Monday, November 11, 2013

'Dancing With the Stars' Recap: Duos and Trios

There are only a couple more episodes of "Dancing With the Stars" which, let's face it, is kind of tragic. This has been a fun season with several very good dancers and several more that are just plain fun to watch. 

Tonight's gimmick was that, in addition to a normal partner dance, the couples also got to perform a trio dance with an additional pro/troupe dancer. Fun times! Shall we get down to the recapping?

  • Amber Riley & Derek Hough danced a quickstep to a jazzy instrumental song. They have a lot of energy and chemistry, but I didn't feel like it was one of their best and most connected dances. I know that Amber had a tough week with her knee injury, but even though the dance was super cute and jazzy, it wasn't the most exciting dance I've seen from them. It was solid but definitely not spectacular. It was just a little messy and blah.Len loved the choreography, but he thought the dance was a little loose and wild, and needed polish. Bruno loves Amber's presence, but he didn't like her hold and thought the dance was loose. Carrie Ann also pointed out her mistakes and top line problems. Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 8; Bruno: 8. Total: 24.
  • Leah Remini & Tony Dovolani were up next with a tango to "Love Me Again." I absolutely loved their connection in the dance. I really felt their passion. This is absolutely Leah's kind of dance, because she is an incredibly sexy woman who really knows how to act. These sexy, performance-heavy dances are where Leah really shines, and she was shining very bright tonight! Bruno called it a "bad-ass proper tango." He said there were still a few moments where she was shaky, but he assured Leah that she's "got it." Carrie Ann also loved the dance, but she urged her to put more passion into her arms and feet. Len liked the ingredients, and he said that Leah brought the flavor. Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 9; Bruno: 9. Total: 27.
  • Corbin Bleu & Karina Smirnoff danced a waltz to "Apologize." It was a very beautiful dance with lots of great waltz content and very, very little fluff. They probably weren't in hold as much as they should have been, but they really just hit it hard with the emotional connection and the beautiful, well-executed dancing. After their Viennese Waltz disaster a few weeks ago (even though I enjoyed their "Game of Thrones" dance!), they really showed that they can do a solid, simple dance very, very well. Carrie Ann said the dance was "dreamy," but she saw a few mistakes because he was off his center. Len said the dance was very expressive, but he would have liked a little more in hold. Overall, though, he liked it. Bruno said it was "enchanting" and that the musicality was "flawless." Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 9; Bruno: 10. Total: 28. 
  • Jack Osbourne & Cheryl Burke danced next with a Viennese waltz to "Let It Go." It was a beautiful dance, and just like Corbin & Karina's dance, it was a very solid dance with a lot of content and very little fluff. Jack is incredibly graceful and he just did a wonderful job being a strong, yet expressive partner. The dance was incredibly passionate and I could definitely feel a beautiful bond between Jack & Cheryl while they were dancing. I really loved it! It's amazing what a great dancer Jack really is. Len said the dance was "Cracker Jack," and he was pleased by Jack's hold in his turns. Bruno loves the way that ballroom flows from him and his transformation is amazing, though he warned him to watch his hands. Carrie Ann praised the way that Jack is growing, and she said it is "amazing" to see. Scores: Carrie Ann: 10; Len: 10; Bruno: 9. Total: 29. 
  • Bill Engvall & Emma Slater were up next with a Charleston to "Yakety-Yak." It was a super super super super fun dance. Bill still has a lot of issues with remembering all of his steps and he was definitely behind on a lot of steps and hand movements, but he was, once again, incredibly hilarious when he was dancing. Bill knows how to entertain the heck out of the audience, which is why he continues to come back week after week on this show, but I would love to see him really succeed at his dancing one of these weeks, instead of just being entertaining! Bruno said he had trouble with timing once again, but he encouraged him to do well on his second dance. Carrie Ann was disappointed with the way his knees weren't getting too high and that his timing was off, though she said he was fun to watch. Len said that his second dance needs to be better, because this dance just wasn't. Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 7; Bruno: 7. Total: 21. 
  • Elizabeth Berkeley & Val Chmerkovskiy danced next, with a Viennese waltz to "Young and Beautiful." I really love the way they play with tempo and the way that they play with the lives of their bodies. There is something beautiful about the way they interacted in this dance, and the tension between them really gave the dance a good ebb and flow. They also danced, from what I could tell, flawlessly and effortlessly. It was probably one of my favorite dances of theirs all season. Carrie Ann loved that she connected emotionally with the dance and that the choreography was great. She also really liked their lines, and said she just had one small problem. Len said Elizabeth is his top dancer, but he thought it was too jerky of a dance for Viennese waltz. Bruno thought they totally hit it, and that the dance had a lovely, "fermented" quality. He also loved the contemporary touches among the traditional moves. Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 8; Bruno: 9. Total: 26.

Then it was time for the trio dances! 

