“Dancing with the Stars”: “Glee” Star Takes Lead on Season 17 Premiere
(LOS ANGELES) — Dancing with the Stars premiered Monday night, pitting 12 celebrity performers against each other in their bid for the season 17 championship and bragging rights.
At the end of the show, Glee star Amber Riley was the top scorer, with 27 out of a possible 30 points, while Bill Nye, “The Science Guy,” brought up the rear with 14 points.
The field of competitors includes actors, a pop star, a reality TV star, a comedian and a former NFL player.
In a departure from previous seasons, the show will air only one night per week, rather than the usual two. Beginning with next Monday’s edition of the show, one couple will be eliminated after the stars perform. The judges’ scores from each Monday will be combined with viewer votes and added to the following week’s judges’ scores. The couple with the lowest combined total will be sent home.
Here’s a rundown of Monday’s ballroom action:
Brant Daugherty: The Pretty Little Liars star began the night with a strong cha cha that found favor with all three judges and drew a standing ovation from the ballroom audience. Judge Bruno Tonioli said he saw a small timing error by Daugherty, and called the actor and his pro partner, Peta Murgatroyd, “very hot stuff.” Judge Carrie Ann Inaba said she saw “a lot of potential” with Daugherty, while head judge Len Goodman had the highest praise: “Well, I tell you, some of these couples are going to have smooth sailing on calm waters. Others are going to sink without grace. Brant, sail on. That was fabulous.” Total Score: 22 out of a possible 30 points.
Leah Remini: The former King of Queens actress turned in a smooth foxtrot with partner Tony Dovolani that drew approval from the judges. “You are sass and class,” Inaba told the actress. Tonioli said Remini’s performance was good, considering she’d never danced before. Goodman added that while the routine was “a little bit careful in places,” he loved that it was “clean and precise.” Total score: 21/30.
Corbin Bleu: The High School Musical actor earned a standing ovation with his contemporary dance performance. The contemporary style was the first ever for his pro partner, Karina Smirnoff, and Inaba praised Smirnoff’s choreography. “That was beautiful and passionate. Karina, well done for your first contemporary ever,” Inaba said. Tonioli told Bleu he blended strength, power and athleticism with a tender, expressive touch. Goodman said Bleu’s dancing had good attack and attitude, and he praised the lifts. Total score: 24/30.
Jack Osbourne: The reality star’s bubbly foxtrot with partner Cheryl Burke pleased the judges and his famous parents, rock star Ozzy Osbourne and TV talk show host Sharon Osbourne. Ozzy and Sharon were both sitting in the audience. Sharon was brought to tears by her son’s performance. “Jack, I’m telling you, you can dance!” Goodman said, praising Osbourne’s posture and footwork. Tonioli described the routine as “joyful, playful” and “uplifting,” while Inaba said Sharon Osbourne should be proud of her son’s performance. “Jack, you are a ballroom dancer,” Inaba said. “That was nothing but class. You were so smooth…I’m blown away.” Total score: 23/30.
Amber Riley: The Glee star’s funky, high-energy cha cha with Derek Hough drew roars of appreciation and a standing ovation from the ballroom audience, and the judges were equally impressed. Inaba bowed to Riley, telling her “You turned that cha cha out!” Tonioli called Riley “the tigress of season 17,” while Goodman joked that he needed medical assistance. “I’m palpitating, perspirating and flatulating. I’m telling you, week one and you come out to dance like that? Incredible, full on, flat out fabulous,” Goodman exclaimed. Total score: 27/30.
Elizabeth Berkley Lauren: The Saved by the Bell actress received unanimous approval from the judges and the ballroom audience for her elegant contemporary routine with Valentin Chmerkovskiy. “I tell you, it was lovely…there was speed and then there was quiet. It was just lovely to watch,” Goodman said. Inaba was equally struck by Lauren’s routine. “You were like a gorgeous, sensuous, beautiful, passionate, poetic angel,” Inaba said. Tonioli praised the choreography and called the performance “a great piece of dancing.” Total score: 24/30.
Bill Nye: “The Science Guy” had the audience cheering for his wacky, mad scientist-inspired cha cha with partner Tyne Stecklein, but the judges found many faults. Goodman summed it up this way: “It was like being waxed: it was painful when it happened and lovely when it was over,” adding that despite some fun and comedic moments, there wasn’t enough cha cha content. Tonioli quipped that Nye’s formula wasn’t going to win him the Nobel Prize, but Inaba had some encouragement. Even though she acknowledged that Nye needed to loosen his hips and improve his footwork, she said he was the kind of contestant that made the show special. The audience erupted in a chorus of boos when judges awarded Nye just 14 points out of a possible 30.
Keyshawn Johnson: The former pro football player’s cha cha with Sharna Burgess drew mixed reviews. Inaba said he was “a little stiff” in the beginning but loosened up as the routine progressed. Saying dance was a mix of attitude and technique, Goodman said he thought Johnson’s attitude was terrific, but his technique needed work, which he could be taught. Tonioli referred to Johnson’s imposing size, saying “It’s like having the Empire State Building try to be a Rockette…,” adding that Johnson sometimes lost his timing. Total score: 17/30.
Christina Milian: The judges approved of the actress/singer’s contemporary routine with Mark Ballas but said they thought she could do even more. “You move beautifully but I think that you’re better than you think you are,” Inaba said, adding that Milian was looking down for the first half of the routine. Goodman said he liked the choreography, adding that he thought the dance suited Milian. Tonioli pointed out a few flaws with how Milian held her hands, but said he loved the routine’s intensity. Total score: 22/30.
Bill Engvall: At the end of his foxtrot with partner Emma Slater, the comedian expressed relief that he was able to get through it. Goodman told Engvall, “I think week one is all about holding your nerve and remembering the routine and you did exactly that.” Tonioli said he sensed a hint of sophistication and elegance that were very “well hidden,” while Inaba said she was pleasantly surprised to see that Engvall had a good frame and musicality. Total score: 18/30.
Valerie Harper: In a taped segment that aired prior to her performance, the TV actress said she’d had a good life and career and had accepted her diagnosis of terminal cancer. When she finished her foxtrot with Tristan MacManus, Harper had tears in her eyes and said, “It’s good to be alive, and it’s even better to be dancing.” Tonioli told Harper she was “an inspiration to the nation,” adding that she was radiant, stylish and light on her feet. He did point out that a few minor issues regarding the set of her shoulders and balance. Goodman said her dance had elegance and ease, and Inaba said Harper brought her to tears with her courage. Total score: 21/30.
Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi: The Jersey Shore star won the judges’ approval with her peppy cha cha with Sasha Farber. Inaba said she was impressed, and told Polizzi her form was great. Goodman called Polizzi “a little pocket rocket,” and added that he loved her footwork. Tonioli, too, was impressed by Polizzi’s legs. Total score: 23/30.
Here’s a rundown of the couples and their scores:
Amber Riley and Derek Hough: 27
Corbin Bleu and Karina Smirnoff: 24
Elizabeth Berkley Lauren and Valentin Chmerkovskiy: 24
Jack Osbourne and Cheryl Burke: 23
Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi and Sasha Farber: 23
Brant Daugherty and Peta Murgatroyd: 22
Christina Milian and Mark Ballas: 22
Leah Remini and Tony Dovolani: 21
Valerie Harper and Tristan MacManus: 21
Bill Engvall and Emma Slater: 18
Keyshawn Johnson and Sharna Burgess: 17
Bill Nye and Tyne Stecklein: 14
Dancing with the Stars returns next Monday night at 8 p.m. Eastern time on ABC.
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