Blackpool Update & Lesson 12: Rumba Play

Happy Friday, ballroom dancers!

Who’s been following Blackpool? MEEE!

USA wins the team dance round! Here it is! So funny.

The highly anticipated Pro Latin event was insanity. First place went to Michael Malitowski and Joanna Leunis of England (2,1,1,1,1) , who with this win have a record total of eight first place finishes. Second went to our own Riccardo Cocchi and Yulia Zagoruychenko (1,2,2,2,2). Third in all dances to Maurizio Vescovo and Andra Vaidilaite of Canada. Another of our beloved American couples, Stefano di Filippo and Daria Chesnokova, were fourth in all dances. Fifth, from Slovenia, were Andrej Skufca and Melinda Torokgyorgy. Sixth place went to Jurij and Jagoda Batagelj, also from Slovenia. Seventh, from Denmark, were Troels Bager and Ina Jeliazkova, in their first competition as professionals.

It was pretty cool because I had no idea Troels and Ina were going pro. From the footage I’ve seen, and considering they made the Blackpool final, their pro debut was amazing. I loved their choreography!

Even though I was wrong about the standings, I had a feeling something would change this go-around, and that I was right about; the Pro Latin field is going to look a lot different next year. Three of the finalists also announced their retirement: Michael & Joanna, Andrej and Melinda, and Jurij and Jagoda. Michael and Joanna danced a rumba for their retirement honor dance!

They did a beautiful job. She seems like such a lovely woman.

The Smooth exhibition also happened! I wonder, mostly, how it was received. I’m not sure if this is true, but I’ve always heard that Smooth and Rhythm aren’t very highly esteemed internationally. Which is so unfortunate! I hope that’s not true. Even if it were, maybe this will remove the “stigma”?

The Pro Ballroom is tonight! Go Arunas & Katusha and Victor and Anastasiya!!! Team USA is about to take over Blackpool.

Veering away from the happiness of the World Cup of Dance (that’s how I describe it to nondancers), I had my lesson yesterday. It felt like it had been forever! Teach beat me to the studio for probably the first time ever and had already signed me in with my nickname. It’s a nod to the Yankees, so that had me walking in there grinning like an idiot. We chit chatted for like 10 minutes (he moved the lesson up 15 minutes and I still got there super early) and I found out he JUST learned that you can set pictures for your contacts on his iPhone. Major fail.

I put on a pair of sparkly pants, took a couple of minutes to stretch, and we began. We’ve taken to warming up with our rumba routine, which I’m really liking. I just have a lot of trouble remembering almost anything after a third of the way through. Oops.

Teach has me, though. He’s got a bunch of other students and a professional partner who he’s competing with. I have no idea how he remembers it all.

We spent a while going through the routine, and he pointed out different spots where I can redirect energy in different ways to give more dynamism in my performance. I cannot deal with this. He’s too good. All over again, I know I’ve made the right decision in choosing him.

I also just now realized how kinky the title of this post sounds: “Rumba Play”. Oops.

Then we revisited lock steps in cha cha. I spent the past week practicing those, so they’re getting good. It’s just a strange thing that there is a point in lock steps where your butt actually goes out. It’s one of those moments when you find out that a rule you thought was hard and fast really isn’t.

That keeps happening lately.

I’m having trouble really finishing the separate actions in the lock steps, though. But I kept at them and Teach, I guess, saw that I understood it. “All right, now – ” he thought, then changed his mind. “You got it. NEXT! Back locks.”

This was weird. I totally overthought the back locks. And then he fixed me. So I did them again. “…that’s it?” “That’s it.” “Seriously?”

I’m wondering about what our Cha Cha routine will look like. That should be a lot of fun. I always had this theory when it came to dance: everybody has “their” dance and everybody has “their” dance with everyone else. And even on my first go-around in the ballroom five years ago, whenever I danced with now-Teach, I always felt like Cha Cha was ours.

AAAAHHHH I’m so excited!

Who’s looking forward to seeing the rest of Blackpool? It’ll be amazing!

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USA at Blackpool; Slavik & Karina Reunited

Hey dancers,

Long time no see! I haven’t had much to talk about, really, since it’s been so long since I had a lesson (a week and a day – haha). Just mostly been practicing…and, I’ll admit, heartbroken that Riker didn’t win DWTS.

