I’m loving Maria Kochetkova! (She’s the ballerina dancing for Russia). I love how polished and perfect she was — all those turns! And her technique and precision were incredible. But I also love her personality — that she said she wanted to be on the program to show people who may not have seen ballet before what it’s like. I love how fascinated she is with everyone else’s dancing — like how she remarked that it was so wonderful to see so many forms of dance from around the world. Honestly, a lot of ballet dancers turn their noses up at other forms of dance, mainly because, having spent so much time in ballet school, they lack exposure to much else. So, it’s so reassuring to see a young ballerina who is not like that at all. And who’s a brilliant dancer!
I do wonder though how well the magic of ballet comes across over the screen. I imagine it may be one of those dances that comes to life more when it’s seen live. Interestingly, I felt the same way with the South African group dancing. You could probably really feel them pounding that floor and chanting in the theater. It didn’t work so well watching from such a distance. And the Tango as well. I thought the ending tango lift when he hauled her over his head and swung her around, then flung her down and caught her in a lovely fish dive was spectacular, but the rest of it seemed kind of bland. Same with the Indian solo. The opening turns were marvelous, but then the rest was a bit boring and I wonder if it’s just that you can’t see the flourishes of the wrists and the small details of the feet on TV. Maybe certain dances — those requiring more subtlety as well as those you kind of need to “feel” in the theater — just don’t work as well on TV?
I think the dances using athleticism that’s more clear and obvious are going to fare the best with TV audiences. I have a feeling people are going to be angry that the Australian guy got booted, but I didn’t think his dancing was all that — way too many gymnastic tumbling passes and ballet “tricks” — all the fouettes and leaps. I could never do that and I was in awe, but he didn’t connect them together very well and the movement didn’t go with the music or tell a story; it was just about the tricks.
And same with Victor DaSilva and his partner, dancing the South African duet. DaSilva is an world exhibition champ and I’ve seen him dance many times at Blackpool with his former partner Hanna Karttunen (who’s now dancing Latin with Slavik Kryklyvyy) and tonight we saw all his signature moves — his incredible rising from a fully reclined to a fully standing position all the while balancing her with only one hand, and then the hand-stand while balancing her body around his neck. It’s really astounding how he does that. Doesn’t seem humanly possible at all. But, again, how do you rate that as “dance” when there’s so little movement. I mean, it’s more like a circus act, which is kind of what those ballroom exhibitions are all about.
Which I guess goes back to the judging… how do you judge all of these dances — or “acts” or “acts with movement” or whatever you want to call them — against each other? I say just let everyone dance without ranking them and kicking people off and let’s just all enjoy spectating, you know!
My other favorite was that Irish couple. I disagreed with the South African judge who said the guy wasn’t virile enough. I thought his footwork at times wasn’t that polished but I don’t think there was any necessary manliness that he lacked. But I love the choreography and the style, how they blended traditional Irish step dancing with Paso Doble / Flamenco. It had the Spanish styling but was still fundamentally Irish. And I love the wide-moving skips. And the taps of the shoes.
I didn’t think the American popper looked as stunning here as he did on So You Think You Can Dance. I don’t know why. It was the same guy and probably a very similar routine. I love the Russian judge joking to the popper that he reminded him of himself after a few Russian drinks though! That guy is hilarious — definitely has the greatest sense of humor of any Russian I know :S
And I liked the American team — I liked the winding up the girl, ‘turning her on’, and the guy doing the cartwheel over the set of boxes. I thought there was a good combination of athleticism and creative narrative to the dance. Still, it didn’t seem to completely come together structurally as a whole; at least not like the dances do on America’s Best Dance Crew (which, by the way, is beginning its third season on the 15th)
I like the idea behind the show. I like that they’re trying to showcase different forms of dance from different countries. And I like that, from what I know at least, they have really chosen some top dancers. I personally think doing away with the competition aspect and instead perhaps having authorities talk a bit more about what the dances mean would better celebrate those dances though.