Thursday, March 29, 2007

Dancing With The Stars, Week Two

By Lyall Bradshaw, Fred Astaire National Dance Board member

Paulina and Alec were the first couple to be voted off Dancing with the Stars, Season 4 which goes to show that the voting has nothing to do with dancing but who has the biggest fan base. Everyone seemed more relaxed and brought it up a notch from last week, scoring more points after drawing more praise from the judges.

Yet in the end, the pecking order barely changed, with Laila overtaking Joey to become leader after a lively mambo; with Paulina, Ian and Shandi again gliding through the middle of the pack; and with Billy Ray again lurking at the bottom.

First up on Monday were Apolo and Julianne dancing a nice Quickstep. Their performance was good. They maintained good body contact and a good dance frame throughout the routine although Apolo’s head position was a little off at times. They received a score of 26.

Shandi and Brian danced a well choreographed Mambo but the choreography seemed to be more suited to Brian than to Shandi. Her turns were a little uncertain and her hip action lacking.

Clyde and Elena danced a Quickstep next but his frame and posture were off most of the time. Clyde’s Quickstep was a kicky improvement over last week's Foxtrot, yet he seemed bothered in his arm extensions by rotator cuff problems from his hoop-playing days. Carrie Ann called him "a crowd pleaser," and Len flailed badly at a clever remark by saying "We shall overcome" to assess how Clyde handled his 15-inch height difference with partner Elena. But despite the judge’s pats on the head, they didn't follow through on their scores, and Clyde finished with just an 18, giving him a 34 total after last week's 16.

Leeza and Tony danced the Mambo and it was well choreographed to Leeza’s abilities. Even though Leeza is not the greatest dancer she was quite good. I loved Tony’s expression when Judge Len Goodman said, “I won’t get technical but you broke on the second beat which is much more difficult than going on that first beat.” I fully expected Tony to respectfully disagree but he was cool and calm although his expression said everything. They scored 21.

Note to Len: In a legitimate ballroom competition, competitors have no choice in Mambo but to “break” on the two beat. Dancing on the “one” beat is okay for Salsa (L.A. Salsa that is), but is off time in a Mambo competition, and being off time is the worst fault for a competitor. In a legitimate ballroom competition, the two couples that danced on the “one” beat during Monday evening’s competition would have been placed last and next to last.

Ian and Cheryl danced a Quickstep that had a few too many hops and skips and not enough Quickstep basics. There was no body contact and Ian had a weak left arm. They scored 22.

Paulina & Alec danced a Mambo. She was a little stiff and without hip action but most importantly they danced off time!! Bruno said she had natural grace and elegance and Carrie Anne said that her “hips were going.” I must watch that video again; I must have missed that measure. They received a score of 21.

Billy Ray & Karina were next with a Quickstep, a much better performance than last week’s Cha-cha although his head line, weak left arm and lack of body contact were obvious. It looked as if Karina seemed to be coaching him on the fly. The judges were ecstatic, with Bruno gushing that the "difference in a week is beyond belief." They gave him 21 for a two-week total of 34, making Billy Ray's 8-point leap bad news for Clyde's 2-point surge over last week.

Heather & Jonathan danced the Mambo and performed a better routine in my opinion than last week’s performance. She also seemed to be in the cheeky spirit of the sassy, sensual dance, prompting Len to say she'd "let loose" and Bruno to call her "red hot Heather." She had a little hip action that the other ladies lacked. She scored 24.

John & Edyta – danced the Quickstep with a performance better than last week’s and moving around the floor well. We won’t discuss his footwork though!! They received a score of 21.

Laila and Maksim danced the Mambo. This was a great performance but it was a shame that they danced off time. It is not wrong dancing on the “one” beat but it is just not right!!! In other words if you go to any good Latin club you will see the best dancers dancing on the “one” beat, or dancing on the “two” beat or even dancing on the “three” beat and as long as they stay on that beat for the whole dance it is totally correct. But as mentioned earlier, in a ballroom competition universally we dance on the “two” beat – no exceptions to that rule. They received the highest marks of the night, 27.

Joey & Kym danced the Quickstep, a light, bright & fast moving and strong performance except for some lapses of body contact and head positions. They received a score of 24.

Before Paulina and Alec were sent home the final scores with totals from the last two weeks were as follows:

10th - Clyde & Elena/Billy Ray & Karina - 34 points
9th - Leeza & Tony 36 points
8th - John & Edyta 38 points
7th - Shandi & Bryan 39 points
6th - Paulina & Alec 40 points
5th - Heather & Jonathan 42 points
4th - Ian & Cheryl 43 points
3rd - Apolo & Julianne 47 points
2nd - Joey & Kym 48 points
1st - Laila & Maksim 50 points

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