in the middle. The choreography isn’t anything thrilling, but frankly, it’s fine, and this song has such good memories for me, I don’t mind. (It does occur to me that the dancing perhaps isn’t supposed to show up the guest singer.) The orchestra’s doing a marvelous job with the instrumentals. The guitar licks, and the background chorus refrains (“Fame!! I wanna live forever!”) were running through my mind for a couple days after this show. Willa’s voice hasn’t got the most range ever, but she does alright by the song. I do wish this show would book more ‘world class’ talent. I’d love to see this program become a showcase for the best in talent. (Are Alvin Ailey and Twyla Tharp busy? I always wondered that about Oscar night, too. Too safe = too bland, yes?)
The “Fame” dance number ends - a closeup of each pair - and we hear last night’s audience feedback. It’s the usual smattering of support for each performer. There were some ‘celebrity’ audience members, also voicing their opinions.
Time for one couple to hear they will be in the semi finals. It’s Cheryl and Emmitt. Again I’ll let the pictures do the talking:
Il Divo recording group - If Tiger Beat were set to Opera
Carlos, Urs, David and Sebastien, or Il Divo, were chosen from a worldwide talent search instigated by Simon Cowell. Their record breaking debut album has sold millions of copies. It’s Tiger Beat for the middle aged set; opera lite. The Latin-humming hunks take pop hits and translate them into romance languages, lending an air of legitimacy to many Top 40 tunes. On today’s show they will sing Without You (Desde El Dia Que Te Fuiste) from their upcoming album Siempre. Il Divo is currently touring America - according to their website, ending November 20 in Los Angeles.
Dance illustration will be shown us by Universal professional ballroom champions Victor Fung and Anna Mikhed. (Is it wrong that I giggled at the way their surnames combined?) Fung and Mikhed, seasoned professional dancers, tour the globe competing in ballroom and standard dance competitions. One notice online says they won first place five times in the Quick Step. They have also won the 2004 British Open (Blackpool) Rising Star Standard Championship and the 2004 Ohio Star Standard Showdance Championship - among other championships, I’m sure. Photos and words cannot do these two justice; they literally float around the floor in a moving, winsome embrace.
Il Divo begins “Without You” softly, gently; bubbles of white light float across the dance floor. Victor and Anna float onto the floor so gracefully they are like a whisper. Their dance is poignant, moving; I don’t want to turn away from them. The drama in the dance’s choreography increases slowly, when the song is plus fort. Everything that Mario and Karina’s waltz was, Tuesday, these two bring to another level. Victor Fung and Anna Mikhed bring us up into the clouds. This is the way lovers dance in daydreams. Two lovers are drawn toward and away from each other, they resist, they entreat, they are sad, they feel joy; the dance reflects all this, as Victor and Anna spin, or step lightly in the gently lilting ways of a waltz. As Il Divo sing a crescendo, Victor lifts Anna into the air; the dance and the song tell us that love always triumphs. Tonight, so does this dance pair. They are subtle - yet awe inspiring.
Don't Challenge Me
From the sublime to the ridiculous: Tysonia and Christian are back in the pointless Slim Fast Dance Challenge. This segment serves no apparent purpose other than to humiliate poor Carson, California native Tysonia on a weekly basis; but here we are again, so let’s see what happens. Christian informs Tysonia that she will be competing in a dance championship with her upcoming Rumba. Tysonia’s reaction is to go into shock, cry, sob, and nearly vomit.
A makeover seems to put things right, though, and some new hair has Tysonia singing or rather dancing, a snappier tune. As if scaring her senseless and yanking a weave into her head aren’t enough torture, we see Wardrobe hand her an uglier and uglier array of gowns to possibly compete in.
Ed GrimleyChristian amps up the fear factor by telling Tysonia the judges are very tough and so is the audience. Well, at least he didn’t make her eat worms. Unless that’s a new Slim Fast flavor.
No Junk In This SWOP Meet
Swing and Hip Hop. Put ‘em together, and what do you have? An overbooked VFW hall? Nope, you have SWOP - a ‘brand new’ form of dance. We’re about to get a sample of just what this looks like, from Hinton Battle, who’s won a trey of Tony Awards. He is also the creator of SWOP. What does SWOP look like? Well...I’m of the opinion there’s not much new under the sun - or under the moonlit disco mirror ball hanging over the dance floor, as the case may be. Looks like the dancers are performing good ol’ Jitterbugging, some acrobatics, a bit of Michael Jackson in the Smooth Criminal music video, with a dash of Nicholas Brothers thrown in just for good measure. The costumes are: Newsboys for the men; Cotton Club meets Miss Kitty dance hall hostess for the women. They’re performing to an energetic song, but these dancers are energy itself. At one point, a man skids across the entire dance floor on his elbows, prompting huge cheers from the in-studio audience. Hop, skip, jump, flip...they don’t stop moving until the end. Tomberger’s impressed, and says that he thinks SWOP must stand for “Swing Without Parachutes”. Earning her MCing money, Samantha segues back to this competition, and says that from now on, each DWTS couple can choose their dance. Up until now, that’s not been their privilege.
As always after a guest star performance, we’re treated to some type of footage. This time the theme is: Strategy. Each couple talks about their views on this. Basically, they all want to win. That’s about what each statement boils down to. Cheryl reminds Emmitt to take care with his appearance at one point, because he’s a sweaty mess, with a stained sweatshirt. That seems out of character for him, so the pressure or tiring schedule must be getting to him.
