DwtS 3, Week 1: Performance Show

Season 3 of Dancing with the Stars is finally upon us. Some of the celebrities have some serious dance skills, and not necessarily the celebs you’d expect. Hint: one of them used to play football.

Tom Bergeron and Samantha Harris returned as hosts this season, and they started things off by introducing the new cast. They also acknowledged the new and improved ballroom, complete with balconies and chandeliers Tom said were stolen from a travelling production of Phantom of the Opera.

Tonight, the female stars danced the Fox Trot, while the men danced the Cha Cha Cha.

Joey Lawrence and Edyta Sliwinska – Cha Cha Cha
Joey said the last time he danced in front of anyone, he was seven years old. Edyta said her choreography is inspired by “creatures of the jungle.”

During their performance — to a low-energy rendition of “I Like the Way You Move” — the couple couldn’t stop grinning. Joey’s experience and commitment to practicing showed, as did his fondness for strong arm gestures. He’ll have fun with the Paso Doble.

After the dance, Tom introduced the judges, all of whom returned from last season. Head Judge Len Goodman said he expected fun energy and hip movement in the Cha Cha Cha. He told Joey to work on his hips. Bruno Tonioli said the couple “could be a match made in heaven.” Carrie Ann Inaba said that Joey’s a powerful performer, but he needs to work on his arms. Joey replied, “Arms. Done.” Even though it was the first performance of the season, the crowd started early and booed the scores.
Judges’ Scores… Carrie Ann: 7, Len: 7, Bruno: 7 = 21/30

Sara Evans and Tony Dovolani – Fox Trot
Sara revealed that she broke both of her legs when she was 8, so ballroom dancing was something she’d never dreamt of doing. Tony said that, when he dances, he’s the lion and his partner is the lioness. Sara took Tony on the road with her during her concert tour so that they could train.

It was a pretty performance, but Tony needs to stop having Sara do high kicks to avoid unfair comparisons to Stacy Keibler, his leggy partner from last season. Sara had a pained (or maybe just nervous) look on her face for much of the dance.

Len said that the Fox Trot requires gliding and romance. He noted that the celebs had longer to practice this season than last, so his expectations are higher. He said that Sara didn’t glide. Bruno said Sara had a split personality, “switching from Jackie O. to Barbara Bush.” Carrie Ann told Sara to relax and extend her arms. The crowd booed loudly during the comments, and only got louder when the judges revealed their scores.
Judges’ Scores… Carrie Ann: 5, Len: 5, Bruno: 5 = 15/30

Tucker Carlson and Elena Grinenko – Cha Cha Cha
Tucker admitted that he has no dance experience, and Elena added that he also has no natural ability. She’s just hoping to get him through one episode.

They used the first prop of the night, as Tucker sat in a chair for the start of the song, before Elena ripped off his trademark bow tie. He’s the show’s everyman, and by that, I mean that he looked stiff and uncomfortable.

Carrie Ann said that Tucker looked like he had a good time even though he only danced for half of the song. Len said that “the problems started as soon as Tucker stood up.” Bruno called the dance “an awful mess” and said Tucker “looked like he was sitting on the toilet.” Tucker said at least it was an artful put-down. Tucker said he’s gonna win Bruno over, after the “seeds of affection marinate in him a while.”
Judges’ Scores… Carrie Ann: 5, Len: 4, Bruno: 3 = 12/30

Monique Coleman and Louis van Amstel – Fox Trot
Monique said that she knows how to dance, but she’s best at krump. Louis said, “She’s young, she’s flexible, so I can mold her into anything I want.” Louis pushed Monique hard in training, making her cry, but she knew it was because he sees potential in her.

During the performance, she was the first celebrity who really tried to emote through her facial expressions. She moved beautifully and could be a sleeper contender.

Bruno said Monique’s “a dream girl in the making,” but she has to keep her hips under her. Carrie Ann said Monique’s arms were beautiful, but that she “overdanced it with her face.” Len agreed that Monique had gorgeous arms, but felt the dance had “as much romance as an autopsy.” He told Louis to take Monique out to dinner and romance her a bit.
Judges’ Scores… Carrie Ann: 6, Len: 6, Bruno: 7 = 19/30

Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke – Cha Cha Cha
Emmitt’s used to taking direction, but probably not from a coach that charges a quarter for his mistakes. (He owed Cheryl $2 at one practice.)

Based on how loudly the crowd cheered during the dance, they are the early crowd favorites. Emmitt moves likes someone who has danced before, even if just for fun. Jerry Rice has to be jealous. Cheryl even choreographed in some of Emmitt’s pop ‘n’ lock moves.

Carrie Ann called Emmitt over to the judge’s table, shook his hand, and said, “You can dance!” Len said Emmitt is a natural and that the performance was a joy. Bruno said, “For the first time tonight, I wanted to join in and dance.”
Judges’ Scores… Carrie Ann: 8, Len: 8, Bruno: 8 = 24/30

Willa Ford and Maksim Chmerkovskiy – Fox Trot
Willa said about Max, “He’s a very attractive man, and he knows it.” Max posed in front of the mirrors in the practice studio, flexed his arm, and told Willa to “grab my beautiful muscle.”

