The answer lies within and at the end.
For the fourth week of dancing, and the second week of themes, the producers of Dancing With the *Stars* have thrown down a triple whammy challenge.
The theme is acoustic, which confuses me because isn’t an orchestra acoustic as long as they don’t connect any instruments to electricity? (Color me naive.) The second curve they’ve thrown is literal – a round dance floor. For the third added layer they have split the scoring criteria into performance and technical points. To me, that says the dancers can emote to a drumbeat and guitar, but can’t fall off the round stage. A fourth element, involving the celebriquarium, is a flashback to a moment of time during a dance. This was used for only three of the dancers, but it made me wonder if The Fifth Element would rise out of the round floor and scream to the universe in order to save us all.
Before I get to the dances I have to try to describe the setting. When the scene first opens the studio is dark then runway lights cascade down each side of a walkway before fanning out around a huge circle in the center of the room. Before the studio lights come up, it looks like a be-dazzled lollipop or a crop circle. The seating is reconfigured to accommodate this treat with chairs edging the runway and surrounding the circle; including seating between the stage and the judging table. As far as I could tell, there is no balcony as all the seats look to have flattened out with only a small rise from front to back. The band and singers are below grade off to one side of the runway. (Maybe that is what made them acoustic.) The round platform rises 30 inches above the floor and is the focal point of the room.
Tom had been promising an acoustic music night, but then we hear that it is not so much acoustic as stripped down without accent points. Anna reminds, though, that because of the double scoring system, they may be unplugged, but they still have to be electric.
The *Stars* make their entrance, not down the trippy stairs, but up the lighted runway as though entering a space ship like the brave souls in Close Encounters of The Third Kind. Two of “our pros” then demonstrate how to dance the Rumba as well as how not to fall off the stage and take out audience members as well as themselves. (I wonder if the insurance premiums are paid up.) All right, already…without further blather, here are the dances for week 4.
Kurt Warner and Anna Trebunskaya (Kurtana) dance the Rumba to “Drops of Jupiter” Train
Kurt: I thought the Rumba would be easier because it is a slow dance, but I don’t have that much hip action.
Anna: I think Kurt will be uncomfortable dancing with me because we’re both married.
Cue a visit to the studio by their spouses. Kurt’s wife encourages him to bring out the sexy in this dance of love.
After they dance, Tom wishes Kurt a Happy Anniversary – his 13th.
At first the separation of the judges from the contestants is strange, with the audience filling up the space between the judging table and the platform, but then it became rather nice, because none of the contestants could make a leap for a kiss or to avoid a swat.
Carrie Ann: I liked the performance. Your arms do not start from the elbows. The technique was off a little, bad, and the musicality wasn’t as good.
Len: Got a nice hip action. I thought you pitched the romantic very well.
Bruno: Your hands have to travel from your arm to your forearm – it’s continuous. It was like you were catching a football. You pitched it like you were brother/sister rather than lovers.
Scores Performance: CA 7 Len 6 Bruno 6 for a total of 19
Scores Technical: CA 5 Len 5 Bruno 5 for a total of 15
Grand Total: 34
Celebriquarium Flashback: Slow motion of Kurt’s arm to hand movements.
Brandy and Maks Chmerkovskiy (BranDMC) dance the Rumba to “This Woman’s Work” Kate Bush
Brandy: I don’t feel sexy unless I’m in love and, since I haven’t been with anyone in six years, I don’t feel so sexy.
Maks: We need to get in the mood for the Rumba.
Cue a trip to a club with a small table set with linens, flowers, chocolate and wine. When he says, “Here it is,” Brandy calls him on his presentation or lack thereof.
Caution: Ear bleed may occur if you watch the dance with the sound on. Perhaps to make this a true acoustic experience they should have unplugged the singers’ microphones.
Tom: That was much more romantic than I think that meal would have triggered.
Carrie Ann: I’ve been waiting for the real Brandy. The performance was fully committed. I agree with Bruno – a little more strong in your legs and a little bigger in some movement.
Len: I thought the technical was very good. The performance was a little hot and spicy for my taste, but I liked it very well.
