“Dancing with the Stars” Judge Carrie Ann Inaba is blogging exclusively for Access Hollywood for Season 22 of her hit ABC show. Here is her third blog of the season:
Week 3 and so much to
talk about. Most Memorable year is always such a beautiful night at Dancing With the Stars and last night was no
exception. Tears flowed and there were stories of inspiration, heartache, redemption
and triumphant victories. It was a night that reminded us all of our own
humanity. By sharing their life stories, this season’s contestants displayed
large amounts of courage and vulnerability which is always such an honor to
bear witness to. It is however, a bit more challenging to judge this night than
others because of all the emotions, but I do believe that part of what this
night is about is story telling and healing and last night I saw a lot of
healing. I love this night especially because the contestants really use the
dance not just as entertainment, but also as art and storytelling. They share
their story, relive their life’s most poignant moments, and use dance to turn
pain, or tragedy into art. This is the what dance can be at its finest. It’s a
special night and one that I love being a part of. (…Even if Len Goodman
yells at me — but we will get to that later.)
One of my all time favorite dances in the history of DWTS was a dance performed by Amy Purdy on the Most Memorable year night on Season 18. She danced one of the most compelling and inspiring Contemporary performances to “Human,” by Christina Perri, which told her own personal story through dance. I still can recall the ending where she was walking on air… and I still get goosebumps just thinking about it. It still inspires me. When I have a rough day, I will think of Amy Purdy and that performance and her incredible perseverance. But Amy Purdy is not the only contestant in our history who has deeply inspired me. Noah Galloway, J.R. Martinez, Heather Mills, Marlee Matlin, Chaz Bono, Jack Osbourne, and of course Nyle DiMarco, last night’s highest scoring performer, all inspire me to be a better person by living so beautifully and courageously. This is yet another gift of DWTS.
Now before I get to
the dances, I want to mention that Len and I and Bruno absolutely love each
other. We are like a family and sometimes we disagree. Sometimes, our disagreements
are louder than others. Last night, Len and I had a “loud
disagreement.” That’s the beauty of having three judges with such
different backgrounds, we have different perspectives. But I want everyone to
know that after almost every argument we’ve ever had, between any of us, we
always hug it out in the next commercial break. It’s like that rule that
couples have to not go to sleep angry. We don’t go into the next act break
angry at each other. We always leave the argument in the past. There is nothing
but love between us and mutual respect. However, we must speak our minds and
whatever we do, we do with passion. In no time at all, we were laughing at each
other’s responses and reactions… and hugging it out. We have always done this,
we have a ritual before every show and we’ve done it every show we’ve ever done
together. We hold hands before the show starts at the judging desk and say I
love you and have a good show as we kiss each other and wish each other a great
show. It’s a way to remind ourselves that no matter what happens in the next
two hours, we love each other. It’s our way of giving permission to disagree
and to disagree with passion because even though we disagree, we still love
each other. That’s one of the secrets to our judging panel and why in our 22nd
season, we are still the original judges, and after every show, we still enjoy
a glass of wine after the show together.
But I do believe that our show needs to evolve, and creative choreography like
what Mark did for Paige’s Paso Doble was fantastic. It was a masterful
blend of mixed martial arts and Paso Doble dance moves. I thought the
two styles were so complimentary and the transitions between the two styles of
movement were seamless. Paige does have to work on her shoulders though. She tends to lead some of her movements from her shoulders and she lifts
them up when she turns and in hold. She needs to open her back up and
press her shoulders down to give us the beautiful lines we want to see in order
for her to get into the 9 – 10 scoring range. But let me say it again, that was
“BAD-ASS!” She’s an exciting performer to me. She’s a bit wild but her
commitment to the movements and choreography make her performances rock solid
and she shakes the roof with her power. I love watching her dance with such
attack. For me that was the best dance of the night.
But let’s start with
Ginger and Val who opened the show with her sweet contemporary dance that
celebrated her love and her new son. I was touched with the choreography
Val put together, it was so sweet. But Ginger & Val need to up their game a
bit. She started this competition very strong but she’s not been able to
make those high scores since. She’s so likable and she has such a bright
light when she dances but I want to see more dynamics. I want to expand
her emotional repertoire when she dances. I want to see less miming and I
want her to dig deeper into her emotions and passion. Not all dance has
to be so happy. She has to go below the sunny disposition to find out
what she’s made of and there she will find strengths and passion that will fuel
her dances forward.
Doug’s story touched all of our hearts. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room. I can see that Doug was born of
parents who’s love was so true that they couldn’t bear to live without each
other. It makes sense. He’s got this incredible sweetness and
authenticity that I believe resonates with our audience. He is completely
genuine and is very open when he performs, which makes it easy to connect
emotionally with him. Keeping his dances simple works well for him and I
think Karina is doing a great job giving him choreography that he can perform
well. I think their strategy is working well for them — to keep real
basic content in the dances and just keep listening to the music so that it
feels less mechanical to him. With enough practice these moves will flow
with more and more ease. Doug needs to build leg strength and remember to
use his core to keep him strong and steady. His base is a bit weak and
unsteady which causes him to lose his step once in a while. Taking deeper, fuller breaths while dancing and finding a way to really tune into the music on
an emotional level will help him improve his performances.
