Sam Brooks power-ranks week two of New Zealand’s premiere celebrity charity shimmying show, Dancing with the Stars.
Hello, humans! Happy Easter Monday, the day after the day Jesus came back and his friends were not super excited to see him.
How was your Easter? Were you one of those people who, deciding they needed to drink everything on Sunday, rushed to the supermarket at 10PM on Saturday to find an alarming amount of people who thought the same? I did that! It looked like the end of days! Why don’t people stock up beforehand? Thursday is a thing, you guys!
Also, did Rachel borrow Jeff from Great Kiwi Bake-Off’s contacts for one night?
Anyway, we’re here to rank some celebrities. Half of these are screenshots and half of these are Professionally Taken™, because thanks to the magic of this show being split over two nights, I wrote half of this this morning and half of this tonight.
ELIMINATED: Jude Dobson (and Matt Tatton Brown) – Foxtrot
This was aggressively average!
I love this dress, but I forgot this the moment it finished. I’m sorry, I don’t create the rules of my short term memory. I still want Jude Dobson to win, because as a gay man I am obligated to love whatever a woman of a certain age puts out into the world. I thought she was better last week, but the judges seem to like her more this week!
I wouldn’t have sent her home this week! Because I don’t have that power, but imagine if I did.
Judge’s score: 18.
11. Walter Neilands (and Melissa McCallum) – Paso doble
Well, look. This is an improvement. Last week, Walter brought me flashbacks of being in clubs in my first year at uni, and the energy that many men in those clubs had. This week, Walter seems to be reined in a little, and his borderline worrying child television presenter energy is reserved for the package alone.
In the paso doble, Walter instead brings a highly specific energy. It’s the energy of the jock who auditioned to be in Grease because he’s always wanted to be in a musical, but wasn’t quite good enough at the singing and dancing bits to be Danny or Kenicke. The musical director slash music teacher saw something in him, saw the kind of charisma that comes with being a confident jock, and wanted him onstage anyway. So he cast him as Doody, a role with little choreography, one easy song, and just enough to do to make the poor guy feel better but not give him any weight.
Which is a long walk to say that Walter Neilands has Big Doody Energy. Thank you, I did go to university and am an award-winning playwright and critic.
Judge’s score: 15.
10. Nadia Lim (and Aaron Gilmore) – Foxtrot
Nadia! You seem quite busy, maybe too busy to be on this show! If your dance partner has to come on your holiday with you so you can work, maybe it would’ve been better to defer to a future year! But what do I know, I’m currently writing this on my holiday and as we all know, writing is as exactly as time-consuming as dancing for charity is.
There was one moment of pure joy in Nadia Lim’s performance, which was when the performance was over and she joyfully skipped to her partner! It’s the same kind of joy that you have when you submit your final exam, or when you finish a particularly hard day at work, or break up with someone everybody in your life hates. It was lovely to see! It’s maybe not the ideal emotion you want to have after dancing, a thing that you genuinely want to see people enjoy rather than hate!
The rest of this felt like a test for a subject that you never wanted to do but you need to do so you meet the course requirements! It was not super fun to watch.
A lot of my friends think that Lim is going to hang around for a long time, but based on her performance, and the fact that she doesn’t quite seem to be enjoying her time here, I think she’s not long for the contest.
Judge’s score: 18.
9. William Wairua (and Amelia McGregor) – Tango
William Wairua combines two powerful reality television tropes. One, he is dedicated to his brand and imagery. If we get through the next two weeks without seeing his glasses, his catchphrase, his shorts or his performatively crossed-eyes, I will be surprised. It’s a good tactic if you want people to remember you, but it could also backfire! There’s a thin line between being very good at reality television and being too good at reality television. It’s like how wrong people hate Anne Hathaway.
Two, Wairua seems to do and say whatever the hell he likes. When asked if the exercise when he ran around a rugby field in some contraption actually helped him, he shrugs and straight up says ‘No.’ That kind of frankness is refreshing, and could lead to exciting moments down the road.
All of this to say, Wairua is not necessarily good at the kind of dancing that Dancing with the Stars requires of him but he is good at being a reality show contestant. Well done, that’s a genuine skill now, if that’s your thing!
Judge’s score: 19.
8. Anna Wilcox (and Brad Coleman) – Cha cha
According to the five year old I watched this with, she’s the star and he’s the dancer! Also, the judges are not saying ‘nice things to the girl.’ This was a genuine step down from last week! I thought she was the frontrunner based off of last week, but based on this week, I have no idea! I’m not a dancer or a dance tutor or anybody who has done anything related to dance except learn choreography for some shows!
