“Story Night”: Dancing With the Stars Season 11, Week 3

So tonight is story night, meaning each dance must tell a little story.

First on are Jennifer and Derek dancing samba. Their story is that she’s a teacher and he’s her student. At first she (pretend) disciplines him then turns into hot teacher and seduces him. Wow, I thought that went very well. Samba is the hardest Latin dance (imo, but I think it’s pretty well accepted). Part of her stunning performance is due to her pants with the shimmies – they really do make you look like you’re shaking it more! But she did have the twisting pelvic action down, and she did really beautifully with most of it. She got a bit too jumpy in the middle, especially after they had a little flub. But they put that crazy hard samba roll in shadow position in toward the end, and those are damn hard. They didn’t have many of them, but still. Big kudos to her for not screwing up the hardest part. By the way, didn’t she look like Sarah Palin with her hair in a bun and the glasses?

Next, Florence and Corky, waltz: They dance to Edelweiss, and interesting – I didn’t know she ever starred in the theater version of The Sound of Music. Their dance is about two people finding a mutual attraction, she’s resistant at first, then they come together. Aw, beyond sweet! The choreography was very basic, but so beautifully executed and so well acted it made you appreciate the simplicity of the steps. I love Corky for doing that! The emotion was subtle and she acted that perfectly, which makes sense of course since she’s an actress. The only thing – and it may be because I’ve recently seen Janie Taylor in Benjamin Millepied’s Why Am I Not Where You Are at NYCBallet, and her character in that is blind at the beginning – but something about Florence’s performance made it seem like she was blind; seemed like she was kind of happy that this guy was sweeping her away, but that she couldn’t see him, was looking through him. I think it was because she kept her head and upper body so still. She really needs to loosen up her back and shoulders and neck.

Next, Kurt and Anna dance foxtrot. Okay, first of all, he says during practice that being 6’2 it’s almost impossible to look good dancing ballroom; he looks like a big tree. Not so! Roberto Bolle, Marcelo Gomes, David Hallberg – Kurt, practically every male ballet dancer I love is huge! Aw, I loved this dance! Story is it’s raining, he has an umbrella, she’s sitting at a bus stop umbrella-less and a bit down, and he cheers her up by sweeping her away. Perfectly done. He was polished, very gentlemanly, had good rise and fall action. Only thing is that he’s still looking a bit stiff in the upper body too. The ballroom frame does feel really unnatural when you’re dancing. Everyone needs to watch videos of pros – like Mirko Gozzoli and Alessia Betti , Jonathan Wilkins and Hazel Newberry, and Katusha Demidova and Arunas Bizokas. The pro dancers on the show should show their celebs more videos! It just helps to have a sense of what you should look like – an idea at least for you to try to emulate. But seriously, he had the rise and fall down pat, he had really good form, he was a good, proper partner, and it was really beautifully done.

Margaret and Louis, samba.

They don’t really have a story; they’re just at the Copacabana. I loved it! Again, the shimmy dress – shimmies always make samba look better :) But really, it was so much better than I was expecting. I think she’s probably club danced before – well, often given her personality, and it shows. This is a dance where if the pro gives the celeb moves – like stationary body rolls and pelvic gyrations – they can look good, even if they’re not really doing the basic dance movement properly. And he did give her some basics – the voltas (sideway movement), the whisks (brushing one leg behind the other in a stationary position). She didn’t move her pelvis fully enough but somehow she still looked okay. Can’t put my finger on why, exactly. Maybe she just had the personality that suited the dance and came out there like she owned it. I like her and hope she doesn’t get booted yet. Haha, the rainbow dress: I love Louis’s expression when she yelled, “This is the gayest thing that’s ever happened on this show!”

Audrina and Tony, waltz. Their story is that he’s a marine, he’s off at war, and she dreams of his coming back. I thought she looked beautiful and acted it well; it had a lot of emotional depth, and her dress was beautiful. The judges loved it, but I can’t help but find fault. She just looked so stiff – everyone’s having problems with the frame in closed position, but she also had very wiry-looking arms. She needed to be far more fluid. She also needs to point her toes and think about the lines she’s making, particularly with ronde de jambs. It just looked like a formless kick. The judges really loved her though. Hmmm.

