Ummm, ok – so that was the most lovey-dovey first week of competition I’ve ever seen :-P And while that may seem like a good thing on the surface, keep in mind that the max score that they can give is a 30/30…and they already got disturbingly close to that tonight. Food for thought.
That said, I have to admit – I don’t think anyone really and truly sucked tonight. Not everyone was perfect, and there was some definite overscoring going on across the board, but overall, a very impressive effort from everyone. And they all seem to love each other so freakin’ much :-D Should be interesting to see how things shake out next week!
1.) Jaleel & Kym – No big surprises here – Jaleel could possibly be the most natural mover I’ve ever seen on the show. Everything he did just oozed with ease – the way he was getting in and out of hold, and transitioning through steps? SUBLIME. And how he managed to still play to the crowd the whole time??? And stay connected to Kym???! Loved it…loved it…loved it. But there’s still room for improvement – he seemed a tiny bit rushed at times (a problem a few male celebs seemed to have tonight), and while he never actually got off-time…he came close. I’ll chalk it up to first week jitters this time, but I do think it’s something he’s going to have to watch in the future. Overall, I’m very excited about what these two have to offer us this season :-)
NOTE: From here through 10th place, I’m pretty wishy-washy…not confident in my rankings AT ALL. Be kind ;-)
2.) Gladys & Tristan – No, I absolutely do not think they were the 2nd best dancers of the night, but man – Gladys did about the most adorable cha-cha I think I’ve ever seen on the show :-P The gal can move well…and not just well for a 67-year-old. She and Tristan both looked like they were having a ton of fun out there, and I was impressed at how well Gladys kept up with Tristan, especially on the open work. She got a bit wobbly at times, and there were a few moments where I thought her arms and feet got a little wishy-washy, but this was far more than I was expecting out of our lil Empress of Soul! A word of caution to Tristan & Gladys fans, though: you ought to be ok this week, but be prepared to vote your fingers off in the coming weeks. The “adorable sentimental favorite” factor will likely carry her through next week just fine, but there will come a time when the luster will have worn off the rose and she will either need to start scoring big or getting hoards of votes. Chaz from last season comes to mind – everyone thought he was so “cute” and “unexpected” after week 1 last season…and then week 2 rolled around and he crashed & burned. Just a warning ;-) On a side note – LOVED seeing all 3 Pips in the audience, clapping as hard as they possibly could for Gladys. So sweet. :-)
3.) William & Cheryl – Ok, this is the type of overscoring that genuinely pisses me off, because while William may be nice to look at (I actually agree with Heidi & Sally and find his head to be misproportioned with the rest of his body), I would never in a million years give such a tentative, cautious cha-cha one point more than one of the most innovative and well-executed cha-chas I’ve ever seen on the show (Roshon, which we’ll get to later). Did William stay on time and do all his moves? Yes, and I actually did see some potential there, as he does seem to have some natural talent; but that’s all I saw this week – unrealized potential. He too seemed like a victim of the first week jitters, and I could almost see him counting through his steps in his head. Little to no expression on his face, and what I consider to be a complete lack of connection to both his partner and the audience. Cheryl did what I was afraid she would do – she danced around him, and he thew a few half-assed pelvic thrusts in her direction. And was it just me, or was that a HORRIBLE version of “International Love”? Very distracting 8O However, apparently Len & Bruno grew some lady parts over the winter hiatus, because they joined Carrie Ann in heaping over-the-top praise on William – which makes me wonder if the judges are somehow handicapping William & Katherine (and to a lesser degree, Gladys) to give them a better chance of sticking around longer, despite some possible disadvantages (in William’s case, lack of fanbase…which I don’t think will be a problem anymore, the way I saw the chicks in the studio whoopin’ & hollerin’ for him!). The true test will be next week with the quickstep – William can’t really bring the “Latin heat” to that one. We’ll see how he’s able to manage when he can’t fall back on sexiness…
4.) Katherine & Mark – Yes, Katherine was lovely, and this, like Jaleel’s foxtrot, was very fluid but probably a bit overscored…then again, what can you do when a routine that would probably get a 15 on any other season suddenly pulls out a 20? You go even higher on the good routines. Katherine’s got great posture, FANTASTIC arms, and is drop-dead gorgeous – but like I mentioned upon seeing her rehearsal video, she’s got some foot issues, and I think she got a bit of the plastered-on, glassy-eyed, hollow smile on her face that many ballroom dancers seem to get when they first start competing. Again, I’ll go ahead and give her a free pass this week and chalk it up to nervousness, but it will be something she needs to address – if she doesn’t, I think she’ll run the risk of not connecting to her audience. Mark seemed pleasantly reigned-in tonight, and didn’t outdance Katherine – and that’s something I think he will need to keep an eye on, as I get the feeling that Katherine is probably not going to be so much of a sexy, in-your-face firecracker this season as she will be a demure, elegant lady…I could definitely see her dominating the ballroom dances, but maybe struggling on the Latin ones…which is why I think it will be telling to see how she handles the jive next week. If she can hack it, she could be a contender – if she can’t, I don’t know that she’ll be able to last long, even with overscoring. A very big question mark for me.
