Carrie Ann Inaba’s Season 16 Dancing With the Stars Blog: Week Four

April 10, 2013 at 2:48 pm , by

Photo by Dominick Guillemot/Contour by Getty Images

I think this week had two of the best shows we’ve produced in a long time. The competition show was filled with uplifting and inspiring performances as well as reminders of who our contestants are outside of the dance floor. It’s exciting to be reminded of their accomplishments. And then there was Andy Dick, who has captured so many of our hearts. His deeply moving performance to “Hallelujah” for his daughter was a real moment of magic. He went completely into his heart center and with the newfound elegance, posture and grace that he has worked so hard for with Sharna, he transported us all to somewhere deep into our own heart centers. I have never received more tweets and responses about a performance and how it touched people. A lot of men were also crying along with us, and that’s beautiful. To come into this competition not knowing anything about dance and then, in four weeks, be able to give us all a true moment of profound, intense and honest emotion is incredible. This is what dancing is all about. For me, dance in its truest form is about self-expression, movement to tell a story and inspiring people.

I was hit hard by Andy’s performance because of the recent loss of my father…it was the cry I haven’t really had yet, and it was really unexpected. I went four weeks without crying in public. I felt good because I had just gotten back from Hawaii and had a magical experience sending my father’s ashes back into the ocean, letting his physical form truly return to the earth from which it came. I felt peace and joy for all the beautiful memories he created, for all the laughter I heard and for all the love that was flowing. Andy’s love for his daughter was so beautifully expressed in his dance that it was a trigger for all of us.

Most people are so busy now. Our lives are packed with emails, texts, keeping up with our jobs, family responsibilities and Facebook friends that we don’t live with our hearts out front as much as we used to when things were simpler. Life is moving at a tempo that at times can feel out of control and overwhelming. Andy’s performance in particular reminded us that life is about magical moments. We have to stop and look up from our phones and computers to notice what is happening all around us. We need to slow down and take a moment to breathe in the joy and sadness and beauty that make up our lives.

I’m so grateful and proud to work on Dancing with the Stars because of these special moments that change the lives of our audience. With movement to music, we were able to open so many hearts, but it took great courage for that to happen.

To not be the best dancer, yet still go and pour every ounce of your being into something in front of millions of people with fear and trepidation is something to be applauded and applied to our own lives. To move forward with the fear you feel in your heart is the essence of living a full life. It’s strange to some that a dance could mean so much, but that is why I’ve loved being a dancer my whole life. The ability to touch people and get lost in the dance is a moment of beauty, and I wish for everyone to find those moments in their lives in whatever it is that makes them feel that way. This theme was evident in our results show with our courageous dancer Brilynn Rakes, who danced with Derek. She also proved that life is about facing fears courageously and she too inspired many with her dance and her courage. I also grew up legally blind but the doctors were able to correct my vision with contacts and glasses, so I understand how she sees the world. In fact, I was inspired when she said that because she couldn’t see very well, she had to rely on her emotions and how things felt. She taught me something—now I believe that is why I also honor my own emotions so much, because my sense of sight was diminished. And every morning when I wake up it’s still diminished, but I wear contact lenses and have perfect vision with them in. But at night, I love when I take out my contacts and just see the world hazy, and blurry, which some might consider a handicap. Brilynn proved that it is actually her advantage and it’s made her the beautiful person and dancer that she is.

Thank you to our producers and crew for making TV that inspires us, to the band for creating the music that is the foundation for all of the performances, and to everyone who works on our show so tirelessly. We have the most amazing staff and today I celebrate and thank them for making moments that we will not soon forget.

Carrie Ann Inaba’s Season 16 Dancing With the Stars Blog: Week Three

April 3, 2013 at 1:11 pm , by

Photo by Dominick Guillemot/Contour by Getty Images

This week’s prom theme took us all down memory lane. It reminded me of the good times back in Hawaii, growing up in those beautiful islands, surrounded by wonderful people, dancing out on the deck of our house and dreaming that one day I would become a dancer. I had great parents who let me pursue my dreams and supported me 100 percent. They also challenged me to be a better person, and I hope that this show—and our prom week—did that for our contestants as well. I hope everyone had the chance to walk down memory lane and smile, remembering the good times and chuckling at the awkward moments that happened along the way to adulthood.

I have to say, I really enjoy writing these blogs. Although the conversation is kind of one sided, it feels like I’m sharing with my girlfriends. Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts with you each week. And as far as the dancing goes, well… I thought all of the performances last night had plenty of color and personality, and it feels like this season has a lot of heart. I also think the addition of the Jazz and Contemporary routines brings a new element to the show. There’s less mandatory technique in those dance styles, so we’re seeing some really creative approaches to showcasing the stars by our talented pros. For me, this season is revitalized and exciting and I really hate to see someone go home.

