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!!!” 😀

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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Dancing With The Stars All-Stars Announced [Updated with Official Pro Pairings!]

It was announced during May Upfronts that an All-Star season of Dancing With The Stars was in the works for the upcoming season. The crop of returning stars were revealed on Friday at the Television Critics’ Association summer press tour. The All-Star cast includes:

  • Kelly Monaco (S1 Winner)
  • Drew Lachey (S2 Winner)
  • Emmitt Smith (S3 Winner)
  • Apolo Ohno (S4 Winner)
  • Joey Fatone (S4 Runner-Up)
  • Helio Castroneves (S5 Winner)
  • Shawn Johnson (S8 Winner)
  • Gilles Marini (S8 Runner-Up)
  • Melissa Rycroft (S8 Third Place)
  • Pamela Anderson (S10 Sixth Place)
  • Bristol Palin (S11 Third Place)
  • Kirstie Alley (S12 Runner-Up)

Viewers will get to choose one other celebrity to join the cast – Sabrina Bryan (S5), Kyle Massey (S11), or Carson Kressley (S13). Voting for that continues until August 24th on the official DWTS website. Pro partners will be announced on August 13th.

When they initially announced that they were going to be doing an All-Star season, I figured that they would include some winners (even though they really shouldn’t have), but I didn’t think that half of the returnees would be former champs. I also figured the rest would comprise of mostly those stars who came just shy of winning the mirrorball trophy. Now with this season and with this cast, two things sort of spark my interest. For one, the former contestants who either didn’t make the cut or declined to return. Personally, I would’ve liked to see Mel B, Lil Kim, and Evan Lysacek come back, though let’s be honest ALMOST anyone would’ve been a better choice than Bristol Palin (I am at least thankful the producers didn’t bring back Kate Gosselin). I also think it would’ve been fun if they brought Lance Bass to compete against Joey Fatone. Now mark this in the long shot category, Stacy Keibler would’ve been a great choice to come back but she’s now too busy/famous since dating George Clooney that she would never have come back.

The second thing that’s got me thinking is what are they going to do about partners? I mean, what’s going to happen now that they’ve brought back 3 of Cheryl’s former partners, 2 (possibly 3) of Mark’s former partners, and 2 of Julianne’s former partners? Will some stars get their former partners, while the rest get new pros? Will they completely mix it up? Are they seriously bringing back Apolo and Helio and NOT somehow bring Julianne back?! My guess is that the celebrities will all get different partners, just to keep things on a level playing field. It’s just a damn shame that they’ll probably have to go this route because we won’t get to see the same chemistry between the celebs and their partners, which is what made them so great the first time around. So assuming that all the celebrities get new pro dance partners, who should be paired with whom (assuming all the pro dancers who were there last season are coming back)? Here’s what I’m thinking:

  • Kelly Monaco and Mark Ballas (Previous partner: Alec Mazo)
  • Drew Lachey and Chelsie Hightower (Cheryl Burke)
  • Emmitt Smith and Kym Johnson (Cheryl Burke)
  • Apolo Ohno and Karina Smirnoff (Julianne Hough)
  • Joey Fatone and Anna Trebunskaya (Kym Johnson)
  • Helio Castroneves and Cheryl Burke (Julianne Hough)
  • Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough (Mark Ballas)
  • Gilles Marini and Peta Murgatroyd (Cheryl Burke)
  • Melissa Rycroft and Tristan MacManus (Tony Dovolani)
  • Pamela Anderson and Maks Chmerkovskiy (Damian Whitewood)
  • Bristol Palin and Tony Dovolani (Mark Ballas)
  • Kirstie Alley and Val Chmerkovskiy (Maks Chmerkovskiy)

Watch me be way off on these pairings but hey, speculation is fun! Also, there’s gotta be some kind of payoff to watching DWTS all these years – watch enough to kind of figure out who will get paired together? Yeah.

[UPDATE 8/13] The official pairings were announced and it seems as though some stars got their original partners.

  • Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke
  • Joey Fatone and  Kym Johnson
  • Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani
  • Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas
  • Kirstie Alley and Maks Chmerkovskiy
  • Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy
  • Drew Lachey and Anna Trebunskaya
  • Apolo Anton Ohno and Karina Smirnoff
  • Helio Castroneves and Chelsie Hightower
  • Gilles Marini and Peta Murgatroyd
  • Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough
  • Pamela Anderson  and Tristan MacManus

Look at that! I managed to predict 3 pairings, and both Chelsie & Tristan were my second choices for their partners anyways, so success!

Anyways, thoughts on the cast? Who would you have liked to see come back? The all-star season of DWTS premieres September 24th.

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.

Ballas Hough Perform “Move” on DWTS

Two of my favourite pros on Dancing With The Stars, Mark Ballas and Derek Hough, performed their new song “Move” on last night’s results show. Now I’ve been a fan of the Ballas Hough Band way back from when they were known as Almost Amy. Back in their Almost Amy days, the music was all acoustic and you could hear the John Mayer influences. When they got signed to Hollywood Records, they changed their name to Ballas Hough Band and we also got to know Emily Grace, Sam Marder, and Harry Sullivan, who were apart of the band. The music on their album (that was released just back in March of this year) was more pop/rock, in the vein of Maroon 5, but the album in general had a lot of variety. And like I said, these 2 (along with Julianne Hough and Chelsie Hightower) are pretty much my favourite pros. So on Thursday, when I heard that they were going to be debuting a new song on DWTS, I as a fan got really excited. And then they posted the song “Move” on their Myspace page. On initial impact, I’d say that I liked the song, but I didn’t love it. It’s a completely different sound to what we’re used to from them. So it has really taken some time for the song to full out grow on me. But then I also realized that they’re now only going by Ballas Hough. What happened to the “Band” part? Why isn’t Harry, Sam, and Emily apart of this? It confuses me…it still does.

