Parting is such sweet sorrow, but we badly needed to part with somebody, so last week America finally voted to part with the guy who couldn't, or wouldn't, dance. Will you miss that lump of coal that used to stand motionless in the middle of the floor while Elena danced? I didn't think so. But enough of my sentimental ramblings, we have serious business to tend to. Now that we've pretty much eliminated all the filler - well, except for Billy - things are getting more serious. Our stars needed to learn two dances this week, a Latin dance and the group Swing, and things didn't always go smoothly. Pressure is mounting and muscles are getting more tired. Everybody wants to make the top half dozen and I still want my one hour show, which now seems to be an impossible distant mirage that I constantly run toward but may never reach.
The making of a swashbuckling man
Last week Joey suffered a blow to his manly ego, when the judges deemed his dance a little too feminine. Poor Joey, it's always something with him. First it was his big protruding ass, now it's a lack of manliness, that the judges are picking on. Good thing he's such a good sport or he'd already be curled up on the floor, in the fetal position, sucking his thumb and weeping pitifully. Even Kym thinks Joey needs guidance to regain – or build up – his macho side for the Samba, and to that end she enlisted the help of renowned self-help guru Jerry Springer. Instruction consists of Jerry waving around a pair of maracas, and some bare chested action from the guys. Trust me, you don't want to know what that looked like. Did you know that you could Samba to Erasure's “A Little Respect”? No? Me neither. However, Joey and Kym make it look like you really can and the music is – dare I say it? - fitting somehow. Judging by all the butt shaking action and the Samba gyrations, this may have been the perfect dance for him to reestablish his manly dignity in front of the judges and the world.
Len is very enthusiastic about this performance, calling Joey a great swashbuckling hero. Bruno wants to know whether the whole thing was manly enough for Len, and says that Joey went after it, and aside from a bit of a misstep at the end, it was very good. The audience doesn't like even this minimal criticism of swashbuckling Joey, and loudly boos Bruno. Carrie says this was his best performance despite the slight footwork problem at the end. Machismo counts, because they earn 27 points. I guess this means Joey won't be in drag for next week's show.
Don't cry for me and my Paso
Falling down at the end of her last performance delivered Heather into the bottom two, but has not broken her determination to succeed. She knows that she needs to work hard this week, even though it's her turn for a field trip. Heather needs to fly back to England to be with her daughter, and she and Jonathan must practice the Paso Doble on the plane. Last time I flew to Europe there was barely enough room to walk down the aisle, surely not enough to do a Latin dance or any kind of dance. But when you're desperate you'll try anything, and even the dumbest script idea can sound good. Since their music this week is “Don't Cry For Me Argentina”, despite time constraints and jet lag, Heather finds time to squeeze in a detour to the theater to see “Evita” - or actually just the headlining star's dressing room – and do a bit of dancing on the big empty stage. The perks of C-list celebdom are still pretty sweet it seems.
Following the “Evita” star's advice, Heather is trying hard to get into the character of Eva Peron and deliver a Paso that will give them a better-than-passing grade. Problem is I'm not feeling this. The beginning is a bit stilted, toes are not pointed; the middle is full of drama but still awkward, and the dip at the end is weird. Bruno liked the drama and appreciates the hard work they've been doing. Carrie liked it but is “still missing something”, especially when it comes to Heather's posture. Len loved the opening, her passion and fire but agrees with Carrie about Heather's posture. Don't cry for Heather; she and Jonathan earn 23 points.
More animals join the zoo
How come C-list celebs are so busy? John never thought he'd make it this far, so he booked “a lot of things” for this week which leaves little time for practice. One of those lots of things is his gig for Pixar where he does voice-over work for animated movies. Naturally he takes Edyta along, because nothing will teach you to Mambo quite like doing funny voices for a cartoon character. Nevertheless, Edyta is confident that their Mambo will be “mambo-licious”. I had to google their song, which is called “Mambo Swing” because amazingly this song might actually be a real Mambo. That is, at least according to the lyrics. John can't help looking down at his feet a few times which is distracting but they end with a flourish and Carrie loves the joy of their dance even though the footwork was uneven. Len feels that although John is having fun their routine was awful. Ouch! Bruno says they were like “the owl and the pussycat” tonight and they had technical problems. Does Bruno write all his own quips or is there some clever quipster standing by with handy bon mots that Bruno can read off of a teleprompter? Although, come to think of it, he does have one whole week to come up with all this “spontaneous” stuff. One owl and one pussycat equal 19 points.
Funk the Cha-Cha
After a strong showing last week that propelled them into the number two spot, Laila is quite pleased but still aiming higher. This week there are no silly side trips, no gimmicks, no distractions, so Laila feels it's the perfect time to bring some of her own ideas to Maks' choreography. She wants to add some funk to the Cha-Cha which could either turn out to be a good thing or a big flaming disaster. Maks is not opposed to change and since the Cha-Cha is a cheeky dance, there is some latitude for experimentation. Wearing a gold fringed short dress, Laila looks ready to attack the Cha-Cha while Maks is shirtless. My theory is that when Maks feels less than confident about their routine, he strips down to his bare chest to distract the judges and the audience. Very smart of him, I must say, because Laila's input seems to have added some skipping around the stage, arms waving in the air together with some undignified looking aerobic workout type moves that have nothing to do with the Cha-Cha. Len didn't like Laila's contribution at the end either, but still thought it was a great routine. Bruno says they're “turning into a magnificent obsession” and he loved it. Carrie agrees it was fantastic but cautions Laila to look up while dancing. Looking up always helps. Their funky Cha-Cha and Maks' bare chest earn them 28 points.