Bristol and Mark’s foxtrot. Story is, he’s a homeless person and he sees her on the street and tries to get her attention, and then he turns into a guy in a suit and she drops her raincoat and they dance. Not sure I fully got it. Anyway, this had to be the most basic dance I’ve ever seen Mark do. Funny that Len had a problem, saying it was “too contemporary for my taste.” It was basic foxtrot, Len… She looked pretty and Carrie Ann’s right that she has a really lovely movement quality with the lightness of the feet, just her overall dancer personality. There’s something endearing about her as a dancer. But something just didn’t connect here – maybe there just wasn’t enough for her to do, it was too slow, too basic. She doesn’t have enough acting skills to kind of fill it the silences in the dance, you know?

Brandy and Maks, samba. Story kind of got lost to me – she’s a singer and he’s her bodyguard and she’s trying to flirt with him and win him over? I love the dress – my favorite kind of samba dress- the big, ruffly skirt! I didn’t really like the dance though, and again, I’m disagreeing with the judges, who loved it. I thought she had good rhythm, which is to be expected of a singer, but her feet were too pointed inward and it really messed up the line. And she didn’t really get the fullness of the pelvic movement down; it was more like she was just rocking out, doing her own thing, than doing real samba movement. It almost had a hip hop quality. She did all the footwork properly though. I don’t really know what the judges saw that I missed. Their comments were so general and they seemed more intent on reprimanding Maks for strict (Russian) teaching skills (ie: kneeing her hard in the butt when she didn’t take a big enough step). Yeah, I’ve had a Russian teacher almost break my wrist once, so I agree with their condemnation. America is a litigious society, Russians; you gotta be careful here!

Kyle and Lacey, waltz. I like her description of a waltz: “it looks like you’re dancing on clouds.” Story is they meet and fall for each other in a coffee shop. She’s a waitress and he’s the patron, but for some reason she’s wearing a bra, pants, and an apron. I really couldn’t focus on the dance at first because I was trying so hard to figure out why they were at a sweet, kind of Our Town-like coffee shop and the waitress was wearing a bra. Anyway, I thought he did pretty well considering he had such a problem with the gracefulness in practice. I thought he got better as the dance progressed, and by the end, he really had the rise and fall down and he looked much lighter on his feet and gave the dance an aura of romance. I felt like he was goofing a bit earlier, like when he dipped her and he gave the camera that cocky look. But then he got more serious emotionally and his dancing improved along with it. It was far from perfect, but I think he has talent and an endearing personality and I hope he stays on for a long time.

The Situation and Karina, foxtrot. Okay, I was at the Guggenheim tonight watching Morphoses’s upcoming David Lang program (which is going to be excellent!) and I recorded this show. When I turned the TV on, this dance was on, and I honestly had no idea what dance it was. It looked like a Latin dance with rise and fall action. At first I thought it was bolero but that wasn’t the rhythm. Anyway, the story was that they were in a time machine, so it was futuristic. But it turned out cute. He’s working very hard, you can tell – much harder than before. He’s really taking this seriously now. You could tell he was working hard to get the heel toe action down, and he succeeded with that. I think it’s just that his extreme pigeon toes are throwing off the line so much. And he’s really not a natural mover, really doesn’t have a natural talent for dance, so it’s an uphill battle. But he’s trying, and I think Bruno is right that he’s entertaining, so I’m still rooting for him!

Rick and Cheryl, samba. Story: he’s supposed to have screwed up and lost a big game for his team and is at the bar trying to drink away his sorrows, and she’s a sambista dancing on the bartop trying to get him over his blue funk. I thought this was a bit reminiscent, at least up front, of Elena Grinenko and Tucker Carlson. She was doing all the dancing. When he finally joined in, I thought he understood the movement, but just hadn’t incorporated it into his body yet. The voltas were way too straight-hipped, but then he had good full pelvic twisting action in the stationary samba walks. So he understood the movement of samba, just didn’t have it in his body yet in some of the more difficult steps. It takes time.

Anyway, this week is harder to find a standout; no one really blew me away. I guess Kurt and Jennifer are my favorites. I have no idea who should go home. What about you guys?

2 Comments

  1. I think it’ll be either Margaret or Mike. I’m hoping it’s Margaret. (my reviews are at my blog)

  2. You were right, Katrina. It was Margaret. Now that they’ve got me thinking of him as The Situation – I was like, who’s Mike :)

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