JiveGate is apparently Dancing With the Stars Season 18’s first big judge/pro disagreement, but it probably won’t be the last. NeNe Leakes and Tony Dovolani danced Jive on Week 2 and judge Carrie Ann Inaba said NeNe’s arms could be bigger. Tony said he didn’t want her arms to be bigger because arm placement in the Jive is very specific. After the show, Tony reiterated his position, but added that he understood what Carrie Ann was trying to say, but maybe she could’ve used different words.
Pro Mark Ballas agreed with Tony, telling On the Red Carpet, “Tony was right. The critique that was given is wrong. You can't critique someone or drop the score and then give them a correction that's incorrect." He showed, in the OTRC video, how the arms are supposed to be in the Jive. "If I were Tony I probably would've said the same thing... If you're judging the show, even if it's not your expertise, you should study up and know what you're talking about before you give your critique."
Carrie Ann addressed the discussion in her Parade blog, saying a lot of people have been asking her about what Tony said so she wanted to clarify her comments about NeNe’s performance.
“Tony was upset because he felt I didn’t understand that he made a choice to do small arm movements for his partner as part of the choreography,” she wrote. “And I understand completely what it means to make a stylistic choice of making smaller arm movements. Sometimes it’s a wonderful choice! However, even small arm movements need to be executed with full energy and must be connected to the rest of the movements. My constructive criticism for NeNe (who’s a really fun performer and has a LOT of potential) is that she has to make the movement hers. When you learn to dance, at first you copy the movements. They sometimes can look and feel awkward on your body and then you practice them and after a while they become your own movements.”
Carrie Ann said it’s her opinion that NeNe still hasn’t gotten to the point where she’s found her connection to the movements and the way to do that is to put more energy into the movements.
“If we examine her arm movements, they are still too small for her frame and her energy,” Carrie Ann continued. “She’s got INCREDIBLE energy. It’s infectious, it’s loud and proud and beautiful! But the movements are not at the same level as her energy. Especially her arms. But I am encouraging her because I think when she makes this breakthrough, it’s going to be GREAT. She’s right on the edge… I feel it coming! Go NeNe! And go Tony for standing up for his partner! I love that kind of loyalty!”
So she’s good with Tony standing up for his partner and it sounds like her critique is about how NeNe’s arm movements still seem awkward. The Jive has never been this controversial! (Except for when the judges say the routines are more like Lindy Hop than Jive, at least we’ve yet to hear that one this season.)
Candace Cameron Bure and Mark and James Maslow and Peta Murgatroyd have Jive this Monday so we’ll have to see if the critiques touch on arm movements or if it’s different for a smaller woman like Candace and a guy like James.
Sources: On the Red Carpet, Parade