by Heather Parish
Dancing With the Stars Week 7 Recap: Team Dancing with Coaches!
Dancing with the Stars host Tom Bergeron kicks off this week’s performance show by thanking us for making last week’s Dancing the country’s most watched program – pow! to American Idol and Carole King Week!
This week, some professional dance coaches are in to show some booty shaking team celebrity dancers how it’s really done. And, before the celebrities perform individually with their pro dance partners, they’re divided into two teams for a dance off; the scores will be added to each teammate’s individual scores this week. Plus, the world’s most decorated Latin dancer Scotsman Donnie Burns, is going to guest judge this week– making for a very crowded judging table!
Bergeron asks Donnie what he thinks of “our little dance show here.”
“Nobody but nobody does show business like you Americans,” says Donnie of the show – which, actually, is produced for the American Broadcasting Corporation by the British Broadcasting Corporation. Alas!
First Team Dance: Chelsea Kane, Ralph Macchio, and Romeo – and their partners — attempt a fast-paced cha-cha to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.” Ralph is nervous about being able to keep up with youngsters Chelsea and Romeo. But thanks to a common move by old-men on DWTS, involving stopping in your tracks and flinging up one arm while your sexy female partner executes a lot of distracting moves, he keeps up just fine.
Second Team Dance: Hines Ward, Kendra Wilkinson and Kirstie Alley – and their dance pros — is a lot more interesting in terms of look. Lots of hot pink and fringe– like Vegas showgirls showed up and hijacked their costumers. But each celeb on Team 2 looks stronger than they have in weeks so this team thing seems to be working for them. Team dancing really is an opportunity for the celebs to connect with their peers and gain a sense of camaraderie in their competitive journey. It seems to have worked for Team 2. They win hands down over Team One on the Fun-to-Watch Scale.
But, it’s not up to us; it’s up to Donnie and the regular judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman, and Bruno Tonioli. And they award Team 1 a total of 30 points out of a possible 40. Then they award team 2 – 30 points. It’s a total washout. What’s the point, I ask the screen?
Now for a filler dance (DWTS is still in its 2 hour time slot and so as they lose contestants, they have to fill in with other dance numbers). Professional dance champions Riccardo Cocchi and Yulia Zagoruychenko take the floor and dance a high speed technically dazzling number that is impressive but, strangely, not more entertaining than watching the celebs. I guess I like the imperfection of it all.
Latin dancing champ Shirley Ballas, who’s also mom of Chelsea Kane’s dance partner Mark Ballas, is going to coach Mark and Chelsea in a segment that only Sophocles could truly do justice to.
Mark narrates tape of his mother describing her as “like an animal; she’ll just eat you alive.” On the dance floor, people! But the mood is set for some kind of Oedipal event, that’s for sure. Seems Chelsea is having trouble showing angry passion towards Mark. On the dance floor, people! And Shirley is just the one to fix that. “Give the passion! Take his hair!” she barks at Chelsea.
Well, it works. Angry Chelsea hits the dance floor with some kind of angry energy in her paso doble, her lips permanently fixed into an angry, teeth-baring grimace. In the end Chelsea and Mark mime -stab each other and fall to the ground.
The judges award her 34 more points, out of a possible 40.
Kendra and Louis Van Amstel will be coached by the Luca Barricchi, who’s the cliche casting for a dissipated Italian lover from a Henry James novel. Luca tells Kendra that two dancers have to touch, really touch, to connect in the tango. “Now feel my body” he orders her; she assures on tape that Luca really, really helped her. They hit the dance floor and it’s not the train wreck we had hoped/feared, though the ending bit in which the two are supposed to run their separate ways to reunite on the upper stage turns into a bit of a jog for Kendra not a dash of love and desire. Kendra lands 31 more points.
Maks Chmerkovskiy mugs for the camera to upstage Shirley’s coaching of Kirstie, and far more time is spent on the interesting Kirstie/Maks relationship. Tears, hugs, soul baring, and the tossing of a potted palm all follow. They hit the floor with a number that plays off their rehearsal drama; it’s a jive to “La Bamba.” It starts out in solid character form: first she’s shy, then she’s flirty, when she pulls her skirt up to show the boys. But in the dancing, she gets lost in the middle and just loses the connection between her brain and her feet by the end. But nobody can dance Backstory like Kirstie and Maks. The judges are in wildly different views over this performance; Donnie gives her a 9 but Len only a 6. In the end, she leaves with 30 additional points. “I had so much energy and got caught up in the acting: I was having so much fun I forgot to dance,” Kirstie explains to hostess Brooke Burke.
Luca is the guest coach for Ralph Macchio and Karina Smirnoff, which seems confined to mostly telling Ralph not to think so much, which we hear all the time on DWTS. I always wish they’d clarify that using your brain is a good thing when learning a routine, but not necessarily when performing it. We do hear a lot of whining from Ralph about his various body parts that are giving out. But, Ralph and Karina hit the floor with period-esque costumes and quickstep to the jazzy “Pencil Full of Lead”. Ralph performs some impressive knee pounding quick steps, though there’s an awful lot of the “Quickstep 10K”– an almost sprightly jog up and back on the stage. They earn 36 points.
Hines Ward is such a barrel-chested guy, that the tango makes him look like a beer keg. But, his flexibility is getting better and overall this is his best yet, with lots of complicated moves that don’t look memorized — or not entirely, anyway (again with that thinking, thing). He’s awarded 36 points including his first 10.
Coach Shirley Ballas gives Romeo plenty of coaching on his hip motion for his samba. She even gets his hands on her hips and they wiggle together – sly Shirley!
”Tonight I’m throwing a samba party – in my shoes, in my pants – I don’t care! Everybody’s invited!” raves Romeo, who shared the top spot on the leader board last week with Chelsea Kane. Frankly, he just looks like he’s gotten a bit egotistical.And so, when the performance begins, the music is jolly — a reggae “Say Hey.” But after all that coaching, Romeo’s hip action comes in for serious criticism from the judges, along with his lack of footwork. Donnie notes, “you may have had a party in your pants but you had an earthquake in your shoes – it measures about 6 on the Richter scale,” adding “this is the business end of the season” when only the best survive. They give him just 30 points – putting him in last place this week, tied with Kirstie– and knocking his ego down a peg or two.
At this point, though, it looks like it is Kirstie Alley’s week to say goodbye, unless her long-time fans come through with the votes.
Tuesday’s Results Show:
In the end, it was Kendra Wilkinson who went home.Kendra, who I had a virulent aversion to at the beginning of the season, but who managed to soften me by the end of her stint, gave us a lot of drama in her storyline this season. From her whining and defensiveness, her pain at being criticized, taking her partner, Louis van Amstels “disappointment” in her on the chin (let’s just say that their parting words on camera didn’t come off like they’re going to be getting together for coffee next month), and finally– actually improving as a dancer. She may never set the world on fire in terms of cleverness or depth of understanding, but I have to admit– she makes for some decent reality TV programming.
Dancing With the Stars airs on Monday nights with Eliminations on Tuesday nights on ABC. Follow commentator Heather Parish’s real-time thoughts on DWTS via Twitter, Monday evenings beginning at 8 p.m. PST.
Check back here Wednesday evenings for more of Heather’s thoughts and an overview of the week’s episode! Check out last week’s intro article in KRL!