What I love about this new season is the chemistry between the pro and the star, at least for most of the casts are really good. Regardless age differences or the musicality or the ability to dance. Can’t stop smiling seeing the chemistry when they dance. Cheryl and Antonio, Sadie and Mark, Bethany and Derek, Witney and Alfonso, Betsey and Tony, Emma and Michael, the beautiful Karina and Randy, Sharna and Tavis, Janel and Val, Allison and Jonathan, Lea and Artem, even Peta and Tommy.
The pros, we know all about them, they are undoubtedly very professional. They are able to create a comfortable environment for their partner, and what I see in the first week is they are having fun. In week 1, they perform cha cha cha, foxtrot or jive.
The routine perform by couple (alphabetically from the first name of the pros)
1. Allison Holker and Jonathan Bennet
Allison is one of the new pros, but she is already exist in the dancing world. She is a great choregrapher and even got nominated for the number she choreographed together with Derek in 2013. But she proves that she is a good instructor and she has a good rapport with Jonathan. Well, this is the first week. All the celebrities are usually still has a lot to fix, but Jonathan and Allison really have a good time, from the rehearsal until the show. They both tall and Jonathan is a good-looking guy. And if he can catch up all the technical things and moves synchronize with Allison in various type of dance, I can see he will stay for a long time.
2. Cheryl Burke and Antonio Sabato Jr.
Cheryl is undoubtedly a fantastic dancer and a great instructor. But Antonio seems very nervous during the show, which I think affect his performance a little bit. This season they have a lot of good looking guys and good looking girls. And of course Antonio is one of them. I can not predict his journey, because there is nothing special – yet – from his appearance. But with Cheryl as the pro, that might be a chance they could stay a few weeks longer.
3. Emma Slater and Michael Waltrip
I love Emma and she has beautiful smile. I can see that she is also a very energetic person. Look what she did in season 18, where she got Billy Dee as her partner. She was very patient and I see that again in this season. Michael did not have the advantage of a slim body, so for me his performance looks ‘heavy’. And I still don’t see a good choreograph from Emma, especially the costumes. For me, costume is one of the vital aspects when you have to perform in front of a large number of people, especially when you dance. You need to design attractive costumes, match with your choreography and the type of dance. Emma and Michael wore a yellow racing car uniform. The yellow is so bright but the whole costumes did not make you want to watch the routine very carefully. I have a feeling that they won’t stay long. Sorry Emma, I love you but this is the fact.
4. Karina Smirnoff and Randy Couture
This is a shocking couple. Karina always dance beautifully, and she has a good taste of choreograph a fantastic dance. I’m not a ballroom dancer, but I know that the lady is the main attention in any kind of ballroom dances. And this season, Karina has made it, at least for the first week. She made Randy still looks macho and yet looks soft from the way he handle Karina. I agree with Carrie Ann, he looks fantastic, especially they are doing the foxtrot with one of my favorite song, The Way You Look Tonight. And as I mentioned before, Karina is the best when it comes to the costume design. Her white gown is really flowing, gliding around her body. It’s beautiful, regardless the technical acknowledgement from Randy still need a lot of work to improve. If they continue doing that, I can feel they can stay longer than Cheryl and Antonio.
5. Peta Murgatroyd and Tommy Chong
In the last season, Peta really amazed me with all her fresh and energetic choreography with James Maslow. I can name all the routines they did that really fascinating. I kinda disappointed when I knew that Peta’s partner is Tommy Chong. No matter how Tommy has a great technique for ballroom dancing, but let’s face it, he is over 70 years old. There is no way Peta can choreograph complex routine and there is no way they can get to the final. I don’t know why the producers pair them, but for me, it’s a waste of Peta’s talent. Although she is always smiles, but somehow I can sense her disappointment. From their routine, I can see that Peta really limited herself in choreograph the routine. Tommy’s physical condition is a limitation and I did not see a balance from their performances. I think it’s not fair both for Peta and Tommy. I’m not surprised if they can’t stay for a long time.
6. Sharna Burgess and Tavis Smiley
Sharna has always a fantastic dancer with a great facial expression. Last season she did great with Charlie White. And this first week, at least they have a good start. Tavis has a charming personality and I hope he can catch up with Sharna because I felt the same way for Sharna as I felt for Peta. But at least Sharna has an advantage that Tavis is only 50, still have the opportunity to have a great shape and do all the routine Sharna makes and perform it well. I wish Sharna can stay for a long time.
7. Witney Carson and Alfonso Ribeiro
This is one of the cute couple. They perform the last but they get the highest score. Witney is improve a lot from the last season as her debut being the female pro. And she can match Alfonso’s personality and the choregraphy. They did well, in fact, they did great. People are hysterical watching their routine and they really deserve the highest score from the judges. I’m not surprise if they can get to the semifinal.
8. Artem Chigvintsev and Lea Thompson
For reader’s information, Artem has won one mirror ball in the Strictly Come Dancing, the British version of DWTS. So, what else can we expect ? Fantastic pro/instructor and great choreography. He already prove it in the first routine with Lea, which has the basic of ballet 32 years ago. They do the routine very smooth, that’s what I thought because I can only see from the entertainment perspective. I think if Artem is able to create a perfect routine for Lea, they will survive for quite a long time in the show.
9. Derek Hough and Bethany Mota
I never doubt about Derek’s ability to dance and choreograph. He is an Emmy winning choreographer, he won five mirror balls and in the last season he was amazing because he was able to bring out the best of Amy Purdy’s dance ability, in a sense that Amy lost both her legs when she was a teenager and she used two prosthetic legs for years.