And then they performed last night. First of all, I like the song much more now than before because of seeing choreography attached to it. “Move” is definitely a dance song without a doubt. But I wasn’t completely satisfied with the performance. For one, as much as I hate to say it, it was kind of obvious that they were lip-synching. Being a Britney fan, I don’t mind the lip-synching, assuming I’m getting a full out entertaining show. But seeing Mark and Derek lip-sync….well, I just felt bad. We obviously know they can dance. As a fan in Canada, I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing them live, but I’ve seen enough YouTube videos of them performing live to know that they can sing and put on an energetic show. Singing and Dancing combined? Let’s just say they’ve got a long ways to go before they reach the performance level of someone like Justin Timberlake, who does both with such ease. It just kinda kills me as a fan to have this reaction, but even more so, to go read the EW recap and all the subsequent comments that pretty much bash them. For people who never knew that Mark and Derek had a band and this was their first time witnessing and judging them as singers, it does not bode well.

On that note, some people may not go and look for their previous music now, which is a complete shame. The songs from the Almost Amy days were great. The album “BHB” was a solid effort for a debut. I don’t want to get all business-y here but had Hollywood Records put more effort into promoting and marketing the band and the album, it would have been a lot more successful than it was. Beyond the core group of Mark and Derek’s fans who actually knew that they also sang, had a band, released an album, no one else really knew who they were (especially if they don’t watch DWTS). I know at the time both Mark and Derek were competing on DWTS and that was a factor in how much promotion they could do. But the album could’ve been released after the season was over or even before it started (despite the fact of the DWTS tour conflicting with that). It would have given them ample time to not only do radio interviews, but also do talk shows and other appearances, whatever just so they can put themselves out there and distinguish themselves as separate from the DWTS world.

Yeah, totally sort of got sidetracked on that last paragraph. But I just want to see Mark and Derek succeed; I wish them all the best. It just bugs me about the music industry when there are such talented performers, who don’t get the proper support that they deserve. While others, who have no talent, get all the promotion in the world.

Video of Ballas Hough’s performance on last night’s DWTS results show:

Random TV Watching Thought #2

I’ve been neglecting the blog…stupid school just keeps getting in the way! Anyways, this post is really a lot of random things I’ve been thinking….

  • Apparently, it’s a good week for the return of the Hustle?! First, Dancing With The Stars last night featured the Hustle as a group dance. And according to people who went to the taping, So You Think You Can Dance Canada is also getting a Hustle routine for one of the couples.
  • Also having a good week (or upcoming two)? Amanda Schull, who played Jody Sawyer in the (totally awesome) movie, “Center Stage.” Haven’t watched it yet, but heard she was in a Lifetime TV Movie called “Sorority Wars” with Lucy Hale (formerly of the CW’s Privileged). Amanda also made the first of her 2-episode guest stint on “One Tree Hill” last night, playing Clay’s former girlfriend. She only had like 2 lines in last night’s episode, but she is featured more in next week’s episode.
  • and speaking of “Center Stage” and SYTYCD, I’ve got a feeling (stemming from spoilers I’ve read) that those two things are gonna be sharing a similar situation….More on that when Top 20 is announced.
  • More SYTYCD: this Fall season is increasingly becoming a bad idea. I know they’re just testing the waters to see how well it does but if it was another network, it woulda be fine (a la DWTS). However, FOX is starting to get into their extensive baseball coverage (what with the playoffs which lead into the World Series games) and that is seriously hindering the TV schedule. Not only are some of our favourite FOX shows being pre-empted, but the whole way SYTYCD works is being effected. Rumour has it that the judges are just going to choose who gets eliminated for the first two weeks (due to baseball), which means we don’t get 2 results show/2 group routines/anyone dancing for their lives. Also another rumour is that we’re gonna have a Top/Final 6, as opposed to Top 4. Simply put, SYTYCD should really just stay a summer show.
  • Saw the promo for next week’s episode of “Brothers and Sisters” and I gotta say, nice to see that they’re making use of Gilles Marini’s skills from Dancing With The Stars.
  • Excited for Glee this week!! More Matthew Morrison doing R&B/rap songs….LOVE IT! lol. and in other Glee news, they just casted Jonathan Groff aka the original Melchior from “Spring Awakening.” yay Spring Awakening reunion! (just in case FYI: Lea Michele was the original Wendla)
  • And back to DWTS…Poor Derek Hough and Mark Ballas were both sick this past week. But definitely poor Derek, for being so sick that he could hardly rehearse with Joanna at all, so Maks had to step in to help and dance with her last night. Hopefully, he feels well enough to participate in the MJ tribute tonight.
  • and also the MJ Tribute….someone explain to me again why SYTYCD couldn’t do it over the summer? but America’s Best Dance Crew were able to do it and now DWTS? i don’t get it

See? lots of randomness…that apparently (for the most part) all connected to dance…ahaha oh well