But someone has to get eliminated, and last night it was Wynonna Judd’s time to go. I wasn’t prepared for her early departure; I guess I thought she had a strong enough fan base that could save her. Sometimes I think the fans assume their favorite is safe, and maybe that’s what happened here. I was really hoping we would get to see her blossom and have a break through next week, but ultimately we need to remember why she joined the show. She had been through so much with her husband, supporting him through such a difficult time in his life, and then she had the courage to do something for herself. To me, she was a winner the moment she walked onto our dance floor. So many women get caught up doing everything for everyone else. I can relate to that, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. I’ve also been taking care of a lot of people for a long time, and it’s hard to remember to do things for ourselves. I applaud Wynonna for having the courage and strength to take her life into her own hands after giving so generously of herself for so long. She should be very proud of her choice and we should remember what she did. We’ve had two very courageous women go home so far, but they’re still very inspiring.

Who knew a dancing competition could be such a life changer? But it is! People’s lives are changed by our show; they learn new things about themselves. Watching Wynonna thank her country music fans with what seemed to be an even deeper appreciation of their support was a very poignant moment. And in turn, when we watch these moments, we learn new things about ourselves. That is television at its finest.

Have a great week and take care of yourselves. Treat yourself well.

Win A Signed Copy of Lauren Graham’s New Book!

March 29, 2013 at 8:00 am , by

Parenthood star Lauren Graham has come a long way since she began pursuing acting—she once played a dog mascot at the World Cup!—but she never gave up on her dreams. (Read our full interview with her in the May 2013 issue.) In fact, she turned those difficult moments into inspiration for her first novel, Someday, Someday, Maybe, about a struggling young actress in New York City. The book hits shelves on April 30th, but three lucky winners will get a free copy of the book signed by Lauren herself! All you have to do is leave a comment on this blog post and you’re entered to win. Good luck!

Only one entry per person, per email address. Official Rules

Carrie Ann Inaba’s Season 16 Dancing With the Stars Blog: Week Two

March 27, 2013 at 1:39 pm , by

Photo by Dominick Guillemot/Contour by Getty Images

I began this season with cautious excitement. I honestly hadn’t heard of many of the stars and had no idea what they would be like. Last season we had some incredible dancing and we knew everyone because it was the all-star season. But this time around, we’ve gone back to the heart of the show, which in my opinion is transformation. There is transformation on so many levels on our show and I love it. We transform our views and ideas of the stars as we watch them go through an intensely challenging ten-week competition. There’s also the physical transformation for every celebrity that dares to battle for the mirror ball trophy. And of course, there is emotional transformation of their spirit in the process of this soul-baring competition. And I think that’s what gets people hooked on the show.

This year we have some really fun personalities and I’m already excited to see them come back and perform their next dance. I think this season will be remembered as the season with heart. Everyone has room to grow. This is not feigned. It’s real and true, which makes for exciting TV.

Two of the biggest transformations so far are those of DL Hughley and Andy Dick, two comedians who have been through a lot and experienced many challenges in their lives. They were both so genuinely excited and relieved to be safe, you could see how much it meant to them, and that shows me how genuinely hard they’re working.

While I have flashed more “6″ paddles than I usually would at this point, I think our contestants are all very special. They have large personalities and their performances are bright and filled with energy and charisma. They all need to work on their technique, but there’s still an enjoyable quality to their performances. It’s refreshing.

Last night, when Dorothy Hamill suddenly decided to excuse herself from the competition—yes, that was a real moment—I was shocked. But then I was very impressed. In this day and age where we’ve all become so competitive and driven to succeed, she stopped and reminded us that we have to take care of ourselves first. Our health and our well-being should be our first priority. And while I am sad I won’t be seeing her dance again, which was a treat, I wish her well and I hope we women follow her lead by taking good care of ourselves and knowing our own boundaries as she did.

Next week we have a prom theme. I went to about 11 proms when I was in high school and I have fond memories of Journey songs and taffeta. Evening gowns have come a long way since my 80s prom days back in Hawaii! I can’t wait to see what happens next week, and I’m still wondering who would have gone home if Dorothy hadn’t pulled herself out of the competition. Someone got a free pass, but I wish everyone well and we’ll see how they do on Monday night. Until then, let’s all take good care of ourselves.

Rachael Harris’s Surprising New Role

March 16, 2012 at 3:33 pm , by

You may know her from comedies like The Hangover and Kicking and Screaming, but in Natural Selection Rachael Harris proves she can do more than just make us laugh. In the indie drama, which hits select theatres today, she plays Linda White, a housewife whose world is turned upside down when her husband suffers a stroke. What unfolds is a road-trip tale with a bit of a twist as Linda sets out to find her husband’s out-of-wedlock son. Harris’s touching portrayal earned her the SXSW award for Breakthrough Performance at last year’s film festival, as well as a nomination for an Independent Sprit Award. We caught up with Harris, 44, to talk about her career-changing film.

