Dancing with the Stars recap: Season 26 Premiere
Dancing with the Stars
Season 26 Premiere
How many episodes does it take to make up one season on Dancing with the Stars? Apparently that answer is four. Show runners and dance pros are packing ten traditional weeks into a month and I have an inkling that everyone, excluding Tom Bergeron, is feeling the pressure.
There’s a fancy new jumbotron above the dance floor. Most of our all-star athletes are mega talented, which translates into a natural ability to move their bodies to today’s version of Jock Jams. Therefore, our pros have the freedom to speed through basic dance training in order to choreograph the crap out of each routine.
You only get four shots to impress the judges. The other kicker? Two contestants are kicked off each episode.
Speaking of judges, I’m going to extend a sweeping “bless their hearts” to all three. Carrie Ann has thrown all niceties out the window and is standing firm as the “I have to score you on your dance ability” judge. Never fear, she still swoons after all the muscly men.
Len is getting a little too old for the crotchety nonsense. There’s no time for the audience to boo him when he doesn’t like a popular contestant’s inability to cha-cha-cha during a cha-cha-cha. And did you notice that he repeated things other people said? Should we be worried?
And then there’s tangerine-tinted Bruno. He wore black sequined shorty shorts, hiked his leg up onto the railing of the stairs, and pelvic thrust all his business toward the camera.
The opening number was a hot chaotic mess dripping in gold lamé. I both loved it and hated it.
Sounds about right for Dancing with the Stars. Let’s meet the contestants!
Chris and Witney
“Mr. Put It Down” by Ricky Martin
Chris is a luge man. He has several ticks in the win column from that fact alone. He’s comfortable in Spandex and he has a fabulous toe point. Witney is beside herself and so am I.
I could have lost Witney’s royal blue butt ruffle and risqué outfit, but when she ripped open Chris’ matching royal blue jacket, exposing his shirtless, albeit hairy chest (yes!), I forgave the funky wardrobe choice. The thick layer of floor smoke made me nervous. Most of the time, the fog machine is a telltale sign that the contestant has no idea what do do with his or her feet. Chris salsa’d right through it, lifted Witney in it, and looked extremely comfortable in its midst.
The judges loved Chris and I can understand why. He has a star quality about him that is charming. The only thing he needs to watch is reminding the audience that he’s never danced before. There’s no need for him to harp on that fact, because he can dance. I’m confident his score would have been higher if he had been further down in the lineup.
Kareem and Lindsay
“Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” by Stevie Wonder
When I say that Kareem towers over Lindsay, that is not an exaggeration. The man is seven-foot-one and some change. Lindsay is five-foot-four on a good day. I’m not going to discriminate against this legendary basketball player’s height, nor will I discount him for being 71-years-old. The problem I have is that he is a contestant who is both a very tall man and the opposite of a young whipper snapper.
On the other hand, Lindsay won last year’s competition in her sleep. Maybe executives thought she was up for the challenge of choreographing for both a very tall man and one who isn’t so quick on his feet anymore. And we all know what that choreography looks like, right? Tons of JV dancers zipping about, Kareem standing there in a gold suit smiling beautifully, and Lindsay twirling all around and up and down the lower half of his body. The judges praised Kareem for his groove and thanked him for being generally awesome. I truly thought Erin was going to cry when she interviewed him. I’m confident he probably signed her boob.
Jennie and Keo
“All-American Girl” by Carrie Underwood
Jennie has been labeled the best female softball player in the history of time. If Barbie played softball, they would use Jennie as the model. She is a cute blond who lives on a farm in Louisiana and loves raising her kids more than anything in the world. Keo sees her children’s adorableness, seizes the opportunity to expose that cuteness to the world, and plops them on the set that looks like an old-timey back porch. Hold on, babies. Mama’s going to go dance. Be right back.
Keo goes for a prairie look that didn’t gel with me. Jennie is in a flowing lacy white dress, hair in a pretty braid/ponytail combo and Keo looks like Tom Sawyer ready to trick a few kids into painting a fence. Perhaps the blah costumes translated into a “meh” dance for me. The judges sensed Jennie’s willingness to learn and clear abilities that she can do this. I think nerves got in the way. Also, Keo’s beard = stop.
Jamie and Artem
“Feeling Good” by Avicii
Jamie is a snowboarder who wins all the medals. You probably saw her in the most recent Olympics. She notes during practice that she has woefully underestimated the situation. To her defense, the Viennese Waltz is one of the hardest dances to perfect. It’s a good thing she has Artem to whisk her through the steps.
Here’s Jamie’s problem: She was the only one who looked terrified. Is it the fact that her sport feels like she’s one with nature? Let’s think about this for a second. Basketball players, football players, and figure skaters perform on a regular basis in front of large crowds. Some even perform on national television. Yes, Jamie was on NBC 24/7 back in February, but she was also at the tippy top of a mountain, flinging herself around on her board. I’m sure there was pressure, but the ballroom is different.
Artem puts her in an outfit that Elsa would wear if she was dancing the Viennese waltz. It even snows the entire time they are dancing. Her hair was a little too Hallsville High School Prom “A Knight To Remember” for my taste. And for some reason, my eyes were drawn to her boob area. Something with the material of her ice blue rhinestones or the lining of the costume made me look there the entire time. I don’t necessarily remember her messing up, but Carrie Ann told me that she missed footwork the entire time. Which explains her score.
