It's Not Latin Without Proper Hips!

I thought the only good routine on tonight’s Dancing With the Stars was Mario and Karina’s. Ironic because my two favorite dances are rhumba and samba … or, perhaps maybe that’s why I always dislike the weeks devoted to those dances. Somehow Karina was able to teach Mario how to perform the hip and undulating pelvic movements properly, in a way none of the other pros were able to convey to their celebrities. Oh, and, I LOVED the music — “A Tisket a Tasket”! The first time I saw Karina dance (and wanted so badly to be her), she danced a Samba with her former partner, Slavik Kryklyyvy, to that song. Here it is on YouTube.

My second favorite was Marissa, although I wouldn’t really say her movement was Samba; it was more just fun all-out groving. There were no pelvic contractions and expansions at all — the rolling movement that gives the dance that seductively intriguing snaky feel. She said during practice to her Samba was all about shaking your booty, and it’s not. If she saw it that way, then no wonder she looked all wrong. She was cute and her dancing was a lot of sassy fun; it just looked more like something you’d see in a club.

Marlee had the same problem — no pelvic rotations, though she looked cute and gave her routine a lot of pizazz. It just wasn’t Samba.

Priscilla, Jason, and Cristian all tried to move their hips, but didn’t understand that the hips need to be connected to the lats (back muscles). It’s the lats that push down on the hips that make the hips move. If you just move the hip without first moving the lat, it looks like you’re just shaking your butt. It looks superficial and silly. One of my ballroom friends, Juana, once told me that rhumba emanates from the slaves. The quintessential rhumba walks that people now see as being so sexy, actually evolved from the movement one makes while trying to carry a heavy load atop one’s head. Think about it — you’d take a step, then the load would bear down on your shoulder, the weight would ripple down to your hip, the hip would settle into its socket, and you’d move on, taking another step and setting the movement in motion anew. After she told me this, I envisioned myself as such a woman, carrying heavy bottles of water atop her shoulders, and unbelievably it worked so much better than my teacher shouting, “foot, lat, hip, foot lat, hip” over and over again.

Anyway, Kristi and Shannon didn’t even try to move their hips. Shannon complained she had none to move. I used to use the same excuse (see my blog’s tag line), but now that I’ve seen plenty of tall, thin women (Joanna Leunis) do rhumba quite well, I know it’s just that — an excuse. Kristi did a lovely lyrical routine — and she’s definitely a natural and beautiful mover — but I felt that it wasn’t really rhumba without the hips — it was a nice theatrical dance you might see on Broadway, but not Latin ballroom.

Depressed! What did you guys think?


  1. i think the judges are super hard on marissa! her routine definitely (i thought) was better than some of the people who scored similarly

    kristi is really a beautiful dancer…that arabesque she did really showed off her figure skating training!

  2. My thoughts:

    – well she can move her hips…
    – well.. I give her props for trying…
    – He’s obviously caring this dance…
    – Well… good job for trying
    – Those scores were inflated

    Kristi and Mark:
    – LOL Mark, you’re such a great teacher
    – Kristi’s kids are so cute
    – ok that Purple on mark is so not good
    – woah… I need a shower.. That was hot!
    – Jesus! This is amazing!
    – Mark’s smiling a little too much though
    – WOW
    – stupid Carrie Ann

    Shannon and Derek
    – Seriously Derek, stop being sick
    – ok.. sure there’s nothing going on
    – Her feet still need some work
    – it was Good
    – Len has a point
    – Poor Derek.. he looks sick

    Jason and Edyta:
    – eh, it was okay… I mean he’s the only decent guy left
    – just no chemistry for me

  3. I heard Derek was actually bad enough off he was at the hospital yesterday morning. I’m getting tired of them giving Marissa lower than she deserves because of her size. Tonya, most viewers of the show, and perhaps even 2 out of 3 judges, don’t know as much about the dances as you do! Thanks for your insight!!!!

