It’s the semi-finals! And here come the couples, Brandy and Maks, Bristol and Mark, Kyle and Lacey and Jennifer and Derek, walking down the lovely "Dancing with the Stars" staircase—of doom. How has no one ever tumbled down to the dance floor?
Whoa, Mark Ballas, what’s with the eyeliner?
Tom Bergeron, host of the century, and Brooke Burke explain that the show will be 90 minutes, the couples will each dance...blah, blah, Charlie Brown teacher’s voice. I’m totally entranced by Brooke’s shiny dress.
Brandy and Maks: Paso Doble Thoughts: There’s a weird sort of pedestrian opening, with Brandy being pushed around by Maks. Oh, I get it: It's about bullying. She’s taking control, she’s wearing pants. Honestly, Brandy’s snarly face frightens me. Bruno (sort of) agrees saying Brandy “released all of the aggression” and “danced like a fury.” Score: 27
Before a commercial break, we see Jennifer, Bristol and Kyle in the “celebraquarium.” Why is Jennifer petting Bristol’s hair? This is a strange show.
Jennifer and Derek: Cha Cha Thoughts: Dang, Jennifer! You got some legs! The couple dances to “Mercy” by Duffy, a song that got Jennifer groovin’ on the first day of rehearsals. Tonight, the song does the trick again. Jennifer moves with clean, crisp footwork and makes dancing look easy and fun. Or, as Bruno says, “luminous, vibrant and sexy.” Score: 30
Bristol and Mark: Paso Doble Thoughts: In the pre-performance footage, Mark says he doesn’t think people are voting for Bristol because they support her mom’s politics, he thinks it’s because people can relate to her. She says, without any guile, “I’m not fake...I’m not typical Hollywood.” And honestly, for once, I kind of get it. Despite her obvious inadequacies, Bristol always seems to try hard. And her dancing has improved because of her work ethic. But goodness, a standing ovation? Score: 27
Kyle and Lacey: Samba Thoughts: Kyle has a real grace to his movement—even when he’s shaking his booty, of which he did plenty in this routine. Lacey, please, less thrusting in the choreography. When your moves prompt Len to note that Kyle has “more bounce to the ounce than anyone this season,” and Bruno to say he’s a “bouncing bundle of joy” and Carrie Ann to remark that she’s “never seen so much pelvic action,” it means there’s too much. Score: 29
Now we hear about the dramatic events that helped ignite the competitive fire in each star. Wait, you mean it’s the semi-finals and you’re just now telling us what makes these people “stars”? I give this part of the show my best disgruntled and disappointed Len expression.
Brandy and Maks: Argentine Tango Thoughts: There’s some very impressive slinky stair choreography and Brandy seems more controlled—in a good way—in this routine. But every so often she juts her chin forward in an awkward chicken-pecking-like move, breaking the illusion that she’s at ease on the dance floor. Bruno says it was “lush, languid, luscious and full of flavor.” And then Tom Bergeron responds: “Bruno’s book of effusive adjectives will be available for holiday gift-giving.” Tommy B., you’re my hero. Score: 30
Jennifer and Derek: Waltz Thoughts: Dang, Jennifer! Look at that extension! The couple gave a perfectly serene performance and I’m going to say right now that if Jennifer doesn’t win, I’m going to spend my entire Thanksgiving holiday watching Dirty Dancing on an endless loop. (Okay, I might do that anyway.) Score: 30
Bristol and Mark: Waltz Thoughts: It was sort of unfair to have Bristol do the same style right after Jennifer. I’ll leave it at that. Score: 26
Kyle and Lacey: Argentine Tango Thoughts: I absolutely adore Kyle, but this was not his best routine. He maintained his performance quality, but his footwork—and this style demands crisp precision—was a little sluggish. And then there was the ending: Kyle knelt on the floor and Lacey threw her leg over his shoulder and he sort of grabbed and sniffed it. It was very odd. Score: 29
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
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Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.
Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."
Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?
Corbin Bleu in rehearsal for "Kiss Me, Kate" (Jenny Anderson, courtesy Roundabout Theatre Company)
If you're a hardcore Broadway baby, today is the worst Sunday of the year. Why, you ask? The Tony Awards were last Sunday, so basically there's nothing to look forward to in life anymore—no James Corden being James Corden, no teary acceptance speeches from newly minted stars, no thrilling excerpts from the hottest new shows. Oh yeah, and there are 50 more Sundays to go before our humdrum lives are once again blessed with the next annual iteration of Broadway's biggest night.