It’s a showdown. It’s the battle of the hips, the war of the bedhead, the skirmish involving the hotness factor, and ultimately who scored more points in the SWAT/SHAKES Seduction Scale or the S³ Scale as it is commonly known in scientific and mathematical circles.
For a detailed explanation of these characters, you might have to refer back to previous blogs. For all of you new site members who aren’t familiar with our special brand of craziness, we sometimes name the characters that Tristan manages to create through his choreography and performance. The names are a bit offbeat, somewhat oddball, and a whole lot reflective of our own wacky senses of humor. Enjoy the showdown!
The Cha Cha: Bentley Bummtapper vs. Rascal MacPip
This is one of those showdowns in DWTS history in which we think it is going to be virtually impossible to choose a victor. Both have the capability of pushing the hotness factor incredibly high on the Richter Scale (the Richter Scale became involved when it became necessary to determine which character made the earth move for more women). First you have the Sexy Suspenders vs. Sexy Vest debate, which is a huge part of the deciding factor here because both Bentley (Season 13) and Rascal (Season 14) can seduce the pants off of almost any woman in the world. Both characters are smooth, sexy, and ooze charisma. Rascal has confidence in spades. Bentley was your adorable charmer who was kind of “green” in the Romance Department, but made up for it when taking the escalator straight up to the Fun Department. Rascal is a brilliant, confident dancer that makes the lady feel special, while Bentley is that sweet and endearing nephew at the wedding reception trying to charm every lady within a thousand miles. And he does it. Ultimately, it all comes down to suspenders vs. vest to decide the Cha Cha Champ. Both the suspenders and the vest will go down in history and probably end up in the Smithsonian. Both gave us naughty thoughts. This contest was so close that we almost wimped out and called it a tie, but alas the “fake boyfriend suspenders” (thanks to Gina Carbone of DWTS Wetpaint for that one), win by a nose. Our winner in the Cha Cha Round is none other than Bentley Bumtapper from Season 13. Why? Because no man before or since has rocked a pair of suspenders like Bentley.
The Quickstep: T. Quick Macfeet vs. The Sexy Charmer (aka “You had me at hello”)
Honestly, for us the quickstep is one of those dances that we don’t think too much about. Not too many people exclaim “Oh I'd just love to see Tristan and Shakes’s quickstep again!” [Disclaimer: Shakes hijacked this one and rudely put her own name in it when SWAT wasn’t looking]. Even though T. Quick and Nancy got their first 8 in the quickstep, there was still a bit of trouble in paradise. There were problems in rehearsals as well as with the rumored wardrobe malfunction. Frankly, the quickstep wasn't very kind to T.S.C. (The Sexy Charmer) and the lovely Gladys in Season 14 either. The judges failed to see the brilliance in the choreography and the duo were given their lowest scores of the season, and that kind of put a damper on everything. This is where we must dig deeper into Tristan's characters for this dance. T. Quick is a budding optimist, and wins the “Supportive Partner of the Year” award. Not only was he the perfect partner for Nancy, but he also guided her through a solid quickstep which as we all know is very hard to do. T.S.C. however went a little rogue on his dance with Gladys -first with the song choice. Remember that T.Quick went for the traditional “It Don’t Mean A Thing If You Ain’t Got That Swing” while T.S,C. chose a slowed down quickstep to “Sir Duke.” In some ways, the song choice mucked up the flow of the Season 14 dance, but there was redemption. We’re not a big fan of props in any capacity on the show, but it was pretty cool that T.S.C. and his lovely partner got to glide across a hologram of a giant grand piano on the floor. What sealed the deal was the absolutely brilliant costume choice. White tie and tails (or in this case, the palest of pink tie and tails) was a perfect choice, and the blue lining to the tails was pure genius. In addition, Gladys's multi-colored frock was one that will be remembered for many seasons to come. The brown/bronze/golden whatever stuff from Season 13 just pales in comparison. It was okay, but it wasn’t knock-your-socks-off stunning. Therefore, for the brilliance in costume and the absolutely ballsy move of choosing “Sir Duke” for a Quickstep, this round goes to The Sexy Charmer from Season 14.
Rumba: J.D. Swivelhips vs. Clark MacKent
Okay, ladies, you know these two get your hormones surging and your pulse racing. These delicious morsels (yes, we are objectifying) are as different as night and day, but we would bet big money that the vast majority of MacManiacs let out gigantic sighs of crazy girl bliss when we got an eyeful of both J.D. Swivelhips and Clark MacKent. The obvious difference here between the two is that one is a self proclaimed bad boy, and the other is a superhero in disguise who is trying to be just a regular nice guy. Now it all comes down to personal preference. Some girls like that guy who wants you one minute, and then winks at another girl the next. Others want that sexy man who can save the world, take you on a nice date, but then is kind of MIA at the worst times because he's busy saving the world (or probably working behind the counter at Macy’s). Both are great dressers, and they come from different fashion eras. While J.D. is busy channeling his inner James Dean, Clark is busy trying to be the next Buddy Holly. Both have some serious hip action and know how to glide the lady across the dance floor, so they are equal in that department. The deal breaker for me [SWAT], however, is that even though J.D. Swivelhips makes us want to jump on his Harley and ride off into the sunset, the sexy truth is that Clark really knows how to treat his lady right and with the utmost respect. You'd never catch Clark making eyes at another girl. He only has eyes for his girl, and THAT...is the dealbreaker here. Winner: Clark MacKent.
