DANCING WITH THE STARS WEEK 3: LINDY HOP AND ARGENTINE TANGO

Okay, at the very beginning you saw a clip of someone (I think it was Denise from last week) doing a crazy Jitterbug aerial (Jitterbug is a form of Lindy, or East Coast Swing). That is how people are fracturing tibia, etc. — not doing straight ballroom! I know Jewel was injured early on, but I’m sure they were practicing everything that was to come just to give the competitors an introduction. I don’t really know how I feel about the inclusion of these dances with rather difficult lifts and tricks in a show like this, where the vast majority of contestants are well into adulthood and have little dance and / or athletic training. We’ll see how this week’s dances go…

Kym Johnson and David Alan Grier Lindy Hop: Cute. That’s all I can really say though.

It was fun and energetic as Len said, the Charleston was cute, the jive kicks and jumps — and some cute assisted somersaults and flips from her. Somehow it lacked a certain flashiness that you usually see in Lindy though. Of course D.A.G. is the one who’s been the most careful not to get injured! (Thanks to Katrina for the link).

Derek Hough and Lil Kim Argentine Tango: That was really beautiful! I love the music! Wow, I love how swiftly she moved — some really fast, precise flicks of the legs, and really gorgeous lifts. I love the one where she wrapped her legs around his waist — in perfect form with the legs bent in attitude position — and slid down his side. She looked a little bowl-legged at points, which is just a matter of concentrating on keeping her legs together and turning out a bit at the ankle. Bruno gives her the first 10 of the season.

Julianne Hough and Chuck Wicks Lindy: Okay, if she made him do that somersault over her head that he was scared of doing I wouldn’t have watched this show again. I stopped watching that Lifetime show Don’t Tell Your Mama or whatever it was called — after they intimidated an older woman into doing a cartwheel over her son’s head. That was insanely irresponsible of the show’s producers and I never watched it again. I just don’t believe in risking a broken neck for this kind of dance. Unless they told them up front what would be involved — and it doesn’t seem that way. Anyway, he did okay I thought. The problem with Lindy Hop is that it’s not that fun unless there are all the tricks and I don’t think adults learning to dance for the first time should be doing such things if they feel uncomfortable. So then, the dance isn’t that spirited to watch on TV.  The fascinating thing about Lindy — at least for watchers — is that it’s either super, lightening-speed fast, or else there are fun high jumps and tricks — usually both. That’s what makes it a delight to watch. And that’s what’s necessarily missing here. I say no more Lindy Hop on this show…

Oh and now I’m actually liking him a bit. He tells Samantha Harris during the after-performance interview that he’s not Shawn Johnson — “she does back flips all the time; I don’t. Is there something wrong with not wanting to land on your head. It hurts,” he says honestly.

Lawrence Taylor and Edyta Sliwinska Argentine Tango: Well, I felt that looked really uncomfortable — mainly on Edyta’s part. Her frowning expression throughout didn’t amount to sensuality or passion and she didn’t look like she really knew what she was doing. Her legs were too bent and her flicks weren’t precise and she just didn’t have the attitude down. Most of these dancers are trained in Blackpool ballroom after all, not these specific social dances. They should have real Argentine Tango dancers come on and teach. As for him, I think his footwork was good and he exuded a powerful kind of sexiness, so he had the character down, and he was a good partner for her — he lifted her well. I was actually more focused on her shortcomings!

Chelsie Hightower and Ty Murray Lindy Hop: She falls right smack on her back in practice. Has anyone ever heard of padded mats, hello? Aw, I LOVE him! My favorite Lindy Hop of the night! He’s so cute! His form wasn’t perfect all the time, but his jumps were spectacular and he really kept up with that fast fast FAST music (I love You and Me and the Bottle Makes Three, by Big Bad Voodoo Daddies, btw!), I didn’t notice a single flub in the footwork, and he had so much power in those lifts — wow! That was an excellent Lindy Hop! That was fun to watch. But he’s also a major athlete. I mean, he tames bulls or whatever, right? Sorry, I don’t know what goes on in rodeos :) I’m only from Arizona…

Steve Wozniak and Karina Smirnoff Argentine Tango: Well, he really didn’t dance very much; it was all about her. He lifted her a couple of times and did some hooks, but he was a little too bouncy. She had all the fabulous footwork. I agree with Carrie Ann — when he made that wicked smile and caressed her leg with his — that was the best part. She was better than Edyta but she’s still no Guillermina Quiroga. Bruno says the only thing he picked up from the slums of Argentina was the “stench.”

Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani Lindy Hop: That’s cute– teaching her in practice to do kicks by flicking toilet paper off her foot. Hmmm, well, she was obviously very courageous on those many crazy aerials. But some of them didn’t come out well — like those swan dives — they just looked like they landed a bit too close to the ground and she landed too far on her heels, not the center of her feet. So, it made them look a bit like she just kind of tripped over his head and then fell down his back. Also, he kicked substantially higher than she did on all the kicks — and there were a lot of them. It looked imbalanced. Yes, it was definitely technically the best, likely of everyone’s I’m sure, but there were almost too many aerials — it’s like she saved all her energy for them and then her floor work lacked polish. They get two 10s from the Bruno and Carrie Ann — so the highest score thus far of the season.

Holly Madison and Dmitry Chaplin Argentine Tango: She injures her ribs (she says during Samba last week, but it’s hurting again during practice this week). Yet more injuries. And she cries. Which I’d do too… Doctor tells her she strained rib muscles but can still dance, so she does.

Okay, her air somersault and ending floor sweep were perfect, which means she spent a lot of time working on the tricks and not enough on the dance itself. I actually thought she was cute — she almost fell off the stool at one point, which I thought was rather funny, but it wasn’t meant to be so, of course. And cute of course isn’t what Argentine Tango is all about. But why not, you know? Why can’t you give it your own thing? Anyway, her toes weren’t pointed enough and it gave her sloppy leg lines, and her toe swirls on the floor weren’t precise or rhythmic enough — she didn’t keep up with the music and went too fast, which is part of what gave the whole dance that “cute” feel. Anyway, Argentine Tango is damn hard and I feel for her. I’m actually kind of rooting for her because in a weird way I kind of identify. Ballroom is so much more flippin difficult than it looks. I hope she doesn’t get the boot tomorrow night, but am worried she will.

Steve-O and Lacey Schwimmer Lindy Hop: It was cute, but lacked pizazz, like most of the others. At the end, it looked like he was trying to do Tacky Annies or something (kick ball swivels) but he did something else completely different, and weird, like a kick and a brush backward. It was cutely clownish, which is what they were going for, and she played relatively slow music, country-western, that gave it almost a kind of West Coast Swing feel. The judges are right to say he has a timing issue, likely why she gave him the slowish, twangy music. I still find him sympathetic.

Did Samantha Harris just get sick and develop Laryngitis throughout the course of the show? I don’t remember her being so hoarse up front. It’s kind of funny — the host loses her voice.

Gilles Marini and Cheryl Burke Argentine Tango: Lots of really swift, clever leg action at the end; otherwise I would have said it lacked pizazz as well. But yeah, it ended on, as Tom Bergeron said, a “fierce” note, so they’re getting a standing o. He was really in character the whole time and that made all the difference. He looked so virile in that black suit! Very powerful. And excellent dancing. I felt like she’s another one who doesn’t know A. Tango so well, though. Carrie Ann said she couldn’t tell who was the pro and who was the amateur, but there’s probably a reason for that. Wow, this is the first 30 of the show, and I think the first 10 Len has given out.

This show needs to be a little shorter! I always get tired around this time (actually about half an hour earlier) and keep looking at the clock!

Shawn Johnson and Mark Ballas Lindy Hop: Mark needs a haircut. Methinks he is trying to look like Louis Garrel. That was super cute. Lindy Hop is definitely Shawn’s dance. I like how he gave her the tumbling pass up front — not that that’s Lindy, but since it was only in one place, it kind of made it her own. And he wasn’t showing off this time; he was showing her off. So big huge kudos to Mark for allowing her to shine — and making a bit of an ass of himself on the gymnastic floor during practice :) And, unlike in Melissa’s case, Shawn’s kicks were as high as his, so it didn’t look imbalanced. I’m surprised at the judges’ lukewarm response.

My favorites this week were Ty and Gilles. Melissa and Shawn were good too, as always. And I keep forgetting about Lil Kim — it seems she is usually on first or something. I foresee Holly and Steve W. going home during tomorrow night’s elimination, but I may be surprised, especially if Steve’s fans come through again.

10 Comments

  1. Tonya, you're going to hate me (and you can read my full review at my blog) but there was no effing Lindy all night!!! I should know. I've danced the lindy for 6 effing years. NOBODY tonight did any basic. There was no difference in Tony and Melissa's performance from a Jive. That was a crap. It didn't help the judges didn't know anything either. OMG it bugged me the whole entire night!

