PureDWTS Season 17 – The Great “Previous Dance Experience” Debate, Part I

Yes, it’s time once more for us to sit down and examine this season’s crop of contestants and see who might have the edge based on dance experience they’ve had prior to doing the show.  Mostly, though, we just tend to make fun of the bizarre and often embarrassing clips we dig up from the stars’ pasts…so take it with a grain of salt, please ;-)

Also, I have a request to make of our Pure readers: for as easy as it was to compile the clips from this season’s ladies, I am REALLY struggling with the guys – I already have clips for Corbin & Bill N., but I’m having a hard time with Bill E., Brant, Keyshawn, & Jack :-( So if you happen upon clips of any of the 4 that I mentioned doing some dancing in their past (it can be any kind), please send ‘em over – preferably via the “contact us” button at the top of the page, or you can tweet the links to me @putuincespence.  DO NOT post the links in the comments section, please ;-) If I use a clip you send me, I might see if John will be willing to throw in some gratis memberships to our “members only” area as a reward ;-)

First, let’s take a look at Elizabeth Berkley – who’s probably known primarily as Jessie Spano from Saved by the Bell and Nomi Malone from Showgirls, and she did a bit of dancing as both.  First, what Saved by the Bell retrospective would be complete without a look at this gem from the famous pill-popping episode?

And in quite possibly the only Pure-appropriate clip from Showgirls I could find on the web that didn’t contain nudity, sex, or drug use, she strutted her stuff as a Vegas showgirl:

Courtney: Elizabeth is quite obviously no slouch when it comes to dancing – even though Showgirls is widely considered a total joke of a movie, she no doubt underwent quite a bit of training to do the dance sequences in the film.  I have two concerns, though: one, both of these clips are almost 20 years old.  Can Elizabeth still move like that now? Two, she seems like she has a tendency to get overdramatic – is she going to be like Sabrina, who had a tendency to “overdance” and throw herself off? A third, more trivial concern – is the makeup department going to horribly overline her lips like they did in Showgirls? Eeeek :-P

Heidi: Well, she’s pretty ringer-y and she’s not that old – I bet she still has moves. And she did the whole “Oh, but I’ve never done ballroom” schtick which, hello, doesn’t make you a non-ringer sweetheart! But it does echo Nicole, who was MAYBE a bigger ringer (but not by much, if at all – chest pops anyone?). Elizabeth has much more dance training than either Jennifer or Ricki did for their movies – and she’s 10 years younger than Jennifer without a pin in her neck, nor is she over weight like Ricki. So it will be interesting to me to see how big a hypocrite the C bros will be when it comes to Elizabeth. Plus, Val’s had two huge ringers in a row (not counting all stars) – and yet I sense that we will hear no complaining due simply to the lack of the name “Derek”. I do fully expect the make up to be out of control, along with the costuming…but the real question is…will she dance in heels?? :-)

Vogue: LOL The hair styles from the 80’s! I use to fix my hair just like Elizabeth’s. Do I want to go back to the tight long and painful perms? NO! 8O With that said, Court has just reminded me all over again why I loved “Showgirls” so much. Elizabeth had some power moves…and with her hands too. Not only that, girl could bend and get her “sexy” on. She had rhythm too and I bet she still does. It’s something born into a person. I think she’s one to watch out for. Just please, Elizabeth, don’t attempt to get your “sexy on” with Val or vice versa. pukingemoticon

And now for more a G-rated palate-cleanser, we move onto Valerie Harper, who began her career as a chorus girl on Broadway.  In this adorable clip from the episode of The Muppet Show on which Valerie guest-starred, she showcases those skills as she sings a song about how she can’t do anything right as she attempts to do a synchronized dance with…ummm…some furry blue things? :-P

Heidi: Well, this is an instance of a former ringer who kinda falls out of that status due simply to age. There is no way that I would call a 74 year old an actual ringer. But I bet she’s good and very entertaining. And inspirational.

Vogue: Go Val and look at those multiple of twirls at the end. I would have been so dizzy afterwards and fallen. Though look at her. Girl kept on dancing. So cute. Her timing is good with the beats of the music and I love her expressions too (which is key in dancing a good dance as well). I would just love it if Val ended up in the final four. Being that she’s had some Broadway experience, anything is possible.