Disagreement: I [Shakes] loved Clark and his wooing of the lady, but for me it was the bad boy himself who brought it home and got the hormonal level surging into the danger zone. He was flirty, he was sexy, and he had the swivelhips to beat all swivelhips. He may have winked at another girl and even looked at things he had no business looking at, but he was the bad boy every girl wants, and the bottom line is that he upped the seduction in a big way to convince his lady love to take him back. Besides any guy who can wear magenta or fuchsia and still look like a stud gets huge bonus points. The hips just don’t lie, and J.D.’s hips had a whole story to tell. In fact, I am working on a novel about just that…..
The Foxtrot: Sir Tristan of the Sand vs. Archie/Dilbert
We want to say that this one is going to be a hard sell, but let's be real. It's a hotter than hell, funny, sexy, charming knight who can sweep a woman off of her feet and keep her smiling. Then there's Archie/Dilbert with the bad haircut (obviously done by Mom when she put a bowl on his head and started cutting). For those of you who missed it, Archie is SWAT’s pet name for the Foxtrot king of Season 14. Shakes chose to call him Dilbert because she thought he was a cute dork. Both characters pleasantly surprised us with their savvy demeanor and great foxtrot moves. Both are complete gentleman and do their best to make the lovely lady smile. Even the judges seemed to be rooting for Archie and Dilbert, but we refuse to ignore the obvious. Sir Tristan from Spamalot was just delicious. He made us laugh and had a sense of humor that couldn't be beat. After Nancy kissed him, he fell and fell hard – literally and figuratively. And so did we. The winner, hands down, is our glorious, most amazingly sexy Sir Tristan of the Sand (also known as Sir Seducesalot.)
The Jive: The Devil Who Went Dancin’ vs. Mygoldspatslookbetterthanyourspats vs. Sexy Pants
This is where things get interesting. We have the crazy Mephistopheles who was the scariest dude in town and probably still is. Look at those eyes. Looks at the black fingernail polish – something SWAT and Shakes will never, ever agree on as being sexy. Then there was the music. Everything was so off the wall, yet so brilliantly executed that we can’t even rule out the Devil Who Went Dancin’ as potentially winning this three way battle for the jive character who reeled us in. Second on our list and sexier than sin was the man we call Mygoldspatslookbetterthanyourspats. Right off the bat, we noticed that he should be the spokesman for Spats ‘R Us. Nobody in the history of time every looked better in them. The black shirt, black pants, and carelessly loosened gold bow tie were equally hot, but it was the flicks and kicks that wowed us. This man can move. And then we get to Sexy Pants who did the Dance Duel to beat all Dance Duels to “Don’t Stop Me Now”, and yeah, we admit it, we weren’t about to stop him from anything. The black shirt and pants were perfect and the black dress for Gladys was marvelous, unexpected, and sexy. Who knew a jive could be sexy? Sexy Pants knew that he needed to go for understated with an edge. This edgy performance was a true Jive that was full of all kinds of sizzle. Sexy Pants had that cool confidence that shows that he's serious but also interested in having a real good time. And even though the Dance Duel had to have been rigged (because a true jive with all the requisite steps should win every time), Mr. Sexy Pants is a real winner with us and wins this round.
Tango: 0014 vs. S.J. Ladykiller vs. Badass Rocker Dude
For those of you who missed it the first time around, we called our Tango king from Season 13 (remember “The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane”?) 0014 for one reason and one reason only: He deserved to be called 0014 because he was twice as hot, twice as sexy, and twice as everything else as 007. He was smooth, seductive, and did we say smooth? He filled out a tux like nobody’s business too. Then we have the Badass Rocker Dude from Season 14 who brought back the Devil’s makeup and nail polish from the Season 13 jive (“The Devil Went Down To Georgia”). We also have S.J. Ladykiller (Striaght Jacket Ladykiller) who did an entire tango from the barred walls of the loony bin. Sure he is completely off of his rocker, and it looks like he hasn’t slept in weeks from all of that tangoing in his cell, but he can dance like no one else, and the fact that it was a woman that drove him to the brink shows that he has a sensitive side to him (before he decided to pull a Boo Radly moment on us). The problem is that with S. J. you get the feeling that he will eventually go a little Fatal Attraction on you in real life. Finally, we have Badass Rocker Dude from Season 14 - bad hair, bad makeup, bad nail polish, and Holy Moley, he was hotter than you know what in the midst of all the badness. He was sexy, he and the lady were naughty equals, and they owned the dance floor that they created by shoving the furniture out of the way at the corner tequila bar to make room to dance to "Bohemian Rhapsody." After the dance at the bar, they probably went next door to get matching tattoos.
