Sunday, April 29, 2012

My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding - Series Premiere

My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding premiered on TLC tonight. The introduction explained that 200 years ago, Gypsies were forced to leave their European homes to come to America. The most notable thing in the introduction, aside from the historical intro, is that the American Gypsies are very similar to their British and Irish counterparts.

After the introduction, we met Sondra Celli, the American equivalent of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding's Thelma Madine. She is the primary dressmaker for many of the American Gyspies and Travelers.

Next, we met the episode's first bride. Seventeen year old Shyanne, a Romanichal Gypsy, recently got engaged to 18 year old Michael. She doesn't know her fiance well (they've only met twice but dated online), but she's okay with the risk and is excited to marry. Like the girls on the British show, Shyanne commissioned a giant dress for her wedding, and she's remained virginal until her wedding day. In fact, her first kiss will be at the altar.

14 year old Hope is planning a 15th birthday celebration. She wants a big party, regardless of the cost. It was noted that Gypsy girls can't date until engaged, so parties are big news because girls can socialize with boys and may meet their future husbands. Fortunately, Hope's mom Moncella is reasonable - she says this party is not saying her daughter is ready to date and she won't allow the dress to be too revealing. She also wants her daughter to stick to the strict Gypsy culture - no kissing boys until marriage. It was noted that it's common in the Romany culture for girls to run away or elope, and Hope made it clear that she wouldn't be opposed to doing that one day.

We flipped back to Shyanne, and it was revealed that Romany girls are kept in the dark about sex until they're married. Therefore, Shyanne was very nervous about her wedding night. She said that the wedding night isn't the motivator for girls to get married, although she isn't sure about the guys.

At their wedding rehearsal, Chrissy, Shyanne's mom, pulled Michael aside to let him know that he better never hurt Shyanne, and if he has any negative intentions, he better say it now. Fortunately, Michael was sincere about his intentions to marry, so things went smoothly. Chrissy and Shyanne were lucky, apparently, because it was mentioned that Romany men can tend to have bad tempers.

Hope and some cousins (her chaperones) went to the mall, because Gypsy girls can't go out unattended. Hope's allowed to look at guys, but she's not allowed to talk to them. On the flip side, Romany guys are allowed to talk to anyone they want. Because they can't talk to Gypsy girls, they talk to the non-Gypsies.

Hope fits the mold of a Gyspy woman - she aims to marry young and wants to be a housewife and depend on a man. While that idea may seem backwards to traditional Americans, it's a quintessential piece of Gypsy culture.

Michael's family called Shyanne the week before her wedding and said they wouldn't be attending. We then found out that many of Michael's family members won't be attending because they don't approve of the wedding. Some family members threatened to come to the wedding and jump members of Shyanne's family.

Hope went outside before her party, where onlookers were gathered to see her dress. She seemed to love the attention. She also loved the attention she received from guys at her party. Her mom tried to keep the guys from dancing too close for fear of Hope meeting a guy and running off with him. Hope's dad was also concerned about Hope marrying young. He said she should marry at 30, but if Hope waits until 18 or 19, he'll know he did something right. Unfortunately for her parents, Hope set her sights on 17 year old Romany Gypsy Cole, and the pair exchanged numbers. Cole soon after offered Hope an opportunity to move forward with a relationship, she held back so she could finish school and not disappoint her mom.

Shyanne's wedding day arrived and she was excited to see her carriage outside. Unfortunately, she was running behind schedule and couldn't move quickly in her giant dress. Although Shyanne was late, Michael had a surprise: his mother and sister came to the wedding, despite their earlier protests. Although she arrived 40 minutes late, Shyanne wasn't ready to walk down the aisle - she began to cry tears of nervousness. She also had to use the bathroom, which was no easy task in her wedding dress. Fortunately, at 3 PM, the bride was ready to walk down the aisle. After the vows were spoken, Shyanne had the first kiss that she feared. It was awkward, but she was able to go through with it.

After the wedding ceremony, Shyanne got a surprise - she met her mother-in-law. Fortunately, Michael's mother could see that he's happy and she supported the marriage, although she initially thought Michael married too young. Shyanne and Michael's mothers seem to get along after all was said and done, promising to love the other's child like their own.

Takeaways from the show:

Guests at Shyanne's wedding seemed to be dressed more conservatively than those on the British version of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, although I saw some more revealing outfits in the previews.

The violence in Gypsy culture seems to be shown more prevalently on the American version of this series than the original.

Like with violence, it looks like cattiness will be more of an issue in the American series.

Like the British and Irish Gypsies and Travelers, American Gypsies have very high morals.

The mothers on the American show seem to have more reservations about marrying young than their British counterparts. They also seem to try to keep their kids in school longer, although that could just be an initial impression from the first episode.

Tough Love New Orleans, Episode 3

This week on Tough Love Miami, Steve Ward asked the girls to prove whether they know how to turn men on.

On the way to the challenge, Despina was confident and Melissa admitted that she was clueless.

When they arrived at their destination, the girls found themselves on the set of a fake game show called Turned Off. They were in front of a panel of men. Each woman would come up, and if they said something that turned men off, the lights in front of them would turn red. It would turn green if they're turned on.

Melissa was up first. She immediately revealed she was a virgin who's never had a boyfriend and the most of guys' lights turned red. Elizabeth turned guys off when she said it's a turn off when guys don't open doors for her or when they want to split a dinner bill. Stephanie turned the guys off by being shallow. Donna turned the guys off by saying she has OCD. Tiffany finally caught onto the fact that she has to tell the truth and put an upbeat spin on her secrets. She seemed to do well with the panel of guys. Despina talked about letting her relationships fade, which the guys didn't like.

After the game show, Steve Ward discussed the women's performance. Melissa was told that she can spin her virgin status in a positive way. Danielle was criticized for not even trying. Despina was told that she had an attitude problem, but she didn't seem to be aware of that.

Next, Steve sent the girls on dates...with a twist. They'd be wearing zappers. Every time they did something that Steve deemed inappropriate, he'd zap them. Melissa was told to keep her v-card a secret. Shalana was told not be negative. Elizabeth was told to let her date know she's into him. The girls were instructed to not talk about politics and money.

Melissa was up first. She immediately commented on having garlic breath and then talked about religion - not good. She also talked about not having been in a long term relationship. Shalana was next. She repeated herself too much. After that, Danielle cursed too much. Stephanie had trouble connecting to her date. Tiffany, on the other hand, did great. She let down her emotional walls.

During her date, Steve pulled Elizabeth aside to critique her actions and she broke down. Steve noted that something must be holding her back. It's clear to Steve that Elizabeth's date liked her but she was unable to break out of her shy mode. After the talk, Elizabeth still couldn't open up as well as she should.

Donna and her date Nick were next. Her date seemed surprised that Donna is older than he is, which led to major awkwardness.

The group session followed.

Steve was surprised with this after the past weeks, but Tiffany did the best this week. Stephanie was told she should be called Poker Face because her date couldn't gauge her level of interest in her date. When Steve went to talk to Elizabeth, he noted that she had a sour look on her face. A few minutes later, Elizabeth broke down and she and Steve yelled at each other. She did agree to work with Steve to improve her issues, even if it means dating someone other than her current date who really likes her.

Even with Elizabeth's bad behavior, she avoided the hot seat, which went to Danielle. Steve replayed a video of her cursing with a count of the bad words that she said. Steve also said that she gives the impression that she's the kind of girl you sleep with then ditch. Her date was turned off and said he wouldn't want to date a girl like her. Steve's theory on her behavior is that Danielle brings out her worst around good guys as a test.

