Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘Dancing with the Stars

Johnny Weir, Individuality, and You

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Recently, I’ve been watching the American version of “Dancing with the Stars.” I had stopped watching regularly a few years ago (though I would catch it if I happened to be near a TV and someone else was watching), mostly because all the storylines seemed the same.

But not this year.

Nope. This year had my favorite figure skater, Johnny Weir, partnered with a new pro, Britt Stewart (who’s Black, dignified, and quite talented). And the two of them danced like nobody’s business; they were a dynamic, engaging, and energetic pair that did more interesting things in ten weeks than I’d seen in the previous five or six years on the show.

Now, why do you think that was?

(I know I’ve been asking myself this question, anyway, ever since Johnny and his partner Britt were eliminated earlier this week.)

My view is this: Johnny Weir knows who he is, as an individual. And Britt obviously knows who she is, too. They both understood each other, down to the ground, and because of that, were able to work together and create some truly amazing dance routines. (Johnny and Britt’s tribute to Amy Winehouse, for example, was simply stunning. And that’s only one of the fine dances the two of them created together.)

“But Barb,” you say. “What’s this about being an individual, and how does that apply to me?”

It’s simple. The better you know yourself, the better work you can do. And Johnny and Britt showed that, over and over again, during this season on “Dancing with the Stars.”

You know, if you’ve read this blog for any length of time, that I am a firm believer in being your authentic self. I think it wastes time and energy that most of us don’t have to keep up a front. I also think the better you know yourself, the easier it is to get things done.

If you use Johnny and Britt as examples — and I think you should — you can extrapolate a little. For example, the two of them, together, were able to bring a certain style and verve into the ballroom. Johnny is more of an extrovert when he performs, while Britt has a quiet dignity to her. The two, together, were more than the sum of their parts.

And it all started because Britt apparently decided, when meeting Johnny for the first time, to use that uniqueness of his — not to mention hers (though she probably takes that for granted, as she can’t see herself from the outside anymore than any of the rest of us) — to create movement and magic.

Granted, if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Johnny’s been a figure skater since the age of twelve. He knows about movement. He studied some dance (though I think it was ballet) because that helped him express himself through movement on the ice.

And knowing about movement helped him a great deal, I think. It meant Britt did not have to teach him from Ground Zero.

However, it also may have hampered him a bit, because ballet — and the associated movements of that dance — are nothing like either ballroom dance or Latin dance. They’re not even that close to “freestyle” contemporary dance.

What that meant for Johnny was, he had to unlearn at the same time as he learned. And that’s tough to do.

How do I know this? Well, Johnny once said, about learning a new technique for one of his jumps, that he was “old.” At the age of twenty-five or twenty-six, he said this. (Chronologically, of course, that was just silly. But with the wear and tear of figure skating, I’m sure he did feel old.) And he admitted, at the time, it was not easy to unlearn the previous technique.

(I probably should say “jettison,” but learning is not like that. It stays with you. It can’t truly be jettisoned. You can only use it, or not, or get past it, or not. But I digress.)

So, Britt taught Johnny, as well as helped him correct various issues, and worked with him and his uniqueness from the get-go. (Maybe all of the pro dancers do this, but it seems to me as a longtime viewer of “Dancing with the Stars” that it was far more pronounced in Johnny’s case.)

Being an individual, see, has its charms as well as its quirks. You can do more, if you know exactly who you are. (Again, I think it has something to do with refusing to waste your energy on non-essentials.) Add in the fact that when you’re doing more, you are giving your all to it rather than holding some back to “save face.” And top it off with a good, healthy dose of self-skepticism, for that matter, as that will keep you from getting too arrogant to be borne. (That last has nothing to do with Johnny Weir or his partner, Britt, but it certainly should be factored in by the rest of us.)

Anyway, the points of this blog are simple:

  1. Be yourself. Be unique.
  2. Don’t put on fronts, as they waste your time and energy.

That’s the way to “win” at life, you know. Because that’s the way you will be remembered: as the unique, powerful individual you are, who touched many lives and did many things and knew many people and tried your level best.

