Favourite DWTS Performances

Over the years, I’ve given Dancing With the Stars a lot of flack. First of all, there’s a very loose definition of “Stars.” Up until recently, they had their orchestra band perform all the songs, which I understood, but it resulted in a lot of not-so-good versions of pop songs. Their insistence on using a lot of pop songs was also met with mixed results; some songs just did not work with the style the pairs were supposed to be dancing. Nowadays, it annoys the hell out of me that they insist on including contemporary and jazz (just no, leave it to SYTYCD). Regardless, there has been multiple times where everything just comes together and we get legitimately good/great performances. After a certain point, I was just watching for the Pros and their group numbers during the results shows or dancing alongside the musical guests, but sometimes the stars actually do leave an impression and that’s the reason for the show’s existence. So here goes my top 10* favourite performances from the past 20(?!) seasons, in no particular order.

*Plus a few cheats. Because I can.

1.) Season 2, Drew & Cheryl – “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy”

This freestyle eventually set the bar for all future freestyles. Anyone who actually watched this back in the day, just has fond memories of it. It showed off Drew’s dancing skills that he learned from the weeks of competition and it was a lot of fun to watch. I guess it’s also one of the reasons why I’m not particularly fond of the slow, almost-Contemporary freestyles, because when I think freestyle, I think fun and upbeat. But that’s just me.

2.) Season 10, Nicole & Derek “El Capitalismo Foraneo”

Have I mentioned how much of a sucker I am for a good Tango or Argentine Tango? It’s such a gorgeous dance, and requires the partners to be strong and bold, yet sensual. Sure, Nicole Scherzinger was very much a ringer this season, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t earn her win. This routine was flawless from top to bottom, and it certainly helped that they got a more traditional song to dance to, as opposed to a pop song. Ugh, LOVE IT!

3.) Season 5, Helio & Julianne – “Hey Pachuco!”

The Quickstep is endearingly(?) referred to as the kiss of death on SYTYCD, and that’s because it is HARD. The stamina and energy required to just get through a one minute routine is crazy and mixed with the fact that you have to be light on your feet is crazy difficult, whether you’re a dancer or not. What was great about this routine was that Helio managed to do all that and look like he was legitimately having fun.

4.) Season 9, Joanna & Derek – “Living on Video”/ Season 10, Nicole & Derek – “Spanish Guitar”

As the show grew and with each passing season, it was expected of them to change things up a bit. First they added in non-typical ballroom dance styles, and then they started playing around with these fusion dances (some straight-up combos and some incredibly random). And if anyone could rise up to the challenge, it was Derek. [Full disclosure: I’m a huge Derek Hough fan. I think he’s an amazing dancer/choreographer and deserves all the praise in the world.] It was evident first in season 9, when Derek had to choreograph a ‘Futuristic Paso Doble’ (set to an 80s song) for his partner Joanna; then again in season 10, when he was tasked to choreograph a ’50s Paso Doble’ for Nicole. The end result was all kinds of awesome.

5.) Season 8, Gilles & Cheryl – “Assassin’s Tango”

See #2. Plus using the score from Mr. and Mrs. Smith gave it an extra edge that was absolutely wonderful.

6.) Season 5, Mel & Maks – “Free Your Mind”

The changing of the lyrics was actually hilarious, and exactly what I was talking about earlier. Mel B was just such a beast though, you kind of had to ignore the song arrangement.

7.) Season 18, Meryl & Maks – “Feel So Close”/ Meryl & Val – “Too Close”

I never usually call ringer, even when there’s someone in the competition who has dance experience, because normally it’s like a hip-hop or Broadway background, not ballroom. When Meryl Davis, along with Charlie White, were announced as part of this season’s cast, boy did I ever yell “RINGER!!!” I mean they basically ballroom dance, ON ICE! AND Derek had helped them with choreography for the Olympics! As the season went on though, I just couldn’t deny how great a dancer Meryl is, and she had such a great partnership with Maks. Had to choose both her Tango with Maks and Argentine Tango with Val because I would not have pegged those songs to use for Tangos (which would have annoyed me before), but they made it work!

