October 16, 2012 at 3:40 pm , by Ladies' Lounge
It’s only week four and the 10-point paddles are out! It was an unexpectedly good night in the ballroom. I have to say that I wasn’t sure how the evening would go with these new dances. I thought it was a tall order to ask our professionals to suddenly have to learn a new dance and teach it to their very competitive partners (remember, this is no ordinary season—it’s the all-star season so there’s more pressure on the pros than ever before). The thing is, not all dances are created equal! Ballroom and Latin dances are a specific style of partner dancing. Hip Hop, Contemporary and Bollywood are not styles that are truly suited to partner dancing. Sure, we’ve seen it all before on So You Think You Can Dance, so TV audiences have grown accustomed to seeing those dances performed that way. But those dance styles don’t work best in our format. Our show is about ballroom dancing, which includes old-fashioned social values, elegance and partnership. Just look at our set—there’s a big ballroom dance floor in the middle! It’s not a proscenium stage.
All that being said, I think we saw something new and quite interesting happen and the duos did a really great job of entertaining us all. This week, I think the dynamic of partnership really came through. Instead of one person leading the other, they both struggled and faced their vulnerabilities, perhaps strengthening their partnerships in a way we’ve never seen before. To me, it was fascinating to see both of them vulnerable. It was most obvious with Karina falling during her and Apolo’s Hip Hop number. You could tell she was so nervous doing Hip Hop, and then she fell and all her fears came pouring out. You could clearly see the struggle of the week in her tears and frustration. But you could also see how much they are in it together. I also saw that with Val and Kelly. Their Contemporary number (which is really lyrical jazz) pushed them both out of their comfort zones. She is absolutely right about our show not being about the dance–it’s a show about growth, facing fears and insecurities, and pushing yourself through what frightens you or even physically pains you.
Yes, our job is to judge the dancing and the dancing is so much fun to watch, but people and the human struggle is at the heart of our show. And boy, did we get to see a lot of struggle. So this week, I salute all of the professional dancers on our show for facing their fears and learning new styles of dancing and putting themselves out there just as the celebrities do week after week. It was touching to watch. I felt like a proud mama watching all of them push their own limits. I highlight Peta, Val, Karina, Cheryl, Tony, Derek, Maks, Louis and Mark for their great work! This show is no easy task for them anymore and the producers keep switching things up on all of us this season. You never know what’s going to happen from week to week, but that makes it very exciting!
We also switched things up on the judging panel by bringing in a guest judge. It was nice to have Paula Abdul up there with us. She’s a sweet spirit and she and I come from the same world of dance and that was fun. But it was different, and change wakes you up a bit; it makes you more aware of everything so even us judges had an element of pushing our boundaries. Having one more judge means we have to be that much more attentive to each other out there. Len sat between Paula and I, so I didn’t get much time to interact with her except for when the boys went outside during breaks. Us ladies don’t like to walk out of the room in our four or five inch heels if we don’t have to!
Before the show, Paula expressed that she had a little nerves but I told her that we’re a unique judging panel because we’re there for each other and don’t let anyone fall. I’m not sure she understood what I meant, but when I asked her how she was feeling about everything during our first commercial break when the boys were outside, she said that she was impressed with how nice we all were to each other and how supportive we are. And this is so true. We can argue our hearts out when we are judging but the love and respect that Len, Bruno and myself have for each other is real. We don’t always agree but we are a family. Now, I wonder what next week will bring…