Jorge Estevez's hips don't lie, which is another asset for a TV anchor. Estevez of WFTV-Channel 9 won Orlando's version of "Dancing With the Stars" Saturday night at Hard Rock Cafe.
The anchor and partner Brooke O’Donnell performed a smooth, expressive salsa at "Dance, Dream & Inspire." It was a benefit for Community Based Care of Central Florida, a foster-care organization.
Estevez earned perfect scores from judges for a dance about a mannequin (O’Donnell) coming to life and performing with a store clerk (an uninhibited Estevez).
Orlando attorney Mark NeJame won an online popularity vote over the other five competitors, who included Dr. Jan Garavaglia of "Dr. G: Medical Examiner" and attorney Mark O'Mara, who represented George Zimmerman.
O'Mara told WFTV anchor Greg Warmoth, a host for the event, that doing the Zimmerman closing was easier than dancing a fox trot. "I didn't practice that. I had to practice this," O'Mara said of the dancing.
O’Mara placed sixth in the judges’ standings. Ranking behind Estevez were Orlando attorney Diana Tennis, banking executive Barb Scherer, NeJame and Garavaglia, Orange-Osceola chief medical examiner.
Garavaglia, who was celebrating her birthday, gave a dramatic performance on the pasodoble. The judges applauded her passion.
NeJame, an analyst for CNN, displayed some frisky moves on the mambo to surprise the audience. He shook his hips merrily and ripped his shirt open (twice) to execute a belly roll. The judges gave him extra points for flashing the flesh.
Tennis, who logged many TV hours as an analyst on the Zimmerman and Casey Anthony trials, demonstrated what she had learned on the samba after two dozen lessons. She celebrated her birthday by delivering a daring routine with lifts. She flirted with the crowd, and the judges applauded her confidence, energy and showmanship. One judge called her "a vivacious vixen."
Scherer said she had lost seven pounds in preparing a rumba/cha cha.
Earlier, Estevez said he had little dancing experience, but a preview suggested he was a quick learner and a dynamic performer on the salsa.
Debbie Leon, development director for Community Based Care, cited Estevez as an early standout, but predicted that Tennis would challenge him.
"This is a lot harder than I expected," Tennis said. "I did a lot of dancing as a kid. This was hard."
Estevez said his dance history included a salsa lesson his mother gave him as a boy. Beyond that? "I often get stuck on the dance floor of all my family and friends' weddings," he said.
Estevez works for the ABC affiliate, which airs "Dancing With the Stars." The 17th season starts Monday.