Anything less than that just isn’t worth bothering about.

Hanging on to a Dream

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Folks, this last several weeks has been incredibly difficult.  The difficulties haven’t been anything new — my health has not been the world’s best all year long, though I continue to fight for better health as best I can — but sometimes, life can be frustrating.

To put it mildly.

When your body doesn’t work right, when you’ve been ill for five weeks straight with no end in sight, when many of the people who’ve mattered the most are already on the Other Side doing whatever it is people who’ve outlived their mortal bodies do, it can be hard to get up in the morning.

What gets me up and moving?  Some days, I’m not sure, other than an unshakeable belief that I must keep trying.

I look at it this way.  I have talent for more than one thing — actually, like many human beings, I have talents for several things, but the major things I’m good at are music, writing and editing — and I want to keep using my talents.  Further, I want to develop them all I possibly can, and keep going as long as I can.

None of these things are earth shattering revelations, of course.  If you’ve read even one of my blogs (at least, any of the personal updates, or when I’ve talked writing, publishing, editing, or most especially about my wonderful late husband, Michael), you almost certainly already know this.

But I say all this because it’s rare that I see something on television that actually gives me hope.  Most of the TV programs I watch lately are downbeat (yes, even including Once Upon a Time, which has been focusing lately on rescuing Henry, who seems to be related to every other character through blood, marriage or adoption), and while the acting on some of these shows is phenomenal (James Spader has to be the frontrunner for an Emmy based off his work on The Blacklist, and Toni Collette would be my frontrunner for an Emmy for her work on Hostages), they are not exactly life-affirming in the traditional sense.

So it’s surprising when, while watching one of my favorite TV shows, Dancing with the Stars — something I’ve blogged about before, but not terribly often — I actually see something that is life-affirming.  More to the point, something that’s actually inspirational.

And the person who’s actually inspired me enough to write this blog is none other than former “wild child” turned respectable husband and father Jack Osbourne.  Osbourne’s dancing on DWTS has been very good to excellent all season long, but continuing to do his best despite his struggles with Multiple Sclerosis (by his own admission on DWTS last week, Osbourne had a nasty MS flare-up) and persevering to get to the finals is what got me to write this blog.

Of course, Osbourne is not the type of guy who thinks of himself as an inspiration.  He seems to be the sort of guy who gets up every day, goes to work (right now, that’s DWTS), puts in all the hours he needs to be good, then puts in the extra hours to be great, and then goes home to his wife and child without any undue fuss.

I think that’s why I like him, or at any rate, have liked what I’ve seen of him.  (Granted, I really enjoyed his sister Kelly, too, when she was on DWTS several seasons ago.)  I can relate to his work ethic and his refusal to give in to his illness, even though I can’t relate to his famous family, all the paparazzi he’s undoubtedly dealt with in his life, reality TV show fame, or anything of that nature whatsoever.

Still.  There’s something in what Jack Osbourne is doing with his pro partner Cheryl Burke that’s truly worth watching.  Jack’s become a very strong dancer, which came as a surprise to him and his partner, and because he’s fighting a long-term illness along with learning a new skill that’s way out of his comfort zone, he’s actually kind of endearing to watch.

In many ways, watching reality TV can be cathartic, especially if you see aspects of someone’s best self playing out on TV.  It can also be uncomfortable, as even the most admirable person doing the most admirable things can do and say things we, ourselves, would not say or do — but then again, if we were meant to be alone in our skulls, unable to learn anything new from observation or life experiences, what would be the point of living?

Anyway, we all have our own journey to make in this life.  Some of my journey hasn’t at all been what I’ve expected.  I lost my husband way too early, and every day, it’s a struggle to keep going — I’m not going to lie.

But on the other hand, because I keep going, keep fighting, keep writing as best I can, keep editing, keep playing my music whenever my health allows — well, folks, that’s a victory.

