Dancing with the Stars – Premier Review
If you are not a regular reader of At a Glance Mag, you may not have noticed a semi-common thread through a number of articles and interviews published here. Dancing with the Stars is a favorite television show of mine and I have become acquainted with many lovely people who have been generous and helpful in providing their time to share with us. So, it should come as no surprise that there will be some coverage of the show itself as it kicks off it’s 16th Season! For this first night of dancing, I’ve invited one of our contributors, Hector, to share a bit of his impressions of the couples, the dances, chemistry…whatever he may feel like voicing. Since I couldn’t stand to let him have all the fun, I decided to add my two cents in as well. So, we will start off with an introduction paragraph from Hector and then a breakdown of each couple, listed in the order of HIS preference!
Hector: So how was your Dancing with the Stars on opening night? Everyone has an opinion and is usually quick to divulge it. My only chance of making this article interesting enough for you to read is to give it a different twist or tweet-twist. As many of our readers are most likely from the Tweet world, I will address it to what I think their mindset is. Imagine you are dancing with each of these couples, who would you have the most fun with; who would you most want to join? Ok, so it’s not the same to watch as it is to do. It’s easy to sit out here behind our TV sets, Pinot Noir or a beer in hand, and comment and criticize to our heart’s content; or cheer, or clap, or put our tongue out! So, as an exercise, what if we had to be out there too, in a trio, being embarrassed to death and feeling like those dreams where we are completely naked? I, for one, would most enjoy dancing with… (Shall we dance?)
Dorothy Hamill and Tristan MacManus – Contemporary
Hector: Would I love to dance with these two-you bet! I did, in my dreams! Hey, it’s my opinion-I don’t much like dancing with gigantic football stars! Maybe as a guy, I’m intimidated by huge brawny athletes-No, definitely not my thing! Though I know the football stars are huge vote getters. Miss Hamill is something else, just the kind of lovely creature I would expect to see in a show of this nature (which it really isn’t.) Sweet Tristan is such a tender match for this heart-melting lady! She was not perfect, a bit hesitant and very nervous, but even that had such a touching appeal. So she swayed her arms at times like a young girl in dance class, but it all fit however, into an authentic, poignant performance, and it made you feel good! Dorothy is like the OZ Dorothy, a woman who can sweep you into dance fantasy with her radiant and luminous persona.
Jayne: I was very anxious to see what this couple would come up with. The Contemporary dance is one of the new styles introduced for regular judging, and I was a bit concerned for any of the couples who drew it for the first week. There was no precedent set in the judges’ comments to base what they would be looking for or more importantly, not looking for. Thankfully, Dorothy and Tristan did not disappoint. The choreography Tristan came up with seemed very suited to Dorothy’s strengths…graceful, flowing, and lithe. There may have been a slight hesitation felt only briefly in her steps, but Dorothy’s Olympic professionalism shined through, presenting herself as a true performer. Her smile and the way she carried herself portrayed confidence. I’m pegging this couple as one to watch and our hidden jewel.
Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough – Cha Cha
Hector: These two together create such charismatic chemistry their appeal is through the roof! What’s human and angel in us combine to perfection in Kellie and Derek. Kellie is sexy; but not too, angelic but not too; country but sophisticated, exquisite musicality and timing! Derek-wow-what can we say about him, but that God must have designed him to be the perfect pro-dancer, teacher, and choreographer. More than that, still, a once in a lifetime artist & performer. Never disappoints. Always treats his stars with such tender loving care and extracts from them performances they never thought capable of! Now who would not want to dance in a trio with this heavenly-human couple! And what sexy zest Kellie has, full of beans, not afraid to use her sexuality in dancing! Just you wait, this is my dream team!
Jayne: Personally I was expecting a lot from this couple, and I was not disappointed! Maybe it isn’t fair that I was holding the standard high, but I just knew from looking at Kellie that she was all spunk and had the look of a dancer’s body that any female would kill for! Derek is known for his routines and these Bobbsey Twins have the makings of another hot sensation! Did they deliver with their Cha Cha? Yes. BUT…I do have some reservations…mainly being, where do they go from here? I really do hope that they have left some room for us to see some growth and that they don’t end up being a flash in the pan. That hasn’t been Derek’s track record, so hoping to see some fun as well as beautiful dances from these two in the weeks to come.
