Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Dancing With The Stars, Week One

By Lyall Bradshaw, Fred Astaire National Dance Board member

Dancing with the Stars Season 4 premiered last night on ABC with 11 celebrities & their professional partners competing. It was an interesting evening with some good dancing, some “almost good” dancing & some not so good dancing.

A few things seemed to have changed this season – the routines seem to be shorter although it could be my imagination and for the first time since this show started the Judges are judging more sensibly this time around. In previous seasons the judges have given perfect scores to dancers first up in the show leaving nowhere to go for the dancers that follow. Now they seem to have gone in the other direction with the majority of scores being 4, 5, or 6 with the highest score being 8 from each of the judges for one couple. No doubt they have had some instruction or discussion about their previous scoring from the powers above.

The celebrities are from a wide range of professions, including an NBA Superstar, World champion Boxer, Supermodel, Actor & Singer, NSYNC Star, Miss USA, Olympic speed skating Gold Medalist, TV & Broadway Star, Charity Activist & News Journalist.

After a great group number danced by all of the professionals, first up were Ian Ziering & Cheryl Burke. Ziering is a TV & Broadway Star. Their cha-cha was danced well and achieved a score of 19 out of 30.

Paulina Porizkova & Alec Mazo were next. Porizkova was once the highest paid supermodel in the world of fashion. They danced a Foxtrot that was a nice routine but lacked body contact while in closed position. Alec is a good dancer but more so in Latin. His rise & fall was too abrupt & way, way too high which also affected her rise & fall. They achieved a score of 19 out of 30.

Up next were Billy Ray Cyrus & partner Karina Smirnoff. This was a poorly choreographed routine with very little Cha-Cha and lots of whatever and achieved a score of 13 out of 30.

Leeza Gibbons, talk show host, with our very own Tony Dovolani as partner were next. Leeza is a nice dancer although her posture was a little off and her head position was strained. Their score was 15 out of 30.

Joey Fatone of NSYNC fame, with partner Kym Johnson were next dancing a high energy Cha-cha and in my opinion was probably the best out of the male contestants. He had great animation and expression and received the highest score of the night with 24 points out of 30.

Boxing World Champion Laila Ali and partner Maksim Chmerkovsky danced a really nice foxtrot and could, in the future be a challenge for the other couples. They were awarded a score of 23 out of 30.

Next up were Actor, Author John Ratzenberger and partner Edyta Sliwinska. John was a last minute addition to the cast and only had two weeks to prepare for this night and for that reason I think he danced well. They scored 17 out of 30.

Miss USA Shandi Finnessey and Brian Fortuna danced a nice foxtrot. Len Goodman, the International Judge, said that it was a little aggressive and should have “more expression and less aggression” but I felt the opposite. The choreography matched the music and that is the nature of American style dancing. What Len calls aggression I call expression. I still don’t think that any of the judges have a full understanding of what American style dancing represents. They received a score of 19 out of 30.

Clyde Drexler, NBA Superstar & partner Elena Grinenko followed with a smooth Cha-cha and received a score of 16 out of 30.

Heather Mills & Johnathan Roberts danced a Foxtrot and I give her credit because of her handicap but her steps were a little small and her balance was off at times, They were awarded a score of 18 out of 30.

Two time Olympic Gold medalist speed Skater Apolo Anton Ohno and Julianne Hough next danced a Cha-cha. His posture was a little off and had some technical errors but considering the time spent on learning this routine I think that they danced well. A score of 21 out of 30 was awarded, the second highest score of the night.

The field is still wide open but next week should be interesting with Mambo & Quickstep.

Check our blog next week for Lyall's article on week 2!

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