Dancing With the Stars 22, week 6: Famous Dances

HeLLO ballroom dancers!

I think I have made a huge decision about my future and career! That is all. I’ll let you know how it works out.

Let’s get right to it – last night’s episode of Dancing With the Stars. I hear this episode was great, which I hope is true because last time they did this theme it was dumb and there’s a Bar Rescue marathon I’m interrupting to watch this!

I was ABOUT that opening number! LOOOOOOOOVED…until Val ran out in his booty shorts. EW.

Kim & Sasha – so nice Kim didn’t blame Keo for last week. I’m really getting Derek vibes from Sasha; he is really impressing me. Tom is a riot in the control room, and Kim looks BEAUTIFUL! She could do with a little more pendulum swing and be just a hair more forward-weighted, and her energy isn’t as explosive as usual, but good GOD, I love e-va-ry-thang about Kim and Sasha. I watched the udges’ critiques for this and I couldn’t stop laughing at Bruno. “You can’t stop the beeeeaaaatttt and I can’t stop having funnnn!” And then he calls Carrie Maks?! I LOVE THIS!

Von & Witney – ooh, I’m having deja vu watching the judges’ Footloose and cracking up at Tom with his 4 paddle. Ooh, but her ring is stunning! I love rose gold. But I digress. AAH, Shannon! *heart eyes* Ooh, Von is INTO this – that is a game face if I’ve ever seen one. But he is falling off time more than once, and he seems to not be very comfy moving BIG. But this was easily his best dance. 8,8,8 – I think that’s good.

Did they show John DePalma in the All Access? I know he was there last night because I follow him on Instagram. Also, I’m really looking forward to Mark as Austin Powers and Wanya because I’m, I guess what you could consider an older millennial, so…*NSYNC is my life.

Who are all these new people in this episode?!

Jodie & Keo – I can’t believe they gave HER this dance instead of, like…Paige. I’m not saying Jodie isn’t capable, but Paige is the closest one to having the strength that P!nk does, and that makes things like this dangerous. Nice makeup job. WHY AM I TEARING UP? I just got lash extensions yesterday, I can’t get my eyes wet! 9,8,8 – I guess. I think it could have gotten one more 9.

Oh, last night was Cranky’s birthday. Happy 572nd, Lenny!

Paige & Mark – oh, this is going to be hilarious. Paige is dancing this beautifully, but my eyes keep drifting back to Mark because he is having so much fun. I don’t even know what to say about this dance. I heard Len say “there was nothing about this dance that I didn’t like.” QUITE. 9,10,9 – well deserved.

Nyle & Peta – this song has been done to death. This actually has been my favorite choreography I’ve seen to this song (Rick Fox, Shawn Johnson, Helio Castroneves). Great character on Nyle’s part – I really thought I was watching The Mask. 8,8,9? A tad underscored. But I hear he got lit up.

Ginger & Val – OK, I know I should be watching Ginger, but Shannon is making me think sinful things. OK OK, Gingy. You know what it is about her? Her facial expressions remind me of Fran Drescher’s when she would dance on The Nanny. She danced this nicely, but not NASTY. She didn’t fall off time or anything like that, and she was definitely in sync with all the pros, but somehow she looked like she was dancing slower than the boys, which is weird because she hit the accents same as they all did, even if not as hard. 8,8,8 – appropriate. Val the cheerleader! I like.

OH! Alan and Brittany did Tony and Lacey’s trick from MMMBop. Tony wanted me to do that in my showcase routine, but my partner wasn’t as…powerfully built as Tony, so we had to scratch it.

Doug & Karina – I already know he went home, but I’m not sad about it because it’s better that than to see such a great human being getting raked over the coals every time. He’s having fun and Karina looks beautiful. The snake thing was actually REALLY nice. I thought he did a really good job. He stayed on time and he had fun…and he’s so handsome *blushes* Karina has just shown over and over this season how classy she is. I just love her more all the time.

Wanya & Lindsay – AHHHH I’ve been looking forward to this one all week! Again, *NSYNC is my life. OHHHH it’s Joey and Lance! I want the Fat-One to crash the dance floor. Aww, Wanya was great with Witney and I love how his mindset is competitive, but not trying to tear anyone else down. Shannon is super hot doing *NSYNC. WHO THE HELL IS SINGING THIS?! Wow, Wanya is really a smooth mover. YAAAAAAYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!! Lance looks great! Where’s JC and Chris?! 10,9,10, I like it but Len is such a GD buzzkill. The Fat-One is too funny for my life. But why wasn’t that the last number?!

