Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Dancing With The Stars Tour - Summer 2007

The Dancing With The Stars tour is coming soon to a city near you! Cheryl Burke, Edyta Sliwinska, Julianne Hough, Louis Van Amstel, and Kym Johnson are some of the professional dancers joining this summer's tour. Celebrities include Joey Lawrence (Season 3), Drew Lachey (Season 2), Joey Fatone (Season 4), and Joey McIntyre (Season 1). Tickets are on sale now for these performance dates and locations:

06/20 Frank Erwin Cente, Austin, TX
06/22 American Airlines Center, Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX
06/23 Baton Rouge River Center Arena, Baton Rouge, LA
06/25 Amway Arena, Orlando, FL
06/26 American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL
06/28 Colonial Center, Columbia, SC
06/29 Charlotte Bobcats Arena, Charlotte, NC
06/30 RBC Center, Raleigh, NC
07/02 Giant Center, Hershey, PA
07/03 Arena at Harbor Yard, Bridgeport, CT
07/05 Wachovia Arena, Wilkes Barre, PA
07/06 Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, NJ
07/07 Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT
07/08 Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT
07/10 Scotiabank Place, Ottawa
07/11 Copps Coliseum, Hamilton, ON
07/13 HSBC Arena, Buffalo, NY
07/14 Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, MI
07/15 Peoria Civic Center, Peoria, IL
07/16 Resch Center, Green Bay, WI
07/18 MTS Centre, Winnipeg
07/20 Credit Union Centre, Saskatoon
07/21 Rexall Place, Edmonton
07/22 Pengrowth Saddledome, Calgary
07/24 GM Place, Vancouver

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

History Of The Waltz

The Waltz dates back to the country folk dances of Bavaria, more than 400 hundred years ago, but it was not introduced into society until 1812 when it made its appearance in English ballrooms. When the Waltz was first introduced, it was met with outrage! People were shocked to see a man dancing with his hand on a lady's waist! So different from the stately dances of the artistocracy, the Waltz was considered to be a wicked and improper dance! But it gained in popularity and quickly became one of the most popular of all dances. This easy and flowing dance is still commonly seen at weddings and other social events.

The basic compoments of the Waltz are walking steps and side steps. Styling characteristics such as "Sway" and "Rise and Fall" highlight the smooth, lilting beauty of the Waltz.

Fred Astaire vs. Michael Jackson Video Clip

2007 Astaire Awards Championships

Showcase your dancing and make memories of a lifetime at the next Fred Astaire National Competition - the Astaire Awards Championships (AAC) held on July 24-29, 2007! This year’s AAC will be held in a new location - the full-service Westin Hotel in Chicago’s prestigious North Shore district. With dramatic professional shows, gala dinners, fun parties, social dancing interludes, top competitive heats, a world-class judging panel, and generous cash prizes awarded to top teachers and students, the AAC is a premier competition that you won’t want to miss. Whether you’re a newcomer or have competed before, you’ll be amazed at how this thrilling competition will challenge you!

Your time at the AAC will be well-spent. Summer in Chicago means non-stop events, from concerts and movies in the park to baseball games and street festivals. Explore Lake Michigan, Millennium Park, Wrigley Field, hundreds of restaurants, live music, and much more.

You’ll be staying and competing at the Westin Chicago North Shore. This newly opened hotel features luxurious guest rooms and suites, a fully-equipped business center, lounge, expansive fitness center, and indoor pool.

Talk to your dance instructor today about joining us at the AAC! Early Bird registration date is May 29th and Regular registration is June 12th.

Dancing Tips - Forward Walk in the Tango

By Stanley McCalla, a former US amateur champion in Latin, Standard and 10 dances; 4 times US representative to World Championships; Fred Astaire National Dance Board Member and Adjudicator; Fred Astaire Dance Board Examiner; Fred Astaire Smooth Undefeated Champion. Stanley can be reached at or 845-304-9028.

