Monday, March 31, 2014

Maks is catching on.

Got a better copy of this. As I just watched it, I had to take back the idea of not saying anything until tomorrow. My main question isn't just where did the Foxtrot happen, but where did the dancing happen?

Meryl actually walked this dance. I could see if it were contemporary, where you sort of walk around lyrically in between emoting and lifts, but this is Foxtrot. She was striding through the parts where she wasn't death dropping and kicking. I get when you've got somebody who's not really a dancer - and she's not - you break it up so they don't have to sustain a through line. I get it. But the part where we're to believe she was actually doing the assigned dance, she was walking and striding. No rise and fall. That's what I'm going to gif tomorrow.
Look at Meryl foxtrot.
One wonders what went on in training, and at what point
Maks realized he couldn't teach her to actually dance.
Break out the bag of schtick (He had Kirstie Alley
on the floor in one of their dances too. Of course, she
was 60.)

And this:

8 straight seconds standing dead still. I recounted. 14 seconds standing in one spot on the floor. 7 seconds not even changing position, just lip hovering. I bet even Marina would be hard-pressed to beat that. You go, Maks.

This guy's older than Meryl - it's John O'Hurley from Season 1, doing a foxtrot. I don't think he has a gold medal at home, but he's not taking a load off in the middle of his routine. I'm putting it here so the rise and fall can be observed.


Maks is certainly taking hold and muscling her along, but it's early stages. Let's wait til the dancing actually starts.

5 steps, turn and kick.
She's walking. Look at her
wide-stepping there.
I think this was a not-so-undercover contemporary Maks snuck in - well, not snuck, so much as blatantly did it. There've been steamy foxtrots, happy foxtrots, but not so many lyrically emoting angsty non-dancing non-foxtrots. It's like he saw Sharna/Charlie's opening contemporary with the beseeching and decided to "me too". He is pretty derivative in the best of times, and I guess the judges decided to cut him and Meryl slack on the foxtrot part.

BIG wide steps.

5 steps kick, 5 steps kick - that's enough dancing.

I don't know. Maks has someone who wore an Olympic
gold medal in ice dance around her neck, yet decided fourteen and
a half seconds standing in place would pass better muster with
the judges than having her move.

This is the most dancing we get in the routine. Seven (?) steps. He's rising and falling but she's not.

See, what is that? That's an "I got an old partner" time-killer, not an "I have an Olympic gold medalist in ice dance" move. There's no steps there and no foxtrot. And they've already done a lot of that. It's embarrassing. Maks knows she can turn, if inelegantly, so let's do it to death.

There ya go. Maks quits yet again on actually teaching a partner to dance, but to be fair, maybe she's so hard-wired nobody could break through her 17 years of faking it.

I think we just saw this part. Oh well. Over. Three tens and a nine!

Charlie next:

I wonder if all those folks at the beginning got paid AFTRA scale. As this began, I thought my second-hand embarrassment was going to be severe, but the beginning was the best part. Before he gets down to the floor, up there among the dancers and the crew, he's body Englishing it, he's moving to the music, he's got jazz hands. He's a little tight but keeping it laid back, and his timing is there. He jumps down to the floor, where it sets up to take off, but instead, he almost kicks Sharna in the head. Then he nearly pulled her arm out of its socket. Twice. Then he did some jiving with his alignment totally out of synch. He sticks his butt out, especially in turns. How many times have the judges told some male celeb to get their ass under them? Not Charlie. Running into different spaces to dance was also a flag. Switching spaces killed time and was sort of visual trick to make it appear more dancing was going on than actually was. He's also taking those GIANT hockey steps he took in tango. Sharna got herself and Charlie to more or less match in the first two dances but here we had fail.

This is going to be fun to gif. It's the first one that gives any of Meryl's efforts a run for its money.

One fan on one of the forums said this was the best male jive in the entire history of DWTs. Professional quality.

Kills me. 
And they say Meryl is the sprite.
Do a little of it, then
run run run!
Kill time standing in place,
doing a lot of shit with your
arms. Grin.
It's just like watching him skate.
Even his clapping is tight and tiny.

These re-caps aren't here because it's fun to rag on Meryl and Charlie. They're another look at how they move. This is relevant to how they were scored as ice dancers. It especially goes to rhythm and timing in pattern dances, and to control of your body in space. Yes, the floor is different from the ice, but you can either keep time and observe a specific rhythm or you can't. Meryl can't. DWTs just highlights/underscores this. As mentioned below, she also has an extraordinary inability to control her own leg when it's extended in space. That's very puzzling. She struggles to stay over her feet without external support. In fact, there was a "wrestler" on this show - Stacey Keibler - whose dancing I thought was overrated, but who could extend her legs in space with great control and at different tempos. Meryl is one note. She has one way of doing something and only one way of doing something, and everything else is a work around.

We can see when they dance, the lack of engagement of the torso, especially from her. These are things that ought to have been trained in them for the past seventeen years, beyond what the blades aren't doing. Look at the Shibs working off-ice with Corky Ballas. When it comes to ice dance, the "skates are different than the floor" is bogus to a large degree, because ice dancers have done floor work for years. It doesn't show in Davis White. DWTs goes to ice dance because it shows these two supposed ringers as incredibly fit and conditioned, but mediocre dancers. Combine it with mediocre skating, and the gold medal is a joke. It's not fair to measure them against any celeb with movement training. These people have dance training, on the floor, in ballroom, in Latin, and were given a gold medal.

