Welcome back to the carnival, ballroom dance and/or sequined fringe aficionados. Our ninth season kicked off last night with dances from this season’s male stars, and you will already know if you’ve read my partner’s hilarious take on the evening that the gentlemen by and large dropped massive hunks of suck on the ballroom floor. But our ladies are poised to redeem this premiere week; there’s at least one so-called ringer and a lot of potential in this group, and I for one am ready to and see how it all shakes out.
You can mentally reacquaint yourselves with our charming hosts, judges, and Samantha, while our female pros do a glittery cha cha to “She’s a Lady,” in honor of its being Ladies’ Night. Next, all of the stars and pros of every gender file out to what seems like an extra fanfared rendition of the theme song. Of the ladies, Mya looks particularly elegant, and Macy Gray looks particularly bewildered when taking the stage.
Just like on Mens’ Night, the ladies will each get to perform either a salsa of Viennese Waltz, and then they’ll do the “relay” thing with the foxtrot and cha cha.
First up! My sentimental favorite, Debi Mazar, who I love and will not be able to say a word against. They play a little reel of her being tough-talking and brash throughout her acting career, and then some priceless footage of her decked out in early 80s hip hop regalia as a dancer on the short-lived Bandstand rip-off, Graffiti Rock. No Madonna videos though. Debi is partnered with Maks, which makes me happy since it pretty much ensures she’ll be around a few weeks. Maks could show up dancing with an old mop wearing a ribbon its head and he’d still get at least a 3-week bye. So Debi and Maks meet and try to work out a salsa chemistry, but we get footage of Debi running the rehearsal by dint of running her mouth. Maks finds her short attention span a bit of a challenge; I find it hilarious, especially her telling Maks he has legs like an old Barbie doll. “If I can learn to dance as fast as I can talk,” Debi says, “this salsa is going to fabulous.” Okay let’s see, shall we?
Debi’s costume is the coolest looking red feather tutu; she and a red vested Maks dance to something that actually sounds like a traditional salsa, and Debi is not half bad. Her shoulders tend to hunch in hold, and she loses her place once, but her legs look great, and she is clearly having a ball. They end just the slightest bit before the downbeat, but otherwise I enjoyed it muchly. Len thinks Debi didn’t have enough hip action, but Bruno loved the “bazooms.” He cautions her to keep her weight forward instead of on her heels, but she has a bunch of potential. Carrie Ann says she was thinking too much, and it showed in her lack of connection to the dance. Scores: 6 from CA, 5 from Len, and a 5 from Bruno for a total of 16. Debi promises to work harder next time.
Melissa Contains It All
Now on is my nostalgic favorite, Melissa Joan Hart. You may know her as Sabrina the Teenage Witch, but I know her as Clarissa the pre-teen role model with the coolest room ever.
ClarissaMelissa is dancing with Mark Ballas, last season’s champion. They meet and talk about how Mark is so gonna win again, and then get started in the V Waltz. Melissa struggles a bit with her posture and stepping on her own feet, and we are left to wonder if she can get elegant enough in time for the show. Can she? Her dress certainly helps – long white gown with a pearl tiara. The dance starts off with some of that boring sidelong glancing and walking around wish-wash that nobody likes, and it might be the drippy song (oops, turns out that’s David Cook’s “Time of My Life;” sorry Cook fans.) but the rest of the dance is pretty languid and wishy-washy too. Repressed, I think is a good word. Melissa is a bit jerky, especially when turning, and when hitting that split at the end, but overall she acquitted herself well.
Bruno says he could tell she was nervous, and then laughs horrifically at her like he is going to bury her alive later tonight. Bruno says the dance was proper, but boring, and because Melissa was tense her posture was crap. Tom says, “Bela Lugosi called and wants his laugh back.” Pretty apt comparison, Tom! And pretty cool use of a dead joke too. Carrie Ann says more about connection, whatever, is this going to be her very own “artistry”? And then Len brings the gate round by saying the beginning was “all sweet and sickly” (agreed), but he thinks Melissa’s hold was good, but her footwork during the turns needs work. Hard-hitting Backstage Reporter Samantha asks Melissa if she regrets doing the show, and Melissa’s like, “Are you kidding; I’m on TV dancing.” Scores: the mark of the beast for a total of 18.