Steve told the girls that he wants them to commit to what he wants for them, and with that, the episode ended.


Are Teresa Giudice's Recent Actions PR Stunts or the Real Deal?

Teresa Giudice recently had a feature in In Touch Weekly in which she apologized for her actions on The Real Housewives of New Jersey. While some people think her apology is the real deal, others aren't as convinced. This blogger's opinion? Teresa's being sincere...it's just really hard for her to admit that she's got some problems.

According to Reality Tea's recap of the news article, Teresa Giudice regrets her actions on RHONJ and wants to make things right with her cast members. She seems specifically focused on making things right with her family. I fully respect this and wish her the best.

The problem I have is that in the same article, she's quick to defend herself. In response to her brother Joe calling her fake, she says that he said that out of pressure and he doesn't really mean it. My question is, how is that relevant? That's a defense statement, not one of apology. There's nothing wrong with the fact that Joe thought she was fake. She doesn't have to sweep that under the rug. This is about moving forward, not changing the past.

Additionally, Teresa expressed her apologies via a public venue. This should be done in private, and once complete, the media would catch on because Teresa would be seen in public with Joe Gorga, Melissa Gorga, Jacqueline Laurita, etc.

Thirdly, I don't love that Teresa is crediting The Celebrity Apprentice for her transformation because she met real people with real problems. I don't believe this for a second, based on Teresa's performance on the Donald Trump-focused reality show. We saw in episode one that Teresa was mellowed out, quieter, and less quick-witted than usual. To me, it looks like she's highly medicated on antidepressants, which cut down her over-the-top personality, and while doing so, make her appear a bit dumber and less creative. (Antidepressants can do that, you know!)

Okay, so I just spend some time saying why Teresa did things wrong, yet I started the blog post saying I believe that she's sincere. What gives?

Let's take a trip back to psychology class and review the five stages of accepting death (and just about anything else we don't want to take in) and apply them to Teresa's actions.

Denial: Teresa spent the longest time denying Joe Giudice's infidelity, her family's money problems and just about everything else. She put on a happy face and moved on as if everything was perfect. Think back to the happy family photos, "everything's great!" statements and all of that other stuff that we all knew was BS.

Anger: This is the point where she begins to freak out and get mad at people. This is evident from the last season of RHONJ. She lashed out on people and said the backhanded stuff in her cookbook. She was angry. She was lashing out. She was misdirecting her anger.

Bargaining: This one's a bit harder to explain, but she did have moments where she tried to make things right, although it didn't work out. If any readers have good examples for this, please leave a comment on this post.

Depression: Judging from the fact that Teresa's clearly on a high dose of antidepressants on The Celebrity Apprentice, I'd say she reached the point where her anger turned to depression and she realized that she can't go on as she has been. I don't doubt for a second that The Celebrity Apprentice wasn't meant to be a PR stunt to improve her image, but I do think it gave her the time she needed to step away from her normal life, and although depressed, move towards healing. Why? Well, she was out of the unhealthy, dramatic environment of RHONJ filming and got to see life from another angle.

Acceptance: I don't think Celebrity Apprentice led to Teresa's acceptance of her personal situations and the subsequent apologies, but I do think it gave her the time she needed to deal with her life situation. Stepping outside of her life, that was previously completely focused on topics that were covered on RHONJ, gave her a moment to realize that things may be bad now, but they can get better...if she's willing to face the issues, work through them and issue apologies.

Okay, so, now Teresa's ready to admit that she was wrong and apologize, which is great. The problem is that she did it in a public forum. I know why she did, though...or at least I have a theory. Admitting she's wrong is nearly impossible for Teresa. And while going about it in such a huge way seems backwards for us average people, it's probably much easier for Teresa to handle things like this in the media than it is for her to just pick up a phone and make an apology. Now that she's opened the door to the public, her family members and former friends knew what was coming, so Teresa probably felt like she had somewhat of a security blanket. Plus, it's self preservation. If people don't forgive Teresa, she can say that she did apologize, and if people don't accept it, it reflects on them as well, not just her.

In closing, do I think Teresa is sorry? Absolutely. She knows that she lashed out and used bullying as a tactic to avoid her own problems. But with a husband accused of cheating and illegal activity, money problems and all of her secrets coming to the surface, Teresa finally realized that she needs to be somewhat transparent and admit the following: Okay, I get it. I was hiding stuff and I was wrong. I'm sorry.


Why Is Lisa Lampanelli Still On Celebrity Apprentice? Seriously!

I began this season of The Celebrity Apprentice as a Lisa Lampanelli fan. I thought she was funny, professional and great. As the season progressed, her negative attitude began to wear on me, and I find myself wondering why Donald Trump has yet to give her the boot.

Actually, I take that back - I don't wonder why she's still on the show. Lisa Lampanelli's still on the show because she and Aubrey O'Day are the most entertaining characters. It would be absolutely crazy - and vicious - to see the two strongest-willed players battle it out in the end. But do the pair truly deserve to still be on the show? I don't think so.

I can understand Donald Trump keeping Aubrey. He seems rather enamored with her, along with co-star Teresa Giudice. Teresa's funny and she tries hard, despite the fact that she isn't the strongest contributor. Aubrey can barely define the word teamwork, but she's a strong and controversial game player.

Lisa's funny and puts good ideas out there, but I don't have much other good feedback right for her at this point. She alienated - then liked - then re-alienated Dayana Mendoza on the show. She started issues with Arsenio Hall and made it very clear when she disliked (and then liked) Debbie Gibson. She can't make up her mind about how to feel about people and it comes off as fake and flaky.

Lisa is the root of so much of the show's drama. While Aubrey O'Day is responsible for some of it, Lisa is behind a lot of Aubrey's antics. She's an enabler. And when she wasn't with Aubrey, she got nervous and spied on Aubrey's team. Shady, Lisa, shady!!!

Lisa is clearly manipulating the other contestants and isn't necessarily playing fair. While this would be a problem in a real work environment, The Celebrity Apprentice isn't a real work environment, so her ability to be entertaining is saving her spot in the game, even though she should have been eliminated long ago.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Tough Love New Orleans, Episode 2

This week on Tough Love New Orleans, the women had to write online profiles about themselves. As the girls discussed their profiles, Shalana admitted she's never had a boyfriend, yet she has a baby.

Steve Ward brought in three guys to judge the girls' photos and personalities. Danielle's photo showcased her butt. The guys read it as a sign that she's looking for something dirty.

Shelana's photo went over better and the guys didn't seem to have a problem with her having a son. However, when the guys got to the part where Shelana's never had a relationship, things went sour.

Elizabeth was told that she's hot, but her bad relationship with her family was a negative.

Despina's photo was said to be taken from too far away. The guys said that Despina's comment about always having sex after a date was a problem, and they noticed that she had intimacy issues.

The guys liked Tiffany's profile but were concerned that she left questions blank. To them, it meant that Tiffany wasn't looking for a relationship. She failed, again, to mention her kids.

Stephanie was told that she looks plastic, although she'd be beautiful if she toned it down.

Steve dug into Elizabeth's family issues. It turns out that she was with a guy, and during that time, her family wouldn't talk to her. It came down to money issues. The discussion seemed to help Elizabeth, and she seemed to come to a realization that there's more to life than money.

Joanne Ward and Steve went over a bunch of guys as possible matches for the girls. Some matches were easy, while others weren't. Once the matches were made, Steve filled the guys in on a secret: the girls would theoretically be going to their guy's apartment, but they'd really be going to a fake apartment filled with relationship red flags. Also, Steve was going to call the guys to go outside to get their delivery, allowing the girls time to snoop around.

