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Jonathan Roberts on Dancing With The Stars: Week 8

by Brett Love, posted May 6th 2008 1:38AM

Jonathan Roberts - Dancing With The StarsWeek 8 brings us another chat with our favorite pro. This week Jonathan weighs in with his thoughts on all of the couple's performances and picks his favorite dance of the night. It was a better week for the judges, but there is still one dance that he didn't agree with them about...at all.

Along the way he talks about the difficulties the pros face choreographing the performances as they move further into the competition. We also get to some reader questions. Read on to hear about his trip to the White House, the most, and least, memorable moments from his years on the show, and a sneak peek at just what they have planned for Tuesday's big results show.

Brett: So, what did you think of the night overall?

Jonathan: Great performances tonight. It really was, for me, one of the better shows of the season so far. Really great dancing. Great routines. Very interesting.

Brett: I agree. That being said, I thought Cristián really stole the show there at the end.

Jonathan: Yeah, I do have to say, if we could remove Cristián's left arm permanently, he might win this competition. It was his best night yet. A few weeks ago I made a comment about not feeling like he was himself. Like I would see him back stage and he'd be more fun and have more personality. On the dance floor I would feel that he would disappoint me a little. Tonight he was himself. Maybe the distraction of the arm meant he had to put more focus into it. Sometimes when you get thrown off, or you get an injury like that, it really causes you to focus in and 100% mentally pay attention to the one or two things you have to do in the dance. It really paid off for Cristián because it was his best night yet, absolutely.

Brett: I thought that really showed in their mambo. He came out and his attitude was such a huge part of their number.

Jonathan: Yeah, the rhythm was great. His movement was great. His personality came through. With just one arm you could really see he was leading Cheryl. Sometimes I've felt that it looks like Cheryl is leading him, and tonight it just looked like even though it was only one arm, he just took control.

Brett: And a lot of that credit goes to Cheryl, right? She had to make everything look good while working around his arm, but keeping it from being obvious.

Jonathan: Absolutely. And that's why I wish the professionals got more credit as the show goes on. Because it all comes down to how good the celebrity looks is up to the professional. So, we can give them too hard a routine and they look bad, or too simple a routine and they don't look complicated or professional enough. Tonight Cheryl did a great job. The choreography was perfect for him. It was complicated enough to show him off and it was exactly what the dance needed. It was sophisticated, and it was just perfect.

Brett: Kind of on that same line with what the pro is tasked with in designing the dances, going to Marissa and Tony. I thought again it looked like it was a little bit too easy for this stage of the competition.

Jonathan: Again with Marissa, I feel she did a fabulous job. Obviously her routines are not as complicated, let's say, as Kristi's, or maybe Jason's. But for her, she did a great job and she sold her thing. I think it's a little bit like last season when I had Marie Osmond. I knew that maybe Mel B. was going to do the splits, and Helio was going to jump flying in the air, so we focused on what she did best, which was selling her character and personality. I think that's what Marissa and Tony are doing together. Maybe technique wise it wasn't as complicated as some of the other dances, but she sold what she did 100%. And I think that is what is reaching out to the audience and why people are voting for her. They believe in her and they see that she believes in what she's doing and she loves it. You can't criticize that.

Brett: Moving to Jason & Edyta, I thought it was two very different performances. The tango really suited his personality, but with the samba he just wasn't quite there.

Jonathan: I have to say, the judges were right on tonight with Jason & Edyta. The fist number, the tango, was just brilliant. He was in character, and I have to agree with the judges that I've never seen Edyta look so great. As sexy as she is, and she does all these amazing things, somehow in this black sophisticated dress, they really were amazing to me. Very creative in all the little flicks of the leg and the little tricks. There were a lot of subtle things in the tango. I think people should record the routine and watch it again and just notice the little fine parts that Edyta put in there with Jason. It was really impressive.

Equally on the other half, the samba was just a disaster. Sometimes when it comes to this point in the competition, the pressure on the celebrities is just getting exhausting. So whatever routine you start first somehow often sticks more in the celebrity's head. Whereas the second routine, or whichever one doesn't come as naturally, just doesn't come across as well. I think that might have been what happened with Jason. He could sell one routine, but two was just too much for him this week.

Brett: And that one was always going to be harder for him coming in as a football player, right?

Jonathan: Yeah, but as I said before, samba is one of the hardest Latin dances. Like with Marlee, unfortunately she had the mambo and the samba two weeks in a row which musicality and dance-wise are really difficult dances. We see now with Jason getting the samba, it wasn't his best dance either, and part of that is because it's just such a hard dance to sell and make look good.

And if we can move on to Kristi, I completely disagree with the judges about her samba. But again, the samba, and they didn't score that well. It just shows that it's such a hard dance to sell.

Brett: Sure, and with that one I really thought she should have gained a point for the huge spins in the middle.

