Due to the unique nature of this season (with the guys performing on the first night and the girls performing on the second night), I’ve decided to rank the guys separately, then the girls, and then an “overall” if you will…I would just wait to do them all at once, but then what fun would it be without you guys discussing it while it’s still fresh in your minds? :-)
Alright, I’m going to be as brief as I can…I still have House & CSI: Miami to watch!
1.) Donny & Kym – Donny really did knock it out of the park tonight. While I don’t think he was technically as strong as Aaron or Mark, his footwork was clean, and of course, he played the best to the crowd. Kym definitely choreographed to his strengths – the Chicago-themed foxtrot was really a very clever choice. He was also the strongest of the 4 in the salsa relay – while not as eye-catching as Louie & Chelsie or even Chuck & Anna, he had the best execution and showmanship. And it’s likely his showmanship that will carry him straight through to the final…that, or the legion of screaming women in the audience!
2.) Aaron & Karina – Ok, I knew Aaron would be pretty good, but MAN – the kid even surprised me with some of the stuff he was pulling out! Definitely the strongest technically for me tonight – some of the hip action & arms I saw from him were truly amazing. He also had probably the highest degree of difficulty in his routines – his Viennese relay definitely had the most tricks (which executed very well). He also comes across as a very likeable kid in the lead-ins – he has the same boyish charm that I think made Cody Linley so endearing. He does have one weakness, however: he doesn’t really let his face convey any sort of emotion while dancing. Very deadpan – like he is really focusing hard on the task at hand. I do see glimmers of “swagger” come through when he’s trying to be sexy, though ;-)
3.) Louie & Chelsie – These two really pleasantly surprised me! First off, they are too cute for words – they’re this season’s “vertically challenged” couple (to quote Mia from SYTYCD this season, when referring to another adorable pocket-sized couple – Randi & Evan), plus they’re both young and energetic. And Louie actually seemed to nail the “flow” of the foxtrot – all with a brilliant smile on his face. He got to show of his athleticism in his salsa – while it might not go over well with Len, flashy tricks & stunts always seem to be a hit with the viewers. I can see America keeping them around for awhile, for the simple reason that they’re just adorable – like Aaron, Louie seems to have the impish boy-next-door act down pat!
4.) Mark & Lacey – While Mark was technically stronger than Louie, I felt that his energy wasn’t quite as strong or endearing – like Aaron, I can see him having issues with showmanship because he gets so much into his own head, trying to really nail the technical aspects of the dance. That said, Mark probably has the best combination of strength and agility of all the guys on the show – that, and he has awesome pecs. And abs. And arms. And an awesome bone structure. And when the bulk of the voting public is female – that’s a good skill set to have ;-)
5.) Michael & Anna – I fear that Anna has fallen into the trap of trying to add a lot of “filler” to their routines to try and conceal the fact that Michael is not a great dancer, rather than trying to help him improve. Michael seems to have the opposite problem of Aaron & Mark – he is so much into the crowd interaction & “having fun” part of the dance that he tends to get a bit sloppy. But man, is he fun to watch! And he & Anna seem to interact well during their practices – he’s definitely going to be the jokester of this bunch. He has the same goofy energy that Warren Sapp had – but unfortunately, not the same level of skill.
6.) Tom & Cheryl – Yes, Tom was pretty bad. But not nearly as bad as I expected him to be! What he lacked in technique (which was a lot) he made up for in energy & feeling…I actually enjoyed watching him dance, and found him to be (I can’t believe I’m saying this…*gulp*) rather charming, especially in the Viennese waltz relay. The dude is 62 and he did a POWER SLIDE ACROSS THE FLOOR, PEOPLE!!! That takes guts, even if you’re young. But alas, charm & energy can only carry you so far – and I don’t see Tom lasting any longer than week 3, tops. He’s stiff, his footwork is sloppy, his shoulders are hunched, he can’t do the tricks that the younger competitors can do – and he’s still a disgraced politician.
7.) Chuck & Anna – Chuck maybe said a total of 20 words all night. While he still may scare the crap outta me (and a good portion of America), I think it was Chuck who was quakin’ in his boots tonight – hence the intimidating silence, and overall lack of emotion. His foxtrot was painful to watch – just as I feared, he is heavy on his feet, which results in rather stiff, stilted movement. Having the fedora passed back & forth as a prop was cute, but I almost feel like it was just another thing for Chuck to worry about…he looked petrified every time it changed hands. But man, Chuck certainly handled his woman during the salsa relay – his strength definitely showed every time he dipped, turned, and spun Anna. Aaron & Louie might be the masters of acrobatics this season, but I think Chuck could easily outdo them both when it comes to lifts – which we don’t get to see until later in the competition :-( So unless he can pull out a smile (or really any kind of emotion) when he dances…I doubt we’ll be seeing those lifting abilities.
8.) Ashley & Edyta – These two were a non-event for me. I am having a hard time remembering anything truly memorable they did, and I even took notes on all the performances! Ashley’s not great, but he wasn’t bad either – I think he actually had one of the better foxtrots of the night, as he seemed to really get the fluid motion of it. His salsa was boring. Period. I have a strong feeling these two will be gone come Wednesday, for the simple reason that they got lost in the shuffle – nothing, good or bad, made them stand out.
Alright guys, let’s hear what you think…I’m off to enjoy the rest of fall premiere week! :-)