Melissa and Chris dated first. Melissa noted that one of the wine glasses had a lipstick stain on it, but kept her mouth shut. When Chris stepped out, Melissa snooped and found a ton of red flags. She kept her mouth shut, though, to keep awkwardness at bay. She also determined that he's dating around so things would be over right then and there.

Shalana was next, and she snooped around at the iPad that was lying on the table. Tiffany cased the place and went through her date's phone. Stephanie and "the good John" had their second date. Steph took a look at the Valentine's day card and decided to ask about the pictures and other girl-type clues. She got a great answer - the pictures of females were family members and friends.

Donna was next, and she was saying that you can judge a man by the cleanliness of his towels. She also immediately decided that Butler is not her type. This was further emphasized by a Diet Coke and scratched Teflon pan. Donna practically had a meltdown, and managed to forget her date's name. Classy!

Elizabeth was up next. She immediately noticed the hot pink purse but didn't ask about it. She wasn't thrilled because Stefon didn't explain the wine or do a toast. However, she realized that she and Stefon did get along.

After the dates, Stephanie and Elizabeth walked out when Donna was talking, and Danielle got mad. Despina followed her anger.

In the group session, the girls were told that the apartments were fake. After that was revealed, Stephanie was told that she did the best this week because she addressed the red flags. Her date, John, had great feedback about Stephanie. He said they clicked and he wants to see her again.

Shelana was criticized for looking through her date's iPad. Elizabeth's date seemed positive about the couple's time together. Melissa admitted that she jumped to conclusions after seeing the red flags. Her date liked her even more after this date, but Melissa wasn't sure whether she wanted to see him again.

Donna was brought to the hot seat for being high maintenance and having entitlement issues. Donna was told that she was acting horrible by being nice to her date and then talking about how much she didn't like him. She was also criticized for her unreasonably high standards.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Dance Moms Miami: Season 1, Episode 3

The show opened with the instructors telling the students that they didn't dance to their pull potential.

The list followed, with Lucas on top, Kimmy second, Sammy third, Jessi fourth and Hannah last. Of course, Hannah's mom Debi was angry because Hannah did well last week but it wasn't enough.

This week, the team would be going to another Starbound competition. Lucas, Kimmy and Sammy were given solos. The group routine would be a contemporary dance with a theme about insecurities. Victor's goal was to make the audience have an emotional reaction to the number, and in order to do that, the kids must have the feelings as well.

The dancers were asked to talk about what makes them insecure. Jessi was concerned about being embarrassed by her dancing and people thinking she's ugly on the inside. Hannah's insecurity was how the judges and others look at her onstage. Kimmy was insecure because she wants to be perfect but isn't. Lucas was insecure about people's opinions of him because of his hobby. Sammy was insecure about making a fool of herself.

We flipped to the moms arguing about who gets a solo. To her credit, Brigette was a voice of reason, and although critical, made good points in her discussion. When everyone else spoke, I just heard arguments. Abby looked frustrated, and with good reason - she and daughter Sammy didn't exactly seem to be welcomed to Stars Dance Studio when they arrived.

Brigette pulled Abby aside to talk. Brigette apologized to Abby, having realized (in her opinion) that Debi manipulated the argument and what was said was wrong. Mayra joined them and agreed. Abby wasn't entirely sure that the trouble would end post-apology, but she did accept it.

Following the mama drama, Kimmy practiced her solo, which was a combination of contemporary and lyrical dances. Kimmy was told that she doesn't listen to her music as well as she should. Later, mom Ani stressed about Kimmy's perfectionism, although Kimmy seemed to be relatively calm. Lucas practiced next, and while he struggled with some moves, he worked very hard and his talent was evident. Sammy practiced her jazz song next. It was called "All Eyes On Me" and she loved it because she likes being the center of attention.

One of Sammy's moves was like The Dougie, and the instructors brought the moms down to learn how to do The Dougie. They actually loosened up and had fun for a few minutes!

Later, the moms disappeared, so the kids took their places on the couch and made fun of their moms' complaining. It was so funny. The kids were spot on and made the arguing sound so ridiculous. The moms walked in and the kids continued to mock them in a funny way...even the moms laughed. Until they told the kids to get back to practice, that is.

Some of the moms went out for drinks. Abby dropped the bomb that Debi and her daughter Hannah were asked to leave their old studio. Brigette was shocked by this because of all of the bad stuff Debi had said about Abby and Sammy. Brigette dropped another bomb - Debi planned to tell Angel and Victor to sabotage Sammy's dance so she'd lose.

The Competition

Due to a registration error, Kimmy would be going on to perform sooner than planned. Kimmy's dance was called "I'm Not Perfect' but her dance looked pretty perfect to me! It was dramatic and filled with feeling. Lucas was next. He was great, but this is no surprise. Sammy danced third, and she was also great. This was a strong week for Stars solos, in my opinion, although Sammy was told she looked nervous onstage.

Kimmy took second place in the Junior Solo Overall category. Lucas and Sammy didn't place, even though they were great. When Sammy didn't place, Abby told Victor and Angel about Debi's alleged sabotage of Sammy's dance. Victor and Angel certainly didn't deny it, but they did say that they treat everyone the same (meaning that they wouldn't listen).

The group number was next. Each child's costume featured the words describing their insecurity on their outfit. The words were later ripped off to reveal the words "I am unique" in their place. The dance was good, although not my favorite. That being said, it had a powerful message and was a strong number.

The group dance ended up taking fifth place. The instructors came in and said that the group did okay but not their best. They emphasized the fact that the dancers would have to step it up. When Victor and Angel left the room, Abby noted that someone told Victor and Angel to sabotage her choreography. She straight up asked Debi if she'd done it, and Debi denied it. Abby called everyone in the room lying animals and walked out in frustration.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tough Love New Orleans: Season Premiere

Tonight, VH1 premiered Tough Love New Orleans, a show that brought us some very relationship challenged women.

First we met Melissa, a 25 year old virgin nicknamed Miss Awkward. She wants to find a guy who will wait for her to be ready, but it hasn't happened yet.

Danielle, 26, is a single mom and hairstylist who dates guys who drag her down. She's nicknamed Miss Low Standards.

Donna, 40, is nicknamed Miss Ticking Clock. She wants kids but her age is a major concern. She stood out right away as someone who's insecure and troubled - she couldn't stop laughing at first and then cried because of how beautiful Stephanie is or something like that.

Stephanie, 27, is nicknamed Miss Husband Hungry. This makeup artist is desperate to find a husband and claims to have to been in love 20 times. She's had Botox, her lips injected and her eyebrows lifted.

After that, we met Tiffany, called Miss Phony. She's in love with herself and calls herself an attention whore.

Elizabeth was next. She's called Miss Gold Digger. She's after a guy with money and a pulse...and that's about it.

Single mom Shalana was called Miss Bitter. She's been hurt multiple times and wants Steve to turn her luck around.

Despina was last. She's Miss Man Eater. She's a man juggler who books her dates back to back, but never dated someone that truly knew her.

The challenges began before the girls even got to boot camp. The girls were recorded in the cab talking to their cab drivers, who were planted by Steve. Unsurprisingly, the girls showed their true colors, and Steve was sure to let them know their flaws.

The guys came into the room with Steve and the woman, and then Steve brought them to another room to talk about the women while they watched on video. John spoke first about his cab ride with Elizabeth. When one of the guys said she'd suck the life out of men, Elizabeth didn't take it well because she's not good at criticism. Next, Melissa was criticized for being awkward. Stephanie was told that she looks like a porn star and would make her dates look bad. Tiffany came off as totally self centered.

