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Nov. 24th, 2016

Twisted Reality: Hinch Dances Best; but Hype Wins DWTS Trophy for Laurie

s to emotional content. it was a 

Nov. 17th, 2016

PART II, DWTS Semifinal Night: Quite Tight, Hope They Get It Right! My Wishlist 1,2,3!

Hector's Wish List: #1 James, for the MBT. #2 Laurie  #3 Calvin #4 Jana . According to the  dance couple that gave me the most cathartic pleasure and inspiration in watching them. In selecting my wish list ranking I considered the Couple's Charisma, which I think is ESSENTIAL. Not only about the bond or connection between Pro and Star, and the way the Celeb apprentice mastered their routines,but about the challenge in range and choreography that the Pro was able to offer. In that sense, Sharna's the Master. She should have won and MBT years ago! Also in that sense,I was tempted to give Calvin and Lindsay 2nd place. They have  a closer bond than Laurie and Val, and have so much FUN dancing together! Lindsay also excells in imaginative choreography! We had hoped for Terra & Sasha over Jana & Gleb, It didn't happen.

As for Pat's Wish List:  #1 James & Sharna MBT #2 Calvin & Lindsay (yes, Pat did what I was tempted to do!) #3 Laurie & Val #4 Jana & Gleb. (Pat is convinced that Terra and Sasha should have been in the finals, were it not for the production's push.) Now let's talk about the rest of the Semifinal dances, all great! #3 Jana & Gleb + Alan in Trio, #4 Calvin& Lindsay +Witney in Trio, #5 Laurie & Val + Maks trio.

3a. Shoe Boutique Hampers Quickstep Mystique

Jana Kramer & Gleb Savchenko
Style: Quickstep    
"Go Mama" - Wayne Beckford

To see Jana & Gleb's Quickstep, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDeeOV3G1Gk

HECTOR SAYS: A Quickstep in a high fashion Beverly Hills shoe boutique? Right after a Waltz in a Diner? Plus, what about the purple baby carriage? It's because the song is "Go Mama", so Jana's really a fashion plate mama looking for little girl's shoes? Wo! So contrived! I smell the hand of production trying to make Jana Kramer look more glamorous (and frivolous )that she already looks! Shouldn't they give Jana more gravitas?  One lousy production idea after the other, and I very much doubt they're Gleb's! I really see the glib hand of bad production going for the superficial in Jana, as if she needed more of that! We really need Len back to drive some sense into production ideas that should  fit and enhance the dance, or not at all! The shoe store idiotic idea just took valuable dance time to show us their Quickstep chops  at the beginning and at the end. Their Quickstep chops weren't all that bad, but then they broke their hold to do some nonsensical side by side and lift(?). Gleb's frame and posture was amazing, which made Jana's flawed frame (Julianne said she should sway her neck to the side, not straight up and back) look worse! If you break the hold in the middle, you're bound to get Jana to flub her posture twice! And she did! I went EEK when Bruno said "proper Quickstep",the gave her a PERFECT score?? Is Bruno losing his touch? He did say it was glamorous and SLICK! Sure was! Bruno's often blinded by superficial, lightweight  "glamour". I've seen better Quickstep, with less ridiculous nonsensical set up! If Calvin's Tango got an 8 from Carrie Ann, this deserved a 7, proportionately. So FAUX!

PAT SAYS: Jana received a big sentimental push in her package. All about having to overcome the death of her dad as a girl, and then making all the wrong husband choices while looking for her lost father! She tells us she's healing by the power of DWTS and Gleb's support in dancing. That is inspiring! We wish Jana well,sincerely! But this Quickstep didn't show me her great dance progress! It was just another ho-hum Quickstep for me. Gleb wasted time dilly dallying in the beginning. It was a good Quickstep with some mistakes that were handily overlooked by the judges.  While in hold, I felt like she was bent back to much Her posture needed work tonight.  My thought, "if only Len were here", he'd open his colleagues eyes, and help the couple improve!  Oh well! It was a "good performance" but then again, did it deserve a 9, 9, 10? Are the Judges "under the influence"? SCORES  Judges:  28/30     Pat:  26/30  B   Hector  25/30  B-

3b. A Dazzling Paso Trio but Slightly Not Perfect

Jana Kramer Trio with Alan Bernstein & Gleb Savchenko
Style: Pasodoble       "Kill of the Night"—Gin Wigmore

To see Jana, Gleb and Alan's Pasodoble Trio, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qsIcAIjVok&t=237s

HECTOR SAYS: Jana & the Guys really razzle-dazzled in this one: Whoop, Whoop! It played up to precisely Jana & Gleb's glamour assets, or "The Image" Production has tried to promote for her.  I don't blame them, THEY, in this case all three of' em, Jana, Gleb and Alan make an irrestibly appealing trio of sexy charmers! Why wouldn't Production be interested in pushing them? I watched the package three times. What an engagingly flirtatious trialogue! All three were sweet and delightful acting, reacting and rehearsing. Their potent appeal graduated from cute interaction in rehearsals to major Va-Va-Voom Vamp seductive appeal in their stylishly bewitching Pasodoble! Look at the start in the pic above, what mesmerizing classy style!They were  gorgeous, all three plus the stylized b&w Art deco costuming and ambiance! Down to the detail that Maleficent Jana's Collar had the same design as the lovely winter tree in the background. Like any work of art, everything in this Trio Pasodoble fell perfectly into place ,nothing in concept, movement,content or looks or was superfluous. I did wonder if it had proper Pasodoble content. Their gorgeous number didn't look like true Paso, it looked better, more alluring! But then Alan saved the day! While Jana and Gleb danced in hold, Alan leaped and did a classic Toreador move, arms up body tensed like for the kill.Cool! I watched it again and saw Gleb also do some more genuine Paso stuff, it was all over the place. Jana performed well, with great presence and appeal as the Queen of Whatever; but after a third look, I realized two things, (1) She was not to convincing as the boys in the forceful, rounded Paso lines or moves; and (2) Jana did not stand out as forcefully in her trio as compared to her competitors..Jana has the least force, passion and determination. All eyes go to James or Calvin or Laurie in their Trios, but in Jana's Trio the boys took over, had more energy and brio in their Paso moves. The Y's had it over the gentle Queen. Jana was gorgeous and appealing, but hardly had the charisma and presence of James, Laurie or Calvin. And especially not the grit and inspired fervor of  Little Terra, an erupting dance volcano!

PAT SAYS What is it about Jana that I am always left wishing for MORE! Like starchy take-out Chinese food. The background, scenery, costuming, with the beautiful tree in sillhuoette had such STYLE, it felt like the production for Broadway show.AMAZING! I loved the sophistication of the set-up, and the dance flair of the dancing MEN! But as I watched Jana's Paso intently, I wonder. Did Jana dance or walk her way through this Pasodoble? Yes! she walked. She played her character well and had all the expressive content necessary but the specific Pasodoble moves, steps and authenticity were not that well performed. Especially weak was the part at the end when she was facing Gleb and Alan. It felt and looked to me like she was stomping and not dancing.  She lacked finesse in her movements. She's done it better before! Yes, the Pasodoble perfomance was good. Jana, however, wasdefinitely was not as outstanding and forceful as her competitors. SCORES Judges:  30/30     Pat:  26/30    A-    Hector: 29/30  A

True Grit & Nobility
4a.  Charismatic Calvin Makes Great Strides in Tango

Calvin Johnson & Lindsay Arnold
Style: Tango    
"Seven Nation Army - The White Stripes

To see Calvin & Lindsay's Tango, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dq2BF012Y8

HECTOR SAYS; When Calvin sweeps Lindsay across that Ballroom, they take my breath away. There's something about Calvin that gives me pride, inspiration and joy! Is it to see such a splendid athlete dance so gloriously, a bigger than life persona? Part of the reason for my pride in these two exhilarating dancers is  remembering how Calvin didn't dance squat on week 11 Just shows what a big football Star can do when he sets his mind and coordinated body to do well!  How can Carrie Ann say Jana has progressed the most? Jana has remained stagnant, like most pretty starlets on DWTS who can't go past the fifth week! Calvin is nobility and true grit personified and his force and dignity was palpable in this Tango. What beauty in his long strides, and the way he and Lindsay look in frame, when Lindsay euphorically turns her head and leans exquisitely. Gotta have heart, style and personality, add ten tons of potent showmanship! There was a little faux pas, when Lindsay tried to do a Tango gancho around his leg, but Calvin forgot to pause. Consummate pro, Lindsay didn't stumble, but rolled around holding on to Calvin. They went right on, fluidly into the next Tango paseo, as if nothing happened. Bravo! Aha! But it was just what Carrie Ann Inaba held on,(with added intangible BS)  to justify giving What? An 8!! On Semifinals Night, when Judges typically overscore every single semi-finalist? We could see right through her true colors! I liked the strong content and straightforward no-nonsense dignity of Calvin's noble Tango. And what about the very creative beginning, with black-gloved ladies arms grabbing the dancers? Lindsay's little cute flourishes! Loved it!
PAT SAYS; Calvin and Lindsay did a fine Tango. The only mistake that I noticed was a slip on Linndsay's dress or was it that Lindsay tripped? I couldn't really tell. Calvin makes each dance his own.  That kick he did over Lindsay's head was amazing!! He portrayed the character of this dance forcefully. perhaps a tad too much. I agree always when Calvin dances with what Len said in the package tonight:
"Watching you dance gives me joy!".It always a BIG, happy event watching Calvin and Lindsay dance.  It wasn't his best dance, but really...an 8 from Carrie Ann! Dutiful to the show's directors, this looked so bad.An obvious attempt to get Jana into the semifinals! Shameless lack of credibiliy.Another reason for me to say: ALOHA, INABA She needs to GO!! SCORES Judges:    26/30    Pat: 27/30 A-   HECTOR;  28/30  A

4b. Calvin's Salsa Tri-Oomph:  Never seen on DWTS!

Calvin Johnson, Lindsay Arnold, & Witney Carson
Style: Salsa                       "Limbo" - Daddy Yankee

To see Calvin, Lindsay & Witney's Trio, click here: Salsa only: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zymRg1yfkIU
Package & Dance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxe-FyPaGXs&t=203s

HECTOR'S SAYS: Calvin, Lindsay and Witney's Salsa was pure fun from from package to performance! The audience was screaming from beginning to end of their feisty, daring SALSA! Calvin and Lindsay is a no drama, no angst happy dancing couple. With all the schmaltz on the DWTS couples' packages, it's SO refreshing to see uncomplicated happy celebs & unconceited Pros just dancing their hearts out! Calv & Lindz have formed an easygoing & friendly close bond. Witney and Lindsay ,as every DWTS fan knows,are Utah's dancing sweethearts and are forever best friends. It was the natural Trio choice. Judging from their Salsa Power Results, this was a Trio Made in Heaven!  Lindsay says on rehearsals they have to show the audience something they never have seen before. They DID. The MOST FUN SALSA EVER ON DWTS. It was Zumba Salsa by Puerto Rican Daddy Yankee,who wrote this to bring something different, imaginative, "a Salsa rhythm that will ignite creativity." Just what Lindsay wants! They produce a Salsa Tri-oomph. Whoo-Hoo! Calvin proved AGAIN  he's open to learn all and risk everything, this time from two very gifted dancers, It's what true heroes do! He gets a kick from the dance energy his teachers have,and they surely pass that energy, fire and skills on to him. He already has the tantalizing charisma and showmanship. A few short lessons and the man in the middle takes the flash away from  dazzling pros!  What a delight to see the "tree" do their dizzying experimental combination of booty shakes, formation counterpoint, interlacing turns, and dazzling complex lifts, while keeping perfect sync and true sensual Salsa beat. And Calvin's da MAN! He's the one keeping us in awe, while at one point he does a gravity defying lift. Lindsay is  slung from his waist holding Witney's FEET, while Wit is hooked to Calvin's neck holding Lindsay's FEET!! And what about the geometrical hand formations the three do in perfect sync, on stomping feet! Makes me feel Calvin & Lindsay (drop in Witney too!) should win the MBT!

PAT SAYS; Ok! or K, like we say in TN! The Calvin, Lindsay, Witney Salsa Trio was just W-O-W! This dance was UNIQUE, DWTS stand-out fun! It made me wanna be out there and wiggle my fanny with'em! Did you see Bruno wiggle out of his chair? Woo,Hoo! This Salsa Trio made us all want to Salsa, their energy was so contagious! This performance was  pure entertainment euphoria; really dazzling showmanship!  Don't even dare question its Salsa content, it taught us what Salsa's all about: FUN following our sensual body rythms .It was Salsa taken to the edge, pure Salsa Power! Calvin so nailed it, looked larger than Latino life! The awesome historical-hysterical Calvin lift was amazeballs A lift invented by Lindsay especially for Calvin's  tall potential: Lindsay ad Witney both whirling around Calvin like an airplane propeller! I can't say enough about how Lindsay has dazzled us this season wth her awesome gift for teaching and choreography...and she's aww so nice ! Ahh! How I adore Calvin's brilliance and progress! He's MBT WORTHY, or at least deserves no less than 2ND PLACE! SCORES   Judges:  30/30     Pat:  30/30     A+    HECTOR; 30/30  A+

Laurie's Foxtrot
5a. More Tango Force than Foxtrot Lightness

To see Laurie & Val's Foxtrot click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uq_mCFBBfpQ

HECTOR SAYS: How can a dance be fairly critiqued after such a sad package as we saw for Laurie? It started out sentimental as usual, nothing much different than standard packages, talking about how Grandma Hernandez was the one who brought her family to New York for a better life, new horizons. Then after playing up Laurie's special bond with Abuela, and how Laurie feels guilty about her commitments not enabling her  to visit at her at her Old Folks home,an unexpected bombshell: Wriiten words appear on screen that Laurie's Grandma had passed away after the package interview. Then the announcement is followed by Grandma heartwrenchingly saying goodbye,:"I'm proud of you...continue doing the way you want it"...Flash forward to confetti falling on Laurie like if she has won the MBT! Stunning! The poignant story was real and true, but did we appreciate the really distasteful exploitation? I wish I could talk about the Foxtrot without the influence of that package. Julianne did a fair and touching sweet and reasonable comment. Bruno and Carrie Ann were crippled in schmaltz, overflowing with undeserved praise. Bruno indecently saying how "complex" and "full of content" this Foxtrot was, etc. etc. etc.?Gimme a break! it was a fair Foxtrot, nothing especially creative or outstanding about it.Ialso thought  it looked too much like a Tango. look at the pics above, they're pure Tango!  Laurie did dance it full of feeling and adding meaning by her fluidity of lovely movement and expression. Was it more creative, impactful and meaningful  than her main competitor's (James) Argentine Tango? No it wasn't I'm very sorry about Laurie's grandmother, but it won't affect my voting for James as a beter dancer overall. Laurie's lack of life experience and overtraining in gymnastics hampers her ethos and mystique as a dancer. She still looks like a little girl adapting her gymnastic training to dance. Laurie still needs more softness, true dance artistry and graceful feminine magic.  

PAT SAYS: Why did this Foxtrot seem harsh to me? It was very staccato-like, a bit disconnected. It lacked the flowing and graceful movements that I love in Foxtrot. It was sad to hear that Laurie lost her grandma. That said,  I also felt that TPTB used this to their advantage, to further their agenda.  I place no blame on Laurie. I feel for her but I just thought that her grandma's deth  was exploited as a promotional boost for the show, without delicate caring for Laurie's feelings.About the dance, let's forget the sad incident. Laurie has had difficulty all season in her Ballroom style dances.  She has issues in expressing a more graceful feminine side. She should have been more critiqued for it (She was called out for it in her awful Paso, but then criticism stopped)), maybe she'd have shown more progress in losing that gymnastic harshness she still has.  Again, it was a good dance, but if someone else had been dancing it, it wouldn't get a perfect score from the Judges!  SCORES   Judges:  30/30    Pat:  27/30     A-   Hector: 28/30   A

5b. Neither Samba nor Trio, but 30/30.
 Will Laurie Win on Hype & Sympathy?

Laurie Hernandez, Val & Maks Chmerkovsliy
Style: Samba      "Magalenha"- Sergio Mendez

To see Laurie. Val & Maks Samba Trio, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2VjsQopyGY

A Trio not a Trio? And a Samba lacking Samba? I was totally befuddled by Laurie's Trio performance, It seemed short on Samba and short on Trio, and also, short on dancing, simply more like a sitcom which not too much of a script. As a Samba, it was altogether. hampered more than it was helped in Samba content and  mastery by the cute little story weaved into it. Maks, the logical choice for Laurie and Val's Trio choice,  plays a Samba teacher training Laurie and Val to compete. The three move from rehearsal to competition. That's it! In between, there is some good.. hot and elegant Samba, but not enough of it to leave the impression of having watched a rich, stellar, complex and content-full Samba. What it had, however was very well danced by Laurie,with ease and grace as I've never seen her have up till now. But much too basic, it left me wishing for more! Then there's the Trio shortage. Maks the Samba dancing School Master keeps walking in and out of the performance as befits and arrogant Maestro. Good acting performance, but half the dancing the other Trios got from their third member! Again, when Maks was THERE, present and dancing, Maks was GREAT! But Maks running in and out of the performance left me totally thinking we were short-changed. Think of how much heart, skill, commitment, or plain D-A-N-C-E, Witney, or Alan,or Jenna or Artem put into their Trios! I felt cheated out of a Samba performance by Maks! As to the little Maks Dancing School story, and Maks playing the exacting, concerned Mentor to Laurie and Val- yes, it was cute, charming and ingenious. But even that script seemed like it lacked a plot ending. At the end I was stumped and bewildered, how the Chmerkovskiy's went on a tangent and managed to get away with a perfect score by means of a charm, fluff and smoke and mirrors in lieu of dancing merit.. A blatant disfavor to Laurie relative to the hard effort the others put in! Ironic, that, in a sense,the passing away of Laurie's grandmother, saved the day for Laurie and Val! it pushed the Judges to ignore the glaring flaws in their dancing, due to sympathy. And perhaps,the same sympathy chain effect,  may  serve to induce the voters to favor Grandma's favorite over Hinchcliffe, who in my opinion has higher dance merit to make him a more just and deserving MBT winner..The Hinch and Sharna have achieved their wins without the company's favor, all on their own! That's life!

