June 09, 2005

Dancing with the stars, pt 2

I can't stand how the announcer called out "Are you ready to rumbaaaaa" as if he were the first person to think of it. But anyway. This week the ladies danced the rumba (international), while the men danced the quickstep.

Rachel started off this week with a high-quality rumba. She really had the feel of the dance right on, and the timing---never easy for a newcomer to international-style rumba---was perfect as well. The judges gave her a 24, higher than any score last week, which sounds about right.

Joey followed that with a quickstep. It was preceded with a bunch of whining about "it's so faaaaast", with which his partner agreed---which made it clear right from the start that he didn't get it. Despite the name, a good quickstep actually feels quite smooth and slow. As the dance got going, his butt was sticking out and he had no connection with his partner. (And yeah, that would make the dance a lot more work than it should be!) On the other hand, his steps did seem to be fairly well-synched with his partner; I just wish they'd done something other than the gallopy stuff. Alas. 21 for them, which seems a tad high but not outrageous.

Trista had good technical control of a lot of her moves, but appeared to have a very weakly-felt notion of the rumba rhythm. A lot of places, she was stepping not quite in time, though her partner never let her get completely off-time. Very nice ending. With all the flaws they could have called her on, though, the judges decided to diss her on her facial expressions; once again, it's like they're judging a fun dance. Sigh. At least this week I'm agreeing with the judges more: 19 was pretty much right on for this routine.

John took the quickstep floor with a really cute lead in, and then once he and his partner took their frame, he went into a solid gold quickstep. No gallopy stuff, but a really good medium-to-advanced syllabus quickstep, with good frame, exactly the right expression, and a very smooth motion. After one trip around the room, he brought in a few scissor kicks and a diagonal race across the floor before ending up with some more demonstration of his mastery of the dance. Wow. The judges were pretty floored too; rather than their usual feel-good gushing, they were actually at a sputtering loss for words. John is definitely the man to beat in this competition. He got a 26 out of 30. Right on.

After last week's misjudging, Kelly was unfortunately led to believe that she needed lots more FEELing in her dance; this week she had too much feeling and not enough dancing. Her rumba was a lot worse than her waltz, with very little in-time motion, just lots of running up to her partner and then pushing him away. The judges claim that she had improved a lot, which is simply false, and gave her a 17. That score is about right, I think, with my only reservations being that it poorly reflects the relative quality of the two performances.

Evander was just as bad this week as last week, clunking around the floor with no sense at all of the dance. It was all gallopy stuff; like Joey he was not connected to his partner, but unlike Joey he wasn't even particularly synched with her. His performance reminded me of what it looks like when a couple of intermediate ballroomers are goofing around and try to "lead" an open quickstep---his partner made a game try at following, but there really was not much she could do. Bleh. This week the judges seemed to perceive his lack, awarding him a meagre 14 out of 30.

Finally, having added up two weeks' worth of judging, they added in last week's viewer voting and in "random" order (read: arbitrary order, carefully selected for dramatic effect) called the callbacks for next week. When they called Evander back, I thought sure Kelly was out (since judging-points-wise she was in last place), so I was pretty floored when they called her back. Only Rachel and Trista remained, and although I didn't dislike Trista's work, I was really hoping that Rachel got the nod---her waltz was adequate, but her rumba was quite good. I wish that they'd shown us how the viewer voting played out; and I still don't know just how cumulative everything is. (I suspect that all the judging points are cumulative, but each week the viewer voting starts fresh to comprise half the callback numbers---that'd be the most dramatic, sigh.) As for drama, I'd rate the remaining five as John, then Rachel and Joey in some order, then Kelly, then Evander, which sets them up nicely for the alternating boy-girl elimination that you know they really want.

Anyway, eagerly awaiting next week. I totally voted for John, although I think Rachel might have been a wiser strategic vote. Amusing endnote: at the end of the credits, we see that this has been a BBC production. But of course!

"Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself." --Sen. Barack Obama

Posted by blahedo at 12:23am on 9 Jun 2005
I can't wait for next week---Jive and Tango. The judges said they were judging not just the dancing, but the performance---they want an overall "complete package". They want it to be an uphill road. Posted by Mom at 8:20am on 9 Jun 2005
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