Jonathan: Yeah, the thing about Kristi is that tonight was just not fair to her. I don't know if the judges are taking into account her skating background and holding her to a higher standard. I don't know. But I think, as Len would say, raunchy-wise, her samba could have been a bit more raunchy. But as far as technique, speed, and the choreography, that was three 10s. She had the bounce action. She had the rhythm. She had the timing with her feet. Eight spins in a row into a back bend. She just was phenomenal. So I 100% completely disagree with them.

Brett: With Mario & Karina, they made a big deal this week about everybody getting to do lifts, and I thought their lift in the waltz was the best lift of the night.

Jonathan: I would agree there. The first lift in the waltz was the best executed lift of the night. It was flawless up, flawless down. It fit perfectly with the music. It was really really nice. Whereas the second lift they did, it was a little awkward at the end. He actually managed to save it, barely. Because it was starting to go bad.

Brett: That one seemed like they bit off a little bit more than they should have.

Jonathan: Yeah, that's the thing. You never know. And this is why there is so much pressure on the professionals. We never know how quickly our partners are going to get it. You don't want to make a routine that looks to easy and have people say, "Wait a second, that's not a semi-final routine. That's too boring." But then you don't want a routine that is so difficult they end up looking bad. It really is a tough job for the pros to kind of feel out their partner each week because every week you're physically more tired, mentally more tired. So many different things come into play. Maybe you have another event from the other part of your life booked and you lose a day of practice or something. There is just a lot of factors that make it very hard. For me, I felt Mario looked a little unrehearsed. Normally he looks so confident and slick, but I saw him looking down at Karina's feet a lot. Kind of out of the corner of his eye watching her and getting back in time with the routine. So I think Mario is a better dancer than what we saw tonight in the jive.

Then, on the other half for Mario, I was surprised. His first dance, he was so elegant, he was great. He really did take what the judges said and worked on it. From that very first moment he walked out with the grey suit he just looked polished. His posture was better and he really did a nice job. For Mario it was a reverse for me this week. Normally his Latin is good and his ballroom is not so good. Tonight was a switch.

Brett: Out of all of those, did you have a favorite dance of the night?

Jonathan: My favorite dance of the night would be Jason & Edyta's tango, with a close second Mark & Kristi's samba.

Brett: Ok, getting to some of the reader questions, a lot of people have been asking about tomorrow night, wondering if you'll be performing and maybe you can give us a couple hints on what to look for.

Jonathan: The results show is going to be fabulous tomorrow. There are, as far as I know, over thirty celebrities coming back. I think pretty much all the pros from the past seasons are coming back. We're opening the show with a huge pro number of all of us dancing again. You'll get to see Ashley and Maks. There is a death defying trick with Karina that Maks and I are doing. Mel B. is dancing again. It's going to be a must see show.

Brett: Jenn was wondering if you know the name for the spin and drop move that Kristi did in her Viennese waltz.

Jonathan: Off the top of my head, I'm not sure which move that was. I'd have to go back and look at the tape to identify it. The thing is, in ballroom dancing there is a list of what each dance has. Then from there, you go out and create your own moves. So, a lot of the moves are called different things in different places. It makes it hard sometimes to nail down a specific name for a step.

Brett: Nerissa wrote in to ask what it was like dancing for the President and First Lady at the Ford Theater Holiday Gala?

Jonathan: It was one of the most honorable experiences in my entire life. The Ford Theater was an amazing place to be, getting to meet the President, and members of Congress. I just felt honored, and proud of my country, and amazed that ballroom dancing took me to the white house.

Brett: Emily would like know if you have a most memorable and least memorable moment from all of your years dancing on the show.

Jonathan: I'll give you one of each. Most memorable is tough, but I probably would say my second dance with Heather Mills, when we did the mambo and I put her into her back flip walkover. It was right in front of the three judges and I saw all three of their mouths just drop in astonishment. The least memorable has to be when they waxed my chest.

Brett: I don't think you're ever going to forget that.

Jonathan: No, but it will never happen again.

Brett: Sydney wants to know about the process you go through doing the choreography for your celebrity. I'm assuming it changes wildly depending on who you are partnered with.

Jonathan: Exactly. For me, a good choreographer looks at what their partners skills and abilities are and highlights those while trying to hide the weaknesses. So if you are great at spins, you put a ton of spins in everywhere. If you're not great at spins you work on stretching arms and making lines or you work on their personality. Like I talked about before, as the show goes on it gets tougher and tougher figuring out what they can handle in a short amount of time.

Brett: I think it's pretty impressive what the professionals are able to come up with week after week, especially at this point in the competition with two dances each week.

Jonathan: Yeah, and it's hard to keep being creative. Like for some of us as pros that have been on the show five or six times now, you tend to kind of run out of ideas at some point. Especially when you're under pressure. But every week the routines are great, and the show is great. My hat's off to all the professionals on the show. What a great job they do.

