Dancing With The Stars: Week 1
The second night of dancing offered us a chance to see who learned from their experience performing live. Just getting comfortable with the setting is a huge hurdle to overcome in the beginning of the season. Some of the stars have taken to it quicker than others. To that end, I'm not one to spoil before the jump, but I'll leave you with this. In referencing one set of scores, Tom remarked that the judges were "Bringin' out the big paddles." Was there a 9? A 10? The results of all the dances are after the jump.
Lance Bass & Lacey Schwimmer (Quickstep) In the training video we got a look at Lacey's goofy teaching style, which had Lance going from the prairie dog to peeing like a dog. She's quite the character, and matches very well with Lance. They weren't taking any big chances offending Len with this one as it was much more conventional than their premiere night number. And for the most part, it was very good. There was a little awkwardness in some of the turns, and their hold was a little loose and free, but overall a very good first week performance.
Len thought they moved well around the floor, but he didn't like the posture or the hold. Not his cup of tea. Bruno said the two of them bring a fresh take to the dances and their timing is very good. He liked it. Carrie Ann was very entertained, but not impressed. They didn't give her the elegance they want to see. The judges came off as surprisingly critical, but I'm taking that as a good sign. It seems there are always some of the better dancers that the judges hammer on a bit. This puts Lance & Lacey in the upper part of the field. Score: 21 (7,6,8)
Misty May-Treanor & Maksim Chmerkovskiy (Mambo) After their premiere night performance Misty asked if that was girly enough for Maks. That transitioned into the training for the mambo, which Maks called the most awkward sexy dance he'd ever seen. It must have been early in the training because Misty came out with great movement. Maks took a bit of a chance by giving Misty quite a bit of solo time. Something we don't often see so early in the competition. It was a smart move. Misty looked very confident and you could tell that she is starting to become comfortable in the ballroom. That's half the battle.
Carrie Ann was excited and called Misty strong and sharp. She followed that with totally fantastic, and fierce. Len said he was surprised that a person from the world of sport can come out and perform like that. He added she needs to work on her arms. Bruno said Misty has the power and attack of a task force. He appreciates it, but cautioned her that it causes her shoulders to be too high. Score: 21 (7,7,7)
Maurice Greene & Cheryl Burke (Mambo) Maurice really comes across well in the training videos. He's also got a lot of dance talent coming into the competition. It's not ballroom talent, but it will certainly help. He really shined in the solo spots that Cheryl choreographed for him. His charisma and personality really come through when he is just having fun. I do think they probably should have thought twice about adding the worm though. Maurice also did a pretty impressive job in the partnering. Cheryl deserves some credit for once again showing the understanding of how to make her partner look very good. It was a solid week one outing.
Bruno called it dynamic and exuberant. It strayed a bit from the mambo, but he liked it. Carrie Ann liked the transitions in and out of holds, adding that the performance was well done. Len pointed out that learning two dances is very hard and predicted that there is a lot more to come from Maurice in the Latin dances. He did not like the addition of the Free Willy step (the worm). Score: 21 (7,7,7)
Brooke Burke & Derek Hough (Quickstep) Brooke was scared by the premiere performance. Just getting through that should be a good confidence boost for her. In training they had a little trouble with the chest position, but used Brooke's baby as a training aid. It was very cute. And this was the first example of someone who really gained from getting a performance under their belt. It seems that premiere night taught Brooke that she can really do this. They had a great opening. Brooke came out in a fantastic dress and really looked like she was meant to be there. It was a high energy, and fast quickstep that just never slowed. Brooke is really impressing me. That didn't look like a first week performance, at all.
Len, repeating his critique from the previous night, again said it was the best dance so far. Bruno called their performance sensational. He added that he can't believe he's seeing this in week one. Carrie Ann called Brooke grace, beauty, strength, and class. It was fantastic. Score: 26 (9,8,9) Two week one 9s.