Antonio & Sharna – I’m not liking this package. Antonio is now made the victim when he continuously shows up late to rehearsal and only gives her 10 hours a week to dance – that doesn’t tell ME, at least, that he wants to win. He could use a little more tightness in his inner thighs. This dance was easily his best because this time, he’s actually TRYING! 9,9,9? That’s fair. Maybe this is the kick in the pants he needed.

So from now on, no matter what happens, pretty much every elimination is going to be a “shocking” one. I don’t know who I think should go next, or even who I want to go next – I just want the machinations to stop.

What do you think?!

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Dancing With the Stars 22, week 5: The Switch-Up

Happy Tuesday, ballroom dancers!

Let’s talk about last night’s show. I may watch the judges’ critiques this time – I wasn’t looking for any DWTS stuff last night and my Instagram basically exploded with people saying Maks was, um…less than kind. I met Maks a few times and he was actually really cool, so I want to think he wasn’t that bad…I REALLY want to think that.

It seems I’m in the minority, but I have always liked the Switch-Up. I’m remiss to call it “America’s Switch-Up” because I’ve heard about the Switch-Up couples not being the actual ones that were voted for. But I digress.

Dancing With the Stars season 22, week 5: The Switch-Up

Dancing With the Stars season 22, week 5: The Switch-Up

The opening number, I really liked. (Pitbull music is my guilty pleasure.) Mandy Moore is pretty good with these. I wonder what the process is for creating the opening numbers.

Maks’ comment about looking for people replicating their dancing with a new partner doesn’t make much sense. It should by NO means be the same.

Witney & Wanya – Wit’s dress is beautiful. He doesn’t look as solid and strong as he usually does in his hold, but he looks still very smooth, if not as confident. OK, all I’ve seen is Len’s critique and I’m already furious. He and Maks both are full of crap and what kind of foolishness is it when Bruno and Carrie Ann are the ones that make sense?! Wanya was so gracious. Underscored.

Kim & Keo – oh no…I already heard about this one 😥 GOD, I love her excitement, she is adorable with ANYONE ad even her little son thinks it’s funny. He’s gotten a bad rap, but I’m glad we’re seeing more of him this season because I think Keo really is a good egg and he definitely really tried with Kim. I don’t know why I’m tearing up, but that was such a beautiful and sweet dance! But I already know it got ripped. Len always takes the VWaltz so seriously. “IT’S THREE HUNDRED YEARS OLD!” I think he invented it himself. The 8s are warranted, the 6s no. How DARE Maks bring up his victory from FOUR seasons ago? Especially seeing as how he barely gave Meryl any content regardless. BTW, their height difference was nine inches versus Keo and Kim’s THIRTEEN.

Doug & Peta – quite looking forward to this one, but I don’t know how Peta could think Maks would be a tough judge to HER. Nice job on the costumes. Looks like he’s leading more on this dance than he has before, and his intensity is perfect. Good on her for going the simple route to show him off to the best of his ability. Very clean – he missed no steps – and full of content. Bruno’s right, he didn’t enjoy it – but he did very well. Maks was way kinder to him than the previous two. Wonder why -_- I think the scores were fair, though.

OMG, this secrets segment was HILARIOUS. But why would they ask who’s going to win this season? That was just asking for trouble.

Jenna and Artem’s dance was HOT, and the performance of the song was gorgeous, but I definitely saw double-stick tape poke out of her dress. Oops. Quite frankly, I’ve never liked Jenna as much as I did in that dance.

Ginger & Mark – oh man, Ginger’s husband is a RIOT. OOOH, a REAL salsa song! OK, this choreography is SICK! Also? Mark’s faces when he dances are exactly like his dad’s and it’s making me laugh a little bit. WOOOOO!!! She moved a bit small at times, and the fact that the routine was packed from start to finish shows that she may not be on par with a Wanya or a Paige, but that was awesome! MAN, that just made me want to hit the salsa club.Go Mark! Good on him for giving her actual straight DANCE from start to finish! “You haven’t done a fast dance yet?” Dude, she did jive three weeks ago. Okay, I am literally LOLing at Ginger’s husband’s remarks. WHOOOAAA, what happened here? The scores don’t match the critiques AT ALL, but Val was really cool to Mark and that was great to see. Hopefully he takes a page out of Mark’s book from now on.

