Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dancing with the Stars Week 5...

I suppose I should start by shouting a MEA CULPA to the heavens for getting behind on these recaps. The truth is I’ve been a little down in the dumps for the past couple of weeks; not for any specific reason, just my usual ups and downs. Sometimes I think I might be a teensy bit bi-polar.

What’s that?

Excuse me: the voices in my head are teasing me about my use of the word ‘teensy’. The point is, my petite depressions are not conducive to good blog posts. So by not writing anything, I was actually doing the blogosphere a favor. So really, you guys should be thanking me.

Where was I? Ah, yes… Dancing with the Stars. Last time we talked, Holly Madison and Steve Wozniak had just been booted. Nobody gave a crap about Holly, but some people were sad to see Steve go. I, meanwhile, was completely over him the second he stopped caring about dancing well, which I think was around Week 2. He’s a nice guy, but it was definitely his time to go.

This week, the remaining couples will learn either the Viennese Waltz or the Paso Doble. A Paso Doble week without our dear Maxsim is absolutely TRAGIC and maybe even a little pointless, but we will press on, for we must.

Jump on it...
Up first are Chuck and Julianne with the Viennese Waltz. The stress of all of this seems to be getting to Julianne. Not only can she not put her make-up on properly (don’t forget the neck, darling)…

But she can’t decide how to treat her boyfriend slash dance pupil during rehearsals. Should she treat him like any other student (whips, chains, abusive language intended to degrade and humiliate), or like her boyfriend (whips, chains, abusive language intended to degrade and humiliate… and whipped cream)? The show is desperate to convince us that Chuck is improving from week-to-week, but really, I think the dances are just getting easier. The routine is very nice – you know I enjoy Julianne’s choreography most of the time – but Chuck is his usual lop-sided, awkward self out there. The boy just can’t do graceful, and since he’s still concerned about looking effeminate, I doubt very much that he’ll ever apologize for his lack of finesse. Until he learns to let all that go, he’ll always look like an inebriated duck while he dances, unless it’s a Latin dance, in which case he’ll look like un pato boraccho. The dance ends with Chuck on bended knee, Julianne looking coy and surprised, and me vomiting all over my new rug. The judges are more or less pleased with this performance, claiming that Chuck finally performed, as opposed to simply going through the motions. If he continues to gain confidence, the footwork and finesse should follow. Chuck is so pleased by the comments, he decides to ride the pony…

Backstage, Samantha can’t resist teasing about the bended knee moment, and asks the couple if it was supposed to tell us something. Thankfully, Chuck answers with a flat and too-quick NO, which probably hurt Julianne’s feelings but saved me from having to re-shampoo the carpet. They score a 23.

The first Paso of the night belongs to Lawrence Taylor and Edyta. Like last week, Lawrence continues to struggle with musicality and character, which unfortunately cannot be taught, especially in the limited time-span of one week. Also difficult: capes. I love this Dancing with the Stars tradition. Paso Doble week equals lots of mishaps with capes. It never gets old.

Edyta really looks like she needs a drink. Me too, and make it a double. Sadly, no amount of hard liquor can make this dance good. The music is awful (whoever is playing the synth-strings should be shot), the choreography is dull and pedestrian, and Lawrence looks like he would rather be at his own funeral. It’s ten times worse than last week’s Tango, and for all the same reasons. These Latin dances are supposed to be passionate and fiery. Lawrence just looks angry. And bored. He’s bored angry! Even though we’re five weeks in, he is still as self-conscious and internalized as he was in week one. At some point… you just have to let all that junk go and just DANCE (it’ll be ok, da da an do do)! His movements are lazy and sluggish, like he’s underwater, and since we know he’s a terrific athlete, we can only assume that this lethargy comes from fear. Bruno, who likes to confuse angry and bored with strength and power, thinks Lawrence captured the mood of the dance quite well, Carrie Ann blames the music, and Len thinks it was his best dance so far (which is just sad). Backstage, Samantha asks Lawrence how he managed to channel all of that anger boredom aggression, and he tells this awkward story about how his friends told him that if he loses he will have to give them all lap-dances. I think we’ve just identified where his fear comes from. His Passive-aggressive Paso scores a 20.

Shawn Johnson is still smarting from the judges’ less-than-favorable reception of her floor-exercise inspired Lindy Hop, so this week she and Mark are going to stick to the strict definition of the Viennese Waltz. In the rehearsal package, it seems like Shawn is finally showing some signs of frustration. She’s been breezing through for the most part, so I’m glad to see Mark challenging her a little. They make a good-looking pair – she’s in a flowy white gown and he’s in gray – and the dance is simple, elegant, and romantic. It’s two minutes of pretty, which no one can complain about. At the end, Mark spins her into a lift culminating with Shawn cradled in his arms as they walk off stage. Of course, while everyone else is thinking how cute that was, Carrie Ann has just written the word LIFT in her notebook (in her own blood) and shaved five points from their score. Or has she?? Carrie Ann commends the simplicity of the dance and adds that she didn’t mind the lift because it was at the end and fit in with the rest of the dance. See that? Rules don’t matter if you’re cute like Shawn Johnson. Len loved it except for the shoddy footwork and Bruno threw up about fifteen adjectives that could also describe a baby bunny, a flower, or a tasty dessert. They score a 26.