I just wanted to get this one video out to you, if you haven’t seen it already – beloved dance couple Slavik Kryklyvyy and Karina Smirnoff danced at Blackpool! Poetry in motion!

Can they be more amazing? I’m still trying to find a full video of their cha cha performance. In the meantime, grabbing these clips Karina posted on her Instagram will have to do. She’s not super tall; how is it she is able to make it look like her legs are miles long?!

On another note, the USA is doing pretty well in this year’s Blackpool, as far as I know. And I keep finding these things out by accident on Instagram because I don’t see the results posted anywhere. Austin Joson and Nino Dzneladze placed 2nd in Under 21 Latin and then actually won the Amateur Rising Star event! Amazing!

Austin Joson & Nino Dzneladze Blackpool Dance Festival 2015 (c) Peter Suba

Austin Joson & Nino Dzneladze Blackpool Dance Festival 2015 (c) Peter Suba

She is sooooo beautiful! And she has always been an amazing dancer – I remember seeing them both for the first time on a Paradigm DVD video, 2011 Embassy Ball Under 21 Latin. He placed second and she won. OK, I had no idea that was their placement. This partnership was meant to happen.

We’ve also got two couples in the Pro RS Latin final! Roman Italyankin and Alexandra Bokova placed 6th and Francisco Bertini and Sabrina Manzi placed 2nd!

Blackpool 2015 Pro RS Latin - Francisco Bertini / Sabrina Manzi & Roman Italyankin / Sasha Bokova

Blackpool 2015 Pro RS Latin – Francisco Bertini / Sabrina Manzi & Roman Italyankin / Sasha Bokova

And I think the winners of this event, Ruslan Aydaev with Valeriya Kozharinova, are also worth mentioning, even though they dance for Ukraine, since Valeriya used to dance with Val Chmerkovskiy and all.

We’ve also got Patryk Ploszaj and Anna Kaczmarski, who got 3rd in Under 21 Ballroom. In the Professional Rising Star Ballroom, we got another two couples! Oscar Pedrinelli and Lenka Kovalcikova came in 5th. Then there’s Iaroslav Bieliei with Liliia Gladiuk, who placed 2nd. It’s so exciting!

There’s also the fact that for the first time in history, American Smooth is going to be showcased at Blackpool! According to this article on DanceCompReview.com, this has been in the works for a long time. The event will be showcased, not judged, but they are going to have the top 6 American Smooth couples do a 30 second dance-on, followed by a full 4-dance final. I think that’s awesome! Kind of progressive, isn’t it? Now, it’ll be interesting to see if they can get Rhythm involved next year!

I can’t wait to see Blackpool’s Pro Latin and Pro Ballroom results! I have a feeling the placements may be shaken up this go-around.

Lesson 11: Do the Cha Cha Cha & DWTS: The Finals

What’s going on, dancers?

I had a lesson with Teach today and afterwards, ended up going to my “gym” for a workout. I wasn’t planning on doing it, but I wandered uptown for some sushi and realized I was a few blocks away, so I might as well. I’m exhausted. I totally fell asleep on the train ride home.

Going back, my lesson with Teach today. We went through the rumba routine (I need to make a note to ask him what the end of it is because I haven’t written it down so I keep forgetting). I need to learn to get more extension in…well, everything. But I do see my improvement.

So today, he decided we should start Cha Cha. I’ll admit, today was one of those days when I have a lag in my mental comprehension. It felt like he said “How about Cha Cha?” and I just absently gaped at him and finally answered 10 minutes later with a, “Yeeeaaahhh.”

Stefano Di Filippo & Anna Melnikova dance Cha Cha at the 2008 World Amateur Latin Championships

Stefano Di Filippo & Anna Melnikova dance Cha Cha at the 2008 World Amateur Latin Championships

Does anyone else miss this partnership? I came into Dancesport later than I would have liked so they weren’t even dancing together anymore, but I wish I’d seen them dance in person. They had some explosive energy.

Have I ever said that I’m amazed at how he knows the order to teach things so that it all makes sense to me? We started cha cha with lock steps. They’re interesting, lock steps. Or maybe it’s just cha cha in general that’s interesting. Teach said the timing is consistent (I’m not sure I believe that, but we’ll see), but the dynamics of every step are different. So in my mind, I’m likening the lock steps to the Sliding Doors.