Cloris Leachman & Corky Ballas (Mambo) After the show Cloris said she's going to get better scores in the mambo, or she's going to sock the judges in the face. They played it for comedy, which is probably one of the few options left for Corky when it comes to choreography. What can you say about Cloris? She's entertaining, but dance wise, it just wasn't very good. Even weighing the fact that Cloris is 82 and should get some points for even being out there, there were mistakes and it just didn't look well rehearsed at all.
As they went to the critiques, Cloris revealed that she had bribed the judges for scores. Bruno said he thought that the money was for Len's services rendered. Then Cloris joked about what the judges are paid by ABC. Carrie Ann said golden girl can shimmy and grab crotchy, she thinks. She gave Cloris points for entertainment. Len praised Corky for his choreography. Bruno started to talk, and Cloris interrupted him telling him to speak English. Being diplomatic, he said he's never seen a mambo like this. Score: 16 (6,5,5) Cloris threatened to leave, calling the scores not nice.
Toni Braxton & Alec Mazo (Quickstep) In training Toni was struggling with endurance, something that comes with her heart condition. Alec worked on her with her breathing. Those struggles didn't seem to find their way into the choreography as their number was still rather fast paced. They covered the whole floor and Toni looked very good. She handled both the quick footwork and the graceful lines of her poses. It was yet another very impressive first week performance.
Bruno said Toni is light, sparkling, and eloquent, like a fine champagne. It was beautiful, but he thought she tightened up at the end. Carrie Ann thought Toni did really well and that she has good chemistry with Alec. Len liked the lightness of foot and beautiful movement across the floor. He did add that her head went a bit daft (?) at one point, but liked it overall. Score: 23 (8,7,8)
Warren Sapp & Kym Johnson (Quickstep) Warren talked about being a little guy trapped in a big guy body. He has a great attitude that I think will win him some votes as we move along. That size was something that would once again prove a challenge as they took on the quickstep. There were a couple awkward moments getting in and out of holds, but overall it was very entertaining. Warren hasn't made anyone forget about Emmit Smith, but he's not calling to mind Clyde Drexler either. His two week one performances have proven that he has a chance to make a good run in the competition.
Len called it fantastic entertainment, but didn't like the technique. Bruno said Warren is a ton of fun. He compared Warren's feet to the Roadrunner, they were moving so fast. Carrie Ann was amazed that he didn't miss a step. She added that his footwork was not quite as sharp as in the previous number. Score: 22 (7,7,8)
Ted McGinley & Inna Brayer (Mambo) In training, Ted proclaimed that the mambo is his dance. He is Mambo McGinley. There was a bit of wishful thinking in those statements. Not because Ted was horrible at the mambo, but because I think there is still some great Ted stuff to come later in the competition from some of the other styles. Just wait until we can get Ted and Inna in a waltz. That being said, it was a nice number. Ted got into the spirit of the mambo, even if his technique was a little stilted. As a starting point though, Ted's in good shape.
Carrie Ann told Ted that while he did a lot of moves in that dance, there is an awkwardness to the way he moves. He has to find a way to ease up. Len said Ted shows that with hard work anything is possible. Bruno thought Ted grabbed the mambo with both hands and squeezed every ounce of fun out of it. He advised him to listen to the music and get the feel of it. Score: 19 (6,6,7)
Cody Linley & Julianne Hough (Quickstep) Cody strikes me as having the opposite problem to some of the other contestants. While a few have yet to overcome the nerves of performing, Cody has no problem with it. His struggle early on is with harnessing all of his energy and channeling it into the dance. Their quickstep did have a few pauses where Cody looked unsure, but overall it had good energy. I have a lot of confidence in Julianne getting Cody to come around sooner, rather than later.
