The season has only just started and I’m already a week behind, but I promise to do better from now on. Anyway, whether you’re in the US, or like me, an overseas viewer with a dancing obsession, the sixth season of Dancing With the Stars has just begun, bringing us twelve new celebrities, one new professional and the same old familiar judges- but who will walk away with the mirrorball trophy this time?
Week one saw everyone have to perform either a foxtrot or a cha cha, with the men performing on Monday and the ladies on Tuesday. This time around, however, there was to be no results show and elimination until week two, enabling everyone to dance twice before the show’s first ever double elimination.
- Penn Jillette and Kym Johnson: Penn made me laugh so much in the VTs with his ironic sense of humour, but when it came to the dance floor, I was much less impressed. His cha cha showed off some typical ‘dad dancing’, leaving Kym to do all the hard steps while he shuffled across the floor. Perhaps not a bad effort for a big guy on week one, but not an especially remarkable one.
- Jason Taylor and Edyta Sliwinska: it’s automatic to assume that a footballer won’t be very up on the grace and elegance front, but as it turned out, Jason delivered a very nice foxtrot; even though I’m not as keen on the American ballroom style of dancing out of hold a lot, this was a worthy routine.
- Cristián de la Fuente and Cheryl Burke: According to Bruno, in their cha cha “she banged- you need to bang too”, and amusing double entendres inside, he had a point- Cheryl had a great costume and was of course on form, but despite his Latin blood, Cristián hasn’t quite got the Latin spirit, leading to a reasonable effort but nothing special.
- Adam Carolla and Julianne Hough: Julianne was lucky to be paired with winners in the last two seasons, but if this foxtrot is anything to go by, Adam is going to need a lot of work to become a serviceable partner. It’s clear Adam doesn’t take his chances of progressing far very seriously, and it shows in the dance floor, where he seems to adopt a self-deprecating “look at me, I’m not very good, let’s just laugh at how bad I am” attitude.
- Mario and Karina Smirnoff: Mario certainly has the physique and hip action for the cha cha, but given his background as an R’n’B artist, it’s little surprise that I found his routine a little too ‘hip hop’ for my tastes. Even so, he’s probably the frontline contender amongst the male contestants.
- Steve Guttenberg and Anna Trebunskaya: Steve’s foxtrot was another ‘dad dance’, but as an actor he was nonetheless able to use his performance skills to entertain, no matter what his feet were or weren’t doing. As Len remarked, he was the first one to come out and really look like he was enjoying himself, and it’s no doubt that his viewer appeal will carry him through a few weeks at least.
- Shannon Elizabeth and Derek Hough: As an actress, it’s no surprise that Sharon was able to bring it to the table in terms of performance for her cha cha, but despite a strong start, her technique was much weaker. It was a fun routine overall, but a bit more cha cha content would have been welcome.
- Monica Seles and Jonathan Roberts: Monica’s foxtrot had a nice opening, but when it came to her actually dancing, she wasn’t able to deliver the goods. Not only did she come across as very stiff and nervous, but as the judges noted, she seemed to lack strength in her core- perhaps odd for a tennis player, but it must be hard learning to use your strength in a different way. I have a feeling she may be one of the first to be eliminated.
- Marissa Jaret Winokur and Tony Dovolani: I’m used to seeing cha chas where the male celebrity stands around and does very little whilst the female professional dances around him, but this time it was the other way around. Marissa obviously has plenty of personality to bring to the floor, but when it came to the dance, there was too much disco ‘booty-shaking’ and not nearly enough content. Hopefully she will get the chance to show that she can do more in her next dance.
- Priscilla Presley and Louis van Amstel: Given how good she looks, it’s hard to believe that the former Mrs Elvis Presley is 62, and out on the dance floor she carries herself with poise, grace and elegance. Her foxtrot was a strong effort; my only complaint would be that she seemed to be concentrating a little too hard, to the detriment of presentation and facial expression. Nonetheless, I really want to see her do the tango, because if she can bring the same attitude to it, she will really excel.
- Kristi Yamaguchi and Mark Ballas: Argue all you like about whether figure skating gives her an advantage (and I’m not so sure it does outside of the ice dancing discipline), Kristi’s foxtrot was easily the best dance of week one. Mark has struck gold once again with a talented partner, and I only hope she doesn’t suffer the same fate as Sabrina.
- Marlee Matlin and Fabian Sanchez: Given that Marlee is profoundly deaf and Fabian is new to the series, this last couple was always going to be a little different- but different doesn’t mean you can’t be good. It’s amazing how well Marlee did when she can’t even hear the beat (by the end of this, she’ll probably be dancing better than I do), and although she seemed noticeably dependent on Fabian’s lead (not that any male pro would mind about that), this was a solid cha cha, and real proof that determination and self-belief really count.
Sorry for being a week late with this, but I will endeavour to cover week two more promptly, complete with results show.