This isn’t an April Fools’ Day joke: Prom Night is rolling out about six to eight weeks early on “Dancing with the Stars.”
While most schools host their explosions of tuxedos and tiaras in May and June, “DWTS” is getting a jump on prom season as the calendar turns to April from March. Instead of putting space between partners, Mr. Goodman, Miss Inaba and Mr. Tonioli will encourage the celebrities and their pros to come closer in Viennese waltzes and cha-chas. As with the proms many readers likely attended, this one will have a king and queen to vote on. The choices will be made through Twitter, and the winning couples will receive two extra points to their total score. For what it’s worth, Zendaya has the most Twitter followers of any of the celebrities.
Oh, my heaven, co-hosts Tom Bergeron and Brooke Burke Charvet are in the spirit of the show, too. Tom has a powder blue jacket and ruffled shirt, and Brooke admits that yes, her hair was that teased back in the day. Her dress is shiny and fuchsia. Welcome back to 1985. “We all look like we escaped from an Easter basket,” Tom says of himself and the judges.
“DWTS” Prom Night begins with a Class of 2013 group dance, choreographed by pro veteran Louis van Amstel, in which each couple and its hashtag gets a spotlight moment. Then we see a celebrity for whom prom is a recent memory, 18-year-old Aly Raisman. Aly and Mark Ballas have a Viennese waltz. Cupid strikes Aly and Mark with an arrow. It’s a somewhat unusual start to the dancing, with harsh lines and a lot of arms. Then the graceful, fast sweep kicks in, and Aly practically skates across the floor. (Speaking of skating, the recently departed Dorothy Hamill is in the audience.) Len tells Aly he’d been impressed with her dancing, but not tonight. No, wait – April Fools! Bruno loves the whirlwind of romance. Carrie Ann wants Aly to stay in character more, and Bruno and Len argue with her because they think Carrie Ann is too harsh. Score: 23 (Carrie Ann 7, Len 8, Bruno 8).
Andy Dick’s Mad Hatter jazz number last week with Sharna Burgess turned heads, and now they look to capitalize on the buzz with a cha-cha to “Do You Think I’m Sexy?” The pressure of learning technique gets to Andy in rehearsal. He worries he’ll hurt Sharna’s wrist or dislocate her shoulder for holding her so tight, and he snaps. Sharna is having none of it. As for the cha-cha, Len says it best when he remarks “any connection to the cha-cha is a coincidence.” It’s all about the storyline of the nerdy, suspenders-wearing Andy, dumped via text messages, being snared by Sharma and her leather catsuit. At most, the routine had six cha-cha steps. How did Bruno find enough cha-cha to remark that Andy’s timing was off? It seems Andy is this season’s Carson Kressley, a man known for entertainment instead of content in routines. Score: 18 (6s from each judge).
Ingo Rademacher rocks the leather, too, for a paso doble with Kym Johnson to “Another One Bites the Dust.” Ingo says this will represent his fantasy prom, in which he drives up on his motorcycle (though the bedazzled helmet probably wasn’t in his dreams), steals the prom queen and hauls her off to the after party. Disappointed with last week’s scores and middle-of-the-pack standing, Ingo throws himself into the paso with emphatic power and aggression. The arms … yeah, the guns … and the footwork that’s anything but delicate could make viewers think he’s yelling “huh!” with each movement. Carrie Ann and Bruno think that in being so intense, Ingo lost refinement in his posture. Score: 21 (7s all around). P.S. “General Hospital” sightings galore, including last season’s frequent audience visitor, Nancy Lee Grahn. “GH” turns 50 years old this month.
Lisa Vanderpump was in the bottom two after the first two weeks, though she and fellow basement dweller Victor Ortiz were saved when Dorothy dropped out because of injury. Lisa and Gleb Savchenko look to redeem themselves with a Viennese waltz, and to gain audience support, Lisa encourages Gleb to get more followers on Twitter by posing shirtless. Lisa says they can’t worry about judges and instead have to focus on the audience. Oh, right, the dancing. The judges speak of the fluidity; I think the airy skirt helps with that. They do a lot of underarm passes, often standing in place. Bruno notes Lisa missed several of them, and Carrie Ann wants her to work on staying in character. Score: 21 (a trio of 7s).
Neither Derek Hough nor Kellie Pickler attended their proms, but that won’t stop them from doing a jive to a number from a dance movie: “Footloose.” Derek should know this one well, as his sister, ex-“DWTS” pro Julianne, starred in the remake. Kellie hopes Derek won’t make the “wasp face” if she messes up the steps. Derek can become irritated with his partners (see Maria Menounos, Jennifer Grey), but so far, he and Kellie are getting along. He choreographs one wild, mad jive for them, and Kellie does an admirable job keeping up. It’s almost a relief when the two are doing their side-by-side bit because it allows her to be neat and precise without the frenzy. “High energy” seems an understatement. Carrie Ann calls it “ridiculously amazing,” and Len crowns Kellie queen of the prom. Score: 25 (Carrie Ann 8, Len 9, Bruno 8).
