DwtS 4, Week 6: A Second Opinion

The seven remaining couples treated this week’s viewers to a veritable smorgasbord of dance routines. However, the diverse mixture exerted little impact on the hierarchy of the leading pairs, who continued to sashay their way towards a rendezvous with the winner’s trophy. Here’s my two cents worth on the Week 6 Performance Show.

TAKE THE LEAD

Apolo & Julianne
Another golden performance from the front-running duo. Apolo’s Rumba was romantic, sensuous and wonderfully creative. Julianne’s innovative routine virtually wiped Tucker Carlson’s chair-dancing fiasco right off the map.

I love the fresh material that Julianne brings to the dance floor. And Apolo’s clean performance, competent execution and relaxed attitude are a real pleasure to watch. I particularly enjoyed their split leg lift.

This couple’s contagious chemistry and beautiful artistic rendition of the Rumba was mesmerizing. Whenever I watch this team I feel like I’m observing a dance couple and not the collaborative efforts of a celebrity and professional.

Although Apolo’s Rumba received the same score as Laila’s Cha Cha, I have to give this pair a marginal edge over their closest competitors. I loved the entire routine, its seamless transitions from a stationary chair position to forward footwork movement, and its total integration of the chair prop. This duo is definitely on an Olympic quest to bring home Apolo’s sixth gold.

Maks & Laila
A funky Cha Cha Cha from the Comeback Queen. Laila’s shimmering gold dress was a fitting statement for this pair’s golden performance. Their routine was cheeky, sharp, and fun. Laila did a great job in her execution of the Cha Cha. She was confident, polished, and totally commanded the floor.

However, I completely support Len in his recommendation that she leave the choreography to Maks. I did not enjoy Laila’s "funky" contribution to the number. While her personal touch may have introduced the "Laila" factor, I felt that it spoiled the fluidity and professionalism of their performance, and would have been more appropriate in a free dance routine.

Still, this duo’s Cha Cha was easily one of the top two routines of the evening and leaves this royal pair well positioned for occupying victory lane.

Joey & Kym
An exuberant, swashbuckling performance from the trimmed-down Fat One. Joey’s Samba was strong, manly, and entertaining (no thanks to Jerry Springer’s coaching). Even though the routine fell slightly short of the perfect 10s for which he was aiming, Joey’s number was well received by the judges.

While I applaud his swiveling hips, shimmying shoulders and intricate, floor-covering footwork, I was not a fan of Joey’s samba rolls, his one-legged swiveling or his short pants. I especially disliked him mouthing the words of the song while dancing.

Still, despite my criticisms, I readily admit that Joey’s routine was well executed and merited high marks — just not as high as those he was awarded. This duo’s dance was not my favourite, but it was clearly good enough to secure them a top three placement.

Joey’s competitive spirit and well-rehearsed performances should continue to ensure that this team remains in contention all the way to the final heat.

CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER

Ian & Cheryl
Another solid but uninspired performance. Ian’s lackluster Paso Doble contained some skillful technical elements, but lacked the showmanship zing that the judges have been begging him to bring to the dance floor.

While his polished footwork and well-synchronized steps draw a modicum of praise from the judging panel, Ian’s inability to channel some genuine intensity, passion, or joy into his performance is seriously compromising his continued presence on the show. His poor posture, unpopular arm movements, and lack of clean lines are merely accelerating Ian’s potential for a crash and burn exit.

The viewers (like the judges) want Ian to let loose and give us that breakout performance that we all believe he can achieve. Unfortunately there may not be enough laps left in this race for Ian to rev up his engine, overcome his inhibitions, and regain the inside track. So far, Ian’s dancing doesn’t exhibit the winning attitude that a top contender requires.

John & Edyta
An un-mambolicious performance from the resident Dark Horse. John’s Mambo may have been reasonably entertaining, shown good musicality and included some decent footwork, but it had virtually no hip action. For a dance that, according to Edyta, is all about hips and feet, this missing ingredient equates to almost half of the required dance elements. However, John effectively compensated for his mostly stationary hips with an energetic performance and good floor coverage.

John is enjoyable to watch and his infectious attitude goes a long way in selling his routine to the audience. Unfortunately, I’m doubtful that this pair will manage to repeat their escape from the curse of the Bottom Two.

Considering that John was a last minute entry in the competition, I think that he’s done a commendable job on the show. Should this pair be handed their pink slip on Tuesday night, I suspect that he will gracefully and Cheerfully bow out of the field (so long as he gets credit for being the originator of the "Ruptured Duck" dance step!) .

DEAD MAN WALKING

Heather & Jonathan
An unexciting routine from the Transatlantic Travelers. Heather’s Paso Doble visibly lacked the electrifying passion that I associate with Evita’s principal character, the vibrant Eva Perón.

This number contained few praiseworthy or enjoyable elements. Too many of the dance movements appeared awkward, jerky and artificial. Heather’s bland facial expression failed to communicate any drama, sensuality or fire, and I totally disagree with Bruno that she captured the spirit of the dance.

Heather was another one of tonight’s competitors who opted to mouth the words of the song, a practice that I found incredibly irritating. I was also unimpressed with her flamenco hand action and weak upper body movement.

The only drama I felt from this couple came from Jonathan’s performance, not Heather’s. I doubt that viewers were as enamored with this routine as the judges would have us believe. Heather may soon be able to set her watch back to London time, since I don’t expect she’ll be around for next week’s curtain call.

Billy Ray & Karina
An entertaining, albeit technically deficient, effort from Billy Ray. Since voters refuse to liberate Karina from the onerous task of coaching and choreographing this challenging celebrity, she has made the radical decision to free herself. In Monday’s Jive Billy Ray delivered a highly personalized, gimmick-laden number that included such groundbreaking moves as "Who’s your Daddy" and the "Bubba Chicken."

Although Len managed to identify a few legitimate dance steps in the mix, the judges’ overall consensus was that Billy Ray’s routine was heavy on performance and relatively light on conventional Jive moves.

In his defense, I have to agree that Billy Ray offered up an entertaining routine — much more pleasing that his past selections. However, he is not a dancer and his entertainment contribution and dance ability falls well below that of all the other remaining celebrities in this competition. Although Billy Ray deserves to permanently roll on down the road in his Chevy love mobile, I have an inkling that he’ll be around next week for another tune-up!

GROUP SWING DANCE

The celebrities’ swing dance practice footage was almost as entertaining as their live group number. But with all of the activity happening on the dance floor, I found it extremely difficult to evaluate the couples.

Some of the standout elements that I observed included the following: Apolo’s leapfrog jump over Julianne; John’s awkward upside-down lift/promenade with Edyta draped down his back; Laila’s lift of Maks and hilarious lift-spin of Apolo; Ian’s back-to-back somersault shoulder rollover of Cheryl; and Joey’s fabulous lift sequence with Kym.

The quality of the footwork sections of the routine varied wildly from couple to couple and the overall impression was, as Heather aptly described, "organized chaos". At least there were no embarrassing falls, collisions, or injuries (at least on-air). And the outfits, both male and female, were delightful!

 

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