Dance to the Music: Rhythm Edition

Dance to the Music: Rhythm Edition

One great thing about taking dance lessons at a studio is that your instructor will always have good music for you to dance to.  They know which songs work best for Rumba, Swing, Cha Cha, etc., so if you ask them to find a song for you to Rumba to, they will likely pick out a good one.  But, if you are away from your studio you may not know exactly what songs to practice with, especially if you are a new dancer. 

A very frequently asked question with new dance students is, “how will I know what dance to do based on the song that is playing?”  This is a very important question for beginners, because when you’re first learning to dance, it can be hard to identify the style just by listening to a song.  Over time, you will become familiar enough with the music and the rhythm of the dances to know which songs to use.  There are so many styles to go over, but for now I will briefly explain some of the musical qualities of the dances in American Rhythm. I will also provide a few examples of contemporary songs you can use for practice (or even performances)!



If you've seen or danced the Rumba, you may know that most of its music is smooth and slow.  While you can dance the Rumba to traditional Latin music, you’ll find that much of today’s pop music follows the steady and smooth feeling of the Rumba.  Basically, you can think of it this way: if the song has a fairly slow and steady beat, you can do a Rumba.  This is also why a lot of wedding couples use the Rumba in their first dances – their songs are usually slow!  Here are some good examples of modern-day Rumbas:

·         Lovesong – Adele

·         Stand by Me – Florence and the Machine

·         The Way I Am – Ingrid Michaelson

There are other songs which may seem more upbeat than a typical Rumba, but the underlying beat and tempo still allows it to fit in the Rumba category.  Some examples are:

·         Prayer in C – Lily Wood and the Prick (Robin Schultz remix)

·         Somebody that I Used to Know – Gotye


Cha Cha

Cha Cha is one of the faster Latin dances, so the music will reflect that as well.  As with Rumba, there are traditional Latin Cha Cha songs that you can dance to, but you can also find many pop songs that are Cha Chas.  The defining beats in this dance are those three “cha-cha-chas” we do in the middle of a pattern, so you should be able to hear and pick out those three beats in the music as well.  While most Cha Cha music is upbeat, not all are so fast.  If you are just starting out with this dance, here are some classic slow Cha Chas that you can dance to:

·         Smooth – Santana and Rob Thomas

·         Sway – Michael Bublé

Once you’ve gotten used to Cha Cha you can try these songs which are a bit faster:

·         Cake by the Ocean – DNCE

·         My Type – Saint Motel

·         Mr. Saxobeat – Alexandra Stan



When you think of “swing music” the first thoughts that come to mind may be big-band music from the 1930s-40s, or 1950s rock and roll.  These ideas aren’t wrong since early Swing has its roots in those types of music.  The Swing is a fairly quick and upbeat dance, and so is the music.  The East Coast Swing contains triple steps, so most of the music we use for that dance is bouncy and fun.  Here are some good songs for a triple-time Swing:

·         The Beautiful People – Christina Aguilera (from the movie, Burlesque)

·         HandClap – Fitz and the Tantrums

·         Feel It Still – Portugal. The Man

Single-Time Swing is a variation of the East Coast version which removes the triple-steps.  Because of this, our steps are able to move a little faster, and the music can be sped up as well.  Here are some of my favorites:

·         Candyman – Christina Aguilera

·         Call the Law– Outkast (from the movie, Idlewild)

·         Dear Future Husband – Meghan Trainor

Finally, West Coast Swing has a slightly slower tempo and a bit of a smoother beat.  There are a lot of newly released pop songs which work perfectly as West Coast Swings.  Here are some really nice ones:

·         Feels – Calvin Harris

·         It Ain’t Me – Selena Gomez

·         Attention – Charlie Puth


Bonus - Salsa

While Salsa is technically a Nightclub dance and not American Rhythm, I recognize its popularity and that many of you may want to practice it.  Salsa is a dance with quick footwork.  Traditional Salsa music will have syncopated backgrounds and strong brass sections.  However, if you’re looking for contemporary music, you’ll find that some music that maintains the Latin beats while incorporating a kind of “hip-hop” feel.  Some examples of the Salsa songs of today are:

·         Maria, Maria – Santana

·         Problem – Ariana Grande

·         Despacito (Salsa Version) – Luis Fonsi


Hopefully these song suggestions have given you some insight into how certain music will sound for certain dances.  If you want to find more music you can either ask your instructor or even look online for playlists.  There are tons of resources out there that will help you find some really great songs to dance to.  These were only some suggestions for a few American Rhythm dances, but in my next blog I will go over some song suggestions for American Smooth!


Happy dancing!  ^_^

Performance Tips for Dancers

If you’ve been dancing for a while, you may be getting to that point where you feel ready to get a routine together and perform it on stage.  Performing can be an amazing and exciting experience, but the process can be a bit difficult.  Luckily, you can always rely on your instructor or an experienced peer to help you out with some things like choreography and technique, but there are some other aspects that you can work on yourself.  Below, I’ve put together some pointers to help you prepare for your next show!  Whether this is your first performance or your 100th, these tips should benefit you and also relieve any worries you may have about being on stage.


Practice, Practice, Practice

The first thing you’re going to want to do before you perform is practice a lot.  This sounds like an obvious point, but I’ve heard so many dancers mention that they wished they had more rehearsal time before a show.  To get the most out of your performance, make sure you start rehearsing well in advance.  Most people start their routines a few months before their show date, and practice at least once a week.  Running your routine as many times as you can is the best thing you can do to make sure you don’t forget it, too.  If you’re feeling nervous about being on stage, then making sure that you’ve gotten plenty of practice time is the remedy.  If you’ve done the routine a billion times, there shouldn’t be much need to worry!

Lots of rehearsal time will also ensure that you smooth out any kinks you encounter along the way.  If you find that a move or transition is causing some trouble you can use your time to work on perfecting or modifying it.  Also, make sure that you practice your routine “full-out” (dancing as if you are already on stage) a few times.  This is important to do so that your body gets used to how you will actually be moving on stage.

Overall, remember to be patient with yourself.  If there is a step that you are not getting, or if you feel like the routine is not working out the way you want it to, take a step back and give yourself time to think and breathe.  Everything will work out eventually!


Get a “Mock-Audience”

If you have most of your routine done, you might want to start running it in front of others.  If you’ve never performed before, then this is a good way to see how it feels to have others watching you.  Running your routine in front of others before show time is also a good way to reduce any stage fright you may have. 


Get Feedback

In addition to practicing in front of others, you’re going to want to get some general feedback on your routine.  This can be from your instructor, a fellow student, or a random observer.  Either way, any piece of praise or constructive criticism will be very helpful.  Getting feedback will help you figure out what aspects of your dance you need to work on and you’ll also see what others like best about your dance.  It’s always good to get an outsiders perspective of how you’re doing.

If you don’t have anyone immediately available to give you feedback try recording your dance and showing it to someone at a later time.  You can also view that video yourself to see how you look, and take notes on things to fix.


Lose the Mirrors

Having a mirror to practice your dancing is great because you can actually see what you look like when you move.  However, it is possible to become too dependent on the mirror (especially if you are in a group dance).  Sometimes when people are so used to dancing in front of a mirror, they can get disorientated when they do their routine without it.  If you are accustomed to dancing in one particular direction for so long, it can really throw you off when you finally face a different direction.  A lot of dancers also rely too much on the mirrors when it comes to figuring out spacing.  Once the mirrors are gone, it becomes harder to figure out how close or far away other dancers are to you.  This is why practicing routines away from a mirror is a very good idea.  The performance space definitely will not have mirrors, so it’s best to practice without them as soon as you can.  And speaking of your performance space…


Know Your Stage

If possible, make sure you get familiar with the area that you will be performing in.  You’ll need to know how much space you will actually have on stage so that you can prepare properly.  Getting acquainted with the stage can also help to ease stage fright.  If this is your first time performing, it can be weird dancing outside of your normal practice space, which is why it’s a good idea to get some practice on the actual stage if you are able.  The stage may have a different kind of floor from your studio, so it’s good to get a feel for how you’ll be moving once you’re up there.  If you aren’t able to practice on the stage before your performance, try to obtain as much information about it as you can before show time so that you are as prepared as possible.


Think About Costumes

A great costume can make a great performance.  You will want your costume to match the music and tone of your routine, so make sure to keep that in mind.  Once you figure out what you’ll be wearing, make sure you set aside time to practice your routine while wearing your costume.  This way you will know if you have any trouble with the fabric, or if you are able to move freely or not.



When we watch dancers, we usually watch what their faces are doing.  Performances tend to be more entertaining when the dancers are smiling, so even when you are just rehearsing, remind yourself to smile!

If your routine isn’t happy or upbeat, then obviously you don’t need to worry about smiling.  Still, you will want to make sure that you engage the audience in some way.  Whatever emotion you intend to convey in your dance should be reflected by your facial expressions.  To help you figure out what facial expressions to use for your dance, set aside some time to listen to your music, think about how it makes you feel, and then incorporate that into your dancing.


Just Keep Dancing

People rehearse over and over so they can reduce their chances of making mistakes on stage, but the reality is that no matter how hard you practice, there is always the possibility that you may slip-up.  The good thing is that you don’t need to worry too much about messing up in front of an audience; they are seeing it for the first time, so they don’t know how your routine is supposed to look! 

Many dancers make mistakes during their performances, but most observers don’t notice.  The reason these errors go undetected is because the performers don’t show it in their faces or bodies.  They just keep straight faces or keep smiling if they misstep or forget a move.  They keep on dancing as if nothing went wrong.  If you mess up on stage, try to remember not to laugh, make a face, freeze, or curse yourself because everyone will see it.  Just keep going and play it off like you meant to do it!


Get Some Sleep

There’s nothing worse than feeling exhausted right when you are supposed to perform.  If you are able, try to get a good night’s sleep the night before show time.  I know there are a lot of people who get so excited or nervous before they perform that they can barely sleep.  If you are one of those people, then I would suggest finding a way to take your mind off the dance before bedtime.  Read a book, watch a movie, or do something relaxing to take your mind off of dance.  When you wake up you’ll have plenty of time to think about your routine.


Warm Up

I’ve discussed warming up on this blog before, and it still applies in this context.  Warming up and stretching your body before you dance is important so that you don’t get injured.  This is particularly import if you have a difficult move in your routine, or one that requires a bit of flexibility.  You will also find that a good warm up will reduce some soreness you might end up feeling after your performance.


Have fun!

You know me: I love emphasizing how much fun dance is, so of course I want you all to have fun even in the process of preparing for a performance.  Try not to stress out too much over making mistakes or making sure that your costumes are perfect.  Just go out there and do your best.  If you’ve prepared enough for it, then you should be fantastic!


Happy dancing!  ^_^

National Dance Day!

Happy National Dance Day!


Did you know that this past Saturday, July 29th was National Dance Day in the United States?  It’s a fairly new national holiday that I recently found out about.  It was founded in 2010 by Nigel Lythgoe (yep, the judge and producer of So You Think You Can Dance?), and is a day decided to encouraging all Americans to include more dancing in their lives.  An entire day devoted to dance sounds great to me, so here are some things you can do to celebrate and get the most out of the day!


Go To Class

The purpose of National Dance Day is to get more people to add dance into their lives, so if you’re already a dancer then, CONGRATS!  You’re already a step ahead of millions!


Recruit a Friend

Do you have a friend who has expressed interest in dance, but hasn’t actually tried it yet?  Then you can definitely use this day as an excuse to get them moving!  If you’re a dancer, you already know how much fun it is, so it shouldn’t be too hard to convince them.  Invite them to a class, take them to a party where you know there will be dancing, or even show them some steps you know!


Go Out and Dance

Going out for a night a dancing is another great way to celebrate the day.  If you’re a well-versed social dancer then this weekend would be a good time for you to show off your moves.  Even if you only know a few steps, you should still get out on the dance floor!


Learn a Dance

Every year, videos are posted on YouTube by the holiday’s organizers (Dizzy Feet Foundation) from which dancers can learn a choreographed routine.  The routine is usually a fun and high energy hip-hop dance.  If you’re feeling up to the challenge, you can learn the dance here!

Since all choreography doesn’t work for everyone (and National Dance Day should be for everyone), the organizers posted an adaptable version of the dance, as well.  The dancer in the video goes through the moves and explains how she makes the choreography work for her.  You can check out that video here. Some people also like to post videos of themselves doing the choreography or their own variations, so if you’re feeling super ambitious you can also submit yours to YouTube!

Of course, if you’re not feeling like learning this choreography, you can still challenge yourself to learn a new ballroom step (or a something from your favorite style).  Ask your instructor to show you some cool new moves!



You could invite a few friends over for a small dance party, or plan a get-together with your fellow dance enthusiasts.  If you don’t feel like organizing your own, you can find a party to go to. 

Don’t know of any parties happening? Well you’re in luck, because Celebrity Dance Studio is hosting a party next Friday, August 11th at 7pm.  There will be music, dancing & food! Check out our website for more information on upcoming parties and events!


Have a Happy Dance Day!  ^_^

Dancer Self Care

Whenever someone brought up the term “self-care” I used to think about going to the spa, drinking a cup of tea, or taking a nap.  While I love all of those things and I think those are awesome forms of self-care, I want to emphasize some of the smaller things everyone can do to make sure they are happy and healthy – especially as it pertains to dancers!  Even though these may seem like minor things, they are still just as important.  You may not always have time to nap or go to a spa every day, but you can still make sure you are at least doing something to keep yourself sharp.  Below is a list of some activities and mindsets dancers should keep in mind in order to keep their minds and bodies healthy:


Stay Hydrated

First of all, make sure you are drinking water every day.  Not only should you be drinking it during practice, but outside of practice, as well.  If you notice that your muscles start to cramp up or if you are getting slight headaches during or after your lesson, you may not be getting enough water.  If you need to, carry around a water bottle with you as much as you can so that you remember to drink up!


Don’t Forget to Eat

Everybody is different, so I can’t tell you exactly what to eat to stay healthy, but I will tell you that you must eat something before you dance.  Of course you don’t want to have a huge meal before practice time, but if you dance on a completely empty stomach, your body will not be happy.  Food is fuel for your body, and you burn quite a bit of fuel when you dance, so you have to make sure you have enough to keep you going.  You can even bring some snacks with you to your class or lesson so you can recharge during your down-time.

Bonus: Snacking on fruits and vegetables is a good way to get energy AND to stay hydrated, too!


