September 25, 2012 at 5:13 pm , by Ladies' Lounge
We’re excited to welcome our new blogger, Dancing with the Stars judge Carrie Ann Inaba to the Ladies’ Lounge! She’ll be here every Tuesday giving you her take on the performance show and sharing behind-the-scenes scoop from the set. Check out her first blog below, and tell us what you thought of the season opener in the comments!
Well, we’re officially in season 15, the all-star season and it’s as exciting as I knew it would be. The couples have all danced their first dance and some shone brighter than others but it was like a wonderful reunion of a happy (and maybe slightly dysfunctional) family! Love was in the air, but so were nerves—we even had a live TV moment when the audio cut me off mid comment during my first comment of the night to Joey and Kym. (Luckily, I ran into them backstage so I could fill them in on what I didn’t get to say on air and give them their constructive criticism.) I have to admit that I haven’t had that much fun on a premiere night in ages. You see, what you don’t know is that we judges get nervous too.
Everyone else on our show knows what they’re going to do when they get out there. The dancers and stars know their routines, Tom and Brooke have gone over their prompter reads and walked through their staging, the band has practiced every note of every song under the direction of Harold Wheeler, and the camera operators know their choreography too. But Len, Bruno and I have no script and we have no preparation. We only have our experience, our knowledge and our wit and honesty to draw from, so being a judge is a very intense experience.
Many people ask about the judging process so I thought I’d explain it a little more. We have about 7-10 seconds from when the dancers finish their routines and walk over to Tom for us to formulate our comments and turn in our scores. It can be a bit daunting. There is incredible pressure to be sure we make our point and for me, to do it with compassion and honesty for the performers. I like to look at myself as a mentor and give them with some positive feedback as well as constructive criticism to help them grow. And after 15 seasons our audience knows their dancing and they don’t miss a thing! As much as it may hurt or disappoint the star to hear what may feel like negative feedback, it’s only given to help them improve, which you can’t do if you don’t know what’s going wrong.
It’s a high-pressure job. But I love it. I get nervous before every show, but I have a little ritual that I do. I get my hair and make up done first, and then I choose my dress from the three options my stylist and I have already pulled for that night. After I get dressed I take about five minutes for myself in my trailer. I rub my rosemary plant for clarity of mind and then I take a big whiff of my lavender plant for calm and serenity and I clear my mind and pray. I express gratitude for my job and I pray for the safety of everyone on the dance floor. I pray for honesty, integrity, clarity and true compassion. Then I put on my shoes, wash my hands, grab my notebook and head for the stage. And about ten minutes later, as Tom would say, we are “Live!” and you know the rest!
Here are some of my personal favorite moments from the season 15 opener:
- When Tom cut me off mid-comment because the audio went out I had to explain that I had more to say so our audience wouldn’t be confused. He just won an Emmy so I’ll give him a break.
- When Helio Castroneves came into the ballroom during the commercial break, he got a standing ovation. He’s got such a bright light in him—he’s like a walking smile and it was so wonderful to see him out there again on our dance floor.
- When Shawn Johnson danced a very modern Foxtrot with Derek. It’s a new partnership but a very dynamic one.
- When Gilles did his Foxtrot with Peta. Again, another new pairing and a very sexy one indeed—just ask any of the women in our audience. He’s like a dancing Jon Hamm or Clark Gable.
- Seeing Drew Lachey and Kelly Monaco again was a lot of fun. I directed the first Dancing With The Stars live tour so I worked closely with Drew. It’s like seeing your family again, except you have to judge their dancing.
- It’s always something of a magical moment to see Pamela Anderson on the dance floor. She really is an icon. I hope she puts more time into her rehearsals. It think a lot of people like her but she’s got to catch up.
- And then there was Emmitt. It felt like the season finale—a huge celebration of dance.
When you watch them all dance you remember very quickly why some of them won and the magic they all brought to the dance floor. But they do have very different styles and attributes which is what makes this season so dynamic. And let me say that without a doubt, it’s going to get very competitive in the ballroom very soon, so be warned! This season is going to be a good one!
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