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.

The opening number was cheesy, but pretty adorable.

Round 1
Rumer & Val – I like this song, but despise everything about 50 Shades of Grey. And just wanted to throw it out there that I heard that both Allison and Sharna requested to dance to this song earlier in the season and they were shut down on it. So that’s odd. But anyway. This was nice. But it kind of reminded me of Corbin’s VWaltz in season 17 where a lot of it was done out of hold and he got reamed for it. And what’s up with everyone wanting to stop in the middle of their dance to pretend to kiss? LAME.

Side note:

Noah & Sharna – Let me just say Sharna is so incredible and such a class act. When she was in the troupe, she was a super one-dimensional rocker chick, so I didn’t know how she would be as a teaching pro, but she really surprised me. I love how she used the stairs with Noah at the end – we all know he can’t gracefully go up or down a flight of stairs, so just to show us she’s with him completely, she goes up the stairs just like he does. He was a little stiff in the dance, but still, it’s incredible how he manages to lead Sharna with just one arm – and the wrong one for leading at that! That proposal was just priceless! It was just as fun seeing everyone else’s reactions.

Riker & Allison – #MCM. Just #MCM. Wow, Allison is just all limbs. I have no idea if this makes sense, but Riker dances contemporary like a ballroom dancer. HE GOT A 40!!! EEEEEEEK! So good for him.

Loved that “Thinking Out Loud” bumper! Willow is adorable.

Nastia & Derek/Sasha – that dress is amazing. I love that she’s learned to perform! This quickstep showed us a different part of her. I love when I can see Derek in the choreography, and that samba section was all him. This may have been my favorite quickstep ever. She got a 40, well deserved.

Round 2: Judges’ Choice (I actually love this idea!)
Rumer & Val & Bruno – I’m not sure it was the best idea to try to give a novice dancer that much ballet training in five days, but Bruno actually was not, as a coach, that I thought he would be. His dance was so creative and that lift was insane. I just notice Rumer still has that tendency to hike up her shoulders.

Noah & Sharna & Carrie – I love why she chose the paso doble for Noah. I remember thinking I would see a powerful paso from JR Martinez because he was a soldier, but it fell flat. But Noah gets it. And she drives me insane most of the time, but Carrie Ann is actually really impressive as coach. Oh wow, this was Kellie and Derek’s paso in season 16 (not that it matters). This was an awesome concept and staged SICKENINGLY. Incredible use of the music and the troupe. Noah’s character was just…I don’t even have the words. The matador forcing everyone else into submission. A breakthrough night for him, I think.

Riker & Allison & Riker – wouldn’t it be weird to dance Argentine Tango with your cousin?…Ok, I guess not. Um….that….was….incredible. I knew if anyone could be able to take possession of those two firecrackers, it would be Riker. It was also interesting to see how Julianne and Allison danced the same things totally differently. Riker owned the Argentine Tango and was so physical and hit the accents perfectly. Bruno described it perfectly – “the girls were dancing like hellcats and you were controlling it like a lion tamer.” PERFECT NIGHT! It’s about time he’s been scored like he deserved. One more: I actually really loved how the dance had a contemporary feel to it – this really was a dance from Riker and Allison and Julianne.

Nastia & Derek & Len – I’m actually glad for this matchup; I tend to love Derek’s VWaltzes. I’ve always wanted to see Len get at it, but it was heartbreaking to hear him talk about how he can’t dance like he used to. It felt like a swan song for both Derek and Len. I’m tearing up just watching this package. Okay, after that dance I’m a blubbering mess. That was one of those incredible performances where we all experienced a moment. Well deserved perfect night too.

This is the best semifinal I’ve ever seen. Masterpiece theatre. I still can’t believe it was Nastia and Derek to leave. She absolutely should have been in the final. But I like to try to look on the up side – this makes my life easier because now all my votes go to Riker.

Let’s see what happens, everyone!!!

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