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October 7, 2015

Backstage Interviews at 'Dancing With the Stars': Week One Was 'Terrifying'

by Michael Maloney, posted Mar 22nd 2011 9:00AM
Karina Smirnoff and Ralph MacchioRalph Macchio, 49, and Kirstie Alley, 60, are two of the older contestants on season 12 of 'Dancing With the Stars,' but after the first night of dancing they took early leads with top scores of, respectively, 24 and 23.

The star of 'The Karate Kid' and his pro partner, Karina Smirnoff, performed a Foxtrot that judge Len Goodman called the best one of the night.

Macchio's an actor; did that play a role in how successfully he embraced his part on the dance floor?

"Yes. Dancing is like acting only you use your body," said Smirnoff. "It allows him tap into the character so much better."

"[Acting] is less painful," joked Macchio. "Less painful."

Anna Trebunskaya and Sugar Ray Leonard"Ralph is amazing and Kirstie is fantastic," praised Sugar Ray Leonard, who scored 17 points with his pro partner Anna Trebunskaya.

Trebunskaya was glad that the first contestant won't be kicked off until after each of the 11 pairs gets to do a second dance next Monday.

"Some people are naturally better in the Latin dances than they are in the ballroom dances," she said.

"It's good to see everyone's strengths. It's nice that we get to practice two dances from the beginning. If you do that and you leave after the first week, then it sucks you don't get to do your second dance that you've been learning."

"Kirstie was great and Ralph was great," concurred ex-wrestler Chris Jericho, who added, "But I thought everyone did good [tonight.] The judges were a little bit stiff on a couple of people."

"That was them being nice," quipped his partner, Cheryl Burke.

Petra Nemcova and Dmitry ChaplinActually, judge Carrie Ann Inaba was nice -- she didn't give model Petra Nemcova and her pro partner Dmitry Chaplin a penalty for her foot coming off the floor during their Foxtrot, which earned 18 points.

"She dedicated her performance to the people in Japan," said Inaba. "That turned me into a big softie."

Inaba said rapper Romeo had a lot of sex appeal. "I don't think I'm sexy at all," Romeo mused. "The only thing sexy about me is my name -- and my partner Chelsie [Hightower.]"

Hightower was pleased with their score of 19. "That's right where I wanted to be," she said. "It's every coach's dream to hear [from the judges] that your partner's got the personality, the sex appeal and the performance quality. Those are things you can't teach."

The bar was set high after the first performance by Disney star Chelsea Kane and her pro partner, two-time champion Mark Ballas, who scored 21 for their Foxtrot.

"Going first was absolutely terrifying," Kane said. "But the flip side of that was getting to then sit back and enjoy all the other dances. I was really flattered by the scores. It was a great way to come out of the gate."

Nerves were showing with some of the stars tonight including Kendra Wilkinson, who scored 18, and Wendy Williams, who scored 14.

Tony Dovolani and Wendy Williams "Wendy was killing it tonight," says Tony Dovolani, the talk show host's pro partner. "What people don't realize is where we started. Where we are now is pretty amazing."

Wilkinson, Louis van Amstel raved, was "awesome."

"I know how nervous she was," van Amstel said of his partner. "If you put nerves together with someone who lives in her head because she is a perfectionist, that's a recipe for disaster. [But] she had fun and she was really working hard to project that."

Not arguing with the judges is a safe way to go, but Wilkinson couldn't refrain from pointing out to Bruno Tonioli that she was wearing 3.5" heels. Was that the right call?

"It's TV and people like entertainment," she reasoned. "Talking back is actually funny. When I'm a viewer I like to see people talk back."

"It wasn't in a bad way," said van Amstel.

Chris Jericho and Cheryl BurkeBurke and Jericho had no complaints about their score of 19.

"It's a good way to start," said Burke, a two-time winner. "Scores are great, but people at home voting is the most important thing."

"For me, it's about entertaining," said Jericho. "I got some constructive criticism from the judges that I can work on."

Football player Hines Ward and pro partner Kym Johnson, a previous 'DWTS' winner, are in third place with 21 points.

"Kym told me to go for it," said Ward. "I may not be technically sound, but I had a blast tonight."

Kirstie Alley and Maksm ChmerkovskiyAlley, not surprisingly, brought her brilliant comedic timing to the video packages and promos leading up to the premiere, but she also wowed the judges by performing an impressive jive.

"I feel good. I feel good," Alley said. "[Maksim Chmerkovskiy, my pro partner] is an excellent teacher. Most of the things he told me to do, I did."

Producers saved Alley and Chmerkovskiy's routine for the last dance of the night, which supports the belief that they're the show's "money couple" this season.

"Maks is funny," Alley said. "He's really funny." Sitcom star funny? "No. He's a movie star. He should be doing movies."

Mike Catherwood and Lacey SchwimmerAlas, "Psycho" Mike Catherwood is struggling at the bottom of the rankings with a score of 13.

He's joked that his position as a disc jokey in Los Angeles makes him one of the group's lesser-known stars.

"I thought I deserved a '16'," said Catherwood. "I'm going to use the score as motivation to do better next week."

"Mike's not the worst dancer this season, however it's not about the judges' scores. It never is. It's about the fans and the supporters," said Mike's pro partner, Lacey Schwimmer.

Catherwood told Schwimmer early on that he had no interest in taking his shirt off on the dance floor. "After getting the lowest score of the night," he joked, "I'll go down to nipple tassels if they want me to."

'Dancing With the Stars' airs Mondays at 8PM ET and Tuesdays at 9PM ET on ABC.

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