Take Breaks

As dancers we may have a tendency to want to push ourselves.  This is a good mindset to have, but it becomes a problem when we push ourselves to exhaustion.  Remember to take a minute and breathe when you get tired.  For those of you who spend more than a couple hours a week dancing, this is especially important for you.  When you feel out of breath, are you taking a few minutes to rest?  When your feet start to hurt, do you take the time to sit down for a while?  If your body hurts, do you acknowledge it and step away from the dance floor?  If you work up a sweat, do you make sure you cool down?  If you answered “no” to most of these questions, then you definitely need more breaks. 

Bonus: If you haven’t taken a vacation in a while, consider it.  Even just a few days away from your regular routine, might do you some good!

Extra bonus: If any part of your body becomes extremely painful while dancing, don’t ignore it!  Check in with a doctor or professional.


Stay Warm

I don’t know a dancer alive who can perform well if their bodies are cold.  If you go to practice knowing that you are going to be doing some high-intensity movements, you may want to warm up a bit first.  A nice warm-up can prevent injuries.  You know what work best for your own body, so just make sure you are doing whatever you need to do to feel ready to dance, whether it is a few stretches, a quick walk, or a few jumping jacks.  Also, if you end up taking a break during your practice time, try to keep your muscles warm.  Bring along a jacket or sweater in case your studio keeps the AC high (most dance studios like keeping the temperature very cool).


Track Your Progress

If you are taking your dancing seriously or are a competitive dancer, it is a really good idea to keep track of your progress.  It’s a great way to look at what you’ve accomplished so far and to review things that you want to improve.  Many dancers keep a journal so they can easily review notes.  Other dancers make a habit of video recording themselves and reviewing it later.  If you don’t like either of those methods, taking mental notes can be good, too.  You can also ask your peers and instructors to give you some personal feedback.  Even if you are just a social dancer, it’s fun to take note of how far you’ve come with your dancing over time!


Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself

Even though it’s good to set goals and work hard to achieve them, make sure you aren’t stretching yourself too thin.  Recognize what you can realistically achieve and don’t try to do something just because everyone else is doing it.  One of the worst things you can do is compare yourself to others.  Everyone has a different pace and operates at different levels, so you can’t judge yourself based on what someone else has done.  Set your goals based on what you know will work best for you and your dance journey.  Even if you don’t reach a goal right away or perfect a step on the first try, don’t beat yourself up about it.  You can always keep trying!


Remember That You Are Awesome!

Overall, dancing should be fun!  Even if you are the competitive type, it’s important that you are still enjoying yourself.  If you do find yourself thinking negatively or being too hard on yourself, just think about the progress you’ve already made.  Some people may not really be into the idea of “positive affirmations”, but reminding yourself daily of how awesome you are can actually be a great mood booster and can motivate you even further.

Happy dancing!  ^_^

Dancing Shoes 101

In my previous post, I discussed what you needed to know for your first dance lesson.  I mentioned that it wouldn’t be necessary to go out and buy a pair of dance shoes for your first lesson.  But, what if you’ve continued dancing for a while now, decided that you really love it, and are ready to buy a real pair dance shoes?  You may be wondering where to start...  Well, I’m here to tell you to wonder no more because I’ve got some pretty essential tips for you! 


Find the perfect fit

            The most important thing is to make sure you feel comfortable in you dance shoes.  They should fit like a glove; nice and snug.  You wouldn’t want your shoe to go flying off in the middle of practice or a performance would you?  (I have…  It’s not fun…) However, you also don’t want your shoe to be so tight that you lose all feeling in your toes.  Dancing might be hard on your feet sometimes, but you don’t need to add any unnecessary pressure. 

Most shoe brands will fit your feet just fine as long as you go with your regular street shoe size, but it may vary across vendors and personal preferences.  Some dancers may even go down a half or full size from their regular shoe size.  The best way to know for sure is to try on a pair before you buy them.  If you can find a store or dance studio to go in and try on some shoes, then please do so!   It’s the best way to find out which size and brand works best for you.  A professional will also be able to help you out in person.  If you are shopping for shoes online, just take special care with the details.  Check the sizing charts that the website provides to see if there are any conversions (some brands run small).


Suede is the way to go

            Probably the second most important thing is make sure that your dance shoes have suede soles.  The suede on the bottom of the shoe makes it easier for you to glide across the floor.  Regular shoes may have a tendency to stick to the floor and others may be too slippery, so suede is the solution which will make you move with ease and stability.


Dealing with heels

            The heel discussion applies more to ladies, since men’s shoes typically don’t have much of a heel (sorry guys).  Women’s heels typically range from 1 to 3 inches.  If you are not yet comfortable dancing in heels, I would recommend starting with a 1 inch heel.  A beginner will usually start off with no higher than a 2 inch heel, and move up in height as they get more comfortable with their dancing (you can also use arch supports to help with any discomfort).


Know your style

            While shopping around you will notice three main types of ballroom shoes – Standard, Latin, and practice. 

Women’s standard shoes look like closed-toe pumps.  These shoes are best for doing smooth/standard dances (Foxtrot, Tango, Waltz, etc.).  If you know that you will mostly be doing smooth/standard or if you prefer a closed-toe shoe, then a standard shoe will be good for you.  A men’s standard shoe will look similar to an oxford-style, regular dress shoe.  Men: if you only ever purchase one type of dance shoe, it should be standard!

A women’s Latin shoe will resemble an open-toed sandal.  The heel will vary from 1.5 to 3 inches.  If you know that you will spend most of your time doing Latin/rhythm dances (Rumba, Cha-Cha, etc.) then this is the shoe for you.  Ladies: if you only ever buy one type of dance shoe (and are fine with open-toes), make it Latin!  Men’s Latin shoes have slightly taller heel (called a Cuban heel) than the standard men’s shoes (most men only ever wear their Latin shoes for competitions, so unless you’re preparing for one, stick with a standard shoe).

Finally, practice shoes are a type that you might frequently see while browsing for dance shoes.  A women’s practice shoe looks similar to a men’s standard shoe, but with a slightly higher heel.  These types of shoes are optional to own.  Most dancers only have them to give themselves a break from their high heels or so they don’t wear down their regular dance shoes.


Break in your shoes

              It’s important to break in your shoes so that you get used to comfortably moving in them.  As I mentioned before, when you first get your shoes, they should be fairly tight.  They may feel really snug at first, but as you continue to practice with them, the fit should loosen up a bit (which is why it’s best to have a tight fit in the first place).  The best way to break in your shoes is to use them every time you come to practice.  You can also walk around in them for a bit if you’re not in practice.  If you have new shoes that you are going to be using for an upcoming performance, make sure you start breaking those in at least a few days before show time (note: if you have been trying to break in your new shoes for more than a 3-5 days and they still feel extremely uncomfortable, you may need a bigger size).


Love your shoes

            Last but not least, you want to make sure that your shoes are properly taken care of.  The best way to keep them clean is to only wear them out on the dance floor.  If you wear them outside, the suede bottoms could get ruined, dirty, and sticky.  If you end up wearing down your soles over time, you will need to brush the bottoms of your shoes with a wire dance shoe brush so that the suede maintains its texture.  If you don’t already own a wire brush, don’t worry because your studio and/or instructor will definitely have one for you to use.

            Also make sure that you air out your shoes every once in a while! J

Coming In For Your First Dance Lesson? Here's What You Need To Know!

So you’ve officially signed up for your first dance lesson…That’s so awesome! You’re going to have a great time, but you probably have a few questions. You may be wondering what to expect or what to bring with you. No worries! Many first-time students ask us questions about their first lesson, so luckily we’ve compiled a list of some of our most common questions and concerns you may have about your first dance lesson!

#1. “I don’t have any dance shoes or ‘dance clothes’. Should I go out and get some?”

Dance shoes are not necessary for your first lesson, so there’s no need to go out and buy some right away. If you decide to start taking lessons regularly, then we encourage buying a good pair of dance shoes. For your very first lesson, you are free to wear almost any type of shoe you’d like! The only kinds of shoes we wouldn’t recommend would be flip-flops, extra high heels, or gyms shoes that stick to the floor a lot. Besides those, any kind of shoe will be perfect to dance in!

As far as “dance clothes” go - you can just come in whatever feels comfortable for you, whether it be jeans or a dress. Each person is different!

#2. “What if I’ve never danced before?”

If you’ve never danced before that’s not a problem! You have to start from somewhere right? It’s also never too late to get started! Your instructor will work with you based on your current skill level, so you don’t need to have any previous dance knowledge before coming in. Whether you’ve got two left feet or three right feet, we’ve got your back. You’ll be dancing smoothly in no time!

#3. “How hard will I be dancing? Should I bring a water bottle?”

The steps you learn will not be too intense. However, depending on how much you are used to moving on your feet, you may feel like you’ve gotten a pretty fair workout by the end of the lesson. Think of how much you might normally dance at a social event; that amount of activity will probably be similar to the lesson!

As a dance studio, we always encourage good hydration for our students, so we do have water available. It’s not required for you to bring your own water bottle, but you can certainly bring one for your convenience!

#4. “I’m pretty nervous about my lesson. Will the other students judge me while I dance?”

Well it’s a good thing you didn’t sign up for a dance audition! A lot of people worry that others will judge them and criticize their dancing. The truth is that most of the other people in the room are too focused on their own dancing to notice what anyone else is up to. Everyone in the studio is there for the same reason – to learn to dance! So, if you’re feeling nervous about dancing in front of others, don’t worry about it because they are here to learn just like you! The dance floor is a 100% judgement-free zone!

If you’re still feeling a bit apprehensive, don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to some of the other students and teachers. Everyone is super friendly and will make you feel more comfortable in no time!

#5. “Can I bring a partner to dance with me?”

Of course! If you have someone who you regularly want to dance with, bring them along and you can start your dance journey together!

#6. “What kind of dances will I learn?”

Your instructor will teach you some of the most popular social dances that are done at many weddings, parties, and other social gatherings. They will likely show you figures from Rumba, Hustle, or  

even Swing! If you have a particular dance in mind that you would like to learn, let your instructor know and they can teach you.

#7. “If I really enjoyed my first lesson, how soon can I come back for more?”

Whenever you decide to come back is completely up to you! Most students take classes on a weekly basis, just to keep their skills consistent, but there are no set rules. You can come back as often as you’d like!

I hope this list helped to answer some of the questions you may have been wondering about. Hopefully you’re feeling a little more at ease! And always remember the most important thing for your first lesson: HAVE FUN!

Dancing with the Stars Season 23

Wouldn’t you know it, it’s that time already – Dancing with the Stars returns for season 23!  I always look forward to the Fall season since it’s my favorite time of year.  Few things beat out curling up on the couch with a blanket, some hot apple cider and DWTS!  And the Halloween episode is something I eagerly await each year, with such spooky, fun and creative ideas behind each dance, it holds a special place in my heart!  Though it may be difficult to top last season with the quality of dance towards the end, I’m excited to see how each celebrity does!

The official cast announcement was made this past Tuesday on Good Morning America, with several of our favorite pros pairing up with some big celebrities!  Here are the 13 couples:

16-year-old Olympic Medalist Laurie Hernandez is with Valentin Chmerkovskiy
Award winning actress and author Marilu Henner is with Derek Hough
Vocal activist and talk show host Amber Rose is with Maksim Chmerkovskiy
12 time Olympic Medalist and world record holder Ryan Lochte is with Cheryl Burke
Rap and Pop music icon Robert Van Winkle “Vanilla Ice” is with Witney Carson
Detroit Lions Wide Receiver Calvin Johnson Jr. is with Lindsay Arnold
Veteran and former governor of Texas Rick Perry is with Emma Slater
Brady Bunch alum (Marcia) Maureen McCormick is with Artem Chigvintsev
R&B and Pop music star Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds is with Allison Holker
T.V., film and voice actor Jake T. Austin is with Jenna Johnson
IndyCar race driver James Hinchcliffe is with Sharna Burgess
Executive producer and star of ‘Little Women’ TV Series Terra Jolé is with Sasha Farber
Country music artist Jana Kramer is with Gleb Savchenko

Good ol’ Tom Bergeron will be hosting again alongside Erin Andrews.  Also, Carrie Ann, Bruno and Len are back in the saddle at the judges’ table.  Having a great line-up of such wonderful celebrities and pro dancers, I think this season will be another big hit!

With their dedication and physical training, I have a feeling the Olympic athletes will be ones to keep an eye on.  I also have a hunch that Amber, Kenneth and Jana could be harboring some great talent, but you never know!  What are your thoughts on the cast?  And who do you think might take the dance floor by storm?  Don’t forget to tune in for the season premiere, which will air on Monday September 12th at 7pm CT.  Until then, happy dancing!

Proper Positioning: Dance Floor Alignments

Here is an article covering alignments that I have been working on.  Hopefully it answers common questions and gives the basic premise of using alignments in dance!  Let me know what you think, and I hope you enjoy! 

Also, keep an eye out for my next post – Dancing with the Stars is back for Season 23 and I’ll be announcing the full cast list!

Happy Dancing!


Proper Positioning:  Dance Floor Alignments

In every dance, there are all sorts of different steps and patterns to do.  For travelling dances in particular, couples move around the floor in a counter-clockwise motion while performing those steps.  This, as you may know, is called Line of Dance, and helps to keep folks from crashing into each other.  However, there is an important item to consider while you dance your figures around the floor – alignment.

Alignment is defined as the positions of both the body and feet in relation to the dance floor.  It is there to make the dance steps easier and help with floorcraft, since you know what direction you should start and end each pattern.  Additionally, there are several terms that help us to pinpoint exactly how a figure should be danced by taking alignment into account.  While a lot of these terms seem like common sense and may happen naturally, knowing your alignments can generate a big difference.

The first two terms we will look at are Facing and Backing.  Just like they sound, they define which way the dancer is looking.  Facing just means that you are looking in the direction you travel while Backing means you are looking in the opposite direction that you are moving.  Now, since we already know Line of Dance, or LOD for short, takes us counterclockwise, we know that we will always have the wall to one side and the center of the dance floor on the other.  Leads will commonly start Facing LOD, which has the wall on the right side and center of the floor on the left.  Follows typically start Backing LOD, putting the wall on their left side with the center of the floor to their right.

The second set of terms that define alignment are Wall, Center and Diagonal.  These three words further describe how we move by giving direction either towards the wall, towards the center or diagonally between them and LOD.  We can move perpendicular to LOD, heading either straight to the wall or straight to the center.  We can also move on a diagonal between the wall and LOD, which we call Diagonal Wall, or DW for short.  Just like DW, we can move diagonally between the center and LOD, called Diagonal Center, aka DC.

