The opening night for “Dancing with the Stars” provided Latin spice and a little romance for opening night. That put to rest rumors that a disappointing cast could spell the end of the popular phenomenon.
Perhaps being underdogs made the cast fight even harder. Maybe people just underestimated them in the first place. Whatever the reason, it made for an exciting start to what might prove to be one of the program’s most exciting seasons.
It all began with the Disney princess Chelsea Kane. She and her pro partner Mall Ballas looked as though they had been dancing together for years. There was chemistry galore, which made their romantic foxtrot believable. Kane’s grace and beauty shone throughout the performance making her one of the show’s early frontrunners. In the end, the couple scored well with a seven from each judge for a total of 21 points.
Next up was talk show hostess Wendy Williams. Her pro partner is Toni Dovolani. They danced a cha cha to “I’m Every Woman.” Unfortunately, the usually bright and bubbly Williams came across as uncertain and tentative. She shuffled through much of the routine, getting the steps right but delivering little in the way of performance. The couple’s score reflected the judges’ disappointment with two fives and one four for a total of 14 points.
Pittsburgh Steeler fans were not disappointed by their talented wide receiver. Hines Ward, dancing with his pro partner Kym Johnson, lit up the stage with his charismatic smile. He flashed it throughout the routine, as proof he was having the time of his life. The end result was an outstanding performance. The couple scored well with each judge awarding a seven for a total of 21 points.
Tsunami survivor, Petra Nemcova and her pro partner Dmitri Chaplin danced a romantic and sweet fox trot that she dedicated to the people of Japan. The model proved she had acting ability, delivering a believable romantic performance. She also had amazing grace and charm. That easily made up for her lack of dancing inexperience. The couple scored a six from each judge for a total of 18 points.
Rapper Romeo redeemed his family’s honor last night when he and pro partner, Chelsie Hightower danced a cha cha. Romeo’s father, Master P, was one of the show’s most notorious dancers, having been given the slowest scores ever recorded by the show. But his son proved he definitely had the moves. His fast feet, personality and raw sex appeal came through. In the end, the couple received a respectable total of 19 points.
Boxer Sugar Ray Leonard found dancing the foxtrot with pro partner Anna Trebunskaya a bit of a challenge. Still, he didn’t let it get the best of him. He danced it with personality and a heartwarming smile. Although he remained a bit tentative in spots, he stayed light on his feet and delivered the steps with decent precision. While I question the song choice, “The Power of Love,” it worked in Leonard’s favor in the end. The couple scored a total of 17 points.
Former Playmate Kendra Wilkinson seemed more intent on shaking her bootie than delivering a real cha cha with partner Louis van Amstel. Nonetheless, her hips actually saved her along with her raw sex appeal. There is no doubt the men were watching that and not her footwork. The judges certainly were, awarding scores higher than she might have deserved. She received three sixes for a total of 18 points.
The karate kid, Ralph Macchio, finally gave pro partner Karina Smirnoff something she has been looking for since the show started – – raw talent. The 49-year-old actor didn’t look a day over 21 as he glided around the floor delivering a first rate foxtrot. He was light on his feet, graceful and utterly charming to watch. That is why the couple scored the highest scores of the night. Each judge awarded an eight for a mind-boggling 24 points.
Wrestling great Chris Jericho danced a cha cha with his pro partner Cheryl Burke to the song “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” It was a dangerous question to ask since his performance was a bit scary at times. The movement was slow and a little off beat. Still the judges appreciated how hard he tried to deliver a proper dance. They assigned the couple a total of 19 points.
Radio personality Mike Catherwood tried to keep a happy face while dancing with pro partner Lacey Schwimmer. He put forth the effort but had problems throughout the dance. There was no chemistry between the two performers and their foxtrot appeared disjointed and uncertain. The couple, therefore, received the lowest scores of the night at 13 points.
The final performer, Kirstie Alley, and her pro partner, Maksim Chmerkovsky, danced a fun loving cha cha that was fun to watch and full of personality. Alley didn’t allow her 60 years to slow her down, putting some of the younger performers to shame. The chemistry between her and Chmerkovsky was palpable, which only added to the performance. Together, they received the second highest scores of the evening with two eights and one seven for a total of 23 points.
Leader Board Results:
Ralph Macchio – 24
Kirstie Alley – 23
Hines Ward – 21
Chelsea Kane – 21
Romeo – 19
Chris Jericho – 19
Petra Nemcova – 18
Kendra Wilkinson – 18
Sugar Ray Leonard – 17
Wendy Williams – 14
Mike Catherwood – 13
I predict the ones to watch are Kane, Macchio and Ward. Alley could earn a spot in the top four as well if she maintains her high performance standards during her upcoming ballroom dance.