It was difficult to pick a winner from these 3 amazing Hot Tamales, but we finally reached a decision. Even though we’re giving S. J. and Badass Rocker Dude credit for some very creative choreography and attitude, we're going to save the lives of our pet bunnies from the Fatal Attractionesque S.J. LadyKiller and from the tattoos and piercings that go hand in hand with BARD (Badass Rocker Dude) and go for 0014 as the winner. Why? It is because of that move where he ran his hand up the lady’s leg that sealed the deal and led to a big fat hormonal surge. 0014 knows all about women, knows how to get a woman, how to tame a woman, and isn't afraid to play some sexy cat and mouse game to get his woman. The fact that he sat back and drank his double martini....stirred, and not shaken (because remember, he can handle more than that fluffy 007 guy) while stalking his prey with his eyes before going in for the seduction gives us all goose bumps. He definitely knows how to use “the look”. Yes 0014 is the winner here, and that's because he could take us over with a look and a hand run up the leg. Yeah...it wouldn't take much.
So let's give everyone the final tally here: Season13 Winners: 0014 (Tango), Bently Bumtapper (Cha Cha), and Sir Tristan (Foxtrot). Season 14 winners: The Sexy Charmer (Quickstep), and Mr. Sexy Pants (Jive). It's a tie between JD. Swivelhips and Clark MacKent in the Rumba because we can’t agree on who is sexier, hotter, more drool worthy, or just more everything.
Conclusion: We just can’t get over the multi-dimensional characters from Season 13, and these are only just a few. Season 14 characters brought us huge quantities of sexy. Whichever way you look at it, Tristan is an amazing choreographer who can create a story from any dance, to any music, and make any partner that he has look good.
Oh yeah. Tristan looks pretty good too. We are the official winners of the SWAT and Shakes Shallowness Award, in case you were wondering.
The SWAT and Shakes ‘How To’ Series – Part 2
Smoldering Sensuality, Sex, and Samba
Before we get into the actual content where we analyze and over-analyze virtually everything, we felt that we should preface this blog post with a disclaimer which goes something like this: You might want to read this one down in the dungeon because you will probably end up there anyway. Why? Let’s just say that your imagination might go a little haywire. We gave you lots of teasers that no doubt got your imagination going to places it had no business going, and we ended up taking way longer than we anticipated when writing this because we couldn't allow our own imaginations (and writing) to stray into uncharted territory. So yes, we toned it down, and then toned it down some more, but it's still provocative enough to get you thinking about what we wrote initially. Do you remember our “Distractions” blog from the early days of this site? (It's somewhere in MacMusings – just go back a few months, you’ll find it). This one reminded us of that blog, but in this case, you can just consider the Design a Dance Samba to be the pinnacle of all Tristan distractions.
Did anybody here really NOT think about sex at some point in the Design A Dance performance? And wasn’t that exactly what was supposed to happen? From the opening seconds where Chelsie was being her naughty self up on the stairs as she taunted and teased -the wind blowing her red feathers up over her head so we got a good look at what was under her costume - until the final position where Tristan was on his knees in front of her, it was supposed to create an illusion of sex. It was supposed to be the prelude, the foreplay, if you will. Guess what? It worked. Brilliant choreography combined with perfection in performance to give us a magical Samba, and that is precisely how you create the party dance of all party dances. You simulate a little sex, create a little sexual tension, have the dance almost – but not quite – cross the line into erotic, and bring the whole “catch me if you can” scenario that we saw in the Cha Cha with Mark and Katherine back in a huge way. That leads to a very satisfactory conclusion. Let’s face it, Ladies and Gentleman, THAT is how you do a Samba.
Here are the basic steps that get you to that very satisfactory conclusion.
1. You pick the unlikeliest of partners so that the element of surprise is always present. Whoa. Chelsie and Tristan? We hadn’t thought about that one for one second before, during or after the voting. At first we believed that Peta would be a good choice. Remember the amazing chemistry in the Run Rumba? And what about the “set the place on fire” chemistry with Kym in Mr. Know It All and again in You Make Me Feel? And the sexiest 40 seconds of dance ever on DWTS in the Dark Waltz with Karina? We thought that these leading ladies, or maybe the gorgeous and sultry Anna, would be the most likely choices to be voted in as Tristan's partner (there was never a doubt that Tristan would win this sucker). But Chelsie? This was totally unexpected. As a result, the Samba was unexpected as well. Unlikely? Yes. Unpredictable? Absolutely. Sexy? You bet. Sensuous? Uh yeah - of the "I can't even catch my breath" variety. Think about it. When you see a sexy couple in a movie, it’s always the unexpected ones who burn up the screen. Well this very unlikely couple burned up the dance floor and gave us something sultry, smoking, and sensual. In fact, it passed smoldering and simmering and moved to the advanced stages of combustion within about 3 seconds.
2. You set the stage. Oh yeah. The darn thing started with heat, blowing smoke, and fire so strong that her dress was lifted high enough for us to immediately see exactly how they wanted us to perceive this dance. They wanted to set the stage with sex, and boy howdy, they sure did. In the initial moments, our vision was partially obstructed. Not too much, but just enough. The setting created an aura of mystery, which was actually brilliant staging. Tristan stood back, stalking his prey. She took her sweet time sauntering down those stairs, teasing him with what was to come, and he lifted his chin a notch, accepting the challenge and taking charge. Like a true alpha male, he strutted confidently over to take control. Did we mention that the whole alpha male thing can be pretty hot on the dance floor?
3. You dance. Chest to chest, bodies plastered up against each other, forehead to forehead, they began the dance. Dare we call it for what it is? The dance of seduction? Yeah, that might be it. But that’s too simple and too understated. Pure unadulterated sex, it was. I dare any of you to say that that precise thought didn’t cross your mind when they began the dance pressed up against each other and then smoothly and seemingly effortlessly moved their bodies in perfect synchronization. Now you might say that the Samba is the Party Dance. Yeah, we got that, and this was some kind of party. Like of the party of the private variety.