Something else I've noticed about the two of them. I don't know what it means, but it interests me. Meryl is ripped. Her body fat appears negligible, has to be. You could see her entire sternum in one of her costumes - the whole thing. That's not good. But ripped, she is. Charlie, however, is not. He's thin, he's in condition, but he lacks some of the arm development we see in Scott, for example, when Scott's competing. I'm just curious what could account for the difference in tone. Meryl's muscle tone doesn't appear to help her control her limbs, so why is it so almost OTT? And why is Charlie's so much less? What does it say about how they work together, the mechanics of their partnership. I don't know, but I think it has to say something.

P.S. - Meryl lucked out with Maks. His reputation as a bad choreographer is so baked in that people are going to say he didn't give her a chance. One fan who is apparently new to Meryl complained that he didn't give her a chance to sustain her moves or finish anything. That's right. Because Meryl's just waiting for the chance. Because she has a title, it doesn't occur to non-ice dance fans that she didn't sustain or finish because she can't and never does, and that's why it looked the way it looked. Maybe the producers gave Maks, Meryl, not because they thought it would get him the mirror ball (although likely he thought so) because they figured he would be the one pro who, although his choreography would expose her, people would interpret it as him, not her.


  1. I went and watched the judges comments on Meryl. Oh my god. How are they allowed to hardly do any basic foxtrot moves and then get raves? Why did no one call them out? Is this scripted? AHHHHH. I hate it. And then all in the comments everyone's obsessed with how beautiful it was and the chemistry. This is just like her skating, all flashy and quick to distract from the complete lack of technique.

    1. Well - OC - perhaps we need to take a poll of what's more scripted - VMs reality series, the ISU judging or DWTS with DW...oieee...Happy April Fools everyone...the joke is on us, lol..and thanx for the quick recap - I don't think anyone is watching it live..

    2. its obviously scripted and fixed. shows like DWTS and SYTYCD have always been.

    3. I actually really liked Meryl's performance and thought it was easily her best dance, but it is not a foxtrot! Not at all! I really liked her arms and some of the movement we say through her back and torso towards the end, and the greater control she showed in her body in the death drop variation and the dip, but I agree, there is no rise and fall which is so key in the foxtrot. I think she can only keep a particular, constant bend in her knees...she can't vary the knee bend and the timing in the knees, legs and feet. All the slows are done through pauses or use of the arms when they should be done with the knees and feet as well, most importantly through the knees and feet. It is something John did well in the video above. You can see the rhythm is being produced through his feet and knees as well. And look at Meryl's kicks--all done quickly and with the same emphasis. If you look at the cha cha, I'll bet those kicks were done with the same speed and energy as these ones. And the leg just goes up and down so quickly which means she doesn't have to show control in bringing her leg up or down. And yes, lots of pausing and non-dancing. I think this is his way of working around the fact that she struggles to keep rhythm throughout a dance. She will get it momentarily and then lose it, like we saw in swing, so Maks made sure to break it up enough that she doesn't have to carry rhythm throughout. I also noted the similarity between the turns and dip on the stage in the opening of this dance and those in the opening of the cha cha.

      Charlie's alignment was off, he was too stiff and closed in his upper body, and he got flat-footed at times (he should be keeping the weight over the balls of the feet). Sharna also choreographed a lot of easier steps that mainly involve fast posing, and they wasted time at the beginning. I would expect ice dancers to be doing more dancing.

    4. I recently watched some prior seasons I'd missed, to see where the bar may be for this season. I hadn't watch any Zendaya, because she's Disney, and most of the time I just can't with their performance style (although, looking back, I think I've underrated more than just her unfairly because of my Disney bias). But when I finally checked her out, I saw that Val Chmerkovskiy did a tremendous job with her. Nobody this season has done as well getting 9s and 10s as she did getting 8s. It's ridiculous. The season is overscored like mad. Maybe it's going to the fan vote not yet shaking down. Who knows. I will, however, cut somebody "dancing" on plastic feet more slack than somebody - or two somebodys - Olympic competition fit who the ISU decided should possess a gold medal in freaking ice dance. Amy Purdy may not have been engaged with the floor but she manages her body in space better than Meryl Davis, and she's a skier. Charlie's dance started out all "Look at me be charming!" but when he landed on the floor next to his partner the back of his head practically knocked the ground when he kicked his leg while his shoulders and midline collapsed, and the whole thing died.

      I don't know, but based on two things - how this stuff has played out in the past and my own suspicion about Meryl's popularity among the general public or DWTs demo, I think she's not getting the fan votes (her fans believe she's killing the fan vote, and I'm often wrong), and this was the chance to give her her high scores and keep things in play. Forget that there wasn't fox trot. She wore a floaty dress, kicked her feet and death dropped, and she and Maks tried to work some chemistry from the neck-up while standing still. Good enough! 10s! If they expected she'd deliver better ahead, OR if she were killing the fan vote, they wouldn't give her these scores this early.

    5. I think you're right. Meryl is being set up for a shocking elimination.

      Is it true that both of them chose their journey to the Olympics as their most memorable year? Ugh.

    6. Yes but Meryl included Charlie in her dedication and Charlie the asshole dedicated his dance to Tanith and not Meryl!

    7. I wasn't exactly all ears, but my impression is Charlie chose 2010 as his most memorable year and Meryl chose I forgot, but it was skating-related and her dedication encompassed, I think, "everybody." I've been over on tumblr, and, as a VM fan, I'm glad to see the crazy thrives outside the VM fandom walls, as there are fans in absolute meltdown that Charlie acknowledged his girlfriend and parents. I think the fantasy was the two of them would dedicate their dances to each other and get verklempt. Damn that Tanith, she spoils everything.

