It’s fun, it’s sequined, and it leaves a lot of people going “who was that again?”.2011 has Dancing With The Stars is back for it’s eleventh season. Seemingly not out of ‘celebrities’ yet, although many have accused the show of scraping the bottom of the barrel before this year.

While hosts Dan MacPherson and Sonia Kruger return, keeping things light, fresh and bouncing along (Dan acquitting himself very well, in the midst of some on-screen Twitter chaos and commenting controversy), the class of DWTS 2011 has offered some crackers. Included in the cohort is surfer Mark Occhilupo, Channel 7 newsreader Samantha Armytage, Social ‘starlet’ Brynne Edelsten, Cricketer Nathan Bracken & wife Hayley (full list here). All crackers for varying reasons.

Competition ballroom dancing is hard. As an amateur to work with a professional to learn steps to compete would be very difficult for most contestants – except maybe Mrs Bracken who is quite the accomplished professional dancer, calling into question the fairness already of the competition. To learn these routinese and perform them on live television is a massive undertaking for all the contestants, and we saw tonight how hard it can be.

The judges (Todd McKenny, Helen Ritchie & “new kid” Josh Horner) were a mix of suitably encouraging and outrageously blunt. Particularly Todd – but then what’s a reality show without a bitch judge (see: Simon Cowell on X Factor/Idol; Kyle Sandilands on anything; etc). I offer these statements by way of an example:

Brynne Edelsten
Josh: “Bedazzled sack of potatoes.”
Helen: “A sweet lady, but you are uncoordinated.”
Todd: “I thought it was compelling. Two very big assets in this competition – your tits and your Arsen (Kishishian – her partner).”
Sonia: ” I think it’s lovely you get on so well with your Dad.” (after seeing husband Geoffrey

Sam Armytage
Josh: “I think you’re going to grow to be unbelievable.”
Helen: “I’m used to a bubbly and happy Sam, but tonight you were obviously nervous.”
Todd: “Sam, I love you. You’re one of my favourite people on television and tonight you let me down. You were half-baked. You didn’t commit. Please don’t be half-baked. If you dance in the middle of the road in this competition you’ll end up as roadkill.”

Mark Occhilupo
Josh: “Just go for it, work it more. You know what, you did well. More hairography.”
Helen: “You find your balance on a surfboard, you need to find your balance on the dance floor.”
Todd: “Jade, what are you gonna do? Not just a goofy-footed surfer, you’re a goofy footed dancer. That was the worst routine in any series of the show. It was truly awful. Stick to surfing.”

Controversy indeed. It launched David Koch at Todd:

The more interesting story for the series will be how well the marriage of Nathan & Hayley Bracken survives. Once can only guess the producers are hoping for something to happen later into the season to help keep the show in the news. Hilariously, when Hayley was asked by Dan what she wants to get out of her DWTS experience, she replied: “I want to show Australia another side of me.” Given her performance tonight, the side we’ll see will likely be her underside.

The scorecard indicated there is a lot of work to do for most contestants:

Also, what was with Chong Lim & the usually strong DWTS orchestra? Tonight they managed to kill more than one song, but particularly murdered “Firework” by Katy Perry. They can’t be that out of practice.


Dancing With The Stars – Sun 6:30pm, Ch7.