Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Dancing With the Stars :: Season 30 Premiere


Dancing with the Stars' star-studded 30th anniversary premiere
by Kim Krober

What a difference a year makes! Dancing with the Stars returned in full sequined force to celebrate its 30th season in style. It was great to see a choreographed opening number featuring all the dance pros in their splendor, along with the return of an audience (even if it wasn't a full crowd, and they were all wearing face masks). I was happy to see my favorite curmudgeon Len Goodman back as a judge now that pandemic traveling restrictions have eased and even happier to see the producers decided to keep Derek Hough as a judge, fresh from his inspired Emmy win.

Rounding out the judges' table, Carrie Ann Inaba looked like a radiant goddess, and Bruno Tonioli continues to be my favorite silver fox. Host Tyra Banks did not disappoint, coming out in a dress that I think was inspired by the mirror ball trophy but looked bizarre on her. There should be a DWTS drinking game for every time she makes a wardrobe change and bonus shots for each outfit being more hideous and unflattering as the night progresses. Or, maybe we could hire better costumers to dress her or veto her poor decisions if she's dressing herself. Just a thought.

Let's see how your favorites fared on this first week of competition:

Melanie C & Gleb Savchenko, Cha-Cha

I remember when The Spice Girls were everywhere spicing up everyone’s lives in the ‘90s. I predict good things for Melanie C (Sporty Spice) this season, if her spirited Cha-Cha with Gleb set to The Spice Girls’ smash hit “Wannabe” is any indication. It was the perfect eye candy to open the show. Len complimented Melanie for a polished performance while Derek called it clean and precise with beautiful footwork. Bruno thanked her for spicing up the cha-cha-cha but told her she could have benefited from having more pronounced hip action. Carrie Ann said all her dreams were coming true having her favorite Spice Girl in the house, calling the dance amazing. It was enough for 7s from all the judges except for Derek, who gave her a 6.
Total: 27

Mike “The Miz” Mizanin & Witney Carson, Cha-Cha

I’m not ashamed to admit a secret crush (well maybe not so secret now) on WWE superstar The Miz. Seeing him dance a Cha-Cha to “Butter” by BTS made me melt to his charms again. I would love to see a pro athlete go all the way this season, and he's my top pick. Derek was surprised to see him have fluid movement without any stiffness. Bruno praised Witney for taming the beast, calling him a well-oiled machine who was surprisingly light on his feet. Carrie Ann said he had an incredible energy, but he needs to tone it down a notch. Len said it was better than he was expecting for his first dance. It was great to see Witney back and with a potentially strong partner!
Total: 24

Iman Shumpert & Daniella Karagach, Jive

Professional athletes-turned-dancers are somewhat of a mixed bag on DWTS. Historically speaking, NBA players don’t do as well as NFL players on this program due to their height differences with their dance pro partners, and Iman and Daniella clearly have their work cut out for them. However, Iman’s Jive to Outkast’s “Hey Ya!” showcased his youthful energy. He can certainly shake it like a Polaroid picture. Bruno noted that he was nimble with plenty of musicality, but he needs to work on his footwork. Carrie Ann called him the "Fly Guy of Season 30," saying his Jive was incredibly smooth for week one. Len was sad that it was too casual with poor technique, although he admitted it was entertaining. Derek said he looked comfortable and in his element.
Total: 21

Olivia Jade & Val Chmerkovskiy, Salsa

No offense, but I could care less about “social media stars.” ABC is only interested in Olivia Jade for being the daughter of disgraced celebs Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli. I think they’re hoping her family’s scandal will bring ratings. She is fortunate to be paired with DWTS royalty Val. Not only is he a great teacher and choreographer, but he will likely garner them more votes than she would have earned on her own (ironic, no?). Her Salsa to Lizzo’s “Juice” received praise from Carrie Ann who admired her legs and her confidence. Len thought it was clean and polished, although it could have used more spice. Derek could tell she was having fun but cautioned her about her shoulders. Bruno told her she took to dancing like a duck to water.
Total: 25

Jimmie Allen & Emma Slater, Tango

I’m not a big country music fan, so I hadn’t heard of Jimmie Allen before the cast reveal. However, his smile and personality quickly won me over. His tango to Timbaland’s “The Way I Are” seemed more awkward than sexy, but it is the first week and partnerships aren't fully forged yet. Len noted this type of dance didn't suit his personality, but he feels he has great potential. Derek called it incredible week one frame, though he needs to be more consistent in his movements. Bruno said they managed to keep the Tango on track even though there were some missteps. Carrie Ann felt it was missing some of the dance's specificity but said it was a tremendous effort.
Total: 22

Melora Hardin & Artem Chigvintsev, Tango

I’ve recently been binging reruns of The Office, and it still holds up as being one of the funniest sitcoms of the modern era. It was a treat seeing Melora Hardin (the love of Michael Scott's life Jan) dance a Tango to Robert Palmer’s “Simply Irresistible," and my heart is happy to see her paired with Artem. They looked so handsome together. Derek gave her a standing ovation, saying he was blown away by the dynamics and dips. Bruno said she rocked the Tango with great lines and placements, although she lost her balance a few times. Carrie Ann gave it up for the drama and beautiful extensions. Len liked there was "no messing and no stressing." Overall, it was a great first week effort!
Total: 26

Suni Lee & Sasha Farber, Jive

Olympian athletes tend to fare well in this competition, and Suni Lee does not seem to be an exception to the rule. Her Jive with fan favorite Sasha to Justin Bieber and The Kid LAROI’s “Stay” was easily a standout performance of the night. Bruno called her the Golden Girl, admiring her sunshine and precision with her kicks and tricks. Carrie Ann complimented her skills but told her not to keep it all inward. Len enjoyed the precision but said it could have benefited from more flair and freedom. Derek echoed Len, saying it needed more expression now that she's already mastered the perfection of the dance.
Total: 28