8.) Season 8, Shawn & Mark – “Do Your Thing”

It was just non-stop dancing, and simply put, so much fun and entertaining to watch.

9.) Season 15, Shawn, Derek & Mark – “Jungle Jazz”

Sure, it was more Afro-Jazz with touches of Samba, but you couldn’t deny how good the performance was. Shawn getting to dance with both her partners on the show was such a treat.

10.) Season 19, Alfonso & Witney – “369”

When it was announced that Alfonso Ribeiro was going to be a part of the season 19 cast, everyone pretty much called it that he was going to win, pretty much based solely on “The Carlton.” From the beginning, he proved that he was going to work hard and earn that Mirror Ball Trophy, starting with this dance. A Jive in week 1 is no joke; you have to get those flicks and kicks right, and make sure you’re light on your feet with a natural bounce/rhythm. Alfonso’s routine was all of that and then some.

 

HONOURABLE MENTIONS – Non-competition performances

1.) Season 5, Jennifer Lopez performs “Let’s Get Loud” with the Pro Dancers

I don’t remember many of the group numbers from seasons 1-4, though obviously I always knew the Pro Dancers were crazy talented. Things changed after watching this performance; I loved every part of it, with our Pro Dancers performing, while J.Lo sang. I think it had finally dawned on me how much I love the Pros dancing as a group, when everything just comes together – choreography, music, costumes. I can’t ever listen to this song now without picturing this performance in my head.

2.) Season 7, Jennifer Hudson with Derek & Julianne – “Spotlight”

The Hough siblings are ridiculously talented and I love them both dearly. It’s just so great to see them dance together, every once in a while.

3.) Season 10, Chelsie & Derek – “Malaguena”

I absolutely loved the simplicity of the performance. An acoustic arrangement (featuring Mark on guitar) and they let the dancing do everything else. It was very much a classic Paso Doble. It’s no wonder they were Emmy nominated for this.

4.) Season 11, Mark & Val “Toxic”

This was before Val became a Pro on the show, though the connections and relationships were already there. They set this up as Val and Mark always having had a friendly rivalry because they both danced and played musical instruments; this was just a fun showcase of that. One of my favourite things about this is that they were playing “Toxic.” I mean, I remember watching it and it starts off with the dueling violin and guitar, then I start hearing those recognizable notes/riffs, and I was like “Are they..? OMIGOD THEY’RE DOING TOXIC!!!” ūüėÄ

5.) Season 10, Pro Dancers – “Evacuate the Dancefloor”

It’s great when you see the Pro Dancers do straight ballroom, but it’s also so much fun to see them let loose like this.

6.) Anytime Derek & Allison choreograph something (Season 13/Season 15 “Heart Cry”/Season 18 “Animals”)

Before Allison became a Pro on DWTS, she had often choreographed special performances with Derek. Two of my favourite dancers working together? It was amazing! The first time they performed together on the show in S13, they did an incredible Tango/Paso/Flamenco/Contemporary fusion number;I remember being away on vacation, watching the performance on YouTube, and was honestly left breathless. In S15, they choreographed a beautiful Contemporary number, which also featured Melanie Moore, Kathryn McCormick, and Jessica Lee Keller. Then in S18, they worked together on the really fun fusion featuring some of the Pros and Troupe members, though Allison didn’t perform with them.

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Top 10 Favourite SYTYCD Routines

So You Think You Can Dance is one of my favourite reality shows. Getting to watch different styles of dance on my TV screen every week during the summer is quite honestly the best. The show as a whole doesn’t get nearly the respect and recognition it deserves, but over the years, it has provided us with numerous memorable routines, which has been justly rewarded with countless Outstanding Choreography nominations/wins. As such, for my April blogging challenge, I wanted to include a list of my 10 most favourite SYTYCD routines. It’s a simultaneously easy yet difficult task, because lists are simple but narrowing it down is the hard part.

1.) Season 2, Top 10 – “Ramalama (Bang Bang)”

Still one of, if not THE best group routines in the history of the show. It was one of the first times the show really showcased a dance that was very much out of the box, and it really brought out an artistic side to the show that we hadn’t seen before. Also, Wade Robson just kinda rocks.