Like Lisa, Victor wants yet another chance to make a strong impression on viewers. He and Lindsay Arnold have contemporary. This allows the duo to take advantage of the boxer’s strength with a lot of lifts, yet Lindsay also wants them to get in touch with emotion. Victor finds contemporary easier to grasp. This dance has a lot of the elements of contemporary Carrie Ann (and Speakeasy blogger Josee Rose) mentioned two weeks ago: lifts aplenty, and they seem to be natural rather than forced; rolling on the floor; running. Bruno is on his feet afterward, and he and Carrie Ann issue the same giddy sentiment about Victor being a dancer. Len wants to see more dance among the lifts. Score: 23 (Carrie Ann 8, Len 7, Bruno 8).
Was “Sex Machine” played at many proms? Probably not, but that won’t stop D.L. Hughley from doing a salsa with Cheryl Burke at the “DWTS” one. D.L. says he’s going to have fun and make incremental improvement each week. Unfortunately, D.L. and Cheryl haven’t worked on improving his hips since that Week 1 cha-cha fiasco. He shows some wiggle in rehearsal when he’s goofing off but none on the live show. It “almost looks like a case of hip replacement,” Bruno says. The footwork is marginally better, but this looks like a step back, not a step forward, despite Carrie Ann’s encouragement. It also bears no resemblance to salsa, and Len laments the lack of passes. Tom lets D.L. talk back to the judges, which one doesn’t often see, and D.L. makes a joke about hip movement equaling more children. Score: 16 (Carrie Ann 6, Len 5, Bruno 5).
Jacoby Jones wants to depict falling in love with Karina Smirnoff in a romantic Rihanna rumba, “Stay.” He was only 5’7” in 2001 when he attended his prom, to which he arrived late and left early when he was kicked out. Then we awkwardly segue into Jacoby mentioning the destruction of his high school in Hurricane Katrina, so he’s dedicating this rumba to the school’s memory. Karina often choreographs deeply felt rumbas, and this one is no exception. It’s sensual, and Jacoby shows he can do the more traditional dances with passion and intensity. His arms extend languidly, and he has chemistry with his partner. When he spins her on the floor, we see a tease of how amazing he could be with paso doble. Bruno thinks the rumba smolders, and Carrie Ann raves about the artistry. Jacoby’s proud mama is in the audience, delighted. Score: 24 (8s from everyone, including harsh critic Len).
Tony Dovolani wants Wynonna Judd to embrace her inner rock goddess in a samba to “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” Tony introduces Wynonna to pole dancing (not seen at my prom!), and they go to see Def Leppard in concert for inspiration. Perhaps they needed to see more shows because this is more of the same from Wynonna. She walks; she doesn’t dance. When she spins, she looks dizzy. The style looks as if it came from the hideous “Rock of Ages” movie. Normally, Tony gets peeved with Carrie Ann, but this time he snips at Len. Bruno calls Wynonna “sedated,” and Len complains she doesn’t move. Score: 15 (5/5/5). Tony looks irritated, but hey, the scores are deserved!
Sean Lowe and Peta Murgatroyd cha-cha to “YMCA.” Many proms feature “YMCA,” but those arm movements don’t make one think of cha-cha. Peta remarks on how awkward Sean looks at the beginning of each week, which we see in rehearsal footage. Somehow, though, this number strikes the perfect balance between cheese and content. It’s what Andy, D.L. and Wynonna tried to grasp but didn’t. Yes, we have the YMCA, and yet it also comes with cha-cha hip action and footwork. That footwork remains kind of gruesome, as Sean doesn’t always finish his moves. Len says he’s pigeon-toed. Sean performs with gusto, Carrie Ann says, and he’s definitelyt trying. Bruno hits on the construction worker. Score: 21 (straight 7s).
Zendaya hasn’t gone to prom yet – surprisingly, the show doesn’t remind us she’s only 16 – so she decides to consult her grandmother for ideas. Her grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer recently, and Zendaya is dedicating a “Que Sera, Sera” Viennese waltz to her. In working with Zendaya, Val Chmerkovskiy wants his partner to have a better grasp on her spins. We see her slip and take a hard fall on one. It’s a really fast Viennese waltz, with a lot of spinning and arm twirling. It looks lovely and fluid, but it would help if Val would slow the choreography down a bit so we can appreciate the performance more. Len wishes to see more of the show’s Viennese waltzes in hold rather than the excessive “wafting of the arms.” Carrie Ann praises the lyrical quality. Score: 24 (8s from each judge).
On Tuesday’s results show, we get a Macy’s Stars of Dance number, Huey Lewis and the News, and Demi Lovato. Presumably, someone is voted off this week, and we’ll crown the prom king and queen. Who are the winners and losers of the night, readers?