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


Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed your critique of week nine. I am no expert, but your comments seemed right on. I was in consternation at all the tens. I suspect that the judges pruposely wanted the finalists to have a level field to make the fans more excited than ever. I especially could not understand the ten for Laila's quickstep because she seemed to be lagging behind Maks at times. I really enjoy Maks dancing, but he is not the one being judged. However, he has a rabid female fan base and they are all talking on the boards about each one voting at least 100 times. (Who has that much free time?) Can we say cheating? So who knows what will happen in the finals. I really think Apolo will win unless he has gum stuck to his shoes by a rival! LOL Thought Joey did very well also. He is more agile than he looks. Looking forward to your finals critique!

Anonymous said...

Okay America!!!!! Get serious!!!! Joey is the one! He's an entertainer and he can dance. Wow, for a big guy, he's light on his feet! "The kids" are really good, but they have a life ahead of them. Laila is a chip off the old block (a little egotisical). Joey is the most natural and an all round, wholesome guy! He needs a break! GO JOEY!!!!!!!!