And it was performed by King of Queens actress Leah Remini, who once again had a giant platform to talk about her experience of walking away from the Church of Scientology. The contestants were asked to describe their “most memorable year” and then make it the inspiration for a dance, and in Leah’s case, it was no surprise that she chose this past year. In fact, it was twelve months ago, in October 2012, when she met with Scientology leader David Miscavige — a rare honor, even for a top Scientology celebrity like Leah — but she reportedly came away more determined than ever to leave Scientology. She then spent several months preparing her family to leave with her, and by July, when we broke the news, she was out for good.
None of that was actually explained on last night’s TV show, of course. In fact, Leah didn’t even use the word “Scientology” at all. But there was just no question what she meant when she said things like “You can’t let anybody dictate to you how you should live.”
And then there was the dance. We didn’t have much time to describe it in last night’s story. But now that we’ve taken it apart a little, we’re really struck by what a tale Leah and her professional dance partner, Tony Dovolani, were able to tell in just a couple of minutes to Katy Perry’s song “Roar.”
Here, watch it again for yourself, and then get prepared to help us decode each part of it. We really want to hear your close reading of the semiotics she threw into this thing.
Wild, isn’t it? So let’s get to the constituent parts. (And you may be wondering, why are we posting still images from the dance and not animated .gifs? And our answer would be that .gifs send us into grand mal seizures and we don’t even have epilepsy, so you’ll just have to put up with frozen images.)
1. As the routine opens, we find Tony Dovolani standing on a platform holding giant puppet controls in his hands, with linkages attached to Leah, who is standing, motionless, with her face aimed at the ground. There’s something a bit menacing in Tony’s costume, with the red vest and dark tie. But he’s awfully tall to be a certain diminutive puppet-master of the world’s fastest growing religion. What say you?
2. As the song begins, Leah suddenly comes to “life,” but she’s moving robotically, and she has what appears to be a rather disingenuous smile. Is she being asked to write a success story after a grueling intensive on the expanded grades?
At this point, the first lyrics from Katy Perry kick in:
Scared to rock the boat and make a mess
Yes, Leah certainly embodies those words — she’s going through the motions, afraid to speak her mind.
3. Now she takes a seat, still with Tony “controlling” her, as she beams some fake smiles, first one way and then the other, then tips forward as if she’s being pushed down…
You held me down, but I got up (hey!)
4. But she rises! And now, she reaches for the clasp on her dress…She’s ready for the Golden Age of Technology Phase II, and enough with this old technology, right? OFF with the dress, and we see she’s now wearing a white dress, and now she’s dancing freer and more honestly.
5. Now she’s walking away from her puppeteer, but she turns back to him and makes agressive, accusatory gestures with her hands! She’s holding off and pointing at the man who once controlled her!
6. She turns and runs from him! But he pursues her — it’s a blow drill!
7. And he catches her!
We should explain for the folks less conversant in Scientologese: for Sea Org members who “blow” — escape — from a Scientology facility, there’s a well-developed protocol for getting them back, which can involve private investigators and credit card records, for example. It’s called a “blow drill.”
As you can see, Leah isn’t very happy about Tony tracking her down…
8. But she casts him away and dances free, raising her arms to show her strength! He only wanted her to route out properly, but no!
‘Cause I am a champion
9. But he catches her, and lifts her off the ground, with her flailing and kicking, clearly unhappy that she’s being carried away, off to the RPF or something!
10. Now they face each other and then do some intricate moves, with him spinning her around and through his legs.
Stinging like a bee I earned my stripes
Is she back under his spell at this point? Or is she playing him, by floating like a butterfly, and looking for another chance to escape?
11. Tony lifts her up and spins her around in a graceful arc. Has she made an IAS donation, lulling him into thinking he has her back under his control?
12. Aha! She gets aggressive again as she comes out of the spin and pushes him away!
13. He tries to pull her close, knowing he’s losing her again! But you can see the aggressive look in both of their faces — she throws his arms away again with brio!
I see it all, I see it now
14. She runs to the top of the platform, and she’s lifted to the heavens! She’s back on top!
15. And as he carries her aloft, she puts on the most delicious smirk! She has him where she wants him! She’s gone exterior!
16. When she comes back to PT, she finds herself in his arms again, and she violently tosses her head to and fro. She’s still resisting his valence!
17. He lifts her again, trying one more time to convince her to “fly” on the wings of the Operating Thetan levels, but she rejects him once again, this time grabbing his head and violently tossing it from side to side — can his neck survive it?
You’re gonna hear me roar!
18. She pushes him away, once again she’s free, and she makes a run for it! This time she gets to the top of the platform, and when he tries to follow, she holds him off with her Tone 40 intention!
You’re gonna hear me roar!
19. And finally, he can only back down, as she celebrates her freedom, raising her hands and looking into the camera — she’s a free being!
Yes, Leah, we heard you roar.
We have to say, after taking apart Leah’s dance and looking at the lyrics, we can only conclude that this woman has guts. It’s just a shame that the judges really didn’t understand what they were seeing. They had no idea how much of the Scientology story Leah and Tony told in those intricate moves.
We’re exhausted just looking at it and trying to conceive how much work it must have taken to get it just right. Anyway, ABC didn’t help matters when it posted the wrong telephone number later in the show for Tony and Leah (the correct one is in the images above). We heard from readers who said they called to vote for Tony and Leah only to hear “thanks for voting for Brant and Peta.” Say what? And what is ABC going to do about it?
Anyway, we’re looking forward to your interpretations of Leah’s dance. Please use the numbering system that we came up with so we know what you’re referring to. And have fun!
Posted by Tony Ortega on October 15, 2013 at 07:00
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