Cue that theme music!

Posted: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 by Travis Cody in

It's live from Hollywood!

Woo and hoo!

We will proceed with our evening's frivolity while keeping the victims of the shooting at the Washington Navy Yard, and their families, in our thoughts.

Last week for our SYTYCD results finale we wore shorts and ate TACOS and CAKE so we could reserve our standard fru fru finery, our cheese and bread, our nice merlot, and some pie for this week's DWTS premier.

So now we've got our fru fru finery on, we've finished our cheese and bread, poured our nice merlot, eaten some pie, and we're ready for the dancing!

Our dancers have taken a page from SYTYCD and started the opening routine outside the studio.  It's a great way to introduce our celebrities, our pros, our judges, our hosts, and our Dance Troupe.  That piece was choreographed by Mandy Moore.  Yes, that Mandy Moore from SYTYCD.

We've got some staging adjustments.  The judging table has been flipped to the opposite side of the stage.  There is no more sky box, so the couples are back down on the floor both before and after performing.  Bruno is still annoying, however Len was not least to begin.

Best change?  So far we're not getting the awkward Brooke interviews before the scoring.  Tom is getting scores right after the dance with the judges' comments.  Although that is taking away a bit of the time I usually have to finish up my comments.  

Brant Daugherty and Peta Murgatroyd dance Cha Cha Cha.  He isn't quite as awkward as the rehearsal footage indicated.  Actually he's not bad at all.  His movement doesn't seem as fluid as it could be the longer he gets a chance to work, but he's not jerky either.  He's somewhere in between.  He's a guy who has a bit of natural rhythm and timing, and Peta has gradually molded that ability over the last few weeks to present a credible 60 second Cha Cha Cha.  He had decent hip movement and he was able to connect some of the moves.  His legs were a bit too stiff for my taste...severely stiff rather than relaxed and comfortably stiff as the dance typically requires.  Brant and Peta have a fun chemistry together, very youthful and flirty.  That's a good start.  Judges say 7,8,7 for a total of 22.

Leah Remini and Tony Dovalani dance Foxtrot.  She's got a saucy New Jersey type attitude.  She says she doesn't know if she can dance, but she looked pretty good in that rehearsal footage, and she looked even better on the floor.  I liked her facial expressions.  I liked her posture, although I wish she had kept her head up a little more.  She kept sneaking glances at her feet.  She also seems to have a natural downward tilt of her head that she'll have to work on.  I think that added to the attitude of the dance, but she'll get dinged for it later on when posture and head position becomes key.  I like this dance.  I thought the tempo was controlled and that allowed her to keep her timing and momentum.  Tony designed a routine that really suited her.  She has a personality that could fall toward crass, but the choreography made it more classy.  She made me smile watching her.  I enjoyed the performance and I like the way they worked together.  Judges say 7s across for a total of 21.

Corbin Bleu and Karina Smirnoff dance Contemporary.  OK gang.  Yes, Corbin is a trained dancer.  Not a trained ballroom dancer, but a trained performer in dance.  You may have seen him a couple of seasons ago in a Macy's Stars of Dancer performance.  You can probably call him a ringer.  So yes, he is outstanding in this opening routine.  Karina did a great job making the dance, considering it is her first attempt at contemporary choreography and she was nervous.  This was a fantastic performance.  It had joy and energy and wonderful creativity.  I loved the flow and fluidity.  I thought Corbin had wonderful technique and excellent extension.  With this piece he was able to show off his strength and power, as well as his artistry.  Very well done.  It's going to be interesting to see how he translates all of this to ballroom and Latin styles.  Judges say 8s across for a total of 24.