PAT SAYS;  What about Laurie, Val and Maks Trio Samba? This was a Trio Dance, right?  Where was Maks?  The least third member participation tat I have ever seen in a Trio Dance! Of course, no mention by the judges of that little fact, when they gave the Trio a PERFECT SCORE!. Was it a good Samba? For Laurie's abilities, I thought it was a bit basic.  There wasn't a lot of challenging content.  I felt Terra's Samba earlier in the season was much better and had more movement.  Laurie's Samba rolls were good but other than that  I  thought she just twirled around the dance floor. Val did her a disservice by not giving her more challenging content.  It was yet another spurious spotlight dance for Laurie - Neither Maks nor the Troupe gave us much Samba to see in this more acted out than danced story. I expected much more from this Trio. SCORES; Judges:  30/30      Pat:  26/30  B+    Hector:  28/30  A

                         Cumulative                                      Cumulative
                        (up to wk 9)       Wk 10 score       (incl wk 10)           Place
Laurie                                    368                       60                       428                      1                
James                                   366                       59                        425                     2
Jana                                      350                       58                       408                     3
Calvin                                    346                       56                       402                     4

Nov. 15th, 2016

In a Tough Competetive Night, Hinchcliffe Reigns Supreme! Terra & Sharna Go in Style!

What a Night of Semifinals! They all did perfect dance performances, but the Judges managed to see some flaw to push the ones Production wanted to "enhance". Watch who goes last. It's the favored one and it was Laurie & Val. The Hinch went first, and one would think the SHOW wanted him to slip, but NO HE DIDN'T! Hinch & Sharna razzle-dazzled in a stellar Argentine Tango performance, and tripled the dazzle in the most frigging,swaggering, sexiest, syncopated Jive Trio ever seen on DWTS! Sharna Burgess, was at her most creative. What a dancer, teacher and inventive choreographer! She cooked up a fascinating idea (or two) to raise the ante: The Blindfold Tango! And a spectacular ending! Hinch blindfolds Sharna at the Tango beginning. It's meant to shift total responsibility and control to the dominating male, the HINCH! Sharna must trust James to guide her. It adds suspense, danger, interest to the Tango. The music is genuine hot Argentine, the same Gotan Project music JLo & Richard Gere danced to in the film "Shall we Dance". When will this show realize that Tango loses it's allure and sensuality with any other music but THE ONE! They were one with the music, all the right moves,swift enganche, gliding barridas, exquisite ochos, exciting voleo, elegant promenade with great frame ad posture, Then there was The Tango Chair, a commonly used prop, but wait, this time it gave life to the most beautiful sexy formations, and OMG it was the scene of The Piece de Resistance: Sharna curves back sexily over the chair, and The Great Hinch  does a handstand on top of Sharna, Ahhh! Perfectly poised, like a diving champion.Never ever seen-the audience GASPED! So did I. What delight! At last, a suave, smooth, sophisticated Argentine Tango! Julianne said it just right: "the Tango we have seen a lot this season has been hard and aggressive, but this is what an Argentine Tango is. It’s controlled and sexy and has dynamic and passion." Bruno praised it as well: That was an Argentine Grand Prix! What is amazing is the trust between the partners, you were totally on top of it and you never missed a nuance in the music, everything was spot on." Carrie Ann, oh my, she's TPTB agent! What she says is what the Production wants! She reprimanded Hinch for his (non-existent) WOBBLES!  Two 10's and one 9-guess who? Carrie Ann saves her 10's for Jana and Laurie! But the voters knew this not "hard and agressive Tango", but "controlled, sexy and passionate", was the MBT deserving one.. They will vote accordingly to compensate Hinch!
To see James & Sharna's Argentine tango, click here:
Style: Argentine Tango       "Santa Maria (del Buen Ayre)"- Gotan Project
Now normally, I would follow my recap about Hinch's magnificent Argentine Tango, with my collaborator's ( Pat Halford) take on it. HOWEVER, Pat  is still heated up about the show's intrusive manipulation after her EPIPHANY last week about the show's intrusive manipulation and effort to influence the vote. Usually she doesn't send any introduction. Here's her latest, which I have  titled:

A  DWTS loving FAN's earnest PLEA, in respectful desperationI by Pat Halford

DEJA VU! Again we see another great dancer leave, instead of one that TPTB pushed, at another  semi finals of another season of DWTS.  Terra was eliminated. An inspiring "Little Giant", in order to accommodate TPTB agenda to get Jana and Gleb into the finale.  Overall, from week one till now, Terra was/is the better dancer over Jana. Carrie Ann was atrociously WRONG when she said that Jana had shown the most growth from the beginning. Of the 5 left, Jana and Laurie are the two who have shown the least growth. They're on the same track, the same style. Terra, Calvin and James have shown much more,off the charts, progress! How many more seasons will we watch TPTB manipulate the show before we throw in the towel? Its getting so OBVIOUS that we know what the agenda is before the season even begins. Right off the cast announcement we see the camera lingering on THE CHOSEN ONES! Bring back the seasons of old where everything played out week to week and there was less obvious manipulation! We all  enjoyed the dancing celebrities unplugged. We truly thought it was a competition and not a manipulated outcome.  We know that Olympian medalist Laurie is "the chosen one" this season. What fun we have when James and Calvin threw wrenches into that scenario! We have seen low balling on the scores for these two and imagined or exaggerated errors in their performances. I am tired of the obvious manipulation. Will I stop watching? No, and there lies the agoony and the ecstasy! .I watch, annoyed and discontent about the injustice. I love the dancing and the journeys of the celebs, when they are honestly presented without hype. By hype and manipulation, I mean  negative packages, overly sappy and sympathy-inducing packages, creating disingenious hype pushing one particular Pro (that we know they want to promote). The DWTS Casting Team has  done exceptionallly well their job of casting the celebs. Please ROB WADE, let the chips fall where they may. Let the drama and manipulation out of it. LET IT BE! May the BEST DANCER win, without attempts to influence the vote!  While I am on my soapbox, I think  Len needs to be !00% here or ALL OUT. A 4th judge is not needed, if Len wouldn't be leaving so often! It's inconsistent judging, very disorienting and disrespectful to the audience.  Also, in my opinion, if Len is here permanently, it's time for Carrie Ann Inaba  to go! If Len cannot commit to the ENTIRE season, then Carrie Ann should e dropped and substituted with someone with Ballroom credentials, someone like Shirley Ballas. RE the four finalists chosen tonight, Hinch, Calvin, Laurie and Jana,, I fervently hope that ROB WADE and company let the finale play out without further manipulation and favoritism. In my opinion, the OBVIOUS POPULAR FAVORITE, also mine, should be allowed to win without Production meddling. James Hinchcliffe  should win the MBT!  I am certain James is killing it in the votes, even though TPTB have made sure that Laurie is unfairly scored ahead of James by 3 points. . James Hinchcliffe  should win the MBT! On to the dances.

PAT SAYS: James & Sharna's Argentine Tango was simply AMAZING! When I first heard that Sharna was dancing with a blindfold, I immediately thought it would be similar to last season's blindfolded Nyle & Peta's Tango. Was I ever wrong, For one, it was the Pro, not the Star who wore the blindfold this time. The point this time  was to emphasize James expert control throughout and how masterfully he led Sharna. Also to point out what total trust Sharna can have in James that he would have him lead the dance on the Semifinals! Usually, the Pro wants to be totally alert to her apprentice's dance, in order to minimize flaws. Also, Sharna danced the entire Tango blindfolded, not just a part, like Nyle did on S22. Their perfect connection with each other guided them through every twist, kick and turn.  This is the first Argentine tango of the season that was not "harsh", like Julianne attested. It was evenly tempered with sharp yet slow and easy sexy and sultry movement. What a proper Argentine Tango, full of authentic content and exquisite style! I found the spectacular ending FREAKIN AMAZING! Sharna did a beautiful back bend over the chair while James did a stylish handstand over her! Unique on DWTS, and what a risk, to let the rookie dancing Star do a handstand! Remember, Hinch is not an Olympian gymnast, yet he surpassed all expectations and did it all with amazing grace, soft and sexy control and assuredness! Shame on Carrie Ann to find an imagined error in James' Argentne Tango, a WOBBLE the other Judges, nor anyone saw! An obvious Inaba disingenious maneuver to support the production  agenda to give Laurie a higher score! SCORES:  Judges:  29/30   Pat:  30/30   A+    Hector: 30/30  A+

Sharna & Wade Hit Gold

2. Miracle on DWTS: Hinch Becomes a Beloved American Dance Idol!

James Hinchcliffe, Sharna Burgess, Jenna Johnson Trio  Style: Jive

Style: Jive           "Gimme Some Lovin'"—The Spencer Davis Group

To see the Hinchciffe, Sharna, Jenna Trio Jive, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOqyp4H9QJU&t=4s

HECTOR SAYS; Sometimes ,not always, DWTS creates an American Dance Idol, and it's happened with THE HINCH! it's not only about his unexpected great talent for dancing, but his poignant ability to reach our hearts. A small and skinny not that impressive guy, but maybe because of it , our esteem and admiration is even bigger! What dogged determination, what true grit, but wih a humble human quality which charms us to death. Like Bindi Irwin, he's one of the great popular Dance Heroes this show has produced. We can feel the love he has developed for dancing in the way his face goes into euphoric passion as he makes his kicks and flicks to the perfect Jive beat. The big love of his life, his shiny racing car is there in the Ballroom, and two beautiful dancers, Sharna and Jenna are drooling over him. His fiancee and parents are watching proudly, all of America is loving him. He just came back to life from near death. Hinch has discovered a brand new, fantastic way to celebrate life In dancing. We can see in his perfect syncopation with these awesome Pro dancers not only how he's enjoying this Jive to the hilt, but how he enjoys the new power he has as a swaggering COOL man Jiver. James has found a new way to conquer the world which he never imagined possible! The Dance World and the whole US and Canada is just as delighted to have found a new Dancing Mega StarMan and Personality as big as Hugh Jackman. A rare DWTS miracle! Can Carrie Ann and the DWTS producers be as stupid as to waste it all by hyping Laurie Hernandez?

PAT SAYS: The Hinchcliffe Trio, Sharna, James and Jenna, had a big, resounding, HOT,  Jive success! A second show-stopping performance by James.  He really should be on Broadway when he puts away his racing car in the Hinchcliffe Hall of Fame All three were totally in sync, and James  was the undoubted STAR of the show, the center of attraction!.  His jump over his car and his energetic KICKS were amazing! I felt like I was watching a dazzling New Year's Eve celebration, led by Cool Jiving James! James Hinchcliffe is a DWTS Miracle,a great popular favorite! Came out of nowhere and dazzled. James has shown he can follow, he can meld in and most of all he can LEAD! Best Trio! SCORES Judges:  30/30     Pat 30/30   A+   Hector: 30/30   A+

3. A Rumba That Lovely Flowed from Two Beauiful Hearts

Terra Jole & Sasha Farber
Style: Rumba     "Scars to Your Beautiful - Alessia Cara

To see Terra & Sasha's Rumba, click here:

HECTOR SAYS; Terra & Sasha's Beautiful Rumba had it all: content, meaning,scrupulous technique and Dance of Love performance passion. It started out with a bit of Contemporary fusion. Following the song's rejection theme, Terra is rejected by  strolling dancers. With poignancy and emotion Terra reacts in despair, in a true chracterization which points to Terra's own rejection stories. Most of all, this Rumba was successful by it's powerful emotion. Look at the photos above, they capture the intense beauty of movement, in both dancers. What nobility in dancing and soul these two dancers have! Terra's dignity is awesome, her will and determination to rise over her limitations and express herself ably in dance is inspiring. She had the good fortune of meeting a partner that has excelled in every respect on S23, more than EVER! Sasha Farber has grown to be a giant in stature for his dancing, teaching and awesome tender HUMAN kindness! Can't believe Terra's hip shaking action for the Rumba, right of the bat,as if  to shake away the rejection. It was a amazing shaking in several axial directions, impressively professional, and so darling for Rumba! The reason for the beauty you see in the pics above is a meticulous constant fluidity, sensuality and rhythm, very soulful, following the music, not by numbers, as well befits a proper slow-fast sexy Rumba. In no way did I feel this Rumba as modified in excellence for Little People. It just flowed from the heart, providing beautiful, inspiring Rumba lines and feeling, like a brush flowing in artistry throughout a canvas. Again, I was in tears at the end of this Rumba. I felt like embracing them both! I thank Terra & Sasha  for a great emotional dance delight. RRRRRumba Magic!

PAT SAYS: Rumba,the Dance of Love. Could two good friends express it in dance? Didn't know what to expect from Terra and Sasha. I felt a bit wary. Well, I had nothing to worry about!  I was so pleasantly surprised! Terra Jole worked those hips like it was a walk in the park (what a walk!) . She and Sasha Farber glided on the floor and you could feel her (and his) emotions. A very sensual Rumba, full of continuous fluidity and beauty. Terra has the ability to draw you in and make you feel like you are out there with her and that this is your story as well.And Sasha reacts like the most tender dance companion! Terra's connection with Sasha is something wonderful to behold. Another job well done Terra. You should've been in that finale! SCORES   Judges:  30/30     Pat:  30/30     A+   Hector:   30/30    A+

4. Two Perfect Dancing Guys, Crazy in Love for Terrific Terra!

Terra Jole, Sasha Farber & Artem Cigvinset Trio
Style: Tango  

To see Terra, Sasha & Artem's Tango Trio click here:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qna_-Q1BdUI

HECTOR SAYS; What a stylish Tango Trio! Most likely both Sasha and Artem collaborated in a masterful choreography that, like Bruno said at the end, had both men framing Terra in splendid, complementary and complimentary fashion. The music was not Argentinian, but for a positive change, matched the Tango well. Both the content, meaning and feeling of Tango were well represented. The clipped, precise, pizzicato moves were matched  by the three dancers  like a Bach fugue. Not a note or a chord out of place, nothing superfluous, just the moves precisely needed to form a harmonious exquisite whole. The little Tango story was fun and delicious. Terra acted it out like a consummate femme fatale, making it totally believable that these two wiry, handsome, dapper, sophisticated, infinitely graceful men were totally mad about her! Loved the Terra trenchcoated beginning, didn't love her sequined  evening gown. Something stark better, red or white, and chic, like an Erin Andrews gown, maybe? BUT-absolutely loved the guys identical and minimal black t-shirted  silhuoette, with the little over the eyes hat. Rakish, dashing, male dance chic, a la Gene Kelly, Bob Fosse, or Bojangles. LOVED the boys exact sync, or harmonious interplay. dancing all around her, like two sides of a parenthesis. Sooo classy, what a total delight this Trio was! All the parts flowing together, Terra, Sasha, Artem, to make a mesmerizing, artistic whole. Bravo to all three! Hats off, this was "putting on the Ritz", a thirties Tango. A perfect divertimento. Fred Astaire would approve!

I loved Terra, Sasha and Artem's package, with the Three's Company music and playful silliness. Like the 3 guy bycicle, and the balloons pulling Terra up! It had me laughing out loud!. In her Tango, Terra came out large and in charge. Bigger than life! She controlled Sasha and Artem throughout the whole dance.  She was definitely the star of that show, the female male attraction in between two sexy males.Terra was sharp and sexy, too! Her footwook when she was  in hold with the boys, was amazing!  She didn't miss a beat.  I loved the end when she snapped her fingers, and the boys fell to the floor.  Her facial expressions were spot on! Terra makes good characterization, and her Tango with the guys was very nuanced, technically proficient and well integrated. Terra,you DESERVED to be in that finale, but alas! You and Sasha were the sacrificial lambs for Jana and Gleb; like Wanya and Lindsay were to Ginger and Val last year! TPTB shameless agenda! SCORES Judges:  30/30     Pat:  30/30    A+
Hector: 30/30   A+.


That's all for Tonight folks! Semifinals Part 1, Watch for Saturday's Part 2, with the dances for Jana, Calvin and Laurie! Tellus who your favorite is.  Pat Halford @pahgah or   Hector Sola @archihector. Or comment down below.

Nov. 12th, 2016

Was DWTS Playing Favorites on Showstopper's Night? Week 9, Part II

HECTOR SAYS: What a tall, stylish dapper, graceful dancer Calvin Johnson has become! 9 weeks ago, he was all hands and feet and didn't know how to use them, and here he is, he the Master of Ballroom Waltz! As Leona Lewis ( alluring voice and personality)  starts her very moving song " Memories" from Cats, Calvin and Lindsay Arnold, dance around her. Calvin showis such finesse, gentlemanly poise and elegance, one could not believe it's the same oaf whom one saw dance in September. There's something awesome about how well Calvin can handle his tallness. Call me strange, but  I particularly enjoy the difference in height between Lindsay and he.It shows us if you have dignity, self assuredness and grace, you can make it work. Had he a taller partner, like Erin (I would love to see these two dance!), it wouldn't be such a challenge to make the Waltz look good! Lindsay once again showed her great artistry in Waltz choreography and teaching skills, as they waltzed in, out and  about the  difficult changes in tempo, as Bruno smarly mentioned. Lindsay's angelic face and whole body shows such delight and joy in Waltz, perhaps because she's so proud, or because they have such a friendly connection.They soared! Personally, I would have gone with Julianne's perfect 10 score (She called this Waltz his BEST dance). So surprised Carrie Ann nitpicked, said HE WASN'T MUSICAL!? When I hear that I tend to believe what Pat exposes as the Production's sorry-ass Agenda to promote someone else!

