DWTS 15 All-Stars: The Great “Previous Dance Experience” Debate – Drew Lachey Edition

So far, we’ve taken a look at both Kelly Monaco & Emmitt Smith’s original seasons on DWTS.  Today, we backtrack a bit to take a look at Drew’s original season :-)

For Drew’s best dance, I waffled back & forth between he & Cheryl’s tango & paso doble…but I ultimately picked their famous “Thriller” paso doble, as I think it best shows off how Drew was the total package of skill & showmanship:

And while I noticed that Drew & Cheryl didn’t really have any truly terrible dances in their original season, per se, I ended up picking their week 1 cha-cha as their worst dance, because Drew looks a bit awkward and unsure of what to do with his hands:

Ohhh, how I DON’T miss the days before the show began broadcasting in HD :-P Once again, I’m struck by the same thing I see when watching Emmitt & Kelly’s dances: the quality of dancing on the show has improved drastically since the first few seasons. Even though I think Drew was much better than Kelly & Emmitt from a technical perspective, I still think he’s going to be hard-pressed to match up with the skill of Joey or Gilles (two guys who didn’t even win their respective seasons), right out of the gate.  I also think the choreography back then wasn’t as good as it is now – and that could prove problematic for all 3 of the early winners (Kelly, Drew, & Emmitt), as the pros have all stepped their game up quite a bit since those seasons.  It could be a bit jarring for them to go from easily handling the choreography on their own seasons, to having to fight tooth and nail to just get a decent score each week of the all-star season, with the bar being raised so much.  On the plus side, Drew seems to have a good deal of “attack” to his dancing – he isn’t hesitant or wishy-washy, and goes for everything 100%.  Seems very confident out on the floor, and doesn’t seem to have any glaring timing issues.  But man – I had forgotten how short Drew is.  He moves “big” for his size, and does seem to extend his limbs impressively far, given his stature – but I’m picturing him next to the very willowy Gilles, who had quite possibly the most fantastic extension in his arms & legs of any guy I’ve ever seen on the show (except maybe Roshon, but I swear that boy was made of rubber!)…and I’m just imagining that poor Drew is just not going to measure up, no matter how far he stretches.  Not his fault – but it’s unfortunately the hand he was dealt by nature.  Part of me thinks he may have been physically better matched with Chelsie, since she would have given him an extra 2″ of leeway, but I do think he may actually have an advantage with Anna – these two seem to have really hit the ground running with “getting themselves out there” since the announcement of the cast.  They are tweeting up a storm, have set up an official Facebook page which they are updating frequently with videos and pictures, and just seem to have forged a really great partnership – I seriously can’t stop smiling when I see these two!

So what, if anything, has Drew done since season 2 to keep his dance skills sharp? Well, he has been practicing for the 98 Degrees reunion tour, and they actually performed on the Today show yesterday:

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Ok – admittedly, 98 Degrees was the boy band of the 1990’s that did the least amount of dancing…and the little they did do was pretty basic “work the mic, jazz square here, hand gesture there”-type stuff.  But Drew actually seems to be taking this choreography, no matter how cheesy it looks, pretty seriously – he’s snapping his head nicely, making good eye contact, and staying on time.  And as crazy as that sounds – I think that may actually be an unexpected advantage he has this season.  I know everyone seems eager to point out that Joey being onstage in the Vegas show is huge advantage this season, and it is – but I would argue that really ANY contestant that has been onstage in some song & dance capactity within the last year or so has probably got an advantage.  Gotta keep those performing skills sharp!

Court’s verdict: Drew is obviously going to have to step up his game quite a bit in order to compete with more recent contestants like Gilles – but he could be a bit of a dark horse this season, given his work ethic and the chemistry he has forged with Anna.  He is probably the most skilled of the “early” champions, and if he’s willing to put in the effort (and Anna can give him some good choreography), he could give some of the favorites this season (Gilles, Joey, Shawn, etc.) a good run for their money.  One to watch, for sure!

So what do you guys think of Drew? Possible dark horse…or a possible dud?

UPDATE: Thanks to @BeerBabeSuzi (an NKOTB friend of mine who also runs a fantastic 98 Degrees fan site that’s been around for 10 years!), here’s some video of 98 Degrees performing at the Mixtape Festival in Hershey, Pennsylvania over the weekend – and it looks like Drew has been practicing his Latin hips ;-) The song is “Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche)” and it starts at about the 2:50 mark.  Check out Drew on the right, getting pretty into his dance moves ;-)