  4. Yah Sharon, he was at the hospital yesterday morning and Jonathon (that poor man, gets booted and then has to step in LOL) was learning the dance with Shannon because they weren’t sure he was going to be back in time

    I agree Sharon. I also think it’s because of Carrie Ann’s hatred toward Tony.

  5. Katrina,

    Don’t get me started on that woman…I’m still waiting for someone to tell me why she’s qualified to judge ballroom. Bruno too, for that matter! Len, I get. I tolerate Bruno because he amuses me, but I have all the need for Carrie Ann that I do for mosquitoes or dandelions.

  6. Karina’s costume was astounding. Major, major props to the costumer and to her for the body to show it off like that. An outstanding samba outfit.

  7. Len I actually listen to because he was a ballroom judge but I don’t pay attention to the two on either side of him 🙂

  8. Yes, the judging seems a little weird, but I assume there’s something I’m not understading or missing about it. I personally don’t think Jason Taylor is all that that he should keep getting those high of scores, but he is definitely better than Cristian, who does not seem to be improving. His Latin blood, as he puts it, may have failed him. I love Kristie and Mark. I, also, like Marissa & Tony and Shannon & Derrick as well. I really don’t have any expectation that these stars will actually pick up the necessary hip action in four short days. Mario got the hips b/c he was already comfortable using his so all Karina had to do was to guide them into the correct action. As Len said, who knows how she accomplished that. It is all subjective based on personal fancy and whims anyway.

    I’m not trying to sound mean with my comments, but I just wouldn’t compare these people to hard core ballroomers or to anyone who takes dance lessons like our Tonya. We just have to suck up their imperfections or lack of proper technique. I judge based on entertainment value, personality and artistry. Over on Youtube, where I watch the show, some Brazilians were actually getting into a verbal sparring match with other commenters over how that wasn’t Brazilian Samba being shown. It is like this. Most Americans, including myself, have no idea what does or doesn’t constitute a proper Samba or any ballroom dance for that matter, and we really don’t care as long as we feel entertained. That’s why regular folks like me will not be found judging at Blackpool.

  9. Thanks Sharon!

    Geez, I hope Derek’s okay — it seems like this is the season of pro dancers getting sick or injured.

    Mig, Karina was the costume queen at Blackpool! Everyone was always excited to see what she’d wear — or at least I was 🙂

    Oh, and yeah, Len I know is a pretty renowned judge in the ballroom world. I really don’t know about the other two. I think on “Dance War” I remember one or both of them saying they had experience choreographing for Broadway and / or music videos? Does that ring a bell with anyone? I don’t know if either Bruno or Carrie Ann has ever actually competed or judged ballroom dancing.

  10. They both have dance experience, but neither has any BALLROOM training that I can find. This is why CA irritates me so much, because she hammers on Tony, A CHAMPION IN HIS DIVISION, on things that as far as I can see, she knows nothing about. Neither she nor Bruno even did the choreo on Dance War, they had someone else, remember? Why, oh why, can’t they find someone like Mary Murphy to fill CA’s slot? At least then it would be useful comments. I think that’s why I seem to enjoy SYTYCD more than DWTS at times, at least the comments from the judges is about things that can be worked on.

  11. Tonya – I was going on and on about that yellow samba outfit Karina wore to my current ballroom coach, who is a former competitor and currently a costume designer, and she said the same as you about Karina when she was competing – that she always brought a lot of, ah, flair to the floor 🙂 Many of the videos I have seen of Karina with Slav feature really horrendous costumes, so in some ways being on DWTS has represented an upgrade for her, in my opinion. On the other other hand, the costumes on the show are very ‘safe,’ which is why it was so fun to see her rock out that big bird yellow number. It was like the old days, only way better 🙂 And her body now … she was always fit, but now she has a ripped gym body. When she did that “cha ching” move with her arms at the end of the number, her abs popped out and rippled. I was agog.

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