  • Derek & Amber danced with Mark Ballas. They did a salsa. Amber had a lot of energy and really looked like she was having a great time. Which, why wouldn't you, if you were dancing with those two guys. They did a great job supporting Amber and really letting her personality and dance talent shine through. It was a very fun dance to watch! Len said Amber was like a ray of sunshine and thought the dance was great, even though she needed more hip action. Bruno said she was "irresistable," though he did say she needed more hips too. Carrie Ann said the dance was "insane." Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 9; Bruno: 9. Total: 27.
  • Leah & Tony danced a jive with Henry Byalikov to "We're Not Gonna Take It." Their concept was to imitate the judges. And it was just plain adorable! There was a lot of acting skill on display, and each of the dancer did a great job getting the personalities of the judges and putting it into dance. Yes, there was good dancing skill in the dance, but first and foremost, it was a fantastic performance! I loved it!!! Bruno thought it was "the most witty dance routine I've seen in a long time." He loved the performance even with a couple of little mistakes. Carrie Ann said she loved the way she took control, and she said it was great strategy too. Len loved the concept and the routine. He thought it was "fantastic entertainment." Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 9; Bruno: 9. Total: 27.
  • Corbin & Karina danced with Witney Carson. They did a jazz dance to a jazzy version of Usher's "Yeah."  It was just super hip - very Broadway and different from the normal dance on "Dancing With the Stars." It was obvious that Corbin was totally comfortable, and he really showed off his strengths with the dance. It was very cool, too that, almost all of the dance was synchronized, and they did a great job of having their moves totally synchronized. I really enjoyed this dance, too! It was just totally awesome and super, super cool! Carrie Ann thought it was the best routine she'd ever seen, and she thought the choreography and dance was pure Bob Fosse. Len said the dance "exploded," and it was "delicious." He said that it all came together. Bruno also absolutely loved it, and he agreed that it lived up to a Bob Fosse level. Scores: Carrie Ann: 10; Len: 10; Bruno: 10. Total: 30. 
  • Jack & Cheryl danced a samba Sharna Burgess to "I Wanna Be Like You." Jack really got into the dance and performed WONDERFULLY. He is not as good at the spicy Latin dances because, as he said, "I'm not a very spicy fellow." But, darn it, he just went out there and put it all out there. He was adorable and it was clear that they were all having a wonderful time! Oh, and they did a decent job with the dance moves, too. Len thought the routine was "clever" and had great interplay, even though his technique wasn't great all the time. Bruno had a lot of fun watching it, and said that Jack partied during the dance. Carrie Ann liked the looney stuff, but said that he got overwhelmed and didn't do a great job with his technique. Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 8; Len: 9. Total: 25.
  • Bill & Emma were up next with a salsa with Peta Murgatroyd to "Candy." They went with a Willy Wonka theme. Bill was definitely doing a better job with his timing, even though he was still a little bit spazzy. However, once again, his biggest strength is performance and pure, unadulterated joy and enthusiasm for the dance. I love watching him every time he dances, and I do think he did better on this dance than on his first one, too. Bruno loved the lunacy of it all, as well as the slapstick, but he still harped on rhthym and timing. Carrie Ann thought it was "so weird," but even though he doesn't have great rhythym but forgives him because it's fun. Len thought Bill should have had some alcohol to loosen up, but said that he needs to lift up the performances, even though they're fun to watch. Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 7; Bruno: 7. Total: 21. 
  • Elizabeth & Val danced with Gleb Savchenko (even though I feel like it's always a waste when there isn't a Val-Maks trio dance! Elizabeth deserves to be in a Chmerkovskiy sandwich!). They did a salsa dance. It was a very solid salsa, complete with TWO shirtless Eastern European hotties, so, really, how could anyone complain? They danced very well together, but I did feel like there were a few timing freakouts periodically in the dance, especially at the beginning. It was a good dance, but it just wasn't quite to the level of fantastic. Carrie Ann felt like the dance was on it, and that it was her best dance. Len said she was like the "human frisbee" - in a good way. He thought it was fantastic. Bruno was impressed by how she handled the guys, and did a great job with the interplay. He also thought it was her best dance. Scores: Carrie Ann: 10; Len: 10; Bruno: 10. Total: 30. 

And then ... it was time for elmination. It felt like a shame to have to eliminate anybody this week, but, alas, that's the way "Dancing With the Stars" works!

Safe tonight, and going to the semi-finals were: Corbin & Karina, Jack & Cheryl, Amber & Derek and Leah & Tony.

In jeopardy were: Elizabeth & Val and Bill & Emma. It seems obvious that Elizabeth should move forward, because she's very good, but Bill has been a wild card. He's not a great dancer, but he is clearly very well-loved by fans. And the love from his fans saved him another week, because Elizabeth & Val were sent home! The judges and the audience were shocked, but obviously Bill has a strong fan base. 

This is one of those eliminations that shows the double-edged sword that is this type of show. On one hand, great dancers like Elizabeth get sent home when, on pure dance talent, they should stay, but, at the same time, it's obvious that, even though he's not a fantastic dancer, people want to see what Bill does another week. Considering that "Dancing With the Stars" is only marginally about actual dancing and much more about being entertained by D-list celebrities, I'm really OK with it. In fact, I'm glad that Bill is staying - he is a highlight of the show! 

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