Lesson 2: Rubik’s cube and tell me: How about these kids?

Happy Monday, dancers!

I still can’t believe it’s already 2017 and that it’s already March. A lot of awesome competitions coming up, huh? Hopefully I can at least go watch some of them πŸ™‚

So, last week was a change of scene! For my lesson with Matt, I jumped on a bus and went out to Rogers Dance Center in Hackensack.

…in New Jersey.

I’ll be honest; as a born-and-bred New Yorker, I’ve spent my entire life talking a lot of smack about New Jersey and everything associated with it. It came back to bite me in the form of really gross water that I had no choice but to drink. That was totally my fault, though, I got distracted by a clothes store in Port Authority and forgot to buy a bottle.

Anyway, I hopped this bus. Matt was so nice, trying to make sure that I understood the travel directions. I mean, I just got on the bus, entered “Rogers Dance Center” on my phone, and stayed on it until Siri said I reached my destination. As it was a thirty-minute ride, it would have been very difficult to screw up.

So I got to this studio and couldn’t stop giggling. It was way bigger and much nicer than I expected. I got there almost an hour before my lesson was to begin, though, and I didn’t know he was already there, so at first I just sat in the waiting area and did some timid stretching. Then Matt said he was upstairs and I went to check. He was indeed upstairs in a lesson with someone else. I stuck my head in and said hello, then instead of going in there and practicing, I just spent the time in the upstairs reception area stretching for half an hour.

Okay, okay, it was probably counterproductive, but I didn’t want to interrupt!

I stayed outside and watched the last, like, three minutes of this lesson, while they danced salsa, and was marveling at how well this student followed him. LOVE IT.

Then I continued to stretch until I saw they were done. I went in the studio and Matt introduced us to each other. We all chatted for a second, then started our lesson.

“Any questions?”

Me: “What am I supposed to do during the progressive rock?”

My attempt at clarifying that one step turned into a complete dismantling and reassembling of my samba routine. My teacher picked the entire thing apart, so now every single step of it is completely clear.

I don’t know why this is, but the way Matt teaches samba, it’s way easier to understand (and do!) than anyone I’ve ever learned it from before. And I’ve done it with a good amount of people (eight, off the top of my head).

After samba was said and done, we hit rumba. We didn’t get through so much of that routine! We were ironing out some kinks with different ways to do back breaks and ways to style different figures. We did a Cuban rock and Matt nearly had to snap my spine in order for my back to move at all. I thought it was just because it had been months since I’d taken a stretch class, so I don’t have the same flexibility I used to. Nope.

“Sometimes you hold your center so tight it’s difficult for your body to move around it.”

I can’t even tell you how upset that made me! I never even had a center before and I’ve spent a lot of time trying to create one in preparation and now I don’t know what to do. I later complained to my best friend, who danced for most of her life, and she said, “I can see what he means. You alternate between being not centered and too centered. I can tell because your shoulder blades lock really tight.” Then she told me to think of it like a Rubik’s cube.

I’ll figure that out later.

A good portion of the rumba part of my lesson was spent finangling my back breaks. It was an assault on my hamstrings and the center of my back. It’s insane, though, how many different ways there are to do this most “basic” figure.

Well, my lesson last week was canceled due to that snowstorm. I didn’t even get an extra day off. Oh, well. Matt and I are going to be working together again Wednesday! I’m looking really forward to it.

On a more or less completely unrelated note, an old friend of mine just tagged me in this video.

https://www.facebook.com/wordlwidedancing/videos/1242407589181804/

I haven’t yet been able to embed it here, check that out. Here’s a picture, presumably from the same event:

Antonio & Maria Rosaria

Antonio & Maria Rosaria

I have mixed feelings about it. I know this is quite normal in the ballroom world, but then again, I didn’t grow up in the ballroom world so the little girl’s outfit (and probably the boy’s too), combined with her movement, puts me off a bit. On yet another hand, I’m impressed by her (their) spunk! I guess it’s a separate division from when the little girls wear the long-sleeved dresses and frilly socks under their shoes? What do you all think?