2.) Season 2, Allison & Ivan – “Why”

This was a turning point for me, in terms of when I really started LOVING the show. Ivan, a hip-hop dancer, held his own, dancing with the incredible Allison in her style, which was Contemporary. Add to that, Annie Lennox’s gorgeous song “Why” and it was just perfection.

3.)¬†Season 7, Alex & Twitch – “Outta My Mind”

Everyone loves Twitch; he’s a beast of a dancer. Everyone already loved Alex at this point, but to see him, who’s trained in ballet, KILL it in this routine next to Twitch, just threw him up to another level.

4.) Season 4, Katee & Joshua – “No Air”/ Chelsie & Mark – “Bleeding Love”

Tabitha & Napoleon had been dancing/choreographing long before SYTYCD, but when they were brought in for season 4, everything changed. They made an immediate impression with the “No Air” routine, then a couple weeks later, they solidified themselves in the SYTYCD world with “Bleeding Love.” We had some smooth hip-hop in the past, but for the most part, everyone thought of hard-hitting hip-hop on the show, so when NappyTabs came on and delivered these contemporary hip-hop numbers, it was just never the same.

5.) Season 8, Melanie & Marko – “Triptico”

Melanie & Marko are among my favourite SYTYCD pairings (next to Allison/Ivan, Katee/Joshua). Every single routine they did was wonderful, starting from their Contemporary “Turn to Stone” and even to their Disco “I Feel Love.” So why is “Triptico” my favourite? Well, I’m a sucker for the Tango, and even though it wasn’t perfect, they sold the performance. And that drop/flip/turn/lift (I have no idea what to call it) at the end? Gets me every time I watch it.

6.)¬†Season 5, Top 12 – “Calle Ocho”

Season 5 was top-notch, in regards to the group routines. I mean, the competition numbers were really good too, but the group routines were everything. This number though was my absolute favourite for the entire season: NappyTabs choreographed with Dmitry Chaplin to make a totally awesome Latin Hip-hop fusion. What more could you want?! It was everything and more!

7.) Season 8, Top 12 – “El Fuego”

I just love this group number. I can’t even explain why. Maybe it’s because it’s a Flamenco-style routine that we just don’t see a lot on SYTYCD, plus everyone was on point, performing the hell out of it.

8.) Season 9, Top 10 & All-Stars – “Circle of Life/Nants Ingonyama”

Season 9 was very light on NappyTabs. At the end of the season though, they made up for it with this awesome Afro Jazz Hip-Hop set to music from The Lion King! The competing dancers alone were terrific, but add in the All-Stars and it just explodes.

9.) Season 7, Top 11 & All-Stars – “Ra”

Speaking of exploding, season 7 was the first season that introduced the All-Stars, and it has certainly helped in bringing out the best in the competing dancers. This was, once again, a finale number, but it definitely proved just how amazing the talent was. A competitive season as it was, with the best 11 dancers (was supposed to be 10, but they couldn’t help themselves and added in one more) instead of 20 competing, you knew they meant business. Like NappyTabs before, Chris Scott immediately made an impression with this genre-fusing hip-hop, and has been a regular choreographer on the show ever since. Bonus points for finding a way to include an injured Alex Wong into the number.

10.) Season 4, Katee & Twitch – “Mercy”

The Door. This routine showed that not all Contemporary routines had to be sad and overwrought with emotion. This was all kinds of fun and emotional in a different sense. Absolutely love it!

HONOURABLE MENTIONS*

*AKA my way of cheating and adding 5 more routines I REALLY REALLY like. My blog, my rules*

1.) Season 8, Top 10 Guys – “Velocity”

Season 8 was just SO GOOD, right from the very start. Chris Scott choreographed this Adjustment Bureau-themed contemporary hip-hop for the Top 10 Guys for the first show, and it was just so indicative of what the rest of the season was going to feel like.