4. You Samba roll. And Samba roll. You do Samba rolls and return later with reverse Samba rolls. Every single step is perfected. Front to front, back to front, hips thrusting, arms wrapped securely, this wasn’t just the party dance. It was the dance of seduction, and the dance of sex. We know the Rumba is supposed to be the dance that’s all about sex - the dance where the sexual tension resulting from the battle between love and lust elevates to nearly explosive proportions. Forget the Rumba for the moment. This Samba did all that and more. And you wondered why the Samba is Shakes' favorite dance....
5. You keep it traditional. In spite of all the heat, you incorporate every possible Samba move so your adoring public can’t say that you didn’t do a Samba while also doing your private little dance.
6. You make it creative. It becomes creative when it’s sexy, sexy, and sexy beyond the partying stuff that goes on in Rio. You don’t have to be topless at Carnival. It’s the illusion of sex that makes it so sexy. So you get creative. You turn up the heat so the ladies don’t look away, and then you turn up the heat some more so that when the dance ends, the ladies have big smiles on their faces. And they can’t stop grinning. For hours. Or days.
7. For variety, add some lifts. But make the lifts just the right lifts. Remember when her legs ended up wrapped around his neck? We’re not even going to discuss that further.
8. You add a twist. Just when you think the lady has given in, she turns away. He stands behind her and begins the seduction all over again. Shall I get to the sexy move before the head whipping begins? For safely reasons, just be glad it wasn't Oksana's hair whipping around because Tristan might have lost an eye or two. But we're a little off topic. Let's get back to the moves. Holy. Crap. Legs apart, knees slightly bent, the body thrusts forward. Let’s such say there was a whole lot of pelvic thrusting, hip swaying, and yeah, sex simulating going on.
9. End it just the right way. She moves away and goes back to where the fire started. He ends by sliding on the floor on his knees looking up at her and well, you know. This little seduction was nowhere near finished. Like any good storyteller, you leave your audience waiting for more.
10. Call the rescue squad. Stat. Oh, and Tom? Tell Chelsie that after that Samba our first comment was, “We’ll have what she’s having.”
The experts’ review: We have actually been discussing the sexual nuances from this Samba since Tristan and Chelsie won DaD on Tuesday. Remember DaD has an entirely new meaning for us. It’s no longer a Xena Warrior Princess battle cry for revenge; instead it is a SWAT/Shakes operatic high note of pure ecstasy. SWAT shattered all of the fine crystal goblets on her étagère and Shakes’s Chinese porcelain figures suddenly flew off the shelf as a result of the squeals. In other words, this Samba gave the ladies a thrill that most of our husbands haven’t been able to do in years. TMI? Ahhh, screw convention. It’s the bloody truth. To not admit that this Samba has sent us into a blubbering frenzy is a disservice to all MacManiacs. Sometimes you just have to call it for what it is.
This Samba was rated T for Tristan. Being T-rated is somewhere in between being R-rated and X-rated with some PG-13 rated humor. Maybe the MacManiacs are the ones that are T-rated....who knows...
How To Do A Trio Dance
1. Pro #1 picks the pro with the most fans (anybody going to argue with us?), the most charisma (face it - nobody else comes close), the most charm (nope – not a single argument), and the most sex appeal (pro #2 consistently hits this one out of the ballpark). This means that the ladies both adore and drool over him, and the guys respect him because he's fun, entertaining, and well, a guy who does guy stuff. He has a twinkle in his eye and somehow hypnotizes, seduces, tantalizes, and teases with no more than a glance. In other words, you just cannot resist him and thus, he’s the perfect pick to draw in the ladies, elevate the attention quotient, and get more people tuning in than ever before. It’s pure logic, and you should never argue with logic.
2. Pro #1 makes sure that his celebrity partner loves the second pro. This might be a bit redundant, but when the beautiful female celebrity probably has a teensy little crush on Pro #2 – just like every other human female - it’s a given that this is the right turn to take on the highway. Okay so that’s a lousy metaphor; you still know where I’m going with his. The single smartest move of all the pros in the selection of the pro to assist in the trio dance was by none other than Mark Ballas, and who would have thought I would have ever said something like that? About Mark Ballas. But times are clearly a- changin'.
3. Pro #1 evaluates the potential chemistry when choosing #Pro #2. He has to ensure that the celebrity and pro #2 hit it off. Uh yeah. They hit it off so well that a statement was made by one reporter that went something like this: Katherine cries tears of joy and gratitude and flings her arms around Tristan first, then Mark. Yep, Katherine and Tristan would’ve been an amazing combo. She’s not the only one that recognized the chemistry between Pro #2 and the beautiful celebrity – so much chemistry in fact that you wonder how powerful a complete performance would be with this particular pro (also known as the Irish Love Doctor) and this particular celerity. Explosive seems like a bit of an understatement when you could see sparks flying everywhere. Or maybe my life was flashing before my eyes as I watched all those chemical reactions taking place.