Also, is anyone watching Dancing With the Stars? I think my DVR is still set to it, but I still haven’t decided. There’s no Derek, no Mark, and no Karina. On the other hand, I love Sasha and Emma, both together and separately. Emma is a sweetheart and a total class act and Sasha is vastly underrated as a pro.

I’ll report back with what I end up doing.

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Lesson One(?): Look There!

Hello, ballroom dancers!

Look who is risen from the dead. (Hint: me!)

Yes, it has been a long time. I went through a pretty crazy year in 2016. If I’m completely honest, it was a year of complete upheaval and chaos. Nothing horrible happened. It just happened to be a time of a lot of ups and downs, not to mention complete instability, but at the same time, unbelievable happiness.

So due to that, I took another very long break from dancing. I practiced here and there. Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten almost the entire Latin syllabus.

I contacted Matt, my magnificent teacher, a couple weeks ago, and said, let’s dance together. He called me and we talked…so he asked about Manhattan.

As in Manhattan Dancesport.

“Want to aim for that?” he asked.

I answered in a very measured fashion: “Manhattan! Are you INSANE?! YES!!!

I’ve been wanting to do Manhattan Dancesport since 2011. I just started dancing, taking mostly group classes, in 2010, and the Manhattan Dancesport Championships was the first real competition I’d ever been to. That was where I first saw the likes of Riccardo and Yulia and Emmanuel and Liana. Both were couples I instantly fell in love with. So you can imagine…finally dancing in this competition would mean I’ve reached a level I’ve been dreaming of for years.

Anyway, a couple weeks passed because it was difficult to coordinate our schedules, but we finally were able to schedule a lesson!

I confess, I didn’t practice at all beforehand. I didn’t go through the iPhone notes where I had my routines written down. I didn’t even stretch before he arrived.

Even worse, I lost my dance notebook. The one I’ve been keeping for six years where I had notes from lessons with Val and Dasha and workshops with Riccardo and Yulia, Maurizio Vescovo, and even Mark Ballas, to start. I’ll be upset with myself for that for a long time.

My teacher is evil (not even a little bit), so for some reason he started me off with rumba. Like, why would you do that? My body was so unaccustomed to the strains of rumba that I started pouring sweat literally after doing the first three steps of my routine, which, incidentally, happened to be unnecessarily long, so he chopped a lot of it.

He then exclaimed, “Okay. Samba!” and went through our samba routine, which made me feel not as stupid. I put on “Piensas” by Pitbull and Gente De Zona because my muscle memory is SET to that song. See, samba was fun. Rumba hurt my ego significantly.

There wasn’t a lot to write about in this particular lesson, just getting reacquainted, except for this one thing.

Matt told me he spent a lot of last year judging and, during this time, he noticed that there were some dancers that had terrible technique, but their dancing actually was brought up a few levels because they had focus. He was telling me what to do when I was dancing (“Look there! KEEP IT! Now at me!”), but I didn’t quite get it until he demonstrated by samba-ing around me. Then it made sense.

Stefano Di Filippo and Dasha Chesnokova

Stefano Di Filippo and Dasha Chesnokova

DIRECTIONALITY! Knowing where you’re going. Having the points you’re looking at. And guess what happened when I did that.

MY ANKLES STOPPED SHAKING.

Look, I don’t know what it is. I don’t know if I naturally have terrible balance, or if I have weak ankles, or whatever else, but I just tend to fall around a lot when doing rumba. I stopped falling. It was life-changing. At least for me.

So, I also hit the New York Dance Festival a week later. I went super late, so I only caught the finals of the Pro Smooth and Latin, but it was so worth it. I’d never been to NYDF and the energy was simply incredible. Having multiple viewing levels in the ballroom didn’t hurt, either.