Mario tells us that next week, each couple must choose one Latin and one Ballroom dance they have performed on DWTS before; but the twist is: their new performance must feature all-new music and choreography. Joey tells us that he’s happy to choose his own songs but it also adds more pressure. I gather this means that the show has chosen musical selections up until now. If so, I feel very sorry for some of the performers. Sometimes the music was so awful that it may have dampened their ability to dance along. The only bright aspect of that is, I think the judges know enough to overlook such things. When they do make critical comments, it’s obvious they notice many details: hold, posture, footwork, steps, etc.
We hear from the pros: After delicious footage of Karina chewing out Mario yet again, she savvily says that he responds well to strict discipline and so, she will continue this way. Cheryl emphasizes ‘fun’ with Emmitt. Louis emphasizes confidence with Monique, and Edyta tries to keep Joey from being too serious. “All muscle memory and mind games from here on in,” Tom B quips after this mini-doc...is Tom a dancer?
Killing Some Time, Raising Some Ad Dollars
More time to kill! The judges comment on the Final Four. Len has some specific criticisms: Emmitt is “funky”, but his technical flaws are: footwork (he leads with heel or toe when the opposite is required) and posture. Carrie Ann says that Emmitt brings you into the dance with him. Bruno thinks Emmitt most needs precision. Monique? Len loves her commitment, and “wow” factor. Bruno deems Monique’s arms the most beautiful in the competition and says she carries herself well in Ballroom and Latin both. But, he says, she gives the same facial expression in every dance. Carrie Ann says Monique has grown a lot but lacks authenticity.
Joey. Len judges him as the most accomplished ballroom dancer. Bruno praises his “pin-sharp, excellent execution”. Carrie Ann loves Joey’s “extraordinary lines” and the way he “extends to his fingertips”. However, too much of a good thing - Carrie Ann notices that this perfection translates into overly rigid posture; Len duns him for a “lack of flair” and inhibition. Len wants to see Joey “sell it”. As for Mario, Len puts no shine on it: Mario is the most talented of all the celebrities. “He can do things none of the other couples can do,” enthuses Len. Bruno rolls out the high praise as well: “Loads of charisma, incredible energy, a natural entertainer”. Carrie Ann nails down a flaw in Mario, though: “He goes from move to move to move, forgetting about what’s in between”. Mario, in her book, needs fluidity. Len points out that “there is a fine line between being confident, and being cocky”. Gentle Len warns, “If Mario thinks this competition’s in the bag, someone can sneak up on him and take it. He’s got to keep focused”. Bruno winds up this mini-doc by saying “The standards are so high; whatever happens will be amazing”.
Van Amstel Light (Well, it's my last chance to say it.)
Another couple moves on. Because the contest is now down to only four couples, there’s no reason to humiliate two of them by making them stand in those dreaded red circles. Well, Joey and Edyta are the next couple announced. Even though we’re told the announcements are made in “no particular order”, Joeyta whoop for joy and the remaining two couples look rather ill. And now our Fair Maiden is in trouble, with no Prince Charming to save her. The chimes of fate have tolled the end of her story. Our princess must leave behind her sparkling dance slippers.
The Bear, the Serpent and the Jolly Jester must continue without her. Their quest for the Mighty Mirrored Ball of Disco continues; but Maiden Monique and Leaping Louis will go home. Karina (nearly out) sobs to Louis, “I almost had a heart attack”. Be brave, Russian damsel. This is a dance competition, not Baba Yaga's house. Monique’s mother
breaks the evil Witch's spell, and runs through the Enchanted Forest er, I mean kicks a security guard in the solar plexusrushes on stage and hugs her daughter. Well, don't worry, Mrs. Monique's Mom. Mo will be okay. She is set to star in High School Musical 2 out in 2007, and possibly in the tour of High School Musical as well. Plus she’s won fans on Dancing With The Stars, and she turns 26 on November 13. Things are only looking up for Miss Mo.
It's Rose's Turn...But Ring Around the Rosy Will Do Fine.
In Mo and Lo’s final interview, Mo sing-songs that she has had such a great experience here, she’s grateful to have been here, and she learned more than she thought she could. Louis praises Mo’s eagerness to learn and the way she never said No to him. Mo is forced to watch a B roll of herself on the show. And so, a small tribute to Lady Mo:
Of course, the false eyelashes begin fluttering as she blinks back tears. So is Joey, watching from the sidelines. The video segment is so sentimental it’s nearly as if someone died. But no, it’s just the last dance. Mo’s mom pushes Louis out of the way to dance with Mo; then Mo’s mom takes a little solo turn of her own. What were they serving the audience? Mo’s mom is bowing and blowing kisses. It's straight out of Gypsy. Who's a love-starved Stage Mama? Nobody here, I'm sure.
Louis saves the day (maybe he's not so bad, after all?) with a group hug. The cast soon joins this. As the house band sings “Don’t You Forget About Me,” the cast and Mo’s mom form a circle and play Ring Around the Rosy. (Really!)
Ashes, ashes, we all stop watching...'til next week!
If you want me, I’ll be playing Duck Duck Goose. Brandy@fansofrealitytv.com