The next terms to discuss are Along and Against.  Taking what we now know about alignments, as dancers we execute each step in two main ways in relation to LOD – moving with the flow and travelling Along LOD, or swimming upstream opposing the flow and moving Against LOD.  Along and Against further define our alignments as we can travel in a total of 8 different directions.  We can head directly Along LOD, directly Against LOD, directly to the Wall and directly towards the Center.  We can also travel DW Along LOD, DW Against LOD, DC Along LOD and DC Against LOD.

Again, some of these alignments and terms may seem like common sense, but they can be confusing.  A tool that helped me to remember everything is matching alignments up to a compass.  Just like the cardinal directions of North, South, East and West, we define our movements accordingly.  Heading forward in LOD is North, while moving against LOD is South.  Towards the wall is East and towards the center is West.  North-East would be facing Diagonal Wall, and South-East is facing Diagonal Wall against LOD.  Likewise, facing North-West is Diagonal Center, and South-West is facing Diagonal Wall against LOD.  Keeping the rule of thumb that LOD is always North, it is much easier to find your alignments.

The charts below give a detailed overview on alignments and how to apply them on the dance floor:

The final term we’ll go over is Pointing.  This is a tricky situation where your feet are in a different alignment than your body.  This is most commonly used in all sorts of different figures, but you will typically see it happening in rotating movements, like a Natural or a Reverse Turn.  Pointing generally has your feet prepping for the next alignment while your body is still facing the current alignment you are on.  As an example, you can have your feet Pointing DW while your body is still facing Wall.  With Pointing, you will end up turning to the direction your feet are with your next step, putting you back into a regular alignment.

Now that you know your alignments you can put them to good use!  There are always several choices that you can make on the dance floor for what moves you decide to do next.  Utilizing alignments can help you to make better choices and have smooth transitions between them.  Knowing how one move ends, another begins and in which direction you travel will not only improve the step itself, but will enhance your understanding of floorcraft, since you are able to identify where other dancers may move about the floor in relation to you and your partner.

Keep in mind, focusing on alignments is an advanced way of thinking.  Alignments may not be used right off the bat if you are just learning how to dance.  Of course, there are other important aspects to focus on first, like footwork and timing.  However, as you progress further and further into dance, the significance of alignments will become more and more apparent.  Some moves will begin to make more sense and others will feel easy as you are able to adjust your alignments accordingly.

Dance Styles: American vs. International

As a viewing public, we have gotten used to seeing shows like Dancing with the Stars and have heard of all sorts of different types of dances.  From Waltz to Mambo and Paso Doble to East Coast Swing, we have been graced with a delightful view of the ballroom world.  Seldom do we wonder where the dances come from, why they look the way they do, or what differences (subtle and otherwise) there may be between them.

Because of this, most people think that there is only one way to do each dance – that a Rumba is just a Rumba.  Quite to the contrary, there are two major classifications of traditional ballroom that make up the dancing world – American and International.  There are several notable differences between the styles and what dances they contain, so let’s buckle in and get started.

First up is American Style.  This is the typical style you will see going out for a night of dancing on the town.  American style has two genres of dance within itself – Smooth and Rhythm.  Smooth consists of Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango, and Viennese Waltz, while Rhythm has Cha-Cha, Rumba, East Coast Swing, Mambo and Bolero.

The style as a whole derived from International and was developed in the United States (go figure).  American style is more relaxed, letting movements have a great deal of freedom (again, go figure).  This makes the style excellent for social dancing.  The steps are designed to be done in whatever order you choose and with generous leeway in regards to alignments.  Dancers are allowed to break frame in Smooth, making for very grand expressions and arm styling as they move around the floor.  Also, in Rhythm, Cuban motion in the hips is achieved by stepping on a bent leg and flexing the knee.

Being so open to the creativity and individuality of dancers is what has made the American style so popular.  This has also allowed for several variations of the same step to flourish.  Artistic license, attitude and personal style shine through while dancing American.  However, despite all of the freedoms, the following remains constant – each dance is started with the left foot for the lead and the right foot for the follow.

On the other end of the spectrum is International.  Like American, International contains two genres – Standard and Latin.  Standard equates to American’s Smooth, containing Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, and Viennese Waltz.  Standard also brings in the addition of the fast and lively Quickstep.  Latin is similar to American’s Rhythm, with Rumba and Cha-Cha included.  However, International has Jive, Samba and Paso Doble replacing East Coast Swing, Mambo and Bolero.

International style has been around longer than American, and is focused more on discipline.  Dance steps have particular alignments, and there is a set list of moves that you can do both before and after a step.  This way it gives a set of rules and clearly defined boundaries.  The figures in each dance are like pieces of a chain with the stipulation that only certain pieces can connect.  It is up to us as the dancer to learn each figure and know what we can do to chain the movements all together.

One of the most noticeable aspects of Standard is that the dancers are not allowed to break frame.  All of the patterns must be done in hold, forcing couples to rely on foot placement, leg work and partnership to move around the floor.  For Latin, dancers still have hip action, but it is achieved in a different way.  Rather than stepping on a bent leg like American’s Rhythm, Latin maintains a straight leg, causing a sharp and immediate hip movement.  Lastly, International style changes up which foot the leads and follows will start the dance with.  Some dances have the lead start with their left, others start with their right.  The same goes for the follows.

Between American and International, there are a lot of the same movements for each dance.  Though the steps may be called something different and have some minor changes to technique and execution, they still share the basic fundamental principles.  The differences between each style bring a unique perspective and flavorful personality to the ballroom.  I recommend trying out both!

Of course there are other dance styles out there, like Nightclub and Vintage, which contain some of our other favorite dances that were not mentioned above.  American and International are just the two most frequent styles you’ll see, especially at competitions.  I’ll dive into the other styles another day, but hopefully this was informative and helpful in understanding the main differences between the American and International styles.

Happy Dancing!

Steps in Time: A History of Dance!

Time moves along and we keep dancing to the rhythm of life.  Things change every day, and that definitely includes dancing!  It has always fascinated me to look back in history and see how dance has evolved over the centuries.  In order to share this love of dance and history, I have created a new article – Steps in Time!

Each ‘Steps in Time’ post will be a monthly article where I pick a time period and discuss what dancing looked like back then.  I will cover everything from styles of dance, steps and etiquette for each era.  As there is a lot (and I mean A LOT) of information for each time period, I will limit it to a brief overview with general notes on the most common and popular dances.

So, to get the ball rolling, I have decided to start all the way back to the Middle Ages.  This gives us the first real look at organized dancing for competition and entertainment’s sake rather than as part of a ceremony or for religious contexts.  Dancing way back then was quite the topic of morality, and many people (especially religious folks) viewed dancing as heathenistic, inappropriate and lewd.  However, over time, more and more people came to find dancing enjoyable, and by the 12th century, dancing had become quite popular.   Dances became customary for holiday festivities, celebrations, and when royalty or nobility were in town.

Now, the Middle Ages cover a long stretch of time, so suffice to say a few common forms of dance became popular and were danced for several centuries before things began to change in the early Renaissance.  There were three main styles of dancing – circle, line and partner.  In addition to those styles, there were two main types of dance – court and country.  First, we’ll cover the styles of dance.

Circle dances are one of the oldest and most common dances in history.  Just like it suggests, people would form a circle, all facing inward or outward, and move in unison to the beat, all performing the same steps.  The steps were combinations of rudimentary chasses, taps, turns, claps and stomps.  Typically the dancers would sing while they dance, usually to a simple tune and easy lyrics.  As time went on, instruments like a drum and horn were added in place of the singing.  The most popular circle dances were the Carol, Estampie, and Maypole dances.

Much like the line dances of today, medieval line dancing had the dancers set up in rows with everybody facing the same direction and doing the same steps.  It took the same steps of circle dances and just applied it to multiple directions.  Line dances allowed for the steps to not only move side to side, but gave them the freedom to move around forward, backward and diagonally without interfering with the shape of the dance.  Line dances also included kicks, spins, leaps and toe steps to their movements.  Again, dancers would either sing or instruments would be used to keep time.  Favorite line dances were the Prince William, Morris Dance, and La Spagna.

Partner dancing was considered a bit more scandalous in its early stages due to the “intimate” nature of a man and woman touching hands.  However, the style persevered and gained popularity amongst the lower class and eventually made its way into the courts of nobles.  Partner dancing had the dancers form couples, and each couple did the same steps.  Partners were not in dance frame, but would instead use their hands and body positions to dance with, apart from, and around their partner.  Kicks, turns, jumps, chasses, taps and toe steps made up the majority partner dancing.  Common partner dances of the times were the Basse Dance, Black Nag, and Rufty Tufty.

Some dances combined elements of two styles into one, having a circle or line dance with partners like the Estampie and La Spagna respectively.  These changes and combinations continued to keep the dances interesting and fun, eventually solidifying partner dancing as an acceptable and commonplace practice.  Next, it’s on to the types of dances – court and country!

Both court and country types utilize all three styles of dance.  They incorporated circle, line and partner dancing as part of their steps and performance, but it is the purpose and attitude of the dance that differentiates between the two.

Court dances were done to really show off your talent and skill. Like the name implies, these dances were typically performed at court by nobles.  As these types of dancing were meant to impress, they were definitely done when people of power were in the area.  If your dancing caught the attention of somebody with influence, you could very well be invited to dance with them, which was quite the honor!  The higher you could kick, the faster you could spin, the lower you could bend, the more impressed spectators would be.  It was all about confidence, showmanship and proving who the best dancer was.  There were also dances used as processionals – like the Pavan and Black Alman – that were simple, stately, walk-like dances.  They were designed for entering the room elegantly while giving the audience a chance to see who was dancing.

Country dances are on the opposite end of the spectrum, being akin to the folk dancing done today.  Different cultures and music helped to determine the style and steps of the dance, but most were very lively and upbeat with lots of spinning and clapping.  These were the dances that were done mostly by the common folk.  The attitude was casual and fun, not haughty or stuffy like court dancing.  Country dances were done for entertainment and as social functions for the gentry.  They were energetic and allowed for variations, sometimes getting quite wild.  Some even made for silly sport, like the Egg Dance, in which eggs would be spread on the ground and dancers would have to dance between them, trying to crush as few eggs as possible.  Sounds like an egg-celent challenge!

Despite the differences between the styles and types of dance, etiquette remained the same across the board.  It was proper that the men always asked the lady to dance, never the opposite.  When asking, the gentleman would show deference to the lady if she was of higher rank or station.  Otherwise, a small nod would be made to acknowledge the lady.  The lady could not refuse the gentleman if he was of higher rank than she, but if she had the higher title, she could refuse.  The man would offer his hand palm-down to the lady, and if she accepted, she would place her hand on top of his and he would escort her to their place to dance.  As the dance begins, both partners give a small bow or curtsy to the other.  The same happens as the dance comes to an end, and the fellow always escorts the lady back out of the dance area.

As I mentioned, this is just a brief overview of Medieval dance, with VERY brief highlights.  I encourage you to explore the dances I have mentioned above – you’ll find some pretty neat things and you can learn all about the origins of each dance.  Check into your cultural background, too!  You may find some traditional dances passed down through your nationality!  It is really interesting and definitely worthwhile to discover what your ancestors danced to!

What a long way dancing has come from these humble beginnings!  It boggles my mind to see how different dance has become throughout the ages, but it boggles my mind even more to see that there are still so many similar steps!  We use chasses all the time in Cha-Cha; we kick in Jive; we use toe steps for things like rise and fall in Waltz… it is all simply awesome to see the roots of dance still alive today!

Well, that’s it for this first ‘Steps in Time’ post!  Be sure to join in each month as I continue to travel through the ages and trace the evolution of dance!  The time period I’ll cover next month is the Renaissance, so don’t miss out!

Happy Dancing!

Socializing Steps: Social Dancing Do's & Don'ts

As dancing’s popularity continues to grow, more and more people are making their way onto the social dance scene.  Many clubs and ballrooms offer open dancing throughout the week, creating a lot of chances for you to test out your moves in a fun atmosphere!  And, besides, this is exactly what you are taking those lessons for!


So there you are – you have learned all of these dances, techniques and figures in your studio…why not put them to good use and utilize them where it counts?  Time to go out dancing!  A night of dancing on the town is not only a fun way to do something you enjoy, but a great way to meet people and see how well you adapt to different partners!


Now, social settings can be intimidating no matter who you are, so I have compiled a list of tips and tricks to help ensure you get the most out of your social dancing experience!  Here are some Do’s and Don’ts to keep things smooth!



·         escort your partner on AND off the floor – it is the courteous thing to do!

·         dance to the whole song – it lets your partner know you value their time!

·         remember your manners – please and thank you go a long way!

·         keep conversation light – don’t get into a discussion on the meaning of life, just chat!

·         stay hydrated – be sure to drink something between dances and pace yourself!

·         ask people you don’t know to dance – you might make a friend or two!

·         use appropriate frame and respect personal space – think of the golden rule!

·         follow line of dance when traveling around the floor – always counter-clockwise!

·         pay attention to other dancers on the floor – floorcraft helps avoid accidents!

·         stay in your lane – faster dancers to the outside of the floor, slower towards the center!

·         keep dancing – even through the mistakes!

·         be yourself – you are the only you out there, so remember your worth!

·         thank your partner when you are finished – it makes your partner feel appreciated!



·         turn down a first dance with somebody – it takes courage to ask somebody to dance, so give them the benefit of the doubt and dance with them – you won’t know how they are until you try!

·         stare – please remember to blink!

·         judge – everybody has different ability levels!

·         be offended if somebody turns you down – it’s nothing personal, and people just need a break sometimes!

·         give up on what you know – be confident and try out those moves!

·         forget to smile – it makes everything feel more comfortable!


These are just a few things to keep in mind to make sure you have a positive and memorable impact on the people you dance with.  As you go to more and more social dance events, things will become clearer and clearer, and you will become even more confident in yourself.  All it takes is practice and time!


I also recommend asking your dance instructor or other students at your studio about what makes a great social dancer.  Everybody has a different viewpoint and can offer advice on things you may not have thought on.  Those are the basics, so now all you need to do is get out there and give them a whirl!  Don’t be afraid and don’t forget to enjoy yourself!


Happy Dancing!

Dancing with the Stars Season 22 - Week Finale

This season has just blown by! Seems like it was just last week that we were getting our first glimpses of the competitors out on the dance floor for week one!  There were a lot of awesome performances throughout the season, and it is hard to believe we only have three couples left!  The semifinals left us with Nyle & Peta, Paige and Mark, and Ginger & Valentin, making it a tough final vote for America.

