“Dancing With the Stars” pro Anna Trebunskaya weighs in on each of the week’s three performances. The “DWTS” veteran knows what it takes to dazzle on the dance floor and gives her take on the dances, the choreography and the judges’ scores. You can find her on Twitter @atrebunskaya.
I love the opening dances this season. Indeed, I look forward to them. This was a jazzy version of Ballroom with some shakes and twists. Also, there was an interesting twist to the judging panel Monday. Len was replaced by a much younger and prettier judge, Julianne Hough. Maybe having a younger, more positive spirit on the panel helped Bruno and Carrie Anne to be more balanced and zen, hence the complete agreement on every score from all three judges and no outrageous comments from any.
Jack Osbourne: Jack is the best improved week-to-week celebrity so far. Oh, Jack, you don’t need to be Corbin. You’re so talented and charming and sincere that I fall in love with you every week. I thought this was a fantastic quickstep from him, full of content, poise and lightness. Yes, he did lose the frame for a few seconds, but Jack is so light on his feet. You would think that he was born quickstepping. Now, Cheryl could be tough and demanding, but boy did it pay off! Keep up the good humor and keep up the good work.
Elizabeth Berkley Lauren: She looked gorgeous and had the best costume, in my opinion. This was a great routine. I love that Elisabeth was the puppet master-demon-seductress in the story of the dance. It was definitely not your traditional Argentine Tango. There were a lot of contemporary moments in this piece. I liked it, but I would have loved even more for a moving leg to be straight and toe pointed action. That’s one of the beautiful things in the Tango for me, the way a lady uses her feet. I personally would have enjoyed to see some lifts, just because they are allowed and quite dramatic in this particular dance. I applaud Elizabeth for coming out of her shell more and more each week. She was much more connected to the character of the dance and more invested emotionally.
Brant Daugherty: Before I say anything about the dance, can I just comment that he had the worst costume of the night? Mainly because it was practically non-existent. I did enjoy that fact actually. I don’t think I’ve seen so many tricks in a Salsa routine before! It was a great performance, and all the judges commented on that. It did lack in the actual Salsa content for me. I noticed maybe two combinations of Salsa footwork. I like Brant a lot. What is not to like? He’s total eye candy, but [he should] work on the dancing bits, not just the flashy bits. I know it’s hard. I’ve been there. But you can do it. Focus on the things you can do, like posture, style, charm, connection to Peta and ditch the moves that break your body and take too much negative feeling. I did get that feeling of dread on his head. He really needs to pull out all the tricks for next week to not be in the bottom two.
Valerie Harper: That was another beautiful heartwarming message from Valerie. What makes her different from all the other competitors this season is that every second she’s on that floor she projects thankfulness and gratefulness for that moment. There is no wasting time for pessimism for this lady. The heart and spirit of Valerie is what makes us root for her. I do feel that she had good moments in her Waltz and some really shaky moments. Overall, it’s an improvement from last week but there’s a lot of struggling with balance, finishing her lines and remembering all the steps. She also has the most genuine expression of the dance and absolute elegance. Having said all that, I’m going to miss seeing her spirit and heart every week. To me, her elimination was the biggest surprise of the night, sadly.
Leah Remini: This was a fully packed routine! It had it all: shimmies, shakes, drops, sexy emotion and attitude. She’s one of the best performers on this season, if ever on “DWTS.” I do feel that the actual Cha-Cha could have been stronger. It looks like Leah is more comfortable doing the glittery moves and not the technical ones. Here’s a tip. Whatever makes you more uncomfortable, that’s the area of the most growth, and that’s what it’s going to be about. We want to see growth from a contestant, as well as fun performances. Dig into it Leah. You’re already in it, so you might as well. Move from your legs, using the whole foot to propel yourself into a step, extend the arms and spine fully. Bring all the emotion and feeling you have into body action.
Corbin Bleu: This was a very intricate and musical performance from Corbin. He’s definitely one of the better dancers this season and Karina feels confident in giving him a much higher level of technique and choreography. I really loved all the pictures they went for and the traditional Paso Doble was a smart choice. It’s good for us to see that Corbin can do pretty much anything (nobody doubted that). Corbin gets the favorite-choreography-of-the-night award. I also feel that because he so wanted to do this routine justice, he was tense and stressed a bit. Now, I know a Paso Doble is an intense dance and very passionate, but I can nitpick on Corbin because he can deliver. Find the fluidity and a continuation of the music through the upper body. As you build a line, don’t stiffen your body, but extend. Keep the feeling flowing through your muscles and bones.
Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi: That was her best dance so far! She was in her element. Blending Jive with cheerleading was awesome! I’m so happy to see Nicole growing as a performer each week. She had great leg action and athleticism. Work on extending your arms, and finishing the lines, even with fast tempo music. She’s connecting to the character of the dance and to the audience. Maybe she’s a little bit intimidated by Sasha (I know that sounds weird, but it’s the whole teacher-student dynamic) because she doesn’t really connect to him. That would be another area of improvement.
Christina Milian: Very sexy, cool and jazzy dance. Foxtrot? Not so much. There were maybe two or three recognizable Foxtrot patterns (I bet Len would have pointed it out). I get it. Christina is so fabulous in her own element that you almost don’t want to mess it up, and Foxtrot technique is one of the more intricate and challenging. But I really feel she can do it. She has all the right tools. I would have loved to see it exploited more. Overall, it was a great concept with a little bit of Chicago and Jessica Rabbit. This could be a dance from a movie or a music video. I thought it was a bit underscored from the judges. It was the best performance overall of the night.
Amber Riley: This was a very strong and technical performance. Amber has a really great upper body line and frame. She carried herself really well in Tango. Now, I was a slight bit concerned that she wore a shorter skirt because we could see every slight detail of her foot and leg action. Then I realized that it’s a good thing because her legs and feet were super precise and in perfect sync with Derek. She is the most technically perfect celebrity dancer of the night. My critique for this dance (it’s my opinion only) would be that her emotions stayed on the same level. It’s a dramatic dance, but there are dynamics within the drama, too. Since she’s an actress, I expect her to do that naturally and more consistently than others. I hope she can get over her knee injury. I want to see everything this girl has to offer in the future dances.
Bill Engvall: I loved that! This was the perfect “DWTS” moment: cheesy, silly and happy mixed with adorable. I adore Bill. I adore their chemistry together and the playfulness they have but he’s not the best dancer and this was not his best dance, unfortunately. Was I entertained? Absolutely! And I’m so happy that he’s going through another week. Keep improving and don’t lose the spirit.