'Dancing with the Stars' Season 18 Recap: Week One Performances

By Michael Pascua,
Can the celebrities impress in week one or will nerves get the best of them?

It’s finally time for Dancing with the Stars again! I’m just grateful that Juan Pablo from The Bachelor wasn’t asked to participate because that would have been beyond a train wreck. Lots of changes were made with the different band, mildly adjusted stage, the return of the judges’ table and upstairs area, and Erin Andrews replacing Brooke Burke-Charvet. Erin Andrews was a bit too sports newscaster, but even by the second hour, she loosened up.

We opened the show with a performance from Jason Derulo which also doubled as an introduction of the Pros and Troupe. That is the definition of guest musician integration where Jason still had his dancers but the DWTS cast was equally used, especially the women and the brothers Chmerkovskiy.

The format of week one remains generally the same. Contestants get the Cha-Cha, Foxtrot, or Contemporary while the judges critique. Gone are the days when the Waltz was an option.

NeNe & Tony - Cha-cha - Nene actually came onto the show to win, and she knows who the obvious competition are and is ready to take on the challenge. Maybe her stripper past is helping because she’s actually much more flexible and quicker on her feet than I expected from her. NeNe needed to be a little less robotic with several of her arm movements, but she had some potential body movement and understood that there should be fun in the performance. We’ll see if she could bring class to a ballroom routine.

Len loved the fun and energy of the performance. He did expect more hip action in the future. Bruno thought that NeNe was just scratching the surface, but with improved footwork she’ll shine. Carrie Ann loved that her personality shone through the performance. She suggested dancing as big as her personality. Score: 21 (7,7,7)

James & Peta - Foxtrot - We were warned to keep an eye on Peta’s reaction and it was because Peta apparently hung out with James before he was revealed to be her partner. She was still stunned when James walked away, but the two wanted to keep professional. Showmance alert! I actually thought that James was both channeling some emotion and some decent footwork. Peta choreographed him well and for his very tall frame he extended his arms out. He was willing to go that next step, which I appreciate as a viewer.

Bruno loved the determination of the performance. He needed to look more effortless. After Carrie Ann gushed over his looks, she pointed out the natural elegance, but he needed to be in control in the middle sequence. Len thought he did a good job trying. He suggested fixing his frame. Score: 21 (7,7,7).

Danica & Val - Foxtrot - Danica was excited to be on the show because she was a big fan of DWTS from the beginning. Val was already impressed by Danica because the two complimented each other when they practiced. Danica was trying to find her “womanliness” throughout the competition. Danica’s arms were very strong for week one and she has the right grace for the ballroom category. I’m not sure if Val’s choreography was a bit too hectic for my tastes, but when the couple were spinning in hold, I could see a lot of potential. I hope that Val would link some of the choreography better so Danica could show better grace.

Carrie Ann loved the enthusiasm of the dance, but her shoulders were rising up and her mouth was over-expressive. Len had a terrific first impression. Bruno loved the exuberance and appreciated how the two worked well with each other. Score: 24 (8,8,8)

Sean & Karina - Contemporary - Sean explained that he was a “bad boy” and found the contemporary to be a full 180 of what he’s used to. Karina appreciates Sean’s personality and I’m happy to see that he’s a bit of a joker. The choice of contemporary for Sean was the best thing to soften Sean’s edges right off the bat. Karina’s choreography was a bit Karina-heavy due to all the tricks and lifts but Sean was a strong supportive lifter. The rest of the choreography was a lot of running to Karina so I couldn’t really judge quality of movement.

Len loved the intensity and lifts, but he lacked finesse. Bruno was surprised about the commitment to the performance, but he needs to have continuous motion. Carrie Ann managed to capture the spirit of the contemporary. Score: 20 (7,6,7)

Billy & Emma - Cha-cha - Billy walked in to a very surprised Emma. Billy had two hip operations and arthritis. He seemed enthused to dance as did Emma, who tried her best to help him out. Billy was really an old man moving around the stage as Emma danced around him. I give him credit for moving around as he did for 76 but clearly he’s not going to win.

Bruno thought he was too dainty when he moved, he needed more power. Carrie Ann thought he danced very relaxed, but the choreography needed to be less simple. Len thought the routine was entertaining, but easy. Score: 15 (5,5,5)

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