Already, I’m having trouble with something really basic: taking longer strides. I have a kind of hilarious tendency to take really small steps. I imagined a while back that he would quiz me on stride size by suddenly stopping me mid-step and seeing if his foot could fit between mine. The thought of that is kind of scary but also really funny. But that’s just something else for me to keep in mind in general, I guess. I also tend to rush in cha cha, I think, but ah well.

There isn’t much to say about it.

I didn’t want to watch last night’s episode Dancing With the Stars, but I might as well do it now. They’re announcing the winner tonight. I hope it’s Riker! I just saw his freestyle encore by accident and it was a really cool dance. Not what I expected to see at all. I’m not sure what I expected to see from him, but it wasn’t that. I just hope everyone didn’t spend all their time voting only for his encore. It made me happy, though, that every time I tried phone voting for hours (I have no idea how long the lines were open), his line was busy. Fingers crossed. I still did a lot of online voting, though. I feel kind of corny that I’m still watching Dancing With the Stars, let alone voting, but I’ll just have to accept it.

Round 1: Re-Do (I don’t think I like redos, but whatever)
Noah & Sharna – I didn’t even watch him. She definitely danced it better…oh no, he flubbed. Aww.

Riker & Allison – he was some surprise this season. And not that it matters, but I stalked Allison’s Instagram last night and she and tWitch are just such soulmates, I can’t deal. It’s too adorable. Anyway, onto the dance. He brought some new ferocity to this performance but still kept the original speed and the precision and actually was much more controlled. YAAAAASSSSS CAPTAIN SPARROW! I didn’t even look at anyone else in the ballroom this entire time. The crowd reaction – and the judges’ – was more than appropriate. Okay, now a redo round makes sense.

Rumer & Val – she still danced gorgeously, but…she didn’t show a ton of improvement. I’m not saying she wasn’t better at all, but her improvement wasn’t so visible. Which is odd because this was a dance she did three months ago. I’m kind of surprised.

Round 2: Freestyles
Noah & Sharna – what a pair. I love this song (Titanium). Not sure why of everything, what got to me was his hand in the spotlight. I’ll be honest, I don’t really “get” contemporary, but this dance spoke to you. This was a real human moment. Poetry in motion. Impressive job on that star lift. I’m really glad Sharna finally got the credit this season she’s had coming for seasons. I love that he’s so grateful and humbled for/by this experience.

Riker & Allison – I’m so happy for Allison. Ooh, and his pants aren’t so super tight this time. This was really cool. I loved the use of the speed changes in that song and how Riker just went for it. And he was great in that last part where he danced with the troupe. That dance really did have everything. It’s insane how at times, you think you’re watching Derek because he has that something that Derek has. Perfect night, well deserved. And again, Riker was a total surprise for me. I really thought as a member of a boy band (?) he would be a tool, really arrogant, but he’s been an absolute charmer this entire season.

Rumer & Val – she’s gorgeous. I really can’t think of any words to describe her. I think this was her best dance. I just wonder why they decided to do this, basically, Argentine tango. I did love the dance, though.

Oh boy, I’ve gone through the entire show and it’s only ten after 10. I’m already a wreck. Good GOD, is Henry sexy. But this Magic Mike XXL thing was a bit much, I think.

I hate watching the finale live. OOH, Derek and Julianne and some kids are doing a contemporary. WOW, that was SICK!!! More Emmy bait…WHO CHOREOGRAPHED IT?

Caught a glimpse of Patti’s “In Da Club”. HOW is she so fabulous and what was Robert doing there? HAH! Okay, I’m seriously nervous. I’ll just watch Dance Moms in the meantime.

American Star Ball and DWTS Week 9: The Semis

Happy Sunday, dancers!

It wasn’t a terribly big deal, but I was given Friday night off and decided to take the night to say, screw it, and hit the American Star Ball. My best friend volunteered herself. I admit it all wasn’t very well thought out, but we had a great time.

We hopped a Greyhound to Atlantic City, got a cab to the hotel (I would have been seriously screwed if she didn’t come with me because I wasn’t planning on a hotel), got pretty, and headed for the Golden Nugget. We got there so late tickets weren’t even being sold anymore and the event was halfway over, but hey, we saved a hundred bucks.

