Dancing with the Stars 8: Melissa Rycroft

March 10, 2009 at 12:32 pm | Posted in ballroom dance, Dancing with the Stars, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Melissa Rycroft is a twenty-five year old sales representative from Dallas, Texas. Many people know her as the woman Jason Mesnick proposed to—and infamously dumped—on season 13 of The Bachelor. The former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader graciously stepped in on Saturday to replace an injured Nancy O’Dell on season eight of Dancing With The Stars.

DID YOU KNOW?
• Was born October 16th, 1983
• Modeled for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders calendar in 2008
• Her life goal is “Just to be happy, keep smiling, and have no regrets about any of the decisions I’ve made.”
• She loves sushi and cheese pizza
• Her favorite color is blue
• Starred in DCC: Making The Team

melissa-tony2

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Dancing with the Stars 8: Season Premiere

March 9, 2009 at 9:00 pm | Posted in ballroom dance, Dancing with the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Hi everyone,

Welcome to the season premiere of Dancing with the Stars! If you want to cha cha and waltz like the stars you’ve seen tonight, please visit us at Ballroom Dance Channel. With our All Access Pass, you can learn as many dances as you’d like at your own pace, for under $10 a month! If you want to take our lessons on the go, please visit us at the ITunes App Store . Now, on with the show!

Wow! The makeover for the ballroom is simply stunning! The new staircases are so pretty, and I hear that they added about 200 more seats. Hopefully this will mean more of the fans of the show that wait for hours to see if they will get in will be able to attend the show tapings!

Our first couple tonight is Lil Kim and Derek Hough. They are dancing the cha cha this evening, and next week will dance the quickstep. Kim looks like she can move quite well, but when they are doing their dance, she seems choppy to me, moving from segment to segment with no fluidity and grace. Maybe I’m just spoiled from seeing Derek with last season’s champion, Brooke Burke, who had a natural, flowing grace from week one! Judges Scores: 7,7,7.

Dancing second tonight are Belinda Carlisle and Jonathan Roberts. I missed Jonathan last season much more than I thought I would, but I am very happy for him that he went back and competed and won a title with new partner Valentina! Belinda has a hard time with spins the same way that Kelly Monaco did in season 1, but she seems to be powering through it nicely in the beginning of their Viennese waltz. She needs to relax and let Jonathan lead her, she is far too stiff and choppy, she really needs to finish her extensions. Maybe next week’s salsa will be more her style! Judges Scores: 6,6,5.

Our third couple is Lawrence Taylor and Edyta Sliwinska. He’s dressed like Emmitt Smith, but I don’t get the same warmth or sincerity from him that Emmitt gives. I also wasn’t real fond of his trash talking Jason Taylor, who I still have a soft spot for! He does a credible job tonight, but needs more finesse and polish to break out from the crowd. Edyta carried him throughout the dance, showing him off as only she knows how! Judges scores: 6,5,5. Step it up, LT, Edyta deserves a better partner!

Next up is the duo of Steve O and Lacey Schwimmer. This pairing initially troubled me greatly. Lacey is one of my favorite pros, and Steve O didn’t have the world’s best reputation, so I was worried. Since the couples have been announced, I’ve been reading about their practices, and Steve’s work ethic impresses me. They are dancing the waltz tonight. I love Lacey’s costume! Steve is a bit too stiff, like he is overly concerned with his frame, but he does a very credible job, and I have to say he actually has very nice lines. I don’t know that he’s headed for the finals, but I have no objection to him being on the dance floor for the next several weeks. Judges scores: 6,5,6.

Ooh, is it hot in here? Gilles Marini and Cheryl Burke are dancing next, a cha cha tonight, if you please. WOW! Gilles has some really nice lines tonight. I’m impressed, and he seems to be funny and charming, as well. Cheryl looks beautiful, her hair is beautiful at that length. I think this couple is going to be in it for quite some time, they have all the right elements! Judges scores: 8,8,8.