LHJ: You’ve primarily done big feature comedies and TV sitcoms. Were you purposefully trying to do something different, or did this just kind of fall into your lap?

Rachael: I told my agents I don’t want to just do comedy, and I’m a big fan of actresses like Frances McDormand, Kathy Bates and Meryl Streep because they can do both comedy and drama. I knew it would be a tough sell but when they read the script for Natural Selection they thought it would be the perfect opportunity for me to step outside of my comfort zone.

LHJ: You’ve said that the director, Robbie Pickering, wasn’t really interested in seeing you for this role at first. How did you change his mind?

Rachael: Well, luckily I didn’t know that he didn’t want me for the role, and I’m really grateful to the casting people who insisted that he take a meeting with me. During our meeting I talked to him about the script—in particular the scene where she’s brushing her teeth and Abe is at the hospital. She’s so overwhelmed and just trying to be normal and she can’t. She’s consumed with fear and loneliness and she has to turn on the water just to feel normal. So I was telling Robbie about my divorce and how I understand this character and he was like, “Oh wow, she’s been through a lot.” Then I read for him and I got the part. I’m glad he took that meeting!

LHJ: How did you get into the mindset of being Linda? She’s much more vulnerable than a lot of characters you’ve played.

Rachael: I think what I connected to the most was Linda’s faith in the beginning that everyone is good. She’s described in the film as “this perfect little angel in a puffy coat” and that’s how I thought of her, as this person that’s just very unconditional and eventually has to learn that people can still be really good even though they make bad decisions from time to time.

LHJ: Was it harder for you to play a dramatic role?

Rachael: I don’t really try to do anything different with comedy or drama; I just try to be real. The movies I respond to are the ones where the performances are so heartfelt and you can really relate to the characters and feel what they’re feeling. When I’m acting I always trying to be truthful in the moment and hopefully the audience feels that.

LHJ: Natural Selection swept the SXSW Film Festival awards last year. Were you surprised?

Rachael: We didn’t expect it at all. It blew us away. We weren’t even sure how many people would see it, so we certainly didn’t expect to sweep the whole thing. And then the Independent Spirit Award nomination was even crazier! It’s crazy that I was nominated with Michelle Williams and Elizabeth Olsen. I mean, it was a big deal for me. I’m very proud of the work that I did in this film, so to get this response feels really, really good.

Get-Fit Clicks

October 18, 2011 at 12:48 pm , by

* Not all fall foods are unhealthy. These seven autumnal ingredients are slimming, satisfying and pack tons of nutrients. (HuffPo)

* Trying to lose weight? Tweet about it! Senator Claire McCaskill used Twitter to hold herself accountable to her slim-down plan and now she’s 50 pounds lighter. (CNN)

* If you can’t afford a personal trainer, don’t sweat it—just steal the pros’ get-fit tricks. (FitSugar)

* Eating several mini meals a day instead of three squares is best for weight loss, right? Here’s why that may be more fiction than fact. (EatingWell)

* Oh, KFC: I’m going to withhold my commentary on your new Cheesy Bacon Bowl—a combo of cheese, bacon, fried chicken, corn and mashed potatoes with gravy—and instead quote comedian Patton Oswalt’s now-classic riff on your Famous Bowls. (The NSFWish video is here.) “Stop right there! Can you pile all of those items into a single bowl and just kinda make them into a wet mound of starch that I can eat with a spoon like I’m a death-row prisoner on suicide watch?…Is there a way that the bowl can play This Mortal Coil’s It’ll End in Tears album while I’m eating it at 2:00 in the morning in my darkened apartment, just kind of staring into the distance?…If you could put my lunch in a blender and liquefy it and put it into a caulking gun and then inject it right into my femoral artery, even better. But until you invent the lunch gun, I would like a failure pile in a sadness bowl.” (Eater)


Get-Fit Clicks

July 26, 2011 at 12:33 pm , by

ss_R143962* Ease your killer PMS with these 6 foods. (Bread making the list = a way less cranky me.) (HuffPo)

* And the best type of exercise for a healthy heart is… (Yahoo Health News)

* Hungry Girl’s new recipe for Happy Birthday Cake Shake is making me want to run home to my blender NOW. (Hungry Girl)

* Want to have the body of (the sister of) a princess? Pippa Middleton’s trainer is set to publish an exercise book in January. (NY Daily News)

* Check out Kirstie Alley’s 90-pound weight loss! (USA Today)