Last week definitely set the tone for what I think is going to be a pretty kick-ace season. I didn't know what to expect with, well, any of the stars (although I had as high expectations as I could muster for the girl off a spice rack and the girl from the jungle). This week was exciting, fast, sexy, surprising and fun. Those who did a Latin dance last week had to adjust their style to ballroom and vice versa. The outcomes were nothing short of anxiously anticipated and deliciously unexpected.
This week the competition landed in the pants of the mambo and the quickstep. I was wondering last week how the judges would really be able to ascertain these celebrities' versatility, alternating contenders between ballroom and Latin, and now I know. The stars will switch styles from week to week, therefore allowing all their skills, or lack thereof, to shine through. The mambo, I thought, looked a little like last week's cha cha. It's sharp, quick and rhythmical, with lots of hips. (Unfortunately, Albert's hips were benched this week so he could show us his smoother side, but more on that later). Mamboing is meant to be a little flirty, a little more down and dirty.
On the other side of things, the quickstep is exactly as it sounds. Fast, tricky and light-on-your-toes swinging complete with lots of spring and synchronization. If the quickstep resembles the foxtrot, that's mainly because it's a faster version, created because back in the day some people just couldn't keep up with the tempo of groovy bands kicking up foxtrot music.
Mel B. started out last night with the quickstep. She was the first to express the resounding notion that this dance is a little bit tough. This is professional ballroom dance, honey, not a tour of questionably-talented cheerleaders masquerading as singers. But that was another time. Now Mel is older and, I think, better than ever. Last night, her feet were good, but I took her rigidity as nerves and uncertainty. The judges were surprised at her posture (a.k.a. rigidity), and thought she did really well, scoring the fourth highest of the night. Apparently the etiquette coach Maksim brought in for her during practice paid off.
Mark Cuban followed with the mambo. His performance last night was good, but I think I liked his foxtrot last week better. He was still having fun, no doubt about that, turning Kym every which way, but the dance was missing something. Carrie Ann said his exuberance is contagious, but it wasn’t quite the proper mambo. Len said that if there were an award for hard work, Mark would get it. Unfortunately for Mark, there’s no such thing. Bruno put it best, though, describing Mark as a bulldog chasing a squirrel. Everyone agrees, with his unending energy and hard work, he might just surprise us yet.
And then there was Wayne Newton. Oh, Wayne. I want to root for him, I really, really do, but he makes it so hard. He did make a good point that his schedule is grueling (he’s still performing in between rehearsals). This week’s dances only got four days-worth of work, while last week’s got four weeks, and I think Wayne’s quickstep was slightly better than his cha cha, so it can’t be the practice. He was a little slow and his hips still weren’t quite right. Dancing to Elvis’s “Viva Las Vegas,” Wayne said he thinks his old friend would be thrilled he got through it. I am.
Marie Osmond’s mambo was a-okay. No, it was a-plus. She was so fun to watch, I couldn’t believe it. She got “down and dirty,” totally trusted her partner and put on one helluva performance. Jonathan pulled some risky moves on her, which, based on clips of practice, I thought would land her butt on the floor, but they worked it. They really are a good pair. One thing I do think, as mean as it may sound, is that if she were a little younger, her hips may have been a even sassier. As Marie said, Latin dance is perfect for a woman of her age because it’s flirtatious and tiring. Her third best score of the night makes her “one hot cougar!”
I was a little nervous to see Albert Reed this week doing the ballroom quickstep. Then he went into his heartache of wanting to do well on the show for his grandfather who was a ballroom dancer. After Anna surprised him with a video message wishing him luck from his grandmother, Albert was ready to go. Once again, he had the judges singing his praises in surprise tone. They thought his posture was very good, although a little stiff in the beginning. He skipped a little more so than chassed at times (there should be an accent there, it’s French), but overall his potential is overwhelming and could easily be the “dark horse of the competition.” Amen to that. I would not mind it if he danced his way into one of the top spots one bit. After all, he did promise that shirt was coming off...
High expectations surrounded Helio Castroneves this week, and he shot back with a fantastic mambo. I swear, he dances like a professional. Though he and Julianne continually bumped heads in practice, the choreography came out perfect. He spun her and flipped her and had so much fun, it was amazing. He got the highest score of the night, even higher than either of Sabrina’s performances. Host Tom Bergeron wondered who Albert would tongue tie with his quickstep, when really it was Helio shutting up Bruno with his mambo. He kept right up with Julianne, leading her at times, never losing a beat. I love this guy.
Jennie Garth is hilarious. Apparently she was slightly less than comfortable with where Derek needed to put his leg while they danced. Luckily, she got over. Even though Derek caught Jennie’s dress at the end, pulling them both down a little earlier than anticipated for their ending, their quickstep was good. They moved together really well, legs-in-crotch and all. The judges concluded that while they did make little mistakes here and there, overall it was a worthy performance and that Jennie seems to have what it takes to be ballroom contender. I don’t know if she’ll go all the way, bur I certainly think she’s going to try.
The stress of work and expectations seemed to take its toll on Cameron Mathison, who got a little weepy at practices. Can you blame the poor guy? These participants are working their fannies off (I love that word). Although he was offbeat at times, which I didn’t really notice, Cameron seemed to get more comfortable as the dance progressed. Not to mention he and Edyta both looked smokin’. Very sexy people doing a very sexy mambo. Even though Bruno thinks Cameron looks like Superman and sometimes moves like Clark Kent, this guy is sticking to his guns. (P.S. his guns are edible, he is ridiculously hot).
Still whining ever so slightly at practice, Floyd Mayweather took his criticisms from last week to heart and came back this week even better. Being a boxer, he’s used to staying light on his toes so as to avoid being punched in the face, so the quickstep was perfect for him. His footwork was excellent, he moved right alongside Karina. He’s still a little stiff and needs to work on his posture and opening up his chest. At least he doesn’t look like he’s ready to take Karina on in the ring so much anymore. He was gentler with her, right up until he landed her smack on the judges’ table. In your face, Len.
Jane Seymour needed to transform herself this week from English Rose to a mambo snake, Tony said. So to illustrate how fluid he needed her to move, he brought in what I believe is a python, to practice. Lucky for Tony, Jane had no problems handling the giant serpent, because he ran away like a little girl. She seemed sort of unsure of herself at first, making faces here and there like, “Oh, I suck, I feel weird because I’m old and doing the mambo.” Come on, Mrs. Cleary, where’s that Kitty Kat? She danced well, though not as sexy as need be. The male judges thought she was lacking sex appeal, that her dance was a little too English, but Carrie Ann was like, “Uh uh,” Jane’s elegance worked to her advantage. I agree with the men on this one. I think she’s hiding behind her proper British exterior and needs to let loose and get naughty.
Of course they saved Sabrina Bryan for last. She admitted that this dance was really hard, getting used to a rigid posture and adjusting to dancing with someone else. Surprise, surprise, she was friggin’ awesome. Just like last week, she was sharp and fast and fun and on. A “hot tamale” with all the right moves. She was vibrant and didn’t miss a beat. Len told her speed isn’t everything, but the other judges pretty much told him to shove it, so take it as you wish. She kicks ass, and if she can lap Helio a few (okay several, it’s only the second week) more times, she’s got this competition in the bag...knock on wood.
So that’s that. What did you think? Who do you think will go home? Based on last week’s scores and this week’s performance, it could be bouncing, bionic, bubbly billionaire, Mark Cuban. But I hope not. Honestly, I don’t want to see any of them go. Tune in tonight to find out! In addition to bidding someone adieu, Queen Latifah will perform and a professional tango will be sure to get you feeling Latin.