Antonio & Karina – every time I see her, I get sad all over again that she wasn’t at the Dance Legends workshop. Word on the street is that Antonio’s level of commitment is very iffy and good thing that they showed it. Huge waste of the time of a doll like Sharna – although I’ve heard that Sharna’s been fining him whenever he’s late, same as Witney. I LOVE her hair and makeup and costume for this dance – looks very inspired by JLo in her Vegas show. Yeah, I think I said this before, but he is worried about the accents and not filling up the music in between. I ADORED THIS CHOREOGRAPHY. Because Karina is a cha cha goddess. Anyway, I actually agreed for the most part with Maks and Len – until Maks said it didn’t have cha cha content. Regardless, it’s clear Antonio doesn’t care about this competition and wasted potential REALLY annoys me, especially when you have someone like Karina at your disposal. Aww, poor Karina – she’s looking at Sharna like she’s sorry, but quite frankly, how Antonio is kind of tanking is not on either one of them. I hate those scores for my Karina, but she handled it with such grace. I love her.

Paige & Sasha – another one I was excited for would do well together. AW, he got her flowers! I hope they keep him on as pro permanently. Paige, honey…”I don’t trust my partners no matter who it is” isn’t the way to get anywhere, especially in dance. She was gorgeous. She danced with strength in a very unique way from most women. She was incredibly fluid and was completely in the moment. They nailed the partnership. Ok once again, Maks is REACHING because he says there was ONE rumba step? The syllabus figures I saw? Fan, cucarachas, fencing, opening out to left and right. In case Maks forgot, an open competitive routine never has more than four or five. Len is full of crap “You’ve got to sell it to me more, I want to see it coming out more” GUESS WHAT, Methuselah – everyone does not show love the same way. THANK YOU, Erin, for calling them out! Maks sucks for giving that a 7 and either way, it should have gotten 9s.

Von & Lindsay – a legitimate question – “Can we laugh and have fun?” HA! Random – Lindsay is way funnier than I think she’ll be. OK, already cracking up at him strumming his own leg. Sugar push, chicken walks, sailor shuffle, toe heel swivels, and the walks in promenade position. He fell off time a couple of times, but how did Lindsay make me love this guy all of a sudden?! He looked like he was loving everything about it! Carrie Ann was right on the money – very clever how she played to his strengths and strategic. Maybe “They” are changing the narrative here – suddenly the hammer is getting dropped on Antonio and Von is getting rave reviews. Legs-agna”?! I’M DEAD! I think underscored by a point.

Nyle & Sharna – QUEEN TYRA! God, I love that woman! His shoulders are a little weird at times, but I’ll be all right. This was beautiful choreography and acted gorgeously, but it’s great to see the Sharna we love again. Looks like I’m the only one on the internet that didn’t cry at this dance – it just made me smile. I’m glad he got PLEASANT critiques, but I don’t get why no one commented on his posture. It wasn’t the most awful thing, but it was definitely noticeable. Why does Len ALWAYS say “from Len, the ten”? Okay, wait, what the hell happened here?! How did these guys forget the scores they wrote TWO seconds before?

Jodie & Val – this, apparently, was the partnership everyone expected when she was announced as a cast member. Val is super tough, but I liked it – he really does want to get the best out of you. He used to get sweaty though, ewww. They actually danced really well together, she was working the HECK out of that skirt, and this easily is the best choreography I’ve seen from Val in years. Um, why would Maks compare her to Sabrina? That was incredibly random. Anyway, clean, full of attack, and way more confident than we’ve seen her all season. Easily her best dance.

No elimination, but next week’s is probably going to be really depressing.

Final thoughts:
· I wish, as always, that some of the Switch-Ups were less predictable – like, of course Peta and Sharna would switch and Witney and Lindsay would switch, the same way Mark and Derek and then Maks and Val always switched.
· The judges were horrible tonight – they’re calling out on the worst week possible for “lack of content”, not on execution – what are they really judging here? And that Nyle scoring snafu looked sketchy. How do TWO judges pick up the wrong paddle five seconds after they write their score down?
· I love Maks outside of the DWTS ballroom, and even in the ballroom, he’s been a pretty decent judge on his guest stints, but to be quite honest? I thought this was an audition for a permanent spot on the judging panel and this is not a side of him I like. He was not impartial, or “just”, as he said, and he gave the same critiques that he hated getting for all those years. It’s a shame because Maks, in reality, is really funny, a blast to be around, and actually a really cool guy.