And we’re officially on a roll of people I actually know and like; coming on third is my personal favorite, Mya. Who you may know as ¼ of the hit machine that remade “Lady Marmalade,” but who I know as a big chunk of the soundtrack to my high school career. Mya has a lot of dance experience (if you want to know how much, check out this tribute to Janet Jackson, where she dances to “Pleasure Principle” and “Rhythm Nation”) but has never studied ballroom. She’s partnered with Dmitry Chaplin, and is enthralled with how cute he is. And tall. And cute. Their rehearsal footage is all about how humbled she is learning this new form of dance; I guess they’re trying to cut some of that “ringer” talk off at the pass. Good luck with that!
Out on the floor Mya is looking very Audrey, or rather, very Eliza Doolittle at the ball. She and Dmitry V Waltz to “Vision of Love,” and turn in a very lovely number. It actually reminds me of a slow dance at a sock hop. Anyway. Mya has awesome extension. Carrie Ann says “Way to set the bar!” and compliments Mya’s lines, musicality, and smooth turns. Len says the smoothness was too much American Smooth, and he prefers his V Waltzes to be more Viennese, thank you very much. Oh, DANCMSTR. The audience boos him soundly, and he sticks to his guns, calling the dance a theatrical hodgepodge. Bruno then picks out a hodgepodge of adjectives to lavish on Mya: artistic, emotional, magnificent. There’s a bit of a ruckus there, as Bruno and Len try to prove who can be most out of his chair, and then Len caps it by saying that Mya is a terrific dancer, but Dmitry’s choreography failed. Hard-hitting Backstage Reporter Samantha tries to wring the tension out of the moment but only succeeds in letting Mya be boringly diplomatic and respectful of everyone’s opinions. Scores: 8s from Carrie Ann and Bruno, and a 5 from Len, who is honestly being a bit more of a grump than usual. That wouldn’t be a diversionary tactic, would it? Hmm. Mya and Dmitry’s score is a pretty lackluster 21.
Out of Steam
Now for people I don’t care about. Ha. Former model Kathy Ireland is up now. I love that she introduces herself by saying, “I used to do some modeling back in the last century.” She would now like to be known more for her business skills. And of course he ballroom dancing. Kathy is partnered with Tony Dovolani, who seems to always be partnered with the elegant older lady types. Their rehearsal is pretty stiff, because Kathy is pretty stiff. She offers an anecdote of trying a salsa class once (I’m assuming it was around the time Ricky Martin was a household name) and never returning, and spends most of rehearsal trying to shake her shimmy and find the beat.
They are dazzling in gold sequins and fringe out on the floor. Kathy is still very obviously counting the steps, so her moves don’t have the energy they should; her hips are stiff and her ribs barely – if ever – move, but she’s doing it all with such a big smile and such enthusiasm that I can’t help but root for her. Len dings her for the lack of energy, and says she didn’t sizzle. Bruno agrees; he thinks Kathy was dancing on eggshells and so turned in a sexless salsa. Capital crime in his book. Carrie Ann compliments her posture but agrees that Kathy needs to bring more out onto the floor. Scores: 6-5-5 for a total of 16. Tony says that gives them lots of room to grow. He’s certainly mellowed out lately.
Baz Luhrman’s going to be a guest judge next week! This is almost as exciting as winning the Pan-Pacific Grand Prix!