I take my victories where I see ’em, and I’ve had a few this year despite the illnesses and the arthritis and the carpal tunnel syndrome and all the other crapola I deal with on a daily basis.  I sold two stories (granted, still can’t talk much about the second sale, but just as soon as I’m cleared, I will).  The first half of my novel, ELFY, will appear during 2014 through Twilight Times Books — if all goes well, it’ll finally be out in April — which will complete a nearly eleven year odyssey (yes, ELFY has been in existence, more or less in its current form, since the end of 2003).  And it will vindicate my husband’s belief in me, which is no bad thing . . . though my husband would tell me, if he could, that I vindicated his belief in me long ago just by being myself.

I’ve hung on to my dream, and I’m still hanging on.  I think my dream of being a highly competent writer, editor and musician is achievable, and I continue to work at it in some way, shape or form every day.  And the reason I’ve hung on to my dream is because I believe in the power of persistence — and I believe in taking victories where I find them.

So let this all be a lesson to you, folks — keep hanging on to your dreams, whatever they are.  And do take your victories, whatever they are, however they manifest, as you find them.

If so, you’ve already won — whether you know it or not.

Donald Driver Wins DWTS

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Earlier this year, I blogged about Donald Driver being a contestant on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”  I’ve watched Driver, a wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers, play for the last twelve years; he is as fierce and tough a competitor as they come, yet he’s never been big on showboating or making a name for himself.  Driver is the type of guy who exalts his teammates, coaching staff, and family, which is why I’ve always enjoyed rooting for him.

Earlier tonight, Driver won this season of DWTS with his professional dance partner, Peta Murgatroyd.  Driver was the odds-on favorite in Las Vegas and was also one of the fan favorites throughout this past season, but it was never clear that he would indeed be the final person standing.  This had nothing to do with Driver’s dancing, which was excellent, but was instead about how well everyone else danced this season, too.

Over and over again during the past ten-week season, the judges exalted the level of competition, seemingly the highest it’s ever been, which is why it wasn’t easy to pick Driver (even as good as he was all season) as the winner.  And because the level of competition was so very high, it was nearly impossible to determine what the crowd would do from week to week.  The contestants who went out in fourth, fifth, and sixth places were all very good to excellent dancers who would’ve been Top Three material any other season — perhaps even winning material.  

But all any competitor can do is this: control what you can control, and don’t worry about anything else.  Driver did that: he controlled what he could control by making sure to improve as a dancer every single week.  He listened to his pro, Murgatroyd, and he also listened carefully to the judges.   Then he went out the next week and danced even better, because he took their criticism to heart.

Driver had another thing in his favor: he improved every single week.  It may seem strange, but as a long-time watcher of DWTS, I’m aware that DWTS is often decided by who improves the most as much as who is the best dancer/who does the crowd enjoy watching dance the most.  Fortunately for Driver, all of these factors — all of them — were in his favor.

Driver is a classy guy, and his behavior tonight on the final DWTS results show proved it.  Unlike some past winners, he immediately congratulated the runners-up and their partners (singer Katherine Jenkins and her partner, Mark Ballas, finished second; actor William Levy and his partner, Cheryl Burke, finished third).  Driver also made it clear that he couldn’t have done any of this without Murgatroyd, his partner, and thanked ABC for the opportunity of being on the show. 

All of this — class, professionalism, strong work-ethic, and graciousness — is why I’ve enjoyed watching Driver on the football field, and now off it on DWTS.  And it’s also why I’m glad to say, “Congratulations, Donald, on your well-deserved DWTS win!”

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 22, 2012 at 11:44 pm

Donald Driver does “Dancing with the Stars”

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Folks, in case you haven’t heard yet, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver, 37, who holds a number of receiving records for the Packers, has decided to become a contestant on ABC’s hit TV show, “Dancing with the Stars.”  Driver will be teamed with Peta Murgatroyd, and has already said that the idea of getting spray tanned or wearing some of the outlandish outfits both men and women are expected to wear is going to take some getting used to.

