What a night!! Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect dance-wise this season, and I have to admit that I was so surprised -- in a great way! I was in the allroom to watch it all unfold and found all the contestants to be either great dancers, insanely funny, or those that you just wanted to root for!
Kellie Pickler & Derek Hough – What a way to start of Season 16! Talk before the show was that this was the couple to beat this season -- this pair definitely came out swinging! Kellie is just as charming as she was when she made her American Idol debut years ago, and Derek continues to bring the charm with him to the ballroom. This Cha Cha was fun, sassy, and just a great start to the competition. I’m excited to see how these two grow as the season progresses – with Derek’s choreography, and Kellie’s raw talent, I think these guys are going to go far.
Ingo Rademacher & Kym Johnson – First off, let me just draw focus to the fact that I think Ingo had the hardest dance of the night of all the competitors. Even the Pros have talked about how hard the Contemporary dance style is – but for a WEEK 1 dance, and for a MALE to do this routine week 1…I think he deserves a lot of credit. You can’t fake your way through a Contemporary, and Ingo owned this routine. I think the chemistry between the two of them on the dance floor is uhhh-maazing! I’m definitely a fan of Ingo’s, and can’t wait to see what he brings next week.
DL Hughley & Cheryl Burke – Well, it was definitely entertaining! I think Cheryl approached this routine in the perfect way – with the aim to entertain. It certainly wasn’t the most technical Cha Cha we’ve seen, but you have to admit you at least smiled while they were dancing. And did they deserve a 4?!? No…I think the judges were a little hard on DL considering this is week 1. I believe DL’s strength in this competition is his personality and quick wit. We all love to see someone who can make us laugh or smile, and DL definitely does that – I personally love the contestants who can make me laugh. He does have the Quickstep next week, so it could be the perfect time for a redemption dance….or just some more laughs and a good time!
Dorothy Hamill & Tristan MacManus – First off, who was not moved by Dorothy's opening package? She moved me before she even danced. She’s definitely one of America’s All-Time Sweethearts, and you want to root for her. For her first dance, she and Tristan had to tackle the Contemporary – a dance that Tristan said the other day is one he’s never done before! There’s just one word to describe their dance: Beautiful. It was easy, classy, weightless – everything a good Contemporary should be! Dorothy has a natural grace to her, thanks to her skating background, and expected her to do well on this dance. I am anxious to see how her perform a Latin routine next week, and I hope she can keep the momentum going!
Zendaya & Val Chmerkovskiy – Officially the youngest contestant EVER on DWTS, Zendaya has a lot to prove – and boy did she! She’s a Disney starlet, and has a Hip Hop background, but ballroom is a whole other world. I was blown away by he and Val's Contemporary routine! I didn’t expect her to be so soft and graceful – considering she’s a Hip Hop girl – and she danced with a maturity well beyond her 16 years. The choreography was great (good job, Val!), and she executed it as well as a Pro could have. Now, the one downfall to starting too strong is that you are expected to keep it up! I’m confident in Zendaya – she is truly talented – but she has set her own bar in this competition, and that bar is high!!
Sean Lowe & Peta Murgatroyd – Sean is known for his charm (and his ability to go shirtless on a whim…), and he certainly brought it to his Foxtrot. It was sleek and smooth, and everything you would want in the ballroom. I hope we get to see more of Sean's fun personality in the weeks to come! Sean and Peta are in the perfect position for the first week – they’re in the middle, and certainly have room (and the capability) to improve week to week, which we all love to see! These two are great together, and I think they have the potential to go far!
Wynonna Judd & Tony Dovolani – Any fan of DWTS knows, I’m a little partial to Tony in this competition, and I always want to see him do well! And while Wynonna doesn’t have the strongest dance skills in the competition, you have to love that sass! She made this routine fun to watch! I read all the blogs before the competition, and I think people were so quick to criticize – I love that Wynonna has the heart and the drive for this. Need I remind everyone of Kirstie Alley?! Sometimes a huge personality and loyal fan base can carry you a long way in this competition. She has a great foundation, and she’ll be fun to watch! You can’t fake that sass!
Victor Ortiz & Lindsay Arnold – These guys are adorable together! Not knowing much about Victor prior to the competition, I loved seeing his pre-dance package and learning about his back story. And I have to admit, he’s one who I want to root for. The dance was beautiful – Lindsay did a great job choreographing around Victor’s strengths. My one wish for this couple is to amp up the personality! They’ve both got it, you just don’t want them getting overshadowed by some of the other larger personalities on the show. But their chemistry is great, he is obviously very talented, and these two could be in the competition for awhile!
Andy Dick & Sharna Burgess – WOW! Ok, I know the judges weren’t overly enthralled, but I was uhh-mazed by what Andy Dick did on that dance floor. I wasn’t sure how seriously he would take the competition, and honestly thought he would just take the ‘funny’ route. But he proved me wrong! He seems so determined to do well and be taken seriously, and I thought he did a great job on his Foxtrot, especially for a week 1 dance. Especially for someone we didn’t expect to do well. I’m still intrigued to see how far he can make it this season, but I definitely became a fan of Andy – after all, who doesn’t love a good comeback?!
Alexandra Raisman & Mark Ballas – What a cute, sassy little thing!! She has all the talent that Shawn brought to the dance floor, and the pizazz of fellow contestant, Jacoby. You forget how young she is after seeing all she’s already accomplished in her life, and she's truly a force to be reckoned with this season. Mark Ballas has experience an Olympic gymnast before, when he was partnered with Shawn Johnson in Season 8 (they took home the Mirrorball, by the way!!), so he is the perfect partner for Aly! If she can keep the technique and personality flowing like it did night one, she may be the one to watch….
Lisa Vanderpump & Gleb Savchenko – Let me say it again: I LOVE Lisa Vanderpump! I love the phrases that come out of her mouth, I love her little dog, I love it all! The Foxtrot was a great dance for her to start with, too! She looked very ‘at home’ in her sparkly, pink ballgown with Giggy in her arms. (Can I just throw out that Giggy has 65,000 followers on Twitter?? Really?!). I have to admit (and hate to do so) their dance was a little slow and shaky for me. Lisa is definitely capable of amping up the ‘WOW’ factor, and I hope we’ll get to see it next week during the Latin round. I want her to stay around for a while!
Jacoby Jones & Karina Smirnoff – Best routine of the night for me. Not necessarily dance-technique wise, but the whole package. It had the perfect mix of Cha Cha, crowd appeal, and personality. I was in the ballroom, and the place went nuts during this dance! He does have some technique that he’ll need to work on as the season progresses, but what a fantastic start! The judges were too harsh on him; this routine deserved to be near the top of the leaderboard. Hopefully this will give him the ammunition to work on that technique, and come out and wow the judges next week!
Phew! Night One is done! Week 2 will be a big one! Not only do those on top now how to fight to stay there, and those at the bottom fight their way up, but there will be the first elimination of the season. Let the games begin….