Bothered and Bewildered
Natalie Coughlin is not just any swimmer; she is an Olympic gold medalist, my friends. She didn’t get much attention at Beijing this year thanks to Phelps, but she currently holds the record among American female athletes for most gold medals at one games. She’s paired with Alec, one of my favorite pros, and they meet and talk about how difficult the salsa is for the first week. Natalie finds it frustrating not to be the best at what she’s doing, and she has a bit of an Intensity Face whenever she’s doing something challenging. Alec tries to get the face to change from hardcore grimace to manic smile, but both look pretty freaky to me. Here’s hoping she can find a balance. They do a cute little salsa to a Lou Bega song, and Natalie looks really good. She sometimes anticipates moves, and seems to be waiting for Alec before the bigger turns, but that’s small. And she smiles throughout.
Tom congratulates her on abandoning the Intensity Face. Bruno calls her a Million Dollar Mermaid, but does knock her for freezing up sometimes and having to catch up. He does say she has everything it takes to make it. Carrie Ann calls her a diamond in the rough but wants her to get more in touch with the music. Len says he’s “in the land of the bewildered” for some reason; none of the ladies are doing the steamy salsa proper, and he doesn’t know what’s going on. “You’re getting old,” says Carrie Ann. Score one for her, after all these years. And speaking of scores: they earn 7-6-6 for a total of 19.
I Try to [insert any physical act], and I Stumble
Name another Macy Gray song besides “I Try.” If you could do it, then you are going to be offended by my introducing her as “One-Hit Wonder” Macy Gray, and I invite you to censure me in the comments. Here we go: One-Hit Wonder Macy Gray is next to take the stage. In rehearsal, Macy describes her own dancing as free, going with the flow. She’s partnered with Jonathan Roberts, who unfortunately seems to get more than his share of duds, but always puts on a game face. He’s like the male counterpart of Kym. Jonathan informs Macy that they’ll be dancing the Viennese Waltz; Macy says “The what?” Everything Macy does is like she just woke up from a 6-month nap and has yet to fully wake up and regain the use of her body and mind. Macy was doing a whirlwind European tour immediately preceding this show, so most of her rehearsal time was in such far-flung locales as Munich and Stockholm. Out on the dance floor, well … here are my notes:
Ungainly. Ungainly. This is all I have. Macy Gray is ungainly. And lumbering?
Yeah. Poor Macy. The male stars give her a standing ovation. Carrie Ann says she is genuinely fascinating, but in a good way, but she ain’t even gonna touch the actual dancing portion. She says the dance was “beautiful in its own bizarre way.” Ouch. Len notes a vulnerability about Macy’s dancing that he found charming, and thinks that if he were at home he’d be voting for her. Bruno parrots all that but tops the condescension sundae by saying it was like “watching a child take its first steps out into a new world.” He does say Macy must work on her technique if she wants to stay. That’s if.
Backstage Samantha asks how dancing in front of a live audience differs from singing. Macy says some stuff about it being different, but feels she’s finally “popped her cherry.” You may not have heard that last part, but she said it. LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE!
Scores: 6 from Carrie, 4 from Len, and “Pop! 5!” from Bruno for a total of 15.
No Matter How Your Heart is Grieving, If You Keep On Believing…
Apparently swimsuit model Joanna Krupa was a nasty piece of work on some other reality show this summer, but she’s starting over here. She took dancing lessons as a little girl, but had to give them up when they got too pricey, so DWTS is “a real dream come true” for her. Aw. I hope she comes out tonight in glass slippers. She’s partnered with Derek, and they’re justhaving a grand old giggly time in rehearsal. Derek thinks her personality is a big plus.
It does take big personality to wear those fringed banana pants Joanna’s wearing for their salsa, so I’m inclined to agree with him. They salsa to “Meddle” by Little Boots, and Joanna looks pretty good to me. Her legs and feet are great. She’s the first one yet to move her hips with no trouble, and although she looks a little club girl to me at times, it’s easily the best salsa of the night. Len: “At last we’ve seen a hot, smoky salsa.” Bruno calls her a specimen ( I don’t know?) and congratulates Derek for his choreography. Carrie Ann says yeah, all that, and it’s a big love fest as Joanna and Derek skip merrily off to get their scores: triple 8s for 24.
