Kristie Williams, Dave Letele and Sonia Gray do their trio dance on the Dancing with the Stars semi-finals. (Photo: Eddison Te Reo)
Kristie Williams, Dave Letele and Sonia Gray do their trio dance on the Dancing with the Stars semi-finals. (Photo: Eddison Te Reo)

TelevisionMay 23, 2022

Dancing with the Stars, semi-final: What are we doing here, exactly?

Kristie Williams, Dave Letele and Sonia Gray do their trio dance on the Dancing with the Stars semi-finals. (Photo: Eddison Te Reo)
Kristie Williams, Dave Letele and Sonia Gray do their trio dance on the Dancing with the Stars semi-finals. (Photo: Eddison Te Reo)

Covid-19 has hit Dancing with the Stars NZ, but the show must go on. Sam Brooks recaps week five.

As show openers go, “Who will stay healthy and make it to next week’s finals?” is a particularly bleak way to introduce this compromised semi-final, which saw Rhys Mathewson (front-runner) and Eric Murray (rear-runner) leave the competition after contracting Covid-19. As a result, this week sees the return of Alex Vaz (runner) and Kerre Woodham (also-runner) to the semi-final, competing against the remaining three couples featuring celebrities Jazz Thornton, Brodie Kane and Dave Letele.

And look, it’s Dancing with the Stars so it’s still fun, but the spectre of Covid-19 is hanging over it now, so it’s hard to feel especially joyous about proceedings. I’m happy for the returning dancers, of course, but this doesn’t feel like the way anybody hoped it would turn out.

Anyway, onto the dances!

Kerre Woodham and Jared Neame dance the quickstep. (Photo: Eddison Te Reo)

ELIMINATED: Kerre Woodham (and Jared Neame) – quickstep and rumba

First: Shoutout to Kerre for keeping on Kerre-ing on, learning two dances in two days, after having nearly two weeks off. That’s a lot of twos and caveats, but to perform as confidently as she does here is a pretty amazing feat. Did I expect a Dancing with the Stars performance to include a riff on the robot? Nope, but here we are, two dancers down and one Kerre up.

Secondly: there’s a certain kind of woman of a certain age range whose vibe is ‘Wicked Game’. Kerre Woodham absolutely feels like the kind of woman who has always wanted, secretly, to do a fully choreographed dance to ‘Wicked Game’ and I’m glad the show gave her that experience! Kerre on, Kerre.

SCORE: 45.

Brittany Coleman and Alex Vaz do the samba. (Photo: Eddison Te Reo)

Alex Vaz (and Brittany Coleman) – samba and foxtrot

Real life story: I saw Mr. President as part of a 90s lineup at Spark Arena a few years ago, and the band performed ‘Coco Jamboo’ twice. Because if you’d released ‘Coco Jamboo’, wouldn’t you perform it as many times as you could, given the chance? This was nice, this was fine! It’s not quite the level of dance I’d expect at the semi-final (pejorative), but it’s also not the level of dance I’d expect from a couple that had half the rehearsal time of everybody else (complimentary), so you get what you get. Good on them, honestly.

Siobhan Marshall joins the pair for their trio, and while she’s bloody delightful (all stars season, anybody?), it’s a pretty messy foxtrot! But it’s earnest and look, they got through it. I’m tired and it’s late in the season.

SCORE: 39.

Dave Letele and Kristie Williams dance the tango. (Photo: Eddison Te Reo)

Dave Letele (and Kristie Williams) – tango and cha cha

Another absolutely bomb song: Haddaway’s ‘What is Love?’. If you can listen to this song and not think of the scene in My So-Called Life where Ricky and Delia dance to this, you are… probably younger than I am. This song was fine, but felt a little bit low energy, which runs counter to the vibe of the song, I thought. The judges seemed to like it, which is a reminder that they are the experts, and I am the one referencing a Claire Danes vehicle from the 90s.

But also: The triumphant return of Sonia Gray, filling this pair out to a trio for a dance to Earth, Wind and Fire’s ‘September’. And look, this is just great TV, regardless of how good the dancing is. If anything, it’s a reminder of how much fun Sonia would’ve been on the show, but I’ve said that enough for one season!

SCORE: 46.

Brodie Kane and Enrique Johns dance a tango. (Photo: Eddison Te Reo)

Brodie Kane (and Enrique Johns) – tango and samba

A little bit louder now! Look, any dance to Lulu’s ‘Shout’ is going to be a winner for me. ‘Shout’ is a guaranteed party starter, a no nonsense great vibe and I have no issues, no notes with this tango even beyond the song choice. Brodie absolutely bodies her best dance so far, and wins the award for the most impressive floor-sweep yet.

Her trio dance – with host Clint Randell himself! – is to ‘Come on Eileen’ and it’s… delightful! This feels like one of those dances that would be much better in the room, but it doesn’t translate 100% to the screen. Still fun though, and this week represents a high watermark for Brodie overall.

SCORE: 53.

Brad Coleman and Jazz Thornton do a cha-cha. (Photo: Eddison Te Reo)

Jazz Thornton (and Brad Coleman) – cha cha and tango

Is there a better song from 2008-9 than Lady Gaga’s ‘Just Dance’? I say no. Honestly, big props to the music supervisor for this week’s choices, probably the strongest set of the season. Was this Jazz’s strongest dance? Probably not! But she seemed to be having a lot of fun, and I deeply endorse any choreography that involves the precise manipulation of a high ponytail.

The bi-friendly choreography of their second dance, to Stevie Nicks’ ‘I Can’t Wait’, featuring surprise guest Eli Matthewson, was genuinely a delight to see. And in a way it felt like a proper farewell to Eli, which was also, genuinely a delight to see! No notes!

SCORE: 53.

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Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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