Sigh. Chuck Wicks and Julianne Hough are up. Oh, and they are dressed like they belong on the top of a wedding cake. I’m not thrilled about this pairing, and haven’t been since they announced it. I don’t think it is right to allow a real life pairing to compete together on this show, because if nothing else, they have a built in chemistry that the other couples cannot draw from. I’ll try and focus just on their dancing, I promise. Chuck seems to be a very capable lead, and Julianne has choreographed a routine that clearly plays to that strength, but I have seen a couple of missteps, and there was a very obvious lift at the end of the number. Let’s see if the lift police bust them for it! Judges Scores: 6,7,7.

Holly Madison is stepping in to replace Jewel with Dmitry Chaplin. Right off the bat, I have to give Holly props and stepping up on such short notice. Holly has had 5 days of training, and really put her all into the routine. It really is a testament to what a good teacher Dmitry is that Holly did so well with so little training. Next week they will have the quickstep, and she will have had some more time to learn what she needs to continue in the competition. Judges scores: 6,6,6.

After Holly and Dmitry dance, we learn that Ballroom Dance Channel’s own Tony Dovolani will be paired with Melissa Rycroft, who has stepped in on 48 hours notice! Following this announcement, we meet our next couple, Ty Murray and Chelsie Hightower. Ty is a rodeo champion, and Chelsie will look very familiar to fans of So You Think You Can Dance. They have the cha cha tonight. Ty’s a real cutie, and he tried very hard, but he isn’t a natural dancer, and it showed. I think he’ll be more comfortable in the smooth quickstep next week. Chelsie gave it her all, and I hope America remembers why they loved her so much last summer and supports this couple with their votes. Judges scores: 5,4,5. Ty, stop being so hard on yourself, and I hope America stands behind you!

Shawn Johnston and Mark Ballas are up next, and they also have the Viennese Waltz this week. Wow, Mark looks so TALL! I’ve read a lot of places where Shawn is picked to be the winner this year. I think technically she will be superb, but she will struggle with her emotion just like Kristi Yamaguchi did. She said it in their practice footage, that in sport, emotion is weakness. Shawn and Mark are a stunning couple on the floor, and she is doing a lovely job of showing emotion tonight, and with such a romantic dance, they played it well without going over the top. Judges scores: 8,8,7.

Next are Steve “IWoz” Wozniak and Karina Smirnoff. I’m looking forward to seeing how IWoz can do. He seems like such a big teddy bear of a man who really wants to learn and do this well. I’ve developed a soft spot for him the more I have read about him, and I hope he has some ability to go with that infectious smile. I can imagine that this must be very hard for an analytical mind like his! I think he did a credible job, but he has some work to do in order to stay in the competition. Judges scores: 5,4,4. Like Ty, I think the Woz will have strength in the smooth dances.

David Alan Grier and Kym Johnson is our next couple to dance the Viennese Waltz. David seems to be one of those people that everyone is going to assume is just a big goof, but will be very good. He’s taking this very seriously, as are all the competitors this season. David has beautiful extensions, and naturally flows from movement to movement with grace and style. Judges scores: 6,7,6.

Denise Richards and Maksim Chmerkovskiy are dancing the cha cha tonight. Denise is coming into the competition with no formal dance training. I wasn’t sure what to make of her when she called Maks “Maksipoo” on Good Morning America, but she’s growing on me, because she isn’t afraid to be real. WOW! Denise has some real potential, but Maks is right, she’s got to stop apologizing, and just start learning. I think she’ll get there, she just has to trust herself a little more. It is clear she trusts Maks, she just needs to believe in herself a little more. Judges scores: 6,6,6. Not bad!

Last, but not least, are Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani. Come on, boss, show us what you’ve got! This is a real test to who Tony is as an instructor, but at least they have found a capable woman to step in at the very last minute. Melissa has trained in ballet and is a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. I’m thinking that means she’ll have the grace to pull off the smooth dances, and the cheekiness needed for the Latins. One thing is for sure, this couple looks beautiful together! They are a good physical match with the height and coloring. 2 DAYS! 2 DAYS, and that was hands down the performance of the night! She was all teary at the end, and so am I. Melissa has beautiful lines, amazing extensions, and unlimited potential. Judges scores: 8,7,8. Good job, you two, and Melissa, thank you so much for stepping in!