What did you think? I’m worried for Doug next week, and actually Kim too.

Dancing With the Stars 22, week 4: Disney Night

Hi there, ballroom dancers!

I’m still trying to process the workshops on Saturday! They all were awesome.

Let’s talk about Disney Night – it’s a big deal.

Dancing With the Stars season 22, week 4: Disney Night

Dancing With the Stars season 22, week 4: Disney Night

I did like that opening number and the lights everywhere – very nice spectacle. Still don’t really see the point of having Zendaya guest judge. Then again, I don’t even understand why Len is back.

Antonio & Sharna – the update to Antonio’s costume was brilliant. Okay, I LOVED that dance! He looked like he was actually having fun. The thing is, he seems to be really into hitting accents super hard and doesn’t seem aware that dance is how you fill up the time in between those counts (Slavik Kryklyvyy taught me that XD ). Maybe a point or two overscored. Ah well, this time I’m not mad at it. I hope he can relax into this experience – he will become much more likable that way.

Marla & Tony – he jumped the table to kiss Len? Tony is way funnier than they make him look on the show. Her costume was GORGEOUS when I saw it on Instagram, but maybe they should have used sequin rope, because the scales are barely visible. She is a beautiful redhead. She looks so nervous, but the waltz just looks gorgeous on her body. It was a sweet dance. Sad she went home. The picture of her and her daughter as mermaids was so cute – she looks exactly the same. WOW, UNDERSCORED!

Maks is just always around, huh?

That bumper featuring Alan/Shannon and the tiger from Zootopia? Um…awkward.

Nyle & Peta – was that Marla’s wig?! HAAAA! Seeing him scrambling around and falling was hysterical. Anyway, Peta looks gorgeous. Seems no one properly taught him about bounce action so most of his samba figures looked kind of flat or like he had more of a rise and fall (but that happens with almost everyone), and he probably should have bent farther back on those shadow rolls, but HOLY HIPS on those cruzado walks!

I can’t get over how beautiful Peta looks today. The makeup team did an incredible job this episode.

Doug & Karina – WOW, he and I think a lot alike, but that was a bad edit – he loses his cool for a second and that’s suddenly all we see when we know that isn’t how he is. I wanna know where she gets her practice clothes because I need some. Cute choreography, but he really is so in his own head all the time – you can tell he is nervous. Karina, I think, is the most creative when it comes to choreographing lifts and tricks. Anyway, I’m glad we’re going to be getting at least two more dances out of him – Switch-Up is next week and I think he actually will do great with Peta.

Kim & Sasha – I always look forward to seeing their packages. I am literally LOLing at him burping and then blowing in her face and the “imagination” part of the package was so funny, I can’t deal. Actually quite liked this arrangement of the song. Anyway, I think these have become the middle of the pack couple – pleasant to watch, good performances, no drama. They’re just not “offensive”. But GOD, I love them – and it’s clear Sasha has learned a LOT from Derek.

Minnie Mouse is a pimp – all those beautiful men around her and she still picks Mickey. I think I saw the latest Bachelor in the ballroom. Maybe it’s just someone that looks like him. Ooh, Leona Lewis! Gorgeeeeoooouuuussss.

Jodie & Keo – the person faffing about with the pinata head was hilarious. Ok, maybe this isn’t what actually happened, but I think he taught her rhythm cha cha because her legs were both bent the entire time, and that was what was wrong with this dance, I think, because I think she really would have benefited from more SNAP. She fell off time and Keo was absolutely trying to pull her focus back to him, but at that point, she was so thrown off she never got back on. But I hope she stays around a while longer – I like her and actually like what I’m seeing out of Keo.

Von & Witney – Witney is a perfect Cinderella. That bun is everything and her gown is just unbelievable. (I have to wonder how much it costs.) AHH, the carriage! I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY HE ALWAYS LOOKS SO STOMPY. On the other hand, I really liked the Von I saw in this dance. Huge improvement.

Ginger & Val – at random times, it shocks me how much he looks like Maks. OMG, why is Val such a funny Gaston? I like the choreography, ya know….once the first thirty seconds passed and she and Val actually started dancing. What the hell? She and Val danced together one minute and literally half the routine was her…screwing around. OVERSCORED. A 36?! I call BS.  And he says they wanted Disney week to be about content? But she didn’t foxtrot for HALF her song…

I want those light-up Mickey ears and Artem and Edyta’s bumper was BEAUTIFUL.

