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S23: Laurie Hernandez - Balancing On Her Toes

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2 hours ago, realdancemom said:

I thought that there had to be a parent or guardian present when minors are involved.  Maybe, they are just not showing Laurie's parent or guardian.  I do know that they can only work so many hours and they need to have snacks/food every few hours.  The latter was mentioned during Willow's season.

Kristyn Burtt posted CA labor laws a while back when there was hand wringing over Laurie at the beginning of the season. 

Laurie will have less restrictions than Willow because Willow was 14/15 and Laurie is 16. But there's no way there's not a guardian within reach. 

I do feel for her though, she sounds tired. The bit in that blog about having to miss her last two family vacations, and not being able to dream about vacations somewhere far because that might take one whole week off and she doesn't know if she'd be able to get that made me :( 

I hope her family takes her to Greece when this is over. For TWO weeks even. 

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Yes, this is where my concern comes in: I understand that she and her environment want to strike while the iron is hot. She won't have financial opportunities like that later on. But it must be exhausting for her right now and DWTS is different than gymnastics. Which I think comes through in that blog, that she didn't quite anticipate how much she'd have to adjust and learn when it comes to dancing and performing. It's a different skillset, it's a different way of movement and technique. Just because there aren't spectacular tricks like in gymnastics, doesn't make it "easy". All the gymnasts so far on DWTS had to make that experience. And now that she has to do two dances a week, it will get even tougher on her. I hope she can cut down a bit on the tour perhaps? Don't know if that's possible...

That said, the show's been fine to her and has been treating her nicely mostly. She doesn't get hit job edits, they've toughened up in the judging with her, but I assume it's both because she's not in trouble vote wise and because they want to cut down on potential backlash for her. But the judges aren't mean to her either, just picky. I think Val's been doing well with her and I've enjoyed all their dances (perhaps minus the paso). Any problem that might come in is with her schedule and perhaps the general nature of the show, it is a manipulative trainwreck and that will affect contestants no matter how friendly the show tries to be to the young ones in particular. We've no idea how it works out with guardians etc, but there are pretty solid restrictions and rules in place for that sort of thing. And frankly, rather not see her parents at all (apart from in the live shows in the audience) than the creepily controlling vibe that was going on with Sadie Robertson's family. I know it was edited together and some of it was played for "laughs", but what was going on in her rhumba package in particular was just horrifying to watch. Though the show was awful about it as well, the only ones who I didn't creep me out that week were Mark and Sadie.

Edited by katha

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On 10/22/2016 at 9:34 PM, RedFiat said:

Ironic, isn't it? Zendaya seemed more mature and confident because it was very clear she was to be presented in an age appropriate manner.  

For me it is obvious Val is treating Laurie as if she were older,  at least with the choreography and wardrobe choices, so I am not sure where that directive has come from.  It seems to me that television now want to get these gymnasts dating and I would much rather let them be themselves. But  - Simone Biles with her mad crush on Zac Ephron and that going viral, and then when Laurie was on Ellen she talks about her crush and he appears on the show.  It's a little girl thing that gets too adult too quickly if not monitored. Kids can lose their way very easily especially in Hollyweird. I  vividly remember Shawn had a stalker in season 8 and it was a very serious and scary thing.  The upshot is every choice for someone underage must be scrutinized to ensure their well being.  She has been through a grueling Olympics.  She does not need to be crying on DWTS for anything.  Maybe I sound like a mother hen, but I don't care.  Young women need to be protected by those who really care for them, not just the hired help.  If Mom and Dad are around but "hands off" as if she were in Olympic training, I think they need to be there more.  

I do want to point out that Simone Biles is 19.  Laurie is 16.  So they shouldn't really be held to the same standards.  Simone, while tiny, is technically an adult.

I'm not going to judge what is going on around Laurie in terms of her parents and handlers.  My only real question mark at this point is the exhaustion, and that unfortunately falls to either her parents or coach or whoever makes the decisions for her that thought signing her up for DWTS while doing a gymnastics tour was a good idea, especially when she hasn't had a rest in likely years.  I just feel like this is when she should be letting her body rest before diving back into gymnastics and I hope that even with a mirrorball in hand, she won't regret this decision later.  At some point her body needs to rest or it will give out.  But I know the other side of that is you have to strike while the iron is hot if you want to make any money as a pro gymnast.