    8. Further on the topic of fandoms, for the past two years Davis and White tried to push the concept that they were soulmates. Tanith went underground as far as social media was concerned, and also pushed that on the ice they were soulmates. Keeping the "on the ice" part blurry so fans could imagine more. It was contrived and narrative-driven, nowhere to be seen in the actual dynamic, but the message was consistent. This was part of Davis White's "us too" initiative, which was "we have already caught up with Tessa and Scott technically and as performers, and now our chemistry is just as good, or, if you ask the DWTs pros that icenetwork recruits - even better!" These were nothing but narrative calculations aimed at covering every base before they arrived in Sochi.

      IOW, p.r. bullshit. But I guess there are people who just zoom into what's being said and ignore the agenda. As soon as the Olympics were in their review mirror, both skaters dropped it like it was hot. Tanith resurfaced on social media as Charlie's gf. Meryl and Charlie resumed their benignly disconnected dynamic.

      Prior to the attempt to co-opt chemistry as a strong suit, Meryl and Charlie used to be far more matter-of-fact about themselves as a team. Meryl said she and Charlie would never attempt to present their relationship as other than it was. She also said after all the time on the ice her first thought in her down time - that she believed Charlie shared - wasn't "Gee, I wish I could spend more time with Charlie." and in an older interview, their moms talked about how they facilitated the longevity of the partnership by doing things such as driving them to practice separately.

      They tossed all that out the window when it was decided that, saying they had chemistry was as good as having chemistry, just like saying you have superior skating skills is as good as - in this past quad, better - than actually having them.

      I don't necessarily think this benign lack of interest in each other personally (as I would put it) is a bad thing. It can create a trouble-free focus on doing the job, without one's emotional equilibrium impacted by the other person. As long as the other person is committed to the task at hand and all that it entails, this sort of relationship can end up longer-lasting than one with closer friends or one that's romantic. Because in those cases, personalities can clash, feelings can get hurt, things can turn sour. If there's a pleasant lack of investment on a personal level, it could definitely liberate focus.

    9. lol, their royal highnesses even had to be driven to practice separate by mommy? Oh brother.

      How nice it must be to not ever need to worry about transportation, gas, etc.

    10. Come on 2:44, this is nit-picking for the sake of nit-picking. Both Meryl and Charlie's families lived locally - even a drive of 45 min-1 hour is nothing in big metropolitan areas. I'm a VM fan so this is not about defending DW. There's just no point in jumping on something silly to make a case for entitlement.

      The driving arrangements have nothing to do with who they or their families are as people. Get a grip.

    11. I think Tessa and Scott were also driven by their parents until they moved to Waterloo.The difference is that, as they've told the story (which means it's anybody's guess if true or not) - if Tessa's parent was driving they'd pick up Scott and vice versa. Whereas one of the ways to get Charlie and Meryl to keep going was to drive them separately. The moms made sure they got plenty of breathing room. Apparently they felt if Charlie and Meryl were compelled to be together too much they wouldn't be as inclined to continue skating together.

      Nothing wrong with it; I'm sure others feel the same way. It's very common, btw, for parents to drive the kids - one of my favorite younger teams also carpools together. However, the narrative DW decided to tell the media in the past two years is that suddenly, in 2012, they acquired mega chemistry and a soul-to-soul bond. Then the parents sort of back-and-filled with "reading each other's minds" and all that crap. It simply isn't true of this partnership. And as I said, it's got a plus side. When there's a close friendship or romance, the emotional temperature can fluctuate. People can get sick of each other, get on each other's nerves, particularly as the stakes rise. If the two of you are dispassionate about each other but committed to the same thing, that neutral temperature can be a stablizing influence. It doesn't mean dislike, it just means respectful, but not especially attached personally, and both sides okay with it. The moms at one point - prior to hyping up the bond - talked about being the ones who helped manage things so the team stuck it out.

    12. gee, D/W don't seem too fond of eachother if arriving to the rink separately is what kept them together. i wonder how tessa and scott did it

    13. I just think DW's relationship is unusual, but exactly how I don't know. A lot of skating teams are driven to the rink together.

      For DW, I just remember the article where the moms talked about their own close, harmonious friendship, and the many ways they worked together to facilitate Meryl and Charlie continuing as a team. They didn't sound overbearing about it, but they were quite vigilent trying to head any potential obstacles off at the pass. One of the strategies was separate ways to the rink.

      Some teams are sort of toxic, but even if you wouldn't normally be friends, some sort of friendship develops, even if it's dysfunctional. Some are harmonious with real friendship that overlaps a bit with your off-ice life, but maybe isn't your primary or closest friend in your off-ice life. And everything in between, including romance and including really actively disliking the other person. All of this can create an emotional roller coaster, even if it's just friendship.

      These two seem held together by the moms. The moms are the ones with the tight friendship. If they're "family" it's because their moms are family to each other, not because that's something the partnership has created that's particular to them.

      DW's relationship seems harmonious but uncolored by much off-ice interest, even a friendship interest or rapport. Everything seems built on going forward with the athletic goals, and the social/affection part is the connection between the moms. I guess I find it unusual because there's this seeming benign indifference to each other socially and personally, or in any way that doesn't relate to working together towards some on ice goal. There has to be some sort of family familiarity because the two families are close, but there isn't that connection between Meryl and Charlie themselves.

