Hits and Misses from Dancing with the Stars Classical Night

The Dancing with the Stars Classical Week April 11 episode featured classical crossover violinist David Garrett and mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins, backed by a 46-piece orchestra. The show included some great performances despite a few musical mishaps.

One musical highlight of the evening was David Garrett’s outstanding display of virtuosic classical chops mixed with rock sensibility. Those of you who enjoyed his performance will want to check out his recent album, Rock Symphonies (you can read our review here). In terms of dancing, my favorite performances of the evening were Ralph Macchio and Karina Smirnov; Hines Ward and Kym Johnson; and Chris Jericho and Cheryl Burke.

Ralph and Karina danced a romantic Viennese Waltz to Andre Rieu’s Love Theme from Romeo & Juliet. I loved their interpretive passion and Ralph’s greatly improved expressive hand movements:

Hines and Kym danced a powerful Paso to David Garrett’s Explosive. Hines brought his football ferocity to his performance as the matador:

Chris and Cheryl danced a Paso to Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King” from Peer Gynt. Chris brought his arrogance and power from his professional wrestling background and did a great job of showing the appropriate Spanish body lines. Although I loved the dancing, I do have to say that the orchestra audibly struggled through the difficult music:

There were several lowlights to last night’s show.  The biggest problem was Katherine Jenkins. I don’t know if she was just having a bad night, but her wobbly vibrato reminded me of a bleating goat. I literally ran from the room when she butchered “Time to Say Goodbye” and “O mio babbino caro“.

Surprisingly, another lowlight was the orchestra. I’m usually a big fan of Harold Wheeler’s group, but last night’s expanded band may not have had enough rehearsal to master the difficult pieces. Moreover, I don’t think that the orchestra members were able to hear each other very well. There were quite a few intonation and rhythmic cohesion problems, particularly in Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers” and John Williams “Hedwig’s Theme” (Theme from Harry Potter)

Finally, the classical purist in me has to point out that only about half of the pieces were actual classical music – Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers” from The Nutcracker, Puccini’s “O mio babbino caro” from La Bohème, Bizet’s Les Voici! Voici Le Quadrille from Carmen, Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King from Peer Gynt, and Delibe’s Flower Duet from Lakmé. The remaining music came from the world of classical crossover and movie scores.


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