I'm not sure where I stand on Laurie being the best gymnast this show has seen.  Probably?  I think Laurie is a great performer, but not a great actress, if that makes sense.  She is naturally charming and has a natural stage presence, so she's a great performer in that sense.  But the only week IMO where she really successfully channeled something other than her natural persona was the jazz.  I saw a star in that number. I haven't seen that since.  Even tonight with the quickstep, she was cute and charming but she doesn't have the acting skill to disappear into characters or give any nuance.  However she's not an actress so that makes sense.  

Edited by spanana
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15 minutes ago, spanana said:

I'm not sure where I stand on Laurie being the best gymnast this show has seen.  Probably?  I think Laurie is a great performer, but not a great actress, if that makes sense.  She is naturally charming and has a natural stage presence, so she's a great performer in that sense.  But the only week IMO where she really successfully channeled something other than her natural persona was the jazz.  I saw a star in that number. I haven't seen that since.  Even tonight with the quickstep, she was cute and charming but she doesn't have the acting skill to disappear into characters or give any nuance.  However she's not an actress so that makes sense.  

Yeah, I agree with that. But I also hold the unpopular opinion that gymnasts and their dancing on this show have been overrated by some fans , at least in hindsight. They all came with limitations tied to the sport and you could detect those limitations in their dancing. They all have this rigid, boxed in way of moving (Nastia perhaps a bit less than the others). They're all not used to really perform to music, it's just background noise in their floor routines (of course the problem with Aly there was more apparent than for the others). If they have performance skills, they aren't always appopriate or suitable for the dances they're assigned. They aren't used to dancing with a partner.

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16 hours ago, kitcloudkicker said:

Laurie will have less restrictions than Willow because Willow was 14/15 and Laurie is 16. But there's no way there's not a guardian within reach. 

The point is the show has made no effort whatsoever to show the audience that she has someone looking out for her. They are still giving us the impression that she's older. As such she's getting dinged . They alluded to her never going to prom... but so has lots of young people who are home schooled. Graduation is still on the horizon for Laurie, it isn't in the past!  They made it sound like it was already gone, when why couldn't they have said, this is a great opportunity to get ready for a prom?  Why: because it would focus on just how young she is. They don't want to do that.  I remember distinctly that Zendaya was studying to graduate, they made a lot of hey over that, especially when it was "prom night" in the ballroom. They did a whole friggin theme on high school, and Zendaya the home schooled girl was the focus because she was the one who was yet to experience prom.  No such luck for Laurie.     

Edited by RedFiat

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I didn't watch Laurie's package that closely to see how they depicted her first prom, but I do think it's fairly obvious how young Laurie is when the show starts asking her questions about the 60's like last night.  While she's very charming, I had no idea what she was trying to say about how in the 60's it was considered an honor to dance together?  I also think them saying it was her first corsage ever while Laurie giggled made her age fairly obvious as well.  I maintain that DWTS treats Laurie like an adult on the dance floor, but not necessarily off the dance floor.  Or maybe it's just that in interviews you can see her age.  None of that is a diss to Laurie at all though.

I also think some of how people are portrayed also comes from the person.  I'm not by any means suggesting education isn't important for Laurie.  I did see an interview where she said she wanted to go to college eventually and she talked about the SATs.  But I think being very vocal about her education and schooling was always part of Zendaya's platform.  It's not just DWTS.  She would always bring up school and talk about how it was her priority because her parents were teachers.  I'm not saying she was being insincere about it, but I think she drove a lot of that talk herself.

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6 minutes ago, spanana said:

I do think it's fairly obvious how young Laurie is when the show starts asking her questions about the 60's like last night.  While she's very charming, I had no idea what she was trying to say about how in the 60's it was considered an honor to dance together? 

Not to be-labor the point, but they asked Lindsay questions that she should have been able to answer and they came out dumber than Laurie.  

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Just now, RedFiat said:

Not to be-labor the point, but they asked Lindsay questions that she should have been able to answer and they came out dumber than Laurie.  