      Fans who want them together seem to blame Charlie for them not being together. Of course in their spin on it, Charlie is in love but denies it (I like how so many fans think the rules of fiction apply to real life people as long as those people are famous).

      I honestly don't know what these fans are thinking if they believe Meryl is interested in him. My only guess is he always seems happy, personable, upbeat, and she's harder to read. The fact that her smile is her "public face" and no more is way more obvious in her. In him it seems part of his natural personality. So I guess the spin becomes he's happy-go-lucky and oblivious to her feels. The idea that she HAS feels seems to come from her being hard to read. And, this is just me, also from the fact that she is "on" all the time, never lets that persona drop, which translates to "she must feel something for him."

      For me, the emotional neutrality of their dynamic sets them apart, and creates a disconnect for sure on the ice. But at the same time, it could be a factor in their longevity.


  2. Off topic for this entry, but there is so much wrong with this article:

    Skating has a lot of problems right now, but this is so off-base: "Giving points for technique but slighting artistry is turning the sport into a monotonous series of cookie-cutter routines. But when a judging system rewards a fall over creativity and flair, what else do you expect?"

    No, that's not the problem. The problem isn't that technique is getting rewarded over artistry. It's that a team with no technique was rewarded for not getting it down over a team who excelled in getting it done on ice like no other team ever before had.

    1. Exactly, 9:17.
      FOA, the system is not designed to reward falls. It is designed to give credit for what the skaters actually do. The issue is, as you have said, that this is not being done. It is like all these people (judges, commentators, former ice dancers) just make whatever they want out to be good technique. Oh, this team had lots of energy and did everything quickly, that means they had strong technique. If DW's technique is so great, so superior, why can't these people tell us exactly why? Fans have done a great job of telling us why VM's technique is superior, and even the casual observer can see how smooth and effortless everything they do is. But DW get rewarded for showing the effort involved in doing everything or speeding right through everything so people won't see weaknesses in form and technique (tough of course judges, skaters, and well-educated fans should be able to see the flaws).

      I cannot fathom anyone honestly believing that DW have technique that is anywhere close to VM's. I am talking blade technique, lifting technique, dancing technique.

    2. The media has to get over it with falls. Even under 6.0 you were scored for what you did, not what you didn't. If falls were penalized then figure skating would look like it was still 1964. Everybody would skate conservatively. I am not 100% on board with how partial credit is calculated for elements that are imperfect or nearly but not entirely blown, but the focus on falls is just lazy. No surprise, also emphasized by figure skaters. I thought Ashley Wagner was pretty tone deaf in her remarks after the ladies medal ceremony, considering she got to the Olympics despite wiping the ice with her posterior.

    3. 9:17 - as long as the comments are (more or less) relevant to the focus of the blog overall, they don't have to focus on the post topic. I'm behind in finishing and publishing draft posts that are skating-related, and behind in pulling a new banner together. The recaps help open up space for discussion when the previous post's comment section got unwieldy.

    4. I actually think the whole "speedy" thing is overdone. Being a speed skater doesn't necessarily make someone a bad leader for figure skating. I'm pretty sure those of us who have better ideas are not all figure skaters. The IOC president was a fencer and that's hardly a representation of many Olympic sports.

      The important factors in being a leader for figure skating are, IMO: a willingness to learn about the sport, a willingness to put a stop to something when everyone who is in the sport is saying something is a bad idea, seeing things from the POV of the athletes, being fair and not corrupt, having good financial, managerial, and marketing skills, etc. I just think the speedskater argument is really silly and too simplistic. If Cinquanta doesn't have those qualities, explain why.

      I guess the 2013 Worlds scandal is supposed to be Chan, but the real scandal was DW winning in ice dance. Terribly written article considering Button graduated from Harvard Law.

      My question is if Cinquanta is so horrible, why does he run unopposed all the time? Why doesn't Button or someone from the other figure skating federations run, then? It seems to me everyone is more than content with the status quoto, and letting "Speedy" take the blame for everything.

      This was the comment that stuck out at me:
      "The ISU needs to change: It should return respect to judges, stop rewarding failure, educate more judges, create real and effective controls and return figure skating to popularity. And we can find allies in associations from Australia, Japan, South Korea and (hopefully) others. "

      He doesn't define "we." At first glance it seems like he means the ISU, but the ISU is the international governing body of the sport; it can't ally with the member federations which comprise it. That makes no sense. Of course, he means North America, or maybe just US Figure Skating, even though he never says it outright. They have to ally with good guys, the non-European member federations (I guess not even Western Europe or Canada is saintly enough anymore!).

      Knowing the type of training and education the Australian judge on FSU is getting, having that country take a bigger role in the ISU is the last thing I want.

      I am sure Button's suggestions would be along the lines of not having so many "Russian judges" on the panel, etc etc.

    5. When I've been talking about David Dore and Shawn Rettstatt, I realize I've neglected to include Benoit Lavoie, who was president of SC when all of this was happening. Not long before the Olympics, Benoit left SC and ran straight into the arms of the ISU. If Dore helped facilitate that, that would motivate Lavoie to see to it that Skate Canada delivered VM on a plate to the DW cause.

  3. "AnonymousMarch 31, 2014 at 6:53 PM
    Doris P is letting her stupid show again...she's claiming that Scott wouldn't be to do a backwards, one-footed curve lift with Tessa...Madison Chock, maybe, but not Tessa. Hello, how about the curve lift in the Latin FD? Or the first part of the combo lift in Mahler? That woman has gotten on my last nerve!"