Pro Smooth was a lot of fun, but I personally have a really hard time watching any couple that isn’t Travis and Jaimee Tuft. I absolutely adore them.

Travis and Jaimee Tuft, 3rd place at the 2017 New York Dance Festival Pro Smooth

Pro Latin was a real treat, in part because I remember Pasha Pashkov & Daniella Karagach and Anastasiya Danilova when they were amateur dancers. In fact, I first saw Pasha and Daniella at Manhattan Dancesport! (They placed third in both Latin and Ballroom in the Amateur divisions that year.) Nastia, I actually met when she was a teacher at Dance With Me! I’m in awe when I watch her dance – she has the strongest core I’ve ever seen. In addition, I instantly took to Mikhaylo Bilopukhov and Anastasiya Shchypilina when they first started dancing in the US. They’re so fun and charismatic.

2017 New York Dance Festival Pro Latin Finalists

2017 New York Dance Festival Pro Latin Finalists

Okay, okay. Must be off! I’m actually just on my way to this week’s lesson with Matt!

Also, Slavik Kryklyvyy was judging Pro Smooth. I can prove it, I took pictures.

Dancing With the Stars 22, week 9: The Semi-Finals

Hi, ballroom dancers!

I know, I know, not cool that I didn’t post this last week. I was extremely busy with school and working overtime on days I don’t usually work. Like, I have had ZERO time for literally anything.

Let’s be real, there’s no way in life that I could have NOT found out who went home. I’m pissed off. I’m more than fine with Antonio going home, but Wanya shouldn’t have. OK, let’s talk about last week’s show before the final airs tonight! Can you believe how fast time goes?

Dancing With the Stars season 22, week 9: The Semi-Finals

Dancing With the Stars season 22, week 9: The Semi-Finals

Round 1: Trios
Paige & Mark/Alan: “People know I’m engaged”? Just my opinion, but I’m almost certain Mark is already married – unless BC Jean is like Topanga and got him an engagement ring. Content packed! From pictures, I thought this samba looked almost exactly like Shawn Johnson’s in s15, but this was very different. That trio samba roll was a little awkward, but it’s to be expected – I guess when three people are doing a roll together, you don’t have much room to bend. Paige had SUCH good foot placement in this dance, which is difficult to do when you’re barefoot (I also just really hate when people dance barefoot). Very fun, very playful. Erin, can we NOT do the high school romance inquisition? Nobody cares. On the other hand, her dress is gorgeous. OOH, and I really liked the trick where Alan spin-threw her into Mark – THAT was hella cool.

Antonio & Sharna/Hayley: even though I wonder why they didn’t pick Karina (or anyone, for that matter) Hayley is such a pretty girl. Antonio’s face looks like he’s trying very hard and it’s not sexy at all. I really don’t have anything to say about that dance. I like the costumes though.

Wanya & Lindsay/Witney: WOW, Carrie Ann is…I can’t write the word that I think of her for that turn. How could she talk to somebody like Wanya that way and yet lavish Antonio with so much praise? That was so disgusting. I am ABOUT these girls’ costumes. He looks fantastic – he’s lost so much weight. Wanya is one of the few male contestants I’ve seen who dances the paso with the authority he should. Watching that great dance just made me more angry the way he’s been thrown off to the side all season. 10/10/10 well deserved.

Nyle & Peta/Jenna: Nyle and jive will likely not end too well. Another one I don’t understand why they didn’t pick Karina – remember s13? First trio ever, Peta picked Karina and she won with Donald. ACK I’m struggling, Converse make dudes’ feet look super flat in jive. And this dance is making cheaters look too cute. Peta definitely used Karina’s move from her trio jive! Hmf. That dance was rough. WHOA – 9/9/9 for, I’m sorry, a very messy dance? When Wanya slipped ONCE last week and he got 8/8/9. I smell a rat, people. Regardless, Peta might have tried too put too much content in – that may have made him more prone to falling off time. Maybe they should have done single-time instead.

