Yay! It’s Stevie Wonder night! I’m pretty stoked about this.
The show starts with Stevie at the top of the stage in front of an elaborately fantastic backdrop. There are dancers, but we get A LOT of extended Stevie close-ups. I guess it’s easier to do that when the singer can actually, you know, sing.
Then Hunter Hayes comes out and I’m sure he’s a nice kid and all, but next to Stevie Wonder ... eh. I mean, not a lot of people are going to come off well in that comparison. I’d say even for a guy that was a Beatle and IS a knight had a rough go of it.
Tom joins Stevie and Hunter on stage and Tom says, “We are so happy to have you here on Stevie Wonder night. If you hadn’t shown, it would’ve been really awkward.” Stevie is right here with, “I had to have been here tonight or I’d have to stay home and watch it on TV.” Tom, rightly, points out that Stevie’s the only one that can make that joke. Oh, I bet there are a few close friends who get to make blind jokes to Stevie.
Zendaya & Val Chmerkovskiy
“Do I Do”
Zendaya says she’s a huge fan of Stevie Wonder and tells the camera, “If you don’t love Stevie Wonder, there’s something wrong with you,” and she seems like she really means it. I like this kid more and more.
Stevie isn’t playing live for the couples, which is probably good for them, because they rehearse with the version the band uses and Stevie could throw an improvised curveball.
It looks like there might have been a slight misstep at one point, but given how they react at the end I guess I mis-saw. Again, Val’s done a great job of choreographing an authentic dance for the style while still being age appropriate.
Len tells Zendaya to ask him one word that sums up “great dancing,” and when she obliges, he says, “Zendaya.” He has only one small criticism about her legs at one point. When it’s time for Bruno to give his criticism, Tom narrates, “He’s getting up, he’s getting up.” Bruno, as his hop out of the seat usually means, loved it. Carrie Ann calls them “perfection in motion.”
Zendaya says she was awed by Stevie Wonder being backstage before her dance, and was behind her when they were cuing her to make her entrance down the stairs. She wonders, “How am I just supposed to walk down the stairs like a normal person?” Brooke points out that Zendaya is still in school and doing homework. Zendaya explains that both her parents are teachers, so “there’s no room for errors.” Again, I like this kid.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 10, Len: 9, Bruno: 10
Andy Dick & Sharna Burgess
“Signed, Sealed, Delivered”
Sharna throws a lot of dance terms at Andy during rehearsal and Andy jokingly asks, “Is that the lunch order?” Andy is trying hard to work on his technique, rather than just relying on personality.
Andy’s dressed as a postman and Sharna is the cute housewife on his route. I really appreciate Andy’s attitude and effort but his “hip action” -- yeesh. Some things shouldn’t be seen. It’s like watching Don Knotts audition for the Chippendales.
Bruno says it was a “personality-driven splendid shamble of a samba.” Then Bruno does the Harlem Shuffle. Carrie Ann says she loves Andy, but she had to check her notes to see what dance he was dancing. Len says it wasn’t that good technically, but it was entertaining. Len says, “If the others have climbed hills, you’ve climbed mountains.” Aw, Len, you old softie.
Andy admits his technique will never be as good as his competitors’. And then he gives Brooke a rose. Hey, that’s Sean’s move.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 6, Len: 6, Bruno: 6
Sean Lowe & Peta Murgatroyd
Sean says he feels really uncoordinated when he tries to shimmy and he looks it. He had to miss a whole day of rehearsal and he and Peta are both worried about that lost rehearsal time.
Sean’s wearing an electric blue suit with no shirt at all. His torso isn’t THAT great. For a “normal guy” it’s fine, but he’s no Jacoby. He’s not even a Maks. I’m very distracted at the end trying to figure out if he has armpit hair or if he’s shaved/waxed.