2.) Season 8, Melanie & Tadd – “(Where Do I Begin) Love Story”

There was a reason Melanie won season 8; she’s an amazing technical dancer, who really knows how to sell the performance. Spencer Liff didn’t give us the typical Broadway routine that we typically see on the show, instead he choreographed a routine that was sexy and required Melanie & Tadd to really act.

3.) Season 9, Top 8 – “Run Boy Run”

Sure we have a steady rotation of choreographers creating wonderful pieces, but the show does not just rely on those geniuses. There are so many talented choreographers that it would be a shame to not showcase their work. So it was a welcome surprise to see the show bring the immensely talented Peter Chu to choreograph this group number.

4. ) Season 3, Neil & Danny – “Are You the One?”

Mia Michaels. Genius. A contemporary routine that required so much power from Neil and Danny. Just fantastic.

5.) Season 10, Jasmine & Comfort – “Run the World”

For years, I was constantly complaining that the boys always got the “fun” routines for the finals; they often got either a completely different style (see: Russian Trepak of S4, Malevos of S7, Steppin of S8) or a cool jazz or hip-hop routine. The girls always got Broadway/Contemporary/Jazz. So you have no idea how ecstatic I was to see this routine happen. Mind you, it wasn’t the final 2 girls (Jasmine and Amy) dancing together, but rather Jasmine dancing with All-Star Comfort. However, it doesn’t change the fact that we got a girls hip-hop routine! FINALLY! HALLELUJAH! More of this please!

There you have it – my favourite SYTYCD routines! The show returns for its 12th season – Stage vs. Street – on June 1st!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emmy Nominations 2010

Emmy nominations make me a happy TV fan…that is until I realize all the amazing people who got snubbed…and then I go back to being a (generally) happy TV fan. Rundown of nominees…

  • OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES: First off, Glee & Modern Family…YAY! I will be happy if either of these 2 shows can get the award from 30 Rock. Secondly, as much as I love the show, The Office was not entirely on its game this past season. I hate to say it, but I would have much rather liked to see The Big Bang Theory or Community or (a longshot) Chuck get the nomination instead. The other actual nominees were Curb Your Enthusiasm and Nurse Jackie.
  • OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES: The only actual show I watch out of the nominees is True Blood, so I’ll be rooting for them. Mad Men is a very well-written show and I tried watching it, but it’s sort of a downer for me. It’s just not my type of show. Dexter, The Good Wife and Breaking Bad are all supposed to be good shows. Lost got nominated for its final season. I don’t have much else to say on this.
  • OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY: Please let Jim Parsons or Matthew Morrison win. Tony Shaloub again? I really hope not.
  • OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY: Sooo happy for Lea Michele! But as much as it pains me to say it, I don’t think she stands much of a chance at winning. I mean look at who she’s nominated against! Edie Falco, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Amy Poheler, Tina Fey, Toni Collette! I want Lea to win because I love Glee, but I’m trying to be realistic here.
  • OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA: I’ve come to the realization that I don’t watch a lot of drama shows. I know enough about them but I don’t really watch them. Anyways, Hugh Laurie nominated for House – always a good thing. Surprised at the nomination for Kyle Chandler for Friday Night Lights. I’ve never watched the show, but I’ve heard nothing but great things about it and its fans have clearly been WAITING for these actors and the show to get nominated, so happy day for them. Other nominees – Jon Hamm, Michael C. Hall, Bryan Cranston, Matthew Fox.
  • OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA: Just on buzz alone, Julianna Margulies is totally winning. Again, surprise nomination for Connie Britton for FNL. Other nominees – January Jones, Mariska Hargitay, Glenn Close, Kyra Sedgwick.
  • OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY: Let’s put it this way, as long as Jon Cryer doesn’t win, I will be happy with whoever ends up winning. 3 of the 4 male actors on Modern Family got nominated (Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Ty Burrell – sorry Ed O’Neill), Neil Patrick Harris is nominated (and rightfully so), and (SURPRISE!) Chris Colfer is nominated! So had Ed O’Neill been nominated instead of Jon Cryer, this would’ve been an even more awesome category.
  • OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY: Hell yeah for the Julie Bowen, Sofia Vergara, and Jane Lynch nominations! But honestly, Jane Lynch FTW! Like come on, who beats Sue Sylvester?! Although I will be perfectly happy if either of the Modern Family ladies take it.
  • OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR/ACTRESS IN A DRAMA: Umm congratulations on their nominations! I don’t really want to waste space on stuff I don’t know what to write about. Sorry, I’m sure they were all great in whatever they did.
  • OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY: Neil Patrick Harris as Bryan Ryan! NPH was awesome in that episode but if it’s Glee winning in this category, it really should be Mike O’Malley instead of NPH. O’Malley was absolutely terrific as Kurt’s dad, and absolutely deserves the nomination and hopefully the win.
  • OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY: I love Kristin Chenoweth as April Rhodes, but Christine Baranski as Leonard’s mom on The Big Bang Theory was absolute genius. Although, Betty White is nominated for SNL, and I’d be stupid to bet against Betty White.
  • OUTSTANDING REALITY-COMPETITION PROGRAM: American Idol, Dancing With The Stars, The Amazing Race, Project Runway, and Top Chef are all nominated once again. Not one surprise here. The Amazing Race FTW…again, because it’s awesome and it hasn’t lost yet.
  • OUTSTANDING HOST FOR A REALITY PROGRAM: Same nominees as last year – Tom Bergeron, Phil Koeghan, Jeff Probst, Heidi Klum, Ryan Seacrest. I don’t watch Project Runway, so I have no idea how Heidi Klum is as a host. But I also don’t know WHY CAT DEELEY GOT SNUBBED…AGAIN!!!! Seriously, season after season, Cat Deeley proves how awesome she is at being a host and support for the contestants. How is it that she is not nominated?! I’m tired of her getting snubbed. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, screw Seacrest! Bring on Cat Deeley!
  • OUTSTANDING CHOREOGRAPHY: The one category that I am truly, without a doubt, excited about! I am not upset over any one nomination. If anything, I wish they could nominate more because I think Travis Wall should’ve been nominated for If It Kills Me and NappyTabs/Dmitry Chaplin should’ve been nominated for Calle Ocho. But I am happy for the ones that were nominated (and by the way, I’m surprised that for a few choreographers, it was for more than one routine.) Mia Michaels for Gravity, Koop Island Blues, and One on SYTYCD. Adam Shankman for the 2 dance numbers at this year’s Oscars. Stacey Tookey for Fear (I almost forgot which one this was – it was the one with Kathryn and Legacy in S6 SYTYCD). Chelsie Hightower and Derek Hough for that AMAZING paso doble during one of the results shows this past season on DWTS. And lastly, Derek Hough (yes, again, this time solo) for Anything Goes (the quickstep with Nicole Scherzinger) and Living on Video (the futuristic paso doble with Joanna Krupa) on DWTS seasons 10 and 9 respectively. Love them all, but I want Derek to win, particularly for Living on Video, because let’s be real, after you saw that routine you knew it had Emmy written all over it. But I will be happy with whoever wins, although with 2 nominations, I really hope the odds are with Derek this year.
  • SURPRISES/SNUBS/REALIZATIONS: After my initial excitement over all the Glee/Modern Family love, I actually noticed some things. Sally Field wasn’t nominated for Brothers and Sisters. No Community love, at all – once it got into it, the show was HILARIOUS, plus Joel McHale & Danny Pudi both deserved acting noms. No John Noble for Fringe? I mean I get it’s a sci-fi show sort of, but especially in the last half of the season, John Noble was fantastic. Courtney Cox-Arquette got snubbed for Cougar Town? Again, nothing for Chuck – I’m starting to think there’s no luck what so ever for Chuck and Emmys. Nothing for Grey’s Anatomy or Desperate Housewives, at least in the major categories, and not that I’ve watched it lately. Surprise nomination: The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien – I actually laughed when I saw that. Survivor wasn’t nominated for Outstanding Reality-Competition, despite having 2 great back-to-back seasons.

I think that covers it all…or at least what I care about anyways. Emmy Awards air August 29th on NBC.

