Dancing With The Stars: The Cirque du Soleil comes to town

Dancing With The Stars LogoThe circus came to town for Week 4 of Dancing With The Stars. Cirque du Soleil provided the inspiration for each dance, with many of the pros opting to have Cirque performers doing their amazing acrobatics in the background. That was a poor decision for some of the dancers, who could not compete with colorfully costumed characters ignoring gravity in the background. Still, the music and costumes were both lovely and it was an enjoyable show.

Here’s the short rundown. Tonight (after the Veep debate) the show will eliminate two dancers. As always, I’ll present the stars in alphabetical order by first name.

Last week, Amber Rose and Maks danced a salsa that was fun but mostly featured Amber’s sizable rear assets. While scoring it, Julianne Hough said it made her somewhat uncomfortable to watch — which I understood to mean, not that Amber’s body was embarrassing, but that a salsa shouldn’t look like the prelude to a strip show. Amber promptly painted herself as a body-shamed victim and I lost whatever small interest I had in her.

I especially lost interest when I learned that “slut walks” are Amber’s big thing. I disapprove of slut walks. While men shouldn’t rape, women must have some responsibility for making themselves a less target rich environment — which means, in our American culture, not going into a dive wearing nothing but undies. Amber disagrees.

As for Amber’s dancing this week, her tango with Max was well done but I’ll be happy when this SJW leaves the show.

Calvin Johnson, Jr. and Lindsay danced the Charleston. I thought it was beautifully done and that they got short-changed by being first on the dance floor, which is when the judges usually score low. My sister thinks Calvin’s dancing lacks the panache that is the difference between someone just doing steps and someone who is a real dancer. She may well be right, but I consistently enjoy watching this big man move so gracefully.

Jana Kramer and Gleb danced the foxtrot to the Beatles’ All You Need Is Love. It was very nice but did not sweep me away. The show’s costumers also put Jana in a dreadful, blousy neo-hippie dress that hid her strongest asset: her graceful legs. Not memorable.

James Hinchcliffe and Sharna closed out the evening with a rocking quickstep. I continue to be amazed that a Canadian who spends his days behind the wheel of a car can be such a strong natural performer. As always, his timing was impeccable, his stance almost professional, and his charm and verve were invigorating and inviting. His stage presence was so strong that even the Cirque acrobats behind him weren’t too distracting. Two of the judges caught a small mistake, so James got a 9 from each of them, but the third judge missed the mistake and gave him a 10.

Surprises of this kind — the people who shouldn’t be able to dance so well, but dance so well anyway — are one of the reasons I like the show. You can’t fake this kind of thing. Either you’ve got it or you don’t.

Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds and Allison danced one of the worst tangos I’ve ever seen — and it was all Allison’s fault. For reasons that are unclear, she wanted the two of them to dance from one fixed spotlight to another. That turned what should have been a tight, sensual tango into a grim, frantic shuffle to make the marks on time. I have serious doubts about whether Babyface can survive this fiasco.

Laurie Hernandez and Val did a jazz dance to Michael Jackson’s The Way You Make Me Feel. Despite my not liking Jackson’s song, the way Laurie’s dance made me feel is that Laurie could take up the stage when she gets tired of gymnastics. This 16-year-old is a performer in every fiber of her body. Her movements are impeccable, her energy perfect, and her engagement with the audience is that of a born star. She got the first perfect score of the evening (10s from all three judges) and fully deserved it.

Marilu Henner and Derek danced a Paso Doble — and we learned something interesting about Marilu. It turns out she does not have a photographic memory. Instead, she has “highly superior autobiographical memory” or hyperthymesia, which means that she can remember everything that ever happened to her. Pick a date and she’ll tell you the day of the week, the weather, the world news that caught her eye, what she ate, and what happened to her on that day. She considers it a gift, but the downside is that she’s unable to forget things — such as the step she did wrong the last time or the move that Derek decided shouldn’t be in a dance. At the end of it all, when she finally locked into the steps, Marilu ended up doing a lovely Paso but still suffered from last week’s problem: she’s so tense it interferes with her line and makes her stressful to watch.

Maureen McCormick and Artem did a tango. She’s getting better every week, which is great, but she’s not a dancer. She did a fine tango — her best dance yet — but it didn’t move me.

Ryan Lochte and Cheryl danced a waltz. I am trying, really trying to like this young man, but there’s something so vapid about him. He works hard, he’s pleasant, he has no temperament, he doesn’t whine (much), but it’s like there’s a hole where his personality should be. I mention this because I see this hole on the dance floor. Cheryl also overshadows him, which seems to be her way of compensating for that hole.

Terra Jolé and Sasha did a samba. I can’t figure Terra out. Off the floor, she’s insecure, unhappy, and self-loathing (not about her body, but about her abilities). I really don’t like her. And then she goes onto the dance floor and lets loose with these amazing, precise dances. Her samba was extremely good. And as is true every week, her partner, Sasha, doesn’t hide her, he highlighted her. Sasha really gets a lot of credit for this because someone that small can easily vanish into the scenery.

Vanilla Ice and Witney danced the waltz. Vanilla continues to surprise me with his goofy charm. The judges pointed out that he was lucky that he got a bouncy, upbeat waltz because he still has problems moving his arms and hands gracefully but he’s improving every week. He’s also a hard worker, who put on a good show despite learning the dance while traveling to five different cities to perform his concerts.

If I had my druthers, the people who leave would be Amber and Ryan. I always guess wrong, though, so they’re likely to be the ones who stay another week!

If you like unexpected variety in your reading material, be sure to check out WOW! Magazine, the collaborative site from the Watcher’s Council.