This is how wild this competition is! This is how I get my thrills! Who knows what will happen from week to week except people will go home? Anyway, I think Anna Wilcox will be around based on how strong she was last week but if she delivers at this level, who can say? Not me, because I lack the powers of clairvoyance! Sorry if you thought I had those.
Judge’s score: 20.
7. K’Lee (and Scott Cole) – Cha cha
Nobody is enjoying being here more than K’Lee! And nobody is rocking a denim onesie better than K’Lee is. She had fun, and while the judges might be right that she seemed more comfortable dancing by herself than with her partner, she’s a pleasure to watch.
She even teased us by singing a bit of her own song! So please, New Zealand public and Dancing with the Stars overlords, do not let her go home before she dances to that song. If that happens, I’ll need to write a petition and submit it before our Government, a political action that always goes well and guarantees swift, decisive action.
Judge’s score: 17. I will not understand how she scored lower than Lim, but also I judge things based on ‘did I like watching it’ and not flimsy things like ‘technique’ or ‘choreography’.
6. Glen Osborne (and Vanessa Cole) – Samba
When I saw this, I didn’t think this was very good! Then I got to messaging my friend, a dance teacher who knows so much more about dance than I ever could, and she said he did a real good job! I trust her. Why do I trust her and not the judges? I don’t know, reader. Maybe I don’t inherently trust strangers on the other side of a screen, that’s probably a good thing.
Which is to say, while he looked goofy, he apparently did a good job. Would it were that we could all aspire to such levels of achievement.
Judge’s score: 24.
5. Manu Vatuvei (and Loryn Reynolds) – Viennese Waltz
I feel for Loryn Reynolds, you guys. That is a diabolical look. The outfit is messy as hell, the makeup is a very strong offer in the wrong direction, and the hair is at an unfortunate borderline between ‘beehive’ and ‘big bun’. She’s a bloody amazing dancer, but this was distracting and I have to find something to write about here.
Manu Vatuvei, famously a Two Degrees Warrior, is doing really well! He’s super charming, and honestly seeing a man utter the words ‘thank you very much’ on television is enough to get me rooting for him. What can I say? I like manners! He’s having fun, he’s doing the dancing, and seems to be enjoying being here. All boxes ticked, see you next week, Manu!
Judge’s score: 23.
4. Clinton Randell (and Brittany Coleman) – Rumba
This was… fine? I have no opinions beyond this. The judges seem to love it! It’s only week two, give me a break.
Judge’s score: 25.
3. Carolyn Taylor (and Jonny Williams) – Tango
This was really good! Chemistry, spinning, moving feet! I don’t know!
I hate Ava Max’s ‘Sweet but Psycho’! It feels like what Natalia Kills (remember Natalia Kills, local reality TV villain) would release now, if she was uncancelled. Sorry, Natalia! You bullied a boy on TV that one time! Now nobody wants to hear from you again! Sorry, even though Mirrors was a banger and you were good on that one Angel Haze track.
Anyhow, Carolyn Taylor is going to be around for a while, I think!
Judge’s score: 22.
2. Mike McRoberts (and Kirstie McWilliams) – Paso doble
Once more, y’all don’t care what I say about this silver fox thirst-trap. Here’s the screenshots:
Judge’s score: 18, which seems harsh! But who knows.
1. Laura Daniel (and Shae Mountain) – Rumba
Honestly, I’m surprised it took us until the second week to do ‘Shallow’.
Indulge me, for a moment, and let me use this as a soapbox to discuss ‘Shallow’, a song that is actually three songs, and also both very good and very bad. It’s a song that auditionees for musicals will be using from now until we stop doing musicals. It’s a song that Lady GaGa and her posse seem to have written specifically only she could sing it, but damned if that hasn’t stopped anybody else. (For what it’s worth, Carmen Cusack comes close to the original, by actually reinterpreting that big wail and making it her own. What is that worth? I don’t know, ask your bank!)
I have heard it a million times and will hear it a million more – and I was glad to see it danced to tonight! The judges gave Daniel surprisingly harsh criticism on not connecting with her fellow performer, and this is as good a place as any to bring this up: The judges are straight up way harsher to women than they are to dudes.
This was present last year, and it’s already starting up again this year. Daniel gave a stunning, complex performance of a song with some difficult shifts, and from my eyes seemed connected – but connection is a note that is several echelons above say, what, Walter Neilands is doing. Daniel’s scores are better, as well they should be, but the harshness of the criticism and the lack of effusive praise feels unfair. The public bases how they vote off these critiques as much as they do the actual performance, and the way the judges framed these particular critiques made it seem like Daniel did a bad job.
Which, she didn’t! Look at that score. Anyway, just something to think about in the weeks to come, because god knows, this show doesn’t encourage a whole lot of deep thought by itself.
Judge’s score: 22.