Zendaya Coleman and Val Chmerkovskiy – Contemporary
Hector: Revelation of the night, front-runners, and a double supreme delight! What a bad idea to force contemporary on opening night newbies! This dance requiring special artistry and maturity should not have been hoisted on these poor DWTS victims first night out! How many more boo boos are in store for us from haphazard DWTS bad planning? Fortunately, Zendaya and Val sailed through this difficult challenge with flying colors! What a lovely, natural dancer Zendaya is! She has a beautiful line and true feeling in her dance interpretation! So very sweet! What great choreography Val concocted just for her! Val reinvented himself with Zendaya in this dance, and he showed a new dimension of true greatness in himself. After his shenanigans with Kelly, would you have assigned Miss Sweet Sixteen to the Big Bad Wolf? Yet he showed not only he is a true professional, handling the task of teaching a young girl with delicacy, but extracting from her a great performance. Val gets a brand new respect from me, as teacher, choreographer, and even as a dancer. He was in terrific form with such graceful hand and arms movements! Val was more of a revelation tonight than Zendaya! Yes, I’d love to join them in dance, even hug them!
Jayne: Another couple to receive the new Contemporary dance, Zen and Val gave us something a little different than Dorothy and Tristan. Their music selection was faster and they used a few movements that had a bit of an African dance feel to me which was a quite lovely. Zen’s age of 16 didn’t seem to be a factor, and she actually came across as older than I had anticipated during the performance. Her ease of being in front of the camera as well as her energy and confidence gave her and Val the boost they needed to carry them to the top of the leader board Now to see if that same combination continues throughout upcoming routines. Defiantly one of the teams in contention.
Wynonna Judd and Tony Dovolani – Cha Cha
Hector: Another mama as sparkling as Kirstie Alley! And who cannot like Dovolani! After a struggling period, Tony finally won the trophy! Couldn’t have happened to a nicer person. He has tons of good will from the viewing public! When I went to the Season 15 Finale, Tony prepped up the live audience one hour before. He stood solo on a dais in front, led the spectators in a whooping cha cha! What fun he is! Add the fabulous Judd to the mix, and we have a savory Jambalaya! As performers, they are the most fun! Wynona’s has the moves, and she certainly has the sassy attitude! Her virtue is concentrated comic appeal! She doesn’t have to move much (and she didn’t) to win us over with her dancing! If she learns the right moves, and moves a bit more, she can be a contender!
Jayne: I was excited to see Tony come back after his win last season. The glee was oozing out of him as he and partner Wynonna took to the floor. Wy was all smiles and seemed ready to get out there and do her thang! =) She looked lovely, although a bit timid when it came to her steps…careful actually. But she was in step and seemed to have everything down. I really want to see how she will advance in her ability and her confidence. I’m hoping that she will remain around for a while for us to enjoy her journey!
Aly Raisman and Mark Ballas – Cha Cha
Hector: This couple was my favorite to win when announced, and they are still a potential contender! Maybe my expectations were so high, post-Shawn Johnson, I was destined to fall flat on my face! She so looks like a gymnast dancing! A bit stiff and serious, she needs to let go and fly! What Aly has most going for her is she’s a winner, an Olympic one! This certainly helps to attract. Olympic champs tend to have a dogged work ethic. They tend to get what they want, and this girl has the determination and basic moves to triumph! Other great thing Aly has going for her is certainly MARK! He’s a great choreographer, a Svengali teacher. He’s worked expertly with other medalists. If he could get Bristol to make the finals, Aly’s a piece of cake! Mark can apply the Ballas magic and succeed.
Jayne – Here is another of the girls whose looks appear to be older than I had originally thought she would come across, at least during her performance. Aly was all woman as she shimmied her way through her Cha Cha. She did seem to me to be possibly a bit nervous (well yes, who wouldn’t be?!!) and that was viewable in her expressions and how sometimes she carried herself. Mark goes over and above though, when it comes to dancing with his partners and they made a great pair slicing their way through the dance floor.