Courtney: I just think this clip is adorbs :-P Highly doubt it’s really indicative of Valerie’s dance skills this season, other than that she’s obviously a showman and does have some rhythm, but I do think it shows how lovable she can be :-)

Moving right along, we now come to Leah Remini.  I wasn’t expecting to find any clips of her dancing, but I did find this short little ditty from her stint on The King of Queens – the dude she’s dancing with is actually her husband in real life.

Vogue: Great find, Court!! The guys in this clip were fun to watch and they were good too. She just needed a little more force in it and she could have been dancing a salsa right with them.

Court: Hubs looks like he’s been dancing salsa for awhile – which makes me wonder if he’s danced some salsa with Leah in the past.  Maybe she’s not quite clueless in the dance department?

Heidi: I’ve never liked Leah. Perhaps it’s best if I say nothing else. :-)

Now let’s take a look at Christina Milian – someone who has likely had some dance experience through her singing career.  Since I’m partial to CSI, let’s take a look at this clip from an episode she guest-starred in a few years back:

Court: I’m just not quite sure what to make of Christina.  I’m sure she’ll be one of the better female celebs this season, but I’m not sure that she’s going to be the shoo-in for the finale that everyone seems to think she’ll be.  Her style is definitely more hip-hop – and we saw what happened when a hip-hop dancer tried to apply the same principles to ballroom (Sabrina – and she also had Mark as a partner).  I’m also kind of wondering about her fanbase – are they going to be the type to tune in & vote? Or could she be a shock elim like Brandy?

Heidi: I’m leaning toward a Brandy type right now, I think. I think she’s probably a good dancer, but I have doubts about the fanbase. If Val and Elizabeth can keep the gag quotient down, I think they might beat her on ability – although this season doesn’t have a Jennifer to beat the Brandy (Christina) so it’s possible that Christina can pull it out. I think both might get hosed by the ringer Disney boy, though.

Vogue: I get the feeling Christina is going to be ringiest of our girl contestants. If Mark can tame the hip-hop in her, watch out. Note too how she knows how to work her “hair” like the girl pros.

Next up: Amber Riley.  While looking for videos of her doing some dancing on Glee, I noticed that she was more often than not performing some of the more diva-ish, belt-it-out songs…which more involved standing still and gesturing dramatically, as opposed to doing any “hardcore” dancing (which was reserved more for Heather Morris & Harry Shum Jr.’s characters).  However, she did seem to do quite a bit of showchoir-style grooving:

Heidi: Yeah, the choreo on Glee is pretty simplistic and there isn’t much of it. Girl is a singer for sure – and anyone bitching about her experience is idiotic, considering Elizabeth, Christina and Corbin. Very irrational. Typically. :-)

Vogue: It cracks me up for those thinking that Amber can’t move or dance because of her weight issues. Court found the perfect video to refute this. Just like Derek has said in recent interviews, Girl has energy and charisma in spades. She can pose, act, entertain, and she has the perfect facial expressions as well. It’s going to be interesting to see how Derek can perfect her technique.

Court: I think those who are crying “ringer” should seriously check out some Glee episodes – because Amber seems to disappear when the heavy-duty dance sequences start.  Not to say she doesn’t have rhythm – she does – and she can handle more choir-y choreography…I’m just not sure she’s the phenom that everyone seems to think she is.

And last but not least, we have Snooki – whose dance background is probably the most dubious of this season’s ladies.  She was a cheerleader in high school, but is probably better-known for her alcohol-fueled fist-pumping in the clubs on Jersey Shore…not quite sure what is happening in this clip, but Snooki appears to be teaching a group of fans how to dance “Snooki-style” in the club:

Vogue: Eeek! Make it stop! 8O cryingsmilie

Court: I know some seem to think she’s going to be the “big surprise” this season, but I’m skeptical – especially after watching this clip. I don’t know that “tree dancing” is going to be enough to please Len :-P

Heidi: I think she’ll be a surprise – but not necessarily for dancing. I think her personality might be surprising. As for dancing?? Well, she’s dancing with the dude who doesn’t think he’s actually dancing if he’s not throwing in backflips. So…that could be interesting. :-) I can’t really see Snookie doing a tumbling run down the center of the court.

So what do you guys think? Do we have ladies who have a ton of experience to help them these season…or just a head full of embarrassing memories from their previous dance experiences? :-P