4. Pick the pro who is better than anyone else in telling a story. Every action, deed, and gesture has a meaning. Every smile, frown, and wince is part of the storyline. Make no mistake about it; the storyline is important and when you have a potential Oscar winning screenplay available, you take advantage of it and pick the best screenwriter.
5. Make sure that Pro #2 is chosen because after all, he wrote the instructional manual on how to turn up the heat in a dance that is usually fun and flirty and not, shall we say, dead sexy like this one turned out to be.
6. Make sure that Pro #2 is the real “sex on a stick” and not just a pro claiming to be the same.
7. Choose the pro who wrote the instructional manual on hip action. I’m fairly sure I saw such a title online: “How to properly entice the ladies with some seductive hip movement.” It was written by the Irish Love Doctor, of course, and as one of my twitter followers said about this pro: "I have never seen a non Latino move that way! #calienteTristanMacManus."
8. Choose the pro who can teach the class on how to do important stuff life like the following: walk, talk, breathe, wiggle, shimmy, shake, and mess with handcuffs (another story).
9. Add a clever twist. The 2 male pros master the glare, rock the sunglasses, pull off the Secret Service meets Men In Black look, and somehow manage to transform themselves from super spies into lean, mean, fighting, dancing, breathtaking masculine perfection machines (particularly pro #2).
10. Choreograph the dance of “catch me if you can.” With the one handsome man (pro #1) and one drop dead gorgeous stunner of a hunk (pro #2) and the beautiful, but wily boss/woman in charge/ etc., things were bound to heat up. Heat it up, keep it hot, and let it slowly simmer. And simmer they did. The spark became a low flame, the low flame led to a simmer, and before you know it, we had a slow burn that stopped just short of setting the ballroom on fire. This seductive little game of cat and mouse was a smoldering hot comedic performance that somehow worked.
11. With precise steps, you seduce the lady, try to fight off the competition, and in the most endearing moment yet, you manage to bungle it enough to handcuff yourself to your competition instead of the lady, letting her somehow slip away. Every super spy has to have a weak moment. So you’re not perfect after all. That’s okay. In the most ironic of all ironies, a few imperfections are what make you perfect. Your “uh oh” moment turned very quickly into an “Oh yeah, baby” moment that will not be quickly forgotten.
And there you have it. This is how you do a Trio Dance. Everybody else? Watch and learn.In case you're wondering, the adventure will continue when Agent Mack Smolders escapes and pursues the lady in question – alone this time….
Henry Byalikov from the Season 14 DWTS Troupe was kind enough to give us an interview and talk about his background and career. He is one of the kindest, most gracious people I have ever had the pleasure of speaking with, and he was very happy and willing to share some of his experiences and insight with us. Thanks to Henry for taking the time to talk with us!
We all know you were a huge hit in Burn the Floor, but how did you actually end up on DWTS and as part of the troupe?
It’s actually kinda funny, I got here in a very unique way. As part of the San Francisco tour in 2009, selected members of the cast were asked to perform in a demonstration on DWTS. I was so excited to be on the show, I remember walking into the CBS studios which is where the live/pre-recorded filming takes place and thinking how much of an honour it was to be performing for the show and how much I wanted to be on the show.
We performed our number in dress rehearsals before the show, and I vividly remember all the Pro dancers were sitting watching…It was very intimidating but exciting all at the same time.
After our dress rehearsals finished a few of us were requested to interview for potential Pro positions. Those few were myself, Peta, Sharna, Sasha and Damian if my memory serves me correctly.
Following the exceptional reception we received for the demo, I got a call later in 2009, from an executive producer regarding a position as a Pro in 2010. I was beyond ecstatic! Unfortunately, the celebrity I was to be paired with had contractual complications that prevented her from participating and as a result my hopes to become a Pro were dashed. I'm sure you can imagine the feeling. So close yet so far!
Nevertheless, in the beginning of this year I received none other than a ‘facebook’ inbox message from another of the executive team, asking if I would like to be a part of season 14. It took me about .0005 of a second to reply.
At the time, I didn’t know what position I’d get to perform on the show, or if I’d even secured anything. Considering past experience I was hoping for the best but expecting the worst.
Literally 2 weeks or less, before the show was to go to air I got the green flag as a Pro Troupe member, so I then proceeded to book flights, accommodation and a car, and here I am!!!
Thank goodness for social media right?
Some of us are familiar with your choreography, but others may not be. Can you tell us what dances you have choreographed on DWTS (or elsewhere if you prefer), and do you have a personal favorite?
I have been fortunate so far, to have choreographed 2 numbers for the Pro Troupe, the first during Rock week for KISS with Mark Ballas, Chelsie Hightower and Oksana Dmetryenko. My second was for Motown week with Kiki Nyemchek, Oksana and Sharna Burgess. It was an honour to be asked so early in the season to choreograph and that was made even better when I got asked to choreograph again for Motown week.
In all honesty I have choreographed quite a lot, so picking a favourite is always difficult. I loved all my work with my Australian DWTS partner Toni Pearen, she was an amazing student and talent, so I was able to really push the boundaries. Everything we did on the show is on Youtube actually, got to love that! I’ve also choreographed a number of stage shows that I, myself perform in, and have enjoyed every number. But if I have to pick one I’m going to pick the one that puts a huge smile on my face and has a significant meaning to me.
