Along with the brand new set arrangement with the orchestra elevated and more in view , dancers have a new “Pit”, which they referred to as the “Celebrity Bench”. They are now right down on the edge of the dance floor in “front row fashion”.
They have been brought down from the balcony room, which has always been a remote area for the celebs to lounge around on big comfy couches and wait their turns, or rest after their performances and are now seated on a padded bench in an area previously belonging to the audience. It’s great for the viewing audience.
I don’t know that it’s so comfortable for the dancers except they no longer have to heave themselves up those stairs after dancing.
They have added a new “Warm Up Room” as well. I LIKE that idea! (A place to do quick run-throughs and review before stepping onto the floor.)
There were a lot of major surprises tonight! It was like Christmas—each couple bringing us a happy gift and surprises we never imagined we would experience from them!
We saw higher scores from the Judges than we have EVER seen in the history of DWTS! What a great Season Opener! Here’s the way it all unwrapped.
Brant Daugherty and Peta Murgatroyd
Brant (from Pretty Little Liars) and Peta kicked things off with a Cha Cha. Brant wore black with wide white striping down the legs of his pants and he was a KNOCK-OUT! Peta wore a V-Line of white fringe for her skirt and flesh colored inserts between her white striped top. Brant already had good looks in his favor, so the Judges dubbed him a “Single Threat” immediately. After they danced, they “upped” that to a “Double Threat”. Brant gave us a surprisingly good performance. Although he was a bit flat-footed, Len commented that it was “fabulous”! Great connection between the two! Total score: 23
Leah Remini and Tony Dovolani – Fox Trot
They wore stringy lingerie- type outfits for their romantic dance. I thought it was a little too simple for Leah. I think she could have done more. The judges thought she did a quite well and encouraged her to work on precision and extension a little more. Total score: 21
Corbin Bleu and Karina Smirnoff - Contemporary
SMASH HIT! This was right up Corbin’s alley since he has danced performance dance before in “High School Musical”. Their “killer” performance was one we might have seen along about Week 6 or 7! It was filled with sharp moves and lines, a beautiful lift and powerful moves. “Emotion in motion,” said Carrie Ann with her fun enthusiasm. Without a doubt, one of the best ever dances seen on Week 1. Total Score: 24
Jack Osbourne and Cheryl Burke – Fox Trot
We, in the viewing audience, were “pulling for Jack” who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis a year ago. He is dancing to increase awareness about the disease. He wanted to dance this Season as he may not be able to in the future. He was another happy surprise with his great upper body posture and extension as well as precise footwork. The Osbourne famiy was in the audience, including Kellie who has been a previous (and interesting) contestant on DWTS. I was genuinely pleased with Jack’s effort and performance, and I’m sure Sharon was bursting with pride. I’m predicting that we will see Jack improve dramatically in weeks to come. TOTAL SCORE: 23
Amber Riley and Derek Hough – Cha Cha
SMASH HIT #2!!!!! Amber blew us away—clear to the back of our chairs! We never imagined her being able to dance so well!!! She hit the breaks and nailed the difficult footwork and timing! “That’s how you do it!” Len said smiling. I was absolutely amazed at her coordination and precision. The choreography was FAR above “Beginner” level and she came through like a CHAMP! They earned THREE 9’s from the Judges—a FIRST for DWTS—which gave them the high score for the evening.! TOTAL SCORE: 27
Elizabeth Berkley and Val Chmerkovskiy – Contemporary (“Imagine”)
ANOTHER SURPRISE! Elizabeth was a dancer in her youth and happy to reconnect with that part of her life. She was LOVELY! Her poise and grace earned her comments from the Judges like “poetic angel”, a “beautiful showcase”, “wonderful and demanding choreography from quiet to passionate”; “you do have wings! You can fly!” Three 8’s TOTAL SCORE 24
Bill Nye and Tyne Stecklein – Cha Cha