    Typical Doris...she presents what she knows as fact, sometimes dressed in false humility, says that what other posters write is laughable (like when people pointed out that Tessa needed core strength for that last lift in Carmen), and makes stupid claims like this, based on a whole lot of nothing. No, let me rephrase that, a whole lot of twisted interpretations of the rules and of physics and lifting and skating mechanics. One VM fan who is a dancer called her out, MissJD i think it was.

    1. I'm not on GoldenShit...err....Goldenskate....can someone post and smack some sense into her?

    2. I know some VM fans on FSU mentioned they wouldn't go there because it was particularly hostile to VM fans and it was impossible to have a real discussion about the skating. Someone even used a racist and misogynist concept to describe Tessa (I am not upset for Tessa here but for the people who were really hurt by the comment).

      Goldenshit seems to be Doris's lair, anyways.

      But I noticed that VM fans didn't post much in that VM/DW open discussion thread--I'll bet they realized that nothing about that discussion was open. It ended up being DW ubers, AW and Prancer talking to themselves.

    3. I really like the poster Matt K, he knows his stuff, and he always links to relevant video to make his point; here he puts Doris P's stupid assertions to rest:

    4. Is Doris really supposed to be a scientist? I. can't.

      I hate how DW fans have picked up the "it's just physics" thing now and just say that all the time to support their incorrect arguments for such hypotheses as "Tessa is too fat to lift. Sorry, it's just physics. Newton's law can't be undone."

      How infuriating. It reminds me of how both political parties have now picked up "it's just math."

      I rarely tread to goldenskate but wow, Doris is so much worse there! She really rules the roost.

    5. Of course "it's just physics" - actual physics - disproves everything they say.

  4. Why do Scott & Tessa steel dances from this dance duo? YouTube Ukraine's got talent Duo Flame.

    1. this is a april fools joke right?

    2. I just googled them and saw them dancing to Lara Fabian's J'etaime and Buble's Feeling Good... so ???

  5. Standard foxtrot has very little of the rise and fall that is characteristic of Smooth foxtrot, so that's not actually a good measure of anything.

    1. Here's standard foxtrot from midatlantic 2013 ballroom competition - plenty of rise and fall.

      And rise and fall aside - CONTENT is a good thing. This didn't have content.

      Here's some content in a DWTs foxtrot. Oddly, Carrie Ann only gave "9" because she felt the opening beats were too simple for Zendaya. Compare the content to Maks and Meryl.

      OTOH Carrie Ann felt standing and posing in the beginning, posing for 14 seconds in the middle, ending up on the floor in the middle, and killing time at the end posing, and acting is plenty complex for a contestant who has just won a gold medal in ice dance.

    2. I don't know how accurate that is, but I do know that in Standard, you're not supposed to break hold. So which one was she doing?

    3. Here you go. This shows the technique.

    4. Well according to youtube, it's not accurate, because just googling standard foxtrot, including instructional video, there's rise and fal

      I don't know about hold - Zendaya's tango isn't in hold throughout but compared to Meryl and Maks it certainly is, plus the foxtrot content looks about ten times more.

      Meryl and Maks posed their asses off, took minimal actual steps in hold and finished each tiny pass with a kick, dip or drop to re-set (where have we seen Meryl re-set before) and then it's time for some more stand-still acting.

    5. I think you forgot to paste your first link, OC, the competition one.

      The judges were really something else this week. I also love how Carrie Ann said Charlie lost timing twice, but still gave him a 9.

    6. @7:27
      You are correct that standard has more subtle rise and fall than an American-style foxtrot, or a waltz, but it is still supposed to be there and the knees and legs are really important in accomplishing it. Meryl's dance doesn't for the criteria for a standard foxtrot either because it lacks the continuous motion that is responsible for the rise and fall being more subtle. I don't see her using her knees and legs properly for the slow counts, which is a big deal in this dance. It was beautiful, but it was not a foxtrot and the marks should have reflected that.


      Here's the link to the midatlantic competition. Rise and fall, rise and fall, up and down - very gentle, but it's the whole thing. It's what it is - it's gentle rise and fall.

      I don't know if I'm on board for Meryl's "dance" being beautiful because where was the actual dancing and what kind of dance was it when they weren't posing? It was this bizarre hybrid of clock eating standstill moves that Maks gives to partners with physical issues, combined with a reliance on Meryl kicking (the one-note, and if you screen cap, her lines are terrible) and doing turns. The beginning was posing and emoting. They'd do five to seven steps at most, stop and kick or drop. Then stop and pose for FOURTEEN SECONDS. Repeat, and then drop into a half split on the floor, eat up some more time emoting. One more pass and kill the clock posing. It was contemporary without the lifts.

    8. Maks has a bottom feeder as a publicist - Lizzie Grubman is a character. I wonder how much research he did on Meryl after he was partnered with her, because it's as if he read into the yearning heart and soul of her fans and pitches everything they want to hear straight at them.

      In his time in this show Maks has routinely showmanced, fauxmanced, and even, once or twice, I suspect, bearded (made himself conspicuous with someone to help conceal her actual relationship). I don't think there's a fandom in skating more in need of validation for their favorite, and this plays right into what Maks does best. Pander. If he thought she could dance he would have choreographed a dance, so he's not fooling himself. It's right up there what he thinks of her abilities. Maks used to snark like crazy about his partner Denise Richards - she wasn't popular at the time so he started treating her somewhat contemptuously. Then it turned out many of his fellow pros liked her, so about a year later he re-befriends her.