As the season comes to a close, it is time to watch the final numbers and see who takes home the mirror-ball trophy!  Let’s start with a recap of the dances the competitors did on Monday night!  The first performances of the night were previous dances the competitors had done before but received low scores on.  It is their chance to “redeem” themselves and perform with all of the techniques they have learned along the way.

Ginger & Valentin – Redemption Dance – Contemporary to “Adventure of a Lifetime” by Coldplay
Carrie – 9Len – 10Bruno – 9 for a total of 28

Definitely a grand improvement from the week 3 performance at a contemporary dance!  The movements were smooth and connected, bringing several different stylizations together with nice transitions.  Ginger appears to have applied the lessons she has learned over the past 9 weeks with great success!  The lifts were fantastic, and the choreography really fit the mood of the music.  Nice character work and expressions, too.  At some points Ginger seemed a bit tense and could have eased off on her power, but it was all very well done!  Len loved seeing the improvement and fluidity of the steps.  Bruno felt Ginger really blossomed, and Carrie said she had nice core strength.

Nyle & Peta – Redemption Dance – Quickstep to “S.O.B.” by Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
Carrie – 9Len – 9Bruno – 9 for a total of 27

Taking another shot at his week 6 style of dance, Nyle really picked up for this Quickstep!  There were difficult steps throughout the routine but Nyle handled them well!  His foot placement was great, and his hold in frame was superb!  He started off crisp and precise, lost a bit of control in one spot, but got right back to it.  Nyle can really move – his talent for dance is undeniable!  Bruno noted a slip in sharpness on one corner, however, thought everything was fabulous.  Carrie said Nyle had great form, and Len felt it was a little hectic but told Nyle he is “one heck of a dancer!”

Paige & Mark – Redemption Dance – Salsa to “Fireball” by Pitbull
Carrie – 10Len – 9Bruno – 10 for a total of 29

Bringing back Salsa from week 2, Paige knocked it out of the park!  Her footwork was so clean and sharp, and her energy was phenomenal!  Paige made such an improvement on her Salsa, bringing her expressions and choreography to life with drive!  She made the dance all her own, letting her stage presence fill the floor with a burning attitude.  And who can resist such a catchy song??  Carrie applauded her improvements and gave her an A+ on the performance.  Len thought it was fantastic, but wanted more hips from Paige.  Bruno enjoyed her energy and said her footwork out-danced her partner!

After all three of our couples properly redeemed their toughest dances, it was on to the all-important freestyle.  Freestyle dancing is always a great way to test dancers, as it really forces them to be strong and confident enough in themselves to dance individually.  There are a ton of different movements that can be done, so it all comes down to technique and execution.  It is necessary to look at the dancer’s core body movements and expression through that motion to be able to judge each performance against the other.

Ginger & Valentin – Freestyle to “Orange Colored Sky” by Nat King Cole
Carrie – 10Len – 10Bruno – 10 for a total of 30

Ginger really turned up her dancing for this number!  Ginger is great at adapting to different dance styles and bringing out the characters in them.  Drawing on the sophisticated side of classic style Hollywood, she moved with elegance on the floor!  Ginger’s hold in frame was wonderful, and her footwork was smooth.  Her expressions were lovely and she had clean transitions between movements.  The routine was well-polished, and I loved those extra details!  Len lauded her versatility as a dancer, and Bruno simply adored the performance.  Carrie told Ginger her dancing was classy, mature and beautiful!

Nyle & Peta – Freestyle to “The Sound of Silence” by Disturbed
Carrie – 10Len – 10Bruno – 10 for a total of 30

This was a dance for Dancing with the Stars history!  Nyle was on top of everything – from the expressions and transitions to the body movements and footwork, it was exceptional!  What separates Nyle from the rest of the competition is his constant vibrant energy that he pours into each step.  He has a crisp and clear execution, and he always manages to make the audience get into the dance, not just watch it.  I think his modeling background may have helped with his dancing because he is used to taking on a persona or get a message across just with body language.  Having that kind of ability parallels so well with dancing because each song and style of dance tells its own story.  Bruno was so moved by the performance it gave him chills, and he called it perfection at every level.  Carrie felt that it was the best dance she has ever seen in all 22 seasons of the show, saying Nyle can change the world through his dancing.  Len said the performance was one that would please everybody, and that Nyle has truly a very special talent.

Paige & Mark – Freestyle to “Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz
Carrie – 10Len – 10Bruno – 10 for a total of 30

Last to perform, Paige closed the season’s dances out with a phenomenal number!  The piece was so emotional – Paige was able to make the audience feel the dance through her expressions and flawless execution.  Each motion was right in time and she moved from step to step with grace and charm.  Seeing such a switch from Paige’s regular career of fighting to how she dances in the ballroom makes it apparent that she has an incredible talent and unique adaptability.  She was able to captivate the audience with her seemingly effortless footwork and fluid control, bringing the house to tears.  Carrie was delighted in how moving the performance was and said Paige showed us how dance feels.  Len thought it was sublime and fantastic, and Bruno exclaimed it was a triumph that brought him to tears.

With the last dance of the evening finished, it came down to America’s vote to determine the winner.  Of course, to give the nation time to vote and tally the votes up, we had to wait until Tuesday night to find out the winner.  Adds a bit of suspense to the show!  I think that all three have made incredible progress, but I feel that Nyle and Paige outshine Ginger.  My vote landed with Nyle, but it was a tough choice between him and Paige.  Ginger has grown quite a bit, and by no means is she a bad dancer.  Just, in my opinion, when it boils down to it, Nyle and Paige could take command of the floor and had better stage presence than Ginger.

In case you haven’t heard here are the final results.  In third place was Ginger & Valentin, and in second place was Paige & Mark, leaving Nyle & Peta to take home that splendid mirror-ball trophy as this season’s champs!  I for one am very pleased with the way the results went!

Now that this season is over, it will be hard to wait for the next one!  This season had so many memorable moments, wonderful performances and outstanding contestants that it will be tough to top!  What were some of your favorite dances of the season?  And were you happy with the way it all turned out?  For now, I guess I’ll have to find something else to fill my Monday nights.  Here’s looking forward to season 23!

Happy Dancing!

Dancing with the Stars Season 22 Week 9

The semifinals hit hard this week with another double elimination on the line!  Each couple had to learn two dances, one of which was a style they have not danced before, and the other was an exciting trio dance!  The first half of the episode brought out the trios, where each couple had another pro join in on the number, followed by the regular partner dances for the second half of the evening.

The tension is high, the competition is fierce and the mirror ball is being polished… now let’s see what the night had in store!

Paige & Mark with Alan Bersten – Samba to “Hip Hip Chin Chin” by Club Des Belugas
Carrie – 10Len – 10Bruno – 10 for a total of 30

First up, Paige took a walk on the wild side with Mark and Alan – and proved she’s queen of the jungle!  She didn’t miss a beat!  Her steps had a confident swagger and energized bounce.  Paige really got into the character of the dance, almost roaring with her expressions and ferocious attack in her leg work.  She meant business, and brought the dancing chops to show it!  Len thought it was a brilliant show-stopper, Bruno lauded her confidence and skill, and Carrie felt Paige was unstoppable.

Antonio & Sharna with Hayley Erbert – Argentine Tango to “Mi Confesion” by Gotan Project
Carrie – 9Len – 9Bruno – 9 for a total of 27

Speaking of roaring, Antonio did an awesome job!  His passion poured out onto the floor and kept my attention.  The showmanship was great, but his posture could use some work, and I was hoping to see some sharper footwork.  While the choreography was not as challenging as some other routines, the lifts were particularly spectacular!  All in all, Antonio gave it his best shot and really seems to have improved the most from his first week of dancing.  Bruno said he had the “confidence of a lion tamer taking on two wild cats” and was well in command.  Carrie enjoyed the intensity and details Antonio put in throughout the performance, but wanted to see longer body lines.  Len was amazed at his improvement and did not agree with Carrie about the longer body lines.

Wanya & Lindsay with Witney Carson – Paso Doble to “Explosive” by David Garrett, Franck Heijden & and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Carrie – 10Len – 10Bruno – 10 for a total of 30

Wanya took to the floor with a fury and drive that made this Paso one explosive performance! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun!)  All of his moves were sharp and focused.  It was such a nice improvement from last week, and I was glad to see Wanya back on his dancing game.  He had a passionate and electric attitude that was channeled through his steps!  Crisp arm-work, great details, precise lines and robust showmanship… his hard work has paid off!  Len was so pleased he gave Wanya a standing ovation!  Bruno loved the passion, fire and artistry he had, and Carrie was thrilled to see Wanya back to his talented self.

Nyle & Peta with Jenna Johnson – Jive to “Hit the Road Jack” by Hermes House Band
Carrie – 9Len – 9Bruno – 9 for a total of 27

Up next came Nyle with a fun and upbeat Jive!  The choreography was tough, but Nyle made the best of it.  Doing a Jive is hard enough with one partner, let alone two!  With so much going on, things got too busy and Nyle lost his timing in a few spots.  He was not as sharp as usual, and his technique suffered due to the speed of the dance.  However, Nyle still carried himself well and kept the energy flowing through to the end, making it a solid performance with great charisma!  Len said it was a tasty performance and was happy to see Nyle consistently giving it 100%.  Bruno enjoyed the attitude and gave kudos to him making it through the hardest dance he has done yet.  Carrie felt the overall performance was great and gave him credit for tackling such a difficult routine.  All three judges noted the timing issues and some minor mistakes, but thought Nyle really fit the style of what Jive is all about.

Ginger & Valentin with Artem Chigvintsev – Paso Doble to “Shot Me Down” by David Guetta
Carrie – 9Len – 9Bruno – 9 for a total of 27

Ginger gave us a dramatic and intense Paso!  Each step had full attack and power behind it.  She put a lot of work into her characterization and really honed in on the attitude of the dance!  Ginger put in some great detail work and brought a dramatic flair to her movements.  However, she had so much force that she lost control and balance at some points.  Also, some of her lines were off here and there.  With all of the drive and consistent commitment she has had week to week, she seems determined to win!  Bruno said it was fast and furious, and he loved her stylizations.  Carrie thought it was full force and dramatic, but at times a bit wild and unstable.  Len appreciated her aggression and attention to her dancing although it got a bit stormy in places.

With the Trios done, we moved straight into couples dancing!

Paige & Mark – Argentine Tange to “One Time” by Marian Hill
Carrie – 10Len – 9Bruno – 10 for a total of 29

This was one of the more sultry and seductive Argentine Tangos I’ve seen!  Paige gave a really dynamic performance, igniting some heat with power and sophistication!  The lifts were great, and the attitude was steamy.  Paige’s footsteps were clean and concise, and she has developed a fantastic partnership with Mark.  She had nice leg work and beautiful lines, too!  Paige’s dancing experience really shines through when she moves on the floor!  Len thought the choreography and dancing was brilliant, but said it was too hot and spicy for his taste.  Bruno ate it up, saying it was like watching Basic Instinct with a sprinkle of Fatal Attraction.  Bruno also went so far as to say he would judge in a speedo next week if Paige doesn’t make it to the finals!  Carrie thought it was phenomenal and really loved Paige’s versatility and layers.

Antonio & Sharna – Contemporary to “Hall of Fame” by The Script
Carrie – 9Len – 9Bruno – 10 for a total of 28

Antonio really has a fantastic stage presence, and I think that is why I have been so drawn to his performances.  He does not hesitate and always gives it his best.  Antonio had some lovely and flowing movements, not to mention all of those lifts – they were absolutely out of this world!  While Antonio had a couple of timing issues and could stand to be crisper, he brought a smooth emotion and determination to the dance that fit the mood.   Bruno told Antonio he is a magnificent beast and that it was his best performance of the season.  Carrie was at a loss for words, but said that even though he is not the best dancer in the competition, he is magical.  Len applauded the spectacular lifts and said that Antonio is a beautiful person.  I couldn’t agree more, Len!

Wanya & Lindsay – Charleston to “Shame on Me” by Avicii
Carrie – 10Len – 10Bruno – 10 for a total of 30

Yet again Wanya takes the stage with an electrifying performance!  Just watch those feet fly!  His steps were quick and clear while maintaining a light and peppy feel!  Wanya was on with his timing and hisleg work was energized.  His posture was good and his attitude made it all so fun to watch!  Wanya knows how to perform, and with his natural talent at dancing, he lights up the floor!  Carrie was happy to see Wanya bounce back from last week, saying he was her hero.  Len hoped Wanya makes it to the finals because of the joy he brings him and the whole ballroom.  Bruno loved everything and thought that is all that show business should be.

Nyle & Peta – Argentine Tango to “Unsteady” by X Ambassadors
Carrie – 10Len – 10Bruno – 10 for a total of 30

I was blown away by this performance!  Another first for Dancing with the Stars to be blindfolded for a portion of a performance!  Not being able to hear the music is hard enough, but then taking away sight and only being able to rely on feeling?  Bold, very bold indeed.  But he and Peta nailed it! His steps and lines were solid, and he did not miss anything out on the floor.  Just some minor timing issues and I would have liked to see the steps executed a bit more cleanly.  Otherwise, Nyle once again pushed the boundaries of dance and gave a stellar show!  Len noted the issues Nyle has to deal with to be on the show and was amazed at how he continues to shine.  Bruno was mesmerized, and Carrie was inspired by his fearlessness.

Ginger & Valentin – Quickstep to “Fire Under My Feet” by Leona Lewis
Carrie – 9Len – 10Bruno – 10 for a total of 29

For the last dance of the night, Ginger really moved like there was a fire under her feet!  She moved with vigor and pep, and had a great energy in her performance.  Her attitude and style were contagious, but I felt her timing was off on some of the moves and she needed to be more precise.  Ginger’s hold and poise were excellent, and her transitions were seamless.  It was definitely a high-quality routine with some nice footwork.  I personally think it should have been 9’s across the board, but it was a good one nonetheless.  Bruno felt it was superb dancing and a sensational performance.  Carrie commented on the elegance, and Len said it was fantastic.

On to the results!  It is always difficult to see your favorites leave the show, but this one hit especially hard for me.  Unfortunately, Wanya & Lindsay and Antonio & Sharna were eliminated.  Even though Antonio was one of my favorites, I had a feeling he would be leaving the competition.  I am glad he made it as far as he did!  I will miss Wanya though!  I definitely think Nyle and Paige deserve a spot in the finals, but I think it was a mistake for Ginger to be in there over Wanya.  Granted, Ginger was a bit more consistent, but when Wanya was on it, he was brilliant and outshone Ginger in my opinion.