Wanya & Lindsay – he needs to not put so much stock in the scores because could really screw him. AHH, the makeup job here! Everything is hitting a little hard for a samba, but holy crap was this a difficult routine and did he dance the stuffing out of it! I’m going to go back and watch that. His shadow rolls were SUPER smooth. I’m with Len “Some call it samba, some call it somba. I call it fantastic.” I call EMMY BAIT. If this is indeed Lindsay’s choreo – and I’ve heard she hasn’t yet used an outside choreographer – she’s next in line for an Emmy. And I love his mindset about only wanting to be better than himself. Carrie Ann gave him an 8?! WTF?! Grrrrrrrr -_-

Paige & Mark – Chuck Liddell was around last week?! Hah. I love this. Anyway, great choreography, danced so impressively, she had GREAT control, and their connection in frame was just impeccable. I’m going to start actually voting next week, and I’m definitely throwing her some! Yes, Mark, props to hair and makeup.

I’m very baffled as to how Ginger and Paige got the same score and Wanya’s dance got a point less than Ginger’s did. Something is not right.

Whatever, the damage is done. Lemme tell you the Switch-Up couples!

Antonio gets Karina.
Nyle gets Sharna. (I guess. I was hoping he’d get Karina.)
Doug & Peta (I think this one will be very good, actually.)
Kim & Keo (eh, maybe?)
Jodie & Val (I hear everyone originally wanted this pairing)
Von & Lindsay (basically he’s getting Witney’s “twin”)Ginger & Mark (that actually WILL go well)
Wanya & Witney
Paige & Sasha (ooooo, looking forward to this)

It always drives me crazy when the Switch-Up comes and someone gets the pro that dances most like their original one does. ACK. That’s why I was happy in s21 when Bindi got Val.

Also, Maks is guest judge next week. He was pretty decent before, so I think I’m fine with it…but if he gives Val and then Val’s partner perfect scores “Because I can”? Then we’ll have to question things.

2016 Dance Legends Workshops

Hello, ballroom dancers!

It is actually just delightful to post an entry other than one on Dancing With the Stars.

SO!

As we all know, Dance Legends was in New York this weekend. I didn’t go to either of the shows so Riccardo Cocchi will probably never talk to me again (I’ll elaborate in a bit), but at least I got to hit the workshops! I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

Brace yourself – this is going to be a lengthy blog.

DL2016_Generic

Before we get to it, I found this on Instagram – footage of Slavik and Karina’s curtain call after their] Friday night show at Dance Legends. Exquisite.

So this is how my Saturday morning went. Not much sleep, then when I left my apartment I had to go back because I’d left my phone (which had my key and MetroCard in it, so I couldn’t even leave without it). Then there was construction in front of my house – in the form of an absolutely massive crane – so I had to go two blocks around, totally out of my way. Then my express train ran local. So guess whose class I was five minutes late for.

Slavik Kryklyvyy’s.

I was actually RUNNING, petrified I would be the only one late and he would call me out. Especially because, sadly, Karina wasn’t able to teach the class with him. (I got an email about that and spent the rest of the day depressed. Second time I haven’t been able to do a class with her.) But he left me alone.

Slavik Kryklyvyy & Karina Smirnoff, Dance Legends 2016 (c) Ryan Kenner Photography

Slavik Kryklyvyy & Karina Smirnoff, Dance Legends 2016 (c) Ryan Kenner Photography

Isn’t that an amazing shot? It’s from Friday night’s show, by Ryan Kenner.

To my surprise, Slavik was actually really funny and pretty generous – he was very receptive to questions, saying that he wanted us to ask questions because this was our time, not his. Unfortunately, he didn’t get a ton of them. He barely got any at all, really.

He spent a lot of time talking about “tall” versus “tense”, and described to us how tension is created from overuse of muscle, that is, gripping too hard (that is definitely a problem I have, so it was good to know). That actually ended up being a running theme through all four workshops – the AMOUNT you do. Riccardo said in his, “quantity is very important”.

Slavic was a riot when he demonstrated how that happens. “See, if you stand and you use the right amount of muscle, you look tall and relaxed. But then if you use too much of it, you get like this” – he seized up – “and then you get the beautiful looks on your face” – expression of visible pain as he lumbered around – “I LOVE DANCING!” Of course, it looked like he was dancing at gunpoint.

