Week 5 – Switch-Up Night (13.10.2014)

Introduction
At least the new producers really learned from the previous season. In season 18, they did the switch up on week 4 and the impression from all the fans is that is brutal (quoted from Julianne’s comment). This season they did the switch-up on week 5. The advantage is the celebrity partners probably already feel comfortable with the environment of this show and hopefully the switch-up won’t make them fall apart. The disadvantage of the switch-up, and this will happen every time the switch-up is there, that the pressure will be on the celebrity partners, how fast they can adapt to the new partner. The pros will have less pressure since they’ve already experience in teaching and partnering with new person.

Although this switch-up is hard for all the contestants, or maybe it’s a relief for some contestants or pros, it’s still interesting to watch the bonding and chemistry that supposed to be there in less than one week. And it feels kind of weird that this time seems the producers like to do more experiment by switching up between two couples. If I’m not mistaken, in the previous season 18, they only switch the Chmerkovskiy brothers. But this time they did it for Val and Artem, Mark and Derek. We will never know whether that’s the result from audience pick or they just decided to switch them up because it happened that they are all strong couple in the competition. Val and Artem are exotic kind of guys, while everybody knows Mark and Derek are best friends.

I have to admit it is interesting to watch Val and Artem, Mark and Derek switch-up. But on the other hand, it seems the producers put the spotlight on them and other contestants are not so important like these four couples. But in the end, everybody can speculate or have their own opinions. The final decision still in the producers’ hands.

I am amazed that some of the songs chosen by the producers are not even match for the related dance. And still the judges comment sometimes too harsh for the celeb, as if they don’t know that song choices is really the vital element in performing the routine well on stage.

We know that this is in the middle road, but I think they need to appreciate the efforts from everybody in the switch up situation. I totally agree with the comment I saw in one of the social media, that the producers supposed to choose guest judge who at least watch the show. Because we hear repeatedly from Jessie J as a guest judge that this is the first she sees him/her. The opposite of Kevin Hart though, while he gave a very generous 9 and 10, Jessie J even gave 5.

Guest judge for this week is Jessie J. She has great voice and entertaining. But as a guest judge, I’m not comfortable with the way she judging the couples. Especially when she mentioned a few times that this is the first time she saw this and that, and that she was not watching the show. As a guest judge, I don’t think it’s fair to score the contestant by watching them on the spot for the first time. You have to appreciate their growth from the first week. Maybe also a comprehensive briefing from the producers about the scoring system for guest judge ? Since she gave an awkward score for some couples.

There is no elimination this week. But the scores and the votes will be combined and they will do the elimination on the week after.

The routine perform by couple (alphabetically from the first name of the pros)

1. Allison Holker and Antonio Sabato Jr.
They are doing Bollywood this week. Allison has a lot of Bollywood experience especially in So You Think You Can Dance show where the type of dance is more various. Like she said, Bollywood is a very high-energy dance and needs high stamina. The only Bollywood number I’ve ever seen in DWTS is when Peta did this with Giles Marini. I still see Allison is automatic turn herself into a professional dancer once they are on stage. Because what I see in Jonathan is happening again with Antonio. All I can see is her, not Jonathan or Antonio. Compare if you see other female pros perform with their partner on stage, you can SEE the celeb partner and the presence of the female pros is just completing the whole package. It is understandable that Allison did not come from the ballroom background, but she needs to learn very fast how to put herself as a teacher and as a partner to the celeb, rather than turn into an autopilot mode being a dancer. Otherwise she will make Jonathan not stay long in the competition. In the case of Antonio, I believe she is able to choreograph better routine for Antonio. This number really did not suit for Antonio. They seem to dance separately. The part where Allison is standing above him and the part where Antonio fly with the rope, for me is not relevant with the Bollywood number. The total score of 28 maybe is appropriate for appreciate Antonio’s hardworking to perform such a very fast movement routine. The song choice is not suitable, didn’t help Allison or Antonio to perform better.

2. Cheryl Burke and Alfonso Ribeiro
What can I say. Amazing flamenco. Amazing partnership with Cheryl. They are great together. Cheryl’s costume is amazingly white. And the expectation for Alfonso is getting higher and higher every week. With a serious routine like this, still he proves that he can do it. I expect all 9’s though, but the scores, well I think the combination of 8 and 9 is quite fair.

3. Emma Slater and Tommy Chong
Here you go, Tommy. Judges complaint about the song but they didn’t pick the song, like Erin said. Emma really did great choreography, such an entertaining routine with a very slow beat music. Tommy Chong is great. He’s not nervous at all, he finished the routine well and Emma still can do some spinning with his help. For his age, he is fantastic though. I guess an average 7 will be good for him, considering the effort. Sometimes what is weird from the judges is they are contradictive. Like Jessie J expressed she like the routine, but she came up with 6. What I really love is when I saw Emma and Peta expressions as the pros when Julianne gave him 5. Sometimes the comment from the judges also is irrelevant. Julianne mentioned that Tommy look tired. Well, he is 76 and he’s been in rehearsal almost every day for more than a month. Of course he looked tired. I think the combination of 6 and 7 will be fair for Tommy.

4. Peta Murgatroyd and Jonathan Bennett
I feel that Peta really happy to get Jonathan for this week. She did well with Tommy, but Peta is a great dancer and choreographer. She is still young and energetic. Although only for a week, at least she is able to do something different for the choreography, especially when they are given Jitterbug as their routine. Fast like Jive, fast like Peta and cheerful like Jonathan. Very energetic number and as usual Peta’s choreography is amazing. Although I agree with the judges that Jonathan started very well at the beginning and I was kind of hope that he did well until the end of the routine, but he seems lost in the middle of the number and Peta almost slip out from his hand. The choreography is quite complex since it involved a lot of athletics movement.