Steve visited the girls the next day and told the women that they'd be going to a Riverboat party full of eligible bachelors. They'd each have three sets of beads, one to give to each guy they like. After the party, the guys would reflect on the women that chose them.

Melissa was immediately awkward. She complimented a guy's hair because in her opinion, guys are all afraid of going bald. Elizabeth did well and actually seemed engaged in conversation. Donna introduced herself to everyone as if she was running for a political office. Stephanie chose one guy on a snap judgment (being her type) but opened herself up to a nice guy that wasn't her type, as well. Danielle made it clear that she wouldn't give her beads to anyone. Tiffany drank a lot and overshared about her drinking habits. She also spouted out the fact that Melissa's a virgin, which was completely inappropriate and destroyed any progress Melissa may have had made. Melissa ended up leaving in embarrassment.

The guys went over to the girls' mansion. Melissa did relatively well talking to a guy until she told him their astrological signs aren't compatible. We then flipped to Melissa in the confessional saying that the girls need a 'vagina whisperer'. That was a bit awkward, Melissa!

When Steve brought the girls to the group session, Elizabeth was told that she did the best. One of the guys had great feedback for her, saying that she was genuine and shy. Elizabeth agreed to see this guy again.

Stephanie was discussed next. Steve told her that she didn't make enough of an effort to tone things down. The guys immediately noticed that she's had a lot of surgery. One guy (John) complimented her personality but she needed to tone down her looks.

Melissa was third. Steve showed a clip of Melissa asking a guy if his spiky hair is a defense mechanism. When Steve showed that, Melissa cried. However, when Melissa saw her feedback, one of the guys said she's the whole package and said he'd like to be set up with her.

Steve them told the women that he has a surprise for them this season. He instituted a three strikes rule. If a woman ends up in the hot seat three times, she's out of the house. Unfortunately, Tiffany only had two strikes left after today, because she was the first person to be put in the hot seat.

Steve told Tiffany that she fit right into her phony archetype. He also called her manipulative. Steve called Tiffany out as a liar - she's 31 but told the girls that she's 29. She also failed to mention that she has a 13 year old, a 10 year old and a 15 month old child. It turns out that she didn't even tell Steve about her kids. When Tiffany was forced to tell Steve about her kids, she admitted that her 10 year old and 15 month old have the same father, and he's married. And, his wife was pregnant with his kid at the same time as she was. Tiffany swore that she's not involved with that man anymore, but I'm not sure I completely believe her.

Steve ended the episode by giving each girl a necklace. Their name was on one side and the other side was blank. Steve planned to add something positive to the other side of each necklace, but only when the girl earned it. And with that, the first episode of Tough Love New Orleans ended.

Takeaways:

Melissa may be awkward, but she's fun. I'm a Melissa fan and I hope to see her succeed this season.

Elizabeth made great strides early in the competition...it was great! It's not often that a woman on this show turns around so quickly, and I hope her improvement continues.

I love Steve's new three strikes rule! I think this is a great motivator to get the women to succeed. Women in the past seasons have ended up in the hot seat week after week, and this is a great way to get them to try not to end up there.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Interview with Oscar Triana, Father of Dance Moms Miami's Lucas Triana

I'll admit - I was skeptical when Lifetime announced Dance Moms Miami. I wasn't sure that the spin-off could hold up to Abby Lee and crew's antics on the original Dance Moms. But when I watched the first episode of Dance Moms Miami, I was hooked. Why? The compassion of Victor and Angel, the instructors at Stars Dance Studio, and the talent of the dancers.

While all of the dancers are talented, one of the dancers stands out, and his name is Lucas Triana. It's evident from the first moment that we see Lucas dance that he truly has the 'it factor.' He's got charisma, talent, stage presence, and most of all, the kid can dance.

I was lucky to score an interview with Lucas' father, Oscar Triana, who filled me in on how Lucas got involved with the show, his history with dance and more.


1. It's clear to the viewers of Dance Moms Miami that Lucas is very talented. How old was Lucas when he began dancing? What made you decide to put him in dance lessons?

Lucas was 3 when he began taking Hip Hop classes. It was once a week and didn't involve any competitions. It was just for fun. It seemed like a good activity to start at such an early age, easier than team sports.

2. Has Lucas always wanted to dance, or has he ever wanted to stop dancing?
He took a break when he was 5 and played soccer for two years. He was pretty good as the team's goalie! He went back to dancing at age 7 and when he was 8 we changed studios and went to Stars. 

3. How did Lucas get cast for Dance Moms Miami? When he was cast, did he or your family have any concerns about appearing on the show?
I believe Lifetime was looking at a few studios in the Miami area, so Stars chose which dancers and moms they wanted to represent the studio on the show. They also had open castings, multiple interviews, both in person and via Skype. Yes, I did have concerns and still do. I'm a very private individual but I realize this is a great opportunity for Lucas. 

4. Did Lucas dance at Angel and Victor's studio before Dance Moms Miami began filming? Or did he join the studio for the purpose of the show?
Lucas was already dancing at Stars Dance Studio before the show came about. 
5. Although he's young, does Lucas plan to continue to dance as a career? What other interests does he have?
"Difficult to see the future is" - Yoda....He's your typical boy. He likes to play outdoors, has a huge Lego collection with his brothers and he and I play a lot of Xbox games together.

6. How have reactions been so far to Lucas' appearance on Dance Moms Miami?

So far it seems very positive. They seem to like him. I'm amazed by the amount of messages he gets from fans on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook....especially the marriage proposals! It's cute....and scary at the same time.

I am absolutely sure that Lifetime's Dance Moms Miami is just the beginning of Lucas Triana's career. This kid is going to be a star in some capacity, whether he's on Broadway or finds continued fame on television. No matter what the outcome, Dance Moms Miami is just the beginning for Lucas.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Off Topic: An Old Navy Party!

I'm a member of CrowdTap.com, and as a member of CrowdTap, I got the opportunity to host an Old Navy party. At this party, I got to bring three friends to shop for a free pair of pants and shoes.

My three friends and I had such a great time that I couldn't help but share our experience. We went into an Old Navy store and grabbed tons of pants, skirts and shoes, and tried them all on. As you can see to the left, there were tons of flats and flip flops, as well as summery wedges to try on. We contemplated for the longest time...do we want flats? Wedges? Flip flops? Eventually, three of us ended up with wedges and the other person ended up with flats. She's on her feet all day at work, so the cute flats will be a great - and comfy - addition to her work wardrobe.

I was super excited with my purchases for two main reasons. First, I love wedge shoes and was thrilled to get a pair for my summer wardrobe. I chose the pair you see to the right, the Women's Striped Platform Wedges. They fit great, look nice and are good quality shoes. I'm able to walk in them comfortably, and they'll look great with a summery dress.

I also chose a pair of dark wash, Dreamer bootcut jeans. Why? The dreamer style fits me best. I'm only five feet, two inches, but the length of the regular jeans fits me perfectly, and the cut of the waist and hips are great for my body type (small waist, bigger hips). The other girls chose a pair of khaki shorts, skinny jeans, and a blue and white patterned skirt, respectively.

Of course, it's not a trip to Old Navy without some extra shopping, so I snagged some clearance pajama pants for $4 each (hello inexpensive stocking stuffers next holiday season!) and some great basic tank tops for just over $3 each. My friend also snagged a bunch of the tank tops. We can't resist them for summer!

