Thirteen new stars, three new pros, two dances in the first week- if there’s one thing DWTS knows how to do, it’s big it up. But who would be big in the ballroom, and who would just be too big for their dancing shoes?
Cody Linley & Julianne Hough (cha cha): The youngest couple of the series, Cody and Linley opened the night with a cheeky cha cha, but whilst there’s certainly potential there, it was a bit inconsistent. There were high energy moments such as the Cuban breaks, New Yorkers and rondés, but at other points Cody just seemed to be standing around letting Julianne do the work. Still, Julianne has coached two other men to victory, so if anyone can draw out his star potential, it’s her. Shame about the ill-fitting dress, though.
Rocco DiSpirito & Karina Smirnoff (foxtrot): As a chef, Rocco probably wasn’t the best raw material to work with, and to be honest, after seeing the lovely foxtrots on Strictly Come Dancing, this couldn’t help but be a disappointment. Whether in hold (all too briefly) or out of it, Rocco had the energy but not the technique, skipping everywhere and generally not bringing the dance the elegance and smoothness it needs. In fairness, though, Karina had suffered an ankle sprain earlier in the day but still managed to come out and perform.
Toni Braxton & Alec Mazo (cha cha): It’s official- Toni Braxton really knows how to work it on the dance floor. Although a tiny bit less confident out of hold, when together with Alec this made for one of the best week one routines I’ve seen in a long time- there were points when she was dancing like a pro. Hopefully there will be more great things to come from her.
It was also nice to hear ‘Smooth’ again- last year it was played a lot at my classes but this year it seems to have been forgotten.
Maurice Greene & Cheryl Burke (foxtrot): This was a dance of two parts- out of hold, Maurice had lots of fun energy, but at the same time it didn’t have much to do with foxtrot, whilst when he got into hold he stiffened up and became very slow. Latin will probably be his forte, but his ballroom will need more work.
Brooke Burke & Derek Hough (cha cha): I normally really like Derek’s choreography, but I have to admit that this time around the routine didn’t do much for me- Brooke may have a body made for dancing and an incredible ability to move it for a mother of four, but I felt there were too many static points in this cha cha. Usually it’s the man who stands around whilst the woman dances around him in these unequal cha chas, but this was an odd role reversal.
Ted McGinley & Inna Brayer (foxtrot): With the first of the new pros as his partner, Ted strode onto the floor for a foxtrot that, for the most part, hit all the right notes in terms of style and elegance. There were a few points where he seemed to stiffen up, but that can be put down to first night nerves.
Lance Bass & Lacey Schwimmer (cha cha): Our second new pro, Lacey seems like a bit of a valley girl, and as expected of her image, she and Lance performed what Len called a “young and modern” cha cha. The other two judges loved it, of course, but I’m with Len- I want it to stick to traditional cha cha content and not throw in any street or hip hop style sections- that’s the purview of a different competition.
Cloris Leachman & Corky Ballas (foxtrot): The third of the new pros, Corky is Mark Ballas’ father- and forget the sexy Mark, this is Mark all grown up and ready to be a delicious older man. Okay, now that that’s out of my system, let’s talk about the dancing. Given the Cloris is an octogenarian, this was a game effort and pretty damn good for someone her age- perhaps a bit slow and lacking in content by conventional standards, but I salute her for getting up, having a go and being a hilarious sport about it.
Jeffrey Ross & Edyta Sliwinska (cha cha): Admittedly, he did have a scratched cornea (ouch!), but I think we have our hopeless dancer of the series- less a cha cha and more just wandering about the floor, this wasn’t what you’d call impressive, good or even passable. And I admit Edyta might as well flaunt what she’s got, but whose idea was that bikini with a bit of billowing cloth attached?
Kim Kardashian & Mark Ballas (foxtrot): All dressed in pink (Mark included!) and dancing to the Pink Panther theme, this couple certainly looked the part, but I’m not really convinced that they acted it. Kin admitted to balance problems in her VT and she did seem a little wobbly at points, and whilst the choreography told a story, parts like Mark’s “no hands” hold didn’t feel strictly necessary. Overall, it just didn’t hit the spot for me, although I’ve no doubt there’s potential there.
Susan Lucci & Tony Dovolani (cha cha): Just as Susan doesn’t have an ounce of flesh on her bones, this cha cha was very thin and stripped down- it seemed as if the steps were meant to be there, but there were a lot of static moments and it was all very safe and careful. Ballroom may suit Susan better, but if she stays in the competition, she needs to become more flamboyant and outgoing with her Latin.
Misty May-Treanor & Maksim Chmerkovskiy (foxtrot): I’m happy that Maks is back, and once again he has a tomboy to turn into a lady- this time in the form of a gold medal winning beach volleyball star. As it turned out, however, this was one of the better foxtrots of the night- instead of messing around at the start they got straight down to business and delivered a smooth, lively routine.