I thought all 7’s will be appropriate, but the judges gave them all 6’s. The disappointment is obvious on Peta’s face. It’s not for her own sake, but it’s a traumatic experience for Peta because in the previous season, she got hit by the comment from the judges when she got Charlie White in the Switch-Up week, said that it’s not Rumba at all. Although they still get total score above 30, but that week lowered down Charlie’s rank from the leader board. And it happened again with Jonathan, who had already suffered from the previous week. This time is even worse. That is a mess in the scoring and it’s not easy for Peta since she has moral obligation to take Jonathan to get a better score, and it’s not easy for Jonathan to keep get slammed by the judges scores.

5. Witney Carson and Michael Waltrip
For once, at least Michael can dance a little bit. Although we still have to admit that he is not a natural mover. I think he is better than last week and he did not busy counting on his steps but he enjoy it. I don’t know why Carrie Ann comments about ‘when you can’t dance, make us laugh’. I did not see the intention like that. But we have to admit, it makes sense that Michael survived mostly because of the fans votes. If we are talking about the content and technique, week 5 is supposed to be great. But I still think Witney did a fantastic job with choreograph the routine for Michael with a simple disco movement but still you can see clearly that is a disco. Michael is another celebrity partner who keeps getting low scores and unsatisfied comment from the judges. And he realized that he’s not as good as other contestants, but his positiveness is amazing, same as Jonathan.

6. Artem Chigvintsev and Janel Parrish
They got Burlesque as their routine. First of all, when I heard the After Show DWTS from Afterbuzz TV, Jenna Johnson mentioned that Artem explain about Burlesques is usually a female dance. To choreograph Burlesque as a pair of male and female dance, it’s tough. Although after I saw them performed, that is a very sexy routine and in this season only Janel can do that routine. Again the song is not quite suitable with the routine like Julianne said about Burlesque concept (of course she knew because she is one of the dancers in the ‘Burlesque’ movie with Christina Aguilerra and Cher). And there is a moment when the flip and drop between Artem and Janel seems awkward, I don’t know why. But it seems that when we expect a dramatic closing, the flip and drop and spin is not getting there. I still don’t agree the judges especially Julianne and Carrie Ann (in her blog) comments that the routine is sexy and rauchy, but it’s not Burlesque. Let’s compare with what Artem said to Jenna and they are not the ones who pick the style and the song. It’s a hard comment though, but the scores is quite fair, the combination of 8 and 9.

7. Derek Hough and Sadie Robertson
Now that’s what I called a perfect partner for Derek. Look at her, so energetic and fresh. Likeable and always smile. And we can see the difference of the choreography that Derek made for Bethany and Sadie. Sadie execute the choreography very well. Getting all 9’s is just perfect for them. Nice costumes and simple stage but deliver a beautiful Charleston style. It is flawless.

8. Mark Ballas and Bethany Mota
While Sadie is comfortable dancing in high heels or flat shoes, Bethany definitely comfortable doing her routine in flat shoes. For the first time, she really did perform very comfortable and enjoying the routine. Hip hop style seems perfect for her although the choreography is quite simple if we compare with the real hip hop dance. So far all 8’s across the board is fair. Mark as usual, always create a unique choreography where he put Sadie and Derek as a cameo in the beginning and the end of the routine.

9. Valentin Chmerkovskiy and Lea Thompson
Broadway style with Val. Great concept and fun. Great setting, even Val, Assist by Henry, Sasha, Lindsay and Jenna have makeover as a group of old people. Although Lea seems hesitate in the middle of the routine because her legs seems all over the place, but when Val spin her and she do the solo for a few seconds, she came back and they close the number beautiful. It is a complex choreography, because there is a story involved in that routine. I guess 9’s across the board is the appropriate score for them, but it’s weird when Julianne and Jessie J gave her an 8.

My favorite routines from the couples
1. Cheryl Burke and Alfonso Ribeiro – Flamenco / Angelica – Hans Zimmer
2. Artem Chigvintsev and Janel Parrish – Burlesque / Mamma Knows Best – Jessie J
3. Derek Hough and Sadie Robertson – Charleston / Crazy Stupid Love – Cheryl Cole ft. Tinie Tempah
4. Mark Ballas and Bethany Mota – Hip Hop / She Came To Give It To You – Usher ft. Nicki Minaj
5. Valentin Chmerkovskiy and Lea Thompson – Broadway / You Can’t Stop The Beat – Hairspray

My favorite routine from the pros
Opening number with Jessie J singing medley of ‘Bang Bang’ and ‘Burning Up’

Reflection from week 5
1. Being fair is not easy. Like the judges, they judge something that is not apple-to-apple comparison. How can you judge someone as young as Sadie or Janel compare to Tommy or Betsey. Either the producers have a set of parameters other than technical ability or the judges need to be more careful when they score.
2. Perseverance, in this week very obvious I can see from Jonathan. His journey is like a roller coaster. And last week he had a bad score. This week he got quite harsh comment from the judges. I don’t know what’s happen behind the scene, but at least in front of camera he shown enthusiasm while Peta shown her disappointment.
3. Maintain your level of optimism and positiveness. Michael and Jonathan are the experts in those areas. They keep slammed by the judges’ comments and/or scores week after week. But they keep moving on, keep smiling in front of the camera, keep rehearse as hard as they can – do their best. Amazing !

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