Dancing With The Stars: Week 1, Part 2
(S06E02) The season premiere of Dancing With The Stars gave the men a chance to showcase their talents on the dance floor. The second night of competition was all about the ladies, who danced either the Foxtrot or the Cha Cha Cha. Len warned the ladies right from the start that he was cranky, and it showed in his comments. His remarks ranged from rhyming to his dislike of all things hip-hop. Fortunately, his grumpy mood improved once the front runners hit the dance floor.
We didn't get a professional performance before the celebrities took to the floor. Instead, we got a standard recap of the men's performances. In his post-performance interview, Jason thanked Len for the high score. Cristián wasn't sweating his middle-of-the-road scores; he's there to have fun. He and Cheryl were very flirtatious in their interview, don't you think? Steve Guttenberg thought that there would be world peace if everyone did Dancing With The Stars. I guess he's never visited a DWTS discussion board. Penn paid Bruno back for his Shrek comment by doing a shrill-voiced impression of the judge. Adam said that when he watches his performance later, he'll probably give himself a 12. Mario set the standard for the men and told the ladies to follow his lead.
Shannon Elizabeth and Derek Hough (Cha Cha Cha) - The actress admitted that she is something of a tomboy in her everyday life. Derek was initially worried about his newest partner, since the beautiful women are usually sent home early. Shannon's biggest obstacle was getting used to dancing in heels. She normally wears flip flops around the house, but began wearing heels to walk her dogs and during workouts in order to train. The couple had some setbacks in rehearsal, and Shannon worried about letting down her partner.
The couple, dancing to Rihanna's "Shut Up and Drive," looked amazing together. I'm glad that the show paired a young contestant with a young dancer, because they played off one another very well. Shannon was not as polished as she could have been, but still did a good job for the first week of competition. The couple gave a flirtatious, sexy performance, which is probably what the audience expected of her. She'll do well this season if she's versatile enough to get the tone of some of the more elegant types of dance. I loved her smile and her ability to match Derek's energy level.
Len thought the high-energy routine was a great way to start the evening. He warned Shannon about straightening her legs and getting better hip action, and told her to keep her dresses short. Bruno called Shannon a sexy minx and complimented her natural extension. He advised the actress to take advantage of her legs by stretching her back and pointing her feet more. Carrie Ann loved Shannon's confidence and noticed her gorgeous legs, and told her to work on her flexibility. Score: 21 (7, 7, 7).
Monica Seles and Jonathan Roberts (Foxtrot) - Monica wanted to compete on the show because she didn't have a traditional childhood. As a young athlete, she didn't have much time to be a girly girl. Jonathan got close to victory last season, and is determined to come in first with his newest partner. Since she has no dancing experience, Monica's major challenges were grace and elegance. She worried that her approach to sports was the exact opposite of what dancing required. Monica was determined to master the showmanship and presentation aspects of ballroom dancing.
The couple danced to Colbie Caillat's "Bubbly," a song that I absolutely love. To her credit, Monica wasn't nearly as nervous as she looked in her rehearsal footage. She had a comfortable smile on her face throughout the performance. Grace is still definitely an issue for the tennis star, but she seemed to improve towards the end of the routine. Overall, the performance was very light and sweet. She's not a natural dancer, but her work ethic could take her far--if she makes steady progress, that is. I felt even more sympathy for Monica when she started tearing up on the way to the judges' table.
Bruno loved the romantic tone of the dance, but said Monica went from Grace Kelly to Grace Adler. She needed to engage the center of her body and work on being lighter on her feet. Len enjoyed the story that Monica told with her routine, and called the couple's performance "elegant." He was also expecting Monica to have a stronger core, and told her to "lift it to shift it." Carrie Ann admired Monica for putting her all into something that didn't come naturally to her. She praised the beauty and delicate tone of Monica's movements, and told her to develop her energy a bit more. Score: 15 (5, 5, 5). This seemed a little low, especially considering that Adam Carolla got the same score. Monica was a least a point or two better than him.
Marissa Jaret Winokur and Tony Dovolani (Cha Cha Cha) - The Tony winner confessed to being a longtime fan of the show, and wanted to dance for women of all sizes. Tony was ready to work hard and have fun this season. I was blown away by Marissa's boundless energy and enthusiasm. Can you imagine what would happen if Marissa danced with Steve Guttenberg? It would be happiness overload! She was initially concerned about being short and "having a butt," but said that she was a showgirl at heart. Tony believed that the Cha Cha Cha suited Marissa's personality very well. He thought her biggest obstacle would be focusing her energy and directing her emotions more precisely.
She might be short, but Marissa has the attitude and presence of the tallest supermodel. From the minute she stepped onto the floor, Marissa commanded everyone's attention ("Low," by Flo Rida). The couple was so much fun to watch that I didn't even notice that she made a mistake (it was referred to later). Apparently she was so surprised by the audience's positive response that she missed a step or two. The height difference wasn't as much of an issue as I thought it would be, either. Marissa has great rhythm and will definitely be a crowd favorite this season. My only concern is that she might be too high intensity, kind of like Sabrina Bryan was. Hopefully she can slow things down for future waltzes.
After making fun of Tony's sequined pants, Carrie Ann applauded Marissa's style and sass. The only down side of the routine was the lack of content. Bruno loved the the couple's pep and personality as well, but wanted to see more classic Cha Cha Cha moves. Len was impressed with the performance aspect of the routine, but disliked the hip-hop moves. Marissa is obviously talented, and Len wanted to see her do more traditional dancing. Score: 18 (6, 6, 6). This was too low given the entertainment value of the routine, in my opinion. Jason Taylor had a fraction of Marissa's personality and received a 22.