The semifinals bring to mind how it is not the quantity of steps in the dance that matters, but the quality.  Of course some moves are more difficult than others – that’s a given.  However, sometimes simple is better.  Between performances, it is interesting to see how choreography differs.  Even tonight, comparing Wanya’s Paso to Nyle’s Jive – the two performances were set apart by the amount of steps.  Even though one could argue that Wanya did not “dance” as much as Nyle, there are reasons Wanya received a perfect score and Nyle did not.

Choreography can make or break a performance.  It is the job of the professional to figure out what moves will fit best with the song as well as their partner’s ability.  That being said, of course it is more impressive to see hard choreography in routines, but it only makes the difference if the steps are executed well.

There are all sorts of fantastic nuances and dancing styles that things are always changing and evolving in the ballroom world.  Dancing is such an intricate and unique sport as most of the judging is up to interpretation and every performance is different.  What one person likes, another may not.  Dancing is all about expressing yourself.  Nobody gets along with EVERY person that they meet, so the important thing is to stay true to you and your expression of yourself.

There are so many things that go into a routine – the choreography, the attitude, the lines, footwork, technique, style, frame, partnership… it takes such work to balance them all, so kudos to all of the contestants and dancers for working so hard!

The finals are next week, so I’m sure we will see some fantastic dancing!  I’ll be sad once this season is over, as there were so many awesome performances and some wonderful, quality people taking part.  With three couples remaining, it is as imperative as ever to vote for your favorite couple!  Ginger & Valentin, Nyle & Peta or Paige & Mark… VOTE VOTE VOTE and tune in next week to see who takes home the coveted mirror-ball trophy!

Happy Dancing!

Dancing with the Stars Season 22 Week 8

The competition was at its finest this week with top dancing and some excellent choreography!  There were a lot of high scores (and even two perfect 30’s) – everybody seemed to give it their all!  The judges even went head-to-head for the Judge’s Challenge!  The challenge had each judge work with two couples, choosing the style of dance, the song they will dance to, and the final say in the creative process.  For each performance, the other two judges and the good viewers at home cast their scores.  It certainly made for some creative and awesome performances (though I think America was a bit stingy with their scores!)

The evening opened with a wild night-club-esque pro routine set to “Someone Who Can Dance” by Icona Pop.  It couldn’t have been more fitting, as the sharp dancing really set the tone and reminded us how each of our remaining competitors is definitely somebody who can dance!  Let’s see how they did!

Nyle & Peta – Coached by Bruno – Paso Doble to “Victorious” by Panic! At The Disco
Carrie – 10Len – 9Bruno – 10 for a total of 29

What an outstanding way to get the performances rolling!  This is my favorite performance of the season!  I was shocked at the power Nyle had with his steps, driving the choreography with purpose and control.  The number was creative and had some challenging moves.  It was strong but with an intelligent vision in each step.  Then, in a brilliant moment, the music went off and the dancers continued to move together, without having any sense of where the beat is.  This silent moment drove home what Nyle does every single day, and showed how hard you have to work at dancing when you can’t hear the music.  I was totally impressed and moved by the whole performance!  Absolutely fantastic and expertly done!  Len felt that the piece needed more, and that Nyle didn’t have his weight over his feet at some points, but still thought it was amazing.  Bruno said it was mind blowing and made an instant DWTS classic routine that won’t be forgotten.  Carrie thought it was fierce and deeply profound.

Antonio & Sharna – Coached by Carrie – Viennese Waltz to “Love on the Brain” by Rihanna
Carrie – 9Len – 9Bruno – 9 for a total of 27

Way to go Antonio!  He worked hard from last week and made some great progress with his footwork!  It looked like he was a smooth dancer out there, with a nice sense of confidence and elegance.  His frame slipped, as the number went on, but he did not miss a step.  Antonio’s arm work and expression came through, and he seemed more determined than ever to win.  His timing was on and his partnership with Sharna is blossoming.  He has found his niche and it made for an amazing performance!  Bruno was pleased with Antonio’s attention to detail and thought he really applied himself to the dance.  Carrie was so proud and felt the difference in caliber from last week.  Len said Antonio lost his posture but admired his will to win and noticed improvements throughout the performance.

Jodie & Keo – Coached by Bruno – Jive to “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” by Christina Aguilera
Carrie – 10Len – 10Bruno – 10 for a total of 30

Next came the first perfect score of the night – and boy was it a show-stopper!  Jodie surprised me with her sudden change of style!  She always seemed to be withdrawn inward and did not have confidence in herself - but that has apparently changed!  Jodie’s movements were crisp and precise, and her attitude was steamy!  Both Jodie and Keo really cut loose and gave it all they had.  It was vigorous and electric with no missteps or blunders!  The choreography made sense, and Jodie made it look natural.  It was so nice to see Jodie spread her wings and trust in herself to perform!  Carrie said it was incredible and that Jodie is a shining star.  Len was over the moon with her progress, saying it was brilliant.  Bruno rejoiced and said Jodie should be proud of herself.

Paige & Mark – Coached by Carrie – Viennese Waltz to “Stone Cold” by Demi Lovato
Carrie – 10Len – 9Bruno – 9 for a total of 28

Paige lit up the stage with an emotional performance!  The way she moved around the floor was graceful, even when some of the choreography made it challenging to remain that way.  Paige seemed a bit unbalanced in hold, but otherwise everything else went very well.  She had great foot placement and a lot of expression in her body language.  The routine had a lot of challenges and took some risks, but Paige made them work well with smooth poise and elegance.  She has consistently grown each week, and has become a wonderful dancer to watch!  Len wanted her head in a better position in frame, but said she is a terrific dancer.  Bruno noted the difficulty of the routine and thought she did an amazing job.  Carrie loved the quality of movement around the floor and enjoyed the emotional and expressive side of Paige.

Ginger & Valentin – Coached by Len – Argentine Tango to “Telephone” by Lady Gaga feat. Beyonce
Carrie – 10Len – 10Bruno – 10 for a total of 30

And here we have our second perfect score of the night!  This one was such a memorable performance it has made my list of all-time favorites!  Ginger and Val brought exceptional dynamics and a phenomenal partnership to the dance.  All I could do while watching was enjoy!  There was nothing to pick apart – everything was spot on!  From the timing and energy to the shaping and frame, Ginger was on fire!  The choreography gave a lot to work with, and she made it radiant.  There were a lot of opposing forces that worked together, making this how Argentine Tango should be!  Quick and slow movements, hard and soft texturing, big expressions and little moments… all of it amounted to, as Len said, “one hell of a dance!”  Bruno was totally smitten with the performance and thought Ginger worked magic.  Carrie was impressed with how they moved as one entity, and Len applauded all of their hard work.

Wanya & Lindsay – Coached by Len – Jive to “Can You Do This” by Aloe Blacc
Carrie – 8Len – 8Bruno – 9 for a total of 25

Wanya put a lot of effort into this one, but he has slipped from last week – figuratively and literally.  The number had a fair amount of mistakes, including Wanya slipping on Lindsay’s bandana.  Wanya lost timing and had some issues with footwork.  Despite the mistakes, he powered through and pushed to the end.  While I think having energy in your dancing is a great quality to have, Wanya tends to put too much energy in, especially when he makes mistakes.  It is almost like he compensates for the errors with an abundance of energy, and although it is showy, it does not fix the problem.  In fact he speeds up with all of that extra energy, and it creates rhythm issues.  Overall, the performance was fun and upbeat with a neat style and theme.  Definitely not one of his best though.  Carrie felt it was a rough ride and urged him to push himself harder and harder to be on the edge.  Len noted the timing issues, but liked the rhythm and spunky moves.  Bruno thought it was like a rodeo, but warned him to watch his speed.

With the competition dancing over, the night moved into some fun with the Judge’s Challenge performances.  Kudos to the competitors for learning two dances in one week and for making these so awesome!  Team Bruno had Nyle & Peta and Jodie & Keo.  Team Len was made up of Wanya & Lindsay and Ginger & Valentin.  Team Carrie brought Antonio & Sharna and Paige & Mark to the floor.  First up was Team Bruno.

Team Bruno – Argentine Tango to “La Habanera” from Carmen
Carrie – 10Len – 10America – 9 for a total of 29

The dance was very creative with a lot of awesome choreography and content.  The partners were switched up during the song, and even had the risk of having Nyle and Jodie dance together.  It was a smoldering performance with sexy attitude, powerful movements and flawless execution.  Everybody was on the same wavelength.  Len loved the concept and bravery of the number.  Carrie enjoyed the risks and rewards, as well as seeing everybody in sync with each other.

Team Len – Samba to “Jump in the Line” by Harry Belafonte
Carrie – 10America – 9Bruno – 10 for a total of 29

It was an uplifting and entertaining performance, with a lot of vim and bounce!  It had a vivacious attitude, fantastic choreography and even brought out the wild side in Wanya.  The hips, the leg work, the timing and the energy was all top notch!  Carrie thought everybody was Caribbean royalty with the way they moved and Bruno thought it was downright delicious!

Team Carrie – Paso Doble to “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears For Fears
America – 9Len – 10Bruno – 10 for a total of 29

This was truly a neat dance with good imagination!  Everybody moved well with purpose and the choreography had some awesome elements.  The dancers had excellent physical expression and had emotionally charged steps.  Bruno enjoyed the ideas and creativity, loving every second.  Len was delighted with the full range of emotion, seamless transitions and the driven character of the dance.

With the scores, it seems America is even more scrutinous than Len at his grumpiest!  Speaking of scores, next came the eliminations.  The couples in jeopardy this week were Jodie & Keo, Antonio & Sharna, and Wanya & Lindsay.  Sadly, Jodie & Keo were eliminated.  I am bummed, especially after this week’s performance, to see them go.  I feel like she only just found her inner dancer and want to see more!

There you have it folks, our top five contenders are Nyle & Peta, Antonio & Sharna, Paige & Mark, Ginger & Valentin, and Wanya & Lindsay.  Next week brings us a step closer to one of our competitors walking away with the mirror ball trophy!  Week nine also brings us Trios Night, where each competitor will not only dance as a couple with their original partner, but they will do a second dance with another pro added into the mix!  Should make for some interesting performances!  I can hardly wait to see!  Don’t forget to vote – with the competition as steep as it is, your favorites will need every vote they can get!  See you next week!

Happy Dancing!

Dancing with the Stars Season 22 Week 7

Week seven gave us a powerhouse episode!  Dancing to sounds by some of the biggest names in music of all time, the competitors gave it their best for Icon Night!  Great tunes drew out some great dances and fancy footwork!  The pros opened with a rousing rendition of “Last Dance” by Donna Summer, setting the tone for the night and getting the house rocking!

The evening brought back team dances – this time it was girls vs. guys!  Both the celebrities and professionals joined forces, with all of the ladies forming Team Beyonce and the fellows forming Team James Brown.  With only eight competitors left and a double elimination on the board, the competition is getting down to the wire!

Jodie & Keo – Quickstep to “For Once In My Life” by Stevie Wonder
Carrie – 8Len – 9Bruno – 9 for a total of 26

Up first was Jodie, and I was pleased to see such a spirited attack in her steps!  Jodie pulled more confidence out and drove her energy to a personal all-time high.  She lost contact with frame in a few spots, and seemed to fall out of rhythm with Keo, but put those mistakes behind her and kept on stepping.  Len enjoyed Jodie’s commitment to the dance and the powerful energy behind her movements.  Bruno thought it was an improvement and said she is moving in the right direction.  Carrie liked her light-hearted style and determination.  It was a great performance to kick-off the evening!

Kim & Sasha – Samba to “ABC” by The Jackson 5
Carrie – 9Len – 9Bruno – 9 for a total of 27

Kim was sensational with her Samba!  She appears to have worked extra hard this week and taken the criticisms of last episode to mind.  Kim had a buzzing energy and a great bounce to her steps.  Her footwork was pretty spot-on, and she did not miss a beat.  Kim has finally found her inner starlet, making sure she can grab and maintain your attention on the dance floor.  The choreography was fun and fit the style of the song.  Bruno said Kim was glowing and electrifying.  Carrie felt she was “in the zone” and Len told her it was her best dance to date.

Nyle & Peta – Foxtrot to “Beautiful Day” by U2
Carrie – 10Len – 9Bruno – 9 for a total of 28

After last week, I am pleased to see that Nyle has his head back in the right place!  He delivered an elegant and graceful foxtrot, but I was not too thrilled about his body position.  He appeared to be too far out from Peta and his shoulders felt askew.  Otherwise, his style, showmanship, footwork and timing were all tasteful and well-executed.  I don’t agree with Carrie’s 10, but it was still an outstanding performance with great charisma!  Carrie was happy with Nyle’s poise, but Len thought his rear stuck out and his frame didn’t sit right.  Bruno loved Nyle’s dedication to the dance and partnership.

Antonio & Sharna – Tango to “Paint It Black” by The Rolling Stones
Carrie – 8Len – 8Bruno – 8 for a total of 24

I enjoyed Antonio’s attitude, drive and drama he created in his performance.  However, the routine as a whole was unpolished and rough around the edges.  He had several missteps and had a hard time keeping up with the pulse of the music.  Antonio could not seem to finish his move before he was on to the next one, making for a bit of a hurried routine.  The speed of the dance certainly was an obstacle, but he kept going and muscled his way through.  His determination is not lacking, but the trial of learning two routines in one week appears to have taken a toll.  Len liked the spirit and flair of the dance and wanted to see more finesse.  Bruno was pleased with Antonio’s intensity and said he needed more precision.  Carrie thought there should be more technique and closure to each move.

Wanya & Lindsay – Foxtrot to “I Say a Little Prayer” by Aretha Franklin
Carrie – 9Len – 9Bruno – 9 for a total of 27

Wanya carried over his hard work from last week and delivered a great performance this week!  His movements were smooth and he glided around the floor with elegance.  His arm work went well, as did his foot placements.  Though it wasn’t as high energy as last week’s performance, he had a pleasant and glossy attitude.  His head seemed a bit too wobbly for his frame, and sometimes he seemed to drag, but other than that, he did it justice.  Bruno thought it was simply beautiful, and Carrie thought it was really good but she still wanted a more from him.  Although Len wanted Wanya to engage his neck with frame while dancing, he still thought it was joyously well done.

