Dancing with the Stars recap- week 1
Cha-cha and Viennese waltz offer first glimpse at season 13 field
Singer Chynna Phillips and her partner Tony Dovolani gave one of the best performances in the season 13 premiere with a smooth Viennese waltz. (ABC)
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Like in seasons past, there will be a fair share of flexed feet, rhythmic hiccups and overblown costumes from the dancers -- not to mention awkward moments courtesy of the judges (that means you, Bruno Tonioli).
But there also will be the pleasant surprises: unexpected performances by underdogs and the ability to watch novice dancers grow more confident from week to week.
What you'll find here are my personal observations. I'm no dance pro -- just someone who enjoys dancing and watching dance. And before you read too deeply into any of my criticisms, I'll say this: My hat's off to any person taking on a new challenge as technically and athletically challenging as ballroom dance (not to mention the extra challenge of 4-inch heels and skin-hugging lycra) on live network TV.
The first week is both telling and tricky. The dancers have more time to learn their debut dance than they'll have any other dance on the show. So if a dancer can't seem to pull together this first dance, he or she isn't likely to fare any better in future weeks. But the next show might reveal weaknesses in other dancers once the pace picks up.
Ron Artest: The LA Lakers basketball star was quick to bare his chest -- something other male contestants work up to throughout the competition. But despite his signature machismo and wild side, his cha-cha with partner Peta Murgatroyd lacked substance or as judge Len Goodman put it: "all sizzle, no sausage." For a man with such a large frame, he needs to make his movements bigger and fuller.
My prediction: He'll stick around for a couple weeks, at least, thanks to his high profile.
Rob Kardashian: The reality TV star is lucky to have Cheryl Burke as his partner. You could see in his Viennese waltz that he took her tutelage seriously with how precisely he moved and placed his arms, but he still looked stiff. Bruno was right: He didn't seem to relax into the music and feel the dance.
My prediction: Rob unfortunately falls into the category of DWTS contestants who've make me scratch my head and wonder if they really fit the title of the show. Seems like there are a few dancers each season who would be better suited for the show: "Dancing with the offspring, associates and dating interests of the Stars."
Kristin Cavallari: Known for her role in MTV's Laguna Beach and The Hills reality TV shows, Kristin danced a simple and relatively slow cha-cha -- a safe strategy for week 1 by partner Mark Ballas.
My prediction: She'll look pretty on the dance floor, but won't be outgoing enough to really knock any of her performances out of the park.
Chynna Phillips: The singer/songwriter of the 90s pop trio Wilson Phillips was the biggest surprise of the night for me. I couldn't get a good read on what to expect from her prior to watching her Viennese waltz with partner Tony Dovolani. There's grace and fluidity to her movement and she holds her frame well. Tony mixed in some more advanced choreography than I would have expected in week 1.
My prediction: She'll be the sweetheart of this season. And she'll raise the bar for other dancers.
Nancy Grace: The outspoken TV show host and former prosecutor surprised me, for one, by taking the judges' criticisms of her cha-cha without talking back. It was a decent first week effort, but hers was one of the less memorable dances of the night. Perhaps most telling was that seemed to lose track of the choreography by her partner Tristan MacManus a couple times. Could it be first-week jitters? Perhaps.