      I have to say, having seen some of the packages around this episode, I don't know what DW fans are so fussed about. Charlie mentions Meryl plenty. He mentioned how they as a team felt after 2010 and how motivated they both were to go to Sochi. The actual dedication was to the people who supported but didn't skate. I think there's a fan segment that decided to buy all the soulmate stuff of the past two years even though it was blatantly pitched at competing with Scott and Tessa - very calculated and cynical, and very evidently not real.

      I haven't visited tumblr to check out fandoms much, so some of this is new to me. To be fair, there are people on tumblr excited that Scott seems to not be dating anyone currently, and Tessa appears not to be dating anyone currently, because with the two of them going on tour, it's time they faced their feelings.

    9. I have noticed that both Meryl and Charlie do a lot of pausing and time-wasting and easier sections. Compare Charlie's jive to Candace's. They are not even comparable on terms of content. Candace is forced to dance and carry the rhythm throughout the dance. She didn't have time to run around, or do some posing/light dancing in between the actual jiving. No, she had to jive the whole way through, and her routine was jam-packed with difficult footwork and changes in types of footwork. Charlie did not show much variety in his actual jive steps, and the hip-pop steps he did in the mini stage in the audience were easy and allowed him to relax and not have to concentrate on rhythm or doing anything more difficult.

      When I said Meryl's was beautiful, I meant as a performance piece. I thought it was an improvement for her. Like I said, she overpowered the kicks, they all look the same as each other and the kicks in her cha cha, she did not have the extension, and she lacked the control in her hips to actually vary the speed of those kicks. There was so little dancing in that routine--too much posing and time wasting. And the steps all look the same--no change in levels or force. They should not have received such high marks.

      I feel like the judges are giving them the marks because they are ice dancers and are supposed to be good at this. Other contestants have been criticized for having so little content and losing rhythm or not having it in the first place. But they throw high scores at these two.

    10. Some DW fans are complaining that Amy Purdy is getting marks for her disability. Um, no. She actually should be outscoring Meryl and Charlie because she is a much better dancer. Better rhythm, better control...I just can't believe the nerve on some of these people.

    11. I believe Amy Purdy is getting good points for rhythm and control because both are superior. She's got wonderful natural rhythm and natural phrasing. She's got great body control, finish, and detail. If she were static in space I'd have more trouble with some of the two dimensional aspects of the choreography, but she's showing rhythm in her body and a clear relationship to the music, and her alignment is great.

      Charlie's jive was a mess. It was running from place to place and a lot of non-jive content. This is totally subjective, but to me, a sort of self-satisfaction popped up in this number too - that's not precisely dance-related, but if it's on point, maybe it goes to him becoming overconfident and sloppy about technical details.

      What we're seeing on this show is exactly what we saw on the ice. They can only do something technical in short segments. Transitions are faked - they weren't skated when DW skated, and they're not danced when DW dance on DWTs. Both struggle to sustain rhythm, although Charlie phrases his short segments more naturally than Meryl. Both are accustomed to taking huge steps.

      I haven't seen everybody's dance but there's no way Danica McKellar's contemporary should have gotten lower scores than Meryl, and absolutely it ought to have been scored higher than Charlie. James' jive was about as messy as Charlie's but it was sustained - he did a lot more. It's just bizarre that Meryl's "foxtrot" got the scores it did when the same program would have been called out and penalized in a different season, unless the celeb had age issues and physical challenges.

      I suspect the show knows it would be politically dicey to give one ice dance partner high scores on this show, and the other middle-of-the road scores, so this was the opportunity to pump her up, but man, it was a reach and I think puzzled a lot of viewers.

    12. Some DW fans on FSU were worried about Amy before the show began because they thought her story was too sympathetic.

    13. I'm reading a bunch of commentary from DW fans about Meryl's foxtrot and they seem to want it both ways - it's standard foxtrot, but it's okay that it's not in closed hold the entire way through and M&M broke hold left and right. As long as it lets her off the hook for the rise and fall, except that rise and fall is part of Standard Foxtrot. Saying it doesn't use rise and fall 'as much' mischaracterizes it. The rise and fall has a different character. Then there's the quick and slows. I didn't see that in the steps at all. It was quick quick stop and kick. Quick quick dip.

    14. I just listened to afterbuzz. Anna Trebunskaya was very dubious about Meryl and Maks. She didn't like the choreography. She said it was a lyrical, waltzy foxtrot, more like contemporary or rumba. She thought the emotion and intimacy was great. She didn't know why you have a piece that's a minute twenty seconds and twenty seconds of it is standing still almost making out. She enjoyed the hold and frame and didn't like her footwork. She said you drive through your foot and Meryl didn't.

      The other three were all technique, schmecknique, loved it as a piece. And ONE guy said it was smooth! (not standard) - so it seems to me as if everyone wants to have it both ways - it's smooth so it's okay to break hold, but it's standard when it's okay to lose the rise and fall (which isn't okay in standard).

      sounds like how Meryl and Charlie are judged on the ice.

      Anna, still carrying the flag for technique, said that Meryl already knows how to use her arms - she did it in the Olympics. She already does the acting stuff on ice with Charlie. Basically, where's the technique,.

      My FAVORITE guy should be an ice dance judge. His basic point was we know Meryl is already amazing and can already do it, so why does she have to actually do it? We already KNOW she can.

      Alrighty. IOW, just give her the points whether she did foxtrot or not, because we know she can? That was the gist.

      Basically they think there's strategy here and that by week six they'll serve up technique. Right now, Meryl's just pacing herself and doesn't need to do it, since we know she can do it, so let's just give her tens for doing it even though she didn't.