Carrie Ann comments that there was a lot of bounce but that he’s having a hard time with his musicality. Len says, “If you all you want to do is beat Andy, you’ve got to set your sites a little higher.” Then Len berates the audience for the quality of their booing. Cranky Len in the house tonight! Len says the bounce was bad, it was riddled with mistakes, he kept getting on the wrong foot, he had no hip action, his upper body had no musicality, but then concludes, “But it wasn’t terrible.” I’d hate to hear what terrible must be.
Len then goes Total Grampa Crankypants with a rant about how it’s not required to take your shirt off during a samba. Carrie Ann points out the obvious reason why they do it. Bruno says Sean can always get a job as a stripper. Oh my.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7, Len: 7, Bruno: 7
All that and he’s getting 7s? It must be Week 6.\
Alexandra Reisman & Mark Ballas
“Isn’t She Lovely”
MARK BALLAS IS WEARING DROPPED CROTCH JUSTIN BIEBER PANTS WITH A BACKWARDS BASEBALL CAP. What a doofus. I didn’t think it could get worse than the fedoras and spats. I was wrong. I was so wrong.
Aly is having a hard time focusing because of the situation in Boston (remember this rehearsal footage was shot sometime last week); she’s from Boston and was even supposed to be at the marathon.
This is a good foxtrot – nice marriage of music, choreography, and dancing.
Len points out that it was lovely, but that Aly’s butt stuck out a little too much, messing up her frame. Then he compliments Mark on putting in “feather steps” and I’m reminded that despite all his doofishness, Mark is a pro who does actually know what he’s doing.
Bruno says it was pretty as a picture and that her technique is good, but her frame is an ongoing problem because of the butt. I wonder if she has the “sway back” that my ballet teacher swatted out of us with a cane. (She was Russian. It was a different time.)
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9, Len: 9, Bruno: 9
I saw a picture of Marissa Jaret Winokur at the GLAAD Media Awards over the weekend and I did a double take thinking it was Aly. Tell me what you think.
Back from commercial break, Stevie Wonder is standing in the middle of the ballroom floor while several female pros dance around him as he sings “Sir Duke.” The women take turns coming up to Stevie and touching him and dancing up and down him. He may not be able to appreciate the sparkle of their costumes, but I think he’s still having a good time.
Ingo Rademacher & Kym Johnson
It’s Ingo’s birthday today and he’s wanting to break out of the bottom pack of dancers. I’m both baffled and impressed they’re doing a tango to such an up-tempo song. And the band isn’t slowing it down for them at all.
Oooh, ooh! Lift! I saw it! Kym may have been trying to drag her feet but she didn’t succeed.
Bruno says Ingo can turn it on when he wants to. He thought he kept control and had beautiful lines, but did have a couple of foot faults. Carrie Ann asks him if he likes the tango and when he says yes, she says she could tell he liked the dance and that made him like it better. She compliments his “erect” posture and the ballroom titters because we are a nation founded by Puritans. Len says it was sharp and crisp and the dance suited him.
Carrie Ann didn’t say anything about the lift, so she either didn’t see it or is in a good enough mood to ignore it. Ingo says his birthday wish is to make it through to next week.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8, Len: 8, Bruno: 8
Highest score for him this season -- take that as your birthday present, Ingo.
Kellie Pickler & Derek Hough
“Part Time Lover”
Confession, I totally didn’t get this song when I was a kid. I just thought it was part time because they didn’t want to work a full-time job. Oh, naivete.
Kellie interviews that patience is running thin in rehearsal this week because of exhaustion. She gets excited whenever Derek makes a mistake.
I LOVE the disco swinger styling (red silky pantsuit, big permed wig, dangly jewelry) they’ve given Kellie for this -- it suits the lyrics of the song, if not the quickstep. She is really getting all the quickness of the quickstep. Who knew Kellie Pickler would be this good a dancer? Not me, and I’m delighted to see it now.
Carrie Ann says it was perfect, except for one little thing, a space in the hold which caused some out-of-syncness. Bruno and Len both look around like she’s crazy and hold hands in solidarity.