I arrived just as the Pro Rising Star Rhythm awards were being presented. A former teacher of mine won third place, so that’s wonderful for him. His partner was a tall, dark-haired beauty, absolutely stunning.

I also found my Teach in the ballroom and we hung out and he introduced me to everyone he knew. We also did a lot of screaming. Which was hilarious, because there weren’t a ton of people in the ballroom so I noticed pretty much everyone spectating kept turning to look and laughing at us.

Next up was the Pro Smooth. I’m not going to beat around the bush; I barely watched anyone but Travis and Jaimee Tuft. Even my best friend locked onto them as soon as the music started. Their connection and showmanship are stunning.

Travis and Jaimee Tuft at the American Star Ball (c) DanceSport Photography

Travis and Jaimee Tuft at the American Star Ball (c) DanceSport Photography

The Pro Latin was next. I finally got a good look at Roman Italyankin and Alexandra Bokova, who won the event. I remember them both in their last two partnerships and they kind of got lost in the shuffle for me, but they make a pretty surprising couple together. I mean that in a good way – they really grab your attention. I also was happy to see Stanislav Savich and Annie He Xiao. I saw her for the first time at Manhattan Dancesport, I think in 2011, and absolutely adored her. Sadly, though, she doesn’t dance with the same power she did back then. It’s been a while since I’ve seen her perform, though, so probably she just had an off night.

Then we went and partied. Fun night. I wish I had gotten to see the Pro Rhythm! Next time. Going to these competitions, though, gets me so excited for my dance future.

Onto Week 9 of Dancing With the Stars, after the jump.

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Lesson 10: Now…sell your body.

Good day, dancers! What’s shaking?!

I just left a lesson with Teach; he’s got the American Star Ball this weekend! So exciting! He will be slaying, I expect.

I spent these few days practicing samba. I’m not really understanding why it looks nice it’s danced, because your body takes some reeeaaallly ugly positions with that whole pelvic tilt thing. I’m just trying to make my movements meatier and more powerful. But of course, it’s a work in progress.

I want to hear my ribs crunching. πŸ˜‰

Teach asked how my rumba was. I said good; I’d been thinking a lot about it and just trying to STAY DOWN. So we spent today going through the entire thing and fixing little nuances here and there. Happily, I did see improvement in myself. However small, I could easily see I’m dancing better, and we all know we are our own harshest critics.

It was all I could do not to push Teach aside and do a cartwheel.

See, I’ve always been totally performance-driven, and I definitely went back into the ballroom with the goal of becoming a more technical dancer. More legs and feet and finally learning to use my core, that’s what. I think I used to dance mostly with my shoulders, arms, and face. It was not even pretty. So since I started dancing again, I’ve pretty much stayed still from the waist up. I know in my mind it’s because I’m trying to build my base, but when I watch myself, I start to worry that I’m going to be stuck in legs and feet and that doesn’t look good at all either.

Anyway, fortunately, today Teach started asking me questions about what it was that I wanted to portray and what I wanted to show. Essentially, this allowed me to give myself permission to actually dance my body. It was a very strange dichotomy. When I let myself dance with my ribs, back and arms, I saw I suddenly looked way better. Much taller and longer. “SELL YOUR BODY!” Teach interjected while I was doing my rumba walks. I started to do some arms, but then started laughing and just clapped my free hand over my mouth. He’s crazy.

And, of course, I know I’ve got to practice it all; working in isolation no longer makes a lot of sense, to me, at least. I’m just apprehensive, though, that when I start using my body, that I’ll start dancing airy again. Airy is the last thing I want to revert to.

Teach and I talked about my character, then I started exploring options for my styling and the dynamics we’re going to portray: gentle love between man and woman or the passion that turns to aggression. I’m the one that makes all these decisions (as I should cause I’m the girl) so I think I’m leaning towards that one. We’ll see, though. It all depends on the day, the music, what I’m wearing, how we’re feeling. YAY, we finally got to play!

I didn’t think I would ever say this, but I actually was really happy with the way I’m progressing. My New Yorkers are better, but still not a lot of fun for my lats. I’m also still breaking my shoulders (oops), so I started playing with my arms and ended up doing something very Liana on my New Yorkers with my arms, which actually really helped. I also realized, when Teach asked and really made me look at myself and think about it, that my favorite part of my dancing is my back. So, just another thing for me to think about, I’m going to start thinking about increasing my back flexibility.