Like Lawrence, Melissa Rycroft’s challenge this week is getting into the character of the Paso, which is hard because Tony Dovalani is such a goofball. You know, if we could veer off the main road onto Tangential Trail (I love the view!), I think I’ve finally figured out why Tony bothers me so much. You see… all of this: the show, the dancing, the competition, the judges’ comments, the glory and the shame… it’s all about him. He has this way of getting on my screen and taking over, like his partner isn’t even there, scrabbling for the screen time she came on the this show to get in the first place. Whether he’s making incredulous faces at the judges during their negative comments, or having an emotional breakdown whenever he gets saved, he just can’t seem to remember that it isn’t really his life were interested in. I can appreciate his investment, truly, but he needs to step back and remember that he is the sideshow to Melissa’s main event. This is Dancing with the Stars, not Dancing with TONY DOVALANI IN BRIGHT LIGHTS AND MAYBE SOME CONFETTI AND NOISEMAKERS!! Ok, I’m glad I got that off my chest.

Frankly, I don’t remember much about this dance because I was too disturbed by the music. Remember how I referenced a Lady Gaga song earlier in this post? I’m about to do it again, but this time it’s relevant. Their Paso is set to a ballroom interpretation of Poker Face. I am aghast and dismayed and horrified, and yet… strangely fascinated. I mean, one couldn’t have predicted it. The costumes are as Spanish as they could possibly be… red and black and very toreador-esque… and yet the song is an extended metaphor about gambling with not-so-subtle overtones regarding the mysterious nature of feminine bisexuality. It kind of makes me cock my head like a confused cocker spaniel. Perplexing is what it is. So… the dance itself is pretty amazing actually. Tony has really stepped up his game with the choreography (I think he really took Carrie Ann’s criticism that Melissa needs to challenge herself to heart). This dance is waaay hard, and unfortunately, nothing looks effortless, and Melissa is wearing her fear on her face and it sadly does not match those bizarre dots on her forehead (what the hell is that all about?) or the mood of the dance. Now, I didn’t catch it when it happened, but there was apparently a major incident involving the heel of her shoe and her dress (which I’m sure will show up in dramatic slow motion tomorrow night), so this routine was not executed perfectly. The judges comment on the degree of difficulty and the stumbles, both things that ultimately prevented her from getting into the true character of the dance, and end up scoring her a 25. Backstage, Tony compliments Melissa’s tenacity in the face of all the screw-ups, and he does so while standing in front of her and forbidding her to speak. See what I mean?

David and Kym are next with their Viennese Waltz and David is STILL trying to figure out ways to climb out of the middle of the pack. Seriously, the judges just do not like him, and it has become painfully obvious to me that their disdain for him isn’t just about his dancing. David isn’t performing any better or any worse than half of the people out there, so I’m at a loss to explain why he is consistently scored so low and why the judges are so much more brutal in their critiques. The girls in the typing pool and I have a theory that he is an epic asshole during the week – like some sort of nightmare to work with or something – so the show has decided to put him in his place. The song is I Put a Spell on You, which doesn’t scream waltz to me, but then again we’ve already suffered through a Poker Face Paso, so what do I know? Kym begins the dance by waving some giant blood-red fans about like a recently slaughtered swan, and David looks like he’s about to start a rumble. Seriously… why does he always look so mad?

I will say that this is the strangest Viennese Waltz I’ve ever seen on this show. The mood and the story being told don’t seem to fit the standard, but having said that, I thought it was well choreographed and well danced. The judges are all over the place with this one. Bruno admonishes them for the tricky choreography which he finds unnecessary in a waltz; Carrie Ann didn’t see any kind of connection between David and Kym; Len thought it was great. All of that translates into a score of 22.

Last week, Gilles and Cheryl scored the first perfect 30 of the season with their Tango. That dance is bound to go down as one of my favorite dances of the entire series. This week, they have the Paso, which I’m thinking should be a cake-walk because the mood is so similar. Rather than waste time discussing their pointless rehearsal package, let’s go straight to the goods…

That’s right. Tonight, Gilles opened his dance completely shirtless. There’s something to be said for knowing your audience. APPROVED! Anyway, after some provocative posing, Cheryl hands him a jacket so the dance can actually begin. And it is AWESOME. It’s fast and fiery with lots of aggressive hip thrusts and flamenco steps. I suppose it helps that the music is from Carmen (ok – pause – what the hell, show? You give Melissa a damn Lady Gaga song and hand Gilles a piece of music from an opera about Spanish harlots and toreadors? How is that fair?). Whereas the previous two Pasos haven’t quite captured the feel of a true Paso, Gilles nails it completely. Cheryl’s routine is superb, right down to the finer details, and Gilles is 100% in character. I loved it. Also loving it: Bruno and Carrie Ann, who carry on just as much as the audience. Carrie Ann loved how they brought the essence of the dance to life; Bruno thought it was more than a dance, but an epic battle for sexual supremacy (uh… ok); Len thought it was a little frantic. Never before has Len been booed with such venom and malice. He should probably be escorted to his car once the show wraps. Sure enough, Len ruins it for everyone by scoring the routine at a 9, thus preventing Gilles from grabbing his second (and very much deserved) perfect score. Gilles’s Pectoral Paso must settle for a 29.