Hello and welcome back to Tip of the Week. In my last two articles, I mentioned how important it is to practice certain techniques that will improve your dancing. I introduced the Forward Walk exercise and the Back Walk exercise in the Smooth & Standard dances. Today, I’ll tell you about the forward walk in Tango.

Stand with the knees slightly more relaxed than in the other Smooth dances with weight on the R.F. Pick up the L.F slightly from the floor and place it in (CBMP) i.e. in front and in line of the R.F with a crisp action. The weight should be taken on the L. edge of the foot first, then the whole foot. At this point, pick up the R.F from the floor with a slight delayed action and place it forward on its own track with a crisp action, also with the L. edge of the foot and with a right shoulder lead. Repeat these two steps slowly making sure that you maintain your center balanced over the middle of your supporting foot.

The Tango is a different animal and a beautiful dance. It takes understanding and practice in order to capture its full characteristic. Next time I will introduce the backward walk of Tango.
Until then make sure that you practice your exercise. You will only get better.

Dancing With The Stars, Season Finale

By Armando Martin, a former US International US Champion and the current National Dance Director for The Fred Astaire Dance Studio chain

Move over American Idol...Dancing With The Stars is here to give you a run for your money! Last night's competition was great but, tonight, the show is competing head to head with American Idol for an audience that - in my mind - would have a much better time watching the dancers than the singers.

I have been following both shows and I have to tell you that Dancing with the Stars has been the winner for me, with such interesting personalities as Laila Ali and Apolo Ono, who you have to tip your hat to for what they have accomplished in their own arenas and for the intensity and work ethic they bring to DWTS. Then you have Joey Fatone whose incredible likability and outgoing persona makes you can't wait to see what he's going to do next.

Simply put, there is a lot more meat to sink your teeth into with DWTS. Unfortunately, the winners of the dance competition will go back to their own lives, with the exception of Stacey Keibler who has done very well due to her appearance in the show, but the singers will go on to be Pop Stars and make millions of dollars.

So this judge's scores are: American Idol: 9; Dancing with the Stars: 10 - but maybe I am a little biased.

Tonight's first couple was Laila and Maks dancing the Paso Doble. She looked fantastic in her red dress, which complimented her body and her coloring. I found her performance very strong and focused with a very good interpretation of the fight that goes on in the Bull Ring. Her steps were strong and her footing was right on target.

I find that Laila does her best dancing when she is left on her own and has an opportunity to move her own body weight around the floor; when she gets in dance positions, she looks uncomfortable and tends to lose her posture and charisma.

Her free style was superb and very entertaining. I disagree with all three judges about her doing classic better than funky. This is a gorgeous lady who can look very classy when she wants, but who I believe to be more comfortable dancing to a good old Motown piece than to a Waltz any day. Good job! Again, the choreography left me wanting to see more - too simple and not very creative but not her fault. Total score after the Mambo: 85.

Next to take the floor tonight was Apolo and Julianne performing the Rumba. First of all - being a man - it was hard for me to watch Apolo at all. Julianne looked so fantastic in her custom, which I believe was Julianne imitating Christina Aguilera who was imitating Marilyn Monroe. Whatever the case - she was outstandingly beautiful and sensual.

I thought their Rumba was very impressive with lots of feeling and a great blend of choreography, technique, and romance. But the thing that I was the most impressed with was Apolo's partnering ability; he was the perfect partner supporting her and giving her all the room that she needed to shine like no one left in the competition can.

The Rumba also caused a bit of a fight between Len and Bruno. I must take Bruno's side on this one. I agreed with Bruno that their Rumba was very good, not too quick as Len said. I think that Len confused speed (which is a plus in dancing) with being too quick, which is not.

For their free style number, they performed a Hip-Hop that was even better than their Rumba. They did have some help choreographing this number but, wow what a number it was! Both Apolo and Julianne took to this number and this new tundra like they have been doing it forever. Great number, great energy, superb tricks and very very far the best dance of the night.

