Jonathan Roberts on Dancing With The Stars: Week 7
The pressure was turned up a notch this week as each of the couples had to do two complete numbers for the first time. The results of all their hard work left the judges scores landing all over the map, from 21 to 29. Jonathan is back this week with his take on all of the performances, and some thoughts on those confusing scores.
We also got to a number of reader questions. So, read on past the jump to find out which celebrity is on Jonathan's partner wish list, how he got involved with the show, what some of his favorite musical numbers were, just what makes the foxtrot so hard, and what Jonathan thinks of the possibility that Paula Abdul would be on the show. Oh, and there is also a bit of a teaser about what the future might hold for our favorite pro.
Jonathan: Great show tonight!
Brett: I thought so too. It was a really good group of performances. And I was wondering, I think this is probably the hardest week of the season for the celebrities.
Jonathan: I would say this week, and the final, are the two hardest weeks of the show. This week because it's the first time the celebrities actually have two dances. And it's like a shock to the system. They thought they were doing well. They were working hard. They were being challenged with one dance. Then all of a sudden two dances come along and it just hits them. Also, the realization that if they are going to keep making it, they are going to keep getting two new dances every week.
But then I do have to say, the final, if you make it, is just exhausting. If you make the final, you haven't had a day off in three months. You're mentally and physically exhausted. Maybe we'll talk about this during the final, but the final is a killer.
Brett: For tonight, Jason & Edyta ended up with the highest score. Would you say they were your favorite of the night?
Jonathan: Tonight, I really disagreed with the judges a lot. I misunderstood them so much. Things that they like in one dance, they didn't like in another. Some things they criticized. To me, I just didn't understand the judges at all tonight. With Jason, his quickstep was absolutely fabulous. Half way through it I said, "That's three 10s." He was light on his feet. He was quick. He had personality. He had all the basic elements of quickstep. He flew around the floor. And it really is tough for a guy of his height and stature to be that light and nimble. And I was really impressed with his quickstep.
The pasa doble. I loved the football theme. That was totally fun. I do agree that it was a little bit sometimes too posey, and Edyta did a lot of the work in it as far as the spins and the movement. But he made great shapes. That's what his height gives him. But for me, his quickstep was the best of the night.
Brett: That was my feeling too. It seemed that the pasa doble was just a little bit off in parts. It had great moments, but wasn't a complete performance, like his quickstep, which was just great from start to finish.
Jonathan: Exactly, his quickstep was just special. From the very beginning to the end, it was a special performance.
Brett: Moving to Kristi & Mark, I thought they were very good again, and I really didn't get the 8 from Len on their Cha Cha.
Jonathan: This is what I mean. Even from Carrie Ann, who said her spins were off. The thing with Kristi is she's so good that she did like twelve chane turns with syncopations and her arms. There's no other celebrity on the show that can do that many spins. So, I just don't understand it. I mean, she was amazing. She was incredible. And I loved the creativity of the umbrella. It told a story and had all the basic elements. She had great movement. She flowed around the floor. She stayed in Mark's arms.
In the cha cha, the 8 from Len was just disgusting. It was shameful of him to do that. Len needs to catch up with today's dancing. On top of that, there were some of the hip hop moves, but I'm surprised Len didn't comment on the actual cha cha. Because she had great hip action. She had great lock steps. There were a lot of really great classic basic elements in her cha cha. This bothered me with the judges tonight, especially with Kristi's cha cha. I don't feel any of them said anything about her cha cha. They all talked about other things about it, but never actually addressed the cha cha. And her cha cha was great.
I understand sometimes when they talk about how the dance had feeling, emotion, and passion. But you do have to talk about what they did in the dance sometimes. Overall, from all the judges comments tonight, they never actually addressed the dance.
Brett: The thing that really stood out for me with Kristi tonight was the beginning of her cha cha. When she turned away from Mark and took off across the floor, she had such command of her performance.
Jonathan: You really can see that Kristi is comfortable being under the spotlight and under pressure. And as the show keeps going on, she gets better and better. For the first time with two dances, she was just brilliant. I really think that if a woman is going to win, it's going to be Kristi.
Brett: I think she has a good following too, which is a huge part of it.
Jonathan: As we know...
Brett: Yes. Mario & Karina. I was kind of flummoxed by the judges scores for their foxtrot. I thought it got back to what you had said about his upper body. It seemed to me that there was noticeable improvement this week.
Jonathan: Again, I don't understand the judges. For me, Mario's foxtrot was great. He did have a little stumble, but his posture has improved so much. It's amazing. He is more of a hip hop dancer, and he was great in the foxtrot. There were a lot of basic elements. Again I could see him taking control and leading Karina around the floor. I liked the choreography. I liked the flow. I liked the movement. From where he came from, he really did a great performance and looked like a real gentleman out there.
