DwtS 5, Week 1: Women’s Performance Show

Dancing with the Stars 5 premiered with performances by the most talented cast of female celebrities in the show’s history. The men have their work cut out for them when they take the floor Tuesday night.

Tom Bergeron was joined by his special guest co-host, Drew Lachey, who’ll be filling in while Samantha Harris is on maternity leave. Samantha missed an exciting introductory performance by the cast’s professional dancers, who got to show off their chops before dancing with their amateur partners.

Jennie Garth & Derek Hough — Cha Cha Cha
Jennie said in her rehearsal footage that she wanted to look classy, and she definitely did. She’s not afraid to use her arms, which made for an expressive performance. With the help of her partner, Derek, Jennie’s already learning how to make a routine look polished. She’s got loads of potential.

Judge Len Goodman said, "You came out full of confidence. You had great hip action. I’d like you now to work on your leg action." In a nod to Jennie’s kids, who were in the rehearsal footage, Bruno Tonioli called Jennie a "yummy mummy." Carrie Ann Inaba said, "I can tell that you’re not quite there yet. But really, for the first time out there, I thought you did a really good job."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…7, Len…7, Bruno…7 = 21/30

Josie Maran & Alec Mazo — Fox Trot
Their rehearsal footage featured a clip of Alec saying, "Josie is deceptively unfit," and their first performance proved it. Alec appeared to be dragging her around the floor during some parts of their dance. But her technique was actually pretty good for someone new to dancing, and her face couldn’t hide the fun (and occasional terror) she was experiencing. Her charisma should shine through even more in one of the Latin dances.

Len told Josie, "You came out and you looked fantastic," but he called Alec out for choreographing so much of the dance in closed hold so that he could prop Josie up. Carrie Ann stayed positive, saying of Josie’s facial expressions, "You made me believe you were having a good time." But Bruno told Josie, "You looked like a beautiful sailing ship stranded on the sandbank."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…6, Len…5, Bruno…5 = 16/30

Sabrina Bryan & Mark Ballas — Cha Cha Cha
Sabrina has tremendous speed in her turns, and it’s going to be hard for any of the other women to match her in that regard. But Mark had his hands full trying to undo Sabrina’s extensive hip-hop training, and he wound up choreographing an abundance of hip-hop moves into their Cha Cha. Luckily, Sabrina’s a good enough hip-hop dancer that the moves looked like a part of the dance, rather than a separate breakdown section.

Carrie Ann shouted, "You were fierce! I’ve never, ever, ever seen anyone do a Cha Cha like that on the show!" Bruno poured on the praise: "Sabrina. You are a bewitching, blonde dynamo! Your footwork had almost surgical precision." Len told Bruno to "take a chill pill," before he warned Sabrina & Mark: "I don’t wanna see hip-hop, so for that I’m going to have to knock you off a few points."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…9, Len…8, Bruno…9 = 26/30

Marie Osmond & Jonathan Roberts — Fox Trot
Marie’s strategy for winning? "25 million viewers. 22 million of those: Osmonds." And she’s going to need the help of all of them. Her performance was solid, but it was noticeably slower than those given by the other women. Jonathan’s really going to have to push Marie in practice if they hope to keep up with the pack.

Bruno said the performance was "classy, yet sassy. Your acting covered a lot of technical shortcomings." Len said that DwtS is a lot like Christmas, and "this was a lovely present." Carrie Ann told Marie, "You are just so incredibly adorable out there. You lines are beautiful; it’s not just the charisma."

Backstage as the couple waited for their scores, Drew asked Marie if she could be the woman to win to break the men’s winning streak. She didn’t say yes, instead saying, "I’m not gonna throw in the towel."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…7, Len…7, Bruno…7 = 21/30

Melanie Brown & Maksim Chmerkovskiy — Cha Cha Cha
After predictable rehearsal footage of Melanie reluctantly relinquishing control to Maks, these two hit the floor with lots of energy. Maks, whose black turtleneck get up made him look like (in the words of my husband) the world’s fanciest cat burglar, worked just a couple of hip-hop moves into the routine as a concession to Mel. Their first performance was great, and Mel’s only going to get better.

Carrie Ann said, "Your energy was up there. You guys were a bit out of sync on some of the turns." Len, who suddenly developed an outrageous cockney accent, blurted, "I liked it a lot." Bruno said of Mel, "The feisty kitten was out tonight, and she was right on the money."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…8, Len…8, Bruno…8 = 24/30

As Mel & Maks talked with Drew about their scores in a backstage interview, Alec sulked on a couch in the background, undoubtedly contemplating how it would feel to be the first pro eliminated for a second year in a row. (I hope it doesn’t happen, but he’s right to be worried.)

Then, as the show went to one last commercial break, Tom joked that the final contestant of the night was "going to use class and experience to get the edge on the half-naked 20-year-olds. But what will she use on the women?"

Jane Seymour & Tony Dovolani — Fox Trot
When Jane realized she’d been paired with Tony, she screamed with joy and ran at him. Tony was equally happy to have a partner who’s so self-motivating — and because it was a boyhood dream of his to dance with Jane Seymour.

Jane’s ballet background shone through in their performance. She really knows how to use her hands, and she and Tony make a lovely couple. Jane’s set a very high bar for the Ballroom dances, and it will be exciting to see what she can do with the Latin dances.

Bruno complemented Jane’s "lovely detailing. You really are very, very delicate and elegant." Carrie Ann agreed: "You were elegance personified." Len praised Jane’s partner for "a lovely job," but warned, "The turns are the things to watch."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…8, Len…8, Bruno…8 = 24/30

Leaderboard:
26 — Sabrina & Mark
24 — Melanie & Maksim, Jane & Tony
21 — Jennie & Derek, Marie & Jonathan
16 — Josie & Alec

With so many great performances, it really is hard to choose a favorite. Jane was the best at the Fox Trot, and Sabrina clearly won the Cha Cha, so I’d have to split my votes between them — with a vote or two thrown Josie’s way just to see that she gets a second chance.

Tuesday night, the men perform the same two dances as the women, before the first couple is eliminated on Wednesday night.

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