It was when I was on SYTYCDAU (So You Think You Can Dance Australia) in Top 12 week. It was the first time I choreographed a number since I decided to come back to dance. Let me give you a quick background so that you can understand the meaning it had to me.
Previous to my appearance as a contestant on SYTYCDAU in 2008, I had decided to give up dancing and make moves into the corporate world, as a result of disillusionment caused by my experiences in competitive ballroom dancing. I stopped competitive dancing in 2005 at the age of 19, so I could focus on my Bachelor of Economics and Finance university degree. After 3 and half long years and an internship with finance and accounting firm KPMG, I was depressed and lost with what I wanted to do. I was teaching dancing at the time, mostly for the fun of it because I loved it, and heard about SYTYCDAU. I was somewhat intimidated to step back into a competitive world especially one as diverse and competitive as SYTYCD is. Somehow, owing to my stubborn ambitiousness I decided on the spur of the moment to audition, I found a partner to audition with and was on my way. Every obstacle that stood in the way was more difficult than the previous but with my strong determination and focus I seemed to plough through. The only thing I was worried about was choreography, as it was so foreign to me. In top 100 week I choreographed a little piece to a Michael Jackson song for our group of 5 and seemed to sit well with the audience and judges. Nevertheless, I thought it was just luck…
As the weeks went by it came to top 12 week and all couples were challenged with creating our own number to 1 out of 3 songs selected by SYTYCD for us to choose.
In the end I decided to theme it as a ‘Teacher and Goofy Student’ routine. I was so nervous about it going right, because the Aussie version of SYTYCD didn’t have a ballroom judge on the panel. The audience reaction was incredible and the performance was so much fun. It was definitely the moment that defined what I wanted to do for the rest of my life!
If you could dance with any of the pros on DWTS, who would it be and why?
I have to say I'm so lucky because I got the opportunity to dance with one of the Pros this week, whom I’ve respected since I first saw him on the show. Derek Hough.
Derek’s choreography is always so well structured and detailed that when you watch you can’t help but love his routines. Working with him for our Trio with Maria, is a dream come true.
I was nervous going into it, but once I settled in the whole experience has been awesome. He was worried about the song choice we got and was not altogether sure as to the theme/story/flow of the choreography/costuming I can totally relate, since it’s week 8 and he’s done SO much already. It’s really difficult to choose the theme for the piece each week. I find it’s like a trickle down effect; once you choose it then the choreography begins to flow, the costumes become obvious and the performance takes shape.
What are your personal favorite ballroom and Latin dance styles? (feel free to explain!)
Short answer they are all my favourites! I think Maks put it well when he said something to the effect of ‘the dance styles are like children, you can’t like one more than the other cause those are your children’. I like to put it like this: I love to express myself through my performance and I love it when people enjoy my expression. Each dance allows me to take on a different shade of myself, thereby allowing me to paint different pictures. Just as a painter might love his paintings in all their diversity, I love each style, not just ballroom and Latin, because of the different emotions, feelings and expressions.
For example, I think of each dance in Latin as a relationship. Cha is the first time you meet someone, you’re all bubbly, happy, nervous and flirtatious. Samba is sort of like the dating period, when you’ve already chosen your partner in whatever capacity makes sense to you, and is the pursuit of lust. Rumba is the dance of lust, the pursuit is over… Paso Doble is the first argument that may or may not end in death or a passionate display of domination. Jive is the make up after the argument, because we all like a happy ending. hehe..
That’s my take and that’s why, the more the better for me!
Tell us about your dance training, and how dance became such an important part of your life?
I think I would be repeating myself if I were to go into details so, I would refer you to look at Q2 for the snapshot of the journey I’ve had.
In a nutshell, my training started when I was 10 years old, as a result of my mum finding out that I was faking being sick to get out of having to dance at the Russian restaurants my friends and family would frequent. This was when I was around 9 and a half. I was born in Australia and have a strong Russian background, as both my parents were born there. This means the Russian restaurant outings are as frequent & important as, for example, going to your favourite baseball team’s game, it’s just the way we roll…lol
This particular Russian restaurant outing was for my then best friend’s birthday party, This time I had no excuse to be sitting down, I had to dance. I remember being frozen with nerves and embarrassing thoughts of my friends laughing at me so I sat, and my best friend's mother came to me and asked why I wasn’t dancing. To which my reply was “I have a headache”. I got home thinking I had gotten away with it, but my mum’s first line of questioning in her typical fashion was “What’s wrong with you? Are you sick? Why have you got a headache!?” My reply was short and to the point, “I don’t want to get up and look like an idiot.” No later than a week, I was in my first dance class and never looked back…
Very quickly you have developed a large fan base and earned an enormous amount of respect both as a dancer and choreographer. How does that make you feel, and how do you stay so grounded?
Firstly, I can’t believe it! I am so blessed and humbled that people have taken to me this fast. It’s always so nerve racking performing to a brand new audience, constantly thinking what their reaction is going to be! Are they going to like what they’re going to see? But my first performance of this season left me with a throbbing headache as a result of my nerves. By nature I am actually quite reserved, almost to the point of being shy.
An important aspect of my life, that I learnt quite early on, was that there was no way that I could do anything for a living without passion. Not just conceptualized passion, but true, pure passion. I love what I do and that’s the only way I can live. If I am doing something because I think it’s the right thing to do, I will, owing to experience, be destined for unhappiness. The fact that I have found what I love and am living it is fantastic, but to pursue my passion in front of such a massive audience and to have had such an amazing response from the audience is incredible. I appreciate it so much to know that I can connect with viewers and bring joy to people in the way I have. I am lucky that my passion has that effect on others.