Victor Fung and Anastasia Muravyeva quietly snuck in a few minutes before the end of class. Slavik wasn’t about to let that go unnoticed.

“Ballroom people, GET OUT! I’M THE STAR!” he hollered. The entire ballroom erupted in laughter, and Victor and Anastasia grinned and ran into the changing corner. Slavik was then given the five-minute signal and he had another fit.

“It’s time? NO! I like it! I wanna go longer!” everyone laughed and burst into applause. He talked a little longer, then bowed and thanked us for coming to his class. He was then swarmed with people wanting pictures.

Victor Fung and Anastasia Muravyeva’s class was next.

To be quite honest, I was crushing pretty hard on Victor by the end of it. I’ve read interviews with them and seen how he makes people laugh during awards at competitions, but he was even funnier than I thought. He started off the class saying “I think we’re the only ballroom couple teaching, so I have one hour to teach you everything I know about ballroom. So either I teach really fast…or I don’t know that much.”

Mr. Fung was the problem child, though. First of all, he, ever the LA boy, was freezing. (To be fair, the weather in New York has been brutal lately. It went up to 65 or 70 a week or so ago and now it’s back down to the 40s.) He had us all stand in a really big circle around the ballroom, realized he was still really cold, and said he had to warm up. So he grabbed Anastasia and they danced around.

They were already my favorite ballroom couple, and have been, but seeing them out of those insane costumes, dancing up close? No words. Magnificent. Anastasia is a dream.

So once they warmed up, Victor said the same thing Slavik did “This is about you, so if you have any questions-”

“YES!” Slavik yelled from the sidelines as he pulled his sneakers on. I didn’t even realize he was still there.

“Ask Slavik!” Victor said.

“Victor, do rumba walks! DO A MOONWALK!” Slavik exclaimed. There was laughter.

Until Anastasia grinned and did a perfect moonwalk across the room. Applause well earned.

Victor told us again to please ask questions, and he would be glad to answer, and then Anastasia would correct him because “she’s better than me.”

This is a smart man – he is going to be happily married to her forever. And her engagement ring was huge!

Also, as more and more people asked Victor and Anastasia questions, Slavik got more and more upset. “Oh, for THEM you have questions but nobody had any for me? So I was the warmup act?!” He was so pouty about it I couldn’t not laugh.

Adding to Mr. Fung’s troubles, he was terribly jet lagged. So he actually had to think out loud for a good minute, going back and forth, before he was able to remember which was his right leg and which was his left.

They talked about being aware of the different curves of the body, which ones you create by yourself and which ones you create together: the C curve, S curve, V curve, O curve. Then he added how the body, when standing, looks like an L (with the feet).

He repeated them all. “C, S, V, O, L. What does that spell?”

I actually thought pretty hard about it until he exclaimed, “VICTOR IS COOL!”

-___-

I didn’t want to laugh because it was so cheesy, but I had to. It was too funny. He thought the same thing though – he turned around to someone who had been recording and was extremely relieved that no one got that quip on video.

Anastasia also talked to the ladies about head weight and that it is vital to have weight and the right amount of tension in your head and have it connected it to your man’s hand – otherwise, he is unable to lead you. I didn’t even know that was a thing.

They also mentioned that the connection in their frame actually changes from dance to dance. A more linear dance will have a higher point of contact, while a more turn-y dance has a very low one. I find that sort of thing fascinating.

All in all, a GREAT introduction to International Standard Ballroom for me. I got a picture with them and jotted down way less notes than I would have liked, then ran back for Riccardo Cocchi and Yulia Zagoruychenko. (After all this time, I’m never sure I’m spelling her last name right.) And not that it matters, but there is no way around it – Yulia has the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen. Just lights up the room and makes you feel happy. I noticed this a long time ago and think it’s a big part of the reason she is so loved.

She’s also just an exquisite dancer, as evidenced by watching her demonstrate figures in class, but that is not currently the point.

Riccardo was also really funny, in an Italian sort of way – he is big and loud and colorful and fun to be around.

They taught quite a bit of samba, as Riccardo said it is one of the more neglected dances. We went through bounce action, natural and reverse basics, whisks, stationary samba walks, voltas, bota fogos, and cruzado walks. I have no idea how they got through all of that in an hour, especially with Riccardo cracking a joke at every opportunity, but it happened! At one point he found a penny on the floor.