Jacoby Jones and Karina Smirnoff – Cha Cha
Hector: I already said I dislike dancing football stars. That said, I’d have great fun getting in the dance floor with cool dude Jacoby and sexy, expert Karina. Generally footballers cannot meet my ideal of elegant ballroom dancing. Of course I’m totally off course in what DWTS is all about. It’s not about elegant, trophy-winning International dance art! It’s about the popular vote and ratings! Since DWTS is going back to basic learners, Jacoby is its ideal contender! As other football trophy winners before him, he has the pop soul moves. Jacoby rocks! He obviously has had little dance training. Plus he’s such a ham, a fearless performer! Viewers love his natural dance moves! He will get the determined sports fan votes, plus the public will admire his quick advance from bad footwork and posture to more polish. Since many also resent the “ringers” – the lovelies who are instantly graceful from the start, there’s a built-in bias in Jones’ favor. This puts the polished lovelies, like Zendaya, Pickler, and maybe Aly, at a disadvantage.
Jayne: Jacoby comes to DWTS after his Super Bowl win and subsequent knee surgery. Partner Karina is just the personality to handle the boy who seems to have a fun, quirky sense about him. Their dance routine was enjoyable, but it seemed to be more like a number of small group of steps strung together. Historically, sports figures, particularly football players have done well on DWTS. This season, I’m not quite sure what to think about Jacoby yet. I need to see more of him performing before I can make a better judgment as to his chances.
Andy Dick and Sharna Burgess – Waltz
Hector: Wistful and appealing, like a lost prodigal son who wants to impress his peers and do well, Mr. Dick is very inspirational. He put up quite a show, for a dance that is quite difficult for a beginner! My heart (and I think, the public’s) went out to Andy! As he starts out, I had low expectations, that instantly changes…He’s moving gracefully, very attentive of Sharna, quite the gentleman. Wow. He performs and we love it! Very fluid, his self-effacing undercurrent of humor is noticeable. The occasional quirky movements and comedic facial expressions are endearing. He delivers a personal performance, not merely a dance exercise. I completely bought it! He danced well and stamped his personality on his performance! The judges underscored him and should have given more encouragement! Sharna was successful in her pro debut, showing her ability to teach with her sexy sweet personality.
Jayne: I have a feeling that a majority of viewers from Monday night will agree with me that Andy pulled at their heartstrings. His honest and raw emotion was quite moving and brought me to a place where I was cheering so much for him by the time his dance started, and then so happy when I saw how well he performed, at least quite a better than expected…this couple is the underdog of the pack, and may just end up surprising a lot of people as to how well they continue to perform and grow. Even more interesting is that this is Sharna’s freshman season as a Pro. A huge credit to her for her empathy and gentle presence during Andy’s breakdown moment.
Sean Lowe and Peta Murgatroyd – Waltz
Hector: Hunky Sean of Bachelor fame, and luscious Peta did not live up to expectations. Their Ken and Barbie looks may have worked against them! We look for that human quality in our winners, and this couple came on as too plastic, too perfect in their looks, not so good in their dancing! Sean is still appealing, like a boy who wants to do well and show his girlfriend sitting out there that he can do this! He’s a bit stiff and awkward, but that can change! Hopefully, Peta will stop grandstanding, curling herself around him and acting like a dancing street monkey! If she focuses on HIM, and gets down to teach him the ropes (She can do it! She’s not half trying!), he may plunge ahead and shine! Right at this moment, they did not draw me into their dance cause they seem not to be at ease with each other–yet!
Jayne: Believe it or not, I have not seen the Bachelor! So, I guess you could say that I didn’t come into the performance with many preconceived ideas of how I thought Sean might perform. That being said, I felt like he and Peta did a good job. I wasn’t excited about it, nor did I think it was below caliber…it just didn’t do much of anything for me. I will need to see more to make a more solid decision about where I think their chances are. Middle of the pack seems to be a bit wide this season starting out!
Victor Ortiz and Lindsay Arnold – Waltz
Hector: Victor is a charmer! He has such a youthful sweet vibe! Radiates positive energy and flashes these constant winning smiles! As he himself said, wistfully, dancing is not like boxing. Not to worry Victor! Just learn to sway your arms more in a dancing way, for the rest was pretty watchable! You showed you have lots of potential and audience appeal! Victor can apply that champion resolve to train and learn to do this! In dance, he and newcomer Pro Lindsay make a smashing couple! They’re a delight to watch, and it would certainly be fun to dance with these young’uns! There’s something bright and sunny about them!
