DwtS 5, Week 2: A Second Opinion

After last week’s spectacular Dancing with the Stars Season 5 debut, fans’ expectations for this second heat of performances ran high. Unfortunately, a number of the celebrities failed to maintain the momentum that they’d enjoyed during their first lap around the ballroom. Here’s my take on Monday night’s efforts.

PUTTING THE PEDAL TO THE METAL

Helio & Julianne
This King of Speed maintained his blistering pace and drew upon his Latin heritage to vault him into a lead position. Two-time Indy champion, Helio, delivered a charismatic and energetic Mambo that propelled him to the top of the leader board. Despite his physically painful practice sessions, Helio succeeded in putting everything perfectly together on performance night.

Helio executed complicated footwork, turns, and tricks while simultaneously showcasing his great musicality and wonderful synchronization. His relaxed confidence, debonair attitude, and infectious exuberance easily positioned Helio as the judging panel’s favourite. Julianne certainly hit the jackpot when she was assigned such an incredible partner to complement her dazzling choreography. The rest of the celebrities better beware, because this seasoned racer has already accelerated into overdrive!

Sabrina & Mark
Cheetahlicious Sabrina demonstrated that she certainly has what it takes to master a classic ballroom number. Her Quickstep was sharp, smooth, synchronized, and amazingly fast. Sabrina and Mark sprinted around the ballroom and probably covered more floor area than many of the other couples combined.

This lively duo delivered the total package: polished tricks, energetic performance, controlled execution, wonderful facial expressions, and great technique. I loved them! Based on this routine, it’s obvious that Mark received his training at the same institution as Julianne. His choreography was amazing! Helio and his partner had best keep on eye on their rearview mirror because this talented team is right on their tail.

Mel B & Maksim
Scary Spice’s transition from a feisty kitten to a classy lady might have required some etiquette coaching, but her lessons certainly paid off on the dance floor. Mel gave viewers what they "really, really want" with her solid performance of the Quickstep. M & M’s rendition of this classic ballroom dance was smooth, elegant, and effortless.

Accolades certainly go to Maks for managing to successfully contain Mel’s wild side. And the fidgety Spice girl did an equally admirable job of holding her posture, mastering the precision footwork, and maintaining good unison with her partner. Their coverage of the dance floor was excellent and the entire routine, from start to finish, was packed with motion. This dynamic duo is rapidly developing into a well-oiled machine. The rest of the field clearly has their work cut out for them if they plan to challenge M & M’s furious pace.

Marie & Jonathan
Marie’s makeover into a hot Latin mama was a pleasing and triumphant transformation. Her sassy attitude and committed performance sold her Mambo routine to the in-house crowd in a big way. Marie was confident, flirtatious, and moved fluidly around the ballroom. Her energetic hip action paired with her animated facial expressions and hand gestures set the perfect tone for this spirited dance.

Kudos go to Jonathan for once again choreographing a number that played into Marie’s strengths as a performer. The chemistry between the two struck just the right balance between raunchiness and playfulness. Both the death drop trick and her drop-to-the-floor ending were executed with admirable control (especially considering the disastrous previews from their behind-the-scene attempts). Without a doubt, Marie’s objective to shift her performance into a higher gear was solidly accomplished.

COASTING ALONG

Jane & Tony
Dr Quinn’s adaptation of the Mambo featured a decidedly British flavour instead of the more traditional South American one. Yet despite its prim and proper overtones, many viewers, including myself, were impressed by her transplanted version. Jane danced a precise, neat, and technically strong mambo that included great hip action and lots of flirtatious interplay. Jane looked terrific, moved smoothly around the dance floor, and showed great synchronization with Tony.

However, the routine barely registered on the "hot" scale. I have to agree with Len’s criticism that Jane’s rendition lacked the sizzle and bite expected in a Latin Mambo. In my opinion, this team has dropped back to the middle of the field but remains close enough behind the leaders to stage a well-timed upset.

Jennie & Derek
This week, actress Jennie came out as a more determined, confident, and stronger competitor. Regrettably she was faced with the misfortune of having to overcome an embarrassing crash-and-burn ending. Prior to her mishap, however, Jennie’s performance was quite commendable.

