Dancing with the Stars, Episode 1: A Waltz or a Death in the Family?by Jill Jones -- 06/03/2005
Cue the music, it’s time for Dancing with the Stars, ABC’s new reality show that has been described as the ultimate ballroom showdown. Which of our celebrity contestants will shine this evening and who will have two left feet? Let’s watch!
Wow! The producers have spared no expense. In addition to a fun kaleidoscope opening, we also have a live orchestra and two co-hosts, Tom Bergeron, who has hosted Hollywood Squares and America’s Funniest Home Videos, and Lisa Canning, best know for her work as an on-air correspondent for Entertainment Tonight.
It’s apparent as the show begins that the celebrities, not the professional dancers, are truly the focus of the competition. One by one, each is introduced; however, their partners are never mentioned. Hopefully, we’ll get to know these individuals later on because I have a feeling they will be quite interesting.
Tonight, each couple will dance either the waltz or cha cha cha. First up are Ashly Delgrosso and Joey McIntyre. In a pre-recorded introduction, we finally get to meet the professional dancer and learn more about the celebrity. Ashly is extremely adorable and admits to having had a crush on Joey when he was in New Kids on the Block. Joey says that he doesn’t like the shirts Ashly has picked out for the competition. In fact, he would rather go shirtless than wear one of her selections! For the love of all that is good in this world, please spare us from seeing Joey dance shirtless!
The couple will be performing the cha cha cha to “Crazy in Love.” Call me old fashioned, but I assumed the dancers would use more traditional music. Ashly and Joey hit the floor and do a nice job. They have a lot of energy and the song fits them. It just doesn’t come across to me as being the cha cha cha, but I’m not a cha cha cha expert, so who am I to argue? One thing I do notice is that Joey looks a bit stiff and she has more to do than he does. I wonder if this will be a reoccurring theme tonight.
Tom introduces our judges, who are ready with their critiques. First is Len Goodman, a professional ballroom dance judge, who states that in the cha cha cha, he looks for a lot of wiggly bums! People, I’m not making this up for your amusement! He actually says, “wiggly bums.” He also explains that if he sees any lifts from the participants, they will have to answer to the judges. Len uses the words fabulous and terrific to describe Joey’s performance.
Next is Carrie Ann Inaba. She is a film, TV, and stage tour choreographer. Carrie states that Joey needs to avoid stomping his feet so much and be more sharp. I didn’t even pay attention to his feet – I was mesmerized by what Ashly was doing.
Our last judge is Bruno Tonioli, who is a film, music video, and TV choreographer. He explains that from time to time, Joey’s posture softens and that he should practice putting his nose in the air to maintain a more appropriate stance.
At this point, the dancers go backstage to chat with Lisa and receive the celebrity’s score from the judges. Each judge assigns a score from one to 10; therefore, the highest obtainable score is 30. Carrie and Len each give Joey a seven, while Bruno gives him a six, for a total score of 20. (Don’t worry; I’ll do the math for you.) Tom points out the fact that Joey is in first place. Oh, the humor never stops on this show! He also reminds viewers that they can call in their votes or vote online at www.dancingwiththestars.abc.com.
Dancing next are Rachel Hunter and Jonathan Roberts. While it appears that Ashly and Joey had fun during their practice sessions, I get the impression that Rachel and Jonathan were tense and stressed. He states that she doesn’t focus or concentrate on what he is teaching her. Even though she claims to want to prove she can do ballroom dancing, we see clips of her complaining about how hard it is and practically giving up on it. And to think, this is the couple I picked to win the competition and coveted trophy! Tonight, they will be waltzing to “Three Times a Lady.” During the performance, I notice that Rachel’s height helps her to achieve beautiful, long lines during some of her moves; however, I again don’t feel like I am watching a waltz. Perhaps I’m just being thrown off by the music. Overall, I feel that Rachel looks elegant and comfortable during her performance, but what do the judges think?
Len explains that during a waltz, he is looking specifically at how the dancers hold one another, their posture, and overall movements. With that, he says that he didn’t see enough actual waltzing in the dance. OK, so it’s not just me. Carrie, on the other hand, feels that Rachel did an amazing job. Bruno agrees and calls Rachel a turquoise dream, referring to the color of her gown.
Backstage, Rachel receives her official scores from the judges. Carrie gives her a seven, while Len gives her a six. Bruno also gives Rachel a seven for a score of 20. Despite having the stomach flu, Rachel is tied with Joey for first place.
Edyta Sliwinska and Evander Holyfield take the stage next. In her interview, Edyta describes her dancing with words such as sexual and dangerous! Now we’re talking! Despite his boxing background, Evander is having problems with his footwork. Cut to footage of him falling over Edyta while practicing. Back at the live show, the couple will be doing the cha cha cha to the song, “Respect.” While Edyta is doing her thing, Evander doesn’t seem to have much to add to the dance. Don’t get me wrong, the few moves that he does are executed well; however, most of the time, he just stands behind his partner. Many of his dance moves are the same, but he wiggles his bum a lot, so this should score points with the judges. There are also some grinding moves in their routine. Edyta warned us about this!