Mirai and Alan
“No Excuses” by Meghan Trainor
Let’s get this out of the way — ice skaters have a leg up, or a blade up, on all the other contestants. It doesn’t mean that they are the best of the group, per se, but it does mean that they are leaps and bounds ahead of the crowd since they know how to spot and they more than likely have some sort of artistic ability. Translation: They know what to do with their hands.
Mirai tells the audience that she was the first woman to land the triple axle at the Olympics. The first woman to do that period is standing three feel away from her in the form of Tonya Harding. I wonder if they chit chatted about the business? Or does Mirai have a squishy feeling about Tonya when she sees her?
Alan puts Mirai in a tiny hot pink sparkly number and basically throws her around for two minutes. They split, twirl, lift, shimmy, all while maintaining the rhythm. I agree with Len when he said that it felt like too much exhibition stuff. I understand why Alan tossed every trick and salsa step he’s ever known into one routine, but it felt like too much. Carrie Ann said it best, “You owned the dance. But I need you to be centered. Don’t be on top of the dance.” That made so much sense to me. I wanted her to have moments and she didn’t. I blame Alan’s choreography. He will definitely reign it in next week.
Arike and Gleb
“Them Girls” by Whitney Myer
Arike straight up tells us that trading basketball sneakers for heels is going to be her biggest challenge on the dance floor. And she was right, because the girl can dance. But there are two problems that need to be addressed. One, she moves in a relaxed way, meaning, it looks like she’s having the time of her life at the club instead of a precise and focused time on the ballroom dancing floor. Second, I don’t think Gleb knows how to choreograph a dance for his partner. I think he choreographs for the music. You have to do both.
Additionally, we didn’t need all the JV dancers supporting Arike, which tells me that Gleb doesn’t have confidence in her natural ability to dance. Carrie Ann is irritated that Gleb didn’t make her wear heels. Len wants more hip action. Bruno says that she’s so much fun that he wants to join her on the dance floor. Get in line, Bruno.
Question: Do you think her dad had to tell her who Kareem was or did she already know?
Adam and Jenna
“Sissy That Walk” by RuPaul
Everyone notices Adam and Jenna’s immediate connection. They also talk about how Adam and Mirai are best friends and wants the other to win. The situation seems sweet, but there’s something off about it to me. I feel like they are the cool kids in the ballroom and everyone else has to sit back and watch America fall in love with their cute friendship. I’m also the one who just wrote a book on insecurities, so take that with a grain of salt.
Jenna and Adam wear matching mesh outfits. They vogue to the most annoying song of the night. The dance is choreographed beautifully. Jenna manages to work in both salsa and Adam’s ice skating skills. There’s a pretty pirouette (which he fell out of on the last turn) and a gorgeous synchronized leap at the end. The audience absolutely goes nuts on the last eight count. Carrie Ann tells Adam that he was born to do this show, which I think is accurate. He ended up with one of the highest scores of the night.
Johnny and Emma
“Centerfield” by John Fogerty
Johnny is a baseball man and wants us to know that he has zero dancing experience. Unfortunately, that was an obvious statement. I was distracted by several things during his package. His house is H-U-G-E. His mohawk is divine. The slow version of “Centerfield” is rough. Emma’s billowy white pants paying homage to baseball pants were hideous. And I believe his fly was unzipped. Other than all that, Johnny seemed to be having all sorts of fun.
Sasha and Tonya
“When You Believe” by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey
If you haven’t seen I Tonya, I suggest you go see it. It’s an interesting snapshot of a gritty girl from the 90s who was banned from ice skating competitions. Did Tonya know about her husband hiring guys to whack Nancy Kerrigan in the knee? Supposedly not. Do I believe her? I don’t know. What I do see is a very bruised, hurt woman who clearly feels broken.
Also? She can move. Sasha is one of my favorite partners because he does just that — he partners. He gave Tonya the entire world on a dance floor, allowing her to be graceful, pretty, talented, and lost in an inspiring song. Her heart was full at the end of the dance and I think in that moment, part of her was healed. The judges respected the dance and scored her appropriately.
Sharna and Josh
“Finesse” by Bruno Mars
Sharna and Josh are this year’s, “Are they going to start dating?”couple. Sharna is always partnered with the single athletic dude who thinks the red-head is hot. This year is no different. As with all the football players from past seasons, Josh proves that he has moves on the field as well as the floor. He can also jump over Sharna without even touching her shoulders for a little boost.
Josh did exactly what I wanted Mirai to do. He relaxed, performed his steps beautifully, added a bit of personal finesse, and had a ball dancing topless in his maroon bedazzled blazer. Bruno used the word “charisma” and Len used the word “style.” Carrie Ann reminded us that she was a Fly Girl back in the day before telling Josh he has the X-Factor.
With only eight minutes left in the show, Erin and Tom draw out the longest “you’re in jeopardy” moment to the point of aggravation. Jamie, Johnny, and Tonya all end up in the red, but it’s Tonya who makes it to the next round.
I understand Jamie’s nerves got in her way and Johnny’s lack of rhythm kept him from moving on. This elimination made sense, but I kind of wish Kareem had been sent home, only because I don’t want him to feel embarrassed. How in the world is Lindsay supposed to waltz with him when her face reaches his crotch?
Inquiring minds want to know…