5.) Sherri & Val – I think this couple was not so much memorable for their routine (which was very cute, nonetheless) as they were for Sherri’s random exclamations in the celebraquarium afterward :-P I definitely think Sherri’s gonna stick out in viewers’ minds this season; the question is – will it be positive or negative? My mother was cackling for 5 minutes straight after the boob comment (which made it kinda hard to hear Melissa’s package), but sooner or later the comedy will grow old and she will need something more to keep viewers hooked. Luckily, she does seem to bring quite a bit of energy and interaction with the audience to the dance floor – she can definitely entertain. But while I did enjoy this foxtrot, which was clean and well-executed, it was also pretty simple – what is she gonna do when she has to do a fast dance like the jive? I could see her struggling with stamina, and if she’s having to focus entirely on her choreography, that showmanship that worked so well tonight could go out the window. I’m also a bit puzzled about how her relationship with Val will play out – in somewhat of the opposite problem I have with Mark & Katherine, I almost feel like Sherri just completely overshadows the more reserved Val…and in dances where it’s important that the man be masculine & assertive, like the paso doble or tango, I worry that Sherri is going to look less demure and more…domineering. They’re going to need to strike a balance if they want to stick around.
6.) Roshon & Chelsie – After watching Roshon’s lead-in package, I was seriously worried for Chelsie – but then I saw how slick he was on the floor, and I saw potential to be a finalist this season. Seriously, I thought Chelsie did a great job of harnassing Roshon’s hip-hop skills in this cha-cha…some of those turns he did were SICK. However, I knew Len would hate it – and that’s going to be the biggest problem with Roshon, I’m afraid. The hip-hop in the cha-cha worked out ok this week, but I don’t see any possible way to work those same kinds of moves into a quickstep next week. Roshon will have to legitimately learn how to dance – but I think he can do it. He seems to have a great deal of natural skill, and if he can focus all of that restless energy – he can be a force to be reckoned with. Especially with his speed – I think my jaw dropped at how fast and intricate a lot of his footwork was. And perhaps most interesting to me were his hips – he almost seems TOO flexible, where most male contestants suffer from stiff hips the first few weeks. I’m excited to see what Chelsie can do with him!
7.) Jack & Anna – I can admit when I was wrong – and I will admit that I did underestimate Jack :-) This routine was far more impressive & entertaining than I would have imagined – I loved the energy these two have together. I think they may very well be the most well-matched couple this season :-) Jack seems to have great posture and some very nice arms, but needs to work a bit on his footwork…saw a few wonky moments. I don’t think he’ll have any problems with showmanship, though – he was totally playing to both Anna & the audience tonight, and with ease. Potential struggles? He is one of the older cast members (pretty sure he’s the oldest guy), so he may not have the same energy that Roshon & Jaleel inject into their dancing. He also seems to be really, really hard on himself – very much a perfectionist. I’m hoping he & Anna can strike a nice balance between hard work and good clean fun ;-)
8./9.) TIE: Donald & Peta and Maria & Derek – I think these two suffered a similar fate tonight: two not-bad couples that just got lost in the shuffle of the first half of the show, while the 2nd half was packed with big personalities and big routines. Maria seemed very tentative (and very nervous!), but seemed to have quite a bit of potential – her biggest obstacle right now seems to be her own nerves, and I think once she relaxes a bit, she’ll find that the choreography will become easier to remember and execute. And like so many model-types before her, she seems to have a few balance issues – hopefully Derek can help her become more steady in her turns. But she’s pretty, she’s vivacious, and she’s got definite potential to grow. Donald, on the other hand, seems to have the opposite problem that Maria does – while she’s too tentative, he’s too much of a go-getter out on the floor. This guy has a ton of energy (which is great!) but I think it may have gotten the better of him tonight. He attacked this cha-cha head-on, but there were times were he looked a bit flaily and out-of-control – like he may have taken Peta’s head off had she gotten too close. :-P I love his enthusiasm, but like Roshon, he may have to really work on actually focusing it – but I do think Donald is really ready to work, and also has a great deal of potential. I could see either of these 2 being a dark horse further along in the season, if they maintain steady progress each week.