Apolo and Julianne are easily my winners for this season of Dancing with the Stars. Total Score after the Paso Doble: 88.

Last to dance tonight was Joey and Kym. Their first dance was the Cha-cha and it was not a good one. He really showed his size during this dance. I never thought that he looked big or slow even though he is not a small, thin dancer type but tonight he did. His footwork was sloppy and his movements very slow and heavy. The dance was full of tricks and not enough basics, which Len criticized him for, but I think had he put more real Cha-cha in it, it would have been worse.

In the free style part they chose a Disco number that received good comments from the judges, I think, because of Joey's exuberance and need to entertain at all times, but I thought the outfit made him look like a caricature of something out of the 70s. Besides the lifts, which they did very well, the rest of the dance was just OK. I think that Joey secured the third place in this competition with tonight's performance. Total score after the Tango: 86.

The finale proved the point that I made at the beginning of my article. I watched both the American Idol and Dancing with the Stars finales and the latter was much more entertaining and fun to watch.

All three couples performed one last dance on the final night. Apolo and Julianne danced their Paso Doble; Laila and Maks the Mambo; and Joey and Kym the Tango. All three couples were very good and showed why they were the finalists.

After all the scores were tabulated, Laila took home the Bronze and a lot of good memories and left us thinking what a beautiful and classy lady she is. Joey came in second place showing lots of class in defeat. We will never forget what a great entertainer and person he is. Apolo and Julianne became the new Dancing with the Stars winners and for the first time in the history of the show - the best dancers won the competition.

Now that the show is over the question is: What are we all going to do on Monday nights at 8 PM? I have an idea! We should all head over to our nearest Fred Astaire Dance Studio and learn to dance like a star!

Keep dancing everybody and have fun.

Armando Martin

Monday, May 21, 2007

Dancing With The Stars Season Finale Party In Chicago!

The Fred Astaire Dance Studios in Chicago are hosting a "Dancing With The Stars" season finale party benefiting Variety – the Children’s Charity of Illinois.
Beginning at 6 PM. Tuesday, May 22 at EXCALIBUR, 632 North Dearborn Street, Chicago, the event kicks off with a series of high-energy ballroom dance demonstrations led by top dance professionals from Fred Astaire Studios’ Chicagoland locations, including our own world-ranked pros JESSE DeSOTO and JACKIE JOSEPHS.

At 7 PM, fans can catch every minute of Dancing With the Stars Season Finale action live on wide-screen TVs. Admission of $20 per person also includes a complimentary Stoli cocktail and light snacks, entry into a drawing for prizes, and a gift certificate valid for a complimentary dance lesson at any Chicagoland Fred Astaire Dance Studio.Proceeds benefit Variety’s Kids on the Go program which directly aids children by providing wheelchairs, walkers, and other adapted equipment to help kids be kids.

For more information visit our website at or call (312) 822-0660 to obtain tickets.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Dancing With The Stars, Week Nine

By Armando Martin, a former US International US Champion and the current National Dance Director for The Fred Astaire Dance Studio chain

The semifinal round started out with a bang this week on Dancing with the Stars. The audience at the studio seemed to be especially excited during the show - almost keeping the announcers, Tom and Samantha, from being able to do their thing.

By the way, I think that the two of them do a fantastic job. Tom, with his quick wit and clean cut humor, is awesome; I can't think of anyone that would do it better on TV today. Samantha fits the whole show like a glove. She looks like one of the Pro female dancers. She is a dancer herself and her interviewing style puts the contestants at ease while she asks the tough questions.

The first contestants tonight were Apolo and Julianne dancing the Quickstep with superb movement across the floor and a very nice top line but what was most impressive was the fact that he never lost body contact with Julianne and at the same time used his feet with absolutely perfect technique. My only advice for him would be to stay more focused with his eyes on where his body is moving towards because he sometimes looks like his chin is down into his chest.