Ginger & Valentin – Viennese Waltz to “I Have Nothing” by Whitney Houston
Carrie – 10Len – 10  Bruno – 10 for a total of 30

Wow… just WOW!  Here’s the first perfect score of the season – and Ginger made it look easy!  Her frame was well-maintained throughout the piece, with excellent footwork and top-notch style!  Ginger got in the zone, found high-quality partnership and gave it wonderful expression.  Her movements, especially with her arms, made incredible lines.  Her execution was fantastic and her transitions were seamless.  Even the choreography fit the timing and feel of the song!  Carrie gushed, saying that it was perfection, while Len compared it to a refreshing cool breeze on a warm summer day.  Bruno exclaimed, “Content, style, interpretation – impeccable!” and said it was her best dance yet.

Von & Witney – Salsa to “A Little Less Conversation” by Elvis Presley
Carrie – 8Len – 8Bruno – 8 for a total of 24

A perfect score is a tough act to follow, but Von did a good job!  It was a different take on how we are used to seeing Von – he is typically so smooth and sly.  His head was in the game, though he seemed a bit choppy here and there.  Von’s footwork was a bit rough, and his hips were shaky, but his upper body had good position and hold.  Von and Witney really did an awesome job on all of those lifts!  Overall, it was a solid performance with good aim and direction – it just didn’t hit a bullseye.  Len was wowed at the lifts and compared the performance to pizza, saying it was “a bit crusty on the base but tasty on top.” Bruno thought it was different but effective, and Carrie said it was rough around the edges.

Paige & Mark – Jive to “Proud Mary” by Tina Turner
Carrie – 10Len – 10Bruno – 10 for a total of 30

Who could have guessed we would have not one, but TWO perfect scores this week?!?  Paige channeled Tina Turner with excellent taste and was brimming with energy!  The choreography was very difficult and tempo was rapid, but Paige kept up and made it her own.  Her steps were sharp and crisp, her balance and expression were on par.  She packed outstanding discipline in her technique with a smokin’ hot attitude, creating a package that really delivered!  Paige has developed good chemistry and partnership with Mark, which makes things so much fun to watch.  On top of her style and showmanship, it appears Paige has really worked hard on the fundamentals of technique.  It is a tough combination to beat!  Bruno felt it was smoldering, while Carrie thought it was the best kind of ridiculous.  Len was overjoyed to see the whole routine have great control.

With all of the personal dances out of the way, next came the team dances!  The men of Team James Brown were up first, dancing to a medley of music from, you guessed it, James Brown.  I was floored with the performance!  Despite having to learn two dances this week, the men came out and crushed this routine!  Every guy has a different style, even amongst the professionals, and it was great to see them all bringing their own character to light.  The moves were slick and gave nice nods to Mr. Brown’s talents.  Everybody was on time and hit each step with flair.  Carrie and Len gave 9’s and Bruno gave a 10, totaling up to 28 out of 30.  Now that is teamwork!

Then came the ladies of Team Beyonce – with a heaping helping of diva attitude!  Dancing to a medley of Beyonce’s songs, the ladies got fired up!  They packed their routine with some nice choreography and sizzled with those hot moves.  The energy was overflowing and they showed they are clearly capable of fantastic dancing!  There were a few times that they fell out of sync and there were a few mistakes.  However, with the power and drive they had, they really put on a fantastic show!  Carrie and Len each gave an 8 while Bruno scored them a 9 for a total of 25/30.  Way to go girls!

With the team dances over, it was time for the double elimination.  The couples in jeopardy were Kim & Sasha, Wanya & Lindsay, and Von & Witney.  Wanya & Lindsay were called safe, leaving Kim & Sasha and Von & Witney to be eliminated.  Next week we will be back to a single elimination, but the ballroom is already beginning to look empty!

This Monday brings the dreaded Judge’s Challenge week.  Judges will work with all six of the remaining couples to see who has what it takes while America can judge from home during the show.  Be sure to vote for your favorites or risk them going home at the end of the night! The Quarterfinals with our top five couples are just around the corner, so don’t miss out!  Catch you next week!

Happy Dancing!

Dancing with the Stars Season 22 Week 6

Our sixth week gives us a walk (or in this case dance) down memory lane with Famous Dances Night!  Here we have a chance to see some of our all-time favorite dance moments from films, videos and concerts - all with a fresh ballroom spin!  With dances from movies like The Mask to music video performances like “Bye, Bye, Bye” from NSYNC, and musical hits from Hairspray it was a night of high energy, fantastic dancing and fun theatrics!

The opening group number set the stage with a big and flashy rendition of “Puttin’ on the Ritz.”  Dressed in old-fashioned glamour, it was a nod to Hollywood and the silver screen – very fitting for the character of the night.  With the film rolling, we jumped right into the competition!

Kim & Sasha – Jive to “You Can’t Stop the Beat” from Hairspray
Carrie – 8Len – 8Bruno – 8 for a total of 24

This was a very fun and upbeat performance!  I was impressed with the way Kim moved, especially after sustaining a stress fracture in her ankle.  She powered through it like a champ, though I think she could have upped the energy some more.  Kim brought character and her steps went well, especially for the pace of the song (it is Jive after all!).  The background dancers were a bit distracting, especially since most of them had more energy than Kim.  All things considered, it was another consistent and solid performance.  Len enjoyed the choreography and thought it was a good blend of the musical and Jive.  Bruno was toe-tapping the whole time but commented on a troublesome pass towards the end of the routine.  Carrie wanted more dynamics and energy, warning Kim not to disappear into the background.

Von & Witney – Jazz to “Bad” by Michael Jackson
Carrie – 8Len – 8Bruno – 8 for a total of 24

Up next was Von giving a tribute to MJ – and what a tribute!  It is tough to dance like Michael anyways, let alone in front of a crowd on national television, but Von nailed it!  The steps were fairly consistent and sharp, and Von brought a great attitude and flair to the moves.  It was exciting to watch, and Von’s energy came forward.  The choreography stayed true to the music video, with a ton of iconic and recognizable steps.  While there were a few moments he was smooth when he should have been sharp, Von really did an excellent job.  Bruno thought Von did a wonderful job hitting those moves, and Carrie was glad to see him bring his own style to the dance.  Len said it was bad – the good kind of bad and that the number “didn’t need the wind machine – you have a fan here.”

Jodie & Keo – Contemporary to “Try” by Pink
Carrie – 9Len – 8Bruno – 8 for a total of 25

This was a raw, emotional and hardcore piece!  There were a lot of tough emotions to recreate from the music video, but it was all there.  There was pain and anger, and it showed a hard side of Jodie.  She had injured her ankle in rehearsals as well, but it appears she took that pain and used it while performing.  It was definitely an ambitious number to undertake, so kudos to both Jodie and Keo.  Even more kudos to Keo for being bold and courageous enough to fall into a table and break it!  The performance seemed to lack in some confidence from Jodie, and there was a bit of nervousness from her, as well.  Otherwise, the steps, timing and dynamics were spot on!  Carrie was amazed at how they took the difficulty of the piece and the emotions behind it, turning it into something beautiful.  Len thought they really illustrated the feeling of the song and that it was executed well.  Bruno recognized both the physical and emotional demands of the performance and said it even be difficult for a pro to recreate that.

Paige & Mark – Jazz to “Soul Bossa Nova” from Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
Carrie – 9Len – 10Bruno – 9 for a total of 28

Yeah, baby, yeah – what an outstanding number!  Paige really brought the groove of the 60’s to the stage!  There was a swinging flair and psychedelic style that paired well with the high energy and silly antics of the movie.  The choreography had great attention to detail and everybody was in sync with each other.  The steps were on point, and it was tough to find anything wrong with the performance.  Outside of some hesitations and minor timing issues, the performance was spotless!  Len raised a 10 on his paddle and said there was nothing about the dance that he didn’t like.  Bruno thought the details and accuracy of the dance was fantastic, and Carrie loved the high energy and fun of the piece!

Nyle & Peta – Quickstep to “Hey Pachuco” from The Mask
Carrie – 8Len – 8Bruno – 9 for a total of 25

With this dance, Nyle continued his streak of awesome performances, but I think he bit off a bit more than he could chew on this one.  Whether it was overconfidence or the sheer speed of the dance, he did not seem to flow like his usual self.  Nyle did a great job keeping frame, though he lost it at a few points and was not as sharp as previous numbers.  Overall though, it was still a fantastic display, with great comedy that embodied the flavor and character of the movie.  It was lively, and had great substance.  Bruno loved how there was vivacious energy and slapstick comedy while still maintaining Quickstep at heart, and recognized the difficulty and speed of the dance.  Carrie developed more respect for Nyle for dancing in a mask, but felt that the performance was not his typical par of crisp and controlled steps.  Len loved the performance and was amazed at how great of a dancer Nyle continually proves himself to be.

Ginger & Valentin – Jazz to “Nasty” by Janet Jackson
Carrie – 8Len – 8Bruno – 8 for a total of 24

Ginger went for it and channeled Janet Jackson in a new way!  She channeled a bit of her inner diva while dancing with all of those fellows.  The dancing was clean and well-practiced – she just needed some more character and confidence in the overall performance.  There were also some timing issues that led to some less-than-crisp movements.  Still, Ginger was sure of her movements and delivered them in a comfortable way.  It just was not as explosive as it needed to be.  The choreography here definitely lent itself to the number, and made her the focal point, which requires that extra ounce of oomph to make it work well.  Carrie was pleased to see Ginger not miss a move, Len thought she was precise, and Bruno felt it was done in great taste.  However, all three judges wanted more presence out of Ginger to take her to the next level.

Doug & Karina – Bollywood to “Jai Ho!” from Slumdog Millionaire
Carrie – 7Len – 7Bruno – 7 for a total of 21

I never would have imagined seeing pro football star Doug Flutie doing a Bollywood routine!  But, sure as the day is long, there it was.  I really admire Doug for going all out in the performance.  Despite the challenge of the routine and the adjustment to a different cultural style, he gave it everything he had, like any pro athlete should.  Though there were mistakes, a couple of timing issues, and some lack in technique, I totally enjoyed the performance.  The steps gave a very good glimpse into the movie and culture, and made it all a great number to watch.  Len said how tough the number was and applauded Doug for a job well done.  Bruno loved how catchy the piece was and Carrie was happy to see more of Doug come out and have fun in the performance.

Wanya & Lindsay – Jazz to “Bye Bye Bye” by NSYNC
Carrie – 10Len – 9Bruno – 10 for a total of 29

I think Wanya earned himself a spot in NSYNC with this performance!  Wow, what an awesome number!  Wanya took his lowest scores from last week and was determined to make sure it didn’t happen again this week.  He knocked it out of the park, completely giving into the style and character of the music – I’m sure his Boyz II Men experience only helped with that!  He was front and center the whole time, and went for every move with a strong and confident charisma.  Wanya appears to have put in the extra time and effort to make sure he gets into the finals!  Bruno thought the performance was pop at its most brilliant form.  Carrie raved about Wanya’s attitude, exclaiming “This boy is on fire!”  Len thought he took a big step towards the finals with his performance.

Antonio & Sharna – Jive to “Footloose” from Footloose
Carrie – 9Len – 9Bruno – 9 for a total of 27

Look out Kevin Bacon, there’s another rebel in town!  All drama between Antonio and Sharna aside, it looks like Antonio has his head back in the right place.  He delivered an excellent performance, right out in front, showing how capable he is at holding the spotlight.  Antonio’s steps were full of vim and he kept with the character of the film, even throwing in a backflip!  He could stand to be a bit sharper with his kicks, and he had a misstep right in the beginning.  Other than that, the performance was right where it should be and as Carrie put it, “that is the way to bring the house down.”  Len and Bruno agree that Antonio came out swinging and has what it takes to win if he keeps working hard.

Now for the elimination – Paige & Mark, Doug & Karina and Von & Witney were the three couples in jeopardy at the end of the night.  Doug & Karina were eliminated, and I will be a little sad to see them go.  Even though Doug’s dancing was not as skillful as the other competitors’, he seemed like an all-around good guy and gave a lot of heart to his dancing.

Next episode will be Icons Night, with performances set to music from all sorts of amazing and iconic musicians.  The dancers will tip their hats and tap their shoes to popular tunes from big names, so don’t miss out on the action!  Don’t forget to vote to keep your favorites out of jeopardy for next week’s double elimination!  With the scores after this week, it is really anybody’s game!  See you soon!

 Happy Dancing!



Dancing with the Stars Season 22 Week 5

Time for a change!  Week five mixed our dancers all around for Switch Up Week!  This fun twist takes each celebrity and swaps their professional partners for one episode.  Since the start of this traditional week, it has always been interesting to see how the competitors do with their new match-up.  With the public voting, it certainly sent the partners flying around.  Not only did America vote for the partnerships, but the dancing as well.  Here are the pairings and dances:

Antonio& Karina – Cha-Cha
Kim & Keo – Viennese Waltz
Von & Lindsay – Jive
Ginger & Mark – Salsa
Doug & Peta – Tango
Nyle & Sharna – Viennese Waltz
Paige & Sasha – Rumba
Jodie & Valentin – Paso Doble
Wanya & Witney – Tango

Adding even more change, there was another guest judge at the table – Mr. Maksim Chmerkovskiy, the professional from Season 18 who took celebrity Meryl Davis to victory.  Maksim had some great things to say, and I’m sure he was happy to see his fiancé Peta dancing out there.

The episode opened with a slick group number that brought the whole cast out to play!  There were certainly some competitors in the number that looked like they really had to think about the dance, while others just embraced the performance and went for it.  It was definitely cool to see how the competitors compare to the pros as they all danced side by side.

This episode had some astounding performances, and some interesting happenings, including the first 10 of the season (from Len no less)!  There’s a lot to talk about, so let’s get to it!

Wanya & Witney – Tango to “Hold Back the River” by James Bay
Carrie – 8Len – 7Maksim – 7Bruno – 8 for a total of 30

Wanya has done such a great job in the past, that we as viewers have high expectations for his performances.  While he delivered a solid performance with good drive, it felt a bit bumbling. I think the choreography tried to fit too much into a small amount of time.  We did not get the typical confident and easy-stepping Wanya.  As Carrie said, even the partnership did not have the same chemistry as with Lindsay, which is unfortunate.  Len and Maksim thought it was too hectic and began to fall apart.  Bruno enjoyed Wanya’s energy, but agreed with the others on how dizzy the dance was.  We’ve seen better, but it was still fairly well done.