Oh, I know.  I addressed that in the other thread.  But I wasn't implying that Laurie is dumb.  Just that she comes off very sheltered and unaware of the world around her, which I think is also part of the gymnast thing since she's been so laser focused on her sport for so long.  Personally I think Laurie reads young in all interviews.  Though I think a lot of that is the giggling and the way she answers questions.  It's not a bad thing.  In some ways it's refreshing.

Also for what it's worth while I think Lindsay is not well educated, I think she's very smart in other ways.  Let's just say that I've seen several things on DWTS that have not made me think well of the Utah educational system, and I don't just mean Lindsay.  The entire Utah contingent have had some real questionable moments.

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When Erin interviews Laurie, she does seem young because she's giggling.  I also thought it was cute when she mentioned thinking of smelling a good quesadilla to get the correct facial expression.  However, she's not too over the top like Bindi IMHO.

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Laurie's mom was shown during prom part of the package. I did laugh at Val's comment she wasn't good at history. NBC filmed this fluff piece about the ranch Laurie is heavily featured and had to do a project about Julius Caesar were she waited last minute to do it. I also thought the "Would you be dead?" line was pretty funny. I sometimes forget how young Laurie is until I see filmed package.

I do find it interesting that she  mentioned Shawn/Nastia in the blog and they were in the package while no mention of Aly.

Edited by choclatechip45

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Hehe, I remember that. "Julius Caesar was a Roman...pretty cool dude." I think she had her dates way off there as well.  

Shawn, Nastia and Laurie all share the same agent so that's probably why the older two have been featured. 

FWIW, there's no way Laurie's parents/chaperones aren't present and wouldn't step in if need be. I do think that sometimes Val may lack a bit of flexibility in approach, he tends to be the serious "teacher," something I noticed in the early weeks was Laurie looking up at him for notes with exactly the same body language as if she were receiving corrections from her gymnastics coach. He is actually a drily funny guy but he struggles when choreographing fun routines. That's when we tend to see "messing about" because I'm not sure he knows how to choreograph joy and humour through the dance in the same way as say an Emma, Lindsay or Mark can. He can do a "bit" but I always get the impression the dance itself is deeply serious for Val - he competed well into his 20s and I think he's had a harder time letting the competition world go than some of the other pros. In his wheelhouse of dark/brooding he does quite well but he's not naturally a comic whereas Laurie is. As much as I think Sasha is the perfect pro for Terra, I still wish they'd given him Laurie. I think she'd be enjoying the process much more with him.

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What is interesting is I had a moment where I was reading her blog this week where I felt like I was finally getting some insight into Laurie and how she feels about things and then I realized it's because the blog is the only place she seems to be able to fully express herself without interruption.  In most of the interviews I've watched either Laurie responds to interviewer questions with 2 word answers, breaks into giggles mid sentence so she doesn't finish her thought, or the most annoying to me...Val jumps in to answer for her.  Val probably thinks he's rescuing her in a sense because Laurie is not particularly media trained (see the 2 word answers to questions) and I also think some of it is just Val's personality.  He likes to talk.  Maybe she's uncomfortable.  Maybe he knows she's uncomfortable.  But as a result I never get a feel for Laurie as an actual person in interviews.  I get a feel for who Val thinks Laurie is, or even who Val wants Laurie to be.  Though to be completely fair to Laurie, she's 16 and is probably in the process of trying to figure out who she is herself.  But I don't care what Val thinks.  I am much more interested in what Laurie thinks.  I'm sure Laurie has far more depth than the human emoji she's been reduced to at times.

It's also funny because I've heard Val go on about what he wants for Laurie's future.  He wants her to change the world.  He wants her to be in movies.  He wants her to take over the industry.  Which is all well and great, but does Laurie want to be in movies?  Sometimes I think Val has decided what he wants for Laurie and who he wants her to be and I'm not sure any of it is grounded in reality.  On the other side of DWTS, assuming she doesn't tour with DWTS, she's likely going right back into a gym for hardcore training.  Her life will go back to being solely gymnastics until she either retires or takes another break from the sport.

