I don’t have much time to write about this week’s Dancing With the Stars, but quickly, I was pretty disappointed overall, as I guess I usually am with the Samba and Rumba. They seem often to put the two on the same night for some reason. I think Latin is generally harder than Standard and I think these are the two hardest Latin dances, so it’s no wonder they don’t come out so well.
But, honestly — it’s partly because I think the dancers aren’t really teaching the celebrities how to ground their hip movement properly, so that it comes from the movement in the shoulders and lats (back muscles). One of my co-students once told me, when I was first learning Rumba, that the dance originated with the slaves. Rumba walks — the basis of the dance, and the basis of all Latin ballroom dances really — are supposed to stem from the way that slave women would carry heavy loads atop their shoulders. As the woman took a step, the weight coming from her shoulder would push down on that lat muscle, which would eventually bear down on the hip, causing it to settle into the hip socket. When the weight fully settled, she’d start the next step with the other foot, shifting her weight. Those changes in weight are what account for that now sexy-looking shifting of the hips.
But if you’re not taught how to shift the weight properly, how to make it originate from the shoulders — and I think it helps to be given the above visual — then you end up trying to produce that hip shifting only using the hips. And then you get that un-grounded, feathery, hip swaying look which doesn’t look right at all — it looks like the person is just shaking his or her butt. It looks goofy.
I thought basically everyone, with the exception of Mya, had that problem last night. I thought somehow some looked a bit better than others — Natalie, Melissa, and Joanna all somehow managed to look cute even if too light and airy (even for samba, though there’s a bounce, it’s still weighted — it’s not supposed to look like you’re dancing on your toes, like ballet), and Louie looked okay as well (though that might have been because he was partnering Chelsie so well — being such a sturdy support for her and making her look good). And I hate to say it, but Tom was pretty decent too. He has a sense of rhythm I didn’t expect him to have. Even that body roll — I would never in a bizillion years have thought that guy could do a full-body spiraling samba shake like that! But, still, no one but Mya had any semblance of proper grounding, and with the others, it just wasn’t there at all.
Still, everyone tried hard and everyone had the proper character of the dance; everyone had fun. It just shows you how blasted hard Latin actually is.