Before it even began, the cast of Season 13 of “Dancing with the Stars” made headlines and their first moves in the ballroom lived up to the hype – both good and bad.
WARNING: Major spoilers ahead!
But for transgender activist Chaz Bono, it was all good, as he took on the cha cha with professional partner Lacey Schwimmer, performing it in a way that no one was expecting, except perhaps his girlfriend, Jennifer Elia, who proudly was left in tears.
Chaz previously told Access Hollywood that his mother, Cher, is the dancer of the family, but he had plenty of his own rhythm, moving across the dance floor, hitting the beat and smiling as he shimmied to the classic, “Dancing in the Street,” a number that ended with a standing ovation from the full house.
“You can dance!” judge Carrie Ann Inaba raved, throwing her hands up in the air. “You have great footwork, it was sharp, it was precise… You light up this room!”
Len Goodman went on to compliment Chaz for leaving it all on the dance floor.
“You really came out with the right attitude, you came out to enjoy yourself, and that’s what I felt you did. ‘Someone’s going home, if it’s gonna be me, I’m going down fighting,’” Len said, echoing Chaz’s thoughts as the contender nodded. “And that’s what you did. Right on time, good footwork, great attitude.”
His impressive debut landed the activist and Lacey in the middle of the pack for the night, with a total of 17 out of 30 points, something that pleased his mom, Cher, who Tweeted her excitement over the number.
“WOW ! HOW GREAT WAS MY SON,” Cher wrote. “‘THE GREATEST,THING GREATEST THING,GREATESTTHING NO MATTER WHAT !WHAT! WHAT!’ HES A WINNER ! I Was So Nervous.”
While ABC saved Chaz and Lacey’s dance for the end, there was plenty of drama throughout the show, like the battle of the brothers – newcomer Val Chmerkovskiy and reigning ballroom bad boy, Maksim Chmerkovskiy.
Neither leapt to the top of the leaderboard – that feat was a surprising tie by the graceful Chynna Phillips and Tony Dovolani, with J.R. Martinez and his partner, Karina Smirnoff – but the Chmerkovskiy brothers both packed some punches.
Val exploded on the stage in his first celebrity competition dance, hitting the ballroom tanned and totally shirtless (he later covered up with a Letterman jacket) and playing around at the start of his cha cha with George Clooney’s ex-girlfriend — model and Italian TV presenter Elisabetta Canalis – in a bed.
Len hated the use of the prop, and their quick motions at the end of the number actually led to a minor wardrobe malfunction with Elisabetta’s top, which she appeared to be fiddling with as the number ended.
The pair’s overall score was just 15 points, putting them in second to last (the bottom spot was held by NBA star Ron Artest/Metta World Peace and newcomer Peta Murgatroyd, whose cha cha took just 14/30).
And then it was time for Maks’ return – with his wish list partner, U.S. soccer goalie Hope Solo.
Maks attempted to gussy up his tomboyish partner, teaching her how to move her muscle-packed arms in a graceful fashion in the Viennese waltz, and it paid off. Carrie Ann called it “wonderful,” and the two walked away in third place for the night with a total score of 21/30.
Immediately on Maks and Hopes’ heels, however, was returning, three-time mirrorball champ Derek Hough, and his Season 13 partner, Ricki Lake. They too made a strong showing. Judge Bruno Tonioli even told Ricki she looked like, “the cat that got the cream” after their number, which earned 20/30 points.
Derek’s pal Mark Ballas and “The Hills” beauty Kristin Cavallari performed a cha cha and the judges all complimented the reality star on her dancing potential. The pair ended the night in fifth with 19/30.
While David Arquette and Carson Kressley joined Chaz in the middle of the pack, both gave memorable performances with their respective pro partners.
David and partner Kym Johnson attacked his Viennese waltz with gusto, and then delighted his daughter Coco – who was in the audience with mom Courteney Cox – when he mentioned how happy he was she was in the crowd. And as for Carson, the former “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” guru was a giggle, as he and Anna Trebunskaya — in bushels of glitter — performed an outrageous cha cha.
The scores of the night were as follows:
Chynna Phillips & Tony Dovolani’s Viennese waltz earned 22/30
J.R. Martinez & Karina Smirnoff took their Viennese waltz to 22/30
Hope Solo & Maksim Chmerkovskiy’s Viennese waltz took home 21/30
Ricki Lake & Derek Hough took their Viennese waltz to 20/30
Kristin Cavallari & Mark Ballas’ cha cha took home 19/30
David Arquette & Kym Johnson’s Vienesse waltz was given a score of 18/30
Carson Kressley & Anna Trebunskaya’s cha cha took home 17/30
Chaz Bono & Lacey Schwimmer’s cha cha earned 17/30
Nancy Grace & Tristan MacManus’ cha cha earned 16/30
Rob Kardashian & Cheryl Burke’s Viennese waltz took home 16/30
Val Chmerkovskiy & Elisabetta Canalis’ cha cha earned 15/30
Ron Artest & Peta Murgatroyd’s cha cha earned 14/30