It’s a happy time for ballroom fans—the 957th installment of Dancing with the Stars has arrived, and not a moment too soon. We almost lost Derek Hough to Radio City Music Hall! Fortunately, the five-time Mirror Ball Trophy winner will be splitting his time between the ballroom and the New York Spring Spectacular, so worries that Dancing with the Stars has lost its mojo in the wake of Cheryl Burke’s flight to NBC are completely premature. (At least, that’s what the producers are hoping.)
Anyway, welcome back! I will be your sequin sister throughout the thrilling 10th anniversary celebration, which should not be confused with it being the 20th season (and trust me, I’ve already made the mistake more than once). Although it seems like we’ve had Bruno and Carrie Ann 4-eva, it’s only been 10 years—and darn it, there’s no reason we can’t have them for 10 more, if only because of these five very important reasons:
- Tom Bergeron is a legend.
- It really IS the Maks (and Val) show.
- There’s nothing more gratifying than judging Erin Andrews and the myriad of crazy women who preceded her.
- Peta Murgatroyd helps me come to terms with the fact that I’ll never be that stunning so why the hell should I even try?
- Nothing beats the sound of some unknown limey saying, “Carrie Ann Ina-bur.”
So let’s get started, shall we?
Willow Shields and Mark Ballas: Her fluffy fringe skirt twirls nicely in this cha cha—but goodness she looks young up there! Then again, she IS like, OMG, 14—the youngest “celebrity” in the history of the show. “Like a glass of alka seltzer—refreshing and makes you feel good,” says Judge Len Goodman. “You’ve broken the ice now, you know what to do,” adds Judge Bruno Tonioli. Score: 25/40
Robert Herjavec and Kym Johnson: The Shark Tank star is all smiles and very touchy-feely (of his partner’s lithesome hips) in this cha cha with back-up dancers and flying money. “I am completely blown away. I was not expecting that,” says Judge Julianne Hough. “I was not expecting that.” Adds Inaba, “It’s not easy to come after a 14 year old and exude youth.” Score: 28 /40
Riker Lynch and Allison Holker: Dancing to the best ’80s college tune ever, the Glee star—and cousin of Julianne and Derek Hough—comes out with his guitar to perform a pretty gnarly jive. “You have the coolest jive I’ve ever seen,” says Tonioli. “It was full on flat out lots of energy,” adds Goodman. Score: 31/40 (and an 8 from cousin Julianne)
Charlotte McKinney and Keo Motsepe: She looks a little uncomfortable in those dancing shoes, but really, is anyone looking down at her heels? All eyes are (natch) on the opposite side of her tail feather, which is probably a good thing since she misses more than a few steps during her jive. “You are so much fun to watch!” coos Inaba. “There were a couple of things that stood out,” says Goodman. Yes, he said that. Score: 22/40
NEXT: And we have a frontrunner…
Patti LaBelle and Artem Chigvintsev: It is a little early to trot out “Lady Marmalade” but a gold-gown-wearing soul sister sure looked good dancing her first foxtrot. She got a standing ovation! (Granted, it was because she’s 70, but who cares?). “You rang my bell,” says Goodman. “That dance spoke for itself,” adds Hough. Score: 25/40
Chris Soules and Witney Carson: The latest Bachelor looks a little stressed, but I don’t pay much attention to his jive because I am too busy getting lost in his beauty. (Sorry fans, I’ll be more objective next Monday). “I love a country boy and I’m a little biased but I do love Footloose,” says Hough. “I do feel like your feet were a little loose.” Adds Tonioli, “Rough, rugged yet totally charming.” Score: 26/40
Michael Sam and Peta Murgatroyd: Now that’s how you shake a tail feather! The NFL player has a good time with “Uptown Funk,” but his booty work doesn’t impress the judges. “Your footwork is atrocious,” Goodman says. “Peta, you gotta work on his feet.” “You are a beautiful gorgeous man,” Inaba says, before slamming him with, “don’t paste a smile on your face.” Damn! Score: 26/40
Nastia Liukin and Derek Hough: The Olympic gymnast performs a near perfect foxtrot with the five-time champion. Do I hear ringer? “It was polished, it was clean, but there was a lift,” says Inaba the kill-joy. “Like the big apple, it was sweet and delicious,” adds Goodman. Score: 30/40
Redfoo and Emma Slater: What was that? I know! I know! That was our first eliminated dancer because he performed an absolutely dreadful cha cha to “Juicy Wiggle.” “Well, Redfoo you dance like your hair, a little wide and unkempt,” says Goodman. “I wanted [there] to be more juicy wiggle in the booty area,” adds Hough. Score: 22/40
Noah Galloway and Sharna Burgess: The army vet’s partner says it best, how he represents “the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced as a choreographer.” So how do we fairly judge an amputee’s cha cha? The judges, surprisingly, are both informative and disarmingly sweet. Hough reminds us all that men lead with their left in ballroom dancing, so Burgess gets major props for the choreography. “You are a titan among men,” adds Tonioli. “You really have a trump card. Play on that.” But Inaba says it best: “You are broadening my scope of what dance looks like.” Score: 26/40
Suzanne Somers and Tony Dovolani: The ol girl has a hard time keeping up with “Let’s Get Physical” during her cha cha. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to start with that whole ode to the Thighmaster? “Be careful, you went on the wrong foot in the middle of the routine,” says Tonioli. “You are a ray of sunshine in this age-obsessed society,” Inaba adds. Score: 25/40
Rumer Willis and Val Chermkovskiy: The daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore—who were there with daughters Tallulah and Scout—performs a showstopping foxtrot. “Rumer that was incredible! That was intense,” Inaba says. “Val, this could be your season,” adds Goodman. “The best arms I’ve seen tonight,” tops off Tonioli. Score: 32/40