I was told that I could imitate from anyone I wanted on any given step, like I could do my Alemana like Yulia and then go into my Rope Spin like Karina. So that’s fun; now I can continue watching performance videos and check out the pretty things! I’m thinking the ones I will be watching the most are Daria Chesnokova, Anna Melnikova, of course Liana, and Karina Smirnoff.

Whenever I watch Karina dance rumba, I think it’s very clear how much she loves that particular dance. I would venture to guess it’s her favorite of the five. She is so passionate and absolutely breathtaking when she dances it. The chemistry between her and Slavik is unrivaled. Except maybe with Maks, actually…

Is it me, or when amateur dancers go pro, they lose a lot of their arms? Maybe it’s the partners? When Dasha and Anna were dancing with Val and Stefano, respectively, they both had all these gorgeous things they did with their arms. Then when they both went pro and started dancing with Slavik and both lost a lot of it. Maybe he thought they should tone it down? Which is odd, because Karina danced pro with him and she always did beautiful arms. However, she did do it more often in shows than competitions.

Teach and I sat down and as I started scribbling away, we watched Emmanuel and Liana practice. It was insane. She was wearing an oversized shirt and baggy cargo pants and her movements are so incredibly full that you still saw every ounce of stretch and squeeze on every single movement she made. Teach sat there watching her and said, “Her and Yulia are probably the only two women on earth that could wear that and still look like that when they dance.” Liana is really incredible, and it’s all the more impressive when you remember she is so young.

Oh, did you happen to see America’s Ballroom Challenge? It actually kind of confused me. They said the first round of performances they showed would be the dances they all did by the book and the second round was their, so to speak, freestyles. Except it was backwards. The first round of dances I saw were the creative ones and the second ones were all the traditional ones. Don’t get it. Happy that Emmanuel and Liana won, though. Their performances weren’t too crazy, but it showed what makes them special as a couple is their mutual sense of rhythm. Absolutely incredible.

I leave you with this snapshot she posted on Instagram. I love how it captures the moment!!! Who could ever be mad at someone who’s such a happy person like Emmanuel?!

 

Lesson 9: Dirty Samba

Hey there dancers,

I had my lesson today. Last week’s lesson was Monday because Teach had something important that Thursday, and it felt like I hadn’t seen Teach in months.

I should relax, it was only a week and a half.

Either way, when Teach showed up and we started chatting and began our lesson, I got giddy super quick and started giggling for no reason. He was also giddy and laughing at odd times, so we were all good. We discussed our Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez hitting home run number 661 (YAY!) to pass Willie Mays on the list. I’m sadly not following the Yankees anymore like I used to, but these things must be commemorated nonetheless.

He asked how rumba was going. “Good!” I said. I’d been practicing our routine, as well as going back to the basics; collecting my center, swivels, Sliding Doors, etc. I’m actually thinking from this point on, I’ll start practicing more often with napkins under my shoes. I don’t know if I brought that up here, but it’s a tip I saw in one of Slavik and Karina’s Step Up videos and it’s a really good one, super effective. So Teach high fived me and said, “Let’s move on to another dance!”

“Yaaaayyyy,” I said in a monotone. I was excited, I really was, but you know how it is, you’re soΒ  excited to start something new and then you find out it hurts more and makes you feel dumber than the last thing you were doing. Teach laughed, thought for a second, and decided, “Let’s get into samba.”

I had no preference because everything was going to confuse me and make me say “ouchy” nonetheless, but I was perfectly fine with this because I looooooove samba.

Riccardo Cocchi and Yulia Zagoruychenko samba at Dance Legends, 2013

Riccardo Cocchi and Yulia Zagoruychenko samba at Dance Legends, 2013

On my usual picture tangent, how banging is this dress?! I saw her wear this in black when dancing at the 2012 Embassy Ball. I love the ruched fabric, the cutouts are sickening on her gorgeous body, and the ribbons on the skirt are just fabulous.

We jumped right into it and this was one of my “DAMN, I have the best teacher” lessons. He picked out a few steps that make up the majority of samba and, after showing me how to really squeeze every last ounce of “juice”, so to speak, out of them, he got his music and said, “Let me look for a samba.” With my back to him, I decided to try and get these things more into my body and it took him longer than I thought it would, so I turned around and told him, “Make sure it’s dirty!”