Bruno called Cody and Julianne the king and queen of the prom. What charm, what energy. He said Cody tends to get a little over excited in the quick footwork. Carrie Ann noted that the quickstep is very difficult, but she thought that Cody pulled it off. Len said Cody danced with great maturity. He controlled himself. It was a bit loose in parts, but overall a good job. Score: 23 (8,7,8)
Rocco Dispirito & Karina Smirnoff (Mambo) Rocco was not amused by the 4 from Len on premiere night. He told Karina to pull out all the stops because there might not be a week three. His nerves and anxieties really show in the training video. He's constantly pointing out that he's out of his element. That's probably a pretty normal reaction to being dropped in such a foreign land. If he doesn't make it to week three, it won't be for lack of effort. Rocco really put his all into their mambo. His dancing was good for the first week, but what really impressed me was his performance. He really looked to be enjoying himself out there. It wasn't the strongest performance that we saw, but it should be more than enough to give him another shot.
Len joked about how poor Rocco was the night before, and said this was much better. Bruno called him the Italian Stallion and said he'd never seen such a change between performances. Carrie Ann thought the performance was super sexy and praised Rocco for matching Karina's level. Score: 21 (7,7,7)
Susan Lucci & Tony Dovolani (Quickstep) I'm just flummoxed by Susan. In watching her, the dancing really isn't a problem. She moves well, and she looks fantastic on the floor. It's all a confidence issue. I don't know if it's nerves, or a fear of doing something wrong that's causing it, but if she could just relax and let go of everything in her head she has a lot of potential. Her second run at the ballroom started out much like the first, looking rather timid. Things picked up as they got to the middle of the performance with some nicely done fast footwork. As they ended it looked like Susan was finally coming out of her shell a little bit. I'm hoping that this is her turning the corner.
Carrie Ann said this performance was so much better. There was a little stumble at the end, but Susan did a great job. The stumble comment almost sparked a little battle between Carrie Ann and Tony. Len agreed that it was much better. But he did call it a bit careful. Bruno said Susan is class, elegance, and glamor. He said ballroom is her element. Score: 22 (7,7,8)
That left Jeffrey & Edyta and Kim and & Mark with just one spot to fill. Much to my disappointment, Jeffrey & Edyta were the first couple sent home. His reaction, "What a nightmare." He went on, joking about his eye injury, "They told me Edyta was going to be easy on the eyes... I figured it would be her husband that poked me in the eye, not her." Tom asked him to roast his own performance. "I'm more ha ha ha than cha cha cha." I do hate to see Edyta go so soon, but the voters got this one right. Jeffrey Ross is a funny guy, but not a dancer.
Kim Kardashian & Mark Ballas (Mambo) Kim was scared by the mambo because everyone is going to expect her to be all sexy, and she's really not. It turns out that her worries about shaking her butt were misguided. The bigger problem is her commitment to the dance. Shes still somewhat reserved and not finishing moves. This is where that comment I made in the premiere post about seeing how good a teacher Mark is comes in. Kim has the physical ability to do well at this. It really is all in her head. As we watched their mambo you could see that the movements are there, but they are all pulled in, shy, and reserved. Somehow Mark has to figure a way to get her to come out of her shell. That more than all the choreography he can come up with is where they are going to make great strides.
Bruno said Kim is gorgeous but she drives him crazy, because she doesn't use what she has. Len thinks it's all in her head, and he thought they lacked balance. Carrie Ann gave her a break for having to stand there all night waiting and added that she is improving. Score: 18 (6,6,6)
So, there we have it. Twelve more performances in the books. Now that we've had a good look at all of the contestants, the thing that sticks out to me is just how good a group they put together. I'm assuming that Cloris is going home Thursday night. That means they will come back next week with eleven couples, and the two with the lowest scores are Ted McGinley and Kim Kardashian. And both of them have the ability to put up some really good scores.
Next week will be very telling. It's always interesting to see what changes once the celebrities get to add a week of training to that first experience in the spotlight. I'm still on the Misty bandwagon. Her work ethic and familiarity with training hard should pay off this week. Brooke Burke has certainly stepped forward and made herself a contender as well. All in all, it's been a great start to season seven.