“Oh, nice penny!” he bent, picked it up and put it on the table nearby. “I’m taking that home after class today,” he told the girl at the front desk as he walked away.

Suddenly, he turned back around, pointed at it, and barked, “MINE!” which caused everyone to start laughing.

He told us how samba music is the now slowest it’s ever been, then asked who saw their show at Dance Legends last year. Just a couple people. He asked who was going to that night’s show. Just a couple people. He asked who got last year’s DVD. ONE person audibly said, “I did!” When she began to ask a question later in the class, Riccardo went, “You’re the one that went to all the shows and got the DVD??” “Yes-” “I LOVE YOU!” Riccardo exclaimed, then lunged at her and wrapped her up in his arms.

“YOU can stay, everybody else leave my class!!” So funny.

He was talking to us all and suddenly broke off – “Ciao, Maurizio.”

Maurizio Vescovo had entered, wearing bright blue pants.

“Ciao, Riccardo,” he answered, then looked at all of us. “By the way, I don’t believe anything that they say!”

Riccardo looked affronted. “That’s the problem!” he shot back as everyone laughed.

Shots fired.

“Maybe that’s why I’m second,” Maurizio said, then shuffled off to the side and watched the rest of the class.

When everyone went for the pictures, Riccardo and Yulia got separated so I could only get a photo with Yulia. (We tilted our heads together like best friends!) I thanked her and she thanked me back – what a doll. But then at the end of the day, I went through my gallery and the evil person that took my picture with Yulia did it so horribly that she and I were two alien-like, unrecognizable blurs. I was not happy.

Maurizio’s class began. He got very serious when “on the clock”, so to speak, which surprised me, and explained that Andra couldn’t be with him because she was already prepping for their show that night.

Somehow, he already knew that Slavik had taught rumba walks (is Slava so predictable? Tee hee) and saw that Riccardo and Yulia covered samba, so he decided to do cha cha.

Maurizio talked about how so often, dancers stress the “straight knee” actions and how he puts his students into positions where they are physically unable to bend their legs. He also spoke a lot about balance and strength and “skills”. (I think he actually meant muscles, but that’s semantics, I guess.) He showed us some exercises we could use to develop ankle strength, speed, balance, and coordination.

Towards the end of class, he gave us a short cha cha amalgamation to dance and touched on some ideas, such as weight change. One that particularly stuck out to me was the “free foot”, that is, changing weight so that you can move the next foot – and just because the foot is “free” to move does not necessarily mean there is no weight on it. That’s actually something I’ve spent a lot of time wondering about – like, when I’m in a check position, should I have zero weight on the back foot? Now I know.

Also what he said – it’s not enough to understand things about dance in your head – you have to DO them. Grr.

All in all, it was a fantastic day for learning about International Style dance. The only thing was that obviously, everyone taking the classes would want to take pictures with the Legends and maybe jot down some notes, and there was no time designated for that in between the classes. That’s all.

Anyone go to any of the shows? I so wish I could have gone to more than just the workshops, even though they were wonderful. I found this video on Facebook that really shows what an epic event it was. I’ll try and figure out later how to link it up here!

See you all soon! It’s Disney night on Dancing With the Stars tomorrow so we’ll talk about that in a couple of days.

Dancing With the Stars 22, week 3: Most Memorable Year and Dance Legends Workshops

Hi there, ballroom dancers!

I don’t have much to say about anything except my keyboard is kind of crapping out.

So, let’s talk about Most Memorable Year.

Dancing With the Stars season 22, week 3: Most Memorable Year

Dancing With the Stars season 22, week 3: Most Memorable Year

Ginger & Val – cute package. Right away, it looks like Bindi and Derek’s contemporary, right down to the costumes. But I will say this – Ginger is really good with her arms and legs. WOW, that baby has an impressive set of lungs.

Doug & Karina – Doug’s story of his parents is the most tragic and romantic thing I’ve ever heard. Just Karina’s instructions “You’re saying bye to your soulmate” turned me into a blubbering mess. I don’t feel like he did much, but some things are beyond technique – though he’s so much more solid and graceful on the floor now. Too bad he tripped up – that was such a beautiful dance. The entire ballroom is dead silent – I’ve never seen that. And Karina’s dress and the hair accessory are so simple and stunning. She’s such a great designer. It makes me so much more excited for this weekend (wait till you hear this!)!

Kim & Sasha – she’s a little more reserved than usual – EEK! MISS GARRETT! RIKER! Kim could use a little more roundness in her arms, but she and Sash were adorable as always.