Their Cha-Cha was great with the exception of his feet, which tend to turn in and give him an awkward look and a weak looking base; once you get past that, his interpretation was rhythmical, fun, and - most of all - very full. One of the things that judges look for in dancing is the ability for the couple to create lots of volume with their bodies and nobody does that better in this competition than Apolo and Julianne. Total Score: 59

In second position tonight was Ian and Cheryl dancing the Tango. Finally I was able to figure out what Ian does that makes him unable to compete with the others - he has the look, the body, and the drive but he dances by stepping out with his feet, which is wrong. Instead he needed to move his body and his center across the floor and have his feet follow that. Unfortunately for Ian, it is too late since he was sent packing after the Wednesday night show.

His Jive as Elvis was easily his best performance of the entire season but it was too little, too late. Total Score: 58

Dancing in the third spot tonight was Laila and Maks. Their rendition of the Quickstep was light, full of movement, and entertaining for the most part. I keep saying this about Maks, who I know very well and who is a great dancer: I do not think he is using Laila's skills to their full advantage.

Although they received all 10s, I think that the choreography was dull and it was more like a bad Samba than a good Quickstep. Maks physically pushed Laila too hard with his own body in trying to create big movement which caused her to lose her top line and balance at times.

Their Cha-Cha was again very good; she is very sexy and looks great but if they are going to stay in this competition they are going to have to be smarter about the material they use. Total Score: 60 (ridiculous)

Joey and Kym were the last to take the dance floor, dancing the Fox-Trot. In this dance, they truly captured the feeling of the American Style. They were strong but light, fun but showed great depth of technique, a little too tricky at times but this guy knows what wins competitions and they are not leaving anything out.

What can you say about their Jive? Last week, I was so impressed by Apolo's Paso Doble; this week was Joey's Jive! He showed great use of feet, legs, personality plus, and a great control and flexibility that I think only he can do. Great job!

I think that in the next show we are going to see Joey and Apolo duke it out for the TOP spot. They are better dancers and entertainers and their teachers know how to bring out the best performances in them every single week.

The only thing that truly disappointed me this week was the judges. To give 10s across the board like they did is a sign that they are being nice to all the contestants or that they don't care. In my mind, these so called "experts" need to guide the audiences with their opinion and knowledge. Most importantly, a judge's job is to make up their mind who should be first, second and third. By indiscriminately handing out perfect scores to four people during the same competition on the same night, they are copping out and not doing what they are getting paid to do - pick a winner.

I will be back in touch next week. Happy dancing.

Armando Martin

Friday, May 11, 2007

True Hollywood Story: Dancing With The Stars!

Premiering Saturday, May 19th at 8:00pm ET/5:00pm PT, The E! True Hollywood Story takes you behind the competition that launched a thousand steps, topped Nielsen ratings, initiated a North American tour and introduced its own DVD line. This show will feature Dancing With The Stars' champions Kelly Monaco (Season 1), 98 Degrees’ Drew Lachey (Season 2), former NFL star Emmitt Smith (Season 3) and former contestants Jerry Springer, Mario Lopez and Evander Holyfield, Ian Ziering ("Beverly Hills 90210"), Heather Mills, Billy Ray Cyrus and Leeza Gibbons. So waltz on over to your TV set and don't miss the "true story" behind this award-winning show!

Dancing With The Stars, Week Eight

By Armando Martin, former undefeated US International Champion and the current National Dance Director for the Fred Astaire Dance Studios chain.

With the semifinals beginning next week, all the competitors put their best efforts forward last night on Dancing with the Stars, and what a night it was! It had all the ingredients of a good Soap Opera with controversy, drama, fun, bad dancing, great dancing, good looking, sexy people and a very touching moment when Laila performed for her father, Muhammad Ali, who looked on with pride and amazement in his eyes as she danced across the floor.

All the competitors had to dance two numbers tonight and you can tell by the quality of the dances that they are getting more comfortable with every week that goes by.