I don’t know what is happening in the new producer’s mind, but I suspect that this is about the rating of the show. Bethany has many followers as a YouTuber and Derek has many faithful fans that willing to die for him. Maybe the new producer thinks that conditioning Derek and Bethany to become the champion will certainly boosting the rating. I don’t think so. As much as I love Derek’s ability of almost everything (dancing, choreographing, singing, writing a book and maybe many things which I don’t know), I don’t have the need to see Derek get his sixth mirror ball. Five is enough. But looking at their first routine, I know that Derek is unstoppable. He is always creative, not afraid to do something different. Look at the stage setting for Bethany’s room. It’s fun, it’s young, it’s energetic and it really match the Shake It Off song from Taylor Swift and the Jive movement they did. I don’t want to predict that they will win, but I guess I have to live with the fact that they have a great opportunity to reach the finale.
10. Keo Motsepe and Lolo Jones
Unfortunately the fun is not happening with Lolo and Keo. I know that there was a technical error when Lolo forgot about the moves and it takes quite some time for her to catch up with Keo. But I can see that Keo really tried hard to make Lolo feel comfortable. But I think Lolo is kind of a serious person, she really hard on herself, because she can’t stop talking although the judges did not say anything harsh about the mistake. On the other hand, I really like Keo, he is a very positive person. They were the first couple eliminated in week 1. But Keo will stay with the Troupe until the end of the competition.
11. Mark Ballas and Sadie Robertson
I never watched Duck Dinasty, so I don’t know Sadie Robertson. But when I first watch her, I like her. She is young, funny and cute in a different way with Janel. Last season, Mark really have fun with Candace, but this season I think Mark is more than happy to have Sadie as his partner because she is young and willing to try anything, related to the dance. What’s a fun fact is that Candace and Sadie are faithful to their religion. And I think Mark is superb because he took Candace to the finale last season with Candace’s limitation of some moves or costumes. Similar condition with Sadie this season, but she has the advantage of being young and single. That’s why their first routine is so colorful and cheerful, they are doing well with Katy Perry’s song and Sadie is so cute that Mark can not help laughing. She is a serious contender.
12. Valentin Chmerkovskiy and Janel Parrish
Well, a lot of people wrote that Val and Janel are ‘Maks and Meryl’ in this season. I completely disagree. Although we always look at Maks because of his ‘bad boy’ image is so strong and that;s what makes Maks a very interesting personality, I always see Val as a strong personality too. Comment from Danica and Meryl proved that thought. Val is more serious than his big brother, and I always thought that he has the talent to choreograph such an interesting routine. When he did the Argentine Tango with Meryl, they have very positive comments from the judges.
What’s happen now it’s not the ‘Maks and Meryl’ thing like people write in every entertainment news. It is about the relation and the chemistry with his partner. I’m not a fan of ‘Pretty Little Liars’, but when I see Janel smile and talk, I like her. She has a great spirit, funny, pretty and expressive. We knew that a great chemistry always help the couple to synchronize their body on the dance floor. And it happens on Val and Janel. Their jive with ‘Bang Bang’, the new song from Ariana Grande / Jessie J. / Nicki Minaj is superb from the choreography point of view. And they dance beautifully. I have 95% confident level that they will reach at least to the semifinal.
13. Tony Dovolani and Betsey Johnson
I don’t know why the new producer picks Betsey Johnson for Tony’s partner. Tony is the longest pro in DWTS history, and although his routines was not always fantastic, but I love watching Tony on the dance floor. With all the mess with the props when they dance, I feel sorry for Tony. I didn’t say Betsey is bad. She is a very energetic lady for her age. But like Peta, I think Tony deserve a chance to prove that he is a good pro and choreographer, that once won the mirror ball in DWTS All Star. Sadly I don’t think they can survive.
My favorite routine from the couples
1. Karina Smirnoff and Randy Couture – Foxtrot / The Way You Look Tonight – Frank Sinatra
2. Derek Hough and Bethany Mota – Jive / Shake It Off by Taylor Swift
3. Mark Ballas and Sadie Robertson – Cha cha / Birthday by Katy Perry
My favorite routine from the pros
1. The new pros dance (Artem, Allison and Keo) with ‘Come Get It Bae’ from Pharell Williams. The trio is very good. I don’t know who choreograph the dance but all I can say that it’s very entertaining. The dance divided into three short segment. First, the trio do the intro. Second, they dance accompanied by the other pros and troupe. It’s really good to see the dance of Allison – Val – Henry, Keo – Peta – Lindsay, Artem – Jenna – Sharna. The last segment is the group dance with the trio closing the dance.
2. The nine female pros and troupes, in white and silver nuance with the lighting that give a golden effect, dance beautifully. Choreograph by Mandy Moore, it is the best combination between great choreography and fantastic professional dancers I’ve ever seen. They deserve standing ovation. Dance to the song ‘Bo$$’ from Fifth Harmony, they move together like angels. It’s a jaw-dropping perfomance. It’s fascinating to see the nine of them dance effortless, fierce but feminine. I will never forget a simple and extravagance setting, and the unique moves that Mandy Moore created.
Reflection from week 1
1. As always, every time I watch this show, I always saw something. They respect each other, the pro and the star. In some point, I know it’s not easy to work so close together with somebody you just know from the entertainment or sport news. But I believe the pros always have a fantastic spirit that really contagious as long as their partner are positive.
2. It’s hard to be sportive yet wise. Especially when you are eliminated. I admire the positive energy from the stars.
3. The casts always find a way to have fun with dancing. And I always believe that dancing is fun.