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Posts Tagged ‘Karina Smirnoff

DWTS Week Eight: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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Tonight, there were only five stars left on “Dancing with the Stars” to battle it out for spots in the semi-finals next week.  These stars are Nancy Grace with pro partner Tristan MacManus, Rob Kardashian with pro partner Cheryl Burke, Ricki Lake with pro partner Derek Hough, Hope Solo with pro partner Maksim Chmerikovskiy, and last but not least, J.R. Martinez with pro partner Karina Smirnoff.  The dance levels varied widely, and so did the performances, but everyone did as well as they possibly could.

That said, it’s time for some serious critiquing. 

Best of the night: J.R. Martinez/Karina Smirnoff.  I’ve said this before, but Martinez is so good that he often looks like a male pro until he makes a mistake, or has his body in a position a male pro would not take.  Martinez is the class of this field, and he had an outstanding night tonight.

Prediction for tomorrow: Safe.  (Easily.)

Second best of the night: Rob Kardashian/Cheryl Burke.  Kardashian moves stiffly and doesn’t pick his feet up off the floor very often, but he’s shown the most improvement.  Both dances tonight were good.

Prediction for tomorrow: Probably safe.  (Should be, but may not be depending on the strength of his fan base.)  If he hits the B2, he’ll go home.

Third best of the night (tie): Ricki Lake/Derek Hough.  As always, Hough’s choreography was outstanding, but Lake is hurt and it’s very easy to tell.  She was good, but not outstanding; Kardashian was actually a little better, and he has far less talent than does Lake.

Prediction for tomorrow: Bottom 2, will be retained for semi-finals.  (Once again, if Kardashian hits the B2, he’s gone.)

Third best of night (tie): Hope Solo/Maksim Chmerikovskiy.  They danced better than I’ve ever seen them in both dances.  They received the “kiss and make up” edit, and the “most improved dancer” type of remarks; they’re not going anywhere.

Prediction for tomorrow: Safe.

Fifth and last:  Nancy Grace/Tristan MacManus.  I really like MacManus, as I’ve said before; he is a consummate professional, and he has done the best job he — or anyone else — could’ve done with Grace.  Ms. Grace is stiff and does not move well, and by this point she is badly outclassed by the competition.  This is not merely due to her age (she over 50) or how short she is, or that she’s a fuller-figured woman.  (I am a big, beautiful woman myself, so I don’t really care about that.)

Nope, it’s none of that.

Purely and simply, it’s a combination of two things:

1) I don’t like her attitude toward her pro — she seems to be blaming MacManus for why she hasn’t improved, not realizing that at some point natural talent (or the lack of it) has to apply.  Maybe Grace would do better at some of these dances if she had more time to study it — that’s almost surely the case — but her complaining about her busy schedule and then saying that MacManus “doesn’t have a full-time job” was just wrong.  (Doesn’t Grace realize that teaching her anything has to be the toughest full-time job MacManus has ever had?)

2) Her tango was, at best, tepid.  She was given better scores than she deserved, and better comments, too, in her first dance, probably because the judges had seen Grace do the jive last week and knew she was terrible.  Her second dance, the “instant jive” (all of the couples had to do this), was awful despite the best efforts of MacManus to showcase her in a positive light; it was so bad that head judge Len Goodman actually told Grace that her time at DWTS was just about up.  (I kept expecting him to add the words that usually follow those, “Don’t let the door hit you in the rear on the way out.”  But he didn’t; he left those words unsaid.)

Prediction: B2.  Will go home.  MacManus will breathe a sigh of relief, and so will those of us who watch DWTS.

But my predictions are just that . . . I’m not omniscient, omnipotent, or omnipresent, either, so it’s possible that someone else will go home instead.

What do you think, America?

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 7, 2011 at 11:08 pm

My Take on Hallowe’en DWTS Episode

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Well, Chaz Bono is gone, but in my opinion, “Dancing with the Stars” could’ve used him and his partner, Lacey Schwimmer tonight during their Hallowe’en episode.  They would’ve been a great help, as they always brought the entertainment first, last, and always.

This was a Hallowe’en episode, so the hair and make-up and song choices all reflected that, with the song choices actually hindering several couples.  Still, it was a show that mostly entertained, with a few really low spots.

