Cue that theme music...

Posted: Tuesday, March 22, 2011 by Travis Cody in

It's Season 12, live from Hollywood!

Oh how I have missed that theme music.  Settle in's Premier Night.  We've had our cheese and crackers, our nice Merlot, and our CAKE.  We are ready for some dancing!

Chelsea Kane and Mark Ballas dance Foxtrot.  From rehearsal footage it seems like they had an instant connection.  She doesn't seem nervous at all leading off the show.  Her personality is front and center, and that smile is so engaging.  She's got a little trouble with some flat feet.  I'd like to see her extend her arms and make some better lines.  But that was a delightful start.  I enjoyed most of Mark's choreography, except for when he disengaged from real Foxtrot.  Chelsea has a ton of charisma.  Performance is not going to be her issue at all.  She just needs to learn technique and she's going to be just fine.  I like her.  Judges say 7's across for a total of 21.  I think she could have earned an 8 or two, but she did have those flat feet every once in awhile so maybe that's why it was just 7's.

Wendy Williams and Tony Dovolani dance Cha Cha Cha.  I mean this with all respect...Mama has a lot to use, and she needs to relax and use it.  She was very unsure of her steps, and I think that was due to her nerves.  She didn't dance very well, but she got through it.  Cha Cha Cha was the perfect dance for her to begin, but she didn't bring the force of her personality to it.  And she needs to stay clear of the monitors when the rehearsal footage plays before the performance.  She's an emotional woman anyway, and she doesn't need the extra emotion from that.  I like that the judges encouraged her rather than fussed about her lack of technique.  That's not her biggest issue.  She needs to find her confidence.  If she can feel confident in what she's doing and not worry so much about it, she can do the steps and put on a performance and that's what gets the fans.  I like her attitude.  Judges say 5,4,5 for a total of 14.  I don't like the 4.  Granted she didn't dance well, but 5's across would have been fine to start.

Hines Ward and Kym Johnson dance Cha Cha Cha.  He has those panCAKE hands like most of the football players have had.  He'll have to soften those hands up.  But he's a very strong lead for Kym.  He had control of that dance from start to finish, and you just don't see that very often this early in the competition.  He had all the steps.  He had the hips.  He had the personality, charisma, and performance.  That was really outstanding.  There are a few technical issues that I expect he'll be able to clean up.  I am very impressed.  He had his backside pulled in, which is hard to do because football players naturally hunch.  He did have some of those rounded shoulders, but he was also able to hold his frame up in spots.  I think he's an early favorite and he's only going to get better.  Judges say 7's across for a total of 21.  Huh?  Trust me gang, the dance was better than that.

Petra Nemcova and Dmitry Chaplin dance Foxtrot.  I really love a slow Foxtrot.  Dmitry's choreography took into account her injury issues.  In case you didn't know, she broke her hip in four places during the 2004 tsunami.  I don't know how much dancing she's going to be able to do, but this performance was beautiful.  It was graceful and elegant.  She's so tall, and in these slower dances she has the ability to make some wonderful lines.  What she'll have to do is learn to connect each movement.  She has a natural charm.  I like her.  Judges say 6's across for a total of 18.  I think that's the right score because when you look at the full dance, regardless of how classy and charming it was, there wasn't a lot of content.  Still, I'm concerned about her ability to do choreography at a faster tempo.

Romeo Miller and Chelsie Hightower dance Cha Cha Cha.  This young man was set to dance way back in Season 2, but due to injury, his father Master P competed disastrously in his place.  He can get his feet moving, but he needs to unlock the hips.  If he can do that, he'll have it.  The personality is there.  He had what I call hip hop hips...they go back and forth but they don't swivel.  Latin hips need to swivel.  He needs to work on posture, frame, and footwork.  There's a difference between relaxing into the dance and treating it casually.  When you relax, the steps come easier and all the little details can be emphasized.  But when you take it casually, you get sloppy.  Judges say 7,6,6 for a total of 19.  I think if he wants to work on improving his technique, he's going to do very well. 

Sugar Ray Leonard and Anna Trebunskaya dance Foxtrot.  You'd think that boxers would naturally be light on their feet, which is sometimes true.  But they also have the same posture issues as football players.  They hunch their shoulders and roll their torso forward.  You can really see the tension in Ray's upper body, and that affects the timing with his feet in hold.  But on the positive side, he's got tremendous personality.  He was a strong lead, despite the posture issues.  He made all of his steps, despite a slight turn in with his feet.  Outside of hold, he lit up the ballroom.  Performance is not going to be an issue for him.  The biggest problem is going to be posture.  If Anna can get his shoulders back and his torso straightened up, he has some potential.  Judges say 6,5,6 for a total of 17.  That's a good score considering how hunched over he was in hold.  That wasn't easy to overlook.

Kendra Wilkinson and Louis van Amstel dance Cha Cha Cha.  Wow.  That started really well with some terrific spins.  Then there were a couple of places where she lost her timing.  But overall that was well done.  She had her hips working.  I was concerned that it was going to get a little raunchy, but it never did.  She needs to work on her legs, which were sometimes rubbery and mostly bent at the knee when they should have been straight.  The choreography was really tough for the first dance, and you could see that in her face as she focused on hitting her steps.  She's got the rhythm and the timing.  Now all she has to do is learn her technique and then put it all together in a complete performance.  Louis is the perfect teacher for that.  Judges say 6's across for a total of 18.  I would have thrown at least one 7, despite the tendency toward spaghetti legs.

