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The cast of Dancing with the Stars NZ 2022, ready to sashay! (Image design: Toby Morris)
The cast of Dancing with the Stars NZ 2022, ready to sashay! (Image design: Toby Morris)

Pop CultureApril 26, 2022

Dancing with the Stars, week one: We’re back on the floor, baby

The cast of Dancing with the Stars NZ 2022, ready to sashay! (Image design: Toby Morris)
The cast of Dancing with the Stars NZ 2022, ready to sashay! (Image design: Toby Morris)

Three years since the last season and we’re finally able to see celebrities dance for charity again – and rank them accordingly. Here are the power rankings for week one of Dancing with the Stars NZ.

Dancing with the Stars is back and I, for one, could not be happier. After an amazing opening, which also proves that all three of our judges – Lance Savali, Camilla Sacre-Dallerup and James Luck/Electra Shock – can really, really dance, we’re into right into the competition and I, excitedly, am right into our power rankings.

Please note: I have literally no dancing experience so my judging commentary is limited to “looked good”, “did not fall down” and “did not visibly injure partner, hosts, judges or audience”. This is why I am power ranking the show from my apartment, and not judging it from the studio, which appears only slightly larger than aforementioned apartment. Read these rankings with that in mind (and on that note, I’ve excluded the chaotic team dances because it made this really confusing, but will comment where needed).

Sonia Gray and Aaron Gilmore dance a rumba (Photo: Three)

ELIMINATED: Sonia Gray (and Aaron Gilmore) – rumba

OK, this was actually amazing! I don’t like to type the word “sexy” on our very lord’s internet, because it simultaneously makes me feel filthy and like a 60-year-old aunty, but this was that. A very well-danced rumba, I think, to a wildly anonymous arrangement of a great song. I had every belief that Sonia Gray would go far, because she seems very good at dancing (there’s only so many ways I can say this) and is also wildly, wildly charismatic. It’s the kind of charisma that I imagine comes to you karmically when you give away a lot of dollars twice a week on television for many years.

Alas, it was not to be. I genuinely thought Gray would make the top three, and was hoping for some kind of intervention to keep her in the competition. But, alas, the public vote is a fickle thing, as many politicians and reality competition stars will tell you. See you Wednesdays and Saturdays, Sonia!

Score: 26

Alex Vaz and Brittany Coleman dancing the tango (Photo: Three)

8. Alex Vaz (and Brittany Coleman) – tango

Alex Vaz is a very tall man who has been on competitive reality shows. He’s also, to my eyes, a pretty stiff dancer. This was fine! There has to be a lower end of the ranking, and it is you, Alex Vaz. His team dance, to the cha cha, was serving Viaduct on a Thursday night. (Fun fact: he has now been on three reality shows – Heartbreak Island, The Bachelorette, and Dancing with the Stars. Drag Race Down Under when?)

Score: 21

Eric Murray and Loryn Reynolds doing the quickstep (Photo: Three)

7. Eric Murray (and Loryn Reynolds) – quickstep

Only one week in and rower Eric Murray ticked off my favourite Dancing with the Stars box: sweeping the floor with a lady! You have to love the least efficient way of cleaning a floor. To me he seemed pretty awkward, but Camilla praised his “nifty footwork”. Only one of us has the last name Sacre-Dallerup, and is also trained in dance, so pick your side. (Also shout-out to Loryn Reynolds, who remains, unsurprisingly, given that it is her job and profession, a really great dancer.)

Score: 29

David Letele and Kristie Williams do the paso doble (Photo: Three)

6. David Letele (and Kristie Williams) – paso doble

Is David Letele a good dancer? Maybe, I don’t know! Is he a joy to watch? Absolutely. There’s a showmanship to being on a show like this that to the vast majority of the audience eclipses a lack of dancing ability. Letele has that showmanship in spades, and I definitely want to see more of it.

Score: 26

Brodie Kane and Enrique Johns dancing the jive. (Photo: Three)

5. Brodie Kane (and Enrique Johns) – jive

A jive to ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’ is always going to be a winner with me. That being said, this felt like a showcase for more of who Brodie Kane is as a character rather than as a dancer. She seems super, super fun. Was this a good jive? Possibly! I couldn’t pick a jive out of a lineup and I’ve watched at least two jives in the past 24 hours. But seriously, “seeming fun” might well be half the job here.

Score: 26

Jazz Thornton and Brad Coleman rock through a samba (Photo: Three)

4. Jazz Thornton (and Brad Coleman) – samba

Jazz seems like a really good dancer and seems to have fun doing it. She goes upside down adequately! There are a lot of contestants, you guys, this is all you’re going to get for some of them at the start.

(While we’re here, however: let’s get more bestselling authors on the show. Would kill to see Charlotte Grimshaw do a jive or Vincent O’Sullivan try a rumba.)

Score: 30

Rhys Mathewson and Phoebe Robb dance a jive (Photo: Three)

3. Rhys Mathewson (and Phoebe Robb) – Jive

Honestly, Rhys Mathewson (one t) was a great, strategic opener for the show. The best bit of Dancing with the Stars, despite what the crueller-minded among us might think, is actually seeing people thrive and succeed on the show. Seeing him perform with high energy, endless enthusiasm and a genuine glee at being in the room and in the competition is just some dang good TV! It’s why we watch it.

If Mathewson’s introductory jive to Jet’s ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl’, a staple of every intermediate school disco, is any indication of where he’s at, he’s gonna be around to give us some more dang good TV.

Score: 27

Kerre Woodham and Jarred Neame dancing the foxtrot (Photo: Three)

2. Kerre Woodham (and Jarred Neame) – foxtrot

If you told me in the days of Ready Steady Cook that I’d be watching Kerre Woodham dance a foxtrot to Benee’s ‘Glitter’ I’d probably scream because you’d be a stranger in my house and I would be eight. But here we are anyway!

Woodham’s foxtrot was super lovely. It didn’t look especially difficult, but I’ll take a simple dance performed confidently over something complicated done messily. You know, if I had a choice in the matter. Which I don’t. It was also a tribute to families reunited after Covid, which is nice.

Also, I have to give her deep kudos for dropping “hitherto” into an interview like it’s nothing. We all need to use that word more.

Score: 26

Eli Matthewson and Johnny Williams dance a Viennese waltz (Photo: Three)

1. Eli Matthewson (and Johnny Williams) – Viennese waltz

Earnest note: it is very, very cool to see two men dancing on TV together. Representation matters, you might have heard. For many queer kids, especially, this might be the first time they see two men dancing an unambiguously romantic dance together, and to have it on a huge, family-friendly show is not nothing.

Also? Matthewson (double t) nailed it. I won’t say I got emotional, because a power ranker is meant to be snarky and distanced, but I imagine many other people quite correctly did, and the highest score of Sunday night reflects that.

Score: 32

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