Cody Rigsby & Cheryl Burke, Tango

Peloton instructor Cody Rigsby seems like a perfect match for Cheryl Burke. Their Tango to “Physical” by Dua Lipa was oddly hypnotic. Carrie Ann could see what all the hype was about with Cody's amazing physique, although she would like to see him more relaxed on the dance floor. Len felt he showed promise but he needs to hold his head up and frame a little tighter. Derek said he was an absolute riot in the best possible way while Bruno called it a great ride (on and off the bike, meow). All the judges agreed Cody is one to watch this season, and I would concur.
Total: 24

Amanda Kloots & Alan Bersten, Tango

Will Amanda Kloots’ Tango to Jennifer Lopez’ “Dance Again” be “The Talk” of the 30th season premiere? The pair looked good together with a fun, flirty vibe. Len loved the full Tango content on the first dance while Derek praised her attack, finesse, and joy. Bruno said it was beautiful and full of exquisite details, calling her the full package. Carrie Ann held back tears as she told her that her husband is looking down from heaven and smiling at his angel on the dance floor. She solidified her place as being one to watch.
Total: 28

Martin Kove & Britt Stewart, Paso Doble

What’s the Cobra Kai motto? “Strike first. Strike hard. No mercy.” For being the oldest competitor this season at 75 years young, Martin Kove attempted to strike hard with his first dance. Selecting a Paso Doble to The Karate Kid’s memorable theme “You’re the Best” was a strategic move to present him in his best light: as the evil mastermind behind Cobra Kai. He may not be able to move as fluidly on the dance floor as younger competitors, but he has my heart and votes. Derek proclaimed "Cobra Kai forever!" before saying he felt Martin was more than a little unprepared for the first week. Bruno liked the pitch but told him to work on cleaning up the script and creating more blockbuster content before going into production. Carrie Ann admired his commitment to character. As someone else in his twilight years, Len applauded him for a gallant effort.
Total: 13

Kenya Moore & Brandon Armstrong, Foxtrot

I’ve never seen a single episode of any of the Real Housewives shows. That being said, her Foxtrot to Doja Cat’s “Kiss Me More” was light, airy, and beautiful to behold. Bruno likened the dance to watching Venus emerge for a kiss. Carrie Ann thought Kenya looked regal and refined with great posture. Len said it had a charm and sophistication while Derek said he can't wait to see what else she can do this season. Same, albeit begrudgingly. Age ain't nothing but a number, as these two proved with their perfection.
Total: 26

Christine Chiu & Pasha Pashkov, Tango

I’ve never watched Bling Empire, so I wasn’t familiar with Christine Chiu. However, Fergie’s “Glamorous” seemed like an appropriate introductory Tango song. I'd like to see Pasha take her far in this competition because he seems like such a nice guy season after season. Carrie Ann told her she's a diamond in the rough with a back most dancers would kill for and an incredible flexibility. Len admired the control, calling it a terrific effort. Derek loved her rhinestone dress and frame, although he said he would have liked to see her glide across the floor a little more. Bruno told her she's a gem but could benefit from a little more polish to achieve true brilliance.
Total: 25

Matt James & Lindsay Arnold, Cha-Cha

Will ABC ever run out of Bachelor contestants to turn into ballroom dancers? It would appear not, with Matt James being the next to vie for the coveted mirror ball trophy. Matt’s Cha-Cha to “Give It To Me Baby” by Rick James was a decent effort. Len thought the hip action was lacking but predicted a rosy future in this competition for Matt. Derek welcomed Lindsay back after taking a hiatus to have a baby but cautioned Matt about working on his footwork. Bruno said he delivered with his natural stage presence. Carrie Ann echoed that the footwork was iffy but admired how big he dances, filling the space with confidence.
Total: 24

Brian Austin Green & Sharna Burgess, Foxtrot

I've always had a soft spot for Brian Austin Green since his Beverly Hills, 90210 days. I had no idea until today that he was dating dance pro Sharna Burgess! I am so excited to see their chemistry sizzle this season. I hope it spells another win for her, as she's one of my favorites. Their Foxtrot to Bruno Mars’ “Skate” teases what is yet to come. Derek liked the ease of his movements while Bruno called him Prince Charming. Carrie Ann loved seeing Sharna so happy but warned Brian not to be so mesmerized by his partner that he forgets to connect with the audience and judges. Len told him to work on his footwork but admits they have something special. I heart these two together!
Total: 24

JoJo Siwa & Jenna Johnson, Quickstep

Love is love, and I’m not one of the fans bothered by seeing a female contestant dance with a female dance pro this season. As long as she puts in the hard work and takes this competition seriously, I wish her all the best. Pairing her with Jenna Johnson was a stroke of creative genius. Dancing a Quickstep to Jet’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?” was an excellent way to begin the competition. Bruno applauded the history-making moment and freedom of expression of seeing a same-sex couple dance on DWTS, saying he was so high he could hit the rafters. Carrie Ann called it amazing and admired how JoJo took the lead even when her partner slipped a little. Len said it was full of attack and enthusiasm. Derek told her she was born for Dancing with the Stars. She earned the first 8 of the season. I can't wait to see what else is up their sleeves.
Total: 29

What surprises do you think this season of Dancing with the Stars still has in store for us? Did you play along with the fun predictions game on the ABC website where fans have a chance to win prizes based on how well they know this competition?

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