OK, it’s official now. I have fallen hard in love with Shannon.

Von & Witney – Von’s mom is a BAMF. Sorry, but I can’t help but think of Mike Tyson doing that drum riff whenever I hear this song. Geez, this is a strapping fellow. He obviously rocked the lifts and gave it a good effort – he supported Witney more than he danced…but, that’s him…I guess? He still seems to move kind of small – but maybe it’s because he’s got so much muscle mass – that restricts movement. He just doesn’t seem very comfy with the entire DWTS spectacle.

Marla & Tony – I love when people choose happy stories! She’s a little tentative and could use more sharpness in her kicks and she should have thrown her weight forward a little more…and her skirt should have been at least another six inches shorter, but she gave it a good try! But good energy and thank GOD she got that out of the way early. And so funny how Tony’s half dead and she barely even broke a sweat.

Antonio’s kid is ADORABLE dancing to “Happy”!!!

Antonio & Sharna – very nice to see a smile on that handsome face. I SEE HEEL LEADS! His rise and fall is kind of jerky, but at least it looks like he understands the concept. Okay, that segment at the end with Antonio Jr just tugs at the heartstrings. Len is a horrible human being for giving that a 6.

Disney Night next week! They’ve taken to having that, what, every other season? But it never disappoints 🙂

Paige & Mark – this is more a contemporary than a paso, but I’m okay with that. The Spanish lines that Paige hit and little accents with flamenco arms were gorgeous. So unique and executed perfectly. I love Mark’s pasos because he is the only one I’ve seen in my life who EVER choreographs a dance where the woman fights just as much as the man does, instead of just a man throwing around his cape. I don’t even know what to say other than this dance was brilliantly choreographed and MAGNIFICENTLY staged. 8,7,8? Um….no. I don’t know what I would have given it, but DEFINITELY it was underscored.

Jodie & Keo – so brave of her to tell that story. WHAT a perfect song choice – and beautifully sung! I think Jodie and Keo are growing together beautifully. Her extensions were absolutely stunning and she already looks better in hold. And she performed amazingly – like, we lived it with her.

Still not watching the judges’ critiques, but I’m catching scores, if accidentally at times. I have to ask – is it me, or are the judges being super stingy with points this season?

Mischa & Artem – I hope gets a good one next season. She finally cracked a smile and it made her way better to watch. I hope Artem gets a good one next season.

Wanya & Lindsay – okay, not to be a buzzkill, but I was hanging out with my neighbor during the live show. We only caught this one and Mischa’s dances live. I thought I was hearing things wrong, and then my neighbor turned to me, incredulous, and asked what I was thing: “Are they dancing to the national anthem?” I didn’t quite get it either. Anyway, he got a little hoppy at times, but was actually very smooth. The only thing I could say is I didn’t get HIT with that Wanya rush of excitement. It’s to be expected though. One more thing: I did love the costuming and Lindsay’s dress, but…where’s the rest of it? It hardly seemed appropriate. (To my neighbor, too!)

Nyle & Peta – I love how he chose the year he traveled around the world. Because usually, everyone basically picks the year they became famous or the year they lost someone. That’s why this theme week gets repetitive to me…oh well. So I love Nyle’s choice of year and I think he is so brave! And yes, Carrie Ann’s comments were stupid and I love that Peta called her out. This was jam-packed and I have zero idea how Nyle hit every step as sharply as he did. If anything, I think he was a little too stuck in his frame and has slightly too much attack, but that isn’t a bad problem to have. But Peta is jam-packing every dance, and I’m not sure why – this is the reason we don’t see a lot of light and shade in a routine from them. Anyway, I heard the beginning of Carrie Ann’s critiques! Can you say BACKPEDAL? Scored appropriately, I think.

SO! I mentioned this weekend. It’s Dance Legends!

And I’m sadly not going to see the shows, but I am going to the workshops!!! YEEEAAAHHH! Matt will be thrilled when he finds out.

2016 Dance Legends Workshops

2016 Dance Legends Workshops

All this means is I have to practice hardcore for the next four days. (Three? Three and a half?) I will tell you all about it after!

What did you think about Most Memorable Year Week? Or about Dance Legends? Anyone going? Am I crazy for going to these workshops when I haven’t danced in like 4 months? Now I’m freaking myself out…

I hope there will be time to take down notes in between classes…