Here’s a link to a story from Sports Illustrated about Driver going on DWTS that focuses on the oddity of athletes going on this show at all:

And the Los Angeles Times asks the question, “Can Donald Driver stay healthy?”  Here’s a relevant quote:

But injuries tend to run through “DWTS” seasons like linemen picking their way through an agility ladder. . . even experienced hoofers have been plagued with physical woes, including Jennifer Grey, who rose to fame in the film “Dirty Dancing.”

. . .

This should all be sobering stuff for Driver, who has played for the Packers since 1999 and — unlike fellow “DWTS” contestant Martina Navratilova, who retired from tennis years ago — is still very much in the game. At 37, he’s getting on in years for an NFL-er. And he has seen his share of workplace injuries in recent years. He sprained his ankle early during the 2011 Super Bowl and couldn’t return to the game, although the Packers won anyway.

What’s most surprising about the news that Driver will go on DWTS is that there were no hints in Wisconsin about this to the best of my knowledge; absolutely none.  Driver is a guy with a sunny personality and a very strong work ethic who’s done a great deal for charity in the past; if any of his personal charm translates to television, my guess is that he’ll do very well, providing he doesn’t sustain a serious injury.

I hate even writing the last, mind you, though it wasn’t me who brought up the “injury subject.”  But it’s the truth; even well-conditioned athletes like Driver have had troubles on this show because what they’re doing, dance-wise, is very different from what they do on the football field, on the basketball court, etc.  Dancing uses different muscles and that’s why someone who is in excellent shape can still end up injured (with the worst injury coming to Misty May Treanor several years ago, who tore her Achilles tendon; her partner was Maksim Chmerikovskiy).

Here’s to Driver for being willing to do something way out of his comfort zone.  And may he do well, be pain-free, and learn a new skill that he can share with his wife down the line during this season of DWTS.

Written by Barb Caffrey

February 29, 2012 at 11:40 pm

DWTS Non-Shocker: David Arquette Goes Home

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Is it just me, or did the fact that David Arquette went home tonight on “Dancing with the Stars” rather than Nancy Grace seem like a total anticlimax?

Last night, I predicted that if Arquette hit the bottom two (called the B2, for short), he’d go home because I believed his fan base was most likely lower than either Grace or Hope Solo.   Arquette danced better, in my opinion, than either Grace or Solo, but in a reality show competition, how many people are willing to vote for you is the major thing that either keeps you in or sends you home (that’s what I mean by a fan base).

Consider that Solo is one of the best-known female athletes in the world as she’s the goalie for the United States of America’s national soccer team.  So you’d figure she probably has a much bigger fan base than Arquette and Grace, as she did not hit the B2 tonight.

As for Grace, while she’s really not a good dancer, she has two things on her side: her partner, Tristan MacManus, who many DWTS fans have taken to as he’s a delightfully low-key presence, and her own show on HLN (formerly CNN Headline news), where she’s actually called in to her show and asked her viewers to text her number to keep her in.

This week, we were told who was definitely in the B2 — sometimes, they only say “one of these two really is in the B2, while the other may or may not be” — and it was definitely Arquette and Grace.  This means that Grace’s huge fan base probably won’t be enough to save her next week, considering by any objective measure, Solo’s should be far higher — and the other three dancers (including Rob Kardashian, of all people) are all much better than Grace, so are likely to outscore her by plenty.

What I know from watching DWTS for years is this: when a good dancer who’s improving is booted “too soon” by the viewers (this was Arquette’s role tonight), the judges get tough the next week on the undeserving person (or people) who stayed instead of him.  Grace’s time should’ve been up several weeks ago but she’s outlasted several better dancers, now including Arquette; watch for the judges to be in an uproar next week and give Grace the extremely low scores she’s likely to deserve no matter how much the judges approve of her pro.

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 1, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Dancing with the Stars Update: Chaz Bono Voted Off

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Folks, I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me any that Chaz Bono was voted off earlier tonight during the “results” portion of “Dancing with the Stars,” but it does sadden me.

As I said last night in this post, I believed Bono wasn’t given enough credit for what he actually did during his tango.

