By Carrie Ann Inaba
Updated April 22, 2009 at 10:20 PM EDT

Dancing With the Stars

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What a week! All the tables turned, new leaders emerged, and the whole leader board got “a shaking up.” And that is why I LOVE THIS SEASON! I knew it! I had a feeling all along that the season was going to be very interesting and highly competitive as we approached the end of the season. Let’s start with Chuck and Julianne. I am so happy for them that they finally had a breakthrough. I always felt that he had an ease of movement that if he engaged his spirit and confidence behind it — along with the training and technique he could tackle if he set his mind to it — that he could do well. It was as if he finally decided that he was just going to go for it — no excuses. That is such a wonderful thing to watch. A real breakthough. And we got to experience it right there with him. Congratulations Chuck and Julianne!

I would have to say Tony and Melissa had wonderful night as well –and Shawn Johnson and Mark Ballas too!. Melissa’s Argentine Tango wasreally something special. That was a VERY difficult routine. It wasfilled to the brim with steps and there was no room for error. With allthe leg flicks and weight changes and intricate movements, if they hadmissed one step or weight change, there would have been a problem andthere was no space to catch up. But what I was impressed with wereTony’s lifts. I knew that he really specializes in lifts, but that wasa really nice showcase of lifts (which are acceptable in the ArgentineTango). I also want to add that Melissa was stunning in that outfit.She really took on a strong persona and pulled it off wonderfully.

Shawn Johnson and Mark did a fantastic cha-cha-cha. I read a lot ofyour comments and I see that a lot of you really get upset when shedoesn’t get great scores. It’s nice to see your support for her. But Ithink you don’t have to worry about that anymore. She also had abreakthrough. Until Monday night, she was having a bit of troublereally getting the characters of the dance and letting go and findingher freedom in the dance to express herself. I saw it on Monday nightand I was so proud of her. I’m sure most of you out there must alsofeel like a proud parent when Shawn does well. It’s like she is growingup in front of our eyes. She is such a special person — soprofessional, so mature, so focused, so strong, and so pure. Herprecision is her best asset, but it has also held her back a bit fromadding that level of performance. Shawn and Chuck both really steppedit up, and I bet we see even more of it as weeks go by. And she got herfirst 10! Congratulations Shawn!!! She said it was her first 10 ever –even in gymnastics!

Gilles and Cheryl performed a Viennese Waltz and did a nice job withit — but at this level we can see that the contestants’ success willdefinitely depend on the dances they get to perform. We have greatperformers left, but they all have different styles of performing. Igave Gilles a correction about his posture that I hope he will work on,because at this point everyone has to really put their best footforward. With this sort of competition and the level that everyone isperforming at, there is no room for error. Those little things willseparate the winner from the runner up, because we have some greatcontenders left.

Don’t worry, I’m not forgetting about Ty and Lil’ Kim. Lil’ Kim andDerek proved a really interesting point in this competition on Mondaynight, and I think they sent out a good message to everyone in general.They tried to impress Len — or what they thought Len wanted — bytoning down her performance. But in doing so, Kim lost some of herspecial spark. This is a good lesson — it is important to do what youdo best and follow your own heart when making choices. It worked outwell and I’m glad they survived — this week Kim and Derek droppedquite far down the leader board and I was worried about them. But theyare still in it and I think she’ll be back to herself next week,bringing back her inner tiger!

And Ty had a good week. But I think he was a bit intimidated afterChuck did so well. Sometimes it is so difficult to come after someonewho really changes the energy in the room. I felt that he was a bitnervous. But he is still such a nice surprise in how far he has comewith his dancing. His scores have been all over the place and theystarted out very low. He definitely specializes in the ballroom dances,where he can “hold on” as he said. Now that LT is gone, we’ll see whoends up on the bottom next week. It’s going to be sad next week whensomeone goes home.

Lawrence was happy to go home, it seemed, so I’m happy for him. I guess he’s back to golf now. Good luck, LT!

Last night’s result show was filled with dancing. I am excited tosee how the new dancers who are vying for a spot on the show will do asthe weeks progress. We don’t have any voting power as judges — this isall up to the audience vote. It’s really nice to see these kids havingthis opportunity. They all seemed like nice people and had differentstrengths, but on this show it takes a lot to be a professional. Firstof all, you have to be a great teacher — you must be able to teach thesteps and technique and then choreograph your numbers in a way thatbest displays your partner’s talent and assets. You must be able toperform in a way that doesn’t outshine your celebrity partner but helpscomplement what he or she brings to the dance floor, and you need to bea strong guide and partner on the journey to the mirror ball. You alsohave to have your own star quality because, as we have seen, ourdancers become stars in their own right. What it takes to make thesecelebrities shine is a lot more than just being a good dancer. It takesa certain type of person. You have to be strong and patient, creativeand intelligent, and I really applaud our dancers for all that they do.Being a DWTS professional dancer is an incredible opportunity. Look atJulianne and Mark and Derek, who have gone on to record albums and aredoing quite well. Our show is a wonderful opportunity for both dancersand celebrities to create even better futures for themselves and opendoors in their careers that are quite amazing.

Also, NATASHA BEDDINGFIELD! She performed the most incredibleversion of “Soulmate,” which is my personal favorite song. I LOVE THATSONG. She is one heck of a singer. I loved the way she changed it upand the performance of Dimitry and Lacey was quite good. Lacey getsbetter and better with each performance. I loved watching her. AndDimitry is such a fine performer — he’s a bit shy, but a good partnerfor Lacey.

Our results show this week was jam-packed, but my favoriteperformance was the BURN THE FLOOR performance. I am in discussions tobe a producer on that show as it heads to Broadway this summer. I sawthe show in San Francisco a few weeks ago and loved it. (They areplaying until next week, before they head on tour and then come toBroadway in the summer, so keep your eyes open and I hope you will allcome out and support their show.) The dancers are beautiful and grew upall over the world. You’ll see some fantastic dancing if you go. Itwill help you get through your summer without DWTS!

Finally, I just wanted to remind everyone that the auction for my “DWTS Experience” package at Clothes Off Our Backis coming to a close on May 1. So if you are interesting in coming tothe show’s finale, you can bid on those tickets and the whole package.All the proceeds go to The Andrea Rizzo Foundation, which providesdance therapy for pediatric cancer patients and children with specialneeds. It’s a wonderful cause — very dear to my heart — and I justwanted to remind you that if you want to come to the show and get abeautiful dress and a diamond necklace, and some cute shoes, the auction is still going on.

Thanks for tuning in — it’s getting exciting, isn’t it?!

Thanks for your comments as well.

Oh — behind the scenes — Sheila E. was there last night and cameover and gave me a hug — and it was a very exciting moment. I havebeen a fan of hers for a long time. She is an incredible percussionistand performer and the first star I met when I was young. She signed mean autograph on a piece of glass. She wrote backwards and I kept thatglass for a long time…until one day, I had someone clean my house andshe cleaned the glass and the autograph was gone when I got home. ; (

But I still have the memory. ;)

Have a great day — summer is coming!!

Carrie Ann

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Dancing With the Stars

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