The first couple tonight was Ian and Cheryl. Their first dance was the Fox-Trot. Contradictory to the judges' opinions, I thought that Ian did a great job with this dance. His interpretation of the music he was given was right on cue, he was light and bouncy, looked great in his smooth suit, and looked like he was having fun. I thought that the two 7s he received from the judges were undeserved. Their second dance was the Rumba. In this dance, his posture was not very good; for a guy who is as young and in shape as he is, it looks to me that his core is weak and does not support the connection between his upper body and his legs as well as it should, creating some weak looking top and shoulder lines.

Next to take the floor was Joey and Kym. I was very surprised to see them in the bottom two this week. His Waltz was truly fantastic, he was soft, light and showed all the right characteristics of this dance. I was especially pleased with the way that he stayed in his side of the dance frame showing good control and an excellent ballroom silhouette throughout the entire number. Folks - this is very hard to do. Unfortunately for Joey, his Mambo was by far the worse number he has done the whole competition. The judges did not agree with my assessment on this one but what I saw was a lack of understanding about this dance from Kym (who is Australian and not familiar with the Mambo) when choreographing it. Again, I must disagree with Len about his comment regarding Joey dancing on the two beat because they never once during the dance hit the right beat. In my opinion, Joey faltered a bit when he started the dance and he never truly recovered.

Dancing the country Fox-Trot this week was the self proclaimed hillbilly Billy Ray. For a guy who is a very good singer and can obviously put a lot of feeling and emotion in his voice, when it comes to dancing that feeling gets lost somewhere between his head and his feet. He basically just walked around somewhat to the beat of the music with no technique to speak of. His Mambo, on the other hand, while still lacking any technical attributes was a lot of fun to watch and reminded everyone what has kept him in the competition this long. I think that Karina, being a smart choreographer, let him do his own thing to the music and used that in their routines instead of actually trying to make him do things he did not do well.

Laila and Maks danced a beautiful, soft Waltz tonight, which she dedicated to her Dad. As always, Laila showed great balance and control throughout her performance. Unfortunately, for me, the choreography lacked the beauty and risk factor that is so important at this stage of the competition; to Laila's credit, she did fantastic with what she was given. Her Jive also left me wanting more from her this week. She made good use of her boxing footwork during this dance with all the kicks, hops and flicks but her shoulders made her look a little heavy and her elbows must be closer to her body in order for her to look more centered and lighter. I also think that Randy, the costume designer for the show and a very talented guy, did not do her any favors with that black dress; in hindsight, if she had worn a dress that showed her outstanding physique a bit more, I would most likely not be talking about her elbows today.

What can one say about Apolo and Julianne other than - Bravo!!!! First of all, I have to give Julianne kudos for the incredible job that she is doing teaching this young man and choreographing his numbers. We must remember that she is only 18 years old and, although being a very experienced dancer, she has risen to a new level as a teacher and choreographer. Apolo did a great job dancing a Tango to Swing music, something that I think the judges did not take under consideration when giving their critiques. But who remembers that Tango after he danced the Paso Doble? In my mind, that dance put him in a level all by himself in this competition. This young man has true talent and I think has a very real possibility at a second career as a professional Rhythm competitor when he retires from speed skating. His footwork, feel, partnering abilities and incredible shapes made his Paso Doble the judges choice for the encore performance for Wednesday night when - once again - he did not disappoint us.

It was nice to see Tony and Elena dancing on the Wednesday night show - keeping us well aware of what real dancing should look like.

I'll be back next week to share my thoughts about the first week of the semifinals.

Happy Dancing,
Armando Martin

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

ABC's Dancing With The Moms Competition

In a take-off of ABC's hit show Dancing With The Stars, now Good Morning America presents the Dancing With The Moms Challenge! Videos of moms dancing are shown on Good Morning America from late April to mid May. Viewers will vote for their favorites over the weeks.The four moms who receive the most votes will be selected to come to New York City for six days in May to learn a variety of dances and perform them on the show. Each day, one couple will be eliminated. The final two dance pairs will compete for the championship before a panel of judges.