Here we go, first with the “solo” dances (as two group dances followed at the end of the show):

David Arquette and Kym Johnson:  He did OK.  Arquette is a bit manic for my tastes and he got ahead of his choreography; if he were a musician, I’d tell him he was rushing and to stay behind the beat rather than in front of it.  (Johnson, of course, was great, as she always is.)  ** Edited to add: Score was a 24.

Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke:  Surprisingly good tango, though they drew a fairly easy song for it, the theme song for “The Addams’ Family.”   Kardashian’s form was good and he stayed in character.  (Burke, of course, was wonderful, as she always is.)  They scored a 25.

Derek Hough and Ricki Lake:  They danced a paso doble to the song “Dream (or a Beautiful Nightmare),” and the choreography was excellent.  (Hough’s always is.)  Lake is hurt, and it showed; Hough did a lot of dancing around her.  They were given a 27, the best score of the night for the solo dances, which probably was deserved as no one really danced up to his or her potential.

Maksim Chmerikovskiy and Hope Solo: Danced a samba, of all things, to “Werewolves of London.”  Decent samba.  Solo looked more relaxed this week; she was helped in rehearsal by one of the “Troupe” dancers, Teddy (he often dances on Tuesday evenings with other pro dancers) because Chmerikovskiy has a broken toe.  (Note that I enjoyed Bono and Schwimmer’s samba much better than this, and yet this got a better score.)  They scored a 24.

Nancy Grace and Tristan MacManus:  They drew an impossible song, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”  They had to try to do a jive.  Grace is OK with a slower tempo in most disciplines, but her jive was really awful.  It scored a 21, which was far too high; really, it deserved something like a 15.  (MacManus was cute, and competent, and I enjoyed watching him.  He does not out-dance his partner and tries hard to showcase her.  May he be back next season with someone who has more dancing talent than Grace.)

J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff:  They had the nearly impossible task of dancing a tango, of all things, to the “Ghostbusters” theme.  Smirnoff’s choreography was inventive, but Martinez didn’t look right as he danced — his back was out of position, I think, and his legs were too bent.  That said, he still danced better than any of the non-pros this evening and did more actual work than anyone else, too . . . they scored a 25, and were underscored.

Next, it was time for the team dances.  First, they had to pick teams; “Team Tango,” which featured Martinez and Smirnoff, picked Grace/Rogers and Arquette/Johnson.  The team choreography here was really good — better than I’ve seen in many a season for these team dances — but every solo was a bit off.  (Martinez, again, was the best of the three, by a lot.)  Arquette rushed, again, and was visibly ahead of Johnson most of the way.  Grace looked better at this than she did in the jive even though she’s not yet danced a tango, and may not if she goes home tomorrow as she should (being the weakest celebrity dancer left).  They scored a 23, which was added to the individual scores for all three couples.

Then, there was “Team Paso,” which was led by Lake and Hough.  Hough actually did the picking here, and chose Solo/Chmerikovskiy (to avoid Chmerikovskiy having to dance with Smirnoff, his ex-fiancée) and Kardashian/Burke.  Solo, predictably, had trouble learning the choreography, and Hough stepped in to help her learn it when Chmerikovskiy was too frustrated to teach it to her.  (This was one of the few times in quite a number of seasons that I’ve seen Hough do anything of the sort.  Solo learned it when Hough taught it to her; this makes me think at least some of why Hough has such a high opinion of himself is due to knowing he has great skill in teaching and choreographing — which indeed is the case, though I wish he could be a little humbler about it.)  The individual routines here were the highlight; all three couples did their best in those (Kardashian looked a bit lost, but up against two pros like Hough and Chmerikovkiy, that means Kardashian actually did very well and the judges knew it; they even said so), though to be fair, I don’t think these dances between the pairs were as difficult for both partners (in the tango, both partners must dance well or it looks awful; in the paso, only one partner — the male — must dance well or it looks awful).  This dance scored a 26, which was added to each individual dance team’s total.

My predictions for definitely safe:  Martinez and Lake

Probably safe:  Kardashian and Arquette

My predictions for bottom two: Grace and Solo, though Arquette, if he lands in the B2, probably goes home as it seems to me he has a lesser fanbase than either Grace or Solo.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 31, 2011 at 9:52 pm