“If you have stage fright, it never goes away. But then I wonder: is the key to that magical performance because of the fear?” Stevie Nicks
The Premiere of Season 16 gave us all a realistic insight into “Opening Night Jitters”, which, I must say, they overcame BEAUTIFULLY! Although all of the contestants are PERFORMERS, doing something new and different before millions of people can leave one frozen in their tracks, watery kneed, and/or completely void of memory. We saw them all overcome their fears and do amazing performances of courage and dancing!
This week’s scores will be added to next Monday’s scores before the first “Results Show” to be aired next Tuesday. And now…on with the SHOW!
Kellie Pickler (American Idol C&W Singer) & Derek: Cha Cha Cha
Wow! A KNOCKOUT! Pixie-cut Kellie certainly holds a great deal of promise! Entering in front of vertical stripes of white light--so bright it created a silhouette, she was sharp and genuinely stunning in her silver fringe. She danced with a “world” of stage presence and poise. They impressed all 3 judges and pulled straight 7’s across-the-board which is highly commendable for a first performance on DWTS.
Victor Ortiz (Boxing Champ) & Lindsay Arnold (So You Think You Can Dance): Fox Trot
I thought Victor did very well. Keep in mind that this was 19 year-old Lindsay’s first show as well. Boxers must be able to “dance” in the ring. Victor demonstrated great balance, timing and fluidity, with a glowing smile--but the judges wanted a bit more content. They scored 6’s from all 3. I’m looking for more good things from them! Victor “lives” competition and drive and his good nature shines through and brightens the entire room.
Ingo (General Hospital, “Silver Linings Playbook”) and Kym: Contemporary
Now HERE was a very nice surprise! Ingo was amazingly graceful and visibly “into” the dance-- and his lifts! He looked like a PRO! Great control and confidence. Their costuming reflected night-time-at-home attire: Ingo in an undershirt and scrubs-type pants and Kym in lingerie look skirt and lacey, short cropped top. Soft lighting and beautiful lifts created a softly, passionate atmosphere. Good lines! I enjoyed this one! Good compliments and their results of Two 7’s and a 6 from Len illustrated that the Judges enjoyed it, as well.
Lisa Vanderpump (Real Housewives of Bev. Hills) & Gleb Savchenko: Fox Trot
Lisa did a nice job of flowing across the floor in her lovely, pink gown. The beginning of their dance featured Lisa’s cute little, Koala-bear/Gizmo dog. I liked her dance, but felt that it lacked “personality”. Her smile was beautiful, but looked “pasted on” or a bit “plastic”. Gleb…..well now…..hubba HUBBA! This is Gleb’s first DWTS season! Watch this guy! He has a smile will melt you into a puddle! Their performance was smooth but not enough posture and energy for the judges. Three 6’s.
D.L. Houghley (comedian) & Cheryl: Cha Cha Cha
I thought Cheryl’s usually GREAT choreography was not particularly good for D.L. D.L. is NOT a dancer. The judges like to see REAL STEPS. Although we did see a little tiny bit of Cha Cha, it was mostly poses. Cheryl would have been wiser working like crazy and performing the actual Cha Cha Cha footwork.. The judges thought this dance was so bad that they really didn’t know what to do with it, or even SAY about it other than it “was bad”. Straight 4’s.
D.L. commented, with a smile: “I haven’t danced since in 30 years, so that (the judge’s comments) was the equivalent of bulling a 2nd grader.”
Zendaya Coleman (Disney) & Val: Contemporary
16 year old Zendaya leaped off the Judges desk and into our hearts. Her maturity was astounding! Her dancing completely blew us all away! What a wonderful performance in her flowing yellow, floral skirt. She could have been performing a “garden party celebration” from ANY musical or theater stage! She was ballet-like in her lifts and earned them three 8’s – the highest score of the night! My prediction is that Zendaya is the one to beat! She is amazing!
Sean Lowe (The Bachelor) & Tina Murgatroyd: Fox Trot
What a fantastic special-effect, giant “Pin Ball machine” opening. We could SEE Sean’s nervousness and his focus on “thinking” through the steps. He was a little heavy-footed. “Refinement” was the description of what was needed from the judges.. Carrie Ann predicted he would “go far” because of the enthusiastic way he has “attacked the dancing”. Two 6’s; One 7 from Carrie Ann. I too believe that we may see Sean become the “most improved” dancer of the group!
Alexandra “Aly” Raisman (Olympic gymnast) & Mark: Cha Cha Cha
Mark is always a superb teacher and coaches Aly on how to “step lighter” and move with more of a “flow”. Aly (18 yrs) is muscular and strong. Pink rows of fringe below a lovely, very “grown-up” upper body highlighted her steps and hip action. She is working on toning down her strength, demanded from her years of gymnastics, to execute her movements in a more graceful and lighter way. She did a good job—especially for a “First Time Out” dancer! 21 on the Leader Board for them. Good job!
Dorothy Hamil & Tristen: Contemporary
Oh my! The entire dance was so light and airy that we were swept up into the world of a “Winter Fairy” flitting and floating around the floor. Arm movements are very similar in both ice skating and dancing, so she was outstanding with her lines and expression. I thought she was elegant and beautiful throughout. She is a major contender! Judges score: 21
Wynona Judd & Tony: Cha Cha Cha
Wynona has NO PROBLEM with expression, that’s a CERTAINTY! She has wonderful expressive vocal performance talents that easily carried-over to the dance floor. They didn’t do a LOT of footwork (just a couple of sequences), but what they did, Wynona NAILED! Every step—every count—was right on the money! It was great to see that. The judges want to see more “umph” (energy and enthusiasm) from her. They still scored three 6’s!
Sharna Burgess & Andy Dick (comedian): Fox Trot
Andy was a Fred Astaire look-alike in his Top Hat and Cane. He struggled with frustration in rehearsal, to the point of real tears. I was not expecting him to come out there and really PERFORM! But he DID! Yes…….he was a bit “robotic”, but there were moments when he smoothly reached for the arm sweeps. Overall, he handled himself beautifully throughout the dance.
If we hadn’t seen the rehearsal videos, we would have never known that he had even a moment of nervousness about stepping onto that floor. I was very proud of him!
Brook asked about his fight with addiction. I have to say, that really came across as “in bad taste”. With so much subject matter at your disposal after the dances, it seems very inappropriate to question a contestant about something so personal, especially since he has fought such a gallant battle to overcome addiction. I thought she was out of line and it almost made her appear non-empathetic and lacking in plain old fashioned manners. Andy responded with outstanding poise in a sensitive situation.
The judges came down on him pretty hard, but still scored them with two 6’s and one 5.
Jacoby Jones (Super Bowl Champ) & Karina: Cha Cha Cha
Okay…..Jacoby is 6’2” tall and long-legged….but come ON! I would think there would be enough fabric around there to make his pants long enough! Talk about “high water britches”! Jacoby danced great--just like his pants fit! But they were so short that they were unflattering and even distracting! The judges said it was a series of touchdown dances! He did very well and earned a score of 20.
The Season 16 Premiere was a very good, and insightful, premiere show. In every rehearsal video, the dancers demonstrated nerve-racking apprehension and fears, for different reasons, but in the end, they ALL received HUGE “gold stars” from me for their courage, enthusiasm and eagerness to do their very best.
Here’s to the Dancers and the magic they created!
…….until next time.