Kim & Keo – Viennese Waltz to “These Arms of Mine” by Otis Redding
Carrie – 8Len – 6Maksim – 6Bruno – 8 for a total of 28

The dance that Kim performed was elegant and romantic, but I was very disappointed to not see any partnered movement in frame.  It was a decent performance to be sure, but it felt like a contemporary dance.  I agree with Maksim and Len, who both commented that the dancing was lovely, but it was not a Viennese Waltz.  Otherwise, Kim’s footwork went well, and she kept a gliding ease to her steps.  The dance was interpretive and had nice expressive moments.  Bruno was pleased to see Kim let go, and Carrie greatly enjoyed the musicality of the piece.

Doug & Peta – Tango to “Black & Gold” by Sam Sparro
Carrie – 7Len – 7Maksim – 7Bruno – 7 for a total of 28

This time around Doug really seemed more tense and a bit robotic while dancing.  Though he had some trouble with his frame, Doug was on point with his timing and footwork.  However, throughout the piece, there wasn’t much of a performance element to it.  Doug was in his head thinking of the steps, not using the steps to express the song’s emotion.  Bruno put it well, saying “you need to feel it - it is not just a sequence of steps.”  The Tango steps moved well, but each judge wished Doug had a more expressive nature to the dance.

Ginger & Mark – Salsa to “La Malanga” by Eddie Palmieri
Carrie – 8Len – 8Maksim – 8Bruno – 8 for a total of 32

Ginger gave a spicy performance for her Salsa!  The switch of partners did not appear to slow her down as she continued to look comfortable and develop chemistry with Mark.  The dance was quick and lively with good timing.  Ginger had a great musicality and brought her own spunky personality to her movements.  Though this was not her best performance, she still came out swinging for the fence.  Carrie and Bruno applauded her hard work, while Len and Maksim felt that she would fit right in at a Salsa club.

Antonio & Karina – Cha_Cha to “Son of a Preacher Man” by Dusty Springfield
Carrie – 7Len – 6Maksim – 6Bruno – 7 for a total of 26

Unfortunately, Antonio appears to have taken a step back from where he was last week.  The switch of partners affected his performance.  The moves and timing were okay, but there was a lack of fundamentals and challenge.  As I said before, Antonio has the natural talent – it needs to be coaxed out some more for him to really shine.  Once he trusts in his ability and gets his steps well-rehearsed, he will make for a tough competitor.  Len thought it was short on technique and needed more refinement.  Maksim said it was a good performance, but was unimpressed with the content.  Bruno and Carrie each think Antonio has what it takes, but he needs to rehearse more and find more comfort in the steps.

Paige & Sasha – Rumba to “Perfect” by One Direction
Carrie – 8Len – 8Maksim – 7Bruno – 8 for a total of 31

I was not a fan of this number.  Paige had nice movement and flow, but something just seemed off to me.  Maybe it was the lack of actual Rumba steps or the emotion she tried to portray – either way, I was just not feeling it.  However, her steps were clear, and she had great tone in her movements.  Paige has a quality in her step that is undeniable, and she seems to flow evenly from figure to figure.  Maksim recognized her ability, and Bruno commented on her graceful movements.  Carrie Ann felt Paige was dancing with her heart.  Len saw great precision, but wanted her to give even more emotionally.

Von & Lindsay – Jive to “Hips” by Beans & Fatback
Carrie – 8Len – 7Maksim – 7Bruno – 7 for a total of 29

Von went out on the floor with great style and swagger to perform a playful and creative Jive.  It took a bit for him to find his groove, but once he did, Von gave it his all.  His footwork was all there, though it could have been sharper.  To me, this piece was a bit more about the fun and style Von has rather than the actual dancing.  It was entertaining to watch and had some unique elements.  There still needs to be some more polish and refinement in Von’s steps so they can be crisp.  Bruno loved the unconventional moves and Carrie thought it was great to watch.  Len was pleased with Von’s energy, and Maksim wanted Von to give more of himself over to the dance.

Nyle & Sharna – Viennese Waltz to “I Get to Love You” by Otis Ruelle
Carrie – 9Len – 10Maksim – 9Bruno – 9 for a total of 37

And then came Nyle…with the best performance of the season!  What an outstanding showcase of talent!  The steps were clean, framework was solid and it all had awesome precision.  Nyle outdid himself and the other performers, proving that even though he may not be able to hear the music, he can dance to it with the best of them!  The choreography really lent itself to the music, and the interpretation was spot on.  Without his sense of hearing, Nyle is probably used to using/reading body language every day of his life, and that only helps him out on the dance floor.  It was definitely a performance worth a 10, especially from Len!  There was a bit of a mix up with scoring, as Carrie and Bruno each originally entered a 9 for their scores, and once they saw Len give a 10, they tried to change their paddles to a 10.  It made for some funny shenanigans and made me even more grateful for Len’s presence at the judges’ table.  Carrie told Nyle he was born to dance, and Len compared it to the fantastic beauty of a rare total eclipse.  Even Maksim was moved, saying he had a hard time taking it all in due to the sheer quality and musicality.  Bruno fell in love with the performance, and I know the audience did, too.

Jodie & Valentin – Paso Doble to “Under Control” by Calvin Harris & Alesso
Carrie – 9Len – 8Maksim – 9Bruno – 9 for a total of 35

Nyle’s performance was a tough act to follow, but Jodie did some serious justice to the Paso Doble!  She seemed revamped and took to the new partnership very well.  Jodie moved with determination, and had great attack in her steps.  She had nice timing and great characterization with her arms.  Some minor issues with frame and balance kept Jodie from achieving that coveted 10 score, but this was hands-down her best dance of the season.  Len said her performance last week was lemonade and this week it turned to champagne.  Maksim enjoyed the dramatic flairs, while Bruno and Carrie were happy to see Jodie charged up and moving with purpose.

Thankfully, there were no eliminations this week, but definitely expect one next time.  With the varied performances from top to bottom, it will be interesting to see who ends up going home.  Though it pains me to say it, I think Antonio is in jeopardy.  I still think that Doug and Jodie are both in danger, but Jodie may have saved herself with her performance this week.

For better or worse, the celebrities will return to their original partners next week for Famous Dances Night.  Tune in to see all sorts of performances and memorable dances from movies and soundtracks.  It should make for a very entertaining night, and it will be exciting to see the songs come to life in new ways.  Who knows, there may even be some different styles of dance creeping into the usual mix!  See you next week!

Happy Dancing!


Dancing with the Stars Season 22 Week 4

Our fourth week of competition mixed the thrill of dance with a bit of pixie dust for Disney Night!  The competitors brought life to songs from our favorite Disney films, making it a very magical evening!  Joining the table this week as a guest judge was season 16’s runner-up, Zendaya.  She was a fine fit, especially with her ties to Disney.

Having such a theatrical theme adds to the “showiness” of the numbers, and I feel like they can lose the actual dance because of that.  The previous numbers have already taken a good amount of liberty with steps, and this week was no exception.  Though I have to say, at the end of it all, I was still very entertained!

Antonio & Sharna – Jazz to “Friend Like Me” from Disney’s Aladdin
Carrie – 9Len – 8Zendaya – 9Bruno – 9 for a total of 35

I was so thrilled to see Antonio blast out of the gate with an explosive opening number!  We finally got to see that dancer in him come out and shine!  The steps were on time and were well placed, even with the speed of the music.  Using “Jazz” as the style of dance allows for a deep bag of tricks to use as it covers a wide range of movements.  While I was a bit disappointed that the performance wasn’t a typical ballroom dance selection, I was definitely impressed with Antonio’s showmanship.  Len was pleased to see Antonio bring out the inner dancer, Zendaya thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing, Bruno thought it was magic, and Carrie was so pleased, she wished she had a friend like Antonio!

Marla & Tony – Waltz to “Part of Your World” from Disney’s The Little Mermaid
Carrie – 7Len – 7Zendaya – 7Bruno – 7 for a total of 28

It is tough to perform after such a high-energy piece, but Marla did fairly well.  She is continuing her consistent streak of 7’s from last week (so it’s too bad she’s not at some Las Vegas slot machines).  The number was smooth and flowing, and Marla let her natural elegance come forward.  There were moments that the frame seemed to drift, and the connection between Marla and Tony was tenuous.  Zendaya and Len admired the beautiful charm and romance Marla displayed, but Bruno wanted her to maintain body contact and Carrie warned her to be careful of her hands.

Nyle & Peta – Samba to “Trashin’ the Camp” from Disney’s Tarzan
Carrie – 8Len – 8Zendaya – 9Bruno – 9 for a total of 34

Things got wild with Nyle’s Samba!  The performance was solid, and the choreography lent itself well to the character of the music.  Nyle moved with great rhythm and had a sharp execution in his footwork – he even did a back flip!  His musicality and timing was superb which tied the piece together nicely.  Bruno and Carrie were wowed by Nyle’s dancing, and Len and Zendaya were charmed by his terrific charisma.

Doug & Karina – Jazz to “A Spoonful of Sugar” from Disney’s Mary Poppins
Carrie – 6Len – 6Zendaya – 6Bruno – 6 for a total of 24

Another number that utilized the “Jazz” for an all-encompassing style, I was not impressed by Doug’s routine.  He did his best, and had some nice character work, but could not seem to keep up.  In the beginning Doug had several slips and had some trouble with his footwork.  By the middle of the piece, Doug found his groove, and as Bruno put it “the medicine kicked in.”  Carrie saw some good things though she felt the number didn’t all come together.  Len was pleased with the character of the dance and commented that it was out of sync at times.  Though Zendaya and Bruno noted the mistakes, they both admired the personality.

Kim & Sasha – Quickstep to “I Wanna Be Like You” from Disney’s The Jungle Book
Carrie – 8Len – 8Zendaya – 8Bruno – 8 for a total of 32

Kim brought her best performance so far to the floor with this peppy Quickstep!  The fun Kim had while dancing was contagious, bringing wide smiles to the audience and judges alike.  Her steps were quite precise and she did well with some tough choreography.  Kim made clear improvements on her partnership and frame from last week.  Len and Zendaya delighted in the zip and diverting nature of the performance.  Bruno liked Kim’s speed and was glad to see her shoulders in the right place.  Carrie said Kim made it look easy and applauded the way both dancers worked together.

Jodie & Keo – Cha-Cha to “Try Everything” from Disney’s Zootopia
Carrie – 7Len – 6Zendaya – 7Bruno – 7 for a total of 27

This was a rough number.  Jodie made mistakes and tried to cover them up with high energy and a smile.  Unfortunately, it did not work.  Though she certainly tried to recover, the number was lackluster and she lost her audience.  I do not agree with the 7’s she received and personally thought all 6’s would have been fitting.  Zendaya was glad that Jodie kept going, and Bruno is looking forward to seeing more from her next performance.  Carrie wanted her to work on trusting her partner.  Len was happy to see her put forth all of her effort.

Von & Witney – Viennese Waltz to “A Dream is a Wish” from Disney’s live-action Cinderella
Carrie – 8Len – 8Zendaya – 8Bruno – 8 for a total of 32

By watching this performance, it was evident that Von worked hard to improve his dancing from last episode.  There were noteworthy improvements to his frame and posture.  Von’s footwork was smooth, and he had a graceful stride throughout all of the steps.  Bruno was enchanted with the improvements, but urged him to work on his turns.  Carrie and Len enjoyed the charm and elegance.  Zendaya was impressed with Von’s easy and graceful movements.  All around, it was a solid and entertaining performance.

Ginger & Valentin – Foxtrot to “Belle” from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
Carrie – 9Len – 9Zendaya – 9Bruno – 9 for a total of 36

This was my favorite dance of the night!  Ginger put on an outstanding show!  Everything was on point, clear cut and done expertly.  Ginger had good timing and well-crafted showmanship!  There were several theatrical elements, and as Zendaya said, “it was like watching a Broadway musical.”  It was neat to see some Tango flavor mixed in with the dance, and all of the transitions were seamless.  Each judge was impressed – even Len gave up a 9!

Wanya & Lindsay – Samba to “Circle of Life” from Disney’s The Lion King
Carrie – 8Len – 9Zendaya – 9Bruno – 9 for a total of 35

Here was another astounding performance!  Wanya turned up the heat with his moves and confidence!  He stayed on tempo and brought out his own flair to the dance.  His leg work was fantastic and he was not afraid to get theatrical.  Once again, Len gave up a 9 with Zendaya and Bruno.  Carrie loved the performance, but thought Wanya was over-dancing it at the start.

Paige & Mark – Quickstep to “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story
Carrie – 9Len – 9Zendaya – 9Bruno – 9 for a total of 36

Paige lit up the stage with a knock-out number!  Her steps were clean, frame was solid, and she managed to work her way with ease through some of the most difficult choreography this season.  Simply put, all of Paige’s hard work has paid off and she rocked it!  Zendaya thought it was amazing and Bruno loved the creativity of the steps.  Carrie acknowledged how difficult the dance was and praised Paige for making it look easy.  Len felt it was a perfect way to end the night.

With 8’s and 9’s coming out in storm, the competition is toughening up.  The couples in jeopardy this week were Marla & Tony and Jodie & Keo.  Marla and & Tony were eliminated this time around which did not surprise me too much.  I still think, especially after this week’s performance, that Doug & Karina are up on the elimination board, with Jodie & Keo not too far behind.

Disney night is always an exciting night, and this week was no exception.  By Week 4 the competitors really begin to split into top and bottom.  Don’t forget to vote for your favorites!  Who are your favorite couples, and what is your favorite dance so far?  Catch you next week!

Happy Dancing!

Dancing with the Stars Season 22 Week 3

Round 3 brought out the emotional side of things with the “Most Memorable Year” theme.  If you aren’t in the know, this traditional week is a chance for the audience to get to know the competitors a bit more and explore their life stories.  From love and death to life and recovery, each dance the contestants performed reflects a special memory they hold dear from a specific year.  I was very interested to see what dances would be done, though I did miss having an opening performance from the professionals.

Ginger & Valentin – Contemporary to “Home” by Phillip Phillips
Carrie – 7Len – 7Bruno – 7 for a total of 21

Ginger chose to honor her husband and child with her contemporary dance.  It seemed like she was thinking a bit too much while performing and some of the movements could have been a bit smoother.  However, Ginger clearly cares for her family and it was evident in her performance as she poured out her heart.  Overall, it was a nice performance with Len looking for more fluidity in her arms, Bruno wanting more extension in her movements, and Carrie enjoying the story she told.