The ballroom style appears to suit this Yummy Mummy better than the Latin one. Jennie moved fluidly and elegantly around the ballroom. Her footwork was quick, light, and covered a respectable portion of the dance floor. However, her performance was not without its own litany of technical errors. Jennie had difficulty sustaining her posture throughout the entire routine. She messed up on her footwork towards the end and lost her unison with Derek. But Jennie’s potential for continuing in the race is still better than average.

Cameron & Edyta
Instead of delivering a Superman performance that complemented his incredible physique, Canadian heartthrob, Cameron, brought a more subdued Clark Kent persona to the dance floor. This All My Children soap star had difficulty getting into the music and really feeling its hot, energizing Latin beat.

Cameron’s rendition of the Mambo was slow, wooden, and rather emotionally detached. While he did hit some nice lines and showed good control in his hip shaking and body movements, the end product was not up to the same standard as some of his fellow competitors.

However, I’m not prepared to write off this Canadian cutie just yet. Cameron has as much potential as many of the other entries currently coasting along in the middle of the pack. Plenty of laps still remain for him to burn some rubber and advance to the pole position.

Mark & Kym
The potent mixture of billionaire Mark’s determination, focus, and fanatical work ethic earned him this week’s "most improved" nod from the DwtS judges. Unfortunately, Mark’s Mambo included a kaleidoscope of hit and miss elements. While Mark’s contagious enthusiasm made for a fun and entertaining performance, his technical shortcomings deducted from its overall appeal.

Highlights of Mark’s routine included nice rhythm, lively upper body movement and good synchronization. On the downside, his performance lacked hip action and the mandatory Mambo sizzle. Regrettably, Mark’s exuberance was exhibited more in his animated facial expressions than in his dance steps.

Still, Mark’s efforts deservedly won him a slot in the third heat. I’m concerned, however, that a great deal more support needs to be rallied off the dance floor before Mark holds a realistic chance of remaining in the running.

ENGINE TROUBLE

Albert & Anna
All things considered, Albert’s rendition of the Quickstep was adequately performed. The beginning was smooth and well executed, the middle was a little wild and out of unison, and the ending was almost (but not quite) back in the groove. Positive elements of Albert’s Quickstep included his posture, his steadfast hold, his lightness on his feet, and his relaxed delivery.

On the other side of the equation was the lack of chemistry between Albert and Anna, the routine’s overly complicated and noticeably out-of-synch footwork, and Albert’s skippy execution of the steps. While Albert wasn’t the worst the worst celebrity dancer, his departure wasn’t too surprising based on this performance.

Floyd & Karina
"Pretty Boy" Floyd is desperately in need of a different dance floor moniker! Floyd’s ballroom performance fell well short of any type of "pretty" classification. His Quickstep, though a noticeable improvement over last week’s Latin routine, was not nearly good enough to boost him above the novice ranks.

Floyd’s posture is atrocious! At no time during his entire dance did Floyd maintain the proper ballroom hold or exhibit an acceptable carriage. Even though he was light on his feet and his footwork was competent, Floyd’s poor posture overshadowed any positive elements in his dancing. Additionally, his legs were too straight, his steps too jumpy, and his pace not nearly fluid enough.

Floyd does not have the makings of a viable contender in this race for the mirrored trophy. I predict (and hope) that a permanent pit stop is on his horizon!

Wayne & Cheryl
In an effort to maximize his audience appeal, the King of Las Vegas threw his chips in with the King of Rock and Roll. But neither Elvis Presley’s’ music tract nor Cheryl’s costumed plumage were enough to distract viewers from Wayne’s shortcomings on the dance floor. Wayne’s Quickstep was slow, gimmicky, and seriously deficient in floor coverage and technique. His steps were hesitant, his upper body stiff and his musicality inconsistent.

Clearly, stage presence and entertainment experience are not enough when the competition has raised the ante so high. Wayne simply has not mastered the qualifications required for competing in this class of entries. Please, let’s pull this participant before he gets a yellow flag for obstructing the field!