Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Aly Raisman's "Dancing With The Stars" Debut

Last night, Aly Raisman, Olympic gold medalist and Queen of the Jews, danced her first dance on ABC's Dancing With The Stars, now in its 16th season. (What do you think DWTS' Super Sweet 16 would be like? I mean, the show is already fairly over the top. What more could they do?)

I was disappointed when I heard Raisman signed on to participate in the show. Like most serious gymnastics fans, the only place I want to see gymnasts is in gymnastics competition. She is so physically strong and has been relatively lucky when it has come to injuries, I believe she has more potential in the sport and I want her back in training to best realize that. (Also, DWTS is so old, demographically speaking. Is this really the best thing for a young athlete's image and platform?) But I get that there isn't a tremendous rush and one year off in this four year slog may not matter in the end if the goal is Rio in 2016.

I was definitely curious to see how Ms. Raisman fared in her first ballroom dance because as a gymnast, she was never hailed for her artistry. Even as a fan, I could never credibly make that sort of claim. Her "Hava Nagila" routine worked for her because of clever choreography and a catchy tune that the audience could get into. It was also wise that she was given this routine more than a year before the Olympics because she needed time to grow in it. But how will Raisman do when she is given new dances to learn every week?

Well, she didn't do too badly. On the pro side of things--she showed vastly more personality and enthusiasm than she ever has while doing gymnastics. She really seemed to have fun or at least put on a good show of it even if she was wearing something that looked like it came from the Nastia Liukin collection of ballroom dance wear. Seriously, how do we kill this hot pink thing? Why won't it die?

Her footwork wasn't as difficult or light as country singer's Kellie Pickler's was. (Interesting to note--she was discovered on one television competition show, American Idol, and now she's trying to maintain her relevance by competing on a second.) And Mark Ballas was kind when blaming her weaknesses on her gymnastics dance training--calling her movements "sharp," which can make her appear robotic. This is certainly a criticism Raisman has heard often during her gymnastics career.

The judges, while enthusiastic, also noted that she needs to work on her musicality. Raisman's routine wasn't so much about dancing as emoting. The expressive aspects were great but the movements were not always in time with the music. That said, she'll certainly survive next week. There were so many weaker dancers in the pack, including a downright dreadful D.L. Hughley.

Zendaya, who apparently is a Disney Channel star, gave the best performance of the night in a contemporary style. DWTS has added just added "contemporary" to their dance roster because apparently they felt they were losing ground to So You Think You Can Dance in the hotly contested "dances about unrequited/unreturned love" market. This style was a bit better suited to her strengths and background as a hip hop dancer. (Of course, she is also a pop star and actor, a little mini mogul in the making. Soon she will rule us all.) It'll be interesting to see how she does next week when she has to partner dance in a more traditional ballroom style.

In case you missed it, here's Aly and Mark's first dance. What do you think of it?

And a drinking game idea for next week--every time Aly breaks her wrist angle--the gymnast flicked wrist--do a shot. Or might that kill us all?


Katrina Burch said...

What she wore, while pink wasn't all unusual for Ballroom. Especially for Latin where bright colors are common compared to standard/Smooth (Foxtrot, Quickstep, waltz, etc) where muted more jeweled tones are common.

Also her "Sharp" movements will help her more in the Jive.

It will remain to be see how she handles the Smooth dances (she has Quickstep next week). They will be harder for her.

Dvora Meyers said...

I accept that her outfit was completely normal for ballroom dancing and probably wouldn't be annoyed if we hadn't been hearing about #hotpink for the past four years.

And thanks for weighing in with your ballroom expertise. I'm just a snarker--not a ballroom expert. Please keep sending your expertise my way.