Bruno: I’m loving the moves – you played it well. Your hands went erratic and spoiled it. Place your legs with more confidence and that will help the hip action.
Scores Performance: CA 9 Len 8 Bruno 9 for a total of 26
Scores Technical: CA 7 Len 8 Bruno 7 for a total of 22
Grand Total: 48
Celebriquarium Flashback: A romantic embrace featuring Brandy’s sexy eyes with half-lowered eyelids.
Before the next contestant dances, Pros demonstrate the Argentine Tango on the round stage with the no falling off policy.
Rick Fox and Cheryl Burke (Fox-C) dance the Argentine Tango to "Violentango" Astor Piazzola
Cheryl: Over the summer I went to Argentina and learned so much about the Argentine Tango. Rick needs to be possessive. What sells it is the emotion.
Rick: I’m concerned with our lifts, that I might toss Cheryl into the front row.
Cue a trip to the new stage to practice. Cheryl comments that one step off the edge and they’re finished.
Carrie Ann: You came out looking like the cover of a romance novel, but you were somewhat one dimensional. There was motion in your legs, but it wasn’t streaming out.
Len: I thought your lifts were excellent. Your legs could have been sharper. It gradually lost energy as it went on; all around a very good performance.
Bruno: You came out like Clark Gable (“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a ****”) but sometimes it was like a megatron.
Scores Performance: CA 6 Len 7 Bruno 7 for a total of 20
Scores Technical: CA 6 Len 7 Bruno 6 for a total of 19
Grand Total: 39
Kyle Massey and Lacey Schwimmer (Schmurgles) dance the Rumba to “Nothin’ On You” B.o.B.
Kyle: I know I have the performance, but if I want to stay in this competition, I have to point those toes and let it roll.
Lacey: Kyle needs to be sexy in the Rumba, but the kid is a boy, he just turned 19 and I don’t know if he knows what sexy is yet.
Carrie Ann: I like the way you toned the performance. You are younger and your dynamic really wasn’t sexual. I liked what you did to it. You paid more attention to your feet, but lost half of your upper body. You were uneven.
Len: Footwork was much better, the performance was good.
Bruno: You always play it well. There were moments of fluidity, but there were others where there was a bump, tug. It has to have a continuous flow, but sometimes you went off it.
Scores Performance: CA 8 Len 7 Bruno 7 for a total of 22
Scores Technical: CA 6 Len 6 Bruno 6 for a total of 18
Grand Total: 40
Mike (The Situation) Sorrentino and Karina Smirnoff (Sitchoff) dance the Argentine Tango to “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” Tangetto
Mike: Karina and I are pretty rough right now. I’m worried about the steps and the timing.
Karina: It’s safe to say we’re not the most technical, but we’ll make up for it in performance. In the Argentine Tango we are finally able to use the Sitch’s strength. He’ll do anything not to drop me, even injure himself.
Tom: Never before has our audience been in such danger of being crushed by a falling star.
Carrie Ann: (Thanks Mike on behalf of the female audience for baring his chest.) It was a rough ride, but I see an improvement in your performance. There is an intensity. Your hardest thing is the walking – go back to the basics.
Len: It was consistent. It was bad throughout. I congratulate Karina. It’s one thing to get a good dancer, but you are doing a great job with The Situation.
Bruno: You know that was a terrible mess. There were an incredible amount of mistakes that you did, so you couldn’t put together a performance. It was a really, really, really terrible situation.
Scores Performance: CA 6 Len 5 Bruno 5 for a total of 16
Scores Technical: CA 4 Len 4 Bruno 4 for a total of 12
Grand Total: 28
Florence Henderson and Corky Ballas (Florky) dance the Rumba to “Yesterday” The Beatles
Corky: Because the Rumba is the sexiest dance and we’re the oldest, we had my son and her daughter rate whether or not the moves were appropriate.
Florence: Close your eyes, kids, because this Rumba is going to be racy.
Cue Corky’s son and Florence’s daughter sitting behind a table with paper paddles titled either Appropriate or Not Appropriate. Corky and Florence then show off their moves, which lead to a lot of head shaking by their children. (For further information on what is appropriate and what is not, see Mark Ballas’ segment with Bristol Palin where he explains body touching that is sexy vs. raunchy.)