World Champion Teaches At Minnesota Studio!

The Fred Astaire Rochester, Minnesota studio will welcome 4 Time Italian National Standard and Latin Champion and 1 Time World Standard Champion Stefano Franceschi as a special guest teacher in their studio on May 29th through June 2nd. Franceschi, an Italian native from Venice, will teach private lessons and two workshops: Technique For Turns (5/30 at 7pm) and Introduction To Quickstep (5/31 at 7pm). Studio owners Andrea Mirenda and Patrick Ellner are very excited to host such a world-class dancer! For more information, please contact the studio at 507-282-9811 or

Monday, May 07, 2007

Funny Dancing Video Clip!

Fred Astaire Students Comment On Competition

Fred Astaire students Tara and Greg Figurski competed for the first time at the latest National Dance Competition in Vegas. For these hard working amateur dancers, the competition meant more than just their performance placement. Through their ballroom dance lessons, they've found an interesting hobby to share and a way to stay phsyically fit. Read more about their experiences at the Fred Astaire Cross Country DanceSport Championships.

No Reason To Fear Ballroom Dancing!

The Fred Astaire Dance Studio has turned up the music in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan! In this Oakland Press profile of the studio, Evan Mountain, co-owner of the studio, claims: "Everybody says they have two left feet, and we say that's OK because we have a roomful of two right feet!" Read more about this fun studio.

Dancing Tips - Backward Walk

By Stanley McCalla, a former US amateur champion in Latin, Standard and 10 dances; 4 times US representative to World Championships; Fred Astaire National Dance Board Member and Adjudicator; Fred Astaire Dance Board Examiner; Fred Astaire Smooth Undefeated Champion. Stanley can be reached at or 845-304-9028.

Hello and welcome back to the Tip of the Week. In my last article, I mentioned how important it is to practice certain techniques that will improve your dancing. I introduced the Forward Walk exercise. Today, I’ll tell you about the Backward Walk in Smooth and Standard dances, except Tango.

Start with feet together, weight on R.F with the back straight, tailbone between feet, shoulders lined up vertically over hips.

Proceed by flexing the right knee and at the same time extending the left foot backwards from the hip, a normal length step, ball of foot first, then toe, then again on the ball of foot. At the extent of the stride, both legs will straighten slightly; the body should be balance between the ball of the L.F and the heel of the R.F.

Transfer weight back on L.F, taking care not to lower the left heel. Continue to move the body back to finish over L.F. At that point move the right foot back to the L.F and the left heel should lower instantly to the floor.

Continue this exercise extending the R.F back.

Answer to the question in the last article:

(What is CBM?)
This term is described as contra body movement (i.e.) your leading foot and your opposite shoulder are moving in the same direction. This term is usually introduced at the Bronze level. CBM is usually used to initiate turns. If you are a Bronze student and don’t know about it yet, sooner or later your teacher will explain it to you. More on that later, but meanwhile, practice your exercises; you will only get better!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Alley Faith and Russ Larson Dance Contest

Alley Faith from Milwaukee's Wes, Rahny, and Alley morning show struts her stuff with dance instructor Russ Larson from the Menomonee Falls studio.

Click here to view the video!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Dancing With The Stars, Week Seven

By Armando Martin, Fred Astaire National Dance Director

It was a great night at Dancing with the Stars last Tuesday. As a long time professional dancer and competitor, I must give all the stars and their teachers a lot of credit for being able to put two dances together and perform them as well as they did in only 5 days. It blew my mind that that can be done by non professional dancers.

This week's competition is absolutely bringing the cream to the top. It was very evident by their dancing that some of the contestants still there did not really belong there and probably should have departed a few weeks ago.

So let us take a look at all the dancers one by one.

First tonight was Laila Ali and Maks. Laila is an absolutely natural dancer, athlete and lady. The Quick Step is not an easy dance to do but tonight - with her great use of feet, legs, and absolute and total control over her body - she made it look as though she has been doing it for years. I felt that Maks could have challenged her more in the Choreography department but she did fantastic with what she was given.

