"DWTS" Week 1 Recap: Ohhhhh, We Wanna Dance with Somebody
Here is a universally acknowledged, if not always trumpeted, truth: The stars of "Dancing with the Stars" are pretty bad dancers. Are they fun to watch? Of course they are. Can they really, credibly pull off an Argentine tango—even the best of them, even after spending several weeks inside the "DWTS" machine? Not really.
But this time might be different, you guys. Because as last night's premiere proved, there are some legitimately talented dancers in the Season 24 field—including a few major surprises. (Rashad Jennings? Who knew?)
The evening began with the kind of aggressively sparkly, delightfully ridiculous number we didn't realize we'd been missing in the days since the last Mirror Ball Trophy was handed out. But oh, yes—we HAVE missed this:
Inevitably, the competitive performances that followed included some duds (points for effort, Chris Kattan). But the contestants who ended up at the top of the leaderboard pulled off some pretty impressive stuff. Particularly the so-talented-it-just-ain't-fair Simone Biles, who's hoping to join her Olympic teammate Laurie Hernandez in the Mirror Ball Trophy club. Based on her remarkably precise tango with Sasha Farber, she just might do that.
We'd never heard of running back Rashad Jennings before his "DWTS" turn, but we definitely know his name now: Dude can MOVE. His super-smooth cha cha with Emma Slater was solid gold—and the surprise hit of the night.
And let's talk for a minute about Heather Morris, who ended up tied for third but is, now and forever, first in our hearts. We think the judges were a tad harsh on her Viennese waltz with Maks Chmerkovskiy, which was admittedly not our favorite "DWTS" performance of all time but was still solidly executed. Is she being graded on a curve because she has prior dance experience? Probably. But this girl does not lack personality, and if it didn't come out in last night's sweetly demure routine, it sure as heck will once she gets to tackle a Latin style.
What did y'all think? Tune in next week to watch Chris Kattan go home find out whose "DWTS" journey will be ending first—and then check back here for our recap of the danciest highlights.
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
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Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.
Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."
Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?
Corbin Bleu in rehearsal for "Kiss Me, Kate" (Jenny Anderson, courtesy Roundabout Theatre Company)
If you're a hardcore Broadway baby, today is the worst Sunday of the year. Why, you ask? The Tony Awards were last Sunday, so basically there's nothing to look forward to in life anymore—no James Corden being James Corden, no teary acceptance speeches from newly minted stars, no thrilling excerpts from the hottest new shows. Oh yeah, and there are 50 more Sundays to go before our humdrum lives are once again blessed with the next annual iteration of Broadway's biggest night.