Doug & Karina – Waltz to “Rainbow Connection” by The Muppets’ Kermit the Frog
Carrie – 7Len – 6Bruno – 7 for a total of 20

It was a pleasant surprise to see Doug with some smooth footwork!  Doug is keeping things consistent, delivering solid performances each week while adding more and more to his style.  He dedicated the dance to his deceased parents.  Despite the simple choreography, Doug utilized it with great passion and feeling.  While he could still be a bit more balanced and sure-footed, he brought elegance and quality to the floor.  Bruno was pleased to see his smooth side, and Carrie really felt the emotion and applauded the dedication to Doug’s parents.  Len mentioned that it was unstable at some points, but he was happy to see the grace and class that unfolded.

Kim & Sasha – Foxtrot to “Facts of Life” Theme Song by Gloria Loring
Carrie – 8Len – 7Bruno – 7 for a total of 22

Kim gave a fantastic display with her Foxtrot!  Her memorable year was 1976 when she achieved her first professional acting gig in a syrup commercial.  Like Len said, the dance “was like maple syrup, smooth and tasty.”  Kim and Sasha were definitely in sync and were able to match there steps splendidly.  There were a couple issues with frame as it seemed a smidge tense at times, but otherwise another solid performance under Kim’s belt.

Von & Witney – Contemporary to “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins
Carrie – 7Len – 6Bruno – 7 for a total of 20

Von’s special memory was winning the Superbowl in 2016.  Von is another competitor who brings consistency to the competition.  Each week he shows that he can dance, with more personality and comfort starting to shine through.  It is fun to see Von so light on his feet, but there were some poor foot placements that made it harder to get around.  Len admires the effort that Von gives with each dance, always giving 100%.  Bruno was impressed with Von’s “twinkle-toes” but suggested working on his turns.  Carrie thought the dance was well done, but it left her wanting more.

Marla & Tony – Jive to “happy” by Pharrell Williams
Carrie – 7Len – 7Bruno – 7 for a total of 21

Yet another player who brings consistently good performances!  Marla danced for the year 1993, when her daughter was born.  It is tough to take on a Jive, but Marla nailed a lot of the steps and kept up with the lively tempo!  Every now and then her balance was off and she got caught a bit behind, but overall, her energy and devotion to the mood of the song won the audience over.  Bruno warned her to be careful of being flat-footed, and Carrie was happy to see all of the spirit Marla put into it.  Len simply said “you are happy, I am happy,” which pretty much sums it up!

Antonio & Sharna – Foxtrot to “7 Years” by Lukas Graham
Carrie – 7Len – 6Bruno – 7 for a total of 20

I really enjoyed this performance, despite some missteps and what seemed to be skips in the choreography.  Antonio performed the routine for his son (who received a perfect 10 from Carrie).  I continue to be a fan of Antonio, believing he is a diamond in the rough – he just needs some time and pressure to make his dancing shine.  Carrie and Len saw some refinement, but wanted even more polish.  Bruno saw all of the effort and feeling Antonio put into the number, but found he got too excited and began to lose his finesse.

Paige & Mark – Paso Doble to “300 Violin Orchestra” by Jorge Quintero
Carrie – 8Len – 7Bruno – 8 for a total of 23

This piece was a high point of the evening!  Happy to have Mark back from his back injury, Paige came out fighting – and in a ring no less!  While I agree with Len, who thought it didn’t look like a Paso Doble, the performance power and creativity of the piece was electric.  There were some progressive choreography choices that shot the other judges through the roof with excitement, driving Bruno to go so far as to call Paige “Wonder Woman.”  For the flavor and theme of the week, it was a job well done!

Jodie & Keo – Foxtrot to “Rise Up” by Andra Day
Carrie – 8Len – 7Bruno – 8 for a total of 23

Jodie took her performance as a chance to celebrate her sobriety.  I admire her for her courage, as it takes guts to talk about that struggle on national television.  Jodie took her inspiration and let it blossom forth into her steps.  I was impressed with her smooth transitions and footwork, which certainly made it her best performance so far.  Bruno, Carrie and Len all thought she did a wonderful job, and thanked her for sharing her story through dance.

Mischa & Artem – Samba to “Party in the USA” by Miley cyrus
Carrie – 6Len – 6Bruno – 6 for a total of 18

Mischa has made improvements from last week, but is still can’t quite seem to find the beat.  Her movements were more fluid, and she appeared more relaxed.  However, with timing issues and some unsure footwork, it made for a mediocre performance.  Carrie was pleased to see the progress Mischa has made.  Len said it was her best dance so far, and Bruno felt she was more engaged and maintained a good attitude throughout the dance.

Wanya & Lindsay – Waltz to “National Anthem ’96 Olympic Ceremonies” by Boyz II Men
Carrie – 8Len – 8Bruno – 8 for a total of 24

Wanya really delivered on the choreography and painted the emotions of the song with his expression!  It had an effortless flowing feel with genuine purpose with each step.  There were times that he became too emotionally involved and made some minor mistakes, but he drove the performance home with poise.  Len noticed his posture slip a few times, however, Len was impressed and thought it was delightful.  Bruno loved the grand and open feel, calling it a stellar performance.  Carrie was captured by the movements and the music, comparing Wanya to “the rockets’ red flare.”

Nyle & Peta – Tango to “Verge” by Owl City & Aloe Blacc
Carrie – 8Len – 8Bruno – 9 for a total of 25

What better way to end the performances than with the best dance of the night!  Nyle knocked it out of the park with a vivacious Tango and the passion to back it up!  The vigor and speed of the dance really brought a challenge.  Despite losing his hold and position in frame a few times, Nyle kept up with the pace.  There were a few times where he seemed to become too involved with the movements and lost his showmanship, and I do not believe it warranted a 9, but it was still a skillfully executed performance.  Carrie thought Nyle was “better than Superman” and the dance made Bruno feel like he was going to explode with excitement.  Len took note of the higher skill level the choreography called for and told Nyle “You are proof that anyone can do whatever they want.”

With the performances over, the couples in jeopardy were Doug & Karina, Mischa & Artem and Jodie & Keo.  The couple to be eliminated was Micha and Artem.  Though it was a nice to see her give each dance her all, I think she was the right choice to be eliminated.  With the way things have been going, my next prediction for elimination is Doug & Karina.

All in all, I feel that this week was an insight into the performers of the group and helped some folks shine a bit brighter and get recognized for that over the dancing.  When it comes to a heart-felt piece, I can definitely understand how people are moved over the expression rather than the execution.  However, I definitely still appreciate Len’s comments the most, as he is not afraid to say what needs to be said and despite the emotional atmosphere.  This is a competition after all, so judging with your head rather than your heart is the best way to go.  You can still give an emotionally charged performance without letting go of technique.

The highest caliber of dancers all build from the ground up, with footwork, placement, timing, motion and other technique before adding in the last elements of performance style.  Like the saying goes, you can’t build a house from the top down – you have to build a foundation and framework before you can even think to paint and decorate.

Remember to vote to keep your favorite couples out of jeopardy!  Next week is sure to be a magical evening – it’s Disney Night!  I can hardly wait to find out what is in store for us!  See you then!

Happy dancing!

Dancing with the Stars Season 22 Week 2

Week 2 brought the sizzle with Latin Night!  Each couple was limited to dancing a Rumba, Salsa, Samba, Paso Doble, Cha-Cha or Argentine Tango.  With that list of dances and the first elimination on the line, the heat was on!

Right out of the gate the professionals performed a live wire act to the song “Shake That” by Samanta Jade feat. Pitbull.  It always sets a nice tone for the show to have the pros dance and you can get a feel for the night.  The pros bring technique, speed, precision and performance elements that are polished, so you have a nice primer of what the judges will be looking for when the celebrities compete!

Jodie & Keo – Samba to “Bun Up the Dance” by Dillion Francis
Carrie – 7Len – 7Bruno – 7 for a total of 21

Jodie really impressed me for a this being a week 2 dance!  She has already gotten more comfortable on the floor, and with a bit more confidence and sure steps, I think she will be quite the competitor!  All of the judges enjoyed the performance, with Len suggesting some stronger leg work.  Carrie and Bruno definitely see her strides, and like how she is progressing, but urged her to get out of her head and relax.

Marla & Tony – Argentine Tango to “Don’t” by Ed Sheeran
Carrie – 7Len – 6Bruno – 7 for a total of 20

Marla is starting to really catch on! She had some great footwork along with fantastic frame.  Argentine is a difficult dance to learn when you have the time to spend on it, let alone only a week!  Bruno wanted Marla to get “down and dirty” while Carrie was on the other end enjoying the “classy and sophisticated” poise Marla brought.  Len wanted a bit more intimacy, but still felt the performance was clean.

Geraldo & Edyta – Salsa to “Ran Kan Kan” by Tito Puente
Carrie – 5Len – 4Bruno – 4 for a total of 13

I am still not sure what to make of the performance, but kudos to Geraldo for trying his best.  We saw a bit more movement from him, but that’s not saying a lot.  They definitely went for the humor here, and while they did get a couple of laughs for the parody of Donald Trump, the steps were fumbled through and lack-luster at best.  Carrie was encouraging, saying there was improvement over last week with a bit more rhythm.  Len told it like it is, and was happy to see Geraldo give it his best shot.  Bruno said he wasn’t sure what the content was and that he “loved it for all the wrong reasons.”

Paige & Mark – Salsa to “Danza Kuduro” by Don Omar feat. Lucenzo
Carrie – 8Len – 8Bruno – 8 for a total of 24

What a great routine!  With Mark injured during the Sunday rehearsal, Paige was nervous about performing.  Luckily enough, another member of the dance troupe, Alan, stepped up to the plate.  And what a great performance!  Despite rushing a few times, Paige brought an exciting energy with an ease to her steps for one of the best dances so far!  Len gave praises to Paige, Mark and Alan for a job well done and smooth execution.  Bruno and Carrie told her to watch her timing, but were wowed with her power as a dancer.

Antonio & Sharna – Rumba to “Adorn” by Miguel
Carrie – 6Len – 6Bruno – 7 for a total of 19

The more I watch Antonio go, the more I enjoy it!  You can see the dancer inside of him that wants to come out and play, but he’s not quite there yet.  Antonio appears to have an understanding of what he needs to do – it’s just getting out of his head and applying it to his body that will take some work.  Each judge recognized his natural talent and applauded the chemistry.  Carrie was looking for a sturdier frame, while Bruno and Len are looking for a more comfortable execution of his talents.

Kim & Sasha – Salsa to “Conga” by Gloria Estefan
Carrie – 7Len – 6Bruno – 6 for a total of 19

Kim brought an exciting energy, and the performance could have been stellar if she had not lost track or her choreography.  Once she slipped up, she made some faces and had a hard time getting back up on the horse.  Kim has a lot going for her, and I think she has a shot at becoming great so long as she can maintain performance attitude and not break down when there’s a mistake.  Carrie said Kim had “Tina Turner legs and Beyonce energy” and recommended using that to her advantage.  Len admired Kim’s attack and drive, and thinks she shows a lot of potential.  Bruno urged Kim to keep having fun and not to mind the mistakes – just keep going.

Nyle & Peta – Rumba to “Stole the Show” by Parson James
Carrie – 7Len – 6Bruno – 7 for a total of 20

I am still amazed watching Nyle dance and knowing that he is deaf, but this second dance was a bit more rough around the edges.  As a whole the performance was solid, but it was way to busy.  The choreography and the music did not seem to fit together.  Len felt the lift was good, but that the piece as a whole was too hectic and needed to calm down.  Bruno and Carrie agreed, but noted that there should be smoothness and more attention to the musicality while dancing.

Mischa & Artem – Cha-Cha to “Pata Pata” by Miriam Makeba
Carrie – 5Len – 5Bruno – 5 for a total of 15

It was nice to see Mischa move a bit more for this number.  She definitely had more attitude, though there were fumbles and she had a hard time staying on beat.  It felt like she was trying her best but her mind kept getting muddled with too much to think about.  Bruno was happy to see more life and personality from her, as was Carrie.  Len appreciated the content, but felt Mischa lost focus.  All three judges noted the mistakes, but praised her for giving it a good shot.

Von & Witney – Cha-Cha to “Ain’t Too Cool” by LunchMoney Lewis
Carrie – 7Len – 6Bruno – 7 for a total of 20

When Von took the floor, it was nice to see him with such personality.  The Cha-Cha went well, and it looked like Von felt comfortable in the spotlight.  He gave a solid second performance with some minor hiccups here and there.  Compared to last week, there are some small improvements in his footwork.  Carrie felt that Von was dancing too small and wanted him to “own the floor.”  Len and Bruno both agreed, but felt the performance was well done overall.

Wanya & Lindsay – Salsa to “Echa Pa’lla” by Pitbull
Carrie – 8Len – 8Bruno – 8 for a total of 24

To me, this was the best performance of the night!  Wanya stepped up his game even further from last week!  He had presence and energy, and a fun flair that kept the audience and judges excited.  He has the right framework and clearly his musical background helps with the dancing.  While it was not perfect, each judge had nothing but praises for the couple, with Carrie even calling him the king of the ballroom!

Doug & Karina – Paso Doble to “Buster Voodoo” by Rodrigo y Gabriela
Carrie – 7Len – 6Bruno – 7 for a total of 20

I was happy to see a Paso Doble for a performance, as it is one of my favorite dances!  Doug made a large improvement from last week, and was not nearly as clumsy.  The choreography was simple, but I think it helped to add to the performance.  With Paso being such a theatrical dance, it was great to see Doug put forth some attitude and drive.  Bruno remarked that he would like to see Doug’s hips forward more.  Carrie was impressed with how the he played to his strengths and made it all his own.  Len was pleased to see the improvements, noting that the dance had attack and purpose.

Ginger & Valentin – Samba to “Sorry” by Justin Bieber
Carrie – 7Len – 7Bruno – 7 for a total of 21

In the beginning it was a little slow, but once the dance got going, Ginger brought vigor and electricity!  Ginger made some mistakes, but did not show it and powered straight through.  As the performance went on, I felt it just got stronger and stronger.  It had a very “feel good” vibe to it, as Bruno exclaimed.  Len enjoyed seeing some classic Samba steps done well, and Carrie was glad to see Ginger find her own style.

At the end of it all, the three couples at the bottom were Mischa & Artem, Geraldo & Edyta and Doug & Karina. It came as no surprise to me as Geraldo and Edyta were the first to be eliminated.  Who will be eliminated next week?  Unless there is an astounding performance this Monday, my money is on Mischa & Artem to be out next.

This episode solidified my favorites as Wanya & Lindsay, Von & Witney, and Antonio & Sharna.  I have voted for my favorites, so don’t forget to do the same!  Catch you next week!

Until then…
Happy dancing!