Bruno is up first. He says that he liked Evander’s dancing, but he should try to move more lightly. Len praises Evander’s dancing and says he was terrific. Carrie finishes by saying that Evander has potential; however, he tends to lick his lips a lot and should avoid doing so. Backstage, Evander receives his score. Carrie, Len, and Bruno give him a five, seven, and six respectively for a total of 18 points. Not bad! When asked what he thinks of his score, Evander says that he can always improve upon it. What a great attitude!
Kelly Monaco and Alec Mazo are up next. Alec mentions during his interview that he is always the best-looking guy on the dance floor. Kelly says that he was so serious when they first met; her goal was to help him lighten up a bit. It takes some time, but eventually they begin to bond and have fun.
The couple is waltzing to “I Have Nothing.” Kelly has to spin quite often during their performance. The reason this is significant is that in her interview earlier, she mentions to Alec that she blew out both of her eardrums while scuba diving, so she’s having problems with her equilibrium. Alec offers to remove the spinning, but Kelly asks that he keep it in their dance. The couple looks beautiful during their performance and Kelly seems to dance somewhat effortlessly.
Carrie is first with her critique. She says that Kelly looked stiff and the performance wasn’t enjoyable. Bruno asks if there was a death in the family because her face was so serious. I noticed that as well, but I assumed that’s how it should be for a waltz. Len tells a long story of how dancing is like a lawn and flowers basically just to say that her performance had too much in it. Personally, I thought she did a great job. The news only gets worse as Kelly receives a five from Carrie and a four from both Bruno and Len. Her total is 13 points.
Before moving on to the next couple, Tom actually provides us with some helpful information. Viewers at home are able to vote five times per phone line and once online per e-mail account. If you have more than one favorite performer, share the love and the votes!
The next couple to dance is Charlotte Jorgensen and John O’Hurley, and they will be doing the cha cha cha to “September.” During their interview, it becomes apparent that John is a very intelligent and entertaining man; however, when I look at him, I see J. Peterman. During the performance, John makes a lot of facial expressions. He also appears to be having fun on the dance floor. Choreographically speaking, this is my favorite cha cha cha routine so far; unlike Joey and Evander, who were given less to do than their partners, John is moving around the floor a lot and is more of a participant than an observer. At the end of the routine, John touches Charlotte’s nose with his in a playful manner. How cute… and a bit disturbing!
The judges have nothing but praise for John. Bruno says that John gave a good performance; now he has to build on it. Carrie simply says that it was fantastic. Len, who is full of allegories and metaphors tonight, states that John is a golfer and he just scored a hole in one! The judges present their scores. Carrie and Len both give John a seven while Bruno gives him a six. John is now tied for first place with 20 points. Lisa asks John why viewers should vote for him. John quotes J. Peterman by simply stating, “Why, indeed!”
Our final performance of the evening is from Trista Sutter and Louis van Amstel. Trista says that her goal is to show the public that reality stars are talented. Louis says that he is a legend and that it feels good to be worshipped. Is this a contest to see who has the biggest ego? Now it’s time for the drama portion of the contest as Trista explains she has herniated discs and that her back could go out when Louis dips her. Why, may I ask, would you put yourself in such a position? Oh, I forgot… to show the viewing public that reality stars are talented…
Trista and Louis waltz to the song “Come away with Me.” Trista is smiling the entire time and enjoying herself. Many of her motions are very smooth; however, you can tell that from time to time, she is a bit hesitant with her moves. It’s probably because of her back. My biggest complaint about her performance outside of the signature pink she is wearing is that at the end, she and Louis very casually walk off the floor. I don’t get it!
Carrie is up first with her critique. She is very complimentary, saying that the waltz reminds her of a fairytale and that the performance reminded her of a fairytale too. She does tell Louis to be careful when he dips Trista because he appeared to be throwing her. I’m sure the legend didn’t appreciate that! Len comments that the performance was very balanced, but that he didn’t like the walk-off at the end. Bruno also states the Trista shows potential, but needs to make her lines longer when she extends herself. As an added bonus, we are treated to a shot of her husband Ryan in the audience. How nice!
Before giving us Trista’s results, the show takes a commercial break; however, when the live program resumes, Tom gives us a recap and states that three people are tied for first place, two are tied for second (he doesn’t want to say fourth place, which is what it is) and one team is in last place. Wait a moment! We didn’t get Trista’s scores, so how do we know there are two people in second place? At this point, only Evander is in second place! This is going to be the biggest scandal since Coreygate on American Idol! In any case, you know the routine and now you know the results; all three judges give Trista a six for a total of 18 points.
Our contestants stand as follows:
Joey, Rachel, and John – 20 points
Evander and Trista – 18 points
Kelly – 13 points
Kelly fans, don’t despair! No one is being eliminated tonight. Instead, viewers’ votes will be added to the judges’ scores from this week and next week; the celebrity with the lowest score will then be eliminated.
I thought this show was going to be completely awful; however, I now have to admit that even if I weren’t recapping it, I would still watch. The judges were entertaining without being over the top and the dance routines were enjoyable. I could do without the obvious questions asked by Lisa backstage and her excitement over a tie, but overall, I thought it was a satisfying hour. Tune in next week to find out which celebrity is being eliminated and then read the show recap here at RealityNewsOnline. Or, if you missed this first episode, it will re-air on Sunday, June 5, at 7/6 Central on ABC.
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