The four of us spent an hour and a half at our local Old Navy laughing and having a great time...and at the end, we each walked away with a free pair of Old Navy bottoms and shoes.


Do you want to earn free stuff from Old Navy and other brands while having the opportunity to contribute to a charity of your choice? Join CrowdTap and you'll have the chance to have fun, get free stuff and help a charity that you love.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Toddlers and Tiaras: Southern Celebrity Fairytale Winter Pageant

This week brought Ava, Gabby and Alaska against each other again to compete in the Fairytale Winter Pageant.

Ava, 6, and mom Jennifer were the first to be featured. Ava's a pageant veteran, but she's not great at practicing for the pageants.

Gabby, 8, was second. Her mom Beth says she's the total package. Beth makes all of Gabby's pageant clothes. Gabby seems to really want to compete in pageants. Beth gives Gabby all the tools she needs to win, including a facial before she competes.

Alaska, 9, was third. Mom Lori doesn't seem much nicer than the last time we saw her on Toddlers and Tiaras (Cars & Stars Pageant, 2010). She described Alaska as a pageant announcer would and managed to throw in a dig about Alaska annoying her brother. Alaska seems to have a serious attitude on her, but I don't blame her - she seems to get it from her mom! Lori is committed to getting Alaska everything she needs to win pageants, especially since she's been consistently winning since her stint on Toddlers and Tiaras.

It should be noted that there's a longstanding rivalry between Alaska and Gabby. The moms and daughters are both intent on beating each other. Lori even went as far as to say that Gabby and Beth are stalking Alaska at pageants.

The Pageant

Lori, when she arrived at the pageant, asked if her father would have to pay for a seat at the pageant even though he's blind. Her husband thought it was a ridiculous question.

Lori and Beth were pulled aside before the pageant began. They were told to put any previous drama between the pair (which had happened on Facebook) should be put aside and should not come out at the pageant. Unfortunately, this didn't seem to work, as Lori called Beth stupid in the confessional.

Ava was first to hit the stage for beauty. She did a great job. Judge Johnny Browning agreed, praising her performance.

As Alaska prepared for beauty, her stepfather asked her how someone so rotten can be so gorgeous. Hint: I think some of Alaska's rottenness is because her mom and stepdad keep putting her down!!! When Alaska was onstage, her mom and stepdad were all praises, though, most likely because she was beautiful and awesome.

Gabby was third. She looked a little bit over-tanned. Also, her smile made it look like she was going to cry. However, her presentation was strong and her walk was good.

Winter wear followed beauty. Ava was first, and her dance, costume and presentation seemed to have Grand Supreme written all over it. She wore a fur dress (faux, I hope) and did a dance onstage. The pageant emcee noted that the pageant was ahead of schedule, and when Alaska was called, she wasn't yet in the ballroom. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that the whole lateness thing is forced or staged, so am I convinced that Alaska was intentionally or actually late? No. I mean, what's a show without drama?

Gabby ended up competing next in Winter Wear. I didn't love her costume or music. I'm not really sure what she was supposed to be. She did have good presentation, though.

Alaska and her family made it to the ballroom and realized they'd been skipped. Fortunately, Alaska was able to compete. Her costume and performance were amazing. The only thing wintery about her performance was the blue and white costume, but still, it was awesome.

Crowning

6 to 7 Year Old Division
Most Beautiful: Janessa
Best Personality: Ava
Celebrity Fairytale Princess: Ava

At this point, Ava cried and dragged her mom out of the pageant because she was devastated. Fortunately, mom was supportive of Ava, which was nice.

8 to 9 Year Old Division
Celebrity Junior Miss Princess: Carly
Junior Miss Fairytale Queen: Gabby

Gabby also cried, but said she didn't know why.

Jacqueline and Alaska were told that they'd be coming back for higher titles.

Grand Supremes
Junior Miss Fairytale Winter Supreme: Jacqueline
Ultimate Grand Supreme: Alaska

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Want To Be On Bachelor Pad 3? You Can!

The producers of Bachelor Pad have an important message for anyone who wants to find their slice of reality fame on Bachelor Pad 3.

If you're interested in filling a coveted spot on Bachelor Pad 3, there are a couple of things for you to do.

First, watch Jake Pavelka's video about how to submit to be on Bachelor Pad 3. If you're looking for love, money, or both, you should definitely go for this opportunity. Plus, the grand prize winner will walk away with $250,000, which is a serious amount of cash...and it comes with some reality TV fame, as well.


After watching the video, go online, fill-out the application, and then submit a 2-minute video and a photo to be considered for the show. If the casting team likes your video, it’ll be posted on the website where fans can vote for their favorites and leave comments.
 

To submit your application, visit http://thebachelor.warnerbros.com/ and click on the Bachelor Pad casting banner on top of the page.

Submissions are being accepted throughout the month of April.  The deadline is April 29th at 11:59PM, PST.
   

Bachelor Pad will premiere on ABC, Monday, July 23rd, 2012 at 8pm ET/PT.

Dance Moms Miami: Season 1, Episode 2

Does anyone else think the Dance Moms Miami theme song reminds us just a few too many times that the show takes place in Miami? It's a bit of overkill!

The show opened with the instructors telling the dancers that they were good last week but need to do better. Next, the instructors unveiled the dancers in order of talent on the list. At the top of the list was Lucas. Kimmy was second because she dropped too early in the group number. Sammy was third. Susan, Jessi's mom, was mad because she thinks Jessi is better than Sammy. Hannah followed, leaving Jessi in last place. Why? Because she pulled the trophy out of her teammate's hand onstage. Jessi's mom defended her, saying that she asked Hannah for the trophy, but Hannah said no. I hate to say it, but Hannah didn't have to give Jessi the trophy, so I'm on Hannah's side here.

Fortunately, despite her defenses, Susan told Jessi that she needs to apologize because she was wrong for grabbing the trophy. In the end, Jessi and her mom had to apologize - Susan did, after all, freak out and pull her daughter out of class.

This week, the team was going to Starbound in Long Beach, California. The group number was jazz funk. Lucas was given a solo - his first of the year. Sammy and Hannah were also given solos.

Sammy was not intimidated to dance against Hannah - she said Hannah doesn't have the technique that she has. Unfortunately, her technique didn't impress, and the choreography led to an argument between the instructors, Victor and Angel.

Lucas practiced his lyrical solo next. He was instructed to be very emotional. Even during his practice, you can see that Lucas is incredibly talented.

The teammates had to go through an exercise where they had to discuss their feelings and how others make them feel. For example, Hannah told Jessi that she can hurt her feelings, although she can be nice sometimes. Jessi seemed affected by Hannah's statement. In return, Jessi told Hannah that she's a hard worker and she's proud of her.

Hannah rehearsed third. It's probably because they showed her early in her rehearsal, but her technique was not great.

The Competition

Hannah did her contemporary solo first. Unfortunately, I was not impressed. While some of her moves were spot on, her choreography came off a bit spazzy. That could have been more the moves than her talent, though.

Sammy's dance was third. She was good. She put a lot of attitude into her dancing. She also does great dance tricks.

Susan decided to ask if Jessi can do a last minute solo because she can improv. Fortunately, the instructors stuck to their decision and said no because Jessi doesn't deserve a solo because of her behavior at the last competition. Susan got mad and walked out.

Hannah took fourth place in the Junior Solo Overall. I was surprised - I didn't expect that. Lucas took second place. Sammy took first place.