Being a crazy swamp bear in the back of a Chevy, Billy Ray needs to be steered back into his comfort zone so that he won't sink in the mire this week. Karina recognizes this and aims to put Billy at ease, even going so far as asking for his input with the Jive. Oh, good grief! I'm having an awful feeling this is going to be some terrible country Jive. Billy is still leading with his heels, which originally earned him the swamp bear moniker from the judges, and we're already halfway through the show. I'd say that he needs to pick up the pace and get better, but I feel I needn't bother. Their Jive is set to some song called “I love the boogie” sung by a dude with a country twang. I guess, that's Billy's comfort zone, although I'm not seeing any difference in his “dancing” from last week or the week before. Clyde got voted off because he refused to bother himself with silly movement and chose to stand around instead. If Billy's aim is to follow in Clyde's footsteps, he's doing a great job. Bruno says “the crazy bear has been let loose at a cheerleading convention” and Bruno actually noticed some Jive steps. The operating word there being “some”, as in “not nearly all, not even by a long shot”. Carrie says that since Billy can't get the steps, he is just making up his own. He's got focus and drive, according to her which makes him addictive. When he finally gets voted off, we can all then collectively go into rehab. Len feels that Billy Ray lacks dancing ability but he's entertaining. Monkeys can't dance either but they're entertaining. They might as well cast one next year, I suppose. Billy's dadaistic approach to the Jive, generates 21 points.
Poetry in motion
Having climbed to the top on last week's show, Apolo is concerned with maintaining the status quo, therefore he knows that this week, he and Julianne have to bring it again. However, Julianne is a bit sick and needs reinforcements so it's time for her to bring in her equally adorable brother Derek, who is also a professional dancer, to help them out with the Rumba. Apolo's main concern is, as always, being sexy with Julianne with whom he has a brother-sister type relationship, and the Rumba is definitely not for the bashful. Their music is Gwen Stefani's “Cool” which seems to be the right choice. Their choreography is steamy and sleek, revolving around a chair, their holds are strong and sure, their footwork smooth and flowing. Julianne can bend like a pretzel, which is an asset they fully utilize this time around too, with dramatic results. Carrie is very impressed and says it was a beautiful dance and the choreography fantastic. She also appreciated their creativity and the risk they took. Len liked it but would've ditched the chair they used, in favor of more upright dancing and less theater. Bruno agreed with Carrie that they took a risk, but he loved how inventive their dance was, calling it a “choreographed poem”. Len can't help himself and he just needs to interject that there was too much theater in their dance, which incenses Bruno and the whole thing devolves into a shouting match ending with two sulking judges glowering into the camera. Despite the near brawl, they earn 28 points, 9 of those from Len.
Waiting for McBetter
Mr.McDreamy shimmied it up but still couldn't quite shake the stiffness the previous week, and the judges definitely noticed. Ian knows what his faults are and is aiming to rid himself of bad habits. Their dance this week is the Paso Doble, for which Cheryl wants Ian, to put Ian the man aside, and become a bullfighter. During rehearsal Ian is trying to assume his new role and follow Cheryl's pointers. She wants them to portray a love-hate relationship. That should be easy. Judging by some of their previous interactions, this may just be a walk in the park. As their music starts, and I realize it's “Waiting for Tonight”, I'm starting to get worried. I don't know how Ian can look like a matador when has to dance to music by Jennifer Lopez (even if she didn't actually write it). Still, they do decently and some of the stiffness seems gone, although maybe not enough to stop the judges from commenting. Len was a bit disappointed, didn't like either the drama or the posture. Bruno agrees about the posture and is also frustrated that Ian just can't quite get where he should be. Carrie thinks Ian has what it takes and advises him to take a page out of Billy Ray's book and copy his focus and passion, though not his non-existent technique. The bullfight ends with a bloody 24 points.
The joy of Swing
See now, all the dancing took up roughly one hour and were it not for this next segment we could have all tuned in to watch “The Bachelor” much sooner. But somebody at ABC just dearly loves a 90 minute show and won't let go of it, no matter how much I whine. What do you do when you run out of dancers? You prolong the show with a group dance! Seven for the price of one and another 30 minutes worth of advertising time to sell. Kaching!
Since all the real competition is over, the judges won't be scoring this one, but our weary stars still have to put in the hours and learn their very first group routine, which is a Swing dance. They all assemble in Hollywood, in a place called “Social Hollywood”, where they receive instruction from Christian Perry, Champion Swing Choreographer, and his partner. Only Heather and Jonathan are missing. Since this routine will not be judged, every rule is out the window and they're free to do lifts and throws and somersaults and whatever else that looks like fun. The whole segment is more comedy routine than serious practice and I just hope nobody will need crutches at the end of this dance. The theme is 40's swing, of course, complete with tight uniforms for the guys and mostly short-shorts for the women. Even though they missed practice, Heather and Jonathan also dance. It's a nice number, very lively and even funny, with lots of lifts and throws. Laila, the strongest man there, lifts both Maks and Apolo which we need to see more of in the future, because it is just too darn cute.
At the end of the night, we've got our leaders, Laila and Maks and Apolo and Julianne while the bottom two are Billy Ray and Karina and John and Edyta. Tomorrow we'll be rid of another couple and I'll make this whole recap shorter for you next week. I promise. Well, maybe. That depends, I mean, what if they have another group dance, or something? Thank you for your understanding.
Tune in for the results show to see whether Joss Stone owns a pair of shoes; to see the cast members from “Dreamgirls” performing some big number that I'll probably just put on mute and fast forward through, and last but not least, to see some more fat being cut. Or save yourselves the aggravation and all the filler and read Critical's take on it.
Can you Cha-Cha and chew gum at the same time? Talk to me.