“Weird Science” was an appropriate song for their Frankenstein’s Laboratory opening with Bill over Tyne (on a guerney). Colorful beakers, bubbling away, surrounded them. The audience LOVES Bill Nye! But the Judges were not so impressed. Len even commented that it “was like getting a waxing……painful while it happens and good when it’s over.” This is Tyne’s first year as a “pro”. I think she could have given Bill a little more difficulty and more interesting steps and moves. Carrie Ann told him that he has work to do, but he is the “HEART” of the show. It’s early. It’s my bet that Bill’s fans keep him on the show for awhile. TOTAL SCORE: 14
Keyshawn Johnson and Sharna Burgess – Cha Cha
Keyshawn was a bit embarrassed in rehearsal about using his hips and commented that he felt so uncomfortable doing that. Again, Sharna should have given him some more steps and moves. There was WAY too much “standing there” while Sharna danced around him. I think he can MOVE! He’s a football player and does coordination drills every day on the practice field. He looked great in his grey vest and pants. Sharna wore skin-tight, gold lame pants, and I’m not sure exactly HOW I felt about that. Her ensemble looked good, but it didn’t seem to match Keyshawn’s, nor seem quite appropriate for the dance. TOTAL SCORE: 17
Christina Milian and Mark Ballas – Contemporary
Their performance was smoky and smooth. They wore outfits adorned with some shredded fabric to offer the interpretation of being “tossed (or “thrown”) on”. Christina is a singer. Her hair was purple to match her purple beaded outfit. On my TV, her hair wasn’t quite the same purple and it actually clashed with her outfit. I thought it was a great idea, though. Jennifer Lopez was in the audience which concerned Christina and created some additional nervousness. I loved their number agreeing with the Judges that the choreography was well-suited for Christina. They also encouraged her to “open up” more and “go for it” because she’s got what it takes! TOTAL SCORE: 22
Bill Engvall and Emma Slater – Fox Trot
SURPRISE #4! Comedian Bill Engvall (Blue Collar Comedy Tour), shocked us with his confidence and effort out there! Len wanted a little more “fluidity”, Bruno complimented his “hint of elegance”, and Carrie Ann coached him to be less jerky in his movements and steps. All-in-all, we were expecting a pretty bad performance, but he was MUCH better than anticipated. Yes, he has a ways to go, but I was impressed with his commitment level. TOTAL SCORE: 18
Valerie Harper and Tristan McManus – Cha Cha
73 years old, brain cancer, and dancing up a storm! Carrie Ann was brought to tears by her performance. We all love love LOVE Rhoda Morgenstern so, the entire nation had to be sending her wonderful thoughts and energy. She gave it every inch of effort she had, all-the-while, wearing the “Rhoda-smile” that melts our hearts. Bruno told her she had “NOTHING to be afraid of! Go for it!” Len complimented her “ease, elegance and flow” along with “Tristen---great choreography!” TOTAL SCORE: 21
Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi and Sasha Farber – Cha Cha
They saved Snooki for last. Her everyday gym workouts have paid off in Spades! She looks fabulous. Staring in a dark dress, Sasha held the shoulders as Snooki danced right out in a flashy, beaded, fringy Cha Cha dress. Perfect! She danced VERY WELL indeed. I didn’t see her miss a step! Carrie Ann told her they were setting the “tone” for the season. Bruno: “I DO like a Wild Child!” Len loved her footwork and well-placed legs. He told her to “keep it going!” So in spite of the fact that Snooki said she “felt like a hot mess” in rehearsal, she came through with FLYING COLORS! TOTAL SCORE: 23
This was absolutely the best premier I have ever seen on DWTS, from the Red Carpet Opening (verrrrry cool!) to the overall outstanding level of dance that we saw. These dancers produced the highest scores EVER on Week 1. I do believe we have a GREAT season ahead. The Results will be revealed next week and new dances performed. When I saw the Line Up for Season 17, I wasn’t sure how good it would be, but let me tell you, after watching Week !, I am TOTALLY looking forward to the entire season!
You know……there are very few experiences in life that bring out the anticipation of a 5-year-old on Christmas morning, but this season is going to be filled to the brim with gifts of music, dance and surprises. So go ahead! Hang up a few lights! Plan a special dinner on Mondays and enjoy every moment!