The group dance was next. Lucas was hilarious. The dancing was fierce. It had a lot of character acting, which was awesome. The group brought it, and at this point, I was sure they had first place locked down.

It turns out I was right - the team from Stars took home first place. And they deserved it. They were awesome.

Takeaways

Kimmy is awesome. She's adorable when she speaks in the confessional. She's clearly saying pre-chosen words, as she's not an actress, and it's so cute how she communicates what she's reading or has memorized.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - Lucas has a lot of talent. He's going to be a star in the dance world.

On this show, the teachers are much more supportive than Abby on Dance Moms. It's nice. At the end of each episode, we close out with excited, happy words from the teachers. That's not to say that the moms don't close out the show with a dramatic episode, but the teachers are a good influence at least.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Celebrity Apprentice - 4/8/12

On last week's episode of The Celebrity Apprentice, Donald Trump switched Teresa Giudice and Aubrey O'Day to the original guys team, and Lou Ferrigno, Penn Jillette and Dee Snider switched to the original women's team. Before the switch, the women lost the majority of the challenges, and this didn't change - Dee, newly moved to the original women's team, was kicked off The Celebrity Apprentice.

The episode opened in the aftermath of Arsenio Hall's rant against Aubrey O'Day in the boardroom. Aubrey had stormed out and hadn't yet returned. Arsenio continued his rant after leaving the boardroom, and Lisa Lampanelli immediately jumped to Aubrey's defense. After the pair argued about Arsenio calling Aubrey a b***h and a w***e, Lisa, in a curse filled rant, told Arsenio that every woman in America in America would hate him. She's wrong - I'm female and I don't hate him.

Lisa continued her madness when Dayana Mendoza and Lou Ferrigno returned to the group and it became evident the Dee Snider was kicked off. Lisa put both of them down and stormed away. Ouch, Lisa...making enemies, are we?

Aubrey did return in support of her charity. She was back in time to learn about this week's challenge - create a 60 second commercial promoting the benefits of Entertainment.com. They'd present the finished product to the brand reps, who would determine a winner.

When Donald Trump asked who would lead the teams, Dayana Mendoza immediately volunteered to lead Forte. Lisa, of course, had negative comments about this. Teresa Giudice stepped up and took the role for her team, Unanimous.

Aubrey went to Arsenio to talk things out. Aubrey played the nice girl, but it came off fake. Arsenio offered a sincere apology, explaining that he was upset because a family member had recently died of AIDS. The pair seemed to make peace, which was a positive considering that Lisa Lampanelli has enough negative energy for everybody.

Dayana and team came up with the idea of having a love story in the commercial. It would feature two actors. Lou Ferrigno thought the commercial should feature the star power on the team (and I agree), but I disagree with his sentiment that he should play the male love interest. To his credit, Lou did try to contribute by suggesting a new camera angle to enhance the branding, but Dayana totally shut him down. Penn Jillette also got on Lou's bad side by leaving - he had a prior engagement and Lou resented that.

Teresa and team decided to do a commercial where a dad busts into his daughter's room, thinking she's about to have sex with a guy in her room. When the door opens, he sees two people being perfectly appropriate and looking at entertainment.com. During their creation process, Aubrey got snarky about Teresa. I'm not sure why I was surprised - Aubrey is trouble, and clearly learned nothing, as she tried to do all of the talking and take control during the meeting with Ivanka Trump. A major plus of Unanimous' commercial is that they utilized Paul Teutul Jr. and Aubrey O'Day in their commercial - they utilized their star power.

In a truly shocking turn of events, Lisa Lampanelli admitted that Dayana may actually bring something to the table, although her compliment was backhanded - she insulted Lou Ferrigno in the process. As Lisa and Dayana worked on editing, Lou suggested enhancing the branding in the commercial, but Lisa shot him down. At this point, I'm thinking that this will come back to bite them later.

Clay Aiken and Arsenio Hall did some work while Aubrey criticized them for running out of time and not having things done. That being said, Aubrey did suggest a way to get things done, so negative attitude aside, she did contribute to her team.

Unanimous presented their video first. It was cute, but I think it was too overtly sexual for a company like Entertainment.com. Plus, their intro was a bit too much of a kiss-up to the execs. Forte was next, and although their video was also cute, there wasn't a lot of visual branding. Plus, the commercial was confusing - the female character kept presuming things, which kept the viewer in the dark a bit,and at the end, the male character was suggesting buying a baby carriage. The continuity was off.

When the executives gave their comments, Unanimous was praised for their star power, but it was noted that their video may have been too risque and was worried about calling paper coupons old fashioned. Forte was praised for showing the variety of savings and features of Entertainment.com, but not for using their star power.

Forte discussed their performance first in the boardroom. Dayana said Lou was the weakest player, and Lisa agreed. Lisa actually defended Dayana, although she threw an insult in with her compliments. Lou, who was not thrilled at this, told Lisa that she'd throw her through a wall if she was a man. Lisa freaked out and an argument ensued.

Teresa's team had a better run in the boardroom. Aubrey and Arsenio admitted that they now get along, and Teresa was even told that she's nice - which is a crazy contrast to what we've seen on The Real Housewives of New Jersey! When asked who the company's weak link is, Teresa said no one and she'd bring everyone to the boardroom for elimination, meaning that everyone was equal. Ivanka Trump brought up a good point that Aubrey O'Day took over when she should not have done so. Paul was asked who the star of their team is, and he chose Clay Aiken.

Donald Trump asked Forte why they didn't use their own star power in their commercial, and Dayana said it's because it didn't fit the story. Lou stuck up for himself by saying that he suggested that but his idea was rejected.

Donald Trump asked the contestants which commercial they liked, and when Lou was asked, he said he liked the opposing team's video better. Lisa's response to that was that Lou did nothing, so this is his way of taking himself out of the game. Lisa got combative yet again, and as of this point, I think it's Lisa's time to to leave, and I hope that happens.


The executives' decision was announced, and Teresa's leadership paid off and her team won $60,000 for her charity.

During the discussions that followed, Lisa insisted that she's the only one who's completely safe because she did everything. I disagree. Because there were four people on the team, Dayana was asked who would not be brought back with a chance to be sent home. She chose Penn, although she said that Lisa did a great job. Donald asked if Penn was getting a pass for not being present during the whole challenge, but Dayana said no - he did more than Lou in the hours that he was present.

Ultimately, Lou Ferrigno was fired for not having loyalty to his team. I think this was a mistake simply because Lisa should have gone home, but I definitely think Lou has run his course in this game.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Toddlers and Tiaras: Isabella, Shian and Paisley

This week, Paisley of Pretty Woman Prostitot fame had her time to shine on Toddlers and Tiaras.

This week's pageant was Darling Divas in NY, NY.

We opened up with Paisley's mom Wendy telling us that she loves to live vicariously through her three year old daughter. Paisley's mom let us know that she didn't think the prostitute costume that made her daughter famous was too sexual, and this was evidenced by this week's costume, which was way more inappropriate, in my opinion.

Paisley was clearly sent to this pageant by her agent, who had gone so far as to set her up with a New York style wardrobe for the whole week. This was clearly on the list of "things to do to improve Paisley's reputation".

Isabella and mom Susanna were next, and they were not shy about how much they spend on pageants. They seemed like fun, though. The five year old had a great personality and dealt with pageant prep very well. When it comes to getting hyper, Susanna skips the candy - she gives her daughter pure sugar.

Eight year old Shian (pronounced Cheyenne) and mom Trisma were next. When Shian wasn't allowed to get tips on her nails because the lady at the salon said it wasn't healthy, Shian cried. Mom took her back in to get tips on her nails against the salon because in her mind, Shian's happiness comes first.

