Laney’s Look: Week One Of “Dancing With The Stars” Doesn’t Disappoint

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Photo of Season 21 of "Dancing With The Stars" Poster (Courtesy: ABC)
Photo of Season 21 of "Dancing With The Stars" Poster (Courtesy: ABC)

Every season I’m truly blown away by the creativity and talent of everyone involved with “Dancing With The Stars”. Right from the get go I was on the sofa cheesing like a fool. The open of the show was, as always, spot on. How can you not enjoy an opening sequence that involved literally shutting down Hollywood Boulevard for a flash mob? Come on now! And to think that they were just getting started!

That was just an appetizer of what was to come. You could feel the enthusiasm from almost all of the celebrities competing. There were a couple that were a little iffy, but on a whole it was a great night of entertainment — even if some of the dancing wasn’t the best. So lets get down to the nitty-gritty with my thoughts of the celebrities right out of the gate.

Victor Espinoza (Salsa): As I mentioned in my initial breakdown, I really wasn’t sure what to expect from Victor. I give him full credit for being entertaining. I had a lot of fun watching him, and he really got into the hip action. Technically it wasn’t the greatest dance. He had fun with it, which made me have fun watching him, but it wasn’t a strong dance. Judges’ Scores: 5-5-5

Tamar Braxton (Quickstep): The Quickstep is a dance that I don’t envy anyone having to do in week one, but Tamar gave a solid performance. She has a great partner, and she definitely has some great ability. I was honestly pleasantly surprised by how well she performed the dance. Judges’ Scores: 8-7-8

Chaka Khan (Cha-Cha): This was the first performance of the night that made me cringe. I didn’t expect the world from Chaka, but I expected more than I got. It felt like there was a lot of her “walking” instead of dancing, the rest of the time it was Keo dancing around her. It was just a disappointing performance all around for me. Judges’ Scores: 5-4-4

Hayes Grier (Cha-Cha): I could hear teenage girls squealing all across the country when Hayes took to the dance floor. He did a stand-up job with his performance. In many ways he reminded me of Riker Lynch last season. If he can focus his energy and abilities, he could do really well in this competition. Judges’ Scores: 7-7-7

Andy Grammer (Foxtrot): Andy just makes me smile, and he truly gave a solid performance. He was smooth and graceful. There were a few moments of not being in time with the music, especially with the dip at the end, but overall I think he has a lot of strengths to work with going forward in the competition. Judges’ Scores: 7-7-7

Paula Deen (Quickstep): This was a performance that took me by surprise. Admittedly, I did not expect much from Paula, especially when I found out that she had the Quickstep. She did a respectable job, though. She has great musicality. I still don’t think she is a contender, but she did much better than I expected. Judges’ Scores: 5-5-5

Carlos PenaVega (Jive): Wow! That’s all I can say. Being someone that never watched Big Time Rush and knew little of Carlos, he hit the dance floor and killed it. After watching his powerhouse Jive in week one, he moved up my list in regards to contenders for the mirrorball. Judges’ Scores: 8-8-7

Alexa PenaVega (Jive): Alexa’s Jive wasn’t as strong in my book as her husband’s. Given her background, I expected a little more “sass”. She did a good job, don’t get me wrong, I just thought that there would be some extra pizzazz. I’m leaning toward opening night jitters causing her to hold back. Judges’ Scores: 7-7-8

Kim Zolciak Biermann (Salsa): I honestly felt really bad for Kim. She seemed so completely uncomfortable and unsure of herself during her performance, and it made me feel uncomfortable for her. There were a lot of opening night nerves there. She has a strong partner in Tony, though, and I think he can help give her the encouragement she needs going into next week. Judges’ Scores: 4-4-4

Bindi Irwin (Jive): This Jive was just insane! It was fun and sharp. It definitely makes me excited to see what else she can do throughout this season. Bindi’s performance also cemented my early pre-season prediction that she’ll make it to the final three. I feel even more confident in that call. Judges’ Scores: 8-8-8

Gary Busey (Cha-Cha): I’m not sure exactly how much Cha-Cha Gary did, but he entertained me nonetheless. My remark while watching him was, “He just seems happy to be there.” Everyone knows that he is a unique character, and he’s had a lot to overcome. He’s a happy guy, though, and his performance made me happy, even if it didn’t have a lot of actual dance content. Judges’ Scores: 5-5-5

Alek Skarlatos (Foxtrot): You know, I’m not sure how much fan support he has, but Alek really surprised me, especially for someone that has never danced before and that isn’t a performer. His Foxtrot was strong and graceful. I’m not sure how “loose” he’d be with a Latin-style dance, but he definitely scored points with me this week. Judges’ Scores: 8-7-7

Nick Carter (Cha-Cha): This was the dance that I was waiting all night to see, and I won’t deny that I was just as giddy as Sharna and Julianne were to have Nick dance. Despite my “fan girl” feelings, though, he honestly gave a great performance. I’ve seen him perform countless times over the years, and I’ll agree that he’s not the strongest dancer in the Backstreet Boys. He held his own in the ballroom, though, and I think he’ll just keep getting better. Judges’ Scores: 8-8-8

So two stars will be leaving the competition next week. The first will be eliminated Monday night, and a second will be eliminated Tuesday after another round of dances. It’s really a toss-up as to who will be leaving first. I’m torn between Victor, Kim, and Alek. I think fan-base will help Kim hang in there through the first elimination, so that leaves Victor and Alek. It’s a hard call. I think I’m going to have to go with Victor, though, as the first elimination of the season.

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