I don't understand them. I feel the judges have pegged Mario being this young hip hop kid and it doesn't matter what he does. They only compliment him in the Latin, and not the ballroom. I just feel that they have an image of him in their mind, and it doesn't matter what he does, he can't break that image.
Brett: Now, Marissa & Tony I thought had another good night. She's growing on me and we got a different Marissa tonight because that's what the dances required.
Jonathan: I had mixed feelings on Marissa because I've really been such a big fan of hers the last couple weeks. As you know from my comments, I've been really positive on her. Tonight in the tango, she did a great job, and even moreso in the rumba, it was just too careful. There was no risk to me. That's how I don't understand that the judges gave her 9s in the dances and other people 8s. When, difficulty wise, her dances were not nearly as difficult as some of the other couples. With what she had, she did a great job. She has the attitude and the personality. I love to watch Marissa because she loves to dance. And she loves to be in front of people and perform. And you just warm up to that. But as far as the difficulty of the steps, I didn't feel she challenged like some of the other couples, who got lower scores.
Brett: Those lower scores are something we saw with Cristián & Cheryl. In the samba of course with the injury I don't know what else they could really do, but in the Viennese waltz, I didn't agree with the two 8s.
Jonathan: Yeah, again Cristián & Cheryl came out and I just have to say, they looked stunning together. Every week they are just such a great image of this masculine man and this feminine woman. Their outfits match and it's elegant and sophisticated and he just flows around the floor. And the judges gave him a low score. I don't understand.
Brett: Yeah, it was a night of that, and I'm not sure what else there is to say about it. The injury, that's just unfortunate, and you can't really do anything.
Jonathan: I have to say, I'm really impressed with Cristián. I saw him get taken out on the stretcher to the ambulance, so I know the doctors are going to check him out and see how bad his muscle pull, or muscle tear, we're not sure yet. For him, with the injury, to keep going and try to catch Cheryl at the end. That just really shows me a lot of Cristián and his character. He really wants to win this competition. He doesn't want to let Cheryl down. He doesn't want to let his fans down. And he's just doing everything he can to come out there and do a great job. So, my hat's off to him to keep going with an injury like that.
Brett: It was impressive, because obviously it wasn't a little injury.
Jonathan: Yeah, you could see when it happened because he kind of blanked out and forgot that part of the routine. And then there was this moment where I don't think anybody knew if he was going to stop or keep going. Then you could see his eyes focus and he said that's it, I'm going to finish this routine. He did everything he could to go through to the end. That's a real competitor.
Brett: And that leaves us with Shannon & Derek. The tango, I thought, came out very well.
Jonathan: The first thirty seconds of Shannon's tango was one of the most impressive dances this entire season. The speed, the quickness, the changes they had back and forth. The drama with the hat. It was just incredible. I'm so impressed with her, and with Derek's choreography. Then, as they moved through the dance they got a little rough in the middle. She missed a couple steps. And the end, finished really strong. That was one of the only dances the judges got right to me.
See, three 9s for that tango. As much as I love Marissa, her tango compared to Shannon's, it's like one was tip-toeing around the floor and the other was attacking it. I guess, that's what it comes down to in ballroom dancing, is people's opinion of what they like. So, tonight the judges liked the softer approach, because the difficulty in Shannon's routine was absolutely incredible.
Then in her second dance. Again, very creative from Derek in the beginning. In my opinion Derek is doing an amazing job showing her off, and trying to hide her weaknesses. Which, the judges are still picking on. Kind of the gangliness and awkward movement. My hat is off to Derek for a great job on that. But yeah, a little bit of it was still awkward.
Brett; And at this point, I just don't know that she's going to be able to overcome that. It's something that is just going to take a lot of time.
Jonathan: The thing is, on the show now, for all the celebrities facing two dances a week, it is just an amazing amount of pressure. The time you had before to actually spend the whole first day doing the choreography, learning the steps. Then the second day you remember it and you go over it. Then you start adding the technique. That's gone. They literally have two days to learn one dance. It is crunch time for all the celebrities. We're really going to see who the top dancer is.
Brett: Getting to some questions, I wanted to ask you about this. There are a lot of rumors about Paula Abdul possibly being a contestant next season. We've seen quotes where Bruno said he thinks she would win. And Carrie on said she's emotionally fragile and doesn't realize the pressure she would be under on the show. I was wondering if you have any thoughts on the possibility of Paula as a contestant.
Jonathan: It would surprise me if she came on the show, because she does have quite an extensive dance background. But I think Paula has been involved in the reality show business and understands how it is. So, I don't think she'd be getting into something that she doesn't know what it would be. I do know that Paula loves the show. American Idol films right next door to us, so she often comes over and stands in the back and watches little bits. She follows all of us dancers. And it's great having someone with such a high profile as a fan of the show. That's when you really know you have a hit, when a celebrity from another show loves your show. But it would surprise me if she actually did compete.