Whoo, Hayley is definitely taking ballroom lessons because she is improving FAST.

Ginger & Val/Artem: speaking as a makeup artist, they put way too much bronzer on Artem’s chest. But I’m glad to see him here because I like him a lot. Okay, Ginger is dancing way better here than she did in the week before – more ferocious. I’m wondering if Artem’s the one that got it out of her. I’m actually surprised she got 9/9/9. I daresay maybe “They” don’t want her to win.

Round 2:
Paige & Mark – I like they they talked about her dance experience. She’s not trying to deny it. These bullying stories are awful. But I love Paige’s story about finding a different side of herself. It hits close to home, because people always think they know me too. She has grown so much – she went from this shy girl that could barely look these gorgeous men in the eye to that bombshell seductress that danced this Argentine tango that made you barely able to breathe with all the heat coming out of it. Loved how they used the set and the wardrobe. Rawr. Ohhhh my gosh…that was…so sexy. I can’t even find the words. My apartment just fogged up. Even the ballroom is in shock – did you see how quiet the audience was? 10/9/10 – UNDERSCORED. I’d like to thank the audience for booing Len. Their score for the night was 59 – that dance ALONE should have gotten a score of 59. I hope she wins.

So nice to see Bindi back.

Antonio & Sharna – WOW, he’s great with lifts. Easily his best dance. Good for him. 9/9/10?! Crap, I think they could have actually given him a perfect score for that one.

I really liked that Argentine tango with Witney and Artem – but she stumbled once or twice. Makes me wonder if he’s as aggressive in his lead as he looked in that dance.

Wanya & Lindsay – Charleston is gonna be so good for him! Wonder why his connection is so much better in this dance than it was when he did ballroom dances. The dance ended and I teared up because he so deserved to be in the final. I can’t believe they pushed him out like that. I think it is now glaringly obvious that had he not been so brutally underscored, the finale lineup would have been different. A shame. THE TWERK! Ha!

Nyle & Peta – what a pretty dress for Peta! Ok, I hope this doesn’t come out wrong, but the fact that he is deaf does not make him the victim that this show and most people are making him out to be. It’d be different if he lost his hearing at some point in his life, but he was born deaf, so for him it’s just his reality and he has not lost anything. That being said, I didn’t see what the point was of making him dance blindfolded and I think putting him in cropped pants was a mistake – it just made his feet look stompier and his legs look weaker. But he nailed the mood of it and he interacted with Peta beautifully.

Ginger & Val – I can completely see Alexandra Perzhu in this dress – it is absolutely STUNNING. Did I ever mention I love watching Val do standard? Oh dear…Ginger suddenly got back to the cheerleader faces and her body is suddenly doing the robot. What HAPPENED?

We all know what happened at the end. Antonio went home and so did that incredible Wanya. So passionate, hardworking, entertaining, and most of all, positive. The reason his elimination hurts so much, at least for me, is because Wanya is not even just someone I want to see on my tv screen – people with that degree of positivity are the kind of people I want around me in my LIFE.

Ah well…we still have Paige and Nyle. I think the way they are scored will say a lot about the intentions of what I call “The People Upstairs”. Hopefully they both get all 10s so the chips can fall where they may. Or not really, as the votes from last week are going to go towards the final (weird that they did that), so maybe Paige gets a slight advantage. I’m ok with that.

I guess we’ll see!

Dancing With the Stars 22, week 8: Judges’ Choice

Happy Tuesday, ballroom dancers! How’s it going???

Not much here. I worked all weekend and didn’t have much to do. Saturday during a 12-hour shift, I watched three *NSYNC concerts in a row. It was AWESOME.

Onto last night’s DWTS episode!

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Okay…didn’t quite get that opening number, but that’s just me.