To see Calvin Johnson & Lindsay Arnold do a Waltz to "Memories" from the Andrew Lloyd webber musical "Cats" click here:   http://www.mjsbigblog.com/calvin-lindsay-waltz-leona-lewis-week-9-dwts-23-video/

PAT SAYS: First off, Calvin in a cat suit, that was hysterical. We saw him in the package, a production fun idea when they went to Broadway to get a feel for the well known musical, Cats. I am impressed how Calvin has shown such commitment and openness in his DWTS journey. I also admire how really puts  in the hard work and enthusiastically follows Lindsay's training to a T. Every week Calvin gets better and better, and surprises me more and more. This Waltz, to the music of "Memories" was gorgeous. His flowing movements across the dance floor with ease and grace was beautiful.  His arms and frame were just wow!! Bruno hit it on the head with his comment about how difficult it was to take and balance the stride within the musical phrasing of this song and its many changes in tempo.Calvin & Lindsay, despite their height difference, are so graceful and fun to watch! Don't know what dance Carrie Ann was watching when she said this was not Calvin's best dance musically?  Really Carrie Ann, we seriously question your judgment,or eyesight, with Juianne's assent. Julianne said this was Calvin's best dance to date.I agree. Leona Lewis was amazing too, in her singing performance!  This dance was underscored in my opinion. Scores:   Judges:  37/40    Pat: 40/40    A+    Hector: 40  A+

3. James "Wiz" Is Best Musical Theater Showstopper!

HECTOR SAYS:  I am really ticked off at the 9's every judge gave James. In Showstoppers Night, James and Sharna's (Jenna) was the only one that really looked like it was supposed to, like a "musical theatre" piece. Musical theatre is different from ballroom dancing. In this one show they were supposed to produce Broadway worthy performances.James and Sharna (Jenna) have even more license (and responsibility) to make it a show-like production, because they get the Jazz genre which is very non-Ballroom style, no in-hold constraints, very lax in rules. I thought Sharna and Jenna did a marvelous job of choreography.. What showmanship our man Hinchcliffe has, with professional-looking zest, conviction and charisma. He joyously dances, jumps & leaps, drawing  us completely into the act. A Green Presence, playing the Wiz, he and Dorothy (Jenna) and the Wizard of Oz characters dance along the yellow brick road happily ever after. What total Star Power! Can he really be a race car driver? This dance was complicated. requiring total control of dance and acting done with charm and showmanship, I was disgusted that the Judges would take away a point off for a silly, hardly noticeable misstep! Shouldn't he get a bonus for a twice as challenging, truly showstopping musical performance? The Judges are missing the forrest for one frigging tree! But Pat was right, there'  WAS an agenda! To downplay Hinch and favor Laurie! It also serves for Laurie & Val to save face and embarrasment that Hinchcliffe has stolen the spotlight!

PAT SAYS: I was so hoping to see Sharna back. her injury healed!  I am sure James Hinchcliffe was too.  I miss their easy and natural partnership. I think Jenna is a great dancer, but she is much too aggressive and camera hungry, in my opinion. James didn't look as at ease with Jenna as he did with Sharna. This man can perform and dance like nobody's busines!  Yes, he did have a misstep in the beginning, but he got right back into it and pulled it off.  Not my favorite genre, but he put in a fine Jazz performance.Singer-performer Idina Menzel, guest Judge, said that she would share a stage with him, great cmpliment! Just goes to show The Hinch got the chops!  Even with his small misstep, this dance was underscored. Due to agenda in force, I'm notat all surprised! I surely hope we see Sharna's knee ligament healed so that James and she can have the Miracle partnership again! Scores:    Judges  36/40    Pat:  38/40    A    Hector: 40/40

4. Showstopping Comedy in Terra & Sasha's Charleston

Terra Jole & Sasha Farber    "If My Friends Could See Me Now!" from Sweet Charity       Style: Charleston

To see Terra & Sasha's Charleston, click here: http://www.mjsbigblog.com/terra-sasha-charleston-week-9-dwts-23-video/

HECTOR SAYS: How moving were Terra & Sasha in Charleston? By bringing people like Amy Purdue, Noah Galloway and, now, Terra Jole into the show,  this show and those who support them (Count me in, wholeheartedly!) grow in stature in humanity and respect. Ryan Lochte, as well. I was so moved when Derek shooed the Lochte protesters away, saying this show was about redemption and giving people, all sorts of people, a chance at putting their soul and commitment into this seemingly trivial dancing competition. It's NOT! We can see it clearly by observing what contenders like Terra and Ryan say about what DWTS means to them. Terra's dialogue is about how she wants to show "Little People" are just as human as anyone else, and as deserving of a chance to compete. But Sasha tells her sincerely about how there are basic Charleston steps that Terra's  short arms and legs can't do well. Surely, if Derek reinvented dance to fit a contenders without legs, can Sasha invent some sort of routine to circumvent Terra's limitations? He did! WHAT A WISTFUL AND CHARMING CHARLESTON! Sasha invented a routine that was complete and continuous delight for me! Terra starts out with a rousing, energetic rendition of classic "If You Could See Me Now" from Sweet Charity. Then Sasha gets into the act and we are blown over with his  charm in Charleston! Each move or their routine is like a  sweet vignette in a dance story: littlle penguin side by sides and kaleidoscopic geometric formations, all delightful! What an ending, Terra jumps on Sasha's tummy. Cute. Why the Judges didn't reward this with all 10's (two of them did) is a testament to their hard hearts and evidence of following the productions wish that only Laurie and Jana could be perfect on Showstoppers Night! As far as musical showstopping theater Jana and Laurie were the least show-worthy!

PAT SAYS: To me,Terra and Sasha's Charleston was the Dance of the Night. Terra just went out there and performed the heck out of this Charleston.  Her facial expressions and movements were total Showbiz. Terra looked  larger than life. For the first time, since week 1, I didnt think "for a small person, she did well". Her Charleston was, in my opinion, more show-worthy than those that received a perfect score. And what an inspiring achievement for someone that has a great disadvantage vis a vis her average competitors!  She left it all on the dance floor, her energy, her will, her artistry!  So eminently entertaining and a pure, showstopping Charleston Fest.  Terra and Sasha knocked it out of the ballpark!! How could two judges not reward their difficult accomplishment, their triumph in a challenging situation! They were so unfairly underscored! Sasha and Terra deserved a perfect score. Scores   Judges:  38/40     Pat:  40/40      A+    Hector: 40/40    A+

5. Inspiring, Excellent Waltz in a Laughable Diner Story

Jana Kramer & Gleb Savchenko     Style: Waltz  
"She Used to Be Mine" Sarah Bareilles

To see Jana & Gleb's Waltz click here: http://www.mjsbigblog.com/laurie-val-argentine-tango-week-9-dwts-23-video/

HECTOR SAYS: I thought Jana and Gleb's Waltz was beautifully performed. What frame, poise and posture they exhibited! Ahhh! A fairy tale dance, Cinderellla and the Prince! It was was very lyrical and romantic Waltz moment. By now Jana and Gleb have established themselves as the outstanding romantic couple. Perhaps by accident, S23 hasn't generated sexy magnetism between our couples except for Jana and Gleb, They are young, sexy and appealing. We can detect an undertone or a vibe of birds and bees possibilities between them.. It oozes into every one of their dance performances, very strongly in this Waltz. Am I one to mind? No! I love it. It's their special trademark. I see nothing wrong in that. I was truly drawn into their beautiful performance. They both put their hearts in it delivering a magnificent flawless and  fluid Waltz. Gleb is an elegant, princely dignified dancer who has blossomed in artistry this season. Jana has shown to be an outstanding, commited  student, excelling both in technique and passion.. Her characterization is vivid, and her fluid moves and extensions executed with lovely grace and flexibility. The one thing that troubled me was the incongruity of a waitress in a diner, spilling her food and all of a sudden springing into a very dramatic Waltz with the Maitre-D. Was this a parody or can the show "Waitress" get away with such silly incongruity? Jana and Gleb's dance was more in character with Vronskiy waltzing at the Tsar's Palace when he fell in forbidden love with Anna Karenina. I don't know anything about the show "Waitress". But the spilled-food love story just made me laugh out loud! Whaaat!! And how about the ludicrous long apron under Jana's sequined party dress? Some fancy waitress! The melodramatic, highly romantic Waltz seemed nonsensical in the Diner Love Story context. Showtopping performances should make sense. This one didn't. The shallow, foolish story marred the excellence of Jana and Gleb's performance.No meaning.

PAT SAYS; Jana is a good dancer. She can portray the characters of her dances well. However, they seem like the same week in and week out. Sexy performances  or angst filled performances, or both. I think Jana hasn't shown real growth in diversity of characterization. In my opinion,  she has more potential and could perhaps express other kinds of feeling. Is it that Gleb hasn't brought it out thus far, or is she truly limited in range?.Savchenko focuses on and relies too much on romantic sensuality aspects. It was a nice Waltz but as compared to Calvin and Lindsay's,it was not even in the same ballpark!! Yet Jana & Gleb got a perfect score! I was stunned! This dance was definitely overscored. Scores: Judges:  40/40    Pat:  36/40    B+    Hector:  38/40 A-

Laurie Comes of Age
6. Wistful Gymnast Turns into Divine Tango Dancer

Laurie Hernandez & Val Chmerkovskiy       Style: Argentine Tango      "She Had It Coming"  from Chicago

To see Laurie & val's Argentine tango, click here: http://www.mjsbigblog.com/laurie-val-argentine-tango-week-9-dwts-23-video/

HECTOR SAYS; Bravo, Laurie & Val! This Argentine Tango was a true showstopper! Everything about it was perfect. One of Chicago's most striking show pieces "She Had It Coming"with catchy music and the right tempo for Tango. As other cast members, Laurie and Val were sent to New York to get inspiration ( and a class about how to be sexy ). This all seemed a bit bogus, a waste of rehearsal time.Bring in Jenna, the Queen of Sexy Pros. and in no time she would have taught Laurie how to move and look sexy in Tango. Also would have saved Val some embarrasment in teaching.Laurie shows a great sense of humor and humility, the way she's views the DWTS experience philosophically, saying in the package it is forcing her to become a young lady quickly. As it turned out, Laurie didn't need any sexy classes. She's naturally sexy, and she didn't look at all improper dancing a sexy Argentine Tango. She looked GREAT! And what an exquisite, flawless Tango that was! She and Val looked thrilling striding swiftly in elegant hold across the Ballroom. Val's naturally sexy,too. Tango so suits him. Valentin looks, has the mystique and is named like Rodolfo Valentino who made Tango famous all over the world, What ochos, and voleos, and KICKS. Laurie's a great kicker, with just the right Tango attitude, as she triumphantly kicks Val on his chest. This Tango was sharp, precise cool, took my breath away in several striking moments, like when she leaps in a backward voleo, her legs flying stylishly. What glorious ganchos, and curled body lifts, all in to the martial sounding musical beat. Tango fits an Olympian gymnast well, the forceful, clipped precise movements blend with the spirit of Tango well. But no doubt our little gymnast Laurie Hernandez is blossoming into a powerful. brilliant dancer as well. This competition is really getting HOT, HOT. HOT! How awesome that we have so many excellent dancers. Everybody wins! Dance wins! DWTS really struck gold on S23!

PAT SAYS; Right off the bat, this Argentine Tango was definitely in Laurie's ballpark. Tango requires the hard,sharp movements that gymnastics excel at. She nailed the Argentine Tango moves! No big surprise to me!  Laurie is a good dancer, but is she a well rounded one?  Not in my opinion, because she struggles with the softer more graceful needs of Ballroom dancing. No doubt that Laurie and Val really did earn that Argentine Tango  perfect score this week. Scores  Judges:  40 /40    Pat:  40/40     A+  Hector:  40/40   A+

Section 2: The Team Dances

In a second part of the show, the Team-up dances, two Star couples paired up  and danced together. For a few moments, without the assistance of their Pro partners, the Stars did a duet by themselves, without the assistance of their pro partners. Each received the same set of scores from the judges for the routine. For our recap here, I'll try something new. , Pat will lead with her comments and I'll just give a short response to what Pat has to say.

A. James & Calvin, Jenna & Lindsay: Boys' Hot Charisma!

To see team Last Man Standing Paso, click here: http://www.mjsbigblog.com/calvin-lindsay-vs-james-sharna-team-showdown-week-9-dwts-23-video/

PAT SAYS: Team Last Men Standing did a Paso Doble! James and Calvin together? What a blast!  I was so excited to see what they would come up with!!  Their bromance in the package and the had me in tears, It was so darn funny! They brought their full showmanship, formidable Paso dancing and their full passion and fun into a dazzling performance!  Their Star duet was intense and rousing. Their sync was perfect. Their cape twirling skills were just WOW!  Pure dance magic with their combined artistry and humor! Kudos to all four for a very entertaining, content-filled Cowboy themed, masculine Paso!  And again underscored!! Carrie Ann dropped the Lift-Police and is now claiming to be the Musicality Police, but no one agrees that Calvin and James are failing in musicality, especially Julianne, bless her soul who gave them a 10 score. Underscored-again! Scores:   Judges:  36/40    Pat:  38/40   Hector: 40/40   A+

HECTOR'S TAKE; This being Showstoppers Night, all about Musical theatre, it seems to me Calvin and James should get a perfect score. Their Bro Male Fest was uniquely appealing, their entertainment value through the roof. Len has been too obssessive into "no frills no gimmicks"  with his "back to basics, back to Ballroom insistence. Our Pro choreographers feel guilty about adding production razzle-dazzle and using the troupe to enhance the dances. But , hey, this is "SHOWSTOPPER'S NIGHT' and Broadway or the West End is not about austere, dry and boring strictly ballroom! This number had an appropriately production enhanced Cowboy story,and as Sharna called it "big production" values. Big  saloon scenery, terrific music, complex choreography with all the necessary Paso steps in rich content, but with a terrific Western macho context..Loved the cape twirling Calvin-James Act. Most of all I loved the Calvin-James Sure-fire Charisma. This too together have stunning showmanship and terrific humor. Loved every minute of their Bromance dance!    

B. Marilu, Terra, Derek & Sasha: Broadway Dazzle!

To see Terra & Marilu's Jazz, click here: http://www.mjsbigblog.com/terra-sasha-vs-marilu-derek-week-9-dwts-23-video/

PAT SAYS: Team Cubs did a SpectacularJazz: Marilu, Derek,Terra and Sasha  went out there and delivered show stopping performance. I thought the height difference between Marilu and Terra would make me focus more on Marilu during their duet, but I was pleasantly surprised and viewed them as equally strong and well connected performers. They both demaded my attention and performed amazingly.  I thought I was watching a Broadway show!!! Again, their excellent, flawless performance was underscored. My fears of favoritism and manipulation feel justified! Scores   Judges:  36/40     Pat:  38/40    A     Hector:  40/40  A+

HECTOR'S TAKE: I agree,, underscored again. A lot of praise from the Judges, but they delivered all 9's. At this stage it's the kiss of death! It seems the Judges were not giving much weight to doing a slam-bang showstopper. So disappointing for the girls, who worked so hard for at least a 10. This Jazz dance had the feel of Broadway, Glittering, glamorous and supremely entertaining. A sparkling, well danced, exuberantly acted duet. The connection between theses sweet ladies was easy and was palpable. The leading men Sasha & Derek were fabulous and the Troupe gave it that Chorus Line razzmatazz. That long skirt with terra supplying the head and Marilu her famous legs was pure entertaining genius! But yes, Pat, the plan is obvious. It's really very sad!

C. Laurie, Jana, Val & Gleb:  Contmporary Angst!

To See Team Sisters Contemporary, click here: http://www.mjsbigblog.com/jana-gleb-vs-laurie-val-week-9-dwts-23-video/

PAT SAYS: Team Sisters did an angst filled female power Contemporary Dance melodrama! Not surprising these two were paired (one for the push factor and the other for the redemption factor. Guess who is who? Not surprising that they got a Contemporary Style Dance where anything pretty much goes. Not like the rules of Ballroom apply here! It was a good performance filled with drama. Team Drama-Mamas may have been a better team name! Overscored, yup, but why did I expect that? Scores:     Judges:  40/40    Pat:  38/40    A   Hector:  39/40    A

HECTOR'S TAKE; A moving but sad and militant Contemporary dance. It was very well danced by TEAM SISTERS! My only problem with it is placing it at the end of Showstoppers Night. Ending on a dour, depressing note is not such a wise showbiz thing on a happy night! Besides, as far as ratings go, audiences have little love for Contemporary dance, to my sad dismay!. Team Last Man Standing or Team Cubs would have provided a happier, high note ending and saving us the gloom. But I agree with Pat that it was reasons of PUSH and REDEMPTION  that they were the last turn at bat! It's a cue for the Judges, as if they didn't know, "These that the ones that we want!". That said I very much liked Jana & Laurie's Contemporary. They certainly stole the show from the boys, captured the spotlight totally. And yet, between them all we could see is genuine sisterly love and great solidarity. The story was clear, rather too obvious, about females liberation from abusive partners. A cage, really? Then pushing the males to the floor  inside the cage, leaving together as mmm SISTERS, hand in hand,Not an Emmy winner for subtlety, but very well danced and acted. The Stars looked like Pros, sensitive, vulnerable and real. For Jana, what with the recent tabloid stories about her doubly sad married experiences, it was  much too real. Watching Jana putting her whole heart in her dance was very moving! Lots of respect for these girls as passionate, expressive, excellent dancers.

Pat's Report on Cumulative Scores:

  Cumulative (up to wk 8)       Wk 9 Score       Incl wk 9           Place
Laurie                     288                          80                         368                  1
James                    293                          73                          366                  2
Jana                       270                          80                         350                  3
Marilu                     254                          72                         326                  6
Terra                       261                          74                         335                  5
Calvin                     272                          74                         346                  4

Nov. 10th, 2016

DWTS Showstoppers: Sad Goodbye to Joy & Presence of Marilu & Derek!

