" Dancing With the Stars" pro Louis van Amstel blogs on season 14 of "DWTS." The three-time world dance champion and creator of LaBlast fitness-based dance DVD workouts starred on seven seasons of the hit ABC show and weighs in on the dances, the judges scores and who will be eliminated.
This is the second season I'm writing my "Dancing With the Stars" blog for GoodMorningAmerica.com and I'm excited to share my professional opinion (Well, I hope so) with all of you "DWTS" fans out there.
One thing I value most is integrity and honesty. That means at one point in the following weeks I might disappoint loyal fans. When I'm being critical, it's not meant to be personal at all. It's just feedback and things to work on for the following week. If you want to share your comments with me please follow me on Twitter @LouisvanAmstel.
This week, the couples had to dance either the Foxtrot or Cha Cha. The two dances couldn't be more different. Cha Cha music is often times higher energy and more fun, but Cha Cha can be harder because it's faster and there are lots of side by side. The Foxtrot's music can sometimes be a bit soft and quieter, but it's an easier dance for the celebs to perform.
Are you ready for another season? Well, let's get started! Drum roll please…
Maria Menounos and Derek Hough's Cha Cha. Maria looked great. Her laugh cracks me up, she has a hot body, I loved the dress color, and she definitely looks better in her Cha Cha live than when she started off in her video package. The routine was cleverly put together by Derek, emphasizing clean lines, but Maria needs to relax her body more to be able to move more freely. Awesome job being the first couple out of the gate. I agree with judges (21 points). Scores fair, I would have given them the same.
Jack Wagner and Anna Trebunskaya's Foxtrot. Looking at their video package I hope Jack can stay out of his head. Having a cute opening sure helped. Jack's posture was better than expected and the routine looked very well rehearsed. For the coming weeks he needs to relax and dance more with his heart, not his brain. Jack and Anna are well matched together. Bruno and Carrie Ann were a little too nice in my opinion, and yet Len's comment on technique was a bit too harsh. Anyway, it's week one, better to be nice and sweet. Scores high though (23 points). I would have given three 7s.
Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd's Cha Cha. Donald's kids are adorable. From the video package, I can tell they're having fun already. High energy from the get go! Donald has a very outgoing personality and it worked. They're a hot couple and Donald is not afraid to move his body. Great job. I did see a lift! Agree with Carrie Ann, it lacked some Cha Cha content, but she didn't call out their lift! Agree with Len and Bruno too (Wow). Scores OK (three 7s), but I would have put an 8 in there, just for energy alone!
Gavin McGraw and Karina Smirnoff's Foxtrot. In their video package Gavin looked very stiff, but the moment he started dancing he proved me wrong. His musicality is going to help him in the long run. Great work. For their next ballroom dance Gavin needs to make his movements smoother and less steppy. He could be in it for the long haul. I agree with Carrie Ann. In my opinion a 6 is low. I'd say all 7's for him.
Roshon Fegan and Chelsie Hightower's Cha Cha. Chelsie, you're going to have your hands full with Roshon! Wow. Watching the video package, I was worried if he could dance ballroom, but we were all thrown for a loop. He's dynamite and can absolutely dance the Cha Cha. I can already tell you he's the one to beat. Great body action and solid lines. I also liked the fact that Roshon made it his own by adding his hip hop flavor. Not sure Len appreciates it. (I wrote this before I heard Len's comments). I agree with Bruno and Carrie Ann on this one. I would have given Roshon three 8s.
Sherri Sheppard and Val Chmerkovskiy's Foxtrot. Does Sherri remind me of Niecy Nash or what? She's the funny one this season. Sherri looks so comfortable in her skin and moves across the floor so easily. I didn't know she could move so well. Awesome job! If she dances like that every dance and stays as funny as she is, Sherri is in it to go all the way. Can't wait to see what she does with her Jive next week. Her scores are OK (23 total points). I probably would have given her three 8's.
Melissa Gilbert and Maksim Chmerkovskiy's Cha Cha. I didn't expect Melissa to be as good as she was. She lost her rhythm a bit at the end, but her energy was very good. Also her technical ability is pretty solid. I'm looking forward to Melissa's Ballroom dances. My gut tells she's very elegant. Melissa needs to work on her posture to stay upright though. I would have shown the legs. It was a lot of black, which in my opinion made the whole costume a bit heavy. I agreed with Len and Carrie Ann, especially their critique of her upper body. Len's 6 is low though. I actually would have put an 8 in there for difficulty level!
William Levy and Cheryl Burke's Cha Cha. Well, I'm sure Cheryl is having a good time this season, in more ways than one. You go girl! With the Cha Cha and William being from Cuba I was so worried William could not live up to that expectation. He did. Yes, he's hot and most of you ladies were probably throwing your room keys (that's not what I had in mind to write down, haha) at your TV screens at home. William actually moved his body so well and was totally into his dance. Great body action, his hips were going. It's going to be interesting to see what he's going to do when he has to do Ballroom. I'm sure Bruno couldn't contain himself. His scores (24 points) were deserved
Martina Navratilova and Tony Dovolani's Foxtrot. We had fellow tennis star Monica Seles a few seasons ago in the ballroom. I hope Martina does much better. She's such an inspirational woman. For not having worn a dress for 20 years, Martina looked gorgeous. I'm so happy to see Martina as free as she was. She actually moved really well. She was still a bit stiff, but so much better than I expected. I've seen many female celebs move way less femininely than Martina. I agree with the judges' nice, positive criticism. Scores are fair in comparison to other Foxtrots (20 points).
Katherine Jenkins and Mark Ballas' Foxtrot. Katherine is a lovely lady. I'm looking forward to seeing Katherine dance. What a beautiful look, very Marilyn Monroe like. Katherine's natural elegance gives her a great advantage in the Ballroom dances. She has great posture and moved so well across the floor. I totally agree with the judges and cannot wait to see Katherine turn elegance into hotness. Scores are high (26 points) though not undeserved. A lot of pressure for weeks to come!
Gladys Knight and Tristan Mcmanus' Cha Cha. I am such a fan of this wonderful lady. What an artist! I'm so happy to see Gladys have so much fun and able to use her phenomenal musicality from her singing in her dancing. It was such a joy to watch Gladys's face throughout. Yes, the technique needs work and the lines need to be polished, but she did an awesome job. She also looked stunning in that red dress. So, I agree with the judges (23 points). Scores well deserved!
Jaleel White and Kym Johnson's Foxtrot. What a gentlemen Jaleel is in his dancing. Jaleel showed great personality, good technique and moved very naturally with a lot of power. He had a very solid performance and great Foxtrot content. I have a feeling Jaleel's jive is going to be rocking next week. His scores are a little high (26 points), but like Katherine, not undeserved for week one.
Overall. It was an awesome opening night. My favorites were Roshon and William for their energy, but Katherine's and Jaleel's Foxtrots were of a higher quality and their content was more complicated.
There were many other performances that I liked. Gladys was very natural, and I just keep seeing her joyous face in my mind.
Thank goodness no one gets eliminated on the first week, which is only fair. The couples have to take on the opposite styles next week, meaning the Cha Cha-ers have the Quickstep and the Foxtrot-ers have the Jive. Can't wait to see how they do!
Follow Louis on Twitter @LouisvanAmstel