Dancing With The Stars Season 10 Cast

Holy crap, DWTS is on season 10?! Wowww…anyways, after the failure of having 16 “stars” last season (despite us pretty much getting all the pros), this season is back down to the more reasonable number of 11. A notable change to DWTS this season is that Samantha Harris is not coming back to co-host. Also, among the professional dancers not returning this season are: Kym Johnson, Dmitry Chaplin, Lacey Schwimmer, Alec Mazo, Jonathan Roberts, Anna Demidova, and Karina Smirnoff. The “celebrities” were announced last night following The Bachelor, with the pro partners¬†having been announced this morning. So without further ado, your “stars” and their partners:

  • Aiden Turner and Edyta Sliwinska: The first “who?” in the list. That is, unless you watch soap operas. Aiden is an actor on All My Children. Or as Annie Barrett on EW so greatly referred to as “the Cristian De La Fuente of the season…if he’s lucky”
  • Buzz Aldrin and Ashly Costa (formerly DelGrosso): Great to see Ashly back! Too bad she’s stuck with Buzz Aldrin, who FYI is 80…He’ll survive the first week because he’s old, but he’ll be off the dancefloor in no time (sorry Ashly!)
  • Chad Ochocinco and Cheryl Burke: The resident footballer of the season. Football stars are hit and miss; some are good, some are terrible. Let’s hope for Cheryl that he’s like her last football star partner, season 3 winner Emmitt Smith.
  • Erin Andrews and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: She’s the ESPN sportscaster who had some controversy last year (although it wasn’t her doing, she was just the victim of a creepy stalker). For Maks, I hope this girl is more along the lines of Mel B. than Denise Richards (who may be pretty, but was an incredibly stiff dancer)
  • Evan Lysacek and Anna Trebunskaya: Anna finally has a shot to win! Evan Lysacek is obviously the recent gold medal winner at the Olympics for Men’s Figure Skating. I say he’s the straight up frontrunner and is gonna follow in the footsteps of season 6 winner Kristi Yamaguchi. The only thing is that Anna¬†is going ¬†have to step up on her choreography because with a partner like Evan, his skills are gonna have to be showcased well enough.
  • Jake Pavelka and Chelsie Hightower: Well, that didn’t take long for him to jump to the next reality show. He’s even further from a star than some of these other people. I mean, does being on The Bachelor, really make you a star? (oh wait, that’s where Melissa Rycroft started..)Lucky for him, people love Chelsie.
  • Kate Gosselin and Tony Dovolani: Ugh, Kate Gosselin…she’s gotta be the first one out. Does she REALLY need more media attention? And what about the kids? Cuz their dad is really great and all…*eye roll*
  • Nicole Scherzinger and Derek Hough: I guess since PCD isn’t doing anything (what with Jessica, Kimberly and Ashley all leaving the group, and they’re looking for new members), she has tons of time to do this. We know she can dance, but can she ballroom? Umm more than likely. She’s our new Mya, except that she’s got Derek as a partner, which means she’s the one who’s gonna give Evan a run for that disco ball trophy.
  • Niecy Nash and Louis Van Amstel: She’s from Reno 911 and The Insider. Interesting, pairing her with Louis. Can’t really comment on anything else.
  • Pam Anderson and Damian Whitewood: Oh Pam Anderson…well, she’s gonna give Edyta a run for the skimpiest costume lol. She’s paired with Damian, who is new to this version of¬†DWTS (his bio says that he did the Australian version of the show).
  • Shannen Doherty and Mark Ballas: As soon as I heard Shannen was gonna be on the show, I knew she was gonna be paired with Mark! (I think it’s getting a little bit too easy to figure out who Mark’s partner is gonna be.) Anyways, Shannen’s our third original 90210 cast member – Ian Ziering and Jennie Garth had competed before –¬† and well let’s see if she can dance as well as they could, considering those two both placed 4th (even though they should’ve both been in the finals in their respective seasons)

Overall, not a terrible cast. Obviously, we haven’t seen any of them dance, but I think there’s a lot of potential in this cast. We’ll see how they all do when Dancing With the Stars premieres on Monday, March 22nd @ 8 p.m. on ABC.