DwtS Extra: Scenes from a Show Taping (Part One)

Imee DuBose, a friend of Cheryl Burke and
webmaster of Cheryl’s official website, StrictlyCheryl.com, was in the
audience for Tuesday night’s Performance Show. Imee graciously agreed to
write about the experience.

In Part One, Imee tells us what happens before and during the show. In Part Two, she gives us a glimpse of the after-show happenings.

Tinseltown Meets Vegas

My
Tuesday night ballroom experience actually started in the middle
of the afternoon. VIPs (the invited guests of the pro dancers and
celebs) are encouraged to show up at 3 p.m. PST for the ABC show,
which is shot at CBS Studios, Hollywood — in an example of network collaboration.

My
husband, Tony, and I arrived dressed in our “ballroom” attire: a suit
and tie for him, and a fancy spaghetti-strapped dress for me. We joined
a number of other VIPs in line, waiting to go through the security
checkpoint to enter the studio. Members of the general public, who get
their tickets from On Camera Audiences, are in line by around 1 p.m.
and enter through a separate door.

Studio security
differed from airport security in that all the VIP ladies, dressed to
kill from head to toe, got to keep their lipstick (and any other gels)
in their purses. On the other hand, the DwtS security
folks confiscated cameras, cell phones, and PDAs until after the show
was over. Instead of the old “coat check,” we now have “cell check.”

As
we entered the studio, I saw Jerry Springer in his “Evil Puffy Shirt.”
He was modest and apologetic (for his shirt) as I said hello and told
him what a wonderful Waltz he’d performed last week. Honestly, I wasn’t
one for Jerry Springer, pre-DwtS. However, I have quite a different impression of him now.

Looking around the made-for-TV ballroom studio, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Las Vegas.
There are no windows or natural light. And the studio is tastefully
decked out in red curtains, countless little lights, huge chandeliers,
and an enormous mirror ball.

Inside the studio, there
was a lot going on. Production assistants/staffers dashed around
hurriedly with communication headsets on, as the audience members filed
in. There was a sense of excitement and anticipation in the air long
before the show started.

We took our seats, opposite
the Judges’ Table and underneath a red curtain. Cheryl’s mom, Sherri,
sat next to us. Also in the audience were some recognizable faces:
Disney Channel stars Zac Efron, Ashleigh Tisdale, and Kim Rhodes; DwtS
alumnae Tia Carrere (who has lost the baby weight) and the ubiquitous
Lisa Rinna; and, for the guys, former NBA player John Salley.

The
show is live for the East Coast, so we started warming up at 4:45 PST.
An emcee got the audience ready for the show to air, and he entertained
us when those watching the show on TV were sent to commercial break.

During
the warm-up and breaks, the emcee brought audience members to the dance
floor — which is a lot smaller than it appears on TV — and had them
do various moves to the fun music playing. (Recorded music, giving the DwtS Band a break.)

This week, one such audience member was part of an enthusiastic bunch of high schoolers from Pomona Valley.
The emcee teased them about missing school to come see the show. And he
pointed out that the students get to wear their formal attire twice in
one week: first to DwtS, and then to their Homecoming dance.

Soon,
it was time to introduce the judges, as they took their seats: lovely
Carrie Ann, debonair Len, and fun-loving Bruno. The audience gave them
a warm welcome. Then Samantha was introduced, and finally, another warm
greeting from the audience for Tom.

The countdown began for the
show to air live. Five, four, three, and “Begin clapping…” Spotlights
started to swirl, and about ten cameras were moving strategically to
capture their shots.

The crowd went wild as all the
celebrities and dancers worked their way from the trademark staircases
to the dance floor. They all looked fabulous, and many of them are much
thinner than they look on TV. The colors of the outfits are much more
radiant in person, too. The competition then began with the first
couple: Joey & Edyta.

At the commercial break,
the emcee found out more about the audience members. This time, it was
a group of ladies who drove from Palm Springs and are avid fans of DwtS, having watched it since Day One, Season One.

A
noteworthy moment occurred after one of the Rumba performances, when a
lively Bruno needed to let off some steam. While the TV audience
watched commercials, he got up and did a playful Hip Hop dance to the
music.

The competition ended on a high-energy note,
with Emmitt & Cheryl bringing the entire audience to its feet. It
was a wonderful last performance for the evening. There was lots of
clapping and yelling for all the performers, as they returned to the
dance floor to end the show.

Dancing with the Stars includes
all the key ingredients of Vegas allure: excitement, entertainment,
anticipation, and suspense. Will your number — or, in this case, your
celebrity and professional dancer — come up a winner? Stay tuned!

Sherri, Imee, Emmitt, and Samantha
Above: Sherri (Cheryl’s mom), Imee, Emmitt, and Samantha (Imee’s friend)

Cheryl's Biggest Fans
Above: Cheryl’s biggest fans — Cami, Coco, Lauren, and Nina (who also happen to be Imee’s children) — dial the Barney phone to vote for Emmitt.

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