Judges? Bruno thought the transitions were great, and has compliments for each dancer. Carrie Ann thought Kirstie was a little late during the group parts but did great on her solo, and Kendra was the opposite, and Hines had a small gaffe. Donny makes an Osama joke (too soon?) and then points out that their spacing during the group parts was off. He's right. Len makes some bad boob jokes. Len, leave the pervy stuff to Bruno. Scores: Donny 7, Carrie Ann 7, Len 8, and Bruno 8. Interesting how the judges reversed scores. Weird that they ended up with the same totals. Lame. So the group dances basically don't matter.
The current world champions are here to perform a jive. Really this is just so the group members can change and catch their breath before moving on to the individual dances. I do always like seeing a pro dance though, if only to see what these dances are supposed to look like. It's also nice to see a jive where people aren't dressed in '50s outfits. And they dance to Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now," a song I love, love, love. And they're allowed to do lifts. So it's all good.
Some more pros are coming in to help out with this week's individual routine. Luca Baricchi is the first, and he's known for his ease and bringing swagger to the dance floor. He's kind of proto-Maks. The other is Shirley Ballas, Mark's mom. The other pros have always admired her, and Mark describes her as an animal that would eat you alive. Which is a REALLY bizarre thing to say about YOUR MOM. That Ballas family needs a couple of counseling sessions, I think.
Chelsea and Mark are the first to do their individual routine tonight, and they have the paso doble. Mark struggles in rehearsals to get Chelsea to act aggressive and angry. Shirley Ballas is their mentor. She tries to get Chelsea to stop smiling by reminding her that she's an actress (of sorts). Shirley does have great tips on body positioning but Chelsea seems either scared or giggly throughout their session. And thankfully, they don't show a ton of footage of Mark doing this passionate dance with his mom. Who is like an animal that will eat you alive, remember. Gah.
Okay, I'm not sure what the fuck that routine was. It was sort of a paso doble FROM THE FUTURE but not a future I'm interested in seeing. There wasn't a whole lot of paso? And Chelsea's angry/fierce face made her look like a goldfish. I mean, she executed the steps well enough; I just hated the choreography. There was a whole segment where Mark dragged her, which is a normal part of the paso to be sure, but it lasted WAAAAY too long. And he was doing robot moves? And he "stabbed" her in the middle of the routine instead of at the end, so I'm not sure how she was able to continue dancing? I really hated it. I feel like Mark is trying to impress the guest judge with his edginess or something. It just left me cold and, as usual this season, feeling bad for Chelsea, who deserves better. And when they cut to the competitors watching, boy do they look underwhelmed.
On to the judging. Len says he's confused because he liked parts and didn't like others. He thought there was too much aggression and it lacked refinement. Bruno thought Chelsea had "violent intensity" and she showed range. Carrie Ann usually loves tradition but she liked this anyway. Mark is like, "Finally! Someone recognizes my genius!" Donny thought Chelsea was best last week, and thought they worked well together, but thought she looked more like a biker chick than a bullfighter. Mark has a parting remark to Len that we don't hear. Ugh. Mark thinks he is such a badass. I really wish someone (Hines?) would just punch him in the face. Scores: Donny 8, Carrie Ann 9, Len 8, and Bruno 9. Brooke tries to bait Mark into dissing the judges so of course, Mark starts naming off all the traditional paso moves he put in, missing the point.
Well, I guess we're getting all of the annoying out of the way at once, because Kendra and Louis are up next. They have the tango this week, and Louis decides to really push her with the choreography. Kendra struggles with it. Luca the guest pro comes to watch their rehearsals and helps her overcome her fears. He teaches her to dance with her whole body and to stop being stiff because she's scared of making a mistake. That is actually one of her biggest problems, so if he cracked that case, Kendra might be a contender.
Okay, there is an amazing amount of footwork in this routine, and Kendra handles it pretty well. Not great, but better than I would expect. There's still something missing in her posture; I think her core is too loose or something? She's got the head right and the arms almost right but looks loosey-goosey in the middle. She also seems to lose focus about halfway through. They break hold and run up to meet on the stage and Kendra does not know how to run in a dancer way at all. So overall, this was better than I would expect from Kendra but not a breakthrough performance for me. Let's see what the judges say.
