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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Nicole Scherzinger & Derek Hough Win DWTS Season 10!

The winner of Dancing With the Stars’ 10th season was announced last night, and Nicole & Derek came out holding the mirrorball trophy! Unlike last season where I didn’t care who won because the season kind of sucked, I didn’t care who won this season because this season was pretty freakin’ awesome. (Although I do have to say that Derek’s my favourite pro, so I was pulling for him to win.) Evan & Anna and Erin & Maks proved to be great competitors, making for a truly exciting finale.

Personally, I am extremely excited by the outcome, but judging by comments left on Entertainment Weekly, E! Online, and hearing other people talk about it, some people aren’t so happy. [Warning: this is going into ranting territory.] As it happens every season, there’s always at least one person in the cast that screams “Ringer” – a person who for whatever reason (usually dance background) gets immediately deemed a front-runner and people go on screaming that it’s not fair that they are a part of the show. I understand the concern, but there are a couple things wrong with this.

For one, the celebrity in question need to only not have BALLROOM DANCING experience. So what if Nicole (or contestants from previous season such as Mya, Mel B, Sabrina Bryan, Lance Bass, Joey Fatone, etc.) is a dancer or have dance experience because of their pop music background? The only real advantage they have over most others is that they know how to perform and they might be able to pick up choreography faster. That’s it. They don’t know all the technique involved in ballroom or dancing with a partner, as opposed to solo. And anyways, I’d rather have these guys on because it’s guaranteed to be entertaining, as opposed to non-stars like Kate Gosselin who guarantee to be horribly terrible.

Second, if people have a problem with these stars competing, use your voting power and vote for someone else and get these stars out. That would be wrong considering they usually have the best dances, but if it bothers you so much, stop complaining and do something about it. Or better yet, take your issues up with the producers and somehow convince them to stop inviting pop stars or stars who generally have a good amount of dance experience in their past to join the cast. It might be a long shot that they’ll actually listen, but if you’re gonna complain, complain to the right people.

Third, as much as people say this is a dance competition (which it is), it is also a popularity contest above that. Some people have fan bases coming in, some people don’t. If a star is one of the best dancers on the show, they deserve to stay for a while. If they’re not a good dancer (and their dances are hard to watch), they should go. On top of this though is the fact that 10 seasons in, people are voting just as much for their favourite professional dancer (who have all become stars in their own right), as they are for their favourite celebrity.

As much as I love Nicole and Derek, I will admit that Nicole definitely had the cards in her favour coming into the show. Not only is she a great pop dancer to begin with, but she got Derek as her partner. Derek is a fantastic choreographer, and not to say that the other pros aren’t great choreographers but something about Derek (and this goes for Mark, Julianne and Chelsie too) sets him apart from the others as a choreographer. We can make the argument that that was what was Mya’s downfall last season. Mya was a great dancer but being that she was paired with Dmitry, and especially for their final freestyle, he didn’t really choreograph or cater to her style/personality.

One more thing I will admit to: I find the judges’ scoring last night to be a little fishy. I mean I understand that they wanted Nicole to win (she was the best dancer; Evan struggled with Latin) but would the 2 point difference in the final dance scoring really make that much of a difference in the end result? That bothered me a little, maybe considering that we’re so used to the judges giving perfect 30s so often for the final dances. Whatever.

I think that does it for my ranting. And again, very happy for Nicole and Derek and their win!