Caution: Viewing this performance MAY lead to eye bleed.
Tom: And that’s our Season 11 “Get a Room” dance.
Carrie Ann: What just happened? You’re Mrs. Brady. You’ve proved that age says nothing to how down, dirty and raunchy you can make it. I kind of felt it went a little too far and I got uncomfortable.
Len: It was much better than I expected – well done.
Bruno: You went through all the emotions in performance. You lost timing many times…the hips…
Scores Performance: CA 6 Len 6 Bruno 6 for a total of 18
Scores Technical: CA 6 Len 6 Bruno 5 for a total of 17
Grand Total: 35
Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough (Jenougher) dance the Argentine Tango to “La Cumparsita” Gerardo Matos Rodriguez
Jennifer: Each dance brings with it a new set of pains. With this one, the lifts hurt both my back and my foot.
Derek: Every time I think about letting up because of her injuries, I say no.
Carrie Ann: Incredible!
Len: Excellent technique – wonderful performance; a magnificent combination.
Bruno: As performances go, this is prime-time delight. The intricacy of what you did is beyond belief; the musicality unsurpassed tonight.
Scores Performance: CA 10 Len 9 Bruno 10 for a total of 29
Scores Technical: CA 9 Len 9 Bruno 9 for a total of 27
Grand Total: 56
Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas (Ballin) dance the Rumba to “Umbrella” Rihanna
Mark: The Rumba and Bristol have absolutely zero in common.
Bristol: Being on the show is stressful, but going home to Tripp makes my day.
Cue a trip to her apartment with Mark to play with Tripp. Bristol wishes Tripp were old enough to vote as he liked the dance practice they showed him.
They begin the dance with Bristol lying still on the floor, then halfway through, Mark strips off his shirt.
Carrie Ann: What’s sad is you have all the makings, but there is no effort. I feel you are just dancing for Mark and not the audience. I’m going to call you out on that.
Len: Mark – the shirt off is too much distraction. I want to see more “we” and not “me” in your routines.
Bruno: Technically, you’re always kind of clean. You place yourself, but the moves don’t go anywhere. I think that comes from the performance. I’m still waiting. You have to sustain.
Scores Performance: CA 4 Len 5 Bruno 5 for a total of 14
Scores Technical: CA 6 Len 6 Bruno 6 for a total of 18
Grand Total: 32
Celebriquarium Flashback: Bristol’s facial expression is questioned. She says at that moment she was thinking about the dance steps and arms. Mark says that she looked hot.
Audrina Patridge and Tony Dovalani (TorinA) dance the Argentine Tango to "Somebody to Love" Jefferson Airplane
Audrina: It is blowing my mind. Just five years ago I was a receptionist at a photo studio and now I'm a front runner on Dancing With the Stars in week 4. The idea of being on top of the audience is scarier than the past three weeks.
Tony: It's magnified because it's close; they'll see everything.
Audrina: I'm going to get wrinkles from squinching my eyes.
Carrie Ann: I enjoyed that, but you seem to lack energy at your ankles. A little sloppy on the dismount, but I see your eyes lighting up.
Len: I thought it was clean. It was clear. I thought the lifts were very good. I thought the routine was very clever. I don't know why but I didn't get transported to a steamy club.
Bruno: You performed like an ice queen type in a way; cool and detached. It works in a certain way, but it doesn't have that kind of drive. There were a lot of different embellishments, but you didn't point your feet and you need to extend the back of the leg.
Scores Performance: CA 8 Len 7 Bruno 7 for a total of 22
Scores Technical: CA 8 Len 8 Bruno 8 for a total of 24
Grand Total: 46
Judges’ Leader board for Week 4 dances: (combination score out of 60)
Well, there you have it. Was the show Appropriate, Not Appropriate or Whack-a Doodle? Personally, I’m going with Whack-a-Doodle. Or, you could ask yourself the question Brooke asked everyone tonight – How Does That Feel?
Tuesday’s results show will use the same stage setting and you can read all about the continued craziness in MFWalkoff’s recap.
(Song titles were found in Wikipedia.)