HECTOR SAYS: The combined love of Marilu & Derek for DWTS is awesome and contagious! And what a joy to have Marilu Henner's glowing humor and humanity on the show. She has that Henner inner charisma.She draws us into her kindness and beauty inside and out. What a great 64 year old dancing lady! Derek himself says he's never seen such a great fan and lover of DWTS. Nor have we seen such a Hough admirer! Her emotion is so true and "her heart is so pure so beautiful" says Derek of Marilu. Such a statement seems true of himself as well. Besides being undoubtedly the most talented Pro on DWTS (and its biggest ratings attraction), and a pure heart, Hough loves this show! DWTS helped him launch a great musical show career on Broadway, TV and movies. He's grateful.Tit for tat. I was moved at the way Hough took it upon himself to shame the Ryan Lochte protesters off the show!  If this dance avatar loves and trusts DWTS, I can brush aside persistent doubts about the show's propensity for manipulation and favoritism. I chose to highlight Derek and Marilu's great Samba on Showstoppers Night, because they finally did a thorougly show-worthy dance! Also, because this would be the last we saw of Marilu, and most probably, Derek's last ever performance on DWTS! He has bigger opportunities that will keep him busy for a long time! His final DWTS dance with Marilu, was full of Samba content and sizzling charm, as well as Derek can, He's the Master of Mostly Everything, but especially of difficult and complex Samba mystique and steps. Marilu and he not only did everything right; the voltas, buotafocos,the sway, the graceful in and outs; the sexy shake your booty, the bouncy ups and downs. All the while sliding swiftly across the entire ballroom. This time,(We suspected they would be eliminated) they got it all right, not a flaw. Even better, they had  well connected FUN! On the 9th week, Marilu finally lived up to her full potential. plus she let her hair down and fully enjoyed the sparkling Samba! To top it off, they danced to "What a Night!", by Mark Ballas and the Jersey Boys (aka The Four Seasons), who has been away from DWTS on Broadway, starring as Frankie Valli. As Marilu & Derek finished the couple's Samba, Derek ran to the stage to embrace his beloved foster bro. Aww! This couple's first dance out packed an  emotional  wallop for me, from package to finish! Way to GO, Marilu & Derek! And go they went. Au revoir.

To see Marilu Henner & Derek Hough's Samba click here: http://www.mjsbigblog.com/marilu-derek-samba-mark-ballas-week-9-dwts-23-video/

Pat Halford, My sassy collaborator, Tennesee housewife. She's back!

PAT SAYS: (About Marilu & Derek) Great to see Mark Ballas back in the Ballroom again, even if its not dancing! He was the featured singer for Derek & Marilu's Samba! It's all in the family!  in the Ballroom again, even if its not dancing! Wish I could head to New York to see him do Jersey Boys on Broadway! He sings, he's a musician, he's a prodigy! Marilu just went out and danced her heart out! 'Im sure Derek probably told her that their number would be up this week. In her last chance, she finally was carefree and enjoying herself doing the Samba!  She had plenty of Samba content and performed it well. Too bad she didn't perform this way from the beginning of her Journey! Would it have mattered, had she done better throughout? I doubt it! Not with the agenda planned by the reality enhancing production team! But I must say, Marilu and Derek went out in style, by doing an artsy, complex Samba! Great job, Marilu.
Scores  Judges:  36/40     Pat:  36/40    B+     Hector:  38/40  A-

Pat's DWTS Grievances

Pat just came back from a trip to Texas. The Lone Star state seems to have inspired her with rebellious passion. She vents and urburdens her suspicions of  DWTS shenanigans. Here's her opinion:

After watching this show from Season 1, I'd like to believe I know how it really works, behind the scenes. I knew this week would be one of over-scoring certain couples and underscoring others in order to meet TPTB agenda. I was right! This show is so transparent! They are not too subtle disguising it! After last weeks performances by James, Calvin, Laurie and Jana (TPTB preferred celebs) I knew this week would bring a change in scoring, not necessarily tied in with their dance quality. Last week James performance put him a solid 5 points ahead (cumulative score) of medalist Olympian Laurie Hernandez. She's the show's chosen MBT winner,That meant this week had to be "redemption week"for Laurie.Another perceived agenda is to get Jana into the finale over Terra and Marilu. Marilu gets negative packages in order to affect the votes (reminiscent of Nastia).Terra's descent is achieved by underscoring by the Judges, while Jana is over-scored. That's the plan. I see Jana as the Ginger Zee of last season. Hype, hype, hype, got her into the finale, and then they then let the chips fall where they may!  I predicted Marilu would be eliminated this week. Im sure Terra will be eliminated next week unless she happen to get more votes than Jana, which  would not surprise me. However, the production push is for Jana, although I see Terra as definitely more deserving. Terra's performances overall have been better than Jana's. Terra has shown more growh. Some may call me jaded for my conspiracy theories. I call it like I see it! The fact that I see favoritism and manipulation by production and the Judges, does not mean i don't enjoy the show, overall. I do enjoy the dancing in it,and the participants' personalities and colorful journeys. But I can't help but see machinations by production to conform the competition to predisposed results at the expense of fairness. I find this annoying, and would prefer production to be fair to everyone. Why not just let things fall where they may to have an honest competition, a true Reality Show?

HECTOR SAYS: Bravo, Pat! I appreciate your candor and honesty. You say it like it is! Or the way you perceive it. Yes, it's an opinion based on circunstantial evidence. We can't really prove that the Judges get orders from Production as to how they score. It may work by their perceived intuition as to what Production wants.It is true that we've seen the rehearsal package affect the Star's standing ith the voters. But, I didn't really see,to point out one difference in opinion, Marilu and Derek's package affecting their reputation negatively.. I thought it was all positive! I do agree that the show has favorites who they "enhance" or hype to push them ahead. They use many means to achieve this. But not all the time. Some things just happen, and they allow them, even jump on it.Stars sometimes give off negativity all on their own, by their attitude. And there are many true surprises, Like frigging Hinchcliffe. Everything about him is a surprise! I don't think Production had any idea he would be a dancing, walking, breathing showstopper1 James Hinchcliffe is his own Hype Machine, He doesn't need any "enhancing".. Maybe Laurie does. I do think a little help, by reinforcing the choreography with another Pro's help,for example,  is valid. I do agree they thought Laurie would be the winner. Didn't we all? Thus their preferred Pro of the Moment, Val Chmerkovskiy, got her! Back to my friend Pat's views, I think you're right Pat! Yet as you said, DWTS has always tried to influence the show. Not because they want to be unfair, they jusst want to have a more popular show. Raise the ratings! And WOW, have they've been successful! For over TEN years! Their thinking must be: If it's working, why change the formula? Intervention can be VERY annoying. Unfairness is wrong! BUT, the show's the thing! it's still one of my favorite shows, eminently watchable. I think the one most important factor is casting, And Ms. Deena Katz seems to be a genius in what her team does!. S23 is on a roll, one great hit after another! So many good Star contenders this Season, not one lousy celebrity!

Nov. 2nd, 2016

DWTS Stars Shine Bright; Perfect Halloween for Calvin, Laurie & Hinch; Lochte Leaves, Redeemed

WHAT A BLAST! A really good Halloween show! So far, S23 has delivered one hit  after another. The prime ingredient? The Casting. Pick a good competitive cast (sometimes by chance) and the show will shape itself into greatness. Producers are picking up some "savoir faire" after almost a dozen years of DWTS. Since DWTS is about celebrities and popularity, besides dancing, they feel that their intervention has to be bigger than say, what the marvelous producers of SYTYCD do. This, my other favorite show,  allows things to happen less intrusively. But SYTYCD works with dance pros and would-be dance pros. It's a different game altogether, one where Dance and The Dancer reign supreme. However, the DWTS behind-the-scenes cast. where it's all about ratings, not dance (understandably)  seems to be finally learning the delicate balance of helping things along without  too heavy a hand. Not ruining the spontaneity, the element of surprise, the "laissez faire". Surprising us into thinking it all happened by chance?

Not really. The audiences are a lot smarter than they think. They can still see that the whole PR machine  and hype was focused on deifying Ryan Lochte,at the expense Marilu Henner, and all those that have been eliminated. They audience can see the HUGE hype storm for Olympian Laurie and only hot big Pro-perty left, Val Chmerkovskiy. They're hyping them for all they've got! The public is not that stupid. They can see that sexy Jana is being strongly pushed over inspiring Terra. Calvin , and especially HINCH, were surprises they were NOT expecting! They had to scramble and rehash emergency plans to see what to do about James and Calvin! But no, they didn't trip up Sharna to force her to give up her Star pupil, the prodigious Mr. Hinchcliffe, our new Hero! They do have limits! Whatever they're doing, it's working better than ever! I'm loving the entire S23. This satisfying Halloween Show worked great!

That said- I do have a big, glaring complaint: The Dance-Offs. What did they have to do with the Halloween Show?
Especially at the end of the show. After such scintillating, excellent  FrightNight  dances , especially James & Jenna Big Evil Blast at the end! They totally ruined the flash an sparkle of the Night! Biggest blunder of Season 23, to put that irrelevant pastiche at the end. Besides, the Dance-Offs themselves were Ho-Hum boring. Such an anticlimax and a total spoiler for what could have been a perfect Night!

I. The Great Mandy Moore Halloween Opening!

ingenious, creepy, unusual opening! Mandy Moore strikes again. Psycho costumes, wacky make up, ghoulish ambiance, whimsical mood! The costumed Stars make for weird diversity, tall, short, exotic, as they come to a groovy great Halloween party with strange characters, terrific music and happy dancing."Who could ask for more" says the song, and indeed who could. It looked very rich and expensive, full of little stories featuring our kooky Stars. It all lasted less than three minutes, but included gems like Ryan Lochte tied to a wheel while Cheryl throws knives, and fluorescently outlined crime victims  dancing while lying on the floor. Creative! Funny! Fun! Great Opening!

To see Mandy Moore's DWTS Halloween Opening click here:  
http://www.mjsbigblog.com/week-8-dwts-23-video/ .

II. The Fun Fun Halloween Dances!

TO THE HALLOWEEN DANCING PARTY NOW! Note: My usual collaborator Pat Halford was abducted by aliens on a Tennesee Halloween Night, and deposited in Houston, where she's happily recovering with her Houston grandchild and family. So she's off this week! Hope to see her back next week!

1. Terra's Day-O Good Show But not Great Cha Cha

Terra Jole & Sasha Farber
"Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)"—Harry Belafonte    Style:  Cha Cha

To see Terra & Sasha's Cha Cha, click here: http://www.mjsbigblog.com/terra-sasha-cha-cha-week-8-dwts-23-video/

First couple out, Terrra and Sasha were Halloween smashing in Harry Belafonte's 50's hit song as used in the 1988 movie Bettlejuice. It recreated the famous fun scene in which ghosts take over the guests to force them to dance to the Day-O Calypso song. As the dance spirits took over Terra and Sasha and make them Cha Cha on top of the dining table, I wished they had stayed up there longer, because it allows us to see Terra's legs better. But had they stayed, they would have been even more criticized by the three Judges for lack of Cha Cha content. Len's insistence of no frills, no gimmicks is turning the judges into extreme purist mode. Let's not overdo it. Jana & Gleb went so overboard in their self-indulgent "Sexy Tango" (the mice will play when Len's away!), that now all, Judges & Pros, feel they must go BARE! The BIG trouble I saw with this Cha Cha was the wrong BEAT, the wrong music for the dance style. The music was great for the Halloween mystique, but IMPOSSIBLE for the 1,2,3, faster Cha Cha beat. What a dazzling Cha Cha dancer Sasha is! No pro can beat him. This guy really "burns the floor" in dizzying beat! But even he, could not get the music to work! Too slow, as well. Also, as a little person, Terra has difficulty straightening her little legs. Foot placement, straight legs and sharpness is of the essence in Cha Cha. Terra did as well as she could, but as Bruno mentioned , the level  of competition is so high now, Terra needed to show MORE,  pure dance impact, like she has done in other styles.Still, I think they're Cha Cha was had pizzazz and showmanship galore, and deserved a higher score. the fact that they were first out didn't help, as the Judges are stingy with first! For Terra it's all about the body difference between average and little, for her being able to excel. Her shortcomings on Halloween Night had  certainly nothing to do with her commitment, presence or appeal, and even less with the quality and connection with her pro. The always warm our hearts and send us to heaven everytime they dance! Judges' Scores:  24/30   Hector: 27/30  B+

2. Laurie Softens,  Bonds with Val Soars in Waltz

Laurie Hernandez & Val Chmerkovskiy
"Pure Imagination" from "Willy Wonka"film              Style: Viennese Waltz

To see Laurie & Val's Viennese waltz, click here: http://www.mjsbigblog.com/laurie-val-viennese-waltz-week-8-dwts-23-video/

Laurie and Vals ethereal Viennese Waltz was indeed a lovely dance to watch. Best dance I've seen Laurie do! I'll tell you why. The Willy Wonka theme "Pure Imagination" placed it in the realm of wistful fantasy. So appropriate for a young girl! It was in the realm of her experience and dreams. She looked so authentic, so immersed in the dance fantasy. How beautiful is THAT, to watch dance: truth, and beauty. A second plus was the gossamer delicacy and SOFTNESS she exhibited this Viennese Waltz. I don't know if it is because Laurie is used to the clipped hardness of dance-like gymnastics movements; but she always seemed to have a tense hardness to her moves. She let go off that , in  the easy flow and sheer grace of her "Pure Imagination" Waltz. A third reason why this was Laurie's best, is that...They finally connected! Laurie and Val. Both ways. Perceptive Julianne Hough commented (How shrewd she is, and how gorgeous she looked with her crazy hair! Julianne has a 100 looks, all beautiful!) that she revelled in  the look of admiration and connectedness with her partner. YES! And the fantasy children-themed Viennese Waltz fit the disparity in their ages! The sentimental package, in which Val cries over his insecurities as choreographer and mentor for the promise of Laurie Hernandez, surprised me. At first, I thought  as undignified of a Pro. Derek, Sharna, Mark have had their creative crises without such display of self-pity. But then I saw how it reached Laurie's heart! Way to go, Val! If this is what it took for them to connect, YEAH! This was a fluid, floating,expression of pure joy in Viennese Waltz. For the first time, Laurie and Val looked at each other with mutual affection. Our hearts warmed up to both!   Judges Scores:   30/30   PERFECT SCORE!  Hector:  30/30   A

3. Will Marilu Give Us That One Great Performance?

Marilu Henner & Derek Hough
"Sweet Dreams" Eurythmics        Style: Argentine Tango

See Marilu & Derek's Argentine Tango here:http://www.mjsbigblog.com/marilu-derek-argentine-tango-week-8-dwts-23-video/

The Master of Argentine Tango did a loving creation for Marilu. We weren't disappointed. Derek rehearsed it well for Miss Henner, whose feet were badly hurting. He was so hopeful this would be their comeback after a low score last week! I would call it a break through. Marilu Henner has shown a lot of potential, quality moves, great presence  lots of dance appeal and a sizzling nice personality. From the start. But for some reason,perhaps emotional, she can't pull herself together to complete a cohesive great performance from beginning to end. In this choreography. Derek was at his most creative. With the strong Halloween symbol of a spider web in the background, Derek spins a tale of femme fatale spider women seducing 3 males. Great how Hough artistically weaves into the choreography ensemble dance, threads of ribbons and an interesting  three couple dance intro. They did a ritualistic exercise of fascinating clipped geometrical successions. After that, Marilu and Derek sweep into scintillating in hold Tango moves,in great style poignant ganchos, elegant variations and a take-your-breath-away sweeping lift. In plan and rehearsal, it all went smoothly. Derek was pleased an hopeful. In performance, it lacked sustained energy, timing fluidity. and artistic  cohesiveness. Marilu's nerves get in the way. She made some  jerky bewildered moves. At one point she accidentally pulled her arm back and slapped Derek in his face. Oh my! The curse is always the same. Marilu wants so badly to dance well, her fear of failure doesn't let her complete a fearless artistic whole! Will we finally get that great performance next weeek?Still,I think Marilu's Tango was underscored! We  so like her and would like her to get a hit!
Judges Score: 23/30      Hector: 26/30  B

4. Quickstep Friendly & Perfect Are Calvin & Lindsay!

Calvin Johnson & Lindsay Arnold    
"Dr. Bones"—Cherry Poppin' Daddies   Style:  Quickstep

To see Calvin & Lindsay's Quickstep, click here: http://www.mjsbigblog.com/calvin-lindsay-quickstep-week-8-dwts-23-video/

What a Calvin Killer Quickstep this was! Calvin makes Quickstep look alive and current, not a thirties memorabilia of aristocratic finesse! Calvin looks real, authentic, down home. A heroic athlete, yes, but personally I'd love to have a few beers with this SO likable, accessible BIG buddy! Plus, Lindsay Arnold and Calvin Johnson do make a great team, somewhat similar to Terra and Sasha, very closely connected, very heartwarming, and with a similar height difference between the two. This dance was all Quickstep, all content, most of it frollicking around the ballroom in style true to genre, and.in perfect hold, knobby knees touching! Like Terra and Sasha, the difference in height made no difference to this pair  looking elegant and jaunty, and keeping a perfect beat and posture, no stooping.  I loved the simplicity of it, just pure Quickstep with a few stylish side by sides at the beginning and at the end. Brava Lindsay, I love you! Keep doing what you're doing! You make it work, season after season! And what a drop-dead goorgeous dancer you are! The white over black skeletal costumes were striking, as was the simple humor of the skeletal musicians playing on-stage. I closely watched the sprightly pair prance around, not detecting one flaw in style content, footwork, flair or showmanship! Calvin has learned to use his frame, his arms, his long sportif legs, his smile and demeanor as trademark assets. Calvin-Style! We so enjoy a football Star as big as Calvin blossoming as a strong and stylish dancer! Bravo, Johnson! Judges Score: 30/30 PERFECT SCORE! Hector: 30/30  A+