Edited by spanana

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Laurie, as with all Team USA elites, has been given extensive media training - all designed to obfuscate and withhold information.  A compliant media never dares dig deep as availabilities are rationed.  To me, Laurie's short answers, often not on topic, are right in line with the PR coaching which has been drilled into her.

Laurie, and any elite gymnast, pays a severe price for their athletic excellence.  Delayed emotional maturity is almost always a part of it.   Her giggles and ubiquitous shyness around anything which touches on being "girly" is quite indicative.  A lack of general knowledge and awareness are among other typical costs.  

She is lovely.  I think her mom/family have been wonderful else she would easily be something not so great.  

Edited by Lonesome Rhodes
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13 hours ago, Lonesome Rhodes said:

Laurie, as with all Team USA elites, has been given extensive media training - all designed to obfuscate and withhold information.  A compliant media never dares dig deep as availabilities are rationed.  To me, Laurie's short answers, often not on topic, are right in line with the PR coaching which has been drilled into her.

You raise a good point about how Laurie has a different kind of media training, one that suits her sport.  Depending on what she decides to do next, I think that will change.  Media training to be an actor/Hollywood person/performer is quite different than media training for an athlete I suppose. 

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Yes, she has typical sports media training IMO. You saw the same thing happening with Meryl and Charlie. They always gave the same bland, rehearsed, positive answers to everything and then you saw their irritation that the DWTS media wouldn't let go at that, but kept probing into opinions, personal stuff etc. Because in figure skating it's also never questioned. This became a problem for Charlie in the sense that DWTS read him as "dull". I know people were bothered that Maks made Meryl's season too much about himself, but I honestly thought part of that was just that he knew how the show works in that sense and was doing his best to drag her off script because he knew her way of doing interviews wouldn't fly.

Val likes to talk, true. (-; But part of what's happening with Laurie in interviews is probably the same: He knows she's perhaps not comfortable with the way interviews are conducted on DWTS and/or that the way she answers isn't really best suited for an entertainment show. Something similar happened with Bethany and Derek as well. She was introverted and didn't really contribute much to interviews, Derek tried to overcompensate.

That blog she did was cool, though. It didn't read like the usual BS, but like an honest assessment of her experience. The judges are tough on her, dancing is more demanding than she thought, she might have taken on too much with her schedule...but there was no whining or complaining about anything. Just what seemed to me an honest appreciation for all the positive things she's experiencing on DWTS and in general, and the drawbacks of her current work load and schedule.

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He is actually a drily funny guy but he struggles when choreographing fun routines. That's when we tend to see "messing about" because I'm not sure he knows how to choreograph joy and humour through the dance in the same way as say an Emma, Lindsay or Mark can. He can do a "bit" but I always get the impression the dance itself is deeply serious for Val - he competed well into his 20s and I think he's had a harder time letting the competition world go than some of the other pros. In his wheelhouse of dark/brooding he does quite well but he's not naturally a comic whereas Laurie is.

That strikes me as a true observation. Though I do think he's shown that he can do happy and light, in dance movement as well, it's just not his usual wheelhouse. IMO he's about the strongest quickstep choreographer around atm, and he usually makes them fun and snappy (Danica's is one of the best ever IMO). His cha chas can be lighthearted as well (think Bindi or Lauri, or even Danica). Ginger's foxtrot was nice and fluffy. With all the complaining about the male pros getting the same type again and again and again...I think it's a good thing that they're challenged from time to time. Like, Ginger last season was decent but blah, but one interesting aspect was Val trying to adapt to her way of performing. He knew his dark and intense stuff wouldn't fly, so he tried for a lighter touch. Some of it worked, some of it didn't, but I appreciated that he didn't just try to do his thing without considering his partner.

That's a general strength of his IMO, he can be a very generous performer and choreographer for his partners. Sometimes to the point of making himself a supporting player to make his partner shine (like in the MJ jazz this season for Laurie). The jive for Laurie was also light and fun. Where he did go too dark and heavy was the paso, all of it: The costumes, the staging, the choreography, you just saw that Laurie was overwhelmed with it. I appreciated what he did with the salsa, though: By that point Laurie was on her fourth light and fast dance of the season, he wanted to mix it up a bit and give it a different mood. Quickstep was fab, I thought. I even appreciated the faffing about, since it was faffing about that set up details of the era (like doing the twist etc.). I also think that he's right when he says that doing "cute Laurie" for ten weeks is limiting and there needs to be an effort to do different shades of performance, even though Laurie may struggle a bit with some of that. He's doing plenty "cute Laurie", as is.