Len says it was the best dance he’s seen in Season 6. Len thinks it would be impossible to maintain the speed and intensity that Kellie and Derek did without occasionally losing contact. He accuses Carrie Ann of being finicky and she starts crabbing. Bruno says that even the professionals lose the hold sometimes. He says it was traditional and exciting.
Serious question: Is the once-a-week close-up in Harold Wheeler’s contract?
Kellie interviews that she hopes her teasing of Derek about his mistakes didn’t come off “ugly.” I love that Southern expression, “being ugly.”
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9, Len: 10, Bruno: 10
Kellie’s so happy she kisses the camera and apparently getting a 10 means Derek owes her a pair of shoes.
Victor Ortiz & Lindsay
“I Just Called to Say I Love You”
If you’ve never read or seen "High Fidelity," do. And then you’ll never hear this song the same way again.
Victor says he’s never slow-danced with someone he loves. SAD. And he seems to still be blue about his recent breakup. Poor guy. If he wasn’t young, handsome, rich, and athletically gifted, I’d worry about his chances of ever finding love again.
If you showed me a still picture of Victor & Lindsay, I could’ve told you they were dancing the rumba because of her bedsheet dress and his pajama/suit.
Len congratulates him on making it farther than any other boxer has on the show and congratulates his effort. Bruno jokes that the dance looked like an “airline safety drill” and does the “Exits are this way” motions we all know and love. Bruno says Victor is not the first man to fail at the rumba.
Carrie Ann says there was no hip action, but she liked the sparkle in his eye and his chemistry with Lindsay. He is sweating buckets.
Brooke asks a question so awkward that Peta’s mouth drops open in the background. Then Victor says something that gets interpreted weirdly and the room gets real awkward. As could be expected, Brooke is no help.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 6, Len: 6, Bruno: 6
Jacoby Jones & Karina Smirnoff
“For Once in My Life”
Jacoby says he’s been trying to point his toes, but he gets in the rhythm of the dance and those suckers just land flat. In rehearsal we see how seriously pigeon-toed he is.
They run the length of the ballroom floor and wind up in an aisle in the audience to do that hop back and forth move of the quickstep. They do it again in the middle of the ballroom floor and Jacoby’s feet are in danger of actually OVERLAPPING he’s so pigeon-toed. His feet may really be physically unable to point. Fun routine, though.
Bruno says his energy is amazing but he could use some work on his frame. He says he can see the work on the footwork even if there’s still room for improvement. Carrie Ann liked it and disagrees with Bruno about the frame.
Len says the dance went from bad to worse and that the quickstep is a dance that “doesn’t 100 percent suit” Jacoby. We hear a muffled shout off-camera and it’s apparently Jacoby’s mom. Len says he doesn’t want to get in a fight with Jacoby’s mom. (She could take Len, no problem.) Len says Jacoby did a good job with a hard dance, but it just wasn’t his night, being a controlled dance rather than a rhythmic dance.
Brooke asks another inane question and Jacoby responds with the non-sequitur, “I like you too, woman.” I wish they all did that to Brooke. I’d pay more attention to these interviews.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8, Len: 7, Bruno: 8
Stevie Wonder plays “My Cherie Amour” on the harpejji, an instrument developed in Baltimore which has been featured on the Oscars. Coldplay has one, and Wonder is a big fan.
Team Paso v Team Samba
Kellie & Derek, Sean & Peta, Andy & Sharna, Aly & Mark
Kellie addresses everybody as “chickens” and I love her for it.
Derek has always been on the winning group team. They’re having a hard time getting started. They’re hoping Team Paso is in as much trouble as they are.
Their story is that they are in a “70s discotheque.” I swear he said the whole word out like that, like we did in my Spanish class 20 years ago, “¿Donde esta la discoteca?”
Ingo & Kym, Jacoby & Karina, Victor & Lindsay, Zendaya & Val
Ingo points out that the team dance is important for him and Victor to get some points. Zendaya vamps choreography with the four pros while Ingo, Jacoby & Victor sit and watch. Love that girl even more, even if this does support the assertion that she’s a ringer. They close the night feeling good about the rehearsal and their routine.