He cracked up, “This girl!” I didn’t see what was funny about it, because I was dead serious. See, another reason our partnership works so well is I can easily see he approaches this dance very differently from most people, which I’m happy for because I think and feel a very particular way about samba. The way he approaches it ties directly into the way I see samba: I think it’s “dirty”.

Let me explain what that means to me. I don’t mean overtly sexy and I don’t mean crossing the line into trashy or “get a room”.

When I say samba is dirty, I mean that it is primal. I love every dance for different reasons, but the reason I love samba so much is because its music feels like my very heartbeat. It speaks to the very core of human body rhythm. Dancing samba is like a conversation we would have had when we were still cavemen. That’s, to me, what makes samba sexy.

Rawr.

This time, Teach had a lesson right after me so we didn’t have our usual sitdown to write my notes, but he made sure to tell me what I needed to write down. I grabbed my notebook, sat down, and started writing. Then, just for the heck of it, I started doing the things he taught me again, and then I realized something really interesting that I never noticed before.

Slavik Kryklyvyy & Karina Smirnoff - Dancing Basics with Passion: Samba

Slavik Kryklyvyy & Karina Smirnoff – Dancing Basics with Passion: Samba

This screencap is an okay illustration of what I noticed when I was practicing it. I never realized just how much of samba is done on your instep. I’m not yet sure how that happens, but I noticed over and over that I wasn’t able to catch my weight and keep balance unless I was totally on my instep, with my ankle damn near touching floor. It was a cool discovery. At the risk of sounding blonde, that most likely will span all other Latin dances. I’ll let you know.

Couple more things. The Emerald Ball was last week and ParadigmDVD posted some video from the events. Everyone looked fantastic! Anastasia Muravyeva’s dress in the final round was absolutely breathtaking. And you want to talk exciting news, there’s this!

Nina Langella & Anna Melnikova

Nina Langella & Anna Melnikova

Anna Melnikova (I adore her) posted this on her Instagram with the hashtag #NinoLangella&AnnaMelnikova. This partnership is going to be beyond amazing. I wonder a little bit, though, how he’ll mature in his dancing. Nino is great, undeniably, but he just looks and kind of dances young. And Anna is such a femme fatale! I don’t think it’ll be a problem, though.

Let’s all remember America’s Ballroom Challenge’s grand finale airs tomorrow! I’ll also check out this week’s Dancing With the Stars results show.

And I leave you with this. Phyllis Sues, 92-year-old woman with arthritis and osteoporosis, dancing this lovely tango. Team #NoExcuses

DWTS 20, Week 8: America’s Choice and Trios!

Happy Cinco de Mayo, dancers!

I’ve got some time to kill before work, so I decided to watch last night’s show because they decided, I guess, to start doing two-night shows again. And I’d really like to try and forget about the fact that I work in a Mexican restaurant so it’ll be a crapshow until 2am tonight. Ack. Also the fact that my usual Monday workout last night kicked my butt like I was talking about the teachers’ mamas. Everything hurts.

It’s America’s Choice. I’ve got no idea what’s going on there, but it should be fun.

Dancing With the Stars trios, Week 8: Nastia Liukin, Riker Lynch, and Rumer Willis

Dancing With the Stars trios, Week 8: Nastia Liukin, Riker Lynch, and Rumer Willis

Round One: America’s Choice

Noah & Sharna – it’s not until a dance like this that you realize it really is amazing what he’s doing because due to the fact that he’s got most of a prosthetic leg, he isn’t able to move the same on both sides. He pulled it off! It looks like he’s finally getting out of his head and just enjoying dancing. And random thought, but Sharna’s the reason I decided to highlight my hair red. I hope they make it through tonight’s double elim.

Chris & Witney – I’m not even going to wait to see the dance before I say I hope he goes tonight. Should be decent though, Witney is really good at contemporary. Okay, that one lift they did out of her arabesque was pretty cool. Yeah, it was pretty good, good for him. But it still looked like she did more than he did.