The Pageant

The producers of this show must have had a sense of humor, because when a girl named Chastity, who was stone cold onstage went on, the producers played the line that her parents wrote for her: the most unique thing about her is that she's comical. Seriously? She did not look comical on stage.

Right before her turn for beauty, Paisley had to go to the bathroom. This began the drama (complete with dramatic music) where Paisley and her dad had to run to the bathroom and miss Paisley's cue. She made it back to do her routine, and she did great. Isabella was next. She blinked a lot. Like, way too much. Other than that, she did great. Shian was beautiful and polished.

Next was New York Wear. Paisley went on first in a toy car. The car had some issues, but Paisley recovered well. The problem was that Paisley had to watch her mom in the audience the whole time, so her performance was weak.

Isabella was next. Unfortunately, she freaked out a bit before her routine and totally forgot what to do when she got onstage.

Dressed as Diana Ross, Shian was last. She did great and was really into her character.

Crowning

The girls who would be coming back onstage for a supreme title would receive a MetroCard. Jaleah and Paisley got MetroCards in their division. Casey, Lily Ann and Isabella got MetroCaIrds in the 5-6 year old division. For the 7-8 year olds, Shian got a MetroCard.

Mini Supreme: Greer
Division Supreme: Shian
Casual Wear Supreme: Paisley
Beauty Supreme: Isabella
Ultimate Grand Supreme: Lily Ann

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Food Network Star Returns for Season Eight



Food Network is set to return with season eight with their primetime hit Food Network Star. Initially named The Next Food Network Star, it's a reality television series produced by Food Network. The winner of the show is awarded the ultimate prize - his or her own show on the Food Network.
 
Season Eight of Food Network Star is set to premiere with a special two-hour episode May 13, 2012, preceded by a casting special the day before, May 12.

This new season is also launching a new format of three five-member teams, each coached by a Food Network coach. The coaches/mentors/producers who have hand-selected their teams and are ready to lead them to victory, are Alton Brown, Bobby Flay, and Giada De Laurentiis. Alton Brown is a host of Iron Chef America and Good Eats. Bobby Flay is the host of Grill It! with Bobby Flay as well as Throwdown with Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis is the host of Everyday Italian as well as Giada at Home.

As a new feature for the audience, meaning you, you can also follow everything related to the show in twitter (#Star). Also the teams have all their own twitter pages set up - #TeamAlton, #TeamBobby and #TeamGiada.

The season finale is set to air July 22nd at 9pm ET/PT. Learn more about the show at www.foodnetwork.com/star and watch the videos in the player below.

Dance Moms Miami: Season 1, Episode 1

This week was the premiere of Dance Moms Miami, a spin-off of Dance Moms.

Dance Moms Miami features Stars Dance Studio. The owners are Victor Smalley and Angel Armas. They noted that they love the kids at the their studio but hate the moms, and their goal is to create artists. They want to create winners.

New dancer Sammy and mom Abby walked into Stars Dance Studio for the first time, and the drama was instantaneous - Sammy has an existing conflict with fellow dancer Hannah. Abby opened up with a pretty conceited line, noting that her family has money and she and her daughter are pretty, so it's obvious that people are jealous.

Like Dance Moms' pyramid, Stars Dance Studio has a list. Hannah found herself on the bottom of the list for her bad technique. Lucas was right above her. Kimmy was next, then Sammy, although she was new. Jessi (the new Maddie, I'd say) was at the top of the list.

Lucas, whose mom is named Brigette, dances up to 30 hours a week. He's got plenty of confidence and awards under his belt. Brigette noted that people say Lucas only wins because he's a boy, but they're wrong.

The dance teachers told the team that they'd be going to Hollywood Vibe this week. Jessi would have a solo this week. Kimmy and Lucas had a duet in the solo category. Hannah was specifically told she wouldn't get a solo.

The group number was jazz funk. It was intended to be edgy. Right from the first rehearsal, it was evident that the Dance Moms Miami choreography would be nothing like Abby Lee's choreography.  It was more modern and edgy.

The cattiness began right away - Abby and Debi (Hannah's mom) started bragging about their daughters straight off the bat and tried to outdo each other. Debi's all about competition and it bothers her that Hannah isn't as competitive.

Debi and Victor argued because Hannah didn't get a solo. Victor said there's nothing Debi can do about it. He shut Debi down way faster than Abby can shut down her students' moms.

After the argument, we met Jessi and mom Susan. Jessi's grandmother was a dancer, and her mom is a competitor. Jessi knows that her dance means everything to her mom.

Lucas and Kimmy practiced their solo. They had to act like a couple in their dance. Kimmy's mom Ani said she's OCD because of her, and Ani also said that she's the peacekeeper among the dance moms. She lives for dance.

During the rehearsal, Lucas dropped Kimmy. That's when we saw the snarky side of the dance teachers that Abby doesn't have. We also saw the supportive side that Abby doesn't have. These teachers are definitely different than Abby Lee from the original Dance Moms!

Susan pulled Jessi out of practice to coach her herself. The teachers commented that Susan should back off because she's not a dance teacher, so she shouldn't teach. Her presence actually inhibits Jessi's dance, in the opinion of the dance teachers. (Very different from the moms-must-be-present approach at Abby Lee!)

Victor, one of the dance instructors, noted that he felt sick before the competition. Even so, Victor went on the bus with the dancers. Some people believed Victor should go to the hospital, Debi argued against it, presumably so he'd be at the competition to help her daughter. When the team arrived at the competition, Brigette noted that Victor should go to the hospital. Mayra, Victor's mom and manager of the studio, insisted that Victor was fine. Victor eventually left to seek medical help and came back feeling much better.

The competition

Jessi danced first. Her dance was much less classic and much edgier than the dances we see from Abby's girls. I really enjoyed it. Lucas and Kimmy were next. Despite their initial issues, they danced very well together. You could see that the tango style of dance made sense to them. The kids were adorable - they hugged when they got offstage.

The group was next. Lucas was FIERCE. In fact, the whole dance was fierce. And somehow, while the costumes seemed to want to invoke more sex appeal (not something we need or want from kids!) than Abby's costumes, the costumes seemed more age appropriate.

Jessi got second place in her solo category. Her mom blamed everyone but Jessie for her loss. Lucas and Kimmy won their duet category. The dance company took first place in the group dance. When the group got the trophy, Jessi pulled it from Hannah's hands. After that, mom madness ensued.

My thoughts on Dance Moms Miami

- The drama is clearly contrived. For example, Sammy was clearly cast to throw off the dynamic of the studio. And the arguing seemed very cued.
- The show has more wit than the original Dance Moms. The teachers are snappier, but less mean than Abby Lee.
- The dances are a lot of fun to watch. You can see a lot of amazing Spanish influence in the moves.
- This show is different than the original Dance Moms. It's not as exciting or mean, but it seems like it'll have more variety, and may be less repetitive.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Dance Moms: Season 2, Episode 13

This week brought the Dance Moms girls to New York, New York for the Joffrey Ballet audition. They also attended Starbound in Paramus, NJ.

This week's pyramid had Paige, Mackenzie and Chloe on the bottom. Nia and Brooke took the middle. As usual, Maddie took the top of the pyramid.

For the Starbound competition, the girls did a dance where they were jailbirds. It was based on the musical Chicago but in Abby's words, watered down for the girls' ages. (Unlike the birth and stripper songs, I suppose.) Chloe and Maddie were given solos in addition to the group number.

