November 27, 2012 at 12:55 pm , by Ladies' Lounge
Oh, what a night! The ladies came out in full force last night. It was the first all-female celebrities final we’ve ever had, and I couldn’t be more pleased with how the night went. It wasn’t a 10-fest, but it was a great night of dancing. When I got home my twitter was exploding with comments—it is without a doubt the most intense night on twitter every year. The fans are so passionate about who they want to win, it gets heated! Everyone gives their commentary on who should win and why we should have scored differently and why the judges are so biased. The insults get hurled and I try to correct the ones whose facts are off but I love the passion and interaction with the fans. We wouldn’t have a show without them, so it’s only right to take some time to interact with them.
I do block cruel and inappropriate comments about anyone. I don’t think public spaces or the internet is a place for harsh name calling… there really is no place where I think that’s okay. But there are young kids reading and I think that’s what the block button is for. So for those who get a little “over –heated”—you’ve been blocked. What I do love is spirited conversation. I answer questions, give feedback and sometimes I explain rules and reasons. I like the questions and I don’t mind taking the time to answer. I know our fans are truly dedicated and rooting for their favorites and I support that. We can’t all have the same opinion—that would be boring! I know that the audience doesn’t always agree with us judges, but that’s just part of the process. It’s still wonderful to see the fans come out and support, and I say support with a capital S! They give SUPERSIZE SUPPORT (to continue the theme of the night). Read more
November 20, 2012 at 12:55 pm , by Ladies' Lounge
I can’t believe we’re already in the semi-finals. We only have one more week left until we crown our Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars season 15 champion! It’s been quite a battle for everyone who’s still in the game and all of the competitors deserve recognition for their hard work. Getting this far was no easy task and it will be a big (and probably quite emotional) double elimination tonight. I’m quite certain that no one had any idea how competitive this season would be, or for that matter, how challenging. It’s been quite a unique experience for all of us. We’ve done things never seen before in the history of our show and that’s been quite a treat.
The dancers and choreographers did outstanding work this season. No one knew they would be choreographing Big Top Jazz, Knight Rider Bhangra, Surfing Flamenco, Espionage Lindy Hop or Caveman Hustle. (Some of those categories are quite puzzling, wouldn’t you say?) It’s been a whacky, unpredictable and entertaining season. Our producers really pushed the envelope this season with new challenges and we owe them a round of applause for really thinking creatively and outside the box. I think our production value has increased over the seasons and I’d like to acknowledge our incredible crew. They are such a wonderful group of top-notch quality professionals and it’s a joy and an honor to work with them all. I’ve worked with some of these camera operators, electricians, audio techs and stage managers for over 18 years, on various shows that I’ve choreographed or danced on, and I’ll tell you without any doubt, we have some of the industry’s finest working on our show. Read more
November 20, 2012 at 11:00 am , by Julie Bain
To kick off the holiday season, we asked Journal staffers to share what they love most about Thanksgiving, that wonderful holiday that’s all about good food, friends, family and feeling grateful (with a little football thrown in). We know you’ll relate to these!
• My girls love to bake (that’s Lily and Sophia in action, right). Since I learned all my baking skills from my mom, they always like to whip up a sweet treat with their “Mimi.” This year they’ll be making my mom’s famous “spice cake” (don’t call it fruitcake!), which I was honored to write about for our December issue. The recipe is on page 106 if you’d like to try it too.
Sue Erneta, fashion editor
• Now that my sister, my cousins and I are in our twenties and living across the country, Thanksgiving is one of the few days of the year that we’re all together again, and my life feels about as simple as it did back when I was a kid.
Lauren Piro, assistant editor
• I love that I don’t have to travel on Thanksgiving. Family and friends come to us. It’s a great excuse to stay at home, eat and drink, and sit on the couch. What could be better?