Now, was Bono’s tango with professional dance partner Lacey Schwimmer a flawless dance?  Of course not.  But it was interesting, entertaining, and I think Bono performed it to the best of his ability.

There were plenty of performances last night that didn’t entertain me half so much as Bono’s, including that of soccer star Hope Solo and her professional partner, Maksim Chmerikovskiy.  Chmerikovsky had a well-publicized rant that I won’t reproduce here that went to the effect that Solo is being asked to do more than “other contestants, who are only judged on effort” (Chmerikovskiy said this tonight during DWTS, which is why I was able to reproduce it nearly word-for-word) — more or less calling out Chaz Bono and possibly Nancy Grace, as Grace has to be the worst dancer left now that Bono is gone (Grace also has half the charm and less than half the personality of Bono; what she does have is a cute partner, Tristan MacManus, though Schwimmer is a beautiful woman and has a following of her own due to several seasons on DWTS and a season on “So You Think You Can Dance” years ago).

I chose to focus on Bono rather than Chmerikovskiy’s rant because to me, as a performer, what Bono was going through was obvious.  He had just done his best; it wasn’t perfect, but he did something way outside his comfort zone, and aside from his partner Schwimmer (and maybe the rest of the cast, who all seemed to love Bono like he was a long-lost brother), Bono got no appreciation for it.  That judge Bruno Tonioli called Bono a “cute little penguin” didn’t sit well with Bono, as we saw during tonight’s results episode, where some of the “behind the scenes” stuff from last evening was played — Bono said that he was tired of being called “some fat troll who’s dancing with the beautiful girl” (referring to his partner, Schwimmer, who really is a beautiful woman) and that Tonioli, in particular, kept saying this about Bono.

I know that hosts Tom Bergeron and Brooke Burke-Charvet were worried that Bono would lose it on stage due to how angry he was due to last night’s comments from head judge Len Goodman and Tonioli, but Bono was gracious.  He thanked the cast of DWTS; he thanked them for the opportunity, and said that his whole mission was to give others the idea that there could be a “different kind of man,” at which point Schwimmer hooted and hollered in obvious support.  (Good for her!)

I think Bono acquitted himself well on DWTS and I really enjoyed watching him dance.  I also believe Schwimmer should be commended on three fronts: she helped Bono learn to dance, she helped Bono withstand the criticism of being DWTS’s first ever transsexual contestant, and she was honest with him about his ability and his strengths from the first.

I hope Bono realizes what Schwimmer has done here, as it goes well beyond a teacher who’s proud of her pupil.  Schwimmer actively supported Bono and treated him just like any other guy; she saw him as male (which, of course, he is), she saw him as worthy of praise and criticism just like anyone else, and she did what she could to help him withstand the unnecessary criticism she knew he was likely to get from some of the judges.

Now, Bono also made one other point in those revealing “after-the-Monday-dance comments” — he said that the bigger women (referring to Nancy Grace and Ricki Lake) were praised for losing weight, but that his weight loss had gone unobserved and/or uncommented on.   Schwimmer definitely seemed to understand this; she’s had large, male partners before (Kyle Massey immediately comes to mind) and she knows from her own father, Buddy Schwimmer, that bigger men can indeed learn to dance and dance very well.

I hope that Bono will take away three things from his DWTS experience:

1) He has made a true friend, Lacey Schwimmer — and her friendship is worth having.

2) He learned how to dance several dances (cha cha, rhumba, tango, samba, quickstep, and one more).

3) He has a winning personality and the ability to persevere amidst a huge amount of psychological and physical strain.

If he keeps all of that in mind and dwells on what he did right rather than the DWTS judges commentary, the world could indeed be his oyster.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 25, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Performances, Chaz Bono, and DWTS

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This week on “Dancing with the Stars,” it was Broadway Week — meaning every star had to do a ballroom dance of some sort to a Broadway song and also put some “Broadway inflection” into his or her routine.  Chaz Bono and his professional partner, Lacey Schwimmer, drew the tango — not an easy thing to dance to a Broadway tune — and the theme to Phantom of the Opera.