They performed to Spandau Ballet’s “True.” They obviously liked dancing with each other, grinning the entire performance. Willa looked polished, and they seemed like they’ve been dancing together longer than 6 weeks.

Bruno said, “What an exquisite treat.” He complimented Willa on spinning well and said she has a great teacher. Carrie Ann said Willa was “graceful and flawless.” Len liked the fluid movement, but told her to work on her footwork: “Sometimes your feet are a little bit bizarre.”
Judges’ Scores… Carrie Ann: 7, Len: 7, Bruno: 8 = 22/30

Mario Lopez and Karina Smirnoff – Cha Cha Cha
Mario was hyper in rehearsal, giving Karina “Mario Overload.” At one point, she put tape over his mouth. During one poor practice, Karina said, “Len Goodman is gonna have a field trip with this.”

During the performance, Mario looked like he was having a great time, making the dance look easy. Karina’s choreography really took advantage of Mario’s manic energy.

Len said the performance was “one of the best of the night.” Bruno declared, “Super Mario, the hottest Latino in town! Do you have extra batteries in your pants?” Carrie Ann loved the chemistry and Mario’s hip action, and called them the couple to beat.
Judges’ Scores… Carrie Ann: 9, Len: 8, Bruno: 9 = 26/30

Shanna Moakler and Jesse DeSoto – Fox Trot
Jesse said that, since Shanna’s also dealing with the stress of a public divorce, she’s her own worst enemy on the dance floor. It’s hard for her to leave her baggage behind.

Their performance, set to “Saving All My Love For You,” was nice, but not passionate or moving.

Bruno said Shanna needs to sustain the performance the whole way through, and not turn into an “ice queen.” Carrie Ann thought it was nice and that Shanna had good posture. Len said he was expecting more, since she’s pretty and she has a great partner. He said he didn’t like her footwork or holds.
Judges’ Scores… Carrie Ann: 7, Len: 5, Bruno: 6 = 18/30

Harry Hamlin and Ashly DelGrosso – Cha Cha Cha
Ashly said that training with Harry is completely different than training with Master P, which is a good thing. Harry spent more time practicing for this first performance than P did all last season.

They performed to “Disco Inferno,” and, thankfully, didn’t go for gimmicky ’70s outfits. Harry tried hard to nail the technical details, but his carriage was very stiff. It looked like Ashly danced around him, more than with him.

Carrie Ann said she had high hopes for Harry, but the performance was “stiff and awkward.” Len called it “mechanical.” Bruno said it was like Harry was fighting the kraken in Clash of the Titans again, just waiting to get it over with.

In response, Harry pulled Medusa’s head out of a sack and turned Bruno to stone.
Judges’ Scores… Carrie Ann: 5, Len: 6, Bruno: 6 = 17/30

Vivica A. Fox and Nick Kosovich – Fox Trot
Vivica said the extent of her dancing experience was playing a stripper in Independence Day. But she and Nick looked elegant and very comfortable together during their performance. Vivica paid attention to detail, and the routine even allowed her to show some tough girl attitude.

Bruno said, “You’re a bad girl, aren’t you? I loved it.” Len said Vivica sold it, and that the dance was “sophisticated.” Carrie Ann said that Vivica was feisty, but her technique was a little lacking. Bruno and Len objected, but Carrie Ann said she believes in Vivica and just wanted to see it come together a little better.
Judges’ Scores… Carrie Ann: 6, Len: 8, Bruno: 8 = 22/30

Jerry Springer and Kym Johnson – Cha Cha Cha
Jerry’s using DwtS as training for his daughter’s wedding in January. Upon meeting Kym, he asked if she’d if she lost a contest and gotten stuck with him as her celebrity.

Jerry’s suit jacket for the performance had a weird, black karate belt thing wrapped around it. He moved about as well as George Hamilton did last season. Kym was a great partner, even though the routine got little gimmicky at the end, with Jerry throwing dollar bills around.

Len said Jerry held his own against the young guys. Carrie Ann said he forgot his choreography a few times, but that it was obvious that he was having fun. Bruno said that Jerry must have attended “The George Hamilton School of Dancing,” and that the performance was endearing.
Judges’ Scores… Carrie Ann: 5, Len: 5, Bruno: 6 = 16/30

1 – Mario & Karina
2 – Emmitt & Cheryl
3 (tie) – Willa & Maksim and Vivica & Nick
5 – Joey & Edyta
6 – Monique & Louis
7 – Shanna & Jesse
8 – Harry & Ashly
9 – Jerry & Kym
10 – Sara & Tony
11 – Tucker & Elena

My vote went to Emmitt Smith tonight (and not just because his partner was nice enough to give me an interview back in March). I had assumed he’d be another stiff ex-athlete, but his dancing ability was a pleasant surprise.

The season’s first elimination takes place tomorrow night, after a special performance by Tom Jones.