Jeffrey Saks, creative director
• One of my favorite Thanksgiving memories happened last year. My family and I were sitting at the dining table. My mother was in the kitchen, and I heard her in say in a calm voice, “Gab, can you come in here?” I walked in and there was the turkey on the kitchen floor with its juices and grease splattered everywhere. My mom gave me a look that conveyed, “Help but don’t say a word!” (I was called in instead of my sisters because one of them would have fallen to the floor the laughing and the other would’ve shrieked; I’m the least dramatic of the three.) We picked up the turkey, quietly holding in our laughter, and scrubbed the grease off the floor. My mom fixed it up, carved it and served it. It was delicious. We didn’t tell anyone until later. Please note: My mother keeps her floors so clean you can literally eat off them!
Gabrielle Porcaro, associate fashion editor Read more
November 19, 2012 at 9:00 am , by Sonia Harmon
Every month an LHJ reader will get the chance to interview one of their favorite celebrities. This month, Gigi Kidary of Winter Park, Florida quizzes the singer-songwriter about her new CD, the most influential person in her life, and more.
Why is your new album called Red?
Most of the songs on this album are about fast-paced, out-of-control love. And the title track, “Red” is about a love that’s so intense, you can’t forget it. To me, intense emotion is red. This album documents my experiences with those types of relationships, from beginning to end.
Do you write better songs when you’re happy or sad?
I write songs about both the good and bad parts of love, so it’s hard to say which is the better inspiration. Sometimes sadness can be so overwhelming, it stifles you. I’d much rather be happy, so I choose that as my preferred inspiration.
You’ve collaborated with a lot of great artists. Is there someone you haven’t worked with yet that you would like to?
All of the artists I wanted to work with more than anything are on this album.
How long does it usually take you to write a song?
It varies. I could get a lightning bolt of inspiration and write a song in 20 minutes, or I could labor over one for four months and put it down, then go back to it. That’s what I love about songwriting. You never know how or when it’s going to happen.
When you find time to read, what kind of books do you read?
I love The Hunger Games series and I was so honored to get to write music for the movie. Those books suck you in and keep you engaged like nothing I’ve read before.
Who is the most influential person in your life?
My mom. I’ve never gone a day without talking to her, and she gives me the wisest advice. But most of all, she’s put her kids first since we were born. Growing up, she was always there for me when I needed a friend. That’s why she’s still one of my closest friends now.
November 13, 2012 at 12:32 pm , by Ladies' Lounge
Last night’s show was a two-part special. We started out with some wonderful dances to celebrate Veteran’s Day. The performances were exciting and paid beautiful tribute to our country’s service men and women. To have so many of them in our audience was quite an honor and a lot of fun—they were yelling and cheering more than our usual audience does! You have to take a moment to consider how lucky we are to live in this country and have the liberties we do. And we have to thank our men and women of service who keep us safe back at home. Looking around the room and seeing so many young and brave faces, I was really humbled. They really enjoyed those first seven performances and were truly touched by Kirstie Alley and Shawn Johnson’s performances, both of which had a special emotional touch. I also think Melissa’s number was fantastic this week and really ended the Veteran’s day celebration on a high note!
The second part of the show was all about trios. Len and I got into it about Shawn’s dance, which I thought was incredible. This season is really about pushing boundaries and taking risks. And when you take creative risks, you can fail or you can blow us all away. And as seen by Shawn’s trio performance with Mark Ballas and Derek Hough, you can also get mixed reactions, but that is what’s so great about our panel. Len, Bruno and I can agree to disagree. We can get so heated in the moment and by commercial break, we are all laughing and hugging again. That’s what we’re there for, to bring our different opinions to the panel. I look at the performance as a whole: Is it effective? Does it cause a reaction in the audience? Do you draw us in, complete a creative and emotional thought, and are your movements of the right quality for the dance? Is your technique correct—your posture, your frame, your musicality, the angle of your head… I look at it all. But technique and steps alone are not going to get you to the finals this season. Read more
November 6, 2012 at 1:09 pm , by Ladies' Lounge
Last night we saw some really fantastic dances that were unlike any dances we’ve seen on the show before. The dance fusion was a tremendous challenge for our pros and their partners; you could see the trouble they were having with it in the rehearsal packages. I was impressed with how they handled the challenge and it was interesting to see how each couple made different choices as to how they were going to set the frame for their merging of the dances. Some did the half and half split, splitting the routine into two different dance styles. Some did a little bit of in and out—they would do a few counts of eight for each style of dance and then revert back and forth as needed. Emmitt and Cheryl did this but it didn’t work for him. Shawn and Mark did the same thing and it totally worked. Some of them blended, some of them separated the styles, but they all did some really cool choreography and transitions that deserve a great deal of respect. These challenges are no joke and this season is really pushing our pros and celebrities to the limit.