Now, I’ve written before about my liking for Chaz Bono before; I believe what he’s doing, in being open about his past gender identity struggles and being the first transsexual contestant ever on DWTS, is a very good and empowering thing.  I also think that as a heavier person, he dances well and shows that it’s a complete myth that “big people can’t dance.”

His routine tonight to “Phantom” was a tough one; his partner, Lacey Schwimmer, told him early on that he’d have to “step it up” and do more difficult choreography — that the “super-basic” routines he had learned up until now wouldn’t work.  (Note that last week’s samba routine was not all that easy; what I think Schwimmer was referring to was the rhumba routine and some of the routines before that, which were at the most basic level.)  I think this was difficult for Bono to hear, but he handled it, learned his routine, and performed it well.

Then came the judges, who were more critical than Bono had anticipated (they were about what Lacey Schwimmer expected, though of course I’m sure she’d hoped for better); they said that the role of the Phantom “did not suit” Bono (both head judge Len Goodman and judge Bruno Tonioli said this pretty much word-for-word, while judge Carrie-Ann Inaba said it in a slightly kinder way, referring to the “challenge” of acting a character that is not your own), that the dance of the tango wasn’t fiery enough or precise enough, and that Bono altogether “lacked the sense of menace” that a dance like this requires (Goodman, again).  No mention was made of the fact that Bono danced most of the dance in the half-mask of the Phantom; no mention was made that Bono’s movements were sharper and crisper than they’ve ever been, and that the form of the dance was preserved throughout.

As a performer myself (though not a dancer or actor), I’ve been there.  So I have some words for Chaz Bono that I hope he’ll heed tonight:  “Mr. Bono, please, do not listen to the harshness of these critics.  You have to understand that as a performer, not everyone is going to appreciate what you do, and you can’t do anything about that.  You can only control what you can do — which you did, as you danced the best I have ever seen you on the entire season of ‘Dancing with the Stars.'”

Or, in other words — I think the critics, while they’re certainly correct about the forms of the dance and maybe had a point about being more emphatic in your movements (the only way you could possibly have been more “menacing,” it seems to me, behind the Phantom’s half-mask, is to be very direct, cutting, and emphatic), are flat wrong about how you danced.

Look.  Your partner, Ms. Schwimmer, is correct about the way the judges will act.  This is just what they do; some of it is for effect, because they want to make a better show — and some of it is just how they are overall. 

Schwimmer knows this; she’s been dealing with these same judges now for several years.  All of her training is meant to help you withstand their criticism; she is an exacting teacher, yes, but also a kind and honest one.  She isn’t known for cursing or being upset with her pupils, in the main; she’s known for being able to teach anyone — including Steve-O of “Jackass” fame while he was just “getting clean” after finishing up some rehab for alcohol and drug addiction — to the point that her partners actually learn the dances, rather than just the routines.

Do you know what that means?  You’ll remember how to rhumba years from now.  You’ll know how to do the cha cha cha.  You’ll understand the tango, and be able to do it again once you’re off the show — that’s because she does teach the “super-basics” as well as the flourishes a show like “Dancing” requires, because she wants you to understand the dance as well as perform it.

The upshot of all of this, Mr. Bono, is this — it was very hard for me, as a viewer, to watch your face fall once you’d performed your routine to “Phantom of the Opera.”  I didn’t like seeing that, because that made me think that you’ve forgotten the most important person in the equation — you — and are basing your opinion of yourself on what other people think rather than what you think about yourself.

Granted, this can be very tough to do as a performing artist.  I have been there (I once had someone criticize my oboe playing who had listened to three hundred clarinets in a solo-ensemble music contest; it was the one and only year I didn’t go to the state contest in high school — I was the only oboist this judge heard all day, too, which made it all the more unfair) and I know how difficult it is.

Here’s another example for you:  I once had a saxophone lesson when I was going for my Master’s degree where I asked my professor, “Did I do anything right today?” 