Nyle & Peta – the fudging with colors is actually really cool. He is still kind of heavy on his feet. The silent section was a pretty risky move to make, and I’m wondering if it would have backfired had lit up the entire floor instead of spotlighting Nyle. Why am I the only one not having an emotional reaction? I was kind of just like, eh, pretty good. 10,9,10. I think that’s appropriate, as his posture is still not fantastic.

Antonio & Sharna – HE’S PRACTICING BY HIMSELF?! What’s the miracle? “Vinnemese waltz…” oh goodness 0_o random, but whoever did Sharna’s makeup for practices did an incredible job. AHH, I love these costumes! I love when people use navy blue instead of black. Antonio has definitely improved, but he could stand to relax the top line. His rise and fall is actually really impressive. I wish he’d been so committed at the beginning of the season…9/9/9? Maybe overscored by a point, but I’m not too mad.

BINDIIIIIIIIII!!!!!!!!!!! She looks so good!

Of course, Val’s shirt has to come open -_-

What the cheese is James Corden doing choreographing for Dancing With the Stars?

Jodie & Keo – I didn’t even notice that KEO was the one that messed up! Good for Jodie. Too bad she went home. I love her loyalty to Keo – he really is sweet. This is a great dance for her! The legs in this dance and her jive technique are giving me LIFEEEEEEEE. 10/10/10 – so I guess she was the shocking elim this season. Hate when that happens – I would have thought she’d at LEAST make the semi final (week 9?). But she just happened to get cast on DWTS on a season that was RIFE with talent and strong competition. She really went on a high note, though.

Paige & Mark – it bears repeating – their jive last week was amazing. Oh, Mark, you weirdo. I love this guy. OK, the use of lighting WITH the smoke? Gorgeous effect. I think she’s hitting the accents just a hair too hard for VWaltz, but maybe that’s just her style. 10/9/9? Um…why? If Jodie got a 30, Paige should have gotten a 60.

Ginger & Val – still don’t understand why their dance last week got the first perfect score of the season…but this is probably gonna be good. He used Derek tricks! What is she smiling about during this dance? She really does perform like a cheerleader…10/10/10? Not quite merited. I’m not quite saying she did anything wrong, but nothing about her dancing excites or grabs me.

Wanya & Lindsay – yeah, I definitely noticed he’s lost a LOT of weight. Good for him. OOOH, decked in the mouth! Ouchy. HA, the couch tipped! Why did I choose NOW to watch Amber’s freestyle? (Rhetorical question, but the answer is: I was wondering if the set was the same. It isn’t.) I feel like Wanya is taking oddly big steps, is it just me? Homie also needs to shut his thighs a bit…ohhh, and he slipped on Linds’ bandana and fell off. 8/8/9? I don’t think it was THAT serious.

Jodie and Ginger were on the top of the leaderboard…WOW, I didn’t realize how wrong that was until Tom said it.

Artem and Witney’s bumper was super cute, but I wonder why she was dancing jive in Smooth shoes.

The Judges’ Choice Dances:

I hear all the teams got the same scores, which is fine because they really did even the playing field by pairing together the teams they did.

Team Bruno (Nyle & Peta, Jodie & Keo) – Bruno is so ridiculous and I can’t stop laughing at him. OOO, same sex dancing? I think I like it. But we’ll see – it all comes down to execution. It was good – VERY nice, but didn’t have the intensity I’m used to. I think that’s partly because Jodie was really focused on having a LOT of control, though she did misstep more than once. OMG, I can’t deal with Bruno, I’m crying hahahaaaaaaaa

Team Len (Wanya & Lindsay, Ginger & Val) – THAT WAS THE WORST FARMER’S TAN I’VE EVER SEEN *covers eyes* Len is almost as funny as Bruno, I’m actually LOLing at “O-ver, here we go, yummy, yummy, where’s my mummy”. Aww, this is such an old people samba. I think Wanya actually did a terrific job of matching Val and I’m cracking up at Wanya’s 6 – pack. It was nice to see Len dance in that, actually. Val’s crack about being able to have fun because he wasn’t judging, so funny. But that shouldn’t have been given any 10s, because it was so fluffy and not even Wanya could save it.