Edited by katha
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I really really do not like having children on this show.  When I watch Laurie told to be sexy, and dressed in a sexy costume, and with all the makeup, it makes me think of that ghastly Toddlers and Tiaras show.

I don't remember the other young girls on DWTS told to be sexy, so it didn't bother me as much having them on.  But Laurie, when she is not performing, is so obviously a child.  And then to see her dance a sexy dance, I just find it grotesque.

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I normally don't get teary watching dances or edited packages on this show, but her Foxtrot, the pre-performance package, her breakdown afterwards... yeah, it really got to me. Such poise and strength. Seeing Tom Bergeron getting choked up after her dance, got to me, too. I know a lot of people are on Team James. I am firmly on Team Laurie and have been so all season. Wishing the best for her and her family during this difficult time.

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She's been so poised and positive and graceful throughout the whole season, it's incredible. Just out of this world IMO. People say she's "young for her age" and that might be true in certain aspects, she's certainly a rather typical sheltered gymnast, Shawn Johnson in her first season was somewhat comparable in her behaviour. But in other ways she's strong and kind and composed to a point that would be totally beyond many adults. Part of that may be her gymnast background that just toughens you up, but part of it is also just inherently Laurie herself IMO. This ability of hers to make the best of everything, to try to look for happiness and joy and laughter all of the time, it's...I couldn't do it.

I loved that her whole semi-finals package was about her Puerto Rican background and about honoring that. I loved that they made the foxtrot a tribute to Alzheimer awareness through the purple costumes, but didn't beat it to death with maudlin "story and play-acting" in the dance. Her whole season has been so awesome for me, I loved most of her dances minus paso, you also really see the improvement in technique and performance when you watch them in sequence. How she gets more precise and clean as the season goes on, how she learns to nuance better and connect with Val. It's cool. (-:

She's also been on a gruelling schedule and not a peep of complaint. Val's been super with her, but he's a demanding teacher who won't let her get away with covering things up through gymnastics tricks, she's an exemplary student. They've been rehearsing while flying all over the country, yet they're both always positive and in good spirits. And I'm still slightly in shock that Val really stuck to his guns throughout the season, that he didn't budge when the complaining started, it's been minimalism and focus on dance basics all the way through. And she's rewarded his faith in her fully, she's open to learning, she's open to going out of her comfort zone and stretching herself and trusts that he knows how to get her to be a better dancer and performer. It's been such a pleasure to watch it all.

Well, I do slightly resent her for making me like Val. (-; I've always appreciated what he brings to the show from afar, but could never warm to him. The cringeworthy showmances, the regular messes on social media, it always got and will continue to get the side-eye. But it clicked for me in terms of what he does dance-wise on the show.

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It's been on my mind to comment on Laurie's dancing to "Hollow" but hadn't yet had the time to create an account to do so.

I don't know why the dance moves me so deeply. I watched it about 4 times the day after it aired and then many more since then. It was such a beautiful tribute to her grandmother and I just felt so proud for her. 

Having said that, it was such a pleasure to see the evolution of Laurie. This is the first season that I watched straight through and I'm so glad that I did! Laurie grew so much and I'm ecstatic that she was the one to take it home! 

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Congratulations to Laurie and Val for a well-deserved win! This young lady is a ray of sunshine and makes me smile every time she appears on screen.

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I loved seeing the contestants on GMA today, especially Laurie who is just adorable. There wa a cute moment when Joe Jonas came over and danced with her for a bit while he sang. I thought it was cool.

She and Val are the sole reasons why I might consider going to see the tour. I bet it would be a great experience!

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Laurie did that one tumbling element in the freestyle. That's it. Other than that her gymnast background only shone through in things like lifts or jumps when it was appropriate for the dance given. I thought that was another neat aspect of her season.

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