Riker & Allison – still happy he got Len’s first 10. Oh my God, that penguin thing was hilarious. And not that it matters, but I love Allison’s practice clothes. I’ll eventually do a blog post on practice clothes, but that will come later. Note on the costumes, I love navy blue instead of black. I learned it from the The Great Gatsby‘s costume designer; in all those huge party scenes, she had Leonardo DiCaprio wear navy blue in lieu of black, and it’s a very subtle change, but he stood out a lot more among all those people. Okay, on to the dance. He is just absolutely stunning on the dance floor. I don’t even know what to say. Riker danced this so gorgeously, I may have teared up a bit. I accidentally saw he got 10s, YAY! I know I shouldn’t say it, but I hope he wins it all.

Robert & Kym – I’m entirely too old to buy into showmance, but I so ship these two. What is it about contemporary that makes him look so much younger? Robert danced this with pretty incredible fluidity. (Definitely more than Chris.)

Nastia & Derek/Sasha – oh man, this will be cool, I love Fall Out Boy and dances to them. Cool of them to video chat the fan. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think Sasha actually partners Nastia better than Derek does. She had incredible sharpness in all the right places, and just as a personal preference, I love love LOVE paso dobles that look more like a FIGHT! It was a really cool nuance when she “flipped” him overΒ  her shoulder. This was awesome. I can’t believe I’m saying this either, but at this point, I’m fine with Derek just being off to the side…

Rumer & Val – LOVING her look for this rumba. That deep red dress is my dream come true (though I probably would have done a bias cut on the skirt, but that’s me). And I like what Val’s done, too, because I’m tired of him always ripping his shirt off. Not that it was bad, but it wasn’t the dance I was expecting. This seemed like more of an Argentine Tango in a way; I guess because the music was more of an American rumba than International and their posture was A. Tango-hunchy at times? Saw by accident, but kind of surprised it got a perfect score.

Round Two: Trios

Noah & Sharna & Emma – this is a good team, because Emma and Sharna think similarly. This is going to be really cool. Didn’t feel like much of a salsa, but it was awesome to watch. This is one of those times I’m just thankful for the way things worked out. YAY FOR NOAH AND SHARNA!

Chris & Witney – unsurprised that they chose Lindsay, because she and Witney are pretty much twins; they grew up together and dance very alike. He didn’t dance it badly, but there was nothing really difficult here and there was zero shaping on his part. Love the girls’ costumes, though.

Riker & Allison & Brittany – digging this combo, and I’m guessing Allison is good at Jazz. And I’m betting that Riker will totally be able to handle these two firecrackers. For the first time, I can see what people are saying when they say his arms are slightly effeminate, and those tight pants he always wears didn’t help, but good GOD, can this guy move! I didn’t even watch the girls at all and I felt like I was partying with him! YAAAASSSSS, Riker.

Robert & Kym & Jenna – whoa, he is a strong dude and he has a fantastic attitude. Clever concept, too. He fell a bit of time on the Corta Jacas, but I really enjoyed this dance, and it looked and felt like a samba and he had the time of his life. Caught a glimpse of the scores while fast forwarding; uncalled for. They seem to really want him out of here.

Nastia & Derek & Sasha – oh wow, that package was ugly. Probably uglier than the week actually was. Oh, THIS is clever staging. Derek’s hair looks hilarious.She could have a little better rebound on her kicks and flicks, but impressive job on her part. This dance was an all-around win on everyone’s part. It’s hard, I should think, to choreograph to a song with so many tempo changes, let alone do it with THREE people and injuries. EMMY BAIT!!! OOH, PERFECT SCORE! Well deserved. They haven’t been very liberal with the 10s this season.

Rumer & Val & Artem – I just noticed it in these bumpers, but I am loving what a masculine dancer Artem is. Rumer’s dress is beautiful. But couldn’t they have added more to her color palette? She finally to wear red in week 7 and now that’s all she’s wearing. I actually really liked the, in a way, aloof persona she portrayed in her paso, though I did notice she fell out of her turns a little bit and her shoulders came up super high at times. Really liked this one.

Long story short, we have Noah, Riker, Chris, Robert, Nastia, and Rumer. We lose two tonight. I think the final three standing should be Riker, Nasia, and Rumer. I only hope Chris goes tonight. I don’t really want to lose anyone else because I love Noah/Sharna and Robert/Kym’s partnerships, but those aforementioned three I think will give the best show in week 10.

Who are you rooting for?