    Gilles tango was… hot…

  2. Kym and DAG- cute, middle of the road dance. Why was he wearing a tux dancing a Lindy Hop?
    Derek and Lil' Kim- She looked beautiful in that dress! Great job! I even forgot about the height difference between the two. She held some of those extensions for a long time! Gorgeous!
    Edyta and L.T.- I felt he really didn't do much actual dancing. Edyta looked upset and frustrated with him during rehearsal clip. If you can make sweet as peaches Edyta upset and snappish then you're probably the Antichrist. I just find it hard to like him for some reason.
    Chelsie and Ty- She's turning out to be a wonderful teacher. She seems to concentrate on teaching him the basics and THEN the steps and it shows. His improvement is remarkable and he seems like such a super guy!
    Karina and the Woz- Actually that was his best dance which admittedly isn't saying much. It's time to go.
    Tony and Melissa- That was fast and furious. Lots of tricks but they seemed to blend seamlessly into the choreography. Tony was winded at the end! How cute!
    Dmitry and Holly- I don't think it deserved those scores. She did mess up but between the oops moments she did some nice dancing.
    Lacey and Steve O.- Where did the Steve O. from the 1st week go? He seemed so fluid and appealing dancing that Waltz. He seems to backpedal more and more each week. I still am rooting for him on a personal level but if he stays he really needs to bring forth more effort from now on.
    Cheryl and Gilles- My favorite dance of the night. He caught the sensual, manly character
    so perfectly. He's so freaking hot! I just hope people can look past the hotness to see what a wonderful DANCER he is becoming.
    Mark and Shaun- I hated those costumes. I was totally distracted by Mark's overdancing as well. What a letdown.

  3. SwanLakeSambaGirl

    Yeah, Katrina, it was really Jitterbug. Jitterbug grew out of Swing, but that's the one with all the aerials and jumps and lifts, not regular Lindy Hop. I don't know why they didn't just call it what it was! Thanks for all the video clips!

    Susan, it looks like we felt much the same way about things! I agree that Steve and Karina did well considering, but I do think he probably won't go far. There are too many people who are far superior at this point. It's funny but looking back, I don't really know how John Hurley (or whatever the winner's name was from the first season) did so well! I guess he did well with Standard, and they didn't do all these crazy lifts and tricks back then. And he had more natural talent and skill at this than Wozniak, but still.

  4. It annoyed me all night. It's ridiculous. If they're going to have new dances, a)get the pros to know what they're doing (at least Kym did something right last night in taking D.A.G to the Lindy groove), and b)get judges who know what the dances look like.

    They're are Ariels in lindy hop, they're just not as popular and only really done at competitions because they're dangerous. I've seen a girl dropped on her head trying to do ariels (In Lindy they're called ariels not lifts.)

  5. It was nice to see them attempt a real Argentine tango and Lindy Hop, however unsuccessfully. I remember seeing Frankie Manning and others doing some serious Lindy in Hellzapoppin. The Lindy we saw last night was tame and sloooowwwwwww. Still, it suited some of the dancers.
    I totally agree about the risks the choreographers are taking with their amateur partners. The numbers of injuries are inexcusable.

    Lil Kim's tango was the winner for me. I was surprised by how much she has matured as a dancer: her lines were beautiful, nice transitions, appropriate attitude. Along with Cowboy Ty, she is most improved. Now isn't it time to drop the “Lil”?

    I thot the judges were unfair to Shawn. They seemed to punish her for utilizing her gymnastic skills…as if it was cheating. Melissa's cheerleading skills and Gilles acting surely helped them get those 10s.

    I'm not sure which costumes were the most tacky: Shawn and Marks or Lacey's. I love watching Lacey dance, but her choreography and taste are questionable.

    Time to say goodbye to Woz (I'll miss ya), Holly, and probably Steve-O (who should have performed in his clown costume…it would have inspired him and would have been fun to watch).

  6. Hi Tonya,

    I have been hearing rumors that Slavik is dating Anna Melnikova and will soon be competing with her. Have you heard anything about this? It will be a shame if Anna and Stefano Di Filippo split, they make a good dance couple. Anna seems to have a strong dance character of her own tho, like Karina did, so maybe it will work with Slavik.

  7. Um, DocRak, what they did on monday was nothing compared to real lindy. It was Jitterbug (see last season's videos) and then compare tot he videos I posted above in the comments.

  8. Um, DocRak, what they did on monday was nothing compared to real lindy. It was Jitterbug (see last season's videos) and then compare tot he videos I posted above in the comments.

  9. i wish that they also feature Jewel Kilcher on the Dancing With The Stars show;~;

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