Shows Human Side

5. Redemption by DWTS Journey for Ryan

Ryan Lochte  Cheryl Burke    
"Howlin' for You"—The Black Keys      Style: Tango

See Ryan's bad posture in Tango,above, with Cheryl: http://www.mjsbigblog.com/ryan-cheryl-tango-week-8-dwts-23-video/

Cheryl has done wonders with Ryan Lochte, and the ABC-Dwts hype machine has done wonders to rebuild Ryan's BBB ( Big Brazil Blooper). His humble and apparently sincere contrite demeanor during the smartly edited packages were persuasive. Ryan was short on dance ability and musicality. But he was lucky to get Cheryl. What a great teacher, camouflage artist, and conjurer of magic tricks, like stripping Ryan's clothes away and showing his hunky presence in fluorescent trunks! In this Tango package, we can see Cheryl the fantastic trainer at her best. She put up a rope to measure how low he had to go for his Tango steps, and a flexible pipe to keep him in proper frame. Still, the Judges called Ryan on posture and shoulders, said he lacked elegance. Cheryl put up floor markers to signal step-kicks. Even so, he did the Tango steps gracelessly,  like he was walking. Bruno called it too "steppy". His kicks were like kicking the ball in soccer. I always marveled how in every package Ryan had no clue how bad a dancer he was! He thought the Judges were too harsh. Actually, their scores were a weekly GIFT! Including on this Halloween night. The Judges gave Lochte the exact same score as Marilu Henner, who did a much more sophisticated Argentine Tango. This is the kind of varying  standards and unfair scoring that is often seen on DWTS. It inspires many to lose trust in the integrity of the show. Ryan voters' favor ended on Halloween Night. His dancing was terrible, but we liked his sincere and committed passion to DWTS and to win us over, He sincerely wanted to redeem himself with the American public, to become part of the DWTS family. And...I still can't believe how well Ryan did in his Contemporary, his best dance. Judges Score:  23/30   Hector: 21/30

6. Not Jazz But Pizzazz: Jana & Gleb Dance Party

Jana Kramer & Gleb Savchenko
"Little Shop of Horrors" - Alan Menken
Style: Jazz

To see Jana & Gleb's Jazz dance, click here: http://www.mjsbigblog.com/jana-gleb-vs-terra-sahsa-dance-off-week-8-dwts-23-video/

Jana Kramer baited me, cajoled me...Now, SHE'S WON ME OVER! At first I suspected ingenue starlet, too set in sexy image, danced with her mouth open (She still does!), Jana's fluff, no stuff! But week by week, Jana Kramer checks in,connects to Gleb Savchenko, rehearses hard, tries her best, LOVES DANCE! Her dance curve grows higher and higher! Her kicks are swift, her extensions, lovely, moves, beautiful. WHAT ENERGY1 AND... what a great Pro-Trainer she has! Funny, in Gleb's first stint with DWTS, I pretty much thought the same about him,in male equivalence, pretty boy, much fluff, no stuff. I WAS WRONG, ON BOTH COUNTS! Mea Culpa. Gleb has been impressive this Season 23. It's a joy to watchthe discipline with which he rehearses with Jana.Gleb is open, sincere, knowledgeable, totally commited, focused on quality dancing, good choreographer, takes  his dancing responsiblity to Jana very seriously. Gleb is the total package, DWTS' next STAR Pro-mise My admiration for both Jana and Gleb, has grown. They did very well with this Jazz Dance, though he had never done  it. The Little Shop of Horrors was a good theme. but they forgot to somehow include its main horror feature: a Plant that grew by eating people. It forced its owner to feed it! Jana could have been the dancing, man-eating plant! Missed Op! The Judges thought it had more Jive than Jazz content. it looked to me more like Broadway! In Jazz and Broadway. However, it was executed with great showmanship and pizzazz. Jana's energy went through the roof. Gleb as a partner has huge, youthful, passionate STAR power.As a couple, they are the only one on S23, that can be said to be sexy, look romantic. A little more Jazz and the missing Plant, and i would give'em a 30! They brought the house down! Jana's artful dancing and explosive drawing power won me over! Judges Score: 27/30     Hector:  27/30     B+

7. Hinch & Jenna Make Creative Dance History

James Hinchcliffe & Jenna Johnson
"You Don't Own Me"- Lesley Gore     Style: Viennese Waltz

James & Jenna did the Dance of the Night! It had everything: content, creativity, humor, showbiz impact, dazzling dance artistry. An out-of-the box Viennese Waltz that could go to Broadway as is! It was also performed last amidst great suspense! After 7 weeks of taking her  brilliant trainee, James Hinchcliffe, to first place on DWTS,  superbly talented Sharna Burgess, injured her knee ligament and had to relinquish her prized pupil to Jenna Johnson, who had dropped out earlier. James danced last, so his dance fans on Twitter were quite upset when they saw his competitors Laurie Hernandez and Calvin Johnson get perfect scores. They were afraid of James having to adapt to a new trainer. I was however, confident that the Hinch wouldn't flinch. We've got ourselves the most powerful Star discovery in DWTS history! I've also seen Jenna's Star power BLAZE on SYTYCD. This Viennese Waltz was not only perfectly executed, but as a Halloween dance story it had the most impact and imagination. Jenna is an Evil Vamp jailed by guards like a caged beast. Hinchcliffe in menacing costume and make-up looks like a super-human replicant in Blade-Runner.To the pop mega-hit "You Don't Own Me", the Hinch Ghoul-Vampire character brutally kills the guards and liberates the Jenna She-Devil. Then they sweep into the Ballroom with the weirdest, sexiest, mean but undoubted Viennese Walz I have ever seen!  You could hear the audience GASP, then roar with applause and delight at the end! Never seen a couple look so RAVISHING as they floated across the room in authentic, true Viennese,and in perfect frame, posture and elegance...BUTwith a TWIST! Never seen a couple look as raunchy, sensual and evil, and at the same time. glorious, and out-of-the-box! What great nuanced dance-actors in a nasty, sexual characterization! So right for evil Halloween,  At one point, Jenna kicks her leg up in orgiastic abandon while James/Nosferatu lecherously stares. At another point Hinchcliffe abusively grabs her wrists and pulls her arms up, but continue waltzing not mising a beat. So strange, so creative, but so beautiful.The Evil Sexual Waltz, danced in spectacular, triumphal fashion! Judges Scores:    30/30      Hector's Scores : 31/30 = 5 pts bonus for unique creativity   A++

III. The Dance Offs - A big out-of-place pastiche glued on to the end of what could have been a dazzling Halloween Show! I already said that at the beginning. That it was an out of place, anticlimactic blunder! What did it have to do with Halloween? A total Party Spoiler. Besides, it was boring. This would-be improvised little dances can't possibly be as show-worthy as the carefully prepared and rehearsed previous dances. This contest was as exciting as a Church Ladies fund-raising competition. It seemed sloppily set up, improvised. Then it wasn't at all clear that the Judges (or the dubious "America" participation) were fair in their dance judgement. Nothing very exciting happened in any of the thhree dances. The show would have been much better as a whole, if this uninteresting, ill-fitting to Halloween exercise in boredom had been cut. Why not, for next year, have the seven couples create a Hallowen rehearsed and prepared group dance? Each couple would have a solo in for which they'd be scored. Or some ending that would keep the Halloween theme going, for greater show integrity!  

1.Jive:  Laurie Wins for "Precision"

Laurie Hernandez & Val Chmerkovskiy vs Calvin Johnson & Lindsay Arnold
"The Purple People Eater"—Sheb Wooley      Style Jive    

To see the Jive Dance-Off click here: http://www.mjsbigblog.com/laurie-val-vs-calvin-lindsay-dance-off-week-8-dwts-23-video/

Laurie chose Calvin to compete against. Brave girl! The toughest guy! Calvin chose Jive. Both did competitive Jive. Laurie was sharper, more precise, more forceful, looked very sure of herself. Less connected to Val than Calvin to Lindsay. Calvin and Lindsay have an easy connection. Laurie and Val look a bit tense, not as easygoing. That bit of Twist that C&L did looked like they were having FUN. Calvin and Laurie are apples and oranges. It depends of what you like more! Laurie & Val are putting up a show, they're more invested. At the same time, we love Calvin's accesibility,giant appeal and friendly ease. It is said Calvin made a mistake at the end. I didn't see it. I did see Laurie and Val louse up a transition, an instant of hesitation. L& V ARE more sharp, so when they're not, it shows more. Besides, I said Laurie needs to get softer, not as hard & robotic, more human. So, I liked Calvin and Lindsay better. But the Judges and "America" gave the edge to Laurie and Val. Judges: Laurie & Val (unanimous) America: L &V  63%   Hector: Calvin & Lindsay

2. Salsa: Tight but Judges Vote 3-1 for Jana

Terra Jole & Sasha Farber vs Jana Kramer  & Gleb Savchenko
 "Magic"  Robin Thicke        Style: Salsa

To see the Salsa Dance-off click here:  http://www.mjsbigblog.com/jana-gleb-vs-terra-sahsa-dance-off-week-8-dwts-23-video

So hard to compare, especially given Terra's height difference. It's hard to "see" each nuance at this scale. Jana has a built-in advantage with the TV audience. She won that vote. 54-46%. They both did enjoyable Salsa. I feel these two dance better than the Jivers. Jana & Gleb had more in-hold Salsa, Terra & Sasha were more creative with leaps, lifts and Terra being wheeled aroud. That Terra girl proved sassy and daring- I loved her cavorting. I also liked Jana & Gleb's Salsa. This was truly close! Carrie Ann went with T&S. The two others favored J&G, although Bruno said he was conflicted. I leaned to Terra (for gumption) and Sasha, but can live with the majority decision! Carrie Ann: Terra & Sasha  BT&JH:  Jana & Gleb    America: 54% Jana    Hector: Terra & Sasha

3. Cha Cha Cha -
Ryan Wins! Bruno Prefers Marilu!

Marilu Henner/Derek Hough  vs   Ryan Lochte/ \Cheryl Burke
 "Can't Feel my Face" - The Weeknd    Style: Cha Cha Cha

To see the cha cha Dance off, click here: http://www.mjsbigblog.com/jana-gleb-vs-terra-sahsa-dance-off-week-8-dwts-23-video/

Pitting Marilu & Derek against Ryan & Cheryl seemed to me pitiful. Ryan has tried hard, showed vulnerabiity, tried to bond with his DWTS family, but he basically has no grace or musicality, or good rhythm and timing. Most times I cringe when it's his turn. It's obvious that there was a big hype agenda for Ryan to remain, which is  why he got so overscored by the judges time. That said, Cheryl worked wonders with such little material! I loved their Contemporary dance! But Cha cha? He's so stiff, though!  I was surprised as how well drilled he was for this Cha Cha. He did amazing! It was a collage of moves he'd done before. Cheryl just had him put them all together, Like the dramatic move when Cheyl moves back in abandon, while Ryan holds her.Still,  I found Marilu and Derek much better, more musical and spontaneous, with less of the practiced by rote look, the bag of tricks. I wasn't surprised that 2 female judges went with Ryan & Cheryl. They've been praising Lochte emptily since week 1.. I agreed with Bruno. Marilu and Derek were a lot more stylish and pure,, true to Cha Cha, with less tricks. I did not understand why "America" favored Ryan, except the PR ABC push worked! That said, then why didn't the voters vote Marilu out and not Ryan? At the end, Ryan's journey came to an end.He was finally abandoned by America, and was eliminated!   Judges: CA & JH, Ryan     Bruno:  Marilu   America:  Ryan 58%    Hector: Marilu

Who am I?

Hector Sola @archihector : Architect, realtor, blog writer.  I love music, dance, film, visual media & WORDS . Educated at Harvard College, U. C.  Berkeley, Paris, FR, fellowship.  Married till death took my Laura, my love. Dad to 3 adult girls, 1 boy. From San Juan, Puerto Rico. Frequent Los Angeles, CA visitor.

My collaborator, Pat Halford, took a Halloween  family vacation this week.

See you next week! Only November left of S23. Predictions for next week: Possible Elimination: Marilu & Derek, followed by Terra and Sasha. Which would leave Jana, Calvin, Laurie and Hinch for the Semifinals. MBT prediction: James Hinchcliffe
#2 Laurie Hernandez #3 Calvin Johnson.

Oct. 28th, 2016

Part 2 DWTS: On Eras Night, Hinch & Calvin Challenge Laurie's MBT!

Laurie & Val's dance momentum went in an ascending curve till they got a perfect score  on the fourth week! But, was it a hex? Since then, their curve took a downward turn! Expectations for the Olympian gymnast were SO high! James Hinchcliffe was just a cool racecar driver that many people didn't know about. He had never danced fancy before. What a surprise when week after week Sharna discovered Hinch had a hidden dance genius inside him, whom Julianne last week called the best male dancing Star ever on DWTS! Then along comes Calvin Johnson, the big, tall, bumbling football giant! He REALLY didn't dance squat before! But-what is it about this show that inflames competitive people with burning dance passion, and brings out the inner Hough in them! By the 7th week, Calvin became, with a swaggering Jive, the Star that has advanced the most, from bumbling to swashbuckling finesse! Calvin's dance power is stronger than other football stars who have won the MBT in the past! To make the competition even more complicated, there's sexy Jana & Gleb and inspirational Terra & Sasha both rapidly advancing, both dazzling in their own way! Don't count them out just yet. For the DWTS production team, this is a heaven sent! S23 is an embarrassment of riches! I hope (and bet!) it translates into higher ratings! The biggest winner is of course, WE, the audience! Whoopee! Competition is turning S23 in one of the best seasons EVER! No doubt, our producers have become more adept and skillfull over the years. Congrats. We' re finding pure joy and delight in watching our Stars. Let the Dance Stars fight it out! Let the good times roll!

On Part 2 of Era's Night. week 7, lucky for some, but not for Maureen McCormick,
who got eliminated, I'll talk about Maureen, Terra, Jana and James dance performances, plus Team Past and Team Future Quartets.

The Eighties

5. Mo &  Artem: A Memorable Sweet Dance Presence

Maureen McCormick & Artem Chigvinset
"You Give Love a Bad Name" - Bon Jovi    Style: Tango

To see Maureen & Artem's Tango, click here: http://www.mjsbigblog.com/maureen-artem-tango-week-6-dwts-23-video/

HECTOR SAYS:The right fit to the ERA and the music was a reason why some dances were more successful than others in evoking the decade. It's obvious that Charleston was right for the 20's, Glenn Miller for 40's Jitterbug, and Little Richard for 50's Jive. Not so easy for Val & Laurie to fit 30's Quickstep into the 60's mood, and neither did this Tango fit the 80's at all! Len admired the way Bon Jovi music fit Maureen & Artem's Tango. But it didn't evoke the 80's Era in the least! How weird to see Artem's wild, rock'n Roll Axl Rose slide elegantly in Tango! There was screeching discord in that!  That said, I don't think the Judges took it into consideration. It was sad to hear Artem say American 80's music and metal rock "decadence" were banned in his country, so that he never got to know the U' S. 80's. Artem never looked hotter than in his Axl Rose make-over. Classy, ethereal Maureen also was a surprise (and attractive) "badass mama".. It was like Sandy's transformation to the leather babe in Grease! Mo had some Mo-ments in which she sizzled, like at the beginning. The Tango fits her much betterthan Samba as he and Artem slid through the ballroom in proper Tango hold and content. But she stumbled! And her possible 8's diminished to 7's! The judges praised Maureen a lot for fumbling gracefully, and keeping the show going, but gave her low scores. As Julianne advised, Maureen needed to be more grounded, more assertive and sure of herself, not as a dominatrix, bu as a dancer. At the end, Mo was eliminated. I enjoyed Maureen's dance journey a lot. She was hardly a great dancer. One thing about DWTS,though,  it's not all about that. It's about filtering a memorable presence and personality in a committed  dance effort.. In Maureen's case, it was a captivating sweet spirit projected in her dance with Artem.

PAT SAYS: Maureen was off from the beginning of her 80's Tango with Artem, to Bon Jovi music. I don't think that Latin Dance is Maureen's strong point. She looked lost and stumbled once. It was a very passive Tango. Maureen didn't put much passion into her dance. There was not much intensity in her movements. Her facial expressions were off. It was not a good night for Mo, overall. At the end, I wasn't surprised that Maureen was eliminated.. Judges:  28/40    Pat:  26/40   C-    Hector: 30/40   C+

The Thirties
6.  Terra & Sasha Glide in Chic 30's Splendor

Terra Jole & Sasha Farber
"Cheek to Cheek"- Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong  Style: Foxtrot

To see Terra & Sasha Foxtrot, click here:http://www.mjsbigblog.com/terra-sasha-foxtrot-week-6-dwts-23-video/

HECTOR SAYS: A few weeks ago, I dared to compare Terra & Sasha to Ginger & Fred. Lo and behold, in this Cheek not to Cheek, there we have them, our new dapper Fox Trot sophisticates! I marveled at the elegant recall of a more stylish Era, the fabulous 30's, the best characterization of the times, on Era's Night. Carrie Ann just got it right,when she said Terra was committed to every step, every nuance, every moment! So poignant to watch this surprisingly good dancer get the most out of every musical phrase, in graceful, evocative movement and characterization. Terra shows such insight, intelligence and deliberate intention in the way she moves her fingers, a shake of the head, the point in her feet, finding her inner Ginger. "This moment will not be forever," she says,perceptively, "So if I'm not able to grab it by the rein, I will regret it later." She shows the same dignity and intelligence in dance as in  the way she listens attentively, serenely  to the judges praise. What a beautiful,thoughtful intense face! This is a dancer with character and integrity! I have always had a special heart-place foro Terra Jole, but on Eras Night I fell more in love because of her bright and brilliant, intense and committed approach to dance! How about that wonderful teacher, dancer and human being who is Sasha! By his tender, loving care and attention to his wondeful "little" partner, and his ingenious skill, Sasha Farber has grown into a giant in everyone's esteem, especially,I'm sure,his own! I watched their lovely, graceful dance over and over again, and I couldn't find a flaw in it. They deserved a 40/40, because for them, it's so much more difficult to make this Foxtrot look as good as it did! Kudos to our new DWTS Ginger & Fred!