Jayne: This couple has a great look. I chose Victor as one of my front runners before the show aired, even with his partner Lindsay being in her Freshman season, same as Sharna. Victor has a winning smile, and certainly can move. They have energy, attitude and that twinkle of fun that keeps us watching. If he is able to progress, they will be contenders.
Lisa Vanderpump and Gleb Savchenko – Waltz
Hector: Like Peta and Sean, this couple don’t seem to be in sync yet! In theory, they should make a glamorous and interesting dancing couple. Vanderpump is a va-va-voom Beverly Hills glamour matron, a Gabor style charmer. Young Gleb is the new resident Aussie hunky import Pro. They haven’t clicked yet. Exciting dancing did not result. She has a lot of style. Her dancing debut shows like she could do it well, but Gleb is rushing her with too much brio! Savchenko is the kind of studly pro that can sweep women off her feet. He has, in this case! She misses half her steps! He needs to tone down his exuberant passion and focus on her special abilities, which could result in a more mature, quieted down dancing style. If they’re not on the same page, we can’t be drawn into their dance.
Jayne: Another new Pro, Gleb seems to be filling the hunky requirement. Not that I mind, of course. I enjoyed Gleb and Lisa’s dance. I thought that Lisa looked elegant and doggone-it, I love her dog!! Giggy is such a fun prop, and I know that it annoys some people, but I get a laugh out of it. As for the actual dancing, Lisa did alright I think, considering it’s week one. This is kind of where I expect people to be…getting to know their partner, find their feet, their balance, and then some confidence. I don’t know how long they will be around, but I’m going to enjoy as much time with them as we have.
Ingo Rademacher and Kym Johnson – Contemporary
Hector: Although Zendaya and Val could turn their assigned Contemporary dance into a first place winner, in my view, Ingo and Kym fared badly! Low blow for such an amateur to get this challenging dance! It requires some dance maturity and an intangible ability to project feeling. I found their dance awful, embarrassing to watch! Ingo is very athletic, so not graceful, and very big! I had to gasp as he crawled on the floor like in a military exercise! Never seen anything so un-artistic, so lacking tenderness or feeling! His arms flailing in robotic form, and this very pleased grin on his face. He may think he did well. I could have no empathy whatsoever with Ingo & Kym! But to each his own, or he may have fans that love it…you are very free to disagree!
Jayne: Sigh…another amazingly stunning pair physically. Such beauty! Ingo and Kym’s dance was different than either of the previous Contemporary couples, which makes this category a bit difficult to have a good base comparison. As with Sean and Peta, I really didn’t have much thought either way. They didn’t impress me, but I was alright with their score. I do believe there is much potential lurking around these two though. And if they are able to get in sync and really connect with each other as well as the technical aspects, they could be trouble!
D.L. Hughley and Cheryl Burke – Cha Cha
Hector: Hughley seems to have some rhythm, some natural moves. Maybe he thought he could breeze through by being funny and wiggling his tush. Didn’t work. What comes across is that neither he nor Cheryl are taking the show seriously. He may have great timing for comedy, but failed in his timing for music, and keeping in tune to the music when dancing. What was Cheryl thinking? She must have known this would be disastrous! They richly deserve to be eliminated, because the public hates those that aren’t even trying! Especially since we can see at times he’s not totally lacking in rhythm and musicality!
Jayne: I have to admit, I was a bit surprised by D.L.’s performance. I honestly thought that Andy Dick would be the one out on the dance floor struggling to move his feet and coordinate his body. So when D.L. came out and did basically just that, I was taken aback. And even more surprised was I at the scores that he received. Yes, he was the least of those we had seen, but is it that bad that the judges can’t even offer constructive criticism and ENCOURAGEMENT? Maybe they were privy to something we don’t know. Maybe there are other factors. I certainly don’t think that Cheryl would not take care to do the best that she could, knowing what she had to work with. Star’s work commitments can wreak havoc and sometimes it really is an attitude issue or them needing a reality check. Yes, the dancing gig needs to be taken seriously, but judges, let’s be a bit more positive, shall we?
Ok dancing fans, that’s all we’ve got for now. Agree, disagree, comments in general? All are welcome! Feel free to leave a message below and get in on the conversation. The first elimination will be on Tuesday following a new set of routines Monday night! One of these couples will be gone. Are YOU voting?!!