    15. "Basically they think there's strategy here and that by week six they'll serve up technique. Right now, Meryl's just pacing herself and doesn't need to do it, since we know she can do it, so let's just give her tens for doing it even though she didn't."

      That's ridiculous.

      I don't watch this show - has anyone else ever been judged on the principle that they're already great so it doesn't actually have to be demonstrated during the dancing on the show?

      How is it Meryl convinces judges everywhere to view her through this lens of "already perfect", so who cares what really happened right now in this performance? What other ice dancer / dancer in the world gets that kind of consideration and justification for bad dancing (and bad skating)?

      It looks like bribery somewhere on Meryl's behalf. Since 2008 at least.

    16. Bribery is happening on both DWs behalf...

    17. These guys weren't judges - I think they were dancers, although Anna is the only one I know. She was the only one getting specific. The others were all about "it gave me the feels" and they liked all the non-dance details, so why be a stickler about the dancing?

      I haven't heard a DWTs judge ever saying "We know you can do it so there's no need for you to do it" - that was what two of the guys on afterbuzz were saying. Their point was she's ALREADY amazing, like, so amazing, it's just pointless to have her actually show us. DWTs judges are usually - we know you can do more, and that wasn't enough. That's what they said about Zendaya - she was obviously a talented (if somewhat newborn deer-like) mover who could also connect while dancing, so in her foxtrot, although it had loads of content, Carrie Anne thought the first few seconds (seriously, first few seconds) were too simple for HER. After that she thought it was great, but she gave her a nine because of the first few seconds.

      Here's the thing - I don't think Meryl CAN do it. I don't think she's holding back at all. Maks is basically taking what she brought to the table and working around what she can't do. Anna nailed it. Everybody at that table was working on the assumption that Meryl is way better than what she's doing, can do way more, and she and Maks are holding her fire on purpose, so since we know she's great, just score her for what you know her to be until the right time to show it.

      I think that assumption is baseless. I think her footwork is always going to be not there, just like her bladework wasn't there on the ice. Maks is going to do arms and emoting and hair, just like at Arctic Edge. There's never going to be that moment of OMG, she really can do it! She'll do a good rumba, that's it, because this dance basically WAS a rumba. Meryl will walk and get dipped and stick her leg up (while Maks holds it in space) and that will be her next "good" dance.

      Knowing what DWTs judges usually do (which is demand more from people with ability), it was amazing they not only didn't do it for that geriatric non-foxtrot, but they tenned it.

      I know DW fans are all about it, but Maks is working it. Maks is playing them. He competed for years, taught for years. He may not be a ballroom dancer but he knows what foxtrot is. If that's the foxtrot he gave Meryl then he already knows he's got somebody who can kick hard and spin and do arms and that's it for dancing ballroom.


    18. I am so glad Anna mentioned Meryl does not drive through her foot. This was one of my main issues with the dance, what I meant when I said the force is the same for all the steps. The slow step is where you should see the drive, and the quicks follow from that momentum. Meryl did not show that. In general, she has weak feet on the floor. She doesn't apply strength from the feet to the floor. And she needs to engage the muscles in her core, hips and lower back in controlling the leg extensions and kicks. Her kicks were too sharp. A dancer with more control can slow down the kick and vary the force of each one.

    19. When was the last time either one was criticized for anything they did on the ice, even when something was visible to the viewer? Was it the stumble in the fd (I think) in tango some time during 2010-2011? Was it not tracking each other smoothly in the short during the same season?

      I know when the wheels were coming off at the end of Die Fleudermaus in one performance Tanith Belbin and Andrea Joyce commenced telling us we didn't see what we just saw (flagging energy, getting sloppy, gasping for breath).

    20. I think it's just the Emporer's New Clothes with Meryl. When it's that fake NO criticism can be tolerated. If there's a there, there, criticism is okay because the subject can tolerate it without losing reputation, status, or whatever it is they're invested in being, and others are invested in believing they have. Once you start noticing what's lacking in either Meryl or Charlie, it's like pulling a thread. The whole thing unravels. So don't pull the thread!

      When the blog started looking at Davis and White, it was to ask how come they were still doing what they did in 2009, and their opponents - who were ahead of them - were advancing, and yet somehow Davis and White's scores advanced and passed those of their opponents without them upping the difficulty in anything they did? They somehow got to the top of the podium with the same content that kept them off the top of the podium in 2008 and 2009 (or off the podium completely).

      It was in the blog looking at their programs and scrutinizing that it started to unravel, and it became clear that there were more issues than just score inflation for stale content that wasn't keeping pace with the technique and level of difficulty done by other teams.

      It became clear that there was no content. (Speaking broadly. They do have a dance spin, and they do have very choppy, tight step sequences.)

    21. I actually think her rumba will be even worse, though Maks will do all the things you said. Rumba needs hip movement and rhythm, neither of which are a forte for Meryl. I think every movement will be quick and the slows will again be made through pauses and movement that doesn't involve the hips and legs.

    22. I guess I meant they'll pull it off with the judges overlooking lack of hip action. I'm also a little dubious about Meryl walking unassisted, but she'll point her toe and walk slowly and that will cut it. When that happens I'm going to link the Derek Hough/Shannon Elizabeth rumba that used every trick in the book, except no rhythm or hip action, and Shannon Elizabeth had a meltdown when called out.

      The slows WILL be made through pauses and upper body movement, or Maks moving her and placing her. The judges will rave on and on whle somehow avoiding discussion of the actual technique or anything specific to that dance. It will all be impact. This seems so familiar.