Warren Sapp & Kym Johnson (cha cha): Although he had some good footwork, Warren still felt a bit like a ‘dad dancer’ with his arm shaking moves- but what he lacked in technique he more than made up for in enthusiasm. What a great, fun way to end the first night of competition.
In the first ever combined competition and results show, the twelve couples who have been saved get their names read out one by one and then have to dance. Whoever hasn’t had their chance to dance by the end of the night is out of the competition- and if that wasn’t enough, someone else gets the boot in the proper results show as well! Life’s hard when you’re all sequinned up with no place to dance.
Lance & Lacey (quickstep): Again, the modern take on the quickstep didn’t do much for Len, but this time I was more positively inclined towards the couple- if not the best or most classical routine ever, it did have plenty of youthful energy, and the quickstep is a dance that completely and utterly thrives on such energy.
Misty & Maks (mambo): Before the dance, Misty promised to work what her mama gave her, and boy did she do just that. Not only was this a fun, fast mambo but Misty was brave enough to do an amazing amount of solo work, even being on her own on the floor at the beginning and the end- something that few pros would trust their partners to pull off.
Maurice & Cheryl (mambo): As suspected, what Maurice lacked in the ballroom he made up for in the Latin- it may have been a slow starter, but once he got going it was a fun, energetic routine. I just wonder why the pros leave the celebrities standing still at points- how hard would it be to just stick in a back basic or something?
Brooke & Derek (quickstep): I may not have jumped onto the Brooke bandwagon for her cha cha, but with this quickstep I can see what all the fuss is about. An energetic start, a lovely dress, a worthy routine- it all adds together to make an enjoyable experience. Could Derek make it all the way this time?
Cloris & Corky (mambo): The prospect of seeing someone in their eighties mambo wasn’t one I had entertained, but tonight I saw just that, and even if it was a bit of a granny mambo, once again I salute Cloris for being so game- and for being a laugh riot with her attempts to bribe the judges and generally misbehave. I have also developed a huge crush on Corky in the space of a few hours, along with respect for how he choreographed and danced to showcase his partner- something Mark needs to learn to do.
Toni & Alec (quickstep): Toni already proved she could dance in the cha cha, but as an angina sufferer, would she be able to manage the quickstep? The good news is that yes, she could, and the even better news is that she did a great job of it. Fast, fun and with plenty of Charleston elements, this was a strong quickstep to match a strong cha cha.
Warren & Kym (quickstep): Warren calls himself “fat boy” and there’s no doubt he’s a big fellow- but nonetheless in the quickstep he proved himself to be amazingly light on his feet. I must admit I preferred this dance to his cha cha.
Ted & Inna (mambo): Ted may be enjoying himself, but even though the judges gave him a slightly higher score I wasn’t as convinced by this mambo- it was another of those ‘dad dancing’ Latin routines.
Cody & Julianne (quickstep): Once again, I found Cody’s dancing inconsistent- the beginning and the end of the routine did very little for me, but the mid-section was packed with high-energy, high-kicking moves.
Rocco & Karina (mambo): What I can say about this dance is that Karina danced well- but she completely stole the spotlight and it’s not her we’re directly supposed to be judging. Unfortunately, on the few occasions that Rocco wasn’t being overshadowed, he didn’t seem to be doing much beyond walking across the floor. Colour me unimpressed.
Susan & Tony (quickstep): Susan did seem more at home in Tony’s arms, and there were some nice Charleston elements, but even so I found this to be far too slow and careful for a proper quickstep. Still, the judges seemed impressed.
Out of the final two, Jeffrey & Edyta went out of the competition, leaving one last couple to perform.
Kim & Mark (mambo): Hard as it must have been to stand waiting for your turn all night, this mambo was a disappointment- Mark was shaking it all over the place and going all out, but Kim was barely doing anything. It was all just far too unbalanced.
- Pro dance: all the pros came out to do a Latin demo with elements of rumba and paso- there were some high points but overall I prefer the work of the UK pros.
- Jeffrey & Edyta got to perform their quickstep after all, and although it was a better effort than his cha cha, it still wasn’t great- admittedly he knew the steps, but apart from that it was a bit like watching an unsure horse galloping around. Definitely the right choice to go.
- Jesse McCartney continued the show’s trends of musical guests I could care less about, although there was a decent enough Latin dance routine to accompany his performance.
- The Jonas Brothers returned for another performance that did very little for me- even the pro dance that went with it didn’t catch my eye.
- Elimination: In the second elimination of the week, Ted & Inna went home- although his Latin was weak, he did have potential. Personally, I think Rocco should have gone home.