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DWTS 13, Week 9 (semifinals): So long to Hope Solo?

Last night on “Dancing with the Stars,” there were some surprises and some heroics. At the end of the evening, Ricki Lake and Derek¬†Hough were the top scoring team after three dances with 67 points. In second was Robert Kardashian and Cheryl Burke with 65 points.

With the final four, we only two locals: Los Angeles-born reality TV personality Rob Kardashian who attended USC and current Los Angeles resident Ricki Lake.

Lake was born in Hastings-on-Hudson in New York, but after her divorce, she had moved to Los Angeles. In September of 2010, her rented Malibu home burned down although she escaped without injury. In a way, Lake is exactly like the character who made her famous, Tracy Turnblad, a heavyset girl who could dance. She’s about 30 pounds lighter now and can she dance!

Lake and Hough scored a perfect 30 for their saucy samba. Kardashian and Burke got a 10 from judge Carrie Ann Inaba who must have been impressed by the butt shaking. Their samba performance tied them with J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff who also scored a 28.

This week in the Argentine tango, they tied for second with J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff. However, Kardashian’s routine had more actual dance content. Also DWTS allows lifts in the Argentine tango, at the local Emerald Ball competition, no lifts are allowed in that dance.

Martinez and Smirnoff had little footwork and it was mostly stunts (lifts, dips and other tricks). The judges noted that for a non-dancer to perform such lifts was a real accomplishment, but that isn’t really what Argentine tango is about.

Los Angeles professional Argentine tango dancers Sandor and Parissa performed (along with DWTS pros Tony Dovolani, Kym Johnson, Kiki Nyemcheck, Sasha Faber, Oksana Dmytrenko, Anna Trebunskaya), but it was essentially stunt after stunt and didn’t give the audience any idea of the more nuanced aspects of the dance. Kardashian’s routine had more actual dance content than Martinez’s.

Hope Solo might have had difficulty with the higher Latin heel if she was using them, but her Argentine tango routine was also a series of tricks and without smooth transitions. Yet doing lifts and tricks with shoulder pain isn’t easy.

Kardashian and Burke were the top team in the cha cha cha relay and were also the last couple to perform.

Hope Solo and Maksim Chmerkovskiy were the lowest scoring team of the night. Solo’s frame isn’t good–her shoulders are always forward and she still seems uncomfortable in heels. Both J.R. Martinez and Solo have problems with flexed feet but Solo’s is one that is more obvious.

Yet one must give credit to both Solo and Martinez. Martinez twisted his ankle badly on Saturday and yet soldiered through three routines without whining. Imagine Chaz Bono doing that. Solo has an old shoulder injury which she feels every time she’s holding a dance frame and had to take some pain management shots.

  • Ricki Lake & Derek Hough : 30+29+8=67
  • Robert Kardashian & Cheryl Burke : 28+27=10=65
  • J.R. Martinez & Karina Smirnoff : 23+27+6=56
  • Hope Solo & Maksim Chmerkovskiy : 21+24+4=49
Hope Solo should go tonight. We love her energy, her determination and her smile, but she’s had problems dancing in heels and keeping a dance frame.
We hope J.R. Martinez will be able to continue and that his ankle will improve. If he won, it would be a DWTS Cinderfella story.¬† Yet ankle injuries to soft tissue heal slowly and while, unlike the women, he doesn’t have to wear heels, he does have to be stable enough to do lifts, pivot and lead. He seemed to be compensating by losing his frame and sticking his bum out. JR Martinez will be the Grand Marshall for the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena for 2012.

Ricki Lake as a winner would also be a triumph for a woman of a certain age and a heavier frame. And we love that fellow USC graduate Kardashian is showing how much confidence dancing can bring.

We hope the two locals, Lake and Kardashian, make it to the finals along with J.R. Martinez.

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