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
October 23, 2012 at 5:10 pm , by Ladies' Lounge
After 15 seasons, it finally happened. I wish I could say, “No, I didn’t,” but “Yes I did.” I fell off my chair. And today I have quite the stiff neck and a tummy ache from laughing so hard about it. My oh my… I’m still laughing. Thank goodness for Gilles Marini who is such a gentleman. Shortly after he caused my fall with his incredibly sensual and elegant Rumba with Peta, he picked me up off the floor and helped me into my seat. I’m going to have to get Len and Bruno back because neither one of them even offered me a hand. If you watch the video back, you will see Len laughing so hard he put his head down on the table and Bruno doing some sort of strange raunchy pose on the judges table, which only makes me laugh harder.
If you ask me, I think the playback with the front angle caught it the best. You could see how I felt. There was a moment of realization that I was going down, right before I felt the impact. And you can see it in my eyes…Larry, Moe and Curly better watch out! Here comes the fourth stooge—Carrie!
I wish I could say that was my first fall on a major stage, but it was not. I’ve had many accidents on many stages. One time, when I was working on American Idol as their choreographer and staging director, we were having a very last minute rehearsal and I was giving notes and running around on stage. I wanted to get off stage because the judges were coming and the live show was about to start. Of course, I took one step away from the performers and found myself up to my hip (one leg only) in a lighting hole. And yes, I got stuck. So here I am stuck in a hole on stage, while they are doing the judges introductions and the audience is going wild for them. I just tried to wave casually at Simon, Paula and Randy as if nothing were wrong. I had to wait until the intros were over and then someone helped me out of the lighting hole so the show could start. My assistant at the time was Mandy Moore (of So You Think You Can Dance fame) and she and I still laugh about it. Then there was the time I was choreographing super models in Lebanon and I backed right off the edge of the runway. Oh, and the time on Madonna’s Girlie Show Tour when I fell off the pole in rehearsals. But I think last night’s fall was my favorite. It all happened in slow motion. I was leaning in my seat when I felt one cheek slip off and thought I could pull myself back on the chair but instead found myself on the floor. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, I was being picked up but I couldn’t figure out which way was up. It was all so ridiculously ungraceful, but at least it was amongst friends and family and all for a good cause…
Speaking of which, the cause is dancing! Don’t forget to tune in tonight because there are five more dances to see. Last night’s dances were pretty darn good—I especially loved the group number. I found the choreography to be quite dynamic and exciting. The transitions from couple to couple were really innovative and they left no moment of that routine unfinished. There were no throw away moves in the high-pitched choreography. High energy and high impact!
I think Apolo and Karina need to turn it up a notch tonight and add more difficulty into their choreography. I don’t think Apolo is being physically or mentally challenged enough with Karina’s choreography and he’s such an amazing athlete. Sure, he’s sexy, but you can’t play that card in every routine, especially when he’s got such incredible talents outside of that. Look at Shawn Johnson’s routines—she uses every trick she possibly can to make her routines better and she’s pushing her limits all the time. That’s what is exciting and Apolo should have that same approach. He’s got to pull out the big guns from here on out if he wants a breakthrough. He’s the only one of our celebrities left (besides Kirstie) who hasn’t been on the top of the leaderboard yet. But let’s see how everyone does tonight. Tune in to see what happens in the “Gangnam Style” group dance!
If you’d like to meet me in person, have dinner together, and get 4 VIP tickets and a backstage pass to this season’s Grand Finale—all while helping to raise money for my animal charity, The CAI Animal Project—please go to: http://www.charitybuzz.com/catalog_items/318520
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! Read more
October 2, 2012 at 4:30 pm , by Ladies' Lounge
Last night was an exciting show—a little bit of sass, a lot of competitive edges coming out, and a few personal victories. I actually woke up yesterday morning feeling a bit under the weather which is never a good thing because it takes so much energy to do our show. But you can’t be sick on a show day in our business. So, I took my medicine and went on with the day hoping I wouldn’t get sicker. People who have never done live TV don’t know the adrenaline rush that comes with our show. It’s like jumping out of a plane and by Tuesday morning, I often feel like I’ve been hit by a bus. No matter how many vitamins I take, or how well balanced my meals are, or even how much rest I get, Tuesday comes and when I wake up….I wonder which bus hit me in my sleep. But in all honesty, I love it. Sure, I’m struggling right now as I sit here with my coffee and eggs wondering if I should go to my “drenched” cardio work out, but I never forget that I have a great job!
I’ve been doing live television for a long time. I was 18 when I landed my first regular live show, so I’ve been working in dance and mostly live television for about 26 years now. I started as a teen pop star singing and dancing my way into people’s homes on a live show in Japan. I loved dancing so much that I begged the producers to let me to continue dancing on the show even though I had released a record and was performing my own songs across Japan. They thought I was crazy—who would want to dance when they could be a star? Me, that’s who. Read more
October 1, 2012 at 9:30 am , by Sonia Harmon
If you enjoyed our In My Words interview with Helen Hunt from the November 2012 issue, you’ll love these soundbites of her talking about some of her most memorable roles. This month she stars in The Sessions, which hits theaters on October 19th. Which of her roles is your favorite? Tell us in the comments!
Mad About You (1992-1999)
October 1, 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, Michelle Broussard of Missouri City, Texas quizzes McEntire about her new show (Malibu Country), what it means to be a southern belle, and more.
I can’t wait for Malibu Country. What’s your character like?
I play an ex-country singer, whose husband, a very famous country singer, cheats on her. She gets a divorce and moves to Nashville from Malibu to restart her career so she can support her kids.
What makes you a true southern belle?
Southern principles, morals and a good sense of humor. Respecting my elders. I don’t take some things as seriously as other folks.
Do you have any hidden talents?
Not that I know of! I’ve recently taken fly fishing lessons so I think I’m hooked on that.
I’m a redhead too, and my skin is sensitive to the sun. How do you keep your complexion so flawless?
I try to stay out of the sun as much as I can, cleanse my face daily and moisturize a lot! I always look for new products that will erase brown spots and get rid of wrinkles.
When can we expect a new album from you?
I started recording in the studio over the summer so new music will be out soon. Some of the music I’m recording will be for the TV show too.
What’s one food you could live off of for the rest of your life?
Red beans and cornbread—I love that. But one food? Beef stew!
What advice would you give to your 15-year-old self?
Enjoy life. Love yourself. Have fun. Don’t get so nervous. Practice more. Take better care of your body—exercise more and quit picking up 50-pound sacks of cattle feed!