Jude would like to speak to the manager, please.

Dancing with the Stars, week one: Right now, dance off!

New Zealand’s celebrity movement competition returns tonight! Sam Brooks power-ranks the first week of Dancing with the Stars NZ.

Strap in, you guys. I’m ready to learn what the All Blacks were doing in 1995, I’m ready to learn the names of influencers and sportshumans, and most importantly, I’m ready to wildly disagree with judges far more qualified in their own art form than I am. Do you know who isn’t ready? The poor intern who had to put up the right numbers to vote for after each contestant, who seemed to think that Jude Dobson was the singer of ‘1+1+1 (It Ain’t Two)’.

But I digress: It’s time to power rank Dancing with the Stars NZ again y’all! Welcome to the next three months of all our lives.

(The first seven celebrities are ranked here. The second five are not, because I lack both basic foresight and less basic clairvoyance! Come back tomorrow night to see the full rankings! If you’re here for Mike McRoberts, come back tomorrow you thirsty rascals!)

Walter Neilands, or every guy you’ve ever seen in a club.

7. Walter Neilands (and Melissa McCallum) – Samba

Gather around the fire for a story, children!

Back in 2009, I could be found in what we call ‘straight clubs’. In 2009, they played The Black-Eyed Peas on repeat, had eight-dollar Red Bull-Vodkas, and were called things like Code, Fusion, Crowbar, and so on and so forth.

On any given night in these bars, you could find a white guy in an unironed dress shirt, poorly fitting jeans, and brand new white shoes. He would be called something like Scott, or Matthias, or any of the many spellings of Shawn. He’d be doing maybe first year law, but would then transfer his credits into a commerce degree and, in ten years time, be found working at his dad’s business. I avoided these guys like the plague, because they were invariably boring and not very fun to hang out with. They seemed like a hazard not only to me, but my night.

How this story relates to Walter Neilands is that none of these sweet boring angel boys were very good dancers. They would throw themselves around the club with little abandon, and little sense of both their own personal space and the space of others. This performance is one hundred percent this sweet boring angel boy in the club personified. It had the curious feeling of watching two strangers dance together in a club, which is not really the feeling that you want when you’re in a dancing competition and dancing with one other person on an empty dance floor!

What I’m saying is that we’ve got our David Seymour of the season, plus a terrifying children’s television personality and minus the distressingly unclear politics.

He will be in the top three.

Judge’s score: 12.

Nadia Lim, making that face!

6. Nadia Lim (and Aaron Gilmore) – Samba

Oh my. I feel so much for Nadia, who made that face when you know you’re messing something up, the kind of face where you hope that the face makes up for the fuck-up. Like, “oh me? look at how cute I am when I mess up but I’ll still think about this moment on my deathbed!” She recovered well, but I empathise with it.

She looked a bit uncomfortable, which is fair! But it does not make it very good, and someone has to end up here. She made a very good joke about My Food Bag, and I hope the poor woman whose email she said live on television does not get bombarded with emails!

Judge’s score: 17, and it is ludicrous that she has a higher score than someone higher up on this list!

Glen Osborne, mugging for the camera!

5. Glen Osborne (and Vanessa Cole) – Tango

I never thought, in my life, that I would see a tango done to ‘Poi E’! Because I never think of the tango outside of that one ad from the 90s where a guy in an orange bodysuit came up behind people and physically assaulted them. It was a different time, guys!

Anyway, this tango was a bit stiff, and a bit goofy. Osborne mugged like a literal Muppet throughout – not in a bad way, but in a way that suggests that, you know, performing on a dancefloor requires a level of facial performance as well, and he decided to go full-face with it.

Osborne has a lot of things working against him (a lack of dance experience, a general jovial dad’s best friend vibe, a post-athletic stiffness) but he’s got one big thing working for him: He used to be an All Black, and New Zealand loves All Blacks. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t hang around until next season, through sheer goodwill alone!

Judge’s score: 17, the age at which I learned the truth, that life is made for beauty queens and also All Blacks.

William Wairua, in shorts!

4. William Wairua (and Amelia McGregor) – Jive

I don’t know what this was! It was entertaining to watch! It was to a slightly depressing song! It didn’t resemble any dance routine I’ve seen on this show before, which is probably a good thing for watchability but a bad thing for dancing legitimacy, if such a thing exists within the four haunted walls of the Dancing with the Stars studio.

There’s no question that William Wairua, known for… stuff, is incredible to watch. I’m not sure if he’s the best dancer, but I like to watch him, and he’ll probably be around for a long time, or as long as it takes for him to create a meme that turns into votes! See also: David Seymour.

Judge’s score: 19.

Carolyn Taylor, cha cha heels upside down!

3. Carolyn Taylor (and Jonny Williams) – Cha cha

Real talk: Fleur East’s ‘Sax’ is better than ‘Uptown Funk’ despite being essentially the same song. I respect DWTS for bringing this song to approximately five more people who will have looked it up after this.

I thought this was quite timid and awkward! The judges disagree with me! Once more, I know nothing about dance! Carolyn Taylor looks great, though – like an especially festive car wash. She will go far, because she was on What Now!. But also, she went upside down, and I can barely even get myself vertical rightside up, so congrats all around.

Judge’s score: 21.

Jude Dobson!

2. Jude Dobson (and Matt Tatton Brown) – Jive

“It was on at 5:30 and it had a lady called Jude on it” – Matt Tatton Brown, on Jude Dobson’s career.

Okay, so Dancing with the Stars has a pretty big problem with the way it judges women older than say, 35. Which is to say, I’m still angry Marama Fox didn’t win last season.

But it’s utter crap for Jude to have three points less than Dobson. She had a reveal! She had a whip! She had some very, very good extensions – and I’m not just talking about whatever her legs were doing! And, while she had the stiffness that I tend to associate with the presenters that inhabited TV1 throughout the latter half of the 20th century, it takes a lot of guts to come out in the first week to ‘Whip It’ with a literal whip.

I want to see more of her, and I want to see her visibly bristle at being given notes every week.

Judge’s score: 14, which, as elaborated before, is utter bullshit. Can’t wait to get arbitrarily angry about three strangers’ opinions for about an hour and a half every week for the next three months!

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Laura Daniel dips into the competition!

1. Laura Daniel (and Shae Mountain) – Cha cha

Come through, Laura! What a strong start to the season. Spins, splits, heels. No shade here, just really good dancing. Daniel is a natural (and quite experienced!) performer, so that’s a fair bit of the work done already, she’s super comfortable on this stage and really, clearly wants to be here. Often huge fans of shows can make the worst contestants, because they’re so in their head about being on the show. However, when clear fans come in with a sense of what they want to do (win) and want they want to achieve (winner of a reality show they love), it can really sing. Someone like JT Muirhead on Survivor, or any of the post-season five Drag Race drag queens is who I’m thinking of.

Laura Daniel is in that mold, and I can’t wait to see more from her.

Judge’s score: 21. Which seems low – but once more, I have no dancing experience and the only time people allow me to judge a dancing competition is from the comfort of my own couch, beamed straight onto the internet.


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