What do you like most about being on DWTS?
I love performing to audiences, and I love to know that I can connect with them. The larger the audience, the more people you can connect with, and it’s really as simple as that!
The reason I love DWTS in the US, is that, in my opinion, the US is the focus of some of the best talent in the world. That’s not to say other countries don’t have amazing talent, there is just a historic trend that talent finds its way to the US at least from Australia. Truly I love strong competition, because it brings out the best. The stakes here on DWTS US are as high as they can possibly be! When you’re asked to choreograph a number to one of the world’s most famous rock bands, not to mention one of your own favourite rock bands, it’s not something you take lightly. In addition, the Pros on the show have left quite big footsteps to follow in and are truly an inspiration.
Is there anything you would like to say to your fans and supporters?
I would like for each and every fan and supporter, to know how humbled and grateful I am to have the unique opportunity to perform and connect with each and every one of you. This is my life’s passion and I am honored I get to share it with you, it means a hell of a lot! I appreciate their support immensely…you give the show life and therefore you keep my dreams alive. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, and I wish you and your families all the very best. God bless you all and stay tuned!!
Thank you, Henry!
We couldn’t figure out what to call these amazing awards, and it took forever to get it right. Just so you can get a general idea of how our minds work, we started with a general concept and then worked through it slowly and methodically – using the Scientific Method (or not). Here are some of our ideas for the title of the awards that could only be given out when the season is 67% complete.
First Annual Really Trite Awards
First Annual Really Tired Awards
First Annual Rockin' Team Awards
First Annual Really Talented Awards
Famous Asses Really Talk Awards
Feisty And Really Trite Awards
Fickle and Really Trite Awards
Feisty and Ridiculously Trite Awards
First Annual Random and Trite Awards
We finally settled on the completely appropriate “First Annual Ridiculously Trite” Awards, or the F.A.R.T. Awards. Seems fitting somehow.
Best Use of a Pro by Another Pro – This goes to Mark Ballas who for once showed amazingly good sense when casting the red-hot Irish dancing dude to participate in one of the dumbest concept dances ever. For the 20 seconds that Tristan will be dancing, we will anoint you, Mark Ballas, as the smartest man on earth.
Dumbest Season 14 Twist – It’s a toss-up between the Dance Duel, Dance Marathon, Trio Dances or random b.s. scoring. So basically every twist they had was stupid, mind-numbing, and manipulative. Yuck.
Best Costume of the Season (Female) - Gladys Knight – She was a vision in a perfect collaboration of different shades of blue – cerulean, aqua, turquoise, cobalt, azure – for the quickstep. It doesn’t get any better than that. As Buddy TV said, “This may be the most incredible fabric ever featured on Dancing with the Stars. Perfect colors for Gladys and a style that suited. Basically, this dress bordered on breathtaking." Guess what? Gladys, the dress was breathtaking, and so were you. The dude by your side was kind of interesting too.
Best Costume of the Season (Male) – Tristan MacManus – another vision in blue with a bow tie in the palest of pink. The blue lining of the tails was both shocking and striking and made me (Shakes) think of sapphires, and the eyes made me think of diamonds. SWAT thought it was a hard sell the first time she saw it, but she's since then seen the error in her own fashion sense and has finally come around. We both love it!
Worst Costume (s) of the Season (Female)- We are going to go with Peta on this one. Most of her dresses were more half dresses than full ones. Essentially we think that she just doesn’t wear enough clothing to begin with, and the half dresses that she's been wearing leave little to the imagination. Hey, DWTS Costume people? Sometimes more really is more. And sometimes less is just trashy. And sometimes, all this baring of skin just becomes too much, and we leave the room to go to the kitchen for ice cream (more on that later).
Worst Costume of the Season (Male) – Hands down, this one goes to Mark Ballas and that disastrous brown without a shirt mess during classical week for the Rumba. This unappealing Game of Thrones meets Spartacus Roman guard with no shirt getup was horrifying. And then it was more comic book stupid. As for the aforementioned reasons why we chose our Worst Female Costume, the same goes for the men too. Unless your name is Tristan MacManus, keep your shirt on. A close second was Donald Driver’s shirtless “trying to make a point but we don’t know what it is” costume for the Paso. It was pointless, meaningless, and not all that appealing. We love Donald, but that didn’t do anything for either of us.
The Honorary Will This Season Ever End Award - If we have to watch Maria Menounous hobble into another TV appearance, photo session, rehearsal, or interview, then we are going to stick a fork in our eyeballs. Please put Maria out of her misery.
The Backflip Award – Sasha Farber – I'm sure Derek will eventually try to take this title away from him, but Sasha (who is a multiple award recipient during this 67% of a season) is the current winner. The alternative title for this award is the “Do We Really Have to See Another One” Award.
Are You Kidding Me Award? (also called Please Do Not Ever Do That Again Award)– This came during Operation Big Bird when Derek decided to rip off his yellow Big Bird shirt during his Samba with Maria. It was Derek showboating, and he really wasn’t doing a good job of convincing us that we wanted to see him shirtless...again...like last season...and the season before that... In case you didn’t hear it the first 36 times, Derek. We. Do. Not. Want. To. See. That. Ever. Again.