Well, that’s it for tonight. We will see you back here next Monday for the second round of competition, and a week from tomorrow for our first results show, which will feature Jewel as our guest singer. Thanks for reading!

Keep Dancing,
Ballroom Dance Channel

Dancing with the Stars 8: Are they asking too much of the celebs?

March 6, 2009 at 5:22 pm | Posted in ballroom dance, Dancing with the Stars, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Hey Everyone,

Something has been nagging at the back of my mind since I heard about the withdrawal of Jewel and Nancy O’Dell yesterday,and I thought it merited some discussion. Is the show asking too much of the celebrities that join Dancing with the Stars? Specifically, is the 4 week training period putting too much pressure on any contestant that wants to win?

In season 1, we don’t know how long before the show began airing that the contestants were allowed to start training because ABC did not know they had a hit on their hands. Dancing with the Stars was originally meant to be a one time summer filler show, and people fell in love with the concept. In seasons 2-3, contestants had 6 weeks to learn one dance routine, and fundamentals for others as their pros had time to teach them. Starting with season 4, however, that window for instruction was cut to 4 weeks, and the competition among the contestants has intensified every year. No one wants to go out on the floor looking less than their best, and if there are 2 fewer weeks to learn the same amount of ballroom dance steps, then it stands to reason that the practice hours would have to get longer to cover the material. In their drive to win, are contestants now practicing too many hours because they don’t have enough time?

Following this theory, we spoke with Jerry Bowman and Tonya Plank and asked what the usual time frame is with a pro/am couple to learn a dance for a competition. Jerry is an active pro/am competitor, and Tonya has experience there as well as blogging about ballroom dance at Swan Lake Samba Girl. As with the show, the amount of time a student puts in is a choice. Keep in mind that with an amateur wanting to try for a trophy, they have had as much time as they wanted to learn the fundamentals, working up to the competition level.

Tonya made the following comments when we talked about what level the celebs would likely be at and how this works in the ballroom world:

I guess after four weeks of full-time training, they’d
be at the open gold level (since that’s what the show is aiming for —
they don’t want them doing basics, even on the first night, because
basics are really boring to watch). That is the highest level and the
level that the average beginner honestly would be at after about two
years — at least two years, probably three or four for most people. I
danced for four years and I never competed in open gold. I just never
felt ready.
I mean, for the average serious beginner, you’d probably take two
hours of intense private lessons per week, then about 10-15 hours of
less intense, more social-dance-oriented group classes, and about
three or four hours a week on your own. So, they are basically
spending about a quarter of the time each day training that these DWTS
competitors are.
And, also, one thing I forgot: the vast majority of people specialize
in either Latin or Standard — not both! So, they are only training in
one set of dances, half of what these competitors are training in! If
you’re going to compete in both Standard and Latin (which very few
people do), then double the number of years required for everything I
just said! I really don’t know how they do it.

When Jerry Bowman and I discussed this, here were his thoughts. Keep in mind that Jerry has a competition coming up in a week, and has competed in 2 others with the Fred Astaire program. Jerry dances with the Fred Astaire in Memphis, Tennessee.

…we have two kinds of dance routines – closed and open. Most of the pro/am dancers dance in the closed routines. This means that they are basically non-choreographed routines that simply use the patterns and steps the student is supposed to have learned up to that point in time from the FADS training syllabus. Most students and their teacher will start about a month or so before the comp and pick out which of the patterns they want to use in the comp and just work the heck out of those to really make them clean and sharp. Then the dancing is all ad-hoc, the male simply leading the female in the patterns they have agreed to. So it really more simulates a social dancing environment, just with really well rehearsed elements and patterns.

The open routines are ones that are choreographed. There are two types of these. Those that are danced with a group like normal. This is what you most often see when you watch the TV comps. We usually spend about 10 sessions on an open routine danced this way. Each session is 45 minutes. Now, me personally, I will spend that much more time on my own just working the routine. Not all the students do that.

