“DWTS” pro Mark Ballas took a risk in choreographing a routine for Chelsea Kane that was more avant-garde than “Dancing with the Stars” was ready for and, boy oh boy, did that risk backfire on them.
The pair hit the dance floor dressed up in circus-themed costumes; Chelsea was made up as an edgy, sexy puppet and Mark was decked out as a red-coated ringmaster with “A Clockwork Orange”-inspired makeup. Then they danced an unconventional Jive to Panic! At the Disco’s alternative rock hit, “I Write Sins Not Tragedies.”
It was a performance that brought to mind some of the edgier moments of modern dance on Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance,” rather than a routine for the more mainstream “DWTS.”
It was also a performance that might have been better off saved for later in the season, even the finale or the freestyle night, but it came as a bold surprise for a Week 2 performance.
While the crowd in the studio went wild and the people backstage applauded loudly, the judges seemed downright offended.
“I love choreography like that but there’s a time and a place for it and I don’t think it was right now,” scolded Carrie Ann Inaba to a booing crowd. “There was so little bit of Jive in there. If I’m judging contemporary dance, yeah I’d give you a better score, but I’m judging the Jive and I didn’t see enough.”
“It was too much messing about, and larking around … there wasn’t enough Jive content. This girl has got fantastic potential. She’s going to go a long way but not with dances like that,” added a grumpy Len Goodman.
Bruno Tonioli wasn’t as harsh: “I actually liked the weird and wonderful side of it, very creative… It was like Marcel Marceau desperately seeking ‘Lolita’ in ‘A Clockwork Orange’.”
“Dancing with the Stars” Heats Up!
XfinityTV caught up with Kane and Ballas, who choreographed the dance as all the pros do for their celebrities, to get the post-mortem on what some fans called one of the most exciting moments on “DWTS” in recent memory.
“I loved it. I’m all for the edgy quirky sh*t,” said the Disney star.
“I thought she did wonderful tonight,” Ballas said. “I loved every second of it. It felt amazing out there.” “It really felt good,” he added, describing his inspiration for the number as “the ringleader and the puppet kind of thing – spooky, ‘A Clockwork Orange’ kind of thing.”
Unfortunately, it wasn’t good enough to top last week’s score of 21. Instead, they pulled just an 18 for this number, putting them in the middle of the leaderboard.
“I don’t think it’s fair that Chelsea took the hit for my choreography and my vision,” Ballas said. “I thought she executed and performed beautifully, and did everything I required. And there was definitely enough Jive content. I stated that clearly in the backstage interview with Brooke [Burke].”
That, he did. Ballas defended the comments about the lack of Jive with this: “If we’re gonna talk about Jive content, there were changes in placement from left to right, stop and goes, various kicks and flicks, cocarola…an American spin, so there was plenty of Jive content.”
Point made. Still, they were surprised that the judges didn’t like it as much as the crowd, and while he wouldn’t use the word “regret,” Ballas did feel bad for how it played out.
“Yeah, absolutely,” he said. “I don’t feel she should have taken the hit for something I created. I felt like they could have scored us separately. But I wouldn’t change it at all. And, seeing a standing ovation is really all I can ask for. At the end of the day, hopefully the crowd and the fans enjoyed it. If we get the reaction at home that we got in this room tonight, hopefully we’ll be all right and we’ll come back swinging next week. “
“Please God let us come back next week,” chimed in Kane. “We knew we were taking a risk and we knew this was really unconventional. And I think we already wanted to take a risk with the Jive because it’s a fun, fast dance, and then when we got the Panic at the Disco song, we went to town. So it is kind of just that Catch 22 – we wanted it to be young and fresh and fearless. It could have gone one of two ways and unfortunately it didn’t go the way we hoped it would.”
As for the couple’s chemistry – and recent reports of steaminess on the set – the pair scoffed at the talk. “There’s always reports. They said this with me and Palin and me and everybody,” said Ballas. “We’re great friends and we have a great time in the studio. I like the fact that she’s open-minded because I’ve had partners in the past who were not as open-minded and it allows me to be really creative and to express myself as a choreographer and an artist.”
But when we asked Kane how it felt when Ballas ran his fingers through her hair during the rehearsal footage, she blushed and stumbled for the words, “Uh, well…” Ballas quickly helped her out, saying, “I have a crush on her brain.”
“Yeah that’s it. It’s not about my hair at all, it was about my brain,” she joked.