In the Samba, Maks did a much better job of choreographing Laila's part in order to bring out her best talents and also was smart enough to use her attributes. She has beauty, talent and a great strength of center, not to mention her sexual portrayal of the dance. The only negative that I saw was her arms - although they are beautiful and long, they sometimes look like she is struggling to find the right place to put them. Total Score for Maks and Laila: 59

The second couple dancing that evening was John Ratzenberger and Edyta. They danced a Fox-trot and a Rumba. John was a very lucky gentleman to make it as far as he did. His footwork and overall technique was very much lacking throughout the competition but I think that his soft Teddy Bear look and pleasant demeanor won him a lot of fans. Also, I am sure that most people remember him from his days on Cheers (as I do). John and Edyta were sent home the next night with a total score of 45.

Next to take the dance floor was Apolo Ohno and Julianne Hough. If you have ever seen Apolo on the ice, you would know what an intense competitor he is and it would be clear that under that cute smile and almost shy attitude he has a killer instinct in him. It is that instinct and the perfect body and shape for a dancer that makes him one of my picks for the last three finalists. Apolo and Julianne started out with a Fox-trot that was so well done that it would have made the final of a small Rising Star event. His frame was impeccable and it allowed him to make some wonderful shapes and move across the floor with the balance and fluidity of an accomplished Gold level Student. His rendition of the Mambo was just as strong. He is so over his feet when he dances, which I guess you can attribute to his ice skating training, that he can do just about any type of step or trick and pull it off without a hinge. His hip action, foot work posture and rhythmicality made him the guy to beat.

Len Goodman's comments about his wanting more from Apollo and giving kudos to John can only account for the fact that he feels that a younger, more talented performer can do more than an older one, but in this case Apolo is by a wide margin.

Total score for Apolo and Julianne: 54

In the fourth order of appearance this evening was Ian and Cheryl dancing a Tango and a Mambo. Ian, to me, has the best body and presence to pull off a great upset. He is tall, very good looking, has long legs arms and very flexible feet, but I think he lacks a full understanding of what dancing is all about and is too self aware of that fact. His Tango tonight was not very good. His frame was very loose and he was almost squatting when he danced; however, his Mambo was much better. He kept his knees bent and stayed low to the ground the whole time giving Cheryl a good strong base from which to dance herself.

In my opinion, Ian needs to learn his steps faster than just work on the feeling and musicality, because he does have the physical attributes to be a contender. Total Score for Ian and Cheryl: 54

What can you say about Billy Ray? I very much appreciate his exuberance, his trying hard, his dedication to the job at hand, but what I do not appreciate is his dancing. All he can do is just get through the steps. Karina - who is by far the best female pro in the competition - has done a good job of giving him choreography that allows him to shine with personality but he is very much lacking technique and posture. You have to like the guy. He is very charismatic, funny and very humble for someone as accomplished as he is in the music world, but after he goes home next week we will truly have a dance competition in our hands. Total Score for Billy Ray and Karina: 38

Tying Laila and Maks also with a 59 was Joey and Kym. This guy you just have to like. He is funny, very talented and by far the best Character in the competition. Previous seasons had George Hamilton and John O'Hurley; this season, we have Joey. This guy is going to be the one to beat. He has talent, good footwork, great feeling for the dances, and he puts it all together in a great package that entertains you from beginning to end.

His Fox-trot was smooth, well expressed, and dynamic. Again, Len did not like the razzle dazzle, but that is what dancing should be when it is done with all the ingredients mixed in the right amount.

His Jive was full of life and packed with difficult kicks and tricks that he handled like a seasoned pro. His technique was strong, his posture excellent, and his performance flawless for a guy who's been working on this for only a few weeks.

I think that next week is going to be the beginning of the real competition so don't miss it. I'll be back in touch next Wednesday as well.