PureDWTS DWTS Juniors Season 1 – Court’s Premiere Post-Mortem

So last night was the premiere of DWTS Juniors – if you didn’t tune in live, you can get a synopsis of sorts from my live blog here. Even though I had an idea of what to expect headed in, there were of course some nuances that didn’t come to light until I actually got to watch the show myself.  So here’s my general impressions after watching last night’s show:

These kids are all giving it 110%. Every single one of those kids was giving it their best shot last night – even the ones that maybe aren’t natural performers. That’s something to be commended, as I can recall more than a few adult celebs on DWTS who clearly were not putting in their best effort during their seasons.  All of the junior celebs, all of the junior pros, and most of the pro mentors are really putting their hearts into this, which I appreciate.  It’s nice to watch a show where everyone’s so invested 🙂

Val is not very good at verbalizing what he wants to see as a judge. I know a lot of fans were insistent that Val would be “a great judge”, because “he’s so good with kids” (is he…?) and “he has competition experience” (so do most of the other pros), but for reals – he was probably the most vague of the three judges, and couldn’t seem to articulate specific critiques for the kids.  These aren’t adults that have enough experience with the subtleties of human language that they’re able to deduce less-than-obvious things that the judges may be trying to tell them – these are kids that need to have things very explicitly stated for them, in concrete, non-abstract terms.  You can’t really tell two 9-year-olds “work on your technique”; be specific: “I want to see more rise and fall and heel leads”, “work on your frame and keeping your posture up”, “I want to see you using your hips more”, etc. Even Len at the very least calls out specific examples when he’s complaining about technique.  Possibly the most confounding comment I heard from him last night: “I want you to embody the dance more.” It was said to Miles, after his salsa. I don’t think Miles knows enough about salsa to really understand what that means and apply it, and I’m guessing he probably thought he was “embodying” the dance because he performed the choreo he was given well. Even Maks, when he was at his pettiest and nitpickiest sitting behind that judges’ table, was more specific and lucid than that. And before anyone tries to pull the “but English isn’t Val’s first language!” bullsh*t: not buying it, have never bought it as a valid excuse for the many jerky things he’s said over the years, he’s been in this country over 20 years, and part of the responsibility of being a judge is being able communicate what it is you want to see – if he can’t do that, he has no business judging. I’ll be waiting to see if he improves as the season wears on…

Mandy is the saving grace of the judges’ panel. I may not always be the biggest fan of Mandy or her choreo, but my god – she was singlehandedly saving the whole panel last night, and was giving really supportive, helpful critiques to the kids. With Val being vague and Adam just kinda showboating and making flimsy analogies, it was nice to have a judge on the panel that both supported the kids AND gave them really clear, relevant tips on how to improve that the kids could understand.  I can’t remember who she said it to, but one of the junior celebs was getting ahead of the music – and Mandy gave him/her a very good tip: “if you feel like you’re getting ahead of the music, make your moves bigger – it will get you back on time.” These are the kinds of things the kids need to be hearing – very simple, concrete examples of what to do/what not to do. And Mandy was phrasing it in such a way that the kids still felt good about themselves, so her critiques were likely to be much better-received.  Also gave her props for being the only judge (and the only person on the show at all, really) to point out that Kenzie does, indeed, have dance experience. Which brings me to my next point…

Nobody is being fooled by the “Kenzie isn’t a dancer” act. Quite possibly the worst example of attempted gaslighting of the audience on this show I’ve seen in quite awhile 😛 The fact that they’re trying to bill Kenzie as a singer, and won’t even cop to her sister being a dancer (Maddie, a dance phenom, was conveniently referred to as “an artist”) is ridiculous to the point of it being almost comical – how far will they go to avoid mentioning that Kenzie has had quite a bit of dance training??? Are they going to come up with euphemisms for dance training? Is Kenzie “well-versed in rhythmic movements performed to music”? I think after she handled that “foxtrot” (in quotes ’cause after about 8 bars, Gleb basically said “f*ck it” and choreographed a Charleston/Lindy) quite easily, nobody was convinced she was a non-dancer that coincidentally managed to nail a dance on the first try. I’m interested to see if they try to keep this song-and-dance act going for the rest of the season – especially since Maddie is due to guest in Kenzie’s samba later on.  How are they going to introduce her? “Kenzie’s artist sister”? 😛

Jordan & Frankie were the right choice to host this show. While Tom & Erin’s more dry, sarcastic tone sits well with the adult version, the kids version needs a softer touch – and I think Jordan & Frankie are perfect. They’re both professional, but also have an exuberance to them that appeals to the kids and makes them not so intimidating. Frankie in particular seemed to be doing a nice job of interviewing the kids up in the box, and bringing some of shyer ones out of their shell. They also play off each other nicely, likely owing to the chemistry they built when they were on the same season AND while on tour together.

Kids sure do love the Fortnite dances. I saw quite a bit of “flossing” and “hyping” – as well as a few other dances that I’m fairly certain are from Fortnite.  It’s annoying when Bobby does it on the adult version, but I’ll give the kids a pass because those moves are likely very familiar and accessible to them 😉

Miles, Kenzie, Ariana, Sky, Sophia, & Akash seem like the ones to watch.  They’re the ones with the biggest personalities or skill sets, and some of them have both. Akash in particular has serious dark horse potential 😎

So what are your overall thoughts after the first episode??? Share ’em below 🙂