Team Carrie (Paige & Mark, Antonio & Sharna) – oh my, Antonio can be a charmer. That lift Antonio and Paige did was PERFECTION – I would go so far as to call it the highlight of the entire episode. My other favorite part was the part at the end where they all stood while it rained on them – that was hella sexy. 10/10/9 – America got that one SO wrong!

And then there’s a double elimination next week…oh dear, it’s going to be ugly…

I am really, really REALLY hoping for a Paige/Wanya/Nyle finale. Anything other than that just literally wouldn’t make no sense. Am I crazy?

Dancing With the Stars 22, week 7: Icons

Hello, ballroom dancers!! Happy Wednesday!

Yes, this blog is coming later than usual, but I had a weird few days. I found out I was getting a new apartment, then I had to move over the two days that I was working 11 hour shifts. Time wasn’t on my side, really. Ah well! It’s working out great so far. It’s only been three days in the new arrangement, but I’m happy.

So, week 7 on DWTS was for…Icons? Okaaaaayyyyy…..

And lemme just throw it out there – TWO songs this week that Derek has already choreographed to. With the same partner! So I’m gonna have high standards for those…

I know that Kim and Von left, which is sad. Quite honestly, I was hoping it was going to be Antonio and Ginger and that we’d get Kim (with the best partnership) and Von (who is at least TRYING) for another week. Oh well :/

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The opening number was cute. I actually really like Tony and Lindsay dancing together.

Jodie & Keo – Keo is very sweet. I don’t know what about this dance is making me so happy, but I just have a big smile on my face. I don’t see a high point of contact in their frame (like Victor & Anastasia talked about), or really any at all…but she did some beautiful things with her arms and the whole dance seemed very whimsical and light, which was a nice change. I really liked the choreography. 8,9,9 – YAY! So happy for her and Keo!

Kim & Sasha – this woman is ageless. OMG this looks EXACTLY like Derek’s choreography! LOVE it. I don’t see hip action at all…and if there’s one dance we NEED hips in, it’s the samba. Maybe her core isn’t connected to her legs? Or maybe it was the sneakers. Cracking up at Sasha Magic Mike-ing and waving his vest in the air. 9,9,9 – good for them. Either way, I’m really proud of both of them and they’ve truly been a pleasure to watch. Happy belated birthday to Sasha’s mommy!

Nyle & Peta – what in the cheese was Len going on about? Oooo, gorgeous costuming here – Peta’s gown is one of my favorites all season. I probably would have put Nyle in gray, but he’s wearing pink well too. His frame has definitely improved, but his posture is still kind of off somehow. Another scoring snafu?! What is happening here?

That Jenna/Shannon/Hayley bumper…eh. Not necessary.

Okay, but Bruno literally beating himself up and Tom’s crack about partying in the eighties cracked me up.

Antonio & Sharna – he suddenly wants to work? Is he putting in more rehearsal time? Okay, that beginning of the dance was creepy. DAMN, TROMPA! That’s the Spanish word for “horn” – his pout was SERIOUS. Their legs never look like they’re doing the same thing. He could have relaxed his shoulders…like, a lot. He nailed the head snaps. I really liked the staging of this and the costumes, though, and I forgot how much I like that song. Shout out to the hair and makeup department. Ooo, wardrobe malfunction. 8,8,8 – the score is appropriate, I guess.

Wanya & Lindsay – still wish that Joey had crashed the dance floor during the performance last week. This is a pretty nasty edit – he was trying to clear his schedule and the spin is that he is an egomaniac throwing a tantrum. I swear Lindsay has spun gold for hair. Wanya needs to relax his shoulders, too, and the syncopations end up looking more hip-hop than they should. 9,9,9 – fair.