Worst Judging Fiasco of the Season – No contest. The Three “We Are Totally Clueless” Trio who missed the boat entirely during Week 6 when they decided to underscore, disrespect, and be downright nasty with both the individual dance, the Marathon Dance, and the Dance Duel. The scoring was wrong in all three so we all call this the “Did Y’all Get Any Last Night?” Award, because somebody had some cranky pants going on.
It Made Us Forget Season 13 DAD - The Tristan and Gladys Samba. First, it was the Samba. Second, it was the Samba. Third, it was the Samba. Hip action. Lots and lots of it. Blah blah blah, more hips....SAMBA! Need I say more?
I Need A Doctor, STAT Award aka The Pity Me Award – 1) Derek and Maria – every body part imaginable except the left pinky finger 2) Maks and Melissa – her back, her head, his foot, his foot again, yawn. 3) Derek and Maria again – more body parts injured, broke a fingernail, cut himself shaving, etc.
The Chemistry Experiment That Went Horribly Wrong Award - Gavin and Karina for their tropical bird dates Edgar Alan Poe costume from Rock Week. Aargh. That was a mess, and not even a hot mess. Just a big old stinking mess.
Imminent Wardrobe Malfunction Award – Cheryl Burke. I am not quite sure how her equipment remained fully enclosed in fabric in that white mess of a dress she was wearing during classical week for the Viennese Waltz. We were fervently hoping she didn’t exhale at all for that 90 seconds, otherwise we would be seeing the goods.
The Dingleberry Award - Goes to the worst use of an aerial lift – Maks and Melissa. Oh good grief. Talk about overkill. Lift after lift after lift after lift and they didn’t fit the dance at all. Then I remembered this was really the DWTS version of Ringing Brothers Barnum & Bailey circus and it all made sense – in a Dingleberry kind of way.
The Stink Eye Award - This goes to the pro or celeb up in the celebriquarium who made the most sour lemon faces while watching their competitors perform. We have to go with Peta on this one. Whether she meant to do it or not, someone needs to teach that girl how to smile. She does it when she gets the tiniest of negativity from the judges, when they are standing and waiting to see if they are in the bottom 2, when she’s watching the others…it reeks of misery, bad sportsmanship, etc. We know she doesn’t mean it like that, but it bugs the hell out of both of us. It’s every time.
Stupidest Pretentious Name For Something Non-Existent – Celebriquarium. Who was the marketing whiz that thought of that one?
The Please Stop the Re-Tweeting Award - Sasha...our dear Sasha...we love you, Babe, but you gotta stop re-tweeting every tweet that you come across. He's about blown up both of our Twitter Feeds, and it’s annoying as the dickens. Enough already. We know you want to be a pro, we know 3 people are tweeting that to ABC 4,000 times a day. We do not need for you to come across as a self-promoting bimbo. Just dance and let the dancing (minus the backflips) do the talking, please.
Cheesiest Rehearsal Field Trip Award - To Roshon, taking a field trip.... to the breakroom.... to learn how to be a man. From William. The problem is that William isn’t the one to ask. The one to ask is the Irish dude.
The Bird Award - Goes to the score for which you want to flip the bird at the judges. Gladys and Tristan's My Girl Rumba. Judges? Consider the bird flipped.
The Sally Field Award or the “You like me, you really like me” Award - This is the whiny baloney crap that I think has to go to Melissa. Aaargh.
The Honorary Nicole Scherzinger Fish Mouth Award – Melissa Gilbert. Nicole taught her how to bring that expression up when the judges are saying you just ain’t perfect.
The Boys Don't Cry Award - Goes to the male celeb who had the worst water works on Personal Stories Week. Jaleel, for his ridiculously overdone cryfest. That isn't going to win you an Emmy or an Oscar or even a part in the second grade version of “The Frog Prince.” Get over yourself.
The Eyeroll Award - To Brooke Burke for assuming that Tristan needs a translator. [Shakes had a bad word here but SWAT made her take it out. Just use your imagination]
The PB&C Ice Cream Award - Goes to the couple who you ignore and go get Peanut Butter Chocolate Ice Cream instead while they are dancing - Melissa and Maks
The Mutant Prop Award - Goes to the most ridiculous prop that unfortunately seemed to take over the dance. It's a toss up from the casino table the size of Monte Carlo or Gavin's gigantic rowboat. Either way, those were huge distractions, and not in a good way.
The Golden F.A.R.T. Award - Goes to the most off-the-wall ridiculous moment in Season 14 history (so far) – When Tristan and Gladys did not win the Dance Duel when there’s was a true jive as opposed to “WEEEEEEE, I’m on the playground and watch me juuuump really really high” jive...
The “I Must Be the 6 Million Dollar Man/Woman because I can still dance with 4 broken legs, 16 broken ribs, and a broken head” Award – Derek and Maria. 'Nuff said.
The I Wish There Was A Wardrobe Malfuntion Award - Yeah, okay, I admit it. You know where this one is going….no explanation needed.
And there you have it. We are professionals and were objective in our comments. The results were tabulated by the accounting firm of Yeah, You Bet, and Whatever You say and are accurate beyond a reasonable doubt.