“Dancing With the Stars” pro Chelsie Hightower weighs in on each of the week 1 performances. The “DWTS” veteran knows what it takes to dazzle on the dance floor and gives her take on the dances, the choreography, and the judges’ scores. You can find her on Twitter @chelsiehightowr.
By CHELSIE HIGHTOWER
Drew Carey and Cheryl Burke: Drew’s jive was nothing but fun. I would expect no less considering what a talented entertainer he is, but one of these days I want him to really “wow” me with one of his performances. I think it’s coming…. I feel it! Technically speaking, if he “cushioned into his knees” to get a better feel for the “jive bounce,” he would have fared better. Either way, it was good fun. 7.
Danica McKellar and Valentin Chmerkovskiy: What a samba! I was very impressed with this dance and what I was most impressed with was Danica’s fluidity in her movements throughout the performance. That kind of fluidity and musicality is very rare to see in a “celeb” and especially one who is not trained to be knowledge. That also lends major credence to the pro. Well done Danica and Val! 9.3.
Billy Dee Williams and Emma Slater: Let’s be honest: Billy Dee is not great, but for 77, he’s good. And he’s good because he’s showing he has the energy and courage to boldly face the rigorous physical and mental challenges this show requires week after week. You can’t compare him to anyone else. He is in a league of his own, whatever league that is. Billy Dee, just keep on keeping on! We’re behind you 100 percent. I’d give him a courageous 5.3.
Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Now, I know this is bold statement; I’m writing this at 4:15 a.m. and I’m feeling bold, so I’ll say that their performance was one of the highest quality dances I have EVER seen on “Dancing With The Stars”! There was nothing amateur about it. I’ll be honest and admit Meryl executed some of those lifts better than I could have. Well done, Meryl! Feel free to tell me how you did that first lift when you get time. From the Olympic ice to the ballroom floor, this woman brings nothing short of brilliance. 10!
Diana Nyad and Henry Byalikov: Although she knew she had been eliminated, Diana was smiling during her cha-cha and seemed confident and happy. I enjoyed this whole dance. A great run, Diana!
Candace Cameron Bure and Mark Ballas: Was this a contemporary dance or a rumba?! Either way, I really enjoyed it and was transfixed with the performance from start to finish. Technically, the biggest and most glaring thing I noticed was Candace’s steps were too big. Big steps make it difficult to straighten the knees and to keep the weight over the feet, which would keep her balanced and sturdy. Overall, I felt it was a good performance. Hopefully next week, as she executes her Latin dance, we will see a bit more refined technique. No doubt this woman shines every time the camera hits that face and she’s got personality to boot. Great job! 7.2.
Amy Purdy and Derek Hough: Watching Amy I feel as though I can’t complain while dancing ever again. Whether it’s my feet hurting, my muscles being sore, or being tired, none of it comes close to the kind of challenges Amy must have to deal with on a daily basis. And when I think of it from that perspective, none of those issues seem like issues at all. Amy did such a great job with the swing. She did it so well one would never know she’s dancing with two prosthetic legs. Amy is, as everyone has said, a light to the world and I couldn’t be happier to see her on this program. Well done!! 8.
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James Maslow and Peta Murgatroyd: James does the salsa! I thought that Bruno couldn’t have loved it more after his remark about James being shirtless, but then I realized if James actually had danced without his shirt and pants on as he had suggested in the pre-dance clips, Bruno could have. (Sorry Bruno, maybe next time!) In my opinion, James did quite well with this challenging dance. I felt he took charge and while it was still evident Peta was “back leading,”when the girl leads the guy, he looked as if he was in control at times. Leading, as with all dances, is the essential role for the man in the salsa. Great job to the pair! I would have given this a 7.7.
Charlie White and Sharna Burgess: Charlie’s tango was a crowd-pleaser and while it got mixed reviews from the judges, I enjoyed it! As Bruno said, he’s got that “predatory killer instinct” and knows how to perform, on the Olympic ice or on the dance floor. Keep at it, Charlie! 8.
NeNe Leakes and Tony Dovolani: This woman has the biggest and sassiest personality on the show. And with that, she can bring any choreography to life! That is her greatest strength. But, she still has a lot to work on in terms of technique. If she can match her technique with her charisma, she’ll go very far in this competition! Great job, Nene! 7.5.
Sean Avery and Karina Smirnoff: I am genuinely impressed (and maybe a little surprised) with Sean’s natural coordination; and it came out strong in this salsa dance. Sean needs to simply feel greater confidence in his dancing ability and not depend on Karina so much. Great job, Sean. 7.6. We’ll miss you!
Cody Simpson and Witney Carson: Cody is a charmer and I want to see him do well, but unfortunately his tango was laced with problems from the ground up. Before anything, he needs to work on his footwork, then bend more into his knees to compensate for their height difference. Next, in his frame, he needs to stretch his topline wide from side to side. You are good Cody and have lots of potential. You can do it! I would have given this dance a 6.5.
The Judges’ Scores
Charlie White and Sharna Burgess: 25
James Maslow and Peta Murgatroyd: 25
Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: 25
Amy Purdy and Derek Hough: 24
Danica McKellar and Valentin Chmerkovskiy: 24
Cody Simpson and Witney Carson: 22
Candace Cameron Bure and Mark Ballas: 21
NeNe Leakes and Tony Dovolani: 21
Drew Carey and Cheryl Burke: 21
Sean Avery and Karina Smirnoff: 21
Billy Dee Williams and Emma Slater: 15