Victor is wearing dropped crotch workout pants and Lindsay gets hung up on them as he pulls her through his legs for a move.
Because this team isn’t stupid, they start with a move highlighting Zendaya and then have her in the front of the pack out on the ballroom. Victor & Lindsay have the first solo and yikes. He’s just not getting the hang of this dancing thing. Ingo & Kym start with a good flashy move and acquit themselves admirably.
Jacoby & Karina get another “Leap over Karina” moment and then do a lot of cool twisty, turny holds. Zendaya & Val finish things off with more Paso Doble content than any other couple and to no one’s shock, Zendaya’s long legs look great doing the kicks and stomps in this dance.
Len thought it was a “spirited effort” with a few awkward moments individually. Bruno compares it to Wrestlemania because I’m assuming he’s not ever watched one. He points out that as a group, they had sync problems during the times when all four couples were on the floor.
Carrie Ann looks distressed as she says that she could tell Zendaya was trying so hard to be the glue, but this was a little broken. She finishes by calling it sloppy and messy.
Jacoby persuades Ingo to come over to the edge of the balcony and do bodybuilding poses for the audience. Victor and Val eventually wander over to join them.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7, Len: 8, Bruno: 7
I’m pleased to note in the skybox that where the female pros on her team have tops slit down to their navels, Zendaya has what my mom would call a “modesty panel” sewn into her costume, giving her a perfectly respectable neckline. That kid is a credit to her parents.
And now it’s time for Team Samba to perform. They are in a circle, arms joined, facing out, with a giant disco ball in the middle of the ring. The men are dressed like the '50s on their heads and the 70s on their bodies. And the women are pure go-go girls from the '60s. Somewhere, an actual costumer weeps and sets a bustle on fire.
I will say this, having your team dance in a giant circle holding arms is a GREAT way to insure synchronization. As they dance, the disco ball rises until it’s off the stage completely. After a few short moves as a group, they split off into solos. Up first, Sean and Peta. I’m surprised they didn’t put Andy in that spot. Mark & Aly go next, with a lot of “hustle moves.
Sharna takes the time honored route of having Andy mostly stay in one place while she dances around him. Derek has problems with his state trooper sunglasses throughout his and Kellie’s whole solo. They finish with more “everybody in a circle” moves.
Bruno says even Andy managed to keep it in synch. See? See? Circle choreography is magic. Carrie Ann liked it. Len says it was “tight and together” and tells them all “well done.
While Kellie’s being interviewed, I’m 99 percent positive Jacoby goosed her. Derek is so in love with his moustache he’s not paying attention. Y’all my cat would have better control of this skybox than Brooke. And I mean my DUMBEST cat, not the smart one that rings a bell when he wants to go outside.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8, Len: 9, Bruno: 8
These team dances are very, very good news for Andy and Sean, not such great news for Ingo and Victor.
Kellie & Derek: 29 + 25 = 54
Aly & Mark: 27 + 25 = 52
Zendaya & Val: 29 +22 = 51
Sean & Peta: 21 +25 = 46
Ingo & Kym: 24 + 22 = 46
Jacoby & Karina: 23 + 22 = 45
Andy & Sharna: 18 + 25 = 43
Victor & Lindsay: 18 + 22 = 40
I kinda hate that the group dance means Ingo and Sean are both ahead of Jacoby, but I’m not at all worried about his fan base keeping him around. If nothing else, you know his mom has got everyone she knows voting on every phone in their house and at least five different emails, per person. She’s fierce, that lady. She might even be driving herself around to everyone she knows and saying, “Can I come in and use your phone to vote for my baby? Won’t take a minute.” I’d let her in. I’d give her a cup of tea, too.
I think it’s curtains for Victor tomorrow night and Andy has that group dance and the power of circle dancing to thank.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun