Break out the sparkles and glitter guns: Season 17 of “Dancing With the Stars” has burst like a sparkly confetti bomb and cha-cha’d directly into ballroom-loving hearts.
Along with the premiere of a new season comes a slew of Glitterdome changes. “DWTS” has been reduced to one night per week this season, so the producers have cut out all the unnecessary fringe. No more Celebraquarium Sky Box (the prime real estate has been converted to condos, according to host Tom Bergeron). The celebs and their ballroom pro partners have all been moved to a courtside red-carpeted mosh pit/sexy bus stop within spitting distance of a gyrating Bruno and the other judges.
The grand staircase is gone, and a cool, glitzy Mandy Moore number introduced the stars and the pros. No Harold Wheeler Band was mentioned. Cohost Brooke Burke-Charvet has been relegated to the practice room and has taken a page from Christina Milian’s old “Voice” role as social media correspondent.
All the stars really came out with toes pointed and sparkles ablaze this first week out. The judges even gave out the season's first 9s!
Leading the pack with what seemed an unprecedented three 9s was “Glee” star Amber Riley, paired with defending champ Derek Hough. Turns out the erstwhile Mercedes from McKinley had always had a jones for ballroom dancing: It was “something I’ve always dreamed of,” Amber said.
Though their rehearsals were, as Derek said, “like a virgin couple on our wedding night,” their cha-cha looked like it had been around the block a couple times. Amber looked fierce in her body-hugging shiny fringe number and headband.
The routine was fast. It was Beyonce-levels of fierce. And it was fun! This woman is a performer. Nice to see her some of “Glee” castmates come out in support, because Amber really brought the house down.
“You are the tigress of Season 17. That’s how you take it. that’s how you shake it. That’s how you make it yours!” Bruno boomed. “Superstar!” Carrie Ann kowtowed. “You turned that cha-cha out!” Len needed the medic: “I’m palpitating, perspirating, I’m flatulating,” he said. “Week 1 and you come out and dance like that. Incredible!” Total: 27 out of 30.
Corbin Bleu had a lot of expectations riding on him going into the first week. The actor, best known for his role as Chad in “High School Musical,” came into the program with some hoofing experience. Certainly, Karina Smirnoff was excited to work with him. “I’ve seen him move before, and he’s such a class act,” the pro dancer said.
Karina had her work cut out for her in the first week, choreographing her first contemporary routine ever (“It’s like my second hip-hop!” she exclaimed, hands shaking). Dressed in white with a golden back-light, and intertwined with a romantic bed sheet, Corbin and Karina threw themselves into the dance with abandon.
The routine had Carrie Ann whooping with delight. “That was beautiful and passionate,” she said. “It flowed emotion.” Len lauded the routine for being “full-on, it had attack, it had attitude.” Bruno said the routine was “strong, powerful and athletic,” but with a “wonderful tender touch.” Total: 24.
New mom and wife Elizabeth Berkley Lauren has had training, but closed the door on dancing around the time “Showgirls” came out. “It was a difficult time,” she revealed. Also difficult: Having her partner Val Chmerkovskiy, who learned English from Elizabeth’s “Saved By the Bell,” reveal that he much preferred Tiffani Theissen’s Kelly Kapowski to Berkley Lauren’s Jesse Spano.
Elizabeth didn’t let Val’s clear love of “the other one” deter her; she’s trying new roles and wants to get the stink of “Showgirls” off her. And the specter of Nomi Malone was pushed down the stairs when she performed her contemporary routine.
Carrie Ann called Elizabeth a gorgeous, sensuous, poetic angel, “far superior” to her “Showgirls” persona. Len liked the “beautiful light and shade.” “The original showgirl is back!” Bruno crowed. “Extend your lines even more ... and you can fly high.” A.C. Slater would be proud. Total: 24.
Jack Osbourne is taking on “DWTS” not just to follow in sister Kelly’s footsteps, but to raise awareness for multiple sclerosis. Jack was diagnosed with MS in May 2012 and wants to debunk the stigma that people with MS are “not able to do anything.”
His fox trot with Cheryl Burke was very jaunty and fun -- he dressed in a sharp gray suit and bow tie, and Cheryl in a peekaboo dress with fringe scraps. The routine had dad Ozzy on his feet, and his mom Sharon in tears.
“You’re going to give your sister a run for her money,” Len declared. “Jack, I’m telling you what, you can dance!” “Joyful, playful and uplifting,” Bruno said, taking particular care to point out how well Jack handled “the intricacy of the footwork,” (though he also cautioned him to “watch your turns”). “That was nothing but class, and you were so smooth,” Carrie Ann swooned. “I’m blown away! It’s in the genes! The Osbourne genes.” Total: 23.
Before her pregnancy, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi admitted that she was a “hot mess.” But now that she’s had a son, the "Jersey Shore" mainstay said, she wants to show that she’s a different person ... even though “I still really think I’m a hot mess.”
The 4-foot-9 Snooki, paired with fellow small person (and former Troupe member) Sasha Farber, came out to prove great things come out in small packages, and they created quite the compact couple -- with a great reveal from a drab black dress to a fringy hot pink number -- walking off like stars at the end.
“You know how to party!” Carrie Ann exclaimed. “That was great. The tone of your legs was really nice.” Len likened Nicole and Sasha to “a little pocket rocket” (though not the kind that Carrie Ann was thinking of). Bruno loved “the way you went for it” but cautioned Snooki to keep the back of her legs stretched. Total: 23.