Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dancing with Hope Solo - Round Two

As mandated, I will first let you all watch ol' girl cut the rug. This week's assignment: jive, which is related to swing... which has elements that are re-translated all throughout break dancing and hop hop. For example, the "Kid 'N Play" is really just a two-person Charleston with jive flicks.

Okay, let's start with the good stuff (and I don't mean spotting an awkward looking Landon Donovan in the audience). Of course, Hope looked great. This week, however, she really performed. I saw Rikki and Derek got the highest jive score of the night, so I watched it - and the more technically sound Mrs. Lake spent half her routine watching her partner or visibly counting. Hope did none of this, she was putting on a show out there. That is the big improvement.

She also did well enough at putting her feet down and having her body in control, but it seemed pretty clear that having a USWNT game to play on a week with probably the most energetic style she will tackle on the show was a bit of bad fortune. While she had the steps and movements, there wasn't much hit to it. She looked like someone with tired legs struggling to get knees up, conserving energy throughout. All of this is quite understandable, but as a snooty dance judge, it has to be noted.

As mentioned by the two judges, Hope also fell just a split-second behind her partner a couple times. The good side of this is that she didn't pack it in or shortcut it or lose the performance. When it happened, she recognized and just picked up the pace with a smile, never letting on.

This time, the judges gave her 6/7/6 for a score of 19, the third-lowest jive score of the night. I am going to give Hope a 6.5. As rough as the ask was after a match, there is no break. The performance was great, but the steps needed more finishing snap. I'm actually a little sad we won't get to see what she could have done with this style on a less taxing week. It seems to me she could have been up around 8 or higher with practice time and energy expense equal to the others.

So maybe Hope slipped a little on a week where oddsmakers had her up to co-favorite, but it stands to reason. Next week, she gets either the rumba or the Argentina tango. It's the latter that would probably be more in Hope's comfort zone, as the former requires a lot of the snaking, graceful arm movements that gave her trouble in round one.

- Greg Seltzer

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