PAT SAYS: Welcome back to the winners' circle, Terra and Sasha! So happy to see the joyful, full of confidence Terra on the dance floor. I'm not gonna say that the Latin Dances are not up her alley because she killed her Samba a few weeks ago.  I think it was just that Paso last week that did not fit her personality. In Ballroom, Terra excels, with her skilled partner. The way she elegantly glides across the floor with Sasha is just surreal.Like I've said,  her movements may not be "long and large" but she makes you feel that they are. When this moving couple dances, one is drawn right into the dance floor with them. Kudos, Terra! Giant kudos to Sasha, for his sense and  sensibility as a pro this season!! I  would like to see Terra and Sasha  in the finals over Jana and Gleb, but the latter seems to have the blessing of TPTB!   Judges:  34/40       Pat:  35/40 B+     Hector:  38/40  A

Preface to Jana & Gleb's Samba:
Len's wrath fell once again on Jana & Gleb.
I think Len's problem on Era's Night was his missionary energy was all on style content and cared hoot for true to Era and showmanship. Another ongoing conflict with Len vs Production is Len's austerity in keeping the dance pure to Ballroom style only. No gimmicks, no drama, no philosophical meanings. Judge Len Goodman is back, with a passion! 'Len is  a Ballroom Old-Style, very reactionary purist. Production wants showmanship, higher ratings, creativity innovation, spectacle. There's built-in constant tension there. Len needs to be there to rein in excesses, to hammer in the good ole "Back to Ballroom, Back  to Basics" message. But he who has watched many an International Ballroom competition  can attest to how boring, same ole, mechanical-looking, not creative they can get. Not  ratings winners, more of a lure for specialists. Like Goodman. This constant tension pisses off many a Pro. That's why hot head Val Chmerkovskiy called Len a jet-lagged party-pooper. And why shades of frustration and rebellion sparked up on Gleb's face, as he stood up to Len's humilliation. I understand them both. Ironically, it plays up to our excitement and amusement. See what happened on the event of Jana and Gleb Samba.

The Seventies
7. Jana & Gleb Groove on  70's Disco, Not on Samba

Jana Kramer & Gleb Savchenko
"Get Down Tonight" - KC & the Sunshine Band
Style: Samba

To see Jana & Gleb's Samba, click here:  http://www.mjsbigblog.com/jana-gleb-samba-week-6-dwts-23-video/

HECTOR SAYS: Jana & Gleb's 70's Era Samba was an entertainment blast, very bright, full of energy, well received by the hootin' 'n tootin' audience! As a 70's Disco-evocative performance it was fitting and fun. The crazy colors of Jana & Gleb's outfits and their 70's HAIR was right-on.Setting it on a laundromat was a great idea. It featured spare use of just two Troupe girls that really sparked it up with sexy moves. Jana and Gleb are a ravishing, glamorous, sexy couple. If you think about it, they're pretty much the only one. Laurie, too young. Calvin about friendship. Terra about inspiration, Hinch about zest for dancing. And DWTS audience love sexy! No doubt, Jana exudes a lot sexy energy and allure, if a bit ersatz, too fake her eyelashes. And Gleb is unwittingly becoming a bigger hunk attraction han Val. What I like about Gleb is he has real dance and choreography talent. And he's not much into himself as a sex symbol. It's obvious by his appealing personality that he's all about dance, it's his passion and promise.Gleb is emerging as the most exciting DWTS Pro. As Samba, they had discernible content. Gleb defended his thesis with Len, it had samb-rolls, it had voltas, buotafogos....etc. "Don't get me going Gleb", Len chided! You coud see in rehearsals,that Gleb tried to get the Samba right,and Jana's frustration and not being able to do it!.Which is the Achilles heel that Len's Samba Expert Eye could detect. Jana & Gleb tried hard to fuse the Samba with the 70's Disco & Funk, not an easy task But they couldn't get the Samba right!. I saw it as a very show-worthy successful effort in getting a  70's Era content and mood. And as a far as an exciting dance with many complex steps, it was dynamic to watch But Samba battled with Disco and Samba lost! Still, what Jana & Gleb did, was worth 9's, not 8! They're still CONTENDERS!

PAT SAYS:  I agree with Len in that I would've liked to see more Samba content. But I also agree with Gleb in that the 70's Era flavor, and showmanship and entertainment valus must be pursued as well! The proper style content won't get audiences to watch, or raise the ratings! This wasn't Jana's best dance, though entertaining. .The performance had more of a successful 70s disco vibe,an Era hit,but not discernible Samba look. Gleb could've incorporated more Samba into it. Jana executes the moves she's given. Gleb needs to give her more pure and real dance content and stop relying on "sexy allure and spectacle. (Hmmm...I think I said this about Amber Rose as well-Amber Deja-VU!).Jana and Gleb definitely have a chemistry about them but at this point, I don't think she is finals material like Terra is. I wonder why the sudden push and brouhaha over Jana & Gleb by TPTB! I like her, but she's not as memorable as the top three, and Terra.     Judges:  34/40      Pat:  34/0  B    Hector: 36/40  B+

Hinch Takes OnThe Forties
8.An Actor, a Dancer, a Showman, James Rocks!

James Hinchcliffe & Sharna Burgess
"In The Mood" - Glenn Miller            Style: Jitterbug

To see James & Sharna's Jitterbug click here:http://www.mjsbigblog.com/james-sharna-jitterbug-week-6-dwts-23-video/

HECTOR SAYS: As I watched James Hinchcliffe dance the classic wartime Jitterbug to classic Glenn Miller "In the Mood", I realized how TERRIFIC James is as an actor -dancer. There he was, competing with 3 Pros, who acted as his military poker buddies, in a cute little dance story, and capturing all our attention. The Hinch has musicality and total charm in his dancing presence that can only be described as potent and pure charisma. Hinchcilfe is a natural Mega-Star. He is small and thin, not bad-looking, sexy, but not hunky. What is it about him that is so appealing, besides his astonishing,  newly-discovered, born-to dance persona? Part of it is Hinchcliffe's self-efffacing, humble vulnerability, and "aw shucks" amiability and humanity. It's a joyful innocence we can see in how he so fully enjoys the little clipped, perfect, to the beat steps. How involved he is in the dance character he's playin!. He dons the innocence and playfulness of the 40's Era, soldier as he dances. We're so praying that this wonderful G.I. gets the girl (Sharna,playing the gorgeous ingenue, the perfect comedic counterpart.) and will comes back to us alive. Every characterization Hinch does, he lives it. In this case, he draws us all into the fun and camaraderie of "for the boys" solidarity. There was a wonderful, false ending STOP in the ensemble dancing. James captures all our attention as he playfully celebrates pulling our leg that it's over. Hinchcliffe makes us enjoy every little moment of the dance. There were a few issues of sync which may have had to do with Sharna's injured knee. Some of the much practiced jump-overs and under that James was anxious about for not having Calvin's strength, were OK but not perfect. But we're even charmed by his imperfections! We identify with James Hinchcliffe, the racecar driver that could! We fantasize that we might be as good as James, given Sharna as a partner and a little luck. As far as enjoying an excellent performer, James has no equal. He's replaced Laurie as the one to beat!  

PAT SAYS: Hello James and Sharna !  Yes, another great dance from these two best of performers! It wasn't perfect, but  due to Sharna's knee injury. According to Sharna, James had to conform to her knee limitations and improvised some of his moves on the spot. Kudos to James for taking care of her.  Even with her injury limitations, they nailed the Jitterbug. For once ( I can't believe, Im saying this) I totally agreed with Carrie Ann's comment that Hinchcliffe totally embodies the characters of his dances. James makes you believe he's the soldier in the 40's  Era army story. I've been saying since week 1 that James was my pick for the MBT. I still stick to that, but Calvin Johnson is right behind him.  James looks like a PRO out there!  It would have  been happier with a smidge more Jitterbug content,  but I aint complaining!! Judges:  36/40    Pat:  36/40   A    Hector: 36/40   A

Epilogue: Last Treat; Couples Divide to Compete in
Opposing Teams as Team Past & Team Future

What about the much touted Team Dance Competition at the end? Two groups were formed and Team Past ended up with the weak links: Ryan and Maureen. It's my favorites, James and Sharna leading, with  my other favorites Calvin and Lindsay in Team Past, so there's hope. Besides, Team Past got the traditional, elegant and antique Scottish Walz which everyone prefers over the weird, not as popular electronic "Trance" music with a futuristic philosophical theme. So Team Future, led by Laurie and Val, had the better dancers, and the more creative challenge, but were hexed by the not so popular music or Contemporary style.

Team Past -James & Sharna, lead, Calvin & Lindsay,Maureen & Artem,  Ryan & Cheryl.

To see Team Past Waltz, click here: http://www.mjsbigblog.com/team-past-week-6-dwts-23-video/

HECTOR SAYS: It's an old folk, waltzy Scotch theme made in heaven, just for Len's taste. Although Team Past has the two weakest dancing couples, They executed their Waltz to almost perfection, better sync, with billowing long red sik dresses and Louis XVI attire and elegance, pomp and circumstance. The choreography was simple, ageless, traditional, the kind that makes little old ladies and debutantes swoon.

PAT SAYS: The word has it,since team dances announced, that Team Past had the easier song to dance to.
That Team Future was going to clobber Team Past.  I begged to differ. Im a sucker for the underdog!! The beautiful Waltz reminded me of the opening the pros did a few weeks back.  I loved this dance! I wish we had more like them.  All four moved in synchronicity, elegance and fluidity.  Len was right that not one of them stood out because it was a proper team dance and they just flowed like one whole.  I think they were underscored and proved not to be the underdogs ! I  would love to see more team dances like this one.. Judges:  38/40    Pat:  40/40   A+   Hector:  38/40  A
Team Future- Laurie & Val, lead, Terra & Sasha, Jana & Gleb, Marilu & Derek

To see Team Future's Contemporary Trance Dance, click here: http://www.mjsbigblog.com/team-future-week-6-dwts-23-video/

.HECTOR SAYS: It's austere electronic Trance music,a very austere theme of impending doom and the world being safe throught the symbol of a  flower. New World theme, futuristic, innovative,creative, out of the box. Too austere for DWTS pop taste? Audiences (and the Judges) will prefer traditional, melodic, Ballroom to Contemporary, profound, philosophical, and hard to understand. Each couple did a solo spot, unlike Team Past, which was total Fantasy Ensemble, like the Cinderella Ball in the Prince's Castle. The Judges criticized some sync flaws, chose classic and historic, over meaningful and transcendent. I liked Team Future better.

PAT SAYS: Team Future had a harder challenge, a tougher choreography,a more sober theme & music, than Team Past. It was futuristic Contemporary. a less popular modern dance expression.  They had a unique, innovative and weird routine, but I actually liked it! Marilu fell down, They were not as good in sync as Team Past. I think they could have beat Team Past had they had a better execution. This team had more of a spotlight solo on each couple. Each danced solo for a while,did it well,  unlike Team Past. For innovation and gravitas, Team Future excelled, but  for personal enjoyment and pleasure, it didn't hold a candle to Team Past! Judges: 35/40      Pat:  34/40    B    Hector:   36/40

PAT's Cumulative Scores:  James is #1 now, Laurie falls to 2nd!Tables turned!  Calvin's 3rd, down considerably (13 points), with Jana 2 points from him, Terra 5th, 3 points fro Jana.

                            Wk 7 Score               Cumulative Score                  Place
James                                74                               258                                1
Laurie                                 69                              255                                 2
Calvin                                74                               242                                 3
Jana                                   69                              240                                 4
Terra                                  69                              237                                  5
Marilu                                 64                              231                                  6
Mo                                     66                              221                                  7
Ryan                                  66                              216                                  8

Your comments welcome comments down at the end, or on Twitter. See you for Halloween Night Fun, next week!

Who are we?

Pat Halford @pahgah : An original California girl, now living in Tennesee. Here's her Twitter description: "Enjoying life with my retired Navy husband of 24 years."

Hector Sola @archihector : Architect, realtor, blog writer.  I love music, dance, film, visual media & WORDS . Educated at Harvard College, U. C.  Berkeley, Paris, FR, fellowship.  Married till death took my Laura, my love. Dad to 3 adult girls, 1 boy. From San Juan, Puerto Rico. Frequent Los Angeles, CA visitor.

Oct. 26th, 2016

Another DWTS Hit! Eras Night Fulfills Our Dance Fantasy Nostalgia, Part 1

DWTS scored another big HIT with Eras Night! S23 is turning out to be one of the most successful ever. Good casting, good concepts, good production! And...Good Luck! Team Past recalled the elegance of eras past in dance. Team Future presented a transcendent vision of eras to come. Eight couples represented a dance style from the 20's to the 80's! The stuff of a wonderfully creative and romantic night of dance! A possible flight of fantasy...and Shazam! It happened! It worked! Plus, LEN GOODMAN WAS BACK! Hate to say it, but when I saw that Bed & Shower excess in overdone production for THE SEXY JANA-GLEB TANGO, I was wishing for Mr. Goodman to come back! Where were you when we needed you! But once here, and, yes, Len did reestablish some sense and control  wth his back to basics, back to Ballroom credo. But Grumpy Len quickly  took it to the other extreme, drivin MC Tom Bergeron into his  humorous Save- the-Show-from-Len's-Wrath mode! Why do I feel it's all an act?To please Len, the otherJudges all underscored our dance victims. Bruno and Julianne were never as  hyper! Len-fright? Carrrie Ann was never as cold and nitpicking. Trying to impress the head Judge? But the Judges didn;t spoil the fun at all. They were mean to everyone! It all balanced out. Their drama might have added to the energy and excitement of Week 7! On to our first dance: What! Laurie and Val first? The couple to beat, the Olympian Teen Ager and the Resident Hunk Pro? The most-likely to succeed...maybe not? See what we thought of them, and all of the dancing on Eras Night!

1. Quickstep Reveals Val-Len Generation Gap

Laurie Hernandez & Val Chmerkovskiy
"One Fine Day" - The Chiffons         Style: Quickstep

To see Laurie & Val's Quickstep, click here:   http://www.mjsbigblog.com/laurie-val-quickstep-week-6-dwts-23-video/

HECTOR: Laurie & Val's Quickstep was a performance hit, wildly entertaining, a charming  set up of 60's pastel-colorful Prom memories, complete with frilly dresses, corsages and awful tuxedos. The Chiffon's "One Fine Day" was a very fine fit for the decade and the Quickstep. The package was too damn coy an contrived, portraying Laurie as a naive bimbo, but Val's earnest effort to  connect and mentor Laurie seemed honest and true. They seemed better connected than ever in this high spirited, dynamic dance, full of hold and jaunty frolicking all around the ballroom. At the end, for 60's flair, Val added a bit of Twist and Rock and Roll, and a great split!  The audience roared with pleasure, and were sure Laurie and Val were back in the saddle again, with a BIG HIT!  But party-pooper Len (as Val dared call him) spoiled the fun by declaring it was too bouncy, too fast, sloppy technically. It was show-worthy, performance-wise but not a proper Quickstep. Val was visibly annoyed and in Chmerkovskiy fashion ( reminiscent of his bro), he made a nasty reference to Len suffering from jet-lag (from his London flight).Making it more brazen, Julianne agreed with Val about the jet lag, disagreed with Len about the flaws in the Quickstep. Carrie Ann coalesced with Len, added lift-police qualms. Bruno joined Julianne in praise and the end result was two 8's for the Len-Inaba coalition to to two 9's. What did i think? I liked the performance, but I did find something weird and bouncy about the frame, posture and feel of the Quickstep. It felt like slapstick Quickstep, as if Val was deliberately parodying Quickstep! To me , it added to the humor and fun of the 60's performance. Now, whothe hell would be doing Quickstep in the 60's? There was a generational conflict between Len and Val, and I'm inclined to join the Val Coalition. Screw the Quickstep, embrace the parody. Thumbs up for Val and Laurie and  the joy and humor of the performance!

PAT SAYS: Has the production power push waned for Laurie Hernandez and Val? Maybe they're  not going over as they had expected. The judges are finally critiquing her on her dance performance and technique  and not just on her personality and charisma. This was really a disservice to Laurie, not seeing her flaws and giving her an early 30/30. Had the judges critiqued Laurie constructively from week 1, she may have been able to correct her issuesearly  and not rely on her Olympic fame and bubbly personality.  The 60's Prom Quickstep Laurie and Val performed  was a decent Quickstep, but her frame was off. There was too much space between their bodies. Her steps were not Quickstep clean. They were too bouncy, with too much sway.  Val put in good Quickstep content, yes. Now, he's he's got to get down to the nitty-gritty of pure, flawless dance, like Len advises. Val should stop relying on gimmicks, production and Troupe enhancements for every dance.   . Judges:  34/40    Pat:  32/40  B    Hector: 35/40 B+

2. Teflon Star Lochte Slides Thru His Glib Rumba

Ryan Lochte & Cheryl Burke
"I Don't Want to Miss a Thing"Aerosmith            Style: Rumba

To see Ryan & Cheryl Rumba, click here: http://www.mjsbigblog.com/ryan-cheryl-rumba-week-6-dwts-23-video/

HECTOR: I'm baptising  Ryan Lochte "The Teflon Dance Star" because despite a dishonoring scandal and bad dancing, he's managed to reach the 8th week in his DWTS stint. I credit that feat to three main reasons: 1) He may have has less dancing chops than many others that have been eliminated,but Ryan has a powerful presence, with real charisma, movie star good looks and an appealing likable personality  2)The protesters rather than hurting Ryan, managed to switch sympathy to Ryan's favor, Plus the ABC Hype Machine has protected their investment with a huge, effective PR campaign in Ryan's favor 3) He has awesome dancer-trainer veteran DWTS Pro Cheryl Burke as his teach. It is amazing how sexy and beautiful Cheryl could make this Rumba look by writhing and undulating around him with Ryan standing mostly inert, or having very litle to do, yet looking like the danseur noble of Ballet Pas de Deux, the dependable guy dancer who makes his Queen look good! Cheryl uses his presence and charisma to good use by doing all the hard work while he stands straight and noble and handsome and charming! How little he is aware about what good dancing is about, that I had to laugh out loud when he says he thought he did "amazing " in his stiffer than a lead toy soldier Salsa last week!  Yet he says it so earnestly and wistfully, one is charmed nevertheless. Miss Burke simplified Ryan's part in the Rumba, doubled up her part with gorgeous, sensual,  Rumba lines, moves, extensions. We could hardly notice Ryan was only walking here and there, hardly ever moving his hips or undulating, or doing any discernible Rumba. The Judges humored him and overscored him as befits the Party Line. And to Cheryl,  her magnificent dancing, and her skill at the art of camouflage: KUDOS!