The other type of open routine is called a showcase routine. This is danced with just you and the pro taking the whole floor and being judged on a graded scale with judges comments. This is a choreographed routine that usually has been put together for an exhibition show hosted by the local studio. It then gives an opportunity for the student and teacher to get feedback on the routine. Because these are done for a exhibition/recital type program and are usually more involved then about 20 sessions are used to prepare the routine.

After talking with Tonya and Jerry, I have to say that I think it is very likely that the celebs are over training in their desire to win, and show producer Conrad Green made such comments to People magazine. Jerry also pointed out that because ballroom dance is much more physical than people realize, there is a very good chance that any existing ailments or old injuries could easily flare up again.

So how does the show handle the training schedule from here? Should they go back to the 6 week timetable? Limit the number of hours a couple can dedicate to practice? Simply line up alternates in case of injury? There are a number of solutions, if you produced the show, what would you do? Leave us your comments below, and we hope you will join us at Ballroom Dance Channel Social to discuss the show. For a dance fix over the weekend, why not give our lessons a try? With the All Access Pass, you can try our lessons at your pace for less than $10 a month.

Keep Dancing,
Ballroom Dance Channel

Gilles Marini Won’t Be Dancing’s Next Casualty – PEOPLE TV Watch

March 6, 2009 at 2:21 pm | Posted in ballroom dance, Dancing with the Stars | Leave a comment
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Wow, People had me worried for a minute with this title!  It took a minute to realize that he wasn’t dropping out….stay tuned to Ballroom Dance Channel for the latest!

Gilles Marini Won’t Be Dancing’s Next Casualty – PEOPLE TV Watch.

Denise Richards: DWTS, Playboy & Charlie’s Twins – E! Online

March 6, 2009 at 1:34 pm | Posted in ballroom dance, Dancing with the Stars, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Mark Malkin over at E! Online just published an interview with Denise Richards.  It makes me want to at least give her a chance and see what she can do.  Of course, some of that might just be due to my fondness for Maks!  Ballroom Dance Channel is striving to be your one stop for all the headlines about Dancing with the Stars!

Denise Richards: DWTS, Playboy & Charlie’s Twins – E! Online.

The Associated Press: Jewel, Nancy O’Dell drop `Dancing With the Stars’

March 5, 2009 at 9:33 pm | Posted in ballroom dance, Dancing with the Stars | Leave a comment
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Poor Tony and Dmitry!  It is still unclear if they will even have had time to find Tony a replacement, or if we will only see him on results shows.  Is the current training schedule of one month too rigorous?  Are the stars just pushing themselves too hard in their drive to win?  Please let us know your thoughts, and Ballroom Dance Channel will keep you updated as we get more information.

The Associated Press: Jewel, Nancy O’Dell drop `Dancing With the Stars’.

Dancing with the Stars 8: Holly Madison?

March 4, 2009 at 6:38 pm | Posted in ballroom dance, Dancing with the Stars | Leave a comment
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Hey everyone,

Late breaking news for you today. It is being reported by InTouch Weekly and US Weekly that Holly Madison has joined the cast of Dancing with the Stars for season 8, and widely speculated that she is replacing Jewel. Jewel reported last week that she was suffering from tendinitis in her knees and was undergoing treatment. Please take this information as rumor, as no one connected with the show, ABC, or BBC has issued any comment. Jewel’s rep has issued a statement today saying that she will be on the show Monday, but it could be handled the same way they handled the injury of Misty May Treanor last season, when she appeared but did not dance in the week she injured her Achilles and withdrew from the competition. We have profiled Holly for you, if this rumor is true, she will be paired with new pro Dmitry Chaplin. You can find his profile information in this post . Please stay tuned to Ballroom Dance Channel for your dance fix, and we’ll do our best to keep you informed as this story develops! Special thanks to Sammi T for getting this profile put together on the spot!


Holly Madison is best known for being Hugh Hefner’s number one girlfriend on The Girls Next Door. The December 23, 1979 born model has starred on the show for five seasons and only recently broke up with Hugh and left the mansion. During her time at the mansion, she was the photo editor for Playboy.