His answer was, “Of course!  But if I don’t tell you what you did wrong, how will you ever improve?”   (Note that I was an “older” Master’s candidate, going for my Master’s past age thirty because I believed in myself and felt I still had a chance to improve my playing and perhaps work in my field.  I still believe that if my hands co-operate, I will be able to once again get back to where I should be and I really wish to work in my field, which is performing, teaching, and composing music.) 

This is why I have great sympathy for you doing something so far out of your “comfort zone,” because you obviously believe it’s the right thing to do.

I think what Lacey Schwimmer is doing by giving you criticism about how to improve your dancing and your overall performance is meant so you can take the criticism, incorporate it into your performance, and become a better dancer.  It certainly is not meant to wound you (even though it hurts, and badly, at the time).

As a performing artist (no matter how long I’ve had to be idle due to my carpal tunnel syndrome and other issues), I know that when fifty people compliment you, but one is highly critical, you tend to remember the one person who was so critical like it’s a burr under your skin.  I can only imagine what it must be like to hear yourself be criticized like that by three judges on national TV.

I know that I, as a viewer, saw both improvement and personality in your dance.  And I believe that as a performer, you did your job, because you did the very best you possibly could — you lived up to everything your teacher asked of you — in the best way you possibly could do it. 

So what I’d like most to tell you is this: keep on dancing, Mr. Bono.  You’re doing a fine job; you’ve learned a lot; you’ve hung in there and you’ve done everything in your power to improve and you have, indeed, shown improvement.   And while your overall likeability is one of your greatest strengths, do you know what your best strength is?  Your perseverance.

So keep on keepin’ on, and non illegitimi carborundum.


Oh, one other thing: if I listened to “the critics” regarding my saxophone playing (now that I can’t do as much as before, or at least as quickly as before), I’d not even be making the attempt to play.  So yes, improvement must be taken into consideration here — which is why every single week, I’ve voted for Chaz Bono and Lacey Schwimmer and it’s why I plan to keep doing so.

DWTS Results; Brewers Game in Progress

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After a few hours worth of editing, I turned to two of my favorite things to do: watch “Dancing with the Stars,” and continue to follow the Milwaukee Brewers in their National League Division Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Thus far, the Brewers are leading the series 2-0, and with Shaun Marcum pitching tonight, there’s a good chance that the Brewers can wrap things up this evening if all goes well.

In tonight’s game so far, Marcum gave up two runs in the first inning but has otherwise been OK.  (Not great, but not bad, either.)  And Corey Hart hit a home run in the top of the third to cut the lead to 2-1, which is where the game stands as it enters the bottom of the third inning.  My estimate as of now would be that the Brewers bullpen should be ready to go early, perhaps as early as the fourth inning if Marcum doesn’t regain any momentum; this game will definitely be up to the bullpen to win as it stands.

As for DWTS, the results show was one of the more unusual ones in recent memory because Kristin Cavallari — one of this season’s better dancers — went home rather than Chaz Bono (called safe early), the lowest scorer, Nancy Grace, who despite her name is far less than graceful, and David Arquette, who got scores that were much better than he deserved last night.  Note that both Bono and Arquette danced the rhumba, while Grace danced the waltz; Cavallari had the demanding samba, and was the only dancer last night who had to perform that difficult dance.

Now, what probably sent Cavallari home early is her lack of name recognition.  She’s best-known for being Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler’s ex-fiancée and for her stint playing herself on “The Hills,” and her very first words on DWTS were something to the effect of how she’s really not “the b-word” (as this is a family-friendly blog, I won’t quote the word she did say that rhymes with witch) and that she hoped people would give her a chance.

Though I am no fan of Mark Ballas (he annoys me, and has for several seasons, most noticeably with former partner Bristol Palin and their “gorilla dance,” where both danced in gorilla masks and outfits), he actually toned it down this season and I was able to see his partner’s potential.   So while I wasn’t on board the “Kristin train” (as Mary Murphy of “So You Think You Can Dance” would most likely put it), I definitely wasn’t against her and enjoyed watching her dance.

What I think happened is exactly what DWTS host Tom Bergeron suggested; voters assumed Cavallari would be safe and voted for those they felt would be in jeopardy, such as Bono (the night’s lowest scorer), Arquette (he’d been in the bottom two the week before, so people knew he needed help) and Grace (though I honestly don’t know who’s voting for her, I can see where people might think she needed help).  Also, the clips from last night’s show for Bono, Arquette, and Grace were all much more stirring than Cavallari’s, and that, too, might’ve been a factor in how people voted.  (To sum up: Bono danced to a song his father Sonny Bono wrote called “Laugh at Me,” which resonated with the crowd due to Bono’s overall likeability; Arquette confessed to his battle with alcoholism and laid the blame for his marital problems solely on his own shoulders; Grace nearly died in childbirth with her twins.  While Cavallari hasn’t had that level of drama in her life by a mile; she’s only twenty-four, while Bono, Arquette and Grace are all at least forty years old.)

At any rate, the important thing to know is that Cavallari is out, though if someone else gets injured or withdraws, she might be called back as she was definitely a favorite of the judges.  She also might be asked to dance with her partner, Ballas, on the results show just to show some more of her developing skills — this has happened before with someone who was truly eliminated too soon.  Or something else good may come of this for all I know, as last night Cutler was in the DWTS audience and there was a photograph of the pair this morning, holding hands; perhaps this experience will help the pair down the road.

As I have been voting for Bono and Lacey Schwimmer (Bono’s professional partner) from the beginning (I will continue to do so as long as Bono lasts, partly because I like him but mostly because I really enjoy Schwimmer’s dancing as she is my favorite DWTS pro), I would’ve been unlikely to vote for Cavallari because I knew Bono and Schwimmer would need a lot of help.  Maybe many people were like me, and wanted to see Bono’s journey because he’s so likeable, and because we can tell how hard he’s working, and because his pro, Schwimmer, is also quite likeable as well.

All that being said, the people I had firmly expected to be in the B2 this week were Grace and Arquette, with Grace going home.  When those two were called safe, I was shocked — but really, it’s the judges fault for not putting those two far lower as they both were (I’m sorry to say) awful.  And had the judges given those two, Arquette and Grace, the low scores they truly deserved as they should’ve been right down there with Bono, it’s quite possible one of them would’ve gone home and we’d have Cavallari’s performance and showmanship skills to look forward to next week rather than two more insipid performances by Grace and Arquette.

Dancer Lacey Schwimmer Tells Critics to “Zip It”

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This week, controversy swirled around “Dancing with the Stars” cast member Lacey Schwimmer, a professional dancer, because supposedly at 5’3″ and being a size six, she’s “too fat.”  As this isn’t the first time her weight has been talked about in a derogatory manner, Schwimmer has apparently had enough.

Here’s what she said here about these critics:

There’s nothing I can do about except let it go and get over it,” she told In Touch, adding two simples words for would-be critics, “Zip it!”

Let me try to explain how asinine it is that anyone would criticize this woman over her weight.  Schwimmer, 23, is a size six.  She dances for a living, so most of her body is toned muscle, as she is fit and in shape.  She doesn’t have an ounce of flab on her, as the skimpy costumes the DWTS female pros often wear will show anyone who has any sense at all.  And while she’s probably the curviest dancer on the show, that doesn’t mean her weight is too high; on the contrary.  It means most of the other dancers need to gain weight.

Schwimmer seems to have a healthy body image, as the following quote shows:

“I have boobs, I have a huge butt and I have a lot of muscle,” the 23-year-old dancer told In Touch magazine, via the UK’s Daily Mail. “I like having curves – I’m proud of them!”

And I say, “Good for her!”  Because if a woman who is a normal weight, who’s toned, fit, and in shape, is getting so much criticism, what chance do those of us who truly are “big, beautiful women” (also known as “full figured,” which are the kinder ways to say a larger than average size) have of being portrayed accurately in the media with any empathy at all?

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 4, 2011 at 5:25 pm