Ralph Macchio and Karina Smirnoff dance Foxtrot.  Oh my.  Did you hear it?  Pam let out a squee.  She startled me!  Who knew?   My Pam has a seekrit crush on Ralph Macchio.  And that was quite the Foxtrot.  He led the dance throughout.  And that was some difficult choreography.  There was a bit of a bobble near the top of the dance, but overall it was so well put together.  That's got to be one of the best first week Foxtrots in the history of the show.  Very impressive.  He had technique, clean steps, and a full performance.  From the rehearsal footage, it was a complete surprise to me that he was able to do that well.  He's going to have the fan base.  It'll be interesting to see if he handles the Latin styles as well, but Karina has herself a real contender.  Judges say 8's across for a total of 24.  Pam says YES!

Chris Jericho and Cheryl Burke dance Cha Cha Cha.  The question is, can he be delicate and graceful and smooth?  We have a rockin' Cha Cha Cha and more personality.  I'm pleasantly surprised by his quality of movement and musicality.  There's a bit of stepping through the dance, but he's not plodding and the stepping is on time.  He's actually quite light on his feet.  And he hit every step.  That was well done.  He's going to have a constant struggle to keep his shoulders down.  The choreography wasn't very difficult, but knowing Cheryl that was probably strategic.  She made a dance that he could do well, and he performed it.  And I appreciated that he seemed to enjoy himself with it.  I don't know anything about the guy as a wrestler, but as a performer on this show, I like him.  Judges say 7,6,6 for a total of 19.  I think the lower scores are for lack of content.

Mike Catherwood and Lacey Schwimmer dance Foxtrot.  He is severely pigeon toed, so he'll have to work on turning those feet out.  He also is not naturally graceful.  In his favor, he made it through the dance and got most of the steps in the right order.  He's clearly not a dancer.  His movements were very jerky and clunky.  The movements were not coordinated or connected, and he wasn't very musical.  Still, I thought Len and Bruno were a little too harsh with him.  He's not graceful and he's not a visual performer.  That's a double whammy.  He's got a lot to overcome in a short time, and he clearly knows it.  There's no need to make him feel worse.  It'll be interesting to see if he has enough of a regional fanbase to keep him around so he can dance a Waltz.  I find that an uncoordinated celebrity can make a nice memory with a Waltz on this show.  Judges say 5,4,4 for a total of 13.

Kirstie Alley and Maks Chmerkovskiy dance Cha Cha Cha.  The woman is 60 years old.  Yes, I said 60.  I never would have thought these two would hit it off the way they have.  And I had no idea she was going to be able to dance that well.  That was not an easy Cha Cha Cha, and she did more than get through it.  She owned it.  That was a lot of fun to watch.  She's got technique, footwork, posture, and performance.  Her musicality was outstanding.  She had the character of the dance...Cha Cha Cha is cheeky, and Kirstie had the cheek factor times 20.  That was impressive.  Well done my dear and well done Maks!  Judges say 8,7,8 for a total of 23.  I don't know why Len marked her down.  I thought that was 8's across.  I think her personality was clearly suited to this dance, and it's going to be interesting to see how she adapts to the ballroom styles.

Here's our very first leader board:

24 Ralph and Karina 
23 Kirstie and Maks
21 Hines and Kym
21 Chelsea and Mark
19 Romeo and Chelsie 
19 Chris and Cheryl
18 Kendra and Louis
18 Petra and Dmitry 
17 Ray and Anna
14 Wendy and Tony
13 Mike and Lacey

Gotta say it gang...I love this cast!  There's a theme in my commentary and that's personality.  Just about every celebrity has it in abundance.

To anyone who commented on one of those pre-show snarky review articles that this was an awful cast, I say pppppfffffttttt! 

We had no idea how we were going to vote when the show began.  Anyone could have caught our eye.  For last night's performances, Pam settled on Ralph and Kirstie.  I split between Ralph, Cheslea, and Hines. 

We have to wait a week for results.  Each of our pairs will dance again next Monday, either Quickstep or Jive.  And then we'll have our first elimination next Tuesday.  I won't make you wait for my encore selections...I'll do that for tomorrow.

It's on gang!  Welcome to Season 12!


  1. Drat! I'm sorry I didn't watch through the entire show. I missed Kirstie. I probably missed a couple others, too. I fell asleep. It's the konk on my head. Glad to read your wrap-up to know she did well. Thanks!

  1. I saw Ralph and that was it. I need your recaps, as I am prepping for my show.

    Enjoy it and keep writing

  1. BeckEye says:

    This is the first season since, well, the first season that I'm actually watching. As a Steelers fan, I HAVE to cheer on Hines Ward. My boy's got some moves!! I really like the Karate Kid too, but he's obviously practicing black magic to keep looking so young, so Hines should win. :)

  1. GGG: Set the DVR. You'll want to see this season. I hope your head feels better soon!

    V: I shall do my best.

    Beck: LOL! Pam's squee told me how well Ralph has aged. And I was pleasantly surprised by your man Hines Ward.

  1. I was absolutely stunned at how good Kirstie Alley was. She may not win this thing but she will go much deeper in the competition than anyone suspects.

  1. Julie says:

    PanCAKE! Bwhahahaahha! Love your reviews and YES I'll get to enjoy my hunk 'o man a little longer then I expected!