DID YOU KNOW?

• Holly used to live in Alaska and Oregon
• Studied at Portland State University, Loyola Marymount, and UCLA Extension and Santa Monica College
• Her first time at the Playboy Mansion was for a Midsummer Night’s Dream party.

Belinda Carlisle Reveals Her Dancing Problem — Spinning – PEOPLE TV Watch

March 4, 2009 at 4:39 pm | Posted in ballroom dance, Dancing with the Stars, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Poor Belinda!  I wonder if the spinning will present the same challenge for her that it did for Season 1 Champ Kelly Monaco?  Read the details by following the link below, and remember, for a dance fix, visit us at Ballroom Dance Channel!

Belinda Carlisle Reveals Her Dancing Problem — Spinning – PEOPLE TV Watch.

Dancing with the Stars 8: David Alan Grier and Kym Johnson

March 4, 2009 at 8:15 am | Posted in ballroom dance, Dancing with the Stars, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Hey Everyone,

Well, we’ve done it! Today is the last of the celeb pairings, David Alan Grier and Kym Johnson. We hope you’ve enjoyed this look at our couples. For a dance fix, please visit us at Ballroom Dance Channel.

David Alan Grier, also known as “D.A.G.” (DAG), is an American actor and comedian known for his work on the sketch comedy television show In Living Color.

Did you know?
-His father is William Henry Grier, a writer who co-authored the book Black Rage.
-David starred as James “Thunder” Early in the hit Broadway musical Dreamgirls.
-He is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama.
-David has worked with Dancing with the Stars alumni Adam Carolla, appearing with him on Loveline and The Adam Carolla Show.

Kym Johnson is an Australian former professional ballroom dancer, model, and television celebrity. She lives in Sydney, Australia but is currently based in America for “Dancing with the Stars”.

Did you know?

-Kym was on the Australian version of Dancing with the Stars in Seasons 1,2, and 3, winning in season 3 with celeb partner Tom Williams.
-She appeared on the Australian program Celebrity Survivor on behalf of the Merry Makers in early 2006.
-Kym has been the runner up on the US version twice, with Joey Fatone in season 4 and in season 7 with Warren Sapp.
-She was a performer at Elton John’s 50th birthday party.

Dancing with the Stars 8: Belinda Carlisle and Jonathan Roberts

March 3, 2009 at 2:23 pm | Posted in ballroom dance, Dancing with the Stars, Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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Hi Everyone,

Sorry the posting is so late today, I fell a bit behind! Today we’re featuring the duo of Belinda Carlisle and Jonathan Roberts. I can’t believe we are less than a week from the new season’s start. For a dance fix, please visit us at Ballroom Dance Channel, or to take your lessons on the go, visit us at the ITunes App Store.

Belinda Carlisle is best known as the lead vocalist for the rock & roll band The Go-Gos. She has also had several solo hits.

Did you know?

-Belinda has modeled for Almay cosmetics.
-In 1997, she released a cover of “I Won’t Say (I’m in Love)” from Disney’s Hercules as part of that movie’s distribution in Europe. The single was only released in France and Germany.
-Her husband, Morgan Mason, is the son of James Mason.
-Belinda was a cheerleader at Newbury Park High School in Thousand Oaks, California.

Jonathan Roberts is a professional dancer married to former partner Anna Trebunskya. He has been on seasons 1,2,4,5,6, and the upcoming season 8 of Dancing with the Stars. He sat out season 7 to return to his competitive roots, dancing with new partner Valentina Kostenko and winning the 2008 Professional Smooth Championship.

Jonathan’s competitive accomplishments include:

• 2008 US National Professional Smooth Champion, with Valentina Kostenko
• 2004 US National Professional Rising Star Latin Champion, with Anna Trebunskaya
• 2003 Blackpool Professional Rising Star Latin Champion, with Anna Trebunskaya
• 1997 US National Professional Rising Star Ballroom Champion, with Roberta Sun
• USA pro-am 10 dance champion
• USA pro-am Latin champion
• USA pro-am American Ballroom champion

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