Ginger & Val – Val looks nice. But he has an odd way of thinking. I feel like – he really is a competitor at heart and I don’t think he knows how to be anything else. I think he needs to get a partner to really challenge him to see what he’s made of. I feel like there’s something we didn’t get to see in the package. There was way too much tension to just have been the fact that he was pushing her harder than normal. Also, what is up with those progressive forward walks to promenade and facing position in every Viennese waltz? I guess they’re a DWTS required step? But I’ve never seen that in a dance competition…anyway, she was a little stiff in the shadow position. She’s trying so hard to stay in her frame and old her posture that she looks super tense. This was a lovely dance, and I’m so glad they danced through the WHOLE song. 10,10,10? Eh. There wasn’t anything wrong with the dance, but I don’t think it was perfect, either. There have been dances from other competitors that should have been 30s…but that’s just me. I really like seeing Val be this raw and honest and sweet to her. It reminds me of one time when he saw me in the studio, grabbed me, and pulled me into a bear hug, saying, “This GIRL! She’s so FRESH! She’s so ORGANIC!” I was in there, confused, like…was that a compliment? I had to ask people. I really feel like the scores had more to do with the package.

Von & Witney – these costumes are GREAT. I already know right off the bat which lipstick she’s wearing. “No, who’s Elvis?” HAAAA! Oh, this was a lift Karina used with Apolo Ohno! AHH I love the beginning of this dance! Cute choreography and I see hips here! This is such a good dance for him! It goes perfectly with his personality. So fun. It would have been so nice if he hung around another week. It took a long time for him to grow on me, but he was a lot of fun. 8,8,8 – could they NOT have thrown him a 9? For shame.

Paige & Mark – this song was done by Nicole Scherzinger and Derek Hough in the finale, right before the winner was announced, and it is my all-time favorite. Mark is crazy, so I’m excited to see this jive. IS MARK MARRIED?! We’re just gonna ignore the ring on his finger? Sheesh. I LOVE this look on her. She’s already gorgeous, but the read lips are beautiful on her. She could use a little more tightness in her thighs and pull her arms in more on her turns, and pull her knees up higher, but I love the sass from her here – it’s a totally different side of her. This choreography was INSANE and she was on top of EVERY STEP! Mark’s face when the dance ended was just like ROAR! Yes, Tom, I WANT TO SEE IT AGAIN TOO!!! 10,10,10 – YYYYYESSSSS! Well deserved!

Team James Brown – I love Von looking up the moves. Von wearing that cape is too funny. But I loved seeing them put Nyle in the front so the other men could pick up his timing. That – and all the rest of it – was real teamwork. Clean, well-executed, and super fun to watch – and that is a combination in a team dance that wins every time. 9,9,10? Fair, I guess?

Team Beyonce – Mark and Val are a great choreography pair and a lovely dance couple. I think they should perform together, a la Slavik and…I wanna say it was Franco Formica? There was a man Slavik did a cha cha show with a few years back and it was a riot. (I CAN’T FIND IT.) Anyway, the waning confidence thing here makes me sad. Women need to just own it. This is a crappy medley of songs. I do like that they deviated from the “30 seconds at the beginning all together, 30 seconds at the end all together, and then we each have a solo”, but it didn’t work as well as it should have because nothing really gelled – and the saddest part was that only Paige looked like she was having fun.

So I don’t even know who I think should go next week or the week after – I really just want Wanya, Paige, and Nyle to be the top three, because if they aren’t, this show will have lost a lot of credibility. Wait, now we have six people left…so I guess it remains to be seen if they do a four-couple final or another double elimination. That’d seem the most logical course of action, but logic doesn’t seem to play a huge role in this show anyway.

Who do you want for the final?

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!

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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?!

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 πŸ˜₯ 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:
Β· 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.
Β· 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?
Β· 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.