10.) Melissa & Maks – I had high hopes for Melissa, but I’m afraid she suffered from the jitters worse than anyone else this week – and it really affected her performance. The best way I can describe this cha-cha is “odd” – she did all of her moves and never lost time, but I don’t feel like she really nailed any of it…everything was almost there, but just not quite. Oddly enough, I think she did better on the faster, more intricate parts (like all the sequences of turns), but seemed to get fouled up on the slower, simpler stuff (like side-by-side open work) – and Maks, PUH-LEASE, work on her arms! She’s got nice long ones – she just needs to learn to extend them! Do I think she’s really in danger of heading home? Nah – but I do think she got a bit lost, wedged between two much more memorable routines (Sherri & William). If she continues to get lost in the shuffle week after week, I do think she could run the risk of getting forgotten in voters’ minds, even with Maks’ fans behind her – because if tonight was any indicator, this could truly be the most competitive season yet. Everyone is gonna need to step out with very well-executed, very memorable, very entertaining routines each week in order to stick around. There isn’t going to be any room for “just ok”. Luckily, I think she’ll feel much more comfortable with the quickstep next week, and will be able to just put this cha-cha behind her and move on.
11.) Martina & Tony – I wish I could say I was wrong about Martina, because she seems very laid-back and sweet, but she unfortunately turned out like I thought she would: less “fierce” and more “zen”. I found this foxtrot to be very…flat. No big moments of impact, no real fight in it – just a very calm stroll. I’m not sure if it was nerves or just how Martina is, but her moves just seemed…I don’t know, without real purpose? I mean, she would extend her arm, but there wouldn’t be any real conviction behind it – a sort of “Yeah, I’m extending my arm, just cause I can – no real reason why.” I’m not sure if that makes sense or not, but that’s the impression I got. Once again, I’ll chalk it up to first-week nervousness, but I worry that this just may be Martina – just calm to the point of being a non-event. Will definitely be interesting to see how she copes with the jive next week – there’s really no room for “zen” in the jive. I’m hoping Tony can somehow concoct some choreography that kinda forces her out of her shell a bit.
12.) Gavin & Karina – Even Gavin did better than I thought tonight! But I’m still kinda worried for him – I think he’s definitely insecure about his dancing, and it tends to show when he’s on the floor. He had a few moments where he looked kinda lost, and a few moments where he looked kinda silly, but overall the energy was good – now he just needs to bring the technique up to speed. The question is: can he do it by next week? Because if he can’t – I’m afraid it’s curtains for these two. They just are not making a huge impact, and I’m still not sold that Gavin’s heart is 100% in the competition – he seems to joke a lot, and I haven’t decided if it’s because he’s nervous or because he just doesn’t care much. I think that attempting the show while he’s on tour is probably a big mistake, but he has one last chance to make a splash next week…just one problem: it’s with the jive, and I’m afraid he may look terribly awkward doing it :-P His hat might fly off. But who knows – he may surprise me.
So concludes my week 1 power rankings – thankfully, since no one is getting eliminated, they really don’t mean jack :-P But here’s another piece of interesting food for thought: all these high scores? Yeah, they’re just making things even closer…remember, the more total points awarded, the smaller the difference in percentage points. So by seemingly wielding all of this overscoring power…the judges are actually giving the viewers more power to choose who goes home. Interesting paradox, eh? ;-) But let’s hear you guys’ thoughts on tonight’s show!