Jack Osbourne and Cheryl Burke dance Foxtrot.  Jack was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis last year and has already been through some scary symptoms with loss of vision and paralysis.  But you can't tell by the way he moves on the floor.  I thought he made a wonderful frame for Cheryl, and it looked like he was pretty close to leading the dance.  He's also very light on his feet.  He has terrific balance and timing.  Everything looks very fluid and natural to him.  His arms and hands are a bit stiff, but the routine was so enjoyable to watch.  His footwork and posture were terrific.  Cheryl gave him some tough footwork and he pulled it off quite well.  His sister Kelly was a revelation when she stepped on the ballroom, and so is Jack.  That was a terrific first effort, full of personality.  Well done.  Judges say 8,8,7 for a total of 23.

Amber Riley and Derek Hough dance Cha Cha Cha.  The lady can move.  She's a powerhouse gang.  I did not know what to expect.  She threw herself into that Cha Cha Cha and owned it.  Derek added a lot of the kind of choreography Len is going to hate.  But guess what?  Len loved it!  I'm so glad because she was awesome.  You could possibly say she has an advantage because of her theatre background and because of Glee.  You could say that and you might be right.  Whether you're right or not, you can't say she didn't kill that Cha Cha Cha.  She had technique.  She had timing.  She had rhythm.  She seamlessly connected one movement to the next.  She was sassy and saucy.  She and Derek had terrific chemistry.  You'll recall that I chose Amber as one of my dream cast.  I suggested she be paired with Louis van Amstel, but she'll do just fine with Derek.  Judges say 9s across for a total of 27.

Elizabeth Berkley Lauren and Val Chmerkovskiy dance Contemporary.  She took dance as a child and teenager, was one of the original Showgirls, but then gave up dance to pursue other interests.  She has very nice lines, although it felt like she was holding back just a little.  That could have been nerves or lack of confidence.  I like the way the piece was staged.  It was fluid, but also made excellent use of contractions and extensions.  She was elegant and very beautiful.  I liked the nuance.  There were many of those pauses to breathe, then redirects from one phrase to the next.  Val has become quite comfortable choreographing Contemporary routines.  Judges say 8s across for a total of 24. 

Bill Nye and Tyne Stecklein dance Cha Cha Cha.  Hey!  He's a swing dancer and he's pretty good according to rehearsal footage.  I wish they hadn't played the routine so much for laughs.  If he can swing dance, he can Cha Cha Cha but he didn't really get much of a chance to show it.  He came off as awkward, but I don't think that's the reality of his ability.  I think he can do this better than that performance.  They didn't get enough content, and the content that was there just wasn't done very well.  I think that's due to Tyne's inexperience.  He might be a geeky science guy, but he loves to dance and I think he can be credible.  The crowd loves him, but who doesn't love Bill Nye the Science Guy?  I mean come on!  How many people come on DWTS and teach you something in the first 20 seconds?  The difference between a beaker and a flask...a flask has a neck of course!  Judges say 5,4,5 for a total of 14.

Keyshawn Johnson and Sharna Burgess dance Cha Cha Cha.  Keyshawn is doing what many football players do in the first dance.  He's relying on club dancing experience to get him through.  It's always surprising to see what happens with the athletes that come on the show.  Some are better with the ballroom styles, while others take to Latin much quicker.  Most football players struggle with keeping shoulders back and down.  Keyshawn seemed awkward and uncomfortable to begin the dance, then seemed to loosen up as it progressed.  He had a lot of trouble with his footwork.  He's a big guy, so he'll have to work on timing and dancing to that size.  He definitely needs to polish things up and be sharper.  Judges say 6,5,6 for a total of 17.

Christina Milan and Mark Ballas dance Contemporary.  She's terrific.  I love the shapes Mark put in this routine.  The choreography was quite creative.  The routine had lots of emotion.  I'd like to see her dance with more confidence and emphasize the motion and shapes.  I liked the intensity of the music combined with the sharpness of the movement.  I think she's going to take notes on board and be able to improve each week.  For example, the opening move of the routine...if she were to dance that again a month from now, she would extend the movement out through her fingers to infinity, which would set a more powerfully intense tone.  I think once she watches this back, she'll understand that she can do whatever Mark sets in front of her, and that confidence will take her far.  Judges say 7,7,8 for a total of 22.

