S14E1: Are you ready for Len’s surly demeanor, Bruno’s inappropriate quips, and an array of hot men taking their shirts off with some fancy footwork thrown in between? If so, then you’re in luck because Dancing With the Stars is back for its 14th season. And now that we’ve already predicted the type of dancer each of these stars could potentially be, it’s time to officially see them strut their stuff.
For the first week, half of the couples are selected to perform the Cha-Cha, while the other half must perform the Fox Trot. And since there’s no fear for elimination this time, the pressure is slightly off. However, next week the couples will perform yet another dance routine consisting of either the quick step or jive. And while this will allow the audience a chance to become more familiar with each contestant’s dancing range, it also means votes will matter more than ever because everyone will be at risk of being sent home. And trust me, with a group like this, you don’t want anyone heading home prematurely.
As each couple enjoyed its first night on the dance floor we ranked each performance from best to worst (though worst is a very loose term with a talented group like this).
Classical singer Katherine Jenkins danced the fox trot with her partner Mark Ballas and she was a vision of pure beauty and elegance. The routine was well-rehearsed and she has a natural grace about her, making her light on her feet. Couple that with the fact that she’s simply adorable, and she can easily become America’s sweetheart in no time. And the judges had nothing but nice things to say about both her and her performance. Len thought she showed great movement and musicality, while Carrie Ann remarked that she could have easily passed as one of the professional dancers. All in all, she did an amazing job and earned her the highest score of the night with a 26 out of 30 — an incredible score for week one.
TV star Jaleel White (better known for his role as Steve Urkel on Family Matters) performed the fox trot with his dance partner Kym Johnson and there was nothing clumsy or geeky about it. His posture was beautiful, providing a perfect frame for his partner to fit into. And I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but there was something very suave about his overall demeanor. No trace of Urkel was out on that dance floor — he was smooth and sophisticated; he completely owned it. The judges loved it and could not get over just how incredible this group of stars really is (really, this fact can not be stressed enough). The duo were awarded 26 points, tying Jenkins for first place.
Actor William Levy danced the cha-cha with Cheryl Burke and wow, can that man shake his hips. The intro package said the duo had to work on their dance routine a week later than everyone else due to his hectic work schedule, but you wouldn’t know it from looking at them. He had a natural fluidity in his movements and shared a great deal of chemistry with Cheryl. The two of them positively wreaked of sex appeal, which sent the crowd into a feeding frenzy; he’ll have the ladies swooning for weeks to come. Understandably, the judges loved it, however Bruno had one simple critique: for William to wear less clothing. And we must concur. They were awarded with a well deserved 24 points.
Disney star Roshon Fegan danced what was probably the most exciting cha-cha anyone has ever seen. Though his partner Chelsea Hightower is the professional dancer, Roshon seemed almost equally matched in skill. As Bruno stated, his moves were “laser sharp” and his spot on footwork was amazing, even reminiscent of the late Michael Jackson. Of course Len, who’s a stickler for rules, thought it lacked technique, however, he was the only one who could find any complaints. The rest of the crowd absolutely loved it, earning him 23 points out of 30.
Entertainment reporter Maria Menounos was the first one to hit the dance floor, performing the cha-cha with her dance partner Derek Hough and she completely nailed it. Her movements were graceful, her timing was sharp, and although she still needs to tighten up the fluidity of her movements, it was very impressive for the first week. And the judges concurred, unanimously calling it a great way to start the season and they gave 7s all around, earning the couple a respectable 21 out of 30 points.
Actor and singer Jack Wagner danced a well-rehearsed fox trot with his partner Anna Trebunskaya. While you could tell he was a bit hesitant in some of his movements, he did a remarkable job overall, considering this particular dance takes a lot of quick steps to get through. His timing was great and he kept up easily with his dance partner. And though Len warned him to work on his posture and his technique, the judges were very pleased with the feel of the performance and awarded the couple 23 points out of 30.
TV personality Sherri Shepherd danced the fox trot with her partner Val Chermkovskiy and it can only be summed up in one word: fun. She was obviously having an absolutely great time and she lit up the dance floor. Her movements were elegant, her timing was great, and she was just a pleasure to watch. It really can’t be stressed enough just how incredible everyone was. There really wasn’t a weak link all night and the judges’ scores reflect it. Sherri and Val earned a 23 out of 30.
Green Bay Packers star Donald Driver showed magnificent presence as he took on the cha-cha with his partner Peta Murgatroyd. This is a guy you can tell will have no problem charming the audience week after week. He brimmed with confidence and was surprisingly light on his feet, accomplishing some pretty fancy footwork along the way. But even though his performance contained a surplus of personality, the judges warned him to not go overboard. Sometimes he got so into the music that he lost timing with his partner, which could cost him points in the future. However, for now they all enjoyed his undeniable charisma, earning him 21 points for the night.
Well known singer Gavin DeGraw attempted the fox trot with his partner Karina Smirnoff. And while his performance wasn’t one of the best, it wasn’t all that bad. This is actually a really impressive group of dancers, so it’s hard to come down hard on any of these guys, but Degraw was definitely stiff in his movements and lacked a bit of musicality. Granted, there were moments where he got really into it and let the music flow through him, but it’s clear dancing doesn’t come easily to him. He’ll have to work on it moreso than some of the others. But given all that Degraw was able to accomplish in the first week, he did extremely well and shouldn’t be ruled out just yet. The judges awarded them 20 points total.
Singing legend Gladys Knight performed the cha-cha with her partner Tristan MacManus and proved that age knows no bounds. Though her footwork could definitely use some improvement, she can move incredibly well for her age. In fact, some of her moves were so sharp and onpoint that you’d never suspect she was 67 years old. Unsurprisingly, the crowd loved her and so did the judges, commending her on her natural musicality. The pair earned 23 out of 30 points for the night. This is definitely going to be a difficult voting season since the talent is so high.
Little House on the Prairie star Melissa Gilbert performed the cha-cha with Maksim Chmerkovskiy. And while parts of the dance routine were semi-sloppy, it’s important to note that it was an incredibly difficult dance number. The music was fast, there were a lot of complicated steps, and she actually did a remarkable job of keeping up with it all, even if it didn’t look as sharp as it should (though Mak having his shirt open definitely helped steal focus). But the judges commended her for sticking with it and said that they expect great things from her in the future. The duo were awarded 20 out of 30 points.
Tennis player Martina Navratilova took on the fox trot with her dance partner Tony Dovolani. She definitely seemed the most uncomfortable of the bunch out on the dance floor, constantly looking to Tony for reassurance. But given the fact that her area of expertise lies on the tennis court and not the ballroom, she did a decent enough job for her first performance. Len thought she played it a little too safe with the routine and thought she needed to improve on her footwork. However, her posture and appearance were simply lovely, earning the pair 20 out of 30 for their first set of scores.
Were you impressed with the overall talent each contestant showed? What was your favorite performance of the night? Sound off in the comments below or get at me on Twitter @KellyBean0415.