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.
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-a
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.
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-sa
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.
7. Jana & Gleb Groove on 70's Disco, Not on Samba
Jana Kramer & Gleb Savchenko
"Get Down Tonight" - KC & the Sunshine Band
To see Jana & Gleb's Samba, click here: http://www.mjsbigblog.com/jana-gleb-sa
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!
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-sh
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-wee
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
To see Team Future's Contemporary Trance Dance, click here: http://www.mjsbigblog.com/team-future-w
.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'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.
Laurie 69 255 2
Calvin 74 242 3
Jana 69 240 4
Terra 69 237 5
Marilu 64 231 6
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.