Steve-O is still harping about how last week’s scores didn’t improve despite the fact that he made it through his entire routine without royally screwing up. I guess the idea that subjective scoring almost always reflects the context of the rest of the competition is waaay over his head. Good judges (in all arenas) try to give scores in such a way that there is a nice bell-shaped curve at the end. Yes, he improved, but others improved even more, and still others actually took a small dive, so he was right where he was supposed to be at the end of last week. And really… who cares? The bottom is the bottom. All that the rehearsal package illuminates for us is that Johnny Knoxville is a good friend, but not quite a good enough friend to leave Steve-O alone for five minutes so he can LEARN HIS DANCE ALREADY! For their waltz, Steve-O is dressed like a mime (oh dear) and Lacey is literally dolled up. The music is one of my favorite Rufus Wainwright songs EVER, Complainte de la Butte. Sadly, even that can’t save this dance for me. I can still see his back pain in his posture, he’s as stiff as a board, and he has no idea how to show the dance in his face. I haven’t seen eyes that dead since the last episode of America’s Next Top Model. Where is Tyra when you need her? Most egregious, though, is the fact that the dance is really quite boring. Nothing special about it at all, really. The judges are nice about it, because why bother telling the truth at this point, and send him off with an 18, which is his highest score ever.

Ty and Chelsie have drawn the last Paso of the evening, and how appropriate for him because he’s a bullrider. Get it? He rides bulls for a living so this dance should be right up his alley. Yeah, I didn’t think it made sense either. Before I tackle the dancing, I need to mention how hot he looks in the toreador outfit. Why is he all-of-a-sudden attractive to me? I mean, he isn’t an unattractive guy by any means, but why now? Why this dance? Did he do something different with his hair? I don’t have to sort this out right now, I suppose. Anyway, the music is Barracuda, which is the best song ever written about anything, but that doesn’t mean it works for the Paso, and to prove my point, Ty is going to stomp around the floor like he can’t hear the music at all. This dance just did not work for him. Having watched it a few times now, I believe that he heard the words aggressive and masculine and angry, and in an attempt to express these words, his body decided to move like he was forcing his way through concrete. Carrie Ann thinks he just over-thought everything, but I think he just needs more time in front of the mirror. So his Petrified Paso scores a veeeery generous 21.

Bonus cape shenanigans from Senor Ty:

Last and certainly shortest, Lil Kim and Derek have a waltz for us. She is still riding high from last week’s amazing Tango (me too), so it will be a nice change of pace to perform a sweet, romantic dance to show off her range. I have to say I muted this because I couldn’t abide the warbling of whoever was trying to sing I’ll Be, but it looked beautiful. I particularly love how Lil Kim is able to perform these slower dances without looking like she’s in a coma. Her face is alive with emotion (perhaps not always the right emotion, but still…) and it really helps the audience connect to the content of the dance. The judges gush just as they should, and hand over a 26. Just one question before we move on… what the hell is a Buddha Board?

Here’s how things shaped up:

Gilles – 29
Shawn – 26
Lil Kim – 26
Melissa – 25
Chuck – 23
David – 22
Ty – 21
Lawrence – 20
Steve-O – 18


Oh, yay – Kim scored the encore. That’s great, I think… but I’m not sure I get it. She didn’t have the highest score of the night. WHAT DOES IT MEAN!!?

I think I’m going to do a big post dedicated to all the Macy’s Stars of Dance performances because I’ve liked all of them so far, and tonight… MEN IN DRESSES.

I have no idea what the point is, but it’s certainly neat to watch. So what, exactly, is this Vegas show (I believe they called it La Reve) about? There’s MEN IN DRESSES, of course, but also ballroom dancers and circus performers doing stunts. And I think Samantha said there was also water involved. I can’t wrap my head around it.

After the whittling, the bottom two ends up being David Alan Grier and Lawrence Taylor. That’s right… someone out there saved Steve-O. I bet it was his Group… they have special powers, you know. God, I can’t tell you how over these dance-offs I am. It’s times like these I really wish I had a Tivo. I would bleep-bloop the hell out of this and be a much more pleasant, contented person.

David manages to bring his score up by two points while Lawrence merely repeats last night’s score. And what do you know? David gets the boot, ending what has turned out to be the most bizarre tenure on this show by a celebrity since… well, he might take the cake. He seemed so pissed off most of the time, and the judges treated him like the red-headed stepchild. It was getting uncomfortable to watch, and for that reason, I’m glad to see him go.

Week 6 coming soon.


Anonymous said...

1. I think Shawn is going all the way
2. Who is the costume designer on this show?
3. Men in dresses. I like men in dresses. Most of those guys look better in a dress than I do. RUDE!
4. lurve you!

ashley said...

Reeva, come back! We miss you!

Earl Flormata said...

Wanna see a Buddha Board? - http://bit.ly/cUHcql