She’s the Kind They Like to Flaunt and Take to Dinner
Last up for the partner dances is Kelly Osbourne, yes, that Kelly Osbourne, rock-princess foul-mouthed reality star, who has apparently calmed down from her drugs and rock and roll ways and is ready to be a lay-dee. She’s teamed up with the cute and compact Louis van Amstel. He shows up at the Osbourne’s door to be greeted by a characteristically dazed and confused Ozzy, complete with cheesy sitcom strings playing in the background. Just like in their TV show! Kelly is not too confident of her dancing skills. At one point Louis asks her to swing round “like a beautiful lady.” Kelly smiles and says, “You’ve got the wrong partner.”
But she is actually kind of beautiful on the floor. They V Waltz to Ray LaMontagne’s “Trouble,” and there’s the stupid, awkward walky part at the beginning, but once the dance starts in full Kelly looks fine; nice long legs and arms, smooth feet. Her turns are a bit staccato, and her foot comes up off the floor during one spin, so I know Carrie Ann, Chief of the Lift Police is going to ding her for that, but otherwise she’s golden. Her mother and father are in tears out in the audience, and Kelly runs over to give them a sweet hug before the judges all say a variation of, “Wow, we didn’t think you could clean up like this!” Len says it’s the best Viennese Waltz of the night. Well, it may be the best scored, but that’s only because DANCMSTR was a bit of a bastard earlier. We remember, Len. Backstage Kelly is in tears and can’t really answer Samantha’s inane prattle. It’s very sweet and so are her scores: 7-8-8 for 23, putting her just under Joanna for second so far.
But only so far, because we have the relays yet to do. So, all the gals who waltzed will get to sex it up with the cha cha, and all the women who did the salsa will now slow it down with a foxtrot. Ah, foxtrot and cha cha are my two favorites. Each team will do a 30-second section during the same song, not quite like a relay race, but I guess what else are we going to call it.
First up are Natalie, Kathy, Debi, and Joanna to do the foxtrot, in that order, to “The Best Is Yet to Come.” There’s not much to say, these routines are so short, but no one really stands out to me, for good or for ill. Carrie Ann likes Joanna a lot, and everyone thinks Kathy needs to actually dance more. Bruno notices that Natalie was much more relaxed this time around, and then like propositions Joanna right there with God and everyone watching. The couples will all be scored from 1st to 4th place, with first earning 10 points and fourth earning 4. The judges rank Joanna first, Natalie in second, Debi in third, then Katy last. Joanna celebrates a bit tackily with a big dumb dork dance, and Natalie smiles really happily.
And now we cha cha! Macy, Melissa, Mya, and Kelly (or Kelly and the MMMs) take to the floor in that order. They dance to Spunge’s “Centrefold;” Macy manages to look less slack-jawed and more alive for her part, and Mya continues to be awesome at dancing. Kelly brings much adorableness, and Melissa kept up quite competently. Len thinks Macy’s busy schedule caught up with her, but that Melissa showed vast improvement, Mya’s awesome, and Kelly gave “two first-class dances.” Bruno says, “Mya. Ahhh.” And he still just can’t believe Kelly. Carrie Ann says all the same stuff, but without the “Ahhh.” Ha. She also advises Mya to sharpen her battements. Scores: Macy in 4th, which is no surprise, Melissa in third, Kelly in second and Mya in first.
And that’s all for the dancing tonight. Even with the clunkers, the ladies were wayyyy better than the gentlemen, and after all of the evening’s dances, Kelly, Mya, and Joanna are sitting pretty comfortably at the top of the leader board, and it’ll be a real shock if anybody but Macy is eliminated tomorrow evening. But you never know what will happen because this show is up to America! So be sure to come back and read all about this week’s results, faithfully reported to you by my partner MsFroggy. I’ll see you here next week.
Y'all should really watch that video I linked; especially if you've never seen Pink dance. You're welcome!