PAT SAYS: Ryan Lochte looked robotic in Rumba. His Rumba movements were short and quick instead oF slow, continuous, flowing and extended like the Dance of Love should be.This Rumba wasn't horrible. Thanks to Cheryl Burke, it was interesting to watch. Like Len Goodman (who was back at the saddle) said, it didn't rely on fluff and chorus dancers, just plain dancing. VERY plain, on Ryan's part! . It could've been worse. I didn't feel the intimate connection between he and Cheryl that one should experience in Rumba.  Ryan looked awkward.  Surely Ryan has come to the end of his run.   Judges:  28/40    Pat:  26/40  C     Hector: 25/40  C-

Judges Favor Ryan's Bad dancing
3. Unfair to Dump on Marilu's Charming Charleston?

Marilu Henner & Derek Hough
"Never Forget You"Postmodern Jukebox   Style: Charleston

To see Marilu & Derek's Charleston, click here: http://www.mjsbigblog.com/marilu-derek-charleston-week-6-dwts-23-video/

HECTOR SAYS: Marilu & Derek's Charleston was chock-full of delightful Charleston, complex and creative steps, a smattering of Tap, a wonderfully imaginative choreography. It had no frills, just cute and charming 20's Charleston dancing, A few times Marilu went out off sync. Her energy seemed to wane towards the end. It didn't end with the big, wild bang it should have. Still, it didn't mar my great enjoyment. I felt it was an excellent performance, and fairly technically adept.True, Marilu did not fully display,the crazy, devil-may-care, roaring  20's attitude in her dance. She was a little tight.Stage fright? Affected by her total Derek Hough admiration?   Strange, for a seasoned actress that has played Roxie Hart in "Chicago".But getting one point above Ryan Lochte in her dance? And lambasted by negative comments from all three Judges? Something seems rotten in the case of Marilu. The Judges have consistently scored Marilu unfairly, hold her to higher standards( than say Maureen or Ryan). And their comments have not been encouraging. They seemed designed to sacrifice Marilu, to have her eliminated by next week.  To make a point with saving dishonored Olympian Ryan? This wonderful contestant deserves better treatment!

PAT SAYS; Marilu's footwork was not as sharp as it could' have been. She was off sync at times in in their side by side dancing. I really thought this dance would be right up her alley but she struggled with it. I noticed that she had tape on both her feet. It makes me wonder if her feet were bothering her. Judges :  29     Pat :  28   C    Hector:  33  B

4. Will Calvin & Hinch Fight It Out for MBT, Laurie Be 3rd?

Calvin Johnson & Lindsay Arnold  
"Good Golly, Miss Molly
" - Little Richard            Style: Jive

To see Calvin& Lindsay Jive, click here: http://www.mjsbigblog.com/calvin-lindsay-jive-week-6-dwts-23-video/

I can say enough about how much I like Calvin's terrific dancin'! Everything about this Jive was a winner, starting with Little Richard, then Lindsay Arnold's dynamic choreography doing justice to the extraordinary music! Another big winner for S23 is Lindsay Arnold herself! What a teacher, what a dancer-choreographer, what a BEAUTY, what a STAR! LINDSAY IS THE NEW JULIANNE HOUGH! But back to Calvin, how well she's taught him, logarithmic advance in 6 swift weeks! Great footwork,keeps the beat, what musicality in this pizzazy Jive!! Something is wonderful about watching that long-limbed tallest of guys be so in sync with the petite dance beauty! There's a special mystique to these two, a great warm and friendly get-along connection. We no longer think of Calvin & Lindsay to tall-short and weird together, they go together like a wink and a smile.Calvin is a big, friendly, not ashamed of his tallness guy. He has an easy showmanship, a charismatic presence. We are wildly surprised and delighted that the big football hero with the large feet can dance so well! The ease and special grace he sports as he spins Lindsay around is awesome! He's issued a special "Calvin Style" using his extended body as a plus in dancing. He's invented  special nuanced efffects that  only Tall Calvin can do. How awful that  he cannot point his feet too well because of ankle injuries! Jive depends a lot on pointed feet! Lindsay tells him that he should he focus on keeping energy in his  feet even if he can't point them well! What a charming adviceHe took it!! Lindsay wants people to know Calvin the Great can do other than great lifts! Don't worry Lindsay! We saw him lead the whole Troupe like the King of Cool! We saw him sway his arms side by side in sync. We saw him transition with swag without losing a tad of energy, I think Laurie and Val may have to fight for the 3rd.slot, while Calvin & Hinch fight it out at the top! Who knew!

PAT SAYS: Once again, Calvin was on point, literally! He gracefully pointed his big feet in a great Jive KILL! His kicks were sharp and strong and even though he can't completely point his toes, it didn't matter. His Jive was KING! He always looks like he's having so much fun out there.  He has been the dancer Most Improved,  week to week.  Kudos to Lindsay for giving him tons of Jive content and not just relying on tricks. Lindsay is rapidly becoming my fav female pro! Right up there with Sharna! Dare say I,even surpassing her? Welcome to the finals Calvin!!  And again Calvin Johnson was underscored. Judges:  36/40    Pat:  38/40  A   Hec:  38/40    A

Enjoy our first four dances of a wonderful Eras Night!  Repeat performance! Lagnniape! Bravo! Encore, DWTS-ABC for future years. It's a great and fitting theme for dance inspirations, the remembrance of good dance past! For the rest of the Eras Story, read Part 2, a Satuday Night Special!

Oct. 21st, 2016

Part 2: DWTS: Will MBT Be Snatched Away from Laurie? Hinch, Calvin or JANA?Latin Night Surprises!

The last four dances of Latin Night were: the Splash of the Night, literally and otherwise: Jana and Gleb's Wet Dreams Tango; plus Maureen and Artem's Samba. Another great Tango full of Hotel California Nostalgia by Calvin and Lindsay; and after a weak Paso kind of a Salsa redemption by Laurie and Val.

6. Jana & Gleb's Splashy Tango Wins Them a 40/40

Jana Kramer & Gleb Savchenko
"Hands to Myself" - Selena Gomez      Style: Argentine Tango

To see Jana & Gleb's Tango Argentino, click here: http://www.mjsbigblog.com/jana-gleb-argentine-tango-week-6-dwts-23-vi

HECTOR: I was quite impressed with how Jana and Gleb made this Argentine Tango work! How all the diverse elements  fell into place to create an artistic whole, even with a whallop of risky excess!  In the package, Gleb tells Jana they're gonna do the sexiest  A. Tango  ever! The jazzy production that followed: the bed onstage, the rumpled black sheets, the final cold shower, it all smacked of production meddling! It's all kosher, as long as the choreography works;-and this one did, in spite of overproduction. The substance, concept and content of Argentine Tango was there, amidst all the frills. Julianne complimented  Jana on minding all the advice that the Judges had given Jana: the arms, the legs, the shoulders, the spotting, she did it all RIGHT. Not only right, but inspiringly, artistically, effectively! Her lines were beautiful, her ganchos were striking,her footwork precise,  her movements organic,her flluidity perfect! I just couldn't believe it, because in the past I had been displeased with Jana's half-assed movement, and her plastic facial expressions. WOWI People do improve in great strides in this show!Jana DID! Jana seems to really want this! She puts in 100% the effort! I also loved Gleb and Jana's close connection. Gleb is a noble, serious, impassioned partner in the tradition of the great Russian dancers, like Nureyev!. I LIKE Gleb! So charming the way he tried with feminine mimicry to teach Jana to be sexy. Don't worry Gleb, manage your gender, Jana did more than well in her sexy rendering! The bed onstage was a bit tasteless, but I had great fun with the water pouring from above. The wet REALLY did help to make the whole Argentine Tango STEAMY, like a sybaritic ritual. I loved the writhing passionate WET DANCING lovers! It was new, it looked TRUE, it was flashy, it was creative, it WAS H-O-T!

PAT SAYS: Jana and Gleb were told they were in Jeopady, just before they had to dance.These two have had good chemistry since week 1.But on Latin Night, they were off-the-charts sexy. I enjoyed it; but maybe it was a tad on the "overly sexy" side.  It had Argentine Tango content and style, but because of the gimmicks, the bed onstage, the wet dancers at the end, the dancing under the shower, it hardly looked like a traditional Argentine Tango.  Jana nailed it.  Her leg and arm movements were sharp. Her characterization had passionate intensity.I wish Gleb would give her just a little more challenging choreography as I think Jana is capable of it. It was definitely outstanding as a satisfying performance and connection, but as for content and choreography I would not give them a perfect score but four 9's.   Judges:  40/40    Pat: 38/40   A-   Hector:  40/40  A

7.  Mo Better in Ballroom Elegance than Samba Artistry

Maureen McCormick & Artem Chigvinset
"Mas que Nada" Sergio Mendez    
Style:   Samba

To see Maureen& Artem's Samba, click here: http://www.mjsbigblog.com/maureen-artem-samba-week-6-dwts-23-video/

HECTOR SAYS: As I watched how Maureen and Artem's Samba failed to sizzle for lack of Latin HEAT, I realized something about Maureen's McCormick limitations: She can do Ballroom much better than Latin! In her lifeless Samba, she followed the steps, she kept the timing,( less than more) she tried to connect to Artem Chigvinset, (It din't work too well) and she tried to do a splashy Las Vegas type entrance solo ( It was cute, like watching your 8 year old playing s showgirl! But  it didn't work either).  Artem simplified the Samba as much as he could. Didn't add Samba rolls, had no sway and dips,and I couldn't recognize the voltas or botafogos. Dios mio! When Bruno asked Maureen not to get stiff when trying to BOUNCE, it's because poor Maureen had no bounce! Just watch, as they dance, Artem as he sexily bounces. Compare to Maureen's rigidity. But it gets worse. She didn't move her hips, nor she have undulations. Good Samba, is all about hip action and body undulations. The more different axis in you can undulate, up and down, sideways, back and forth, the dips, the sways, the spirit of Samba. This Samba had no spirit, no Samba. At least on Maureen's part. Maureen had beautiful lines and elegant grace, in Foxtrot, Viennese Waltz,etc. Her Argentine Tango was not that bad because Tango is really more Euro than Latin, no shake-shake your booty required. It's hard for me to say the hard truth about Maureen's dancing because as with everyone, else my heart goes out to her. I don't want to hurt sweet, vulnerable Maureen. But the Judges giving her a 31, her highest score is just not fair to the others-like Terra who got a 30 for a much better Paso! Scores should not be about sympathy, lest the American public get the impression our Judges don't have a clue what Samba is!

PAT SAYS: Well Maureen McCormick  was safe for another week,  courtesy of the overscoring of the judges for the past two weeks! Her Samba was too slow and timid. Mo  looked lost, tentative, unsure of herself. Her Samba "rhythm" was: She messed up a few steps, then picked it up again and finally finished nicely. In spurts. Don't know what it is about these "intense", get tough instructors. Is it a good technique or is lack of patience when they get pissed off at their trainees? Wouldn't dare to judge, since I haven't been in their shoes! Sadly, I think either Maureen or Ryan will be leaving us next week - as it should be. The talent left in the competition is just beyond what these two can do. They've reached their limit. I felt like Maureen was...Overscored again!     SCORES-   Judges:  31/40
  Pat:  28 /40   C     Hec:   27/40   C-

8. Calvin & Lindsay Do A Better No Gimmick Tango

Calvin Johnson & Lindsay Arnold      "Hotel California" - Eagles        Style: Argentine Tango

To see Calvin & Lindsay Argentine Tango, click here: http://www.mjsbigblog.com/calvin-lindsay-argentine-tango-week-6-dwts-23-video/

HECTOR SAYS: Calvin and Lindsay did the best Argentine Tango of Latin Night. As far as Tango authenticity in concept, content, Ballroom artistry, complexity of steps, and classic integrity it was superior to the Argentine Tango danced by Jana and Gleb.  The gimmicks and sex angle  in Jana & Glebs made it more pop spectacular. Study both closely and you will find that Linday's choreography was better in every way to Gleb's. Lindsay's  had so many varied and difficult steps, the formations were to die for, the lines were beautiful. There was real drama in the way it was phrased, with point-counterpoint followed by beguiling ganchos, sweeping in-hold paseos around the ballroom. Artful nuances adorned the transitions, like amazing cartwheels and high breathtaking swirling lifts like I've never seen in any DWTS Argentine Tango performance. Lindsay is a very gifted choreographer and a gorgeous, exquisite dancer, but I was totally floored by Calvin's self-assured and commanding performance. For a man that didn't know one dance step at the show's week 1, and who's height and long extremities make it more difficult for him to look graceful, Calvin gets the prize for most committed rapid learner. It's a measure of how DWTS has evolved that four years ago a football player that could dance the way Calvin does would have been the sure prize winner. None of the previous football MBT winner could dance as well as Calvin, yet he's running fourth in 2016. Don't footballers have  the voter bases they used to? Or have the voters grown more sophisticated in the artistry they demand from their winners? Also different is the hype the football players got then and now. It seems the production spotlight is turning more to gymnasts, sexy Stars, and sure-fire dance ringers. Had the bed and the shower and the hot sex been removed from that other Tango, the pure dance remaining would not be as competitive as Calvin & Lindsay's mesmerizing truer dance performance.

PAT SAYS: Calvin in jeopardy TWICE?  I just can't believe it! Could it be that the low scores the judges have been giving him are having an effect on the voters?  Calvin really outdid himself in this polished performance!. I loved this Argentine Tango much better than Jana's in that it had more Argentine Tango content and had better choreography. The lifts were out of this world! Lindsay just flies!!  Calvin took charge of this dance and he was leading the whole dance through.His lines were precise and sharp.His characterization and passion and intensity waas HOT  He had a natural sexiness about him.This was by far his best dance yet  Lindsay is time and again shows how brilliant she is as a choreographer and how as a teacher, she brings the most out of her partners. I can see Calvin in the finale!!   I feel that again, Calvin was underscored.What's going on?    SCORES: Judges:  37/40     Pat:  39/40    A+     Hector:    40/40    A+

9. Salsa Better, but Laurie Opens Flank to Possible MBT Loss

Laurie Hernandez & Val Chmerkoskiy   "Light It Up" - Major Lazer    Style: Salsa

To see Laurie & Val's Salsa, click here: http://www.mjsbigblog.com/laurie-val-salsa-week-6-dwts-23-video/

HECTOR SAYS: Laurie's back! Well, somewhat. As I expected last week's fouled Paso experience served to give Laurie & Val an incentive to come back from the bottom. Score-wise her 37/40 placed them 3rd, tied with Calvin Johnson and Lindsay Arnold. Artistically,though, I thought Calvin's Argentine Tango was superior. One problem I could see with their Salsa performance was using the wrong Hip-Hop music, such an ill-fit soul-wise for Salsa. The rhythm worked fine,but the spirit of Hip-Hop  is totally alien to a Puerto Rican who wants to wiggle and sway to her own Latin music.That said, Laurie & Val did the best they could with it. They moved sharply to the beat  and did fantastic, fast Salsa footwork and moves, put in some good lifts (but never as spectacular as Calvin's). They also showed a much better connection with each other than in the awful Paso last week. I also liked that Val decided to go with the power of pure dance, no gimmicks, unliked the Jana & Gleb overproduced Tango. It was a very respectable, commendable performance, but it didn't WOW, like the top three performances did. I detected a kind of gymnastic mode in Laurie's Salsa, a bit not loose enough, her hip moves did not sway in abandon, and her Salsa had a hip-hoppy  to it. That and I found too much Swiss-clock precision and punctuation in Laurie's Salsa.The judges did too. Julianne hilariously showed how Laurie should "get down low" in her hip moves, not just gymnastic side-to-side but much more sexily. Bruno gave her an undeserved 10, but in his CHOICE OF WORDS  revealed what he was really thinking,praising Laurie on "the power, the energy, the PRECISION, unleashed with DEADLY ACCURACY". Did he say sexy connection, sensual moves, hotness natural flow or spontaneity? No, because it lacked it.Laurie needs to get rid of her gymnastic bad habits. Give Laurie the right Latin music, and it will unleash her interior Latino. Two weeks ago, Laurie was "THE SURE THING" to win this seasn's MBT. Now, I'm not so sure. 3 dark horses are gaining speed on Laurie's flanks. It seems possible that they will overtake our powerful front-runner.

PAT SAYS:   Laurie and Val ARE  the only couple yet to be in jeopardy-hmm. Any theories on that? Conspiracy or otherwise. Laurie danced much better than last week but there was a lot of room for improvement. I'm not buying Bruno's 10,that was  an outright impulsive, undeserved gift! Is Bruno on orders? What Laurie hasn't done for me, is bring that "WOW" moment. She hasn't shown much growth in her performances.  The gymnast executes the moves well, but I don't feel an emotional connection to her. I want to see at least one performance by Laurie that I can just say "WOW, that was great and unexpected" I just haven't had it yet.  By no means, does this mean that I don't like her! I like her a lot and her respect her performance power and potential. Still, she doesn't have my heart. Her performances don't move me as they seem to do others. I don't know exactly why. It may be she's too young, or that I don't think Laurie is that well paired or connected to her partner Val. Judges:  37/40      Pat:  36/40    B+     Hector:  34/40

Before we go, here's the cumulative board scores which Pat prepared for us to see how the race is going. James is best prepared to overtake Laurie. Will Laurie outperform him? How will the voters react? Will Production behave? Stay tuned, for a truly independent blog!

