Dancing with the Stars sticks to old formula
Season 17 of Dancing with the Stars kicked off on Monday night promising a new format, new production — and of course, new stars. But this time, the show’s classic formula showed through: It’s the same dancing show time after time because stars’ success relies on dancing ability and likability in equal parts. As the seasons progress, there are a few cookie-cut roles that remain constant.
There is the athlete. This season, it’s Keyshawn Johnson, who moves in the stiff athletic way of a 6’4” former pro football player. His performance was marked by poor dancing and low scores.
There is the love interest — the partners that make us question if they’re more than just dance partners. This season it’s Pretty Little Liars actor Brant Daugherty and his partner, Peta Murgatroyd. The two quickly established that they were single and attractive, and there was a notable level of passion in their performance.
There are the forgotten stars — namely singer Christina Milian and actresses Elizabeth Berkley and Leah Remini. Milian came out strong with great choreography. Berkley seemed sweet and was a fair dancer, and Remini brought a lot of personality to the stage.
Actor Corbin Bleu danced dynamically. He is one of the few male dancers in the show’s history to really draw attention rather than let the professional do all the work. He displays a will to push himself, which resulted in a performance earning one of the top scores of the night.
There are the heartwarming stories. Former reality TV star Jack Osbourne focused his introduction on his experience with multiple sclerosis. He came across as a genuine, soft-spoken guy and impressed everyone with his dancing. Another inspiring story came from actress Valerie Harper: She was given just months to live due to lung and brain cancer, but she is now beating the odds and thriving on the show. She stole the hearts of many viewers not just with her story but with her sweet mannerisms and grace. She floated across the floor in an elegant, simple routine.
There are the stars that draw in a large number of viewers: Snooki, the self-proclaimed “hot mess,” took the stage looking strikingly thin. She promises that her partying days are over and she is ready to be more mature, but this claim fell flat as she shrieked “ew” and “perv” at her dance partner. Personality aside, she was a great dancer, receiving praise from the judges.
Bill Nye is the kind of contestant that makes this show so special. Nye offered an admittedly poor performance, receiving the lowest scores of the night. But the crowd chanted his name as he finished and booed animatedly when the judges criticized him.
Bill Nye was a true class act. He brought a rose for his partner in a flask, taking time to teach us the difference between a flask and beaker. He spoke in lovely expressions, exclaiming, “Even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes,” discussed evolution, and danced in an endearing way. As judge Carrie Ann Inaba put it, he is “the heart of the show.” While he cannot keep up in dancing ability, his personality might just be enough to buy him a few more weeks.
Credit must be given where due, and Glee star Amber Riley stole the stage Monday night. Judge Bruno Tonioli described her as the “tigress of season 17.” She performed with ferocity and precision and received praise and high scores. While she is not the most widely-known star, she quickly grabbed viewers’ attention with her charisma. She spoke about wanting to be a role model for girls her size, wanting them to see her “throwing this weight around.” She was the most captivating and inspiring performer of the night and will surely go far in the competition.
While Dancing with the Stars is deeply rooted in the traditional format, it has yet to feel tired. The fresh crop of stars brings new life to the show and a promise for a season of fantastic dancing and dynamic personalities.