I was once again impressed with Apolo. I think he really stepped outside of his comfort zone when he took of his jacket during the Paso part of his dance. It had a huge impact. He’s a fierce competitor and I think he developed a strategy that’s working. He is definitely gaining momentum and it’s exciting. I’m also very impressed with Shawn who dances just as well with either Mark or Derek. It’s not easy to match work so perfectly with someone you haven’t been dancing with for the last seven weeks, but she’s a trooper and a perfectionist. I hope she hasn’t peaked too early, which can happen. As for Emmitt and Cheryl, the crowd goes wild for them every time. It’s nice to see but I think he needs to up his game. Kirstie and Maks also need to push themselves if they want to survive. I applaud her for collecting goods on behalf of the Sandy victims in New York. It didn’t help her dancing much, but it proves that she’s a good person with a big heart. Melissa had a great night tonight and I am really beginning to see her star quality come out. She and Tony have a really relaxed approach with each other but push themselves choreographically speaking which is good. She was spot on. And Gilles, well… he’s’ got to fix those T-Rex arms if he wants the mirror ball trophy.
There is no elimination this week so next week it will be crucial to vote for your favorite. And I must remind you all to get out and vote today. It’s a big election and a lot is at stake so follow your heart, know your facts and vote. It’s a wonderful privilege to have this right so I hope you will all take advantage of it.
I’m keeping it short because after everything that has happened this week (Sandy) and that will happen after the election tomorrow, I would like to remind us all to stay focused on humanity as a whole and how we are meant to help each other out in times of need. Give generously to those in need, whether it’s to the people who were displaced or the animal companions who also have lost their homes. Go to the various websites and give back. Call and check on your relatives. Donate food, blankets, clothing, dog food, cat food, anything. Some people have lost everything. Let’s help them put their lives back together.
October 30, 2012 at 2:16 pm , by Ladies' Lounge
Last night’s show had superior dancing again! But there was a theme that I’d like to write about today. I noticed that there were some very sensual, extremely passionate and purely honest moments in a few of the routines, and it led me to think about what those words mean and why I use them so much in my critiques. I know I use the words “sexy” and “sensual” a lot on the show, along with “passion,” “honesty” and “vulnerability” and there’s not always time to explain why. We saw some of our most sensual dances and for me, sensuality is so important. I think it’s important for all women.
I sit close enough to the stage that I can feel emotions that might not come across to viewers at home, and Sabrina and Louis’ Rumba performance had pure honesty. And when you are truly honest, there comes an uncomfortable vulnerability. The desire to be accepted as you truly are without knowing what people will think of the “real” you is frightening, and Sabrina started her dance there. But in the first two counts of eight, I saw her almost go back into the facade she often uses when she dances. She almost slipped back into the comfort zone of emoting with her expressions on her face instead of allowing the emotions from inside to come to the surface. When this happens, the audience will always connect in a way that is beyond appreciation of pretty movements. But I saw her fight it, and suddenly out came beautiful and courageous vulnerability, and it was the sweetest sight. I know this feeling so well; to dance with pure abandon. To dance with the raw emotion leading you, not the steps. To me, that’s the essence of being a dancer. You can be a performer and you can be a technician, but to be a true dancer and to know the REAL joy of what dancing is, it is expressing yourself beyond words and facial expressions. And that’s what we saw last night in Sabrina. Sometimes I wish I could go upstairs and interview them with Brooke to ask how it felt, but you could see by our scores how it made us feel. I’m very proud of her for her daring performance. Being that vulnerable in front of so many people is no easy task. Read more