Dancing With The Stars: Week 7
(S07E14) I can only speak for myself here, but I was really looking forward to the return to the ballroom as week 7 approached. If you've been playing along with the home game, you know that the whole Cloris thing was working a nerve with me. With that bit of business dealt with, and the return of my favorite dancer, Edyta, this week was shaping up to be a great show. And in many respects, it really was. There was a performance judged worthy of a coveted 30, as well as a handful of 9s tossed about. But then we got to the new group face off, and I've got some issues with that one. I'll get to that, and a rundown of all the performances, after the jump.
Let's take a look at the individual performances to get things started.
Warren Sapp & Kym Johnson (Foxtrot) Warren took a bit of a hit for a missed step last week, but was ready to get back on the horse. Kym took him to visit Nick Kosovich for a few pointers on the foxtrot. As they got started with their performance, it looked like it had been time well spent. Warren came out and looked like the cool and smooth performer we've all become accustomed to. Unfortunately, he didn't really keep it up for the whole number. It wasn't bad, and certainly deserved better than the score it ultimately received. I chalk that up to the strangeness that is going first on performance night. It just lacked some of the spirit that Warren usually brings to his time in the spotlight.
Len said it wasn't a classic foxtrot, but he liked the little spin that brought out Warren's personality. He went on to say that it wasn't Warren's best dance, calling him a little heavy. Bruno said that after a promising beginning, the technique fell away. Warren was flat footed, and he has to go back to the ease of movement he had earlier. Carrie Ann asked Warren what was going on, because he wasn't the usual Warren Sapp. He didn't look secure and make it fun. Score: 21 (7,7,7)
Susan Lucci & Tony Dovolani (Paso Doble) There might not have been a bottom two revealed last week, but Susan is certainly one of the contenders for that spot. In the training video, we actually got a really nice look at Tony doing his best work as a teacher, as he explained what it is he is trying to get out of Susan, and did his best to get it. I'm really not sure what else he could do, but even that wasn't enough. I was all ready to say that as with every week, the problem is Susan's inability to embrace the spirit of the dance, but I'm starting to think that isn't it at all. Later in the show she started dropping the excuse that she was busy in New York and didn't have time to practice, and I think that's the rub. Susan simply isn't putting in the time required for her to perform at the level the competition now requires. It's probably my biggest pet-peeve with the show. As to the performance, it was another adequately done walk through the steps that Tony gave her. Nothing special about it, and not deserving of any special scores. The judges disagreed.
Bruno said Susan can ride that bull with pride and dignity. Carrie Ann acknowledged that Susan has struggled with claiming her power, and then asked her to step on the judge's table and say she is doing good. Len thought it was right up there with all her best dances. I'd agree with that, with the qualifier that all of her best dances leave quite a bit to be desired. Score: 24 (8,8,8)
Maurice Greene & Cheryl Burke (Cha Cha) We have another injury to report this week. Maurice hyper-extended his leg in the team dance rehearsal. Fortunately, he didn't let it hamper his performance. Cheryl gave him a lot of intricate footwork to do and he managed it well. More importantly, Maurice's personality really came through. It's one of his great strengths, and puts him squarely opposite Susan. Maurice is committed to each of his performances, and even when the dancing isn't quite up to the level of some of his competitors, he's right there with them in the performance aspect.
Carrie Ann said it was great, a perfect mix of form and freedom. Len compared their performance to cheap jewelry, which was a good thing. It was bright, sparkling, and dazzling. He finished saying this was Maurice's best dance. Bruno said happy days are here again for Maurice and urged him to trust his instincts. Score: 25 (8,9,8)
Cody Linley & Edyta Silwinska (Viennese Waltz) Cody and Edyta went to visit Julianne after her operation and she gave her input on putting the routine together. Edyta was worried that the two of them wouldn't have a connection, this being their first dance. For his part, Cody was determined, dedicating the dance to Julianne. It was a performance that is hard to put a finger on. There was some really nice waltz content to it, but Cody seemed to come and go in the performance. At times he looked really nervous, and given what we've seen from him in previous weeks, it all felt a bit off. I'm chalking that up to his first week with Edyta and looking for a big improvement in week 8, should they move on.
Len said a new partner takes a while to get comfortable. He thought they looked comfortable together, but called Cody a bit ploddy. Bruno said it was like watching a fledgling bird stretch their wings, but not quite be able to fly. The dance requires fluidity and control, and Cody was clumsy. Carrie Ann thought it was great, and that Julianne would be proud. Score: 22 (8,7,7)
Lance Bass & Lacey Schwimmer (Rumba) Lacey opened the training video by saying that she saw the Rumba as a very earthy dance, and so she decided to do the number bare footed. That called two thoughts to mind. One, it's very Mia Michaels of her. And two, Len will hate it. Before they could get to the ballroom, the barefoot gambit caused a fight. Lance couldn't deal with the bare feet on the dance floor and Lacey was fed up with him. In the end, fences were mended and the bare feet were back. I actually liked the bare feet, but still would have cautioned against it, because it was obvious to anyone watching that it was going to cost them points. And that's unfortunate, because it was a really well done number. Lance is really coming into his own, and making me a believer. He looks so sharp and confidant in all of his movements. If Lacey can contain herself, they really do have a shot at the title.