Bill Engvall and Emma Slater dance Foxtrot.  Bill is one of my favorite comedians.  This actually wasn't bad.  He remembered all the steps and didn't make any mistakes.  He was also smoother on his feet than I expected.  He actually led Emma through the dance, or at least looked like he did.  Emma did a great job with choreography too.  She gave him steps he could do, but didn't make it too easy.  I thought he danced with confidence.  I thought his posture was pretty good.  I thought he was a bit too jerky at he was jumping out from behind a bush.  I think that he'll do much better in the ballroom styles than in the Latin.  I thought he had decent musicality, but he needs to work on his timing because there were a couple of times he fell behind the music.  But he's not the worst of the bunch by a long stretch.  Judges say 6s across for a total of 18.

Valerie Harper and Tristan MacManus dance Foxtrot.  I think it's amazing that she has decided to try this.  It doesn't matter how well or how poorly this routine goes.  The fact that she has made it longer than the three months she was given after a diagnosis of terminal brain cancer...that's inspiration enough.  She's having so much's all over her face.  She's also dancing pretty well.  Her footwork is pretty good.  I loved the spins.  She just laid her head back and grinned.  You can't not enjoy that.  Tristan's choreography was wonderful.  She was graceful and stylish.  She was confident in her movement.  I thought the piece had an elegant flow to it.  Judges say 7s across for a total of 21.  She earned that score gang.  She didn't get that score because of her illness or her courage or for being who she is.  She got it because she danced that well.

Nicole Polizzi and Sasha Farber dance Cha Cha Cha.  You may know her as Snookie, but I'll be referring to her as Nicole.  In fact, she said in one of the interviews that she thought of herself as Nicole now.  She's not polished or precise, but she's got plenty of good hip action.  Sasha took a bit of the club dance and built that into the routine so she was comfortable.  Then he put the competition discipline into the routine to bring her into line.  Her footwork was good.  I was impressed with how she controlled her legs.  I was concerned that she might come across as raunchy, but she danced with just enough restraint so that turned into an acceptable level of sass.  I've always thought that this program exposes a phony pretty quickly, and I like that Nicole presents as more genuine than the Snookie persona.  Judges say 8,8,7 for a total of 23.

Here's our first leader board of the season:

27 Amber and Derek
24 Corbin and Karina
24 Elizabeth and Val
23 Jack and Cheryl
23 Nicole and Sasha
22 Christina and Mark
22 Brant and Peta
21 Leah and Tony
21 Valerie and Tristan
18 Bill and Emma
17 Keyshawn and Sharna
14 Bill and Tyne

Terrific show!  We had some high scores, and I thought they were deserved.  We had some low scores...also deserved but with some potential to improve.  The pace of the show was very fast.  I nearly didn't have enough time to get my thoughts down.

So no results this week.  We'll have week 2 performances next Monday along with eliminations.  We'll see how that format works.  You know I don't like it for SYTYCD.

Check back here tomorrow for encores.

Later gang!


  1. I fear that Bill Nye will not get the chance to show us if he can really dance or not. Since there is NO time to build a fan base, the first dance has to be impressive for the "Unknowns" or they are gone before they can blossom into dancers.

  1. Cherie says:

    Very good opening show. Not too much that was cringe worth, except for when my tv signal was breaking up a little bit. (When the sun sets the signal from my ABC station can go a bit wonky.) I'm sure that it was just a coincidence that it was when Bill Nye was dancing. lol It will be interesting to see how the new format goes. I wasn't clear on the relationship between judges scores, home voting, and eliminations. Now, I've read the rules on the DWTS' website, and I'm cool with it. No one will be dancing after they've already technically been eliminated. They'll have another set of judges scores entering the equation before a final decision is made. If they do it right, it has the potential to make the show more exciting. Will have to see how it goes.

  1. I absolutely love Bill Nye. I've never actually watched Dancing with the Stars, but I did just for him!