Brett: Before we go, with the semi-finals coming up next week do you have any predictions for who goes to the finals?

Jonathan: My prediction of the final is Jason and Kristi. That's easy for me. The third person in the final, I don't know. Cristián looked pretty good tonight.

Brett: He's really made the conversation a lot more interesting after tonight.

Jonathan: Yeah, hopefully his arm won't get better and we'll see more of him.

And with that, we shut down the interview for another week. Jonathan will be back with us next week after the semi-finals to give his thoughts on the dances, and where things stand as we head for the finals. As always, feel free to leave questions in the comments and I'll do my best to get to as many of them as we can.

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Janet

After last nights show 5/12/08, I really don't know where the judges are coming from. Marissa's second dance was AWFUL! I cannot understand the marks at all! If she is still on after tonight, 5/13/08 something is really wrong with the show!

May 13 2008 at 11:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tabitha

Another great interview, thanks Brett. As always both you and Jonathan were entertaining.

I wonder what Jonathan does in his down time? Many professionals run their own dance studios but, what does Jonathan do with his free time?

May 12 2008 at 2:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
green_eyed_gal

Wow, that flying leap Karina performed with Jonathan and Maks did not disappoint! I shudder to think about practicing that for the first time!

I've been wondering what Jonathan did before he took up dancing. To me he's always seemed like one of the better instructors on the show. Was he already involved in teaching or coaching?

Thanks again Brett & Jonathan! I'm going to miss this column when the show's over!

May 12 2008 at 1:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Emily

Jonathan-Thanks again for answering my questions! Again, I really enjoyed the Pro number on the 100th episode! It was really wonderful, and wow, what an amazing piece you, Max and Karina did! It really showed your amazing talent as professional dancers!

My questions are-"Have there been any updates on the summer tour? Is there going to be one?"

"When this season is over, are there any appearances or events we will see or hear from you?"

Also, "Will you be back on DWTS next season or do you know in advance? Is it based on seniority, choice, producers, etc.?"

I hope we'll see you perform on the Result's Show again this week!

Thanks,

Emily

May 10 2008 at 11:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Iman

Thanks Jon for all of this.
It's probably really difficult to understand the positive and negative aspects of the celebrity. Theoretically, I would say that it would be harder to create the first dance due to lack of personal knowledge on what the celeb is all about.

Brett, if you could ask Jon,

Jonathan, have you ever felt that the Pros should deserve more credit? I think they should, and it would be great if DWTS could put a small segment into the show on the hard work of the pros. To me, I would feel the depth of what the show is actually about.

And one more,
I had just been featured of a small choir in Carnegie Hall and realized the beauty of theater. Do you think, a musical person, would do well as a ballroom dancer? I have been planning on taking lessons but I'm afraid that I won't do so well.

Thanks again

May 07 2008 at 9:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kitty

Questions for Jonathan:

Do you think the forced music choices affect the dance? Personally, I find the more traditional music to be much more enjoyable. Like if it's a Samba then put latin music. I just don't understand putting Gwen Stefani for a Mambo or Metalica for a quickstep.

May 07 2008 at 2:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
selma

i have always loved classical dance...ballet, but this show opened me up to ballroom and latin dance. i hear it now referred to as 'dance sport.' given the phenominal athletic abilities of the professional dancers and the success on the show of kristi yamaguchi, jason taylor and emmitt smith, is thought being given to making 'dance sport' an olympic event, like ice dancing?

May 07 2008 at 1:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Breid Foxsong

Thank you both for doing this blog, it is wonderful to hear one of the professional's views of the dancing and the choreography. I would like to ask Jonathan's opinion on something that has puzzled me about a difference between the UK's "Strictly Come Dancing" and the USA's "Dancing With the Stars." In the UK, the bottom two have a dance-off and the judges scores determines the winner. Do you know why they let the viewers have the final say in the USA?
Also, I assume that a doctor checks out each potential competitor before they can even be signed to the show. How do competitors (both pro and non-pro) get prepared for what is obviously a really strenuous (potential) 12 weeks???
Thanks, I am a diehard Jonathan & Anna fan, even if I don't like their celebrities!
Breid

May 06 2008 at 10:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
weller

I think to make the judging more reflective of the routine, there should be some sort of difficulty factor.....then there could be a way for excellence with less content to be realistically compared with more content and perhaps less efficiency. I think that would help with scoring two people like Kristi and Marissa, but also the scoring between the men and women. I think the men for most of the season have to do far less technically than any of the female competitors, especially since the judges never seem to expect men to being leading their dance partners until the last couple of weeks.

May 06 2008 at 5:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Saragee

Much as I love DWTS I think it is time the judges were allowed to vote with decimal points instead of whole numbers. Kristi getting the same score as Marissa is ridiculous, but if the judges could score Kristi 8.9 and Marissa 8.1, then you could see the difference.

May 06 2008 at 3:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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