    23. "These guys weren't judges - I think they were dancers, although Anna is the only one I know. She was the only one getting specific. The others were all about "it gave me the feels" and they liked all the non-dance details, so why be a stickler about the dancing? "

      So afterbuzz has hired Dave Lease and Jenny Kirk?

    24. 4:40, ha ha, but there's more than fake technique going on. There's fake impact. When DW were skating, the narrative said they had the audience pleasing, knock-out, big impact programs, but they didn't. The programs were flat. VM were the ones who got the reaction, particularly during the Olympics from those tuning in every four years. It's the same with Meryl and Maks. The DW fans are hoping Maks will inspire Charlie to follow his example, while Maks is doing what Maks does every season with every single partner, married or not, try to get his partner's fans excited because they think she gives him a boner. His fans and her fans kerplotz all over the web while the general public is meh. I think her fans, his fans, and the entertainment media who goes with his bad boy, player image play this up as steamy, but that's because the routine reached out and grabbed the write-up outlets by the throat and said "THIS IS A STEAMY ROUTINE!"

      Not authentic. I never feel any of its real, not from Lease and Kirk, not from (non-fans) spazzing over this. I don't think Lease and Kirk believe their own bullshit, I don't think those writing up DWTs believe theirs.

  6. All this analysis is giving me the LOLs. DWTS isn't a dance show -- it's an entertainment show. Meryl and Maks are giving the audience exactly what it wants -- steamy faux make out sessions in a pretty flowy dress. I say she should get 30s for the rest of the season just based memories of last week's dance alone! This will happen anyway because she'll use the same moves in every dance, just like she did on the ice. Meryl knows what sells and how to sell it. You go, girl!!!

    1. What the audience wants, or DW fans? How much overlap is there?

      Maks hasn't won in 18 seasons for a reason, though. Plenty of pros who came after him have won, and it certainly isn't for want of him doing this stuff. He's done it time and time again, having his partner walk half the number, dragging a bed out on the floor, kissing his partner mid-dance, after the dance, and after the show, and hinting he's into his partner and something's going on. And at the end of the season - nada.

      This is his mo converging with Meryl's limited skill set. Two limitations in a marriage of convenience - his limited imagination/her limited abilities.

  7. So now the ISU really got rid of one lift and leaves the option open for either a choreo lift ir spin instead.
    Imo this will benefit weaker teams and take away from the appeal ice dancing had on casual viewers.
    Maybe they just want to eliminate all elements that the audience can judge by themselves. God knows, the ISU doesn't want the crowd to think about elements or results ...
    Apparently there will be new rules regarding dance holds as well.

    1. Where did you hear there'd be new rules for dance holds?

  8. " One fan on one of the forums said this was the best male jive in the entire history of DWTs. Professional quality."

    seriously? i've seen jives performed better on SYTYCD from dancers who know nothing about ballroom

    1. Yep, seriously. And, me too. Even if you're not up to speed on technique, you can see it doesn't look the way actual dancers dance jive, or the way the better celebs have danced jive. But even on afterbuzz nobody, including Anna, could find fault. They thought it was the greatest.

      I thought it was a dud. The first two weeks I definitely enjoyed Charlie more than Meryl, although I paid attention to the comments here that took note of re-setting, flat feet and huge steps. I think it was that compared to how he is skating with Meryl, he appeared much more in the moment and to be actually connecting with his partner, and to have acquired more of a natural relationship to the music. But to me, this thing was a mess. Sloppy, not enough content, rushed, with the jive itself lacking bounce, snap and speed. IMO his partner miscalculated. She wanted this to be a Charlie-basking-in-the-sunshine-of-his-gold-medal sort of solo celebration where she was there on the floor with him, but not his focus. Bad move, because Charlie has already spent a lifetime not focusing on a partner. Here, he projected an almost a childlike narcissim that, for me, personally, wasn't half as charming as it thought it was. Not that that is meant to be a judged component. BUT, if you're going to sacrifice technique and connection for it, it better be charming and this was not. Plus he didn't have his butt under him.

      Carrie Ann Inaba went on and on about Maks and Meryl's foxtrot without once referencing the actual technique, so I think right out of the gate this season is just about how something made you feel - or how you pretend something made you feel. Just like ice dance, nobody's bothering to remember they're supposed to be judged on how they execute the dance. It's inconsistent, depending on where they want the placements.

      Mostly though, when it comes to DW, it's just tiring to constantly be told something IS when it isn't, and for lack of support for something being as good as claimed considered not important. I know these things play themselves out and eventually, are seen for what they are, but as we're right in the middle of it with DW, it's exhausting.


    2. "Here, he projected an almost a childlike narcissim that, for me, personally, wasn't half as charming as it thought it was"

      I really have to agree with this.

      "Mostly though, when it comes to DW, it's just tiring to constantly be told something IS when it isn't, and for lack of support for something being as good as claimed considered not important. I know these things play themselves out and eventually, are seen for what they are, but as we're right in the middle of it with DW, it's exhausting."

      It really is. On the one hand, this is so fun to observe D/W doing this. On the other, in many ways, it's a continuation of the gaslighting surrounding D/W's skating. I could kiss Anna for saying *something* about Meryl this week. Here's hoping she gets harder on them as they continue not to show "all they can do."

    3. And yeah, the connection with Sharna was gone, which was suprisingly one of his strengths the last two weeks. That makes sense that it was partly her choreo concept.