Bruno thinks Kendra was both elegant and sexy but she needs to work on her frame being away from Louis, "like you don't want to smell his armpits." That's actually a good description. Carrie Ann is proud of Kendra and loved the sophistication. Donny thinks Kendra came out of her cocoon last week, and he knows that the choreography was massively difficult this week and she did well. Len agrees and thought her steps were clean and clear, but she needs to work on crisp. Len also admits that Bruno was right and Bruno feigns an attack of some sort from the shock, but Len says that Kendra needs to work on her frame. Scores: Donny 8, Carrie Ann 8, Len 7, and Bruno 8. Ooh, way overscored.
Kirstie and Maks are thankfully next. Even if they don't impress me with their dancing, at least their rehearsals will be amusing. Kirstie has the jive this week, and Shirley is her mentor. The problem with the jive is that it is EXHAUSTING. Maks says that he's pushing Kirstie because he knows that she can do it, and she's having a hard time with it. She even starts crying and just pushes through. She explains to Maks that when he expresses frustration, it upsets her because she thinks he's upset with her. He says that he's just upset with the frustration. Okay, then. Couples' counseling over? Can we dance now?
There's a ton of what Len would call "faffing about" at the beginning. And I get it. I do. Maks is in a tough situation because Kirstie isn't Chelsea. She can't do a flat-out jive for two minutes or whatever because she will drop dead. So he has to build in some time killers so that the actual jive that she does do can be spot on. And as far as time killers go, this isn't bad -- the conceit is that Maks is making a move on Kirstie and she's not having it and insists on dancing all proper and then she kisses him and goes wildly into a jive. The first part is good but then they break hold and Kirstie clearly gets off beat and spends the entire rest of the routine trying to get back into it and failing. So instead of going all out in her mistake and letting Maks figure it out, she half-asses it, trying to find her re-entry point, and it's not good. This sucks, because if she could just get a do-over, I know she could do this routine well. Okay, she might need more than one do-over. Sigh.
Did the judges notice it like I did? Carrie Ann thinks Kirstie is complete entertainment, but notes that they were out of sync with not enough jive, and adds that Kirstie looks transformed. She really does. When she gets eliminated (or wins!), I hope they show her at the beginning and how different she looks now. Donny says that he's buying what Kirstie's selling because she knows how to perform, even if she messes up the mechanics. Len liked the playful elements of it, but there wasn't enough jive, and what was there wasn't good. Bruno also thought it was superb as enjoyable entertainment, and he thought her musicality and instinct took over. Scores: Donny 9, Carrie Ann 7, Len 6, and Bruno 8. Whoa. That's a huge variation. During her interview, Kirstie admits that she got so caught up in the acting part in the beginning, she forgot to do the actual dance steps.
The pros are back to show us a tango. I'm going to get a frozen yogurt bar. Can I get you anything?
And, we're back with Ralph and Karina. Luca helps them in rehearsals, and seems to give Ralph a psychological boost. The problem is that Ralph has knee problems and the relentless bouncing of the quickstep is not helping. I have a bum knee and I can't even imagine how tough that would be on it. Ralph is also so easy and light in rehearsals; he needs to learn how to bring that to the performance instead of his teeth-gritting intensity that freaks me out every week.
The conceit of their dance is that it's the end of Prohibition and he's a gangster and she's a flapper and they're dancing. It takes a while to get into the routine but he does really well once they do. His steps are smooth and the tricky footwork section goes well. In fact, I wish there were more of that; the rest kind of feels like running around the floor. And I get that the quickstep really is a lot of running around the floor, but this seemed a bit excessive. On top of that, there wasn't a feeling of joy or exuberance like I wanted to see. I was going to say that Ralph's an actor and should be able to portray that but...well, you all know how his career's been going lately so there's that. It was good, and his posture was better. Plus, he wore a hat, so his weird hair didn't distract me. Much.
Donny thought Ralph's footwork was fabulous. Len liked the energy and also compliments the footwork, but says that his