Kim and Sasha are a bit underrated in my book. It is so cool that so many years later, Tootie is still as youthful and beautiful as she was back then. Their strong suit is their great partnership. They work well together and are in sync with each other. The key here is going to be Sasha’s choreography. He needs to create more challenging choreography with fuller shapes. I want to see Kim not be so carefully placed. I want her to push her boundaries. Right now, she’s good. She’s solid, but she doesn’t stand out yet the way she could. She’s got so much energy in there waiting to come out. I think Sasha needs to push her to her limits a bit more. We will see great growth is he does.
Von and Witney need to up their game. He’s got such incredible natural facility. His body is like art on it’s own, an impressive example of a well honed athletic being. I believe that Von has much more potential to tap into. He was hardly sweating or breathing hard after his performance and as much as dance is an art form, it is also a sport. And it’s physical. A dance should tax you physically, a well performed dance should leave you breathing hard or sweating. Von is his fullest potential as a dancer could be something unlike anything we’ve seen before on DWTS. His intellect, his physical prowess, his passion, his attention to detail, his winning spirit, if Witney can tap into this into their next routine, find a way for him to dance with his body and spirit and power connected, well once we get there, then we can work on the technique. But I mean that will all due respect. There is something brewing in Von. And I hope they will find what it takes to bring it out. He’s a beautiful enigma and I want to see what lies beneath that top layer. I suspect there is something beyond great waiting to come out.
Marla and Tony are a joy. They light up the stage with their classic and well toned performances. Marla is very athletic, but also is one of the most naturally graceful
and pretty dancers I’ve seen in a while. Her challenge is that her hips are a
bit tight and when she kicks and flicks or does a grand battle ma, her hips
make it all look a bit small. She needs to work on her flexibility in her
hamstrings. I think this is because she is so athletic. Doing some grand
rom de joms, and some hip openers will expand her range of motion. Maybe
Pilates would help her. She’s really got everything she needs to win this
competition and I think she and Tony have the most incredible chemistry. There’s just a fun natural elegance and showmanship to them.
Antonio and Sharna are a bit unpredictable. He’s a wild card. He’s like
an untamed stallion who is powerful and primal yet still wild and free. I
know Sharna is up to the task of taming him and tapping into the energy and
speed he has and transforming it into grace. He’s got to work on his
hands. They look like they are always ready to catch a ball. He’s
improved tremendously in his carriage, and his refined expression with his
arms. I think if Sharna keeps chipping away at him, and he keeps focused
and channels all the energy and power he has into these dances, he’s going to
do well. He naturally draws in the audience with his incredible charm and
charisma. Now, just have to tame the stallion.
Jodie and Keo performed the most inspirational dance of the evening. It was a
beautiful moment of personal healing on many levels. And she inspired a lot of
people with her journey to sobriety and emotional wellness. I think for
Jodie to improve she just has to not “Try so hard.” She’s a pretty gifted
dancer. I want to see her trust that she is enough without doing so much, that the authenticity of her emotions and movements will have a greater
effect on the audience than the movements that are overdone or over stylized. For her, simplicity is
finding her way to her organic self when she dances and when she does that she
will touch the audience more.
Misha and Artem had a sweet breakthrough last night and I’m glad she left on a high note. It felt like she was in a good place with this experience. It would have been nice to see her stay one more week, to see how that breakthrough would affect future performances but I do hope that she will carry that on with her dancing as she moves forward. And stay in the place of joy. She’s such a sweet beautiful being and I wish her only the best.
Wanya and Lindsay had a fantastic performance. They stand out to me every time they get on the dance floor. He is so light on his feet and has such a flare for performance. He’s smooth as silk and to answer Maggie Fremont’s question (she writes the Entertainment Weekly’s DWTS coverage), to be “the Rocket’s red glare” someone must be an incredible light that bursts out of the darkness and shines their light upon us. I read the articles written and happen to love this writer’s take on the show. Even if we don’t agree on everything. Wanya has to keep this quality up and Lindsay just has to keep on giving him incredible choreography. She’s a real talent and a strong partner.
Finally, Nyle and Peta lit up the room both figuratively and literally. When the beat dropped into the song, I loved that the audience got involved with their lights and moved their finger lights to the beat. I wondered if that was one of the tools Peta used to help Nyle know when the music changed and got really exciting. I’m still so impressed with his movement quality. He’s got a flare and focus that makes him the one to beat at this moment. My suggestion to him is to breathe and find moments to relax. He’s in a constant state of readiness, and high alert. He dances full throttle every second of the dance. And when I speak about tonality of the music, I mean also for him to take those moments, to breathe into them. It’s a subtle note, but I think it will allow for a more natural phrasing of some of the choreography. Last night, he rushed a few of the steps, and I think it has to do with the breathing and relaxing into the movements that I am referring to here.
So, those are my notes for every couple as promised last week. I want everyone to do their best and I look forward to next week, which is Disney Night!
And on a more personal note, I wanted to share with you and confirm that I am in a new relationship with a wonderful man named Robb Derringer. I couldn’t be happier to share this news with you all. I feel very fortunate to be with such a wonderful human being and the love we share is something very precious to both of us. At this point, we aren’t quite ready to share the details of our love but just that we are happy to be in love. We wanted to thank all the people who sent us such positive thoughts and kind words of support upon hearing of our relationship. We were deeply touched at the kindness and love and we look forward to sharing more about it with you as time goes on. It’s a really happy time in my own life and I’m so grateful to be where I am.
I apologize for not being able to do my periscope yesterday. I love chatting with you all. I will do it for sure next week at 4:00 PM. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts and say hello! 🙂 Until then, have a beautiful week and see you next Monday!
FASHION CREDITS: Dress David Meister
— Carrie Ann Inaba
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