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November 2016



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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