In a not-at-all-surprising move, Cathy Nesbitt-Stein announced to her group that they'd be doing the same audition (Joffrey) and competition (Starbound) as Abby's girls.

Maddie had one day to learn her lyrical solo called "In My Heart." While the routine looked beautiful, how did Abby expect Maddie to succeed with only one day of practice?

Maddie left her dance bag at the hotel before her practice, and Abby freaked out. Melissa tried to take responsibility for the mistake, but Abby would have none of it. Melissa and Abby argued and Maddie got stressed out.

In regards to the audition, Abby told the girls that they're not only representing themselves, but the whole Abby Lee Dance Company. Pressure and taking credit, much?

The Joffrey Auditions

Paige danced first, and she was great. Brooke was great too. Both of those girls seemed to have tricks in their routines, which is unfortunate because a judge noted that she wasn't a fan of tricks. Nia was next, and she said she thought she did well. Mackenzie was told that whoever told her to shake her bum-bum is a dum-dum. Abby was quick to blame Melissa for that.

Kendall, the Abby Lee-to-Candy Apple transport, was next, and the judges seemed to respond positively to her.

Chloe followed her and did beautifully. A judge told her she has natural talent but needs more ballet classes. Maddie followed Chloe. She was nervous because she doesn't focus on ballet in her training. She did wonderfully and kept a smile on her face the whole time. She was told that she could have been on Broadway because of her showmanship, but she never let herself pause. She was told that she has potential but wasn't where she needs to be.

During the group audition, Cathy insulted a dancer pretending to not know who it was, then turned to Kelly and said, "Oh, that's your daughter!" Classy, Cathy. Christi got in on the argument, and one of the dance judges had to come out and tell the ladies to be quiet. He then stepped back in to tell the dance students to never act like the women arguing outside.

Starbound

Abby's girls did their jail-based dance number. If Abby's goal was age appropriate, it didn't work. The costumes were way too mature, as were the song and dance. It talked about hurting boys before they hurt you - what?

Cathy's team was next. Their lyrical dance was beautiful. Vivi-Anne was used appropriately - she was more of a prop than a dancer, but she doesn't have technical skills like the other girls, so it makes sense.

Abby noted that Cathy might beat her this time, and she was right - her girls took tenth place. Ouch. However, Candy Apples only beat them by one point, taking the ninth place position. Cathy bragged about beating Abby's team, but it was only by one point - it was hardly a victory!

The Scholarship

Chloe was offered the scholarship at Joffrey. She handled it like a pro - she was quietly happy and didn't brag when she and Christi took the call about it.

Maddie got upset that she didn't get it, and Melissa tried to pull her away so she didn't act out in front of the girls. In the confessional, Maddie admitted that she thought she should have gotten the scholarship.

Back to Starbound

Kendall performed her solo first. She was the Queen of Hearts, which Christi claimed is a copy of her daughter's dance. Cathy said this was designed to steal Abby's team's thunder. I think Kendall did well, but I didn't love the choreography. Jill, Kendall's mom, commented on how much she loves that Candy Apple's accepts her and what a great environment it is.

Maddie danced next. She did beautifully until the word "cried" came up in her song, and she ran offstage and had a major panic attack. She begged the stage manager to go again as she freaked out because she forgot her song. Kelly wasn't surprised that Maddie ran off - Abby puts a lot of pressure on her. She had to learn her song too quickly - it wasn't right. Even through her tears, Maddie worried about Abby hating her.

Chloe danced next in a costume very similar to Kendall's. Instead of watching Chloe (who did well), Abby cried about Maddie's mistake.

Backstage, Abby held Maddie as she cried. Abby calmed Maddie down, whereas when anyone else messes up, Abby freaks out at them. Unfair? Clearly.

In the junior solos, Kendall took seventh place. Chloe took first! This was really Chloe's week to shine! Unfortunately, Abby didn't bother coming to awards to see Chloe's success. After a while, Abby walked out and Melissa revealed she was going home. The moms called her out, but Abby said the girls would be fine without her.

And that was the end of the episode...and the last episode of Dance Moms for a while. Now onto Dance Moms Miami!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Zumba: My Favorite Things Plus Advice For Beginners

I realize this is a reality TV blog, but every so often I have the urge to talk about other things. And today's topic is Zumba. Why? Because I love it, and have some info / advice for anyone who is involved with or wants to get involved with this activity.

Wear the right shoes.

First, if you want to do Zumba, you need the right shoes. I started taking Zumba in my everyday sneakers, and while they were okay, I didn't get the movement I needed or wanted. I did my research and found out that in Zumba class, you want to wear either dance sneakers or cross trainers. Why? Dance sneakers have the arch in the middle, which allows you to flex your foot in a way that normal sneakers won't. Cross trainers allow forward-and-back and back-and-forth movement, which makes the side steps and slides a whole lot easier than when you're wearing running shoes, which encourage front-and-back movement only. My personal favorite shoes are the Ryka Synergy shoes. These, and other Ryka shoes, are designed for women by women, so they have a slightly different shape than traditional shoes. You may also like the Nike Musique shoe. It's a great shoe, but doesn't come in the fun colors that the Ryka shoe does.





For more info on Zumba shoes, check out this site - it lists more options that you may like.

Get the right clothes.

Zumba class is all about fun movement. When you attend, you'll want to be able to move around. If you think you can pop into class wearing your work or school clothes and be okay, you'll be unpleasantly surprised.

It's important to wear clothes that you feel good in when you go to Zumba class. If you look good, you'll feel good. And if you feel good, you'll do better with your dancing. While you can buy Zumba branded clothes (which I highly recommend for Zumba enthusiasts), they're a bit of an investment if you're just starting out. I'd recommend starting your Zumba workout wardrobe with well-fitting workout pants, sports bras (for women, of course) and tight fitting tank tops or t-shirts. I know tight fitting clothing can be a concern for some people, but the clothing allows for so much more movement and confidence. For example, you'll probably be doing a lot of jumps and squats in Zumba class. Do you want a loose fitting shirt that rides up? No. You want a tank or tee that maintains contact with your skin so you remain fully covered throughout class. If you're not quite ready for a tight tank or tee, try getting a longer tank or tee to ensure even more coverage, or wear a tank underneath a moderately loose t-shirt for full coverage and a fun look.

Zumba class can become quite a fashion show, between the colorful sneakers and fun outfits, and joining in on that fun can make Zumba class even better.


Get to know the music.

Zumba classes are primarily comprised of Latin music, including salsa, cumbia, reggaeton and merengue. While you can do a simple search on the internet and find lots of music that may be used in Zumba classes, you can also download CDs released by Zumba itself. You can also watch (and dance along with) the Zumba Exhilarate DVDs and play the Zumba video games.



Make Zumba work for you.

Not all Zumba classes are the same. Some instructors are more dance focused while others seem to be more fitness focused. If you take your first Zumba class and don't love it, don't give up. Try another class or find another instructor in your area. Zumba, like anything else, requires interpretation, so find someone who does Zumba the way that you love it.

Not comfortable going to Zumba on your own? Bring a friend. You can help each other build confidence and improve as you take classes. Plus, having a friend with you will allow you to help each other with moves that may initially seem difficult. (You can also ask your instructor for help - they're very nice and are happy to offer assistance.)

Understand that Zumba is different for everyone. Do not become disheartened if the person in front of you looks like she's had ten years of dance experience. Everyone does Zumba differently. Whereas she may have structured dance background, your strength may be your natural rhythm. As much as you're admiring the person in front of you, someone in the row behind you may be just as impressed with some of your moves.

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