Brett: Karen would like to know what advice you have for people that are older, and she says over 40, who would like to get started in dance.
Jonathan: It is never too late to start dancing. I used to teach a lady who was in her early 90s that had started dancing when she was 85 or 86. Some of the last lessons I was teaching her before I moved she was legally blind basically. But she could follow me and move around the floor and she absolutely loved it. She said it made her young. So, to me, age is no problem. You can start at any time. I would just check out the local dance studios in your area. Often they offer a free introductory lesson at most studios. To me, the most important thing is finding a teacher that fits you and your style. There's all kinds of different teachers and you want someone who makes you feel positive and like you can do it. I would go about it that way.
Brett: David says that he's noticed over the seasons that the foxtrot is always one of the most difficult dances and he would like you to explain what it is that makes the foxtrot so hard.
Jonathan: The foxtrot is the most difficult of all the ballroom dances, because of the slow timing of your feet and body. The ballroom dances require you moving around the floor. A lot of the Latin dances are in place. The ballroom dances fly around the floor. What makes the foxtrot so hard is you have this huge movement, but you have this incredibly slow timing of your feet, compared to what your body is doing. It just takes an incredible amount of body control to make it look good.
Brett: Nerissa writes in and apparently she has the Dancing With The Stars PC game.
Jonathan: Oh, great!
Brett: She's won the game playing with you and Stacey and would like to know what the experience of making the game was like.
Jonathan: It was an absolute blast. I did it with Karina Smirnoff. We spent a week, we put these body suits on that were like this spandex with these little balls. Then we went in this infra-red room with the motion capture and we were exhausted by the end of week, coming up with all the dance steps. We had a great time. That was a lot of fun. Thank you for picking me to dance.
Brett: Tabitha would like to know if you might return to competition at some point.
Jonathan: I retired from competition a year and a half ago and I will comment on that later.
Brett: Fair enough, she also asks, if you did return to competition, what pro would you like to partner with?
Jonathan: Again, ask me that at the end of the season. I'm making some decisions right now on what I am going to do and I will come back to that question.
Brett: The green-eyed gal notes that you are one of the original pros and wonders how you got involved in the show.
Jonathan: The show started in England, and when it was a hit there, they brought it over to America. When ABC picked it up, the producers went around and interviewed most of the top six finalists in the country in all the different divisions and styles. So, they interviewed Anna and I, and picked us both for the first show. Actually, not everyone knows this, Anna was actually cast on the first show. She trained her celebrity for two weeks and then there was some sort of dispute and he ended up backing out so she was never on the first show.
Brett: Emily writes in wondering if there is anyone you have in mind as a celebrity partner you would like to have on the show.
Jonathan: I would absolutely love to dance with Catherine Zeta-Jones. She is an amazing actress. Beautiful woman. Sophisticated. Sexy. I have seen her in several of the sword fighting and action movies and she is just incredible. She has so much personality. I spoke with someone that worked with her and they said that she picked up the steps fast and she improvised and made more out of it than was originally planned and that she was just phenomenal. I would love to have her as a partner.
Brett: Sydney would like to know if you have a favorite piece of music that you have danced to on the show.
Jonathan: A couple favorites that pop to mind are dancing to Evita with Heather Mills. That was a great number. I really enjoyed with Marie Osmond the quickstep to Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy. We had the military uniforms and it was a great number. And I do have to say, it wasn't my favorite song, but now I absolutely love it, when Anna and I danced on the results show to Barry Manilow's "Mandy". That number just turned out fabulous.
Brett: Viki writes in and notes that you are in such great shape. She wonders what your workout regimen consists of.
Jonathan: Well, a lot of dancing. Anna watches what I eat. So, if I'm alone, I don't eat so great. If I'm with Anna then I eat well. And we also work out on the total gym. But trust me, if you dance six or eight hours, that's a pretty good work out. Even so, as a professional dancer, you have to keep working and pushing yourself, so that's why we do work out as well as dance. Anna also does a lot of gyrotonics and pilates.
Brett: And finally, we have a suggestion. Catherine writes in and says she would like to see the pros dance in zoot suits with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy as the musical guest. And I just pass that along because it really is a great idea.
Jonathan: I think all of us pros would love that too. They are a great band and we have their CDs in all of our dance studios. We practice to that music all the time, so hopefully ABC has that in the works for the future. Thanks to everyone for reading the blog, and watch next week for the big 100th episode. There's a lot of great stuff planned, so it will be fun.
And with that, we close up shop on another interview. And just in time as my keyboard needs to cool down after all that typing. Jonathan will be back next week to chat about all the performances and answer more of your questions.