Round One – Ladies’ Night

So now it’s the ladies’ turn to take the stage and show us what they’ve got.  The more I’ve thought about it, the more I was disappointed with the men last night.  So we’ll see if the ladies can impress me more.  Of course, we are more then overdue for a woman to win again, so it wouldn’t be a bad thing if they are better then the men.

Shannon Elizabeth & Derek Hough – Cha Cha – The women get things off to a hot start.  That was a wonderful Cha Cha with plenty of technique.  If the rest of the women are at this level, the men have plenty to worry about.  The judges picked on her legs and techniques, but they were mostly positive.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 7 Len – 7 Bruno – 7 Total – 21  A little lower then I would have scored it, but I’m not too surprised after the judge’s comments.

Monica Seles & Jonathan Roberts – Foxtrot – After all the talk about her being stiff and nervous, this was actually fairly good.  Yes, there have been better Foxtrots, and she could have flowed better.  But it was better then I thought it might be after the background segment.  The judges were rather hard on her for not being smooth enough.  And they seemed surprised to see that she didn’t do better considering her athletic background.  I’ll agree I expected a little more from her because of that.  But there is definitely promise there.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 5 Len – 5 Bruno – 5 Total – 15  Okay, I think that’s low.  I think it belongs in the 18-20 range, so it’s not that low.  But still, I thought she did a better job then that.

Marissa Jaret Winokur & Tony Dovolani – Cha Cha – Well, I hope Marissa is happy because she got to start off with the shaking she wanted to do.  In fact, she seemed to do more of that then the actual Cha Cha.  I picked her to be an early favorite based on her musical theater experience, but I’m rethinking that.  I mean, this was an okay first week performance.  But it wasn’t anywhere near the level I thought it would be.  The judges certainly agreed with me.  Lots of flash but very little real content.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 6 Len – 6 Bruno – 6 Total – 18  See, now I would have scored this less then Monica’s dance.  I’m not quite sure what the judges saw here they didn’t see in Monica’s, but there you do.

Priscilla Presley & Louis van Amstel – Foxtrot – For all her talks about nerves, she looked great.  It had content, it looked on, and it was rather smooth.  Even the death spiral she was concerned about look great.  The judges’ only comments were on posture.  They absolutely loved it and gave it the best praise of the night by far.  I’ll be interested to see how she does at the Latin dances, but she could easily be someone to watch.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 8 Len – 8 Bruno – 8 Total – 24  The scores definitely reflect the comments.  There was room to improve, but it was a very strong first week dance.

Kristi Yamaguchi & Mark Ballas – Foxtrot – As she worried, the bar is high.  At least my expectations for her are high.  I think she’ll do well at the Ballroom dances, but I’m not too sure about the Latin dances.  And it sure looks to me like I was right.  I know I just said this, but that was the dance of the night so far.  She was so in tune with the music.  It was smooth.  It looked absolutely great.  Bruno said it was one of the best first round dances he’s ever seen, and I certainly agree.  Len said he noticed little nit picks he wouldn’t even consider looking at during the first round.  While there are lots of differences, I’d say her background in skating has certainly given her an early lead.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 9 Len – 9 Bruno – 9 Total – 27  Absolutely great.  A well deserved high score.  Hopefully, she continues to be strong because I’d love to see her go far.

Marlee Matlin & Fabian Sanchez – Cha Cha – Okay, so here’s the performance I’ve been waiting all week to see.  While she can still feel the beat, I’m looking forward to seeing what she can do.  I do think, however, it is a huge disadvantage for her to be paired with the only new pro of the season.  It seems fairer to pair her with someone who knows the ropes already so they can guide her through the process better.
I could see Fabian using a few hand signals to help guide her.  Or at least what looked like hand signals to me.  But if I didn’t know any better, I’d say she could hear.  That was incredible.  She did better then some of the stars who could hear.  It looked smooth with plenty of hip action and tighter choreography then I expected.  The judges were floored as well.  Once again, they have promised to judge her like everyone else, which is what they should do.  But if this is any indication of what she can do, she has absolutely nothing to fear going forward.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 7 Len – 7 Bruno – 8 Total – 22  I expected more 8’s and maybe a 9, but this was a strong debut.  I could see the frequency of the dances becoming too much for her, but I think she could go far.

So, after both nights, here are the standings of all 12 couples.

1. Kristi – 27
2. Priscilla – 24
2. Mario – 24
4. Marlee – 22
4. Jason – 22
6. Shannon – 21
6. Cristian – 21
8. Marissa – 18
8. Steve – 18
10. Penn – 16
11. Monica – 15
11. Adam – 15

There are so many ties up there.  And it is rather amazing that every tie has one guy and one lady at the same level.

Obviously with another week of dancing plus the voting to go, there is no way to come close to predicting anything right now.  But I will say that Adam, Monica, and Penn had better step up their game next week if they want to stay in the competition very long.  And Steve and Marissa need to watch their backs as well.