           Week 6 Score           Cumulative Score       Rank            
Laurie                            37                             186                       1
James                           38                             184                       2
Jana                              40                             171                       3
Terra                             30                             168                       4
Calvin                           37                              168                      4
Marilu                            34                             167                       5
Mo                                31                             155                       6
Ryan                             30                             150                       7
Amber                           28                              149                      8


OK folks! That's half of it, hope you had  chuckles reading it. For Part 1 of Latin Night, click here: http://hectorsblog.livejournal.com/45571.html

Don't take yourself too seriously! I certainly don't. Laugh at yourself, DANCE through your troubles! Like Hinch does, who got the surprise great pleasure (besides racing) of his life by DARING TO DANCE! Just click here for next weeks blog: http://hectorsblog.livejournal.com/45571.html

Your comments welcome comments down at the end, or on Twitter. See you next week!

Who are we?

Pat Halford @pahgah : An original California girl, now living in Tennesee. Here's her Twitter description: "Enjoying life with my retired Navy husband of 24 years."

Hector Sola @archihector : Architect, realtor, blog writer.  I love music, dance, film, visual media & WORDS . Educated at Harvard College, U. C.  Berkeley, Paris, FR, fellowship.  Married till death took my Laura, my love. Dad to 3 adult girls, 1 boy. From San Juan, Puerto Rico. Frequent Los Angeles, CA visitor.

Oct. 19th, 2016

DWTS Latin Night Surprises: Trio at The Top? Laurie, Hinch-& JANA!

Latin Night Stars, l to r, Hinch & Sharna, Laurie & Val, Guest Pittbull, Jana & Gleb

Latin Night Thrills! As usual, we had fun with the hot, shake-shake, alegre y delicioso dancing.
But Argentine passion dominated over shake your booty this one night!  A perfect score for Jana & Gleb's torrid (and wet)A. Tango just shot our rankings out of whack!
A perfect score and ascending journey for Laurie and Val on the Cirque's 4th week made them the sure MBT thing, But then Laurie fumbled her Pasodoble last week, while Hinch and Sharna's had a heroic MMY dance story, and  an almost perfect Tango score. Could Hinch topple Laurie? Now on the 5th week, a new unsuspected Dark Horse emerges! Jana and Gleb do a spectacular, unusually sexy and creative Argentine Tango and become the new outside chance! Could they challenge both Laurie and Hinch? This is why I love this Reality Dance Show! Anything can happen! (Hey production, no hype or meddling, please, let it be! Don't spoil the fun of unpredictability!) And closely following as a posssible contender is Calvin Johnson, the dancing football surprise, with  a killer A. Tango as well! But don't forget, or count out,  our Ginger & Fred couple, Terra and Sasha, who didn't do as well in their Paso on Latin Night ,but have a competitive cumulative history . It's complicated! The plot thickens, the betting odds change in Vegas! Can Laurie and Val be beat? Stay tuned.

Meantime, let's see how our outstanding couples of S23 wiggled and jiggled and tangoed on a spectacular Latin Night!
Pittbull joyfully provided the opening entertainment and Latino magic wand for ambiance as well as Guest Judge. As a Judge, he was an amiable and encouraging presence.

1. Ryan Overscored in a Fumbled, Graceless Cha Cha

Ryan Lochte & Cheryl Burke

"La Negra Tiene Tumbao"Celia Cruz    Style: Salsa

To see Ryan & Cheryl in Salsa, click here: http://www.mjsbigblog.com/ryan-cheryl-salsa-week-6-dwts-23-video/

HECTOR SAYS: It's Celia Cruz " La Negra Tiene Tumbao" ! Authentic Salsa as can be, really hot music. And saucy Cheryl really put some content in her Salsa and a lot of interesting moves. Oh, how hot she moved and wiggled around and about and under Ryan to make him come alive in Salsa! But what a letdown from Ryan's last impressive Contemporary! In it he showed full commitment, and a huge honest and vulnerable spirit and efffort to really DANCE! In this Salsa, he was going through the routine in a laid-back, cavalier manner, like he was counting or trying to remember what step came next. When he went three steps over Cheryl while she writhed on the floor sensually, Ryan looked  as sexy as a military  field trainee in an obstacle course.("Ooops, what the hell is Cheryl doing down there?"). Cheryl maybe gave him too many steps. Better less and slower, but with his heart and passion in it, as in his Contemporary? Ryan did't show fun,  grace or musicality. and very poor rhythm and timing! To add some heat, Cheryl had to strip the shirt off muscular Lochte, then snatch off the pants as well in showy fluorescent camouflage. The gimmick added fun and lured poor Pittbull into the gift of an 8. But why Julianne decided to give Ryan an 8 as well is incomprehensible! (She's gone mad, either under or overscoring without rhyme or reason). Ryan has proved to be a PR DWTS production success. How sad and pitiful that voters have validated  Locthe's dancing  over  more worthy Babyface and Vanilla Ice's!

 PAT SAYS: Right off the bat, Ryan and Cheryl were called safe from the beginning of the show.. Surprising to me! Guess the protestors dug up some sympathy for Ryan making him stay beyond his dancing talent. Ryan had SOME hip action going on. He handled the Salsa well. He had a few mistakes with his timing, his  feet and his arms looked a little weird here and there.  The neon costumes were crazy FUN! Ryan did better than I had expected. Each week I keep saying I think this is the last we will see of him; yet each week, Ryan is called safe. I have to think that by now  his competitive talent for dance has FINALLY run it's course, as compared to how much better the others have performed. I expect him to exit at last next week! Judges:  30/40   Pat:  28/40     C    Hector: 26/40   C-

2. Unfair to Score Terra Same as Ryan? Better Dancer!

Terra Jole & Sasha Farber
"Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood"Santa Esmeralda     Style: Pasodoble

To see Terra & Sasha's Pasodoble, click here: http://www.mjsbigblog.com/terra-sasha-paso-doble-week-6-dwts-23-video/

HECTOR SAYS: I'm so pissed off about the low score the Judges gave Terra and Sasha for their  Pasodoble! It got the exact same score 7, 8,8,7 = 30 that Ryan and Cheryl's Salsa just before Terra's performance. Compare each dance in style content,correctness  in technique and timing, and passion and spirit in performance and there's no way Terra's performance can be remotely equal to Ryan's. Take that cavalier, aloof, uninvolved attitude Ryan showed in his Salsa. No way it could match Terra's fierce commitment in her Paso. Look at the grace Terra used her hands like a Flamenco dancer. Not even Laurie did that correctly in her awful Paso. Look at Ryan totally non-existent grace in Salsa! How can it be fair for the Judges to give thes two couples the same score? Terra and Sasha look so loving and connected doing their dance! Cheryl looks like a puppetmaster trying to get her partner Ryan to MOVEJ She does all the work. As Cheryl said in the package "even get your clothes and take them off?"  She said it playfully, but in every dance, we've seen Cheryl doing all the work, and her  diverting tactics and inspired gimmicks to get the audience off focusing on Ryan's mistakes! So many mistakes in Ryans salsa, especially about timing. Terra on the other hand is always on the beat, and had very few mistakes. Should I also mention how Paso-innapropriate and difficult to adapt was the music Terra got? Still Terra's Paso was better in general than Laurie's Paso. Laurie got 8,9's, while Terra gets two 7's? All we ask is for the judges to be fair! Not to have one standard for Laurie and Ryan, and an unfair one for Terra and Sasha!

PAT SAYS; Terra and Sasha were safe again this week. They've been in the upper half of cumulative scores, so this was  no surprise to me. I had a hunch Pasodoble would not fit Terra's personality too well. Pasodoble requires a fierce attitude, requires anguish. I think this one was a little out of Terra's comfort zone. Still, Terra and Sasha connected and  handled it well, but she didn't seem as confident.  She can move that body of hers well, but I felt that in this Paso, the attention focus shifted to Sasha. Terra was not the center of attention, as in the other dances.  Kudos for Sasha for not "dumbing down" (simplifying it too much) her choreo. I think Ryan and Mo will go before Sasha and Terra do. I'm looking forward to at least another 2 weeks of Terra and Sasha staying in the compeition. Hopefully next week Terra will do much better, as expected.   Scores: Judges:  30/40     Pat:  29/40    B-  Hector:  32/40

3. Amber Rosebud Never Quite Blooms Under Maks TLC

Amber Rose & Maks Chmerkovskiy

"Bla Bla Bla Cha Cha Cha"—Petty Booka       Style: Cha Cha Cha

To see Amber & Maks Cha Cha, click here: http://www.mjsbigblog.com/amber-maks-cha-cha-week-6-dwts-23-video/

HECTOR SAYS:   Amber Rose, a fragrant  rose like you by any other name would smell as sweet! We got who you were, at last, had a peek into your lovely soul and a glimpse into a definite ability to dance that never quite blossomed into it's full potential. In this Cha Cha, what I saw was a wonderful and different teasing quality that many female dancers can't pull off. The Bla Bla Cha Cha was made for Amber's kind of flirtatious chic. She had the presence and she had the style. I can think of many a female Pro who couldn't do the "Whatever Lola Wants Lola Gets" shtik or characterization as well as Amber! She also had,albeit a bit tentative, yes, the promise of the moves, the steps and the beat...and she had Maks, who was wonderfully snazzy and sophisticated in this terrific Cha Cha Cha. Look at the pic at top. What a ritzy, stylish couple! Had Amber broke out dancing with the full force of her larger than life personality, with a partner like Maks Chmerkovskiy, who knows how far it would have carried her! Truth is Amber stayed in the "promise" stage. Julianne hilariously showed us what Amber lacked! She did a wonderful raunchy demo by rubbing her thighs with exagerated passion. Right on, Jules! In the package we saw how frustrated Maks got trying to get Amber's X dance factor to come out! They had a love-hate relationship which never quite worked. That one scene in which Amber was doing the Cha Cha steps wrong, was revealing. It exposed Maks short temper as he struck his fist against the mirror in angry rebuke. It also revealed Amber's fragile and frightened vulnerability, as she had a meltdown and left the rehearsal in woe. They never had a good working relationship. They didn't quite show a good dance connection as a couple, either.. Only for brief delightful moments, like the one shown in the pic above. Ah, had they clicked, how'd great that would have been! But it didn't happen! Still Amber's Dance Journey left a sweet mark in many a heart. She showed how glamorous and proud a big girl can be!

PAT SAYS: Amber  was in jeopardy again this week. I feared this week would be her last. I sound like a broken record when it comes to Amber's dancing. Every week I expect to see something different from her and every week we get the same thing, a dance that is all..."About Amber's Booty"  Now, granted some of the dances legitimately call for some booty movement, but every week?  Also, her dances seem to me like  they are in slow motion. They lack energy.  This week particularly, it felt like she just kinda fast-walked through her dance.  Yes, it was nice, but all her dances have been "nice" and stayed there. She really hasn't shown much growth in her dancing.  At the end, I corroborated my hunch that she would be the one to go. Goodbye Amber - it was just...NICE!     Judges:  28/40 ,
Pat:  26/40     C,     Hector:  30/40  C+

4. Hinch, Best Ever DWTS Male Dancer Masters Rumba

James Hinchclifffe & Sharna Burgesss       "Need the Sun to Break"—James Bay   Style: Rumba

To see James & Sharna's Rumba, click here: http://www.mjsbigblog.com/james-sharna-rumba-week-6-dwts-23-video/

HECTOR SAYS:What a pleasure it is to watch James and Sharna dance every week! Who knew? A race car driver! Julianne declared him "the best male dancer in DWTS (history) ever" after this Rumba! Then she gave him a 9/10! Diffficult? No, she gave Ryan an 8! Just inconsistent. Carrie Ann, bless her heart, not only gave James a well deserved 10, but praised the Hinch's arms, extensions, hip action, the NUANCES! Yes, the nuances, the way he gently caresses Sharna very slowly, then sweeps her speedily across the ballroom. The way as Bruno said, he keeps the continuous flow of pulsating movement to the rhythm of the music.Essence of the Rumba, James understands Rumba instinctively, responds sensually! He sensually connects with Sharna. His Rumba Dance of Love ritual is very credible! I can't believe he didn't know, growing up,  he had this bountiful power as a dancer! It's the nuances that set him apart as an artist. James is even more watchable than many a pro. The way he plays his part from beginning to end,a consummate actor in a dance tale of love, is awesome. James has a magical ability to put everything together, technique, line,steps, movement. With great integrity, he and Sharna blend it all into a powerful performance, We watch him greatly pleased with a huge smile, because besides his dance showmanship, James is eminently likable, very self-effacing and unassuming. He laughs at his not being sexy, but of course, that is in itself sexy. He credits Sharna for making him a good dancer.We males identify with James because he looks like a regular guy. He's not haughty, stand-offish or intimidating. We root for him to do well! When he takes our breath away with his masterful Rumba, we feel like jumpin up and down and hooting like if he raced in first down the finish line! Whoohoo, James! We get such a kick out of your Rumba! I wish you were THE WINNER!

PAT SAYS: Latin Night, I really didn't know what to expect from James and Sharna's Rumba. Could he bring the sensual moves and look sexily connected to his partner? He and Sharna have a great chemistry, but I didn't consider them sexy till this Rumba! I thought the package story of his Latino alter ego  Ricardo was hilarious. That funny story is how I pictured James. Funny and poking fun at himself but not sexy. WOW, was I wrong! James hand moving up Sharna's legs after her her split was HOT! Then he slid sensually by Sharna with a Valentino look..FIRE! To top it off, he did that final dip, WHEW! He really knows how to accentuate his nuanced fast and slow movements to the rhythm of the music.  This Rumba was sensual, stirring and sexy without being raunchy. James never ceases to surprise me.Don't know what the heck Pitbull and Julianne find lacking! James and Sharna were underscored. I think it has to do with the official hype plan. James and Sharna, I can't wait for what you'll bring next week!!
Judges:  38/40     Pat:  40/40     A+    Hector: 40/40    A+

5. Marilu Had Fire, Must Yet Explode in Full Potential

Marilu Henner & Derek Hough   "Echa pa'lante"—Thalía       Style: Cha Cha
To see Marilu & Derek's Cha Cha , click here:http://www.mjsbigblog.com/marilu-derek-cha-cha-week-6-dwts-23-video/

HECTOR SAYS: "Marilu's best asset," says Derek, " is having  these BEAUTIFUL legs. When they're in the right place, you really SEE them! (It's like) "Dang, gurl, I should be looking at them (legs)...She's in my mom's age!...WEIRD! No!It's WEIRD!", and to himself: "Don't talk that weird! Yeah?". I LOVE this couple. From their sweet and amusing dialogue in their package, to their alwasys provocative and eminently watchable dancing skills. This music had the wrong beat WEIRD! Not the typcal 1,2,3- Cha Cha Cha! But give it to the Master to make it work! It was Salsa music, but Derek and Marilu put the Cha Cha into it, made it zip and crackle and POP! Derek says he's usually "meticulous", BUT with Marilu, so as to get her out of her head, he's letting her "be in charge". He wants it to be "her Journey". Although Marilu obviously has considerable skills and dancing chops, her admiration for Derek's BIG talent and reputation has given her "Dancer's Block" or "Can't Live Up to Hough" inhibitions. Derek's new approach is to  let her be Marilu, to have her dance muse  come out. It came out finally last week! Marilu's dance power continued to flow freely this week in this great Cha Cha. From beginning to end we could see a polished and perfect routine that flowed from her own soul and sensitivity; beautiful lines, saucy extensions, little style pleasures, expertly done with sophisticated rhythm and musicality. Still, Henner's performance had polish but lacked SPLASH! Next week, I'd love her to have a skillful routine, but get that Marilu Henner full fledged, razzle-dazzle passion OUT full force! I know she has it in her! I've been GAGA OVER MARILU the way she's GAGA OVER DEREK. I want Marilu and Derek to explode! Gimme SOME Derek Brand creative specialty that will unleash all of Marilu's dance passion and charisma!

PAT SAYS: Marilu's breakthrough continues in this excellent Cha Cha performance with Derek Hough. Last week she got a big hug from the girl judges! This week  went out on that ballroom and just had visible FUN! Her connection to Derek was more easygoing and natural than in her former "in her head mode". Marilu apparently feared that she would let Derek down or make a flub! It didn't let her relax and let her dance mojo come out! On Latin Night, Marilu nailed her Cha Cha moves and her leg placement and (her legs as well, according to Derek!) was gorgeous. Maybe Marilu could have had a tad more hip action, but overall she did really well. Judges:  34/40    Pat :  32/40     B     Hector:  36/40   B+


OK folks! That's half of it, hope you had fun and chuckles reading it. Don't take yourself too seriously! I certainly don't. Laugh at yourself and DANCE! Like Hinch does, who got the surprise of his life by DARING TO DANCE! LOOK FOR PART 2 ON SATURDAY NIGHT! Just click on http://hectorsblog.livejournal.com/45571.html

Pat Halford @pahgah : An original California girl, now living in Tennesee. Here's her Twitter description: "Enjoying life with my retired Navy husband of 24 years."

Hector Sola @archihector : Architect, realtor, blog writer.  I love music, dance, film, visual media & WORDS . Educated at Harvard College, U. C.  Berkeley, Paris, FR, fellowship.  Married till death took my Laura, my love. Dad to 3 adult girls, 1 boy. From San Juan, Puerto Rico. Frequent Los Angeles, CA visitor.

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