Bruno said barefoot in the park has never been more seductive and romantic. He called it an inspired take on the rumba. Carrie Ann, upon hearing about the bare feet, wondered why Lacey was rebelling. She went on to add that the risk was worth the payoff. Len, as expected, didn't get it. He said it didn't enhance the performance and it was a distraction. Ultimately, he told Lance & Lacey that they don't need all the nonsense. Score: 25 (9,7,9)
Brooke Burke & Derek Hough (Foxtrot) Brooke lost her grip on the top spot last week, but was determined to get it back this week. I really didn't think last week was much of a step back, but if it was, they were back in form this week. Derek gave Brooke a gorgeous foxtrot. They floated around the ballroom, spinning, and putting Brooke in the most beautiful of poses. It really was impressive. I was all set to give Lance & Lacey the nod as best of the night, but this foxtrot trumped them.
Carrie Ann said wow, wow, wow, wow, and added that Brooke's lines are ridiculous. She also agreed with Derek that Brooke is getting as good as some of the professional dancers. Something that garnered a "come on now" from me, but whatever. Len thought the performance became more than the sum of its parts, calling it truly fantastic. Bruno said it was a thrilling performance from start to finish. Score: 30 (10,10,10)
And then it was time for the team competition. There are two parts to this that we need to look at. I actually like the idea of the team dance. It's something new and different, and gives the teams an entirely new challenge. The sticky wicket is the scoring. I have a real issue with scoring the team and applying those scores to all of the performers. With Susan obviously not pulling her weight, it was clear that whatever team she landed on was going to be penalized, and there was nothing they could do about it.
Team Cha Cha - Susan & Tony, Lance & Lacey, and Cody & Edyta - Each of the teams worked out their solo parts on their own before getting together to work out the team part of the performance. Susan felt like she was a step behind because she was busy with All My Children during the week, and it showed in the performance. From the beginning, it was clear that Susan just wasn't prepared. She benefited from he fact that the cameras had to cover all of the teams, but what we did see of her showed her all too often either confused by the steps, or just doing them in that familiar pulled in way.
Getting to the solos, Cody and Edyta were up first and offered what I would call a solid entry. It didn't have that wow factor, but it was fun, and well performed. Susan & Tony were up next, and it really wasn't very good. She looked like she was unsure of the steps and Tony was moving her around to get her to where she was supposed to be. Lance & Lacey finished it up and they were clearly the best of the three. It really looked like they put the most time and effort into their part of the performance. As the group got together again, Susan once again looked lost.
Len noted that it's one thing to learn a routine, but totally different to do it in formation. He thought they did an excellent job overall, and Lance & Lacey saved the day. Bruno said it was a cha cha teetering on the brink of disaster, rescued by Lance & Lacey. Carrie Ann said the unison was terrible, and even called it brutal to watch. She also singled out Lance & Lacey as doing a good job. Score: 20 (6,7,7)
Team Pasa Doble - Warren & Kym, Brooke & Derek, and Maurice & Cheryl - The process was the same for training, but the deck was clearly stacked here. Team Paso Doble was going to have to work pretty hard to not win this thing. They opened things up as a group and it was good, if not impressive. Warren & Kym led off the solos, and I wasn't really impressed with Warren. I never really bought Warren's character and felt like this wasn't up to their earlier paso. Maurice & Cheryl were next. Maurie actually did a much better job with the character. He had a commanding presence, and I'll look forward to seeing them get to do a full paso later in the competition. Brooke & Derek brought up the rear and just killed it. The incredible spinning opening they brought out was fantastic. They clearly had the highest energy, and most polished performance. The group getting back together put a nice finish on the number.
Bruno said they looked invincible. The men all blazing guns and the girls all weapons. Fantastic. Carrie Ann agreed, saying they all looked flawless on their solos. Len almost agreed with them, but had some issues. He pointed out that it's much easier to keep formation in a marching dance, as opposed to the cha cha that the first group had to do. Score: 29 (10,9,10)
And there's the rub. Lance & Lacey, and Cody & Edyta were both clearly penalized for nothing more than the misfortune of being teamed with Susan. Brooke & Derek certainly had the best individual performance of the team competition, but you could certainly make the case that Lance & Lacey were second. I don' t agree with this new system, at all. It has to be scored on a team by team basis, or not at all, as they did with the group hip hop. To paraphrase Len, the show doesn't need that nonsense.
We'll see what kind of havoc that poor production decision brings to the results show on Wednesday night. Along with that, we'll have the return of Kenny Mayne and DanceCenter, and the musical stylings of Mr. Lionel Ritchie. See you then.