Tom took a break between dances to get the guys' feedback. Adam poked fun at Steve's nice guy persona, Jason was happy for Monica, and Penn decided to act serious from now on; Steve and Marissa had him beat in the happiness department.
Priscilla Presley and Louis van Amstel (Foxtrot) - Priscilla joined the show this season because she wanted to put herself out there and "participate" again. Louis was both excited and intimidated when he met his newest dance partner. A perfectionist, Priscilla told Louis that she wanted him to take a tough love approach to teaching. She asked tons of questions during rehearsal, and had trouble with overthinking while dancing. She admitted that she was extremely nervous, stressed and a little bit scared. Louis took Priscilla at her word and decided to attempt a death spiral in the couple's first routine. Pretty brave for a woman in her early sixties!
With her sophisticated routine ("Feeling Good"), Priscilla looked much more feminine and graceful than some of the tomboyish contestants. She certainly knows how to present herself in a positive light and showcase her talents. Her demeanor and her lovely green dress made the performance quite glamorous. Priscilla showed natural rhythm and decent footwork, and the death spiral went off without a hitch. She's not as flexible as some of the other ladies, but she's very flexible for someone her age. The couple got a well-deserved standing ovation from the audience.
Len was pleased to see a proper Foxtrot that was free of gimmicks and props. He warned Priscilla to watch her posture, though. Bruno told Priscilla that she had star quality and understood the character of the dance. His only advice for Priscilla was to relax her upper body and work on her shoulders. Carrie Ann said that Priscilla's routine proved that age is just a number, and called her the Queen of the dance. Score: 24 (8, 8, 8). This was surprising, but not far off the mark. The judges clearly want more classic approaches to the routines at this stage.
Kristi Yamaguchi and Mark Ballas (Foxtrot) - Kristi was drawn to the challenging nature of the show, as well as the chance to entertain again. She was concerned that people would have unfair expectations because of her skating background, but took issue with this. Kristi pointed out that skaters are used to being flat-footed, while ballroom dancing requires pointed toes and heel leads. Her skating experience didn't give her any advantage when it came to connecting with a partner, either. I think Kristi has a pretty significant advantage going into this season, but I don't really mind. There are always going to be varying degrees of experience, and Kristi doesn't strike me as a show-off type. It's hard to dislike her.
The couple took an Old Hollywood approach to the Foxtrot, and danced to "The More I See You." Mark and Kristi have incredible chemistry together. Naturally, grace and showmanship weren't a problem for the pro skater. She and Mark were a joy to watch, and they successfully captured the tone of the dance. I can't wait to see what Kristi does in the Latin round. I think those dances will require more effort for her than the ballroom routines. The couple's performance was the most technically difficult of the night.
Tom Bergeron quoted Steve Guttenberg and simply said "Wow." Bruno complimented Kristi's precision and timing, calling the routine one of the best he'd ever seen. Carrie Ann told Kristi that she made the performance look effortless, a mark of perfection. Len declared that the ice maiden melted his heart. He noticed a few problems with her pivots, but said he wouldn't normally critique those details in the first week. Kristi was just that good. Score: 27 (9, 9, 9). Mario has some serious competition on his hands.
Marlee Matlin and Fabian Sanchez (Cha Cha Cha) - Marlee wanted to prove to the world that you can be deaf and dance. Fabian, the new professional, called himself the King of the Mambo. He was initially concerned about how to approach Marlee's deafness. Marlee was very aware of her strengths going into the first week. She has good rhythm and uses her body to communicate on a daily basis. Fabian and Marlee appeared to get along with one another and had a lot of fun in rehearsals. Fabian tried to test the limits of Marlee's deafness, and Marlee told him that she can occasionally hear the beat (depending on the music). She joked that she was profoundly deaf, but that she sleeps well. Fabian would have to be her music; Marlee was going to rely on his body and face for cues.
Marlee showed an impressive degree of rhythm in her Cha Cha Cha ("Get On Your Feet," Gloria Estefan). She's in great shape, and moved very well throughout the routine. I didn't think the performance was that technically difficult, but Kristi Yamaguchi is a tough act to follow. Marlee's dance was very inspiring, but not terribly exciting. On the plus side, she showed considerable flexibility and has a fun stage presence. She's in the top half of the female dancers, and is significantly better than most of the men. She's safe for several weeks, at least.
Carrie Ann called the couple's performance unbelievable and inspiring. Technically, the routine was fluid, fantastic, and Marlee moved with ease. Len thought Marlee was amazing, and praised Fabian's choreography. He told Marlee to work on her arm control for next week. Bruno called the routine life-affirming, and said that Marlee has music running through her blood. He'd been evaluating her rhythm, and said she hardly missed a beat. Score: 22 (7, 7, 8). I thought these scores were just right: relatively high, but leaving room for improvement.
At the end of the evening, Kristi was in the lead, with Monica Seles in last place. Tom reminded everyone that the scores and votes for Weeks One and Two will be combined, and the lowest-scoring man and woman will be sent home next Tuesday.
Best performance of the night: Kristi Yamaguchi
Most likely to go home: Monica Seles
Best entertainer: Marissa Jaret Winokur
Next week, the contestants get a second chance to impress the audience and the judges. Brett will cover the third night of performances and the first double-elimination. In the meantime, check out AOL's extensive Dancing With The Stars coverage, which includes photo galleries, polls, and live chat.
|Shannon Elizabeth||22 (3.1%)|
|Marlee Matlin||59 (8.4%)|
|Priscilla Presley||52 (7.4%)|
|Monica Seles||15 (2.1%)|
|Marissa Jaret Winokur||26 (3.7%)|
|Kristi Yamaguchi||527 (75.2%)|