Shannon Elizabeth Report: Week 1

Shannon Elizabeth

The sixth season of Dancing with the Stars got under way this week with actress and poker player Shannon Elizabeth stepping away from the card table and onto the dance floor. Stay tuned to PokerListings.com each week to see how she fares in the competition against fellow celebrities.

Dancing with the Stars made its season debut Monday night with the six male celebrities taking to the dance floor first and the women watching and waiting for their turn on Tuesday.

Though the first night was all "Muscle Monday" with the men, that doesn't mean Shannon Elizabeth didn't make her presence known. During a little quick question-and-answer session with the ladies, it was revealed that, in true poker-player fashion, Elizabeth was making bets with some of the male dance partners about what the male celebrities' scores would be.

By her own admission, she was winning the bets. Hopefully she'll be just as talented at figuring out the dances themselves and not just the scores. She got her opportunity to show what she can do as the first woman to perform on Tuesday.

Usually being the first to perform puts a performer at an automatic disadvantage. Even if you do well, there's still the possibility that the judges are going to want to give a more moderate score to leave room for better or worse performers after you.

In this case, the judges may have been a bit generous for Elizabeth's first performance. She performed the cha-cha, and probably the best thing going for her in the dance was that she had rhythm and knew how to work the sex-appeal angle.

There were some issues with her footwork and while her long legs and arms should eventually be an advantage (especially if she continues to wear micro-minis whenever possible), on her first night out they appeared to be flailing about at times, as if she didn't have complete control of them.

As one judge put it, if she's going to wear something that makes her legs the center of attention, she's going to need to work on making them very straight and ensuring that they look right.

Overall, Elizabeth had a decent first dance on the show and it's to be hoped she'll demonstrate more practice, a little refinement and more ease on the dance floor in her next appearance. As it was, at times she looked like she was really concentrating on the moves rather than enjoying the dance.

Her panic over her mistakes once the dance was over could also make her more endearing to viewers, perhaps getting them to vote for her. She may need any help she can get in that area since her main fan base is the young males who salivated over her in American Pie, and those aren't exactly the type of viewers Dancing with the Stars gets.

Shannon Elizabeth
More at ease at the poker table than the dance floor.

The judges gave her a little boost as well, with all three awarding her seven out of 10 points for a total score of 21 out of 30. Perhaps that's because even with her mistakes and obvious flaws on the dance floor, she was still miles above most of the male competitors who performed on Monday.

The best of the men on Monday turned out to be R&B singer Mario who lit up the dance floor with his cha-cha. It was obvious he was having fun on the dance floor, and his music background certainly helped him as he scored a 24 from the judges.

Scoring just one point better than Elizabeth from the male group was football player Jason Taylor, who was surprisingly fluid and well coordinated in his fox-trot. The only thing he was lacking was some personality on the dance floor, as he too looked like he was concentrating on the steps rather than performing.

Actor Cristian de la Fuente came in third for the men, scoring a 21 to match Elizabeth's. Comparing the two performances, however, de la Fuente's score should have been lower than Elizabeth's.

He didn't live up to his hot Latin reputation with his cha-cha, whereas Elizabeth capitalized on the sexiness of the dance.

The remaining men were definitely a big step behind their own group and Elizabeth's performance. Comedic magician Penn Jillette's dance was more an impression of bigfoot doing the cha-cha, as he stomped his way around the floor. However, he has a personality that shines on the dance floor and that earned him a 16 from the judges.

Steve Guttenberg did mildly better, getting an 18 for his fox-trot. In comparison to the past "mature" men to grace the Dancing with the Stars stage, he did very well, and he is very charming and obviously excited to be a part of the show.

Bringing up the rear for the men, radio host Adam Carolla garnered a 15 for his fox-trot. The judges could have been a bit more generous and at least put him above the bigfoot cha-cha, but perhaps they found stomping more appealing than karate chop arms and a dancer who looks like he's afraid to even look at his partner because she's half his age.

Elizabeth's biggest competition will probably come from her fellow female group of celebrities. Things were looking good for her after Monica Seles and Marissa Jaret Winokur performed after her.

Seles' fox-trot was stiff and mechanical, but still deserved better than the 15 she received to rank her at the bottom of the pack with Carolla.

Winokur didn't fare a whole lot better with her cha-cha. Her overexuberance may have messed her up a few times, and there was a point when it wasn't even clear they were still doing the cha-cha. Her enthusiasm and potential did net her an 18 from the judges, though.

The competition got a lot harder for Elizabeth as the final three women took to the stage. The biggest surprise of the evening was Priscilla Presley's fox-trot. The "mature" female celebrities in the past (think Jane Seymour or Marie Osmond) have come across as stiff and had more difficulty with the dances.

Presley took to the stage and performed a beautiful, traditional fox-trot with grace and style. After some small nitpicking from the judges, they each gave her an eight for a total of 24 points. That puts her right in line with the top male dancer, Mario.

Most people might have found it hard to follow a great performance by Presley, but Kristi Yamaguchi took to the stage next with the confidence of an Olympic champion. If she feels the pressure of being expected to do well, it didn't show on the dance floor.

In the words of one of the judges, her performance was "absolutely wicked." She set the bar high as the woman to beat as she danced a nearly flawless fox-trot and scored a 27 from the judges.

Marlee Matlin wrapped up the show for the night, taking on the cha-cha. As it turns out, even a deaf woman can dance better than most of the male celebrities, and she scored better than Elizabeth.

There were times it was obvious she was watching her partner for cues, but Matlin stayed on time with the music and performed a solid cha-cha to earn a 22 from the judges.

All the celebrities will get another opportunity to dance Monday, and then Tuesday will see the first eliminations of the competition as one male and one female each get the boot.

After her first dance, Elizabeth is right smack in the middle of the dancing pack, which should keep her safe from elimination. Stay tuned for the next installment next Wednesday to see if Elizabeth lives to dance another day after Week 2.

Related Article: Shannon Elizabeth Makes Dancing Debut

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