In a move sure to rock the heavens, the worlds of American Idol and Dancing with the Stars have collided, and their product is "Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann," airing on ABC, Monday nights at 8 p.m.
Contestants, we are told immediately and emphatically, are expected to not just sing and to not just dance, but to do both... at the same time. Sounds a bit like "Making the Band" to me, but who cares. My favorite "Dancing with the Stars" hosts are back, and I'm not being forced to watch Wayne Newton move like a raven wigged mannequin across the dance floor.
Bruno Toniolo makes the show. Sounding more and more like Dracula with each passing year, he lays on a thick Transylvanian accent to say things like, "Zees year, ve are going to REINVENT zinging awnd DAWN-zeeeng, waww, waww, waww!"
Carrie Ann Inaba still reminds me of the girl in high school whose Trapper Keeper was meticulously organized, got straight A's, and had that perfect Farrah flip to her hair.
Rounding out the festivities, is Drew Lachey, who has somehow managed to corner the niche market of hosting shows with dancing competitions hosted by Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Toniolo on ABC. But hey, whatever pays the bills. Drew did have a killer homage to "Thriller" on DWTS, so he'll always have a spot in my heart.
Auditions began in New York City, and soon it became obvious that their "you try to do this" attitudes were justified, for most contestants shined in one area and crashed and burned in the other. This show is almost cruel in that way because your heartstrings get pulled when a young girl with "the greenest eyes I've ever seen" (thank you Bruno) makes your ears perk up with her effortless rendition of "Say A Little Prayer For You."
The hammer falls quickly, however, once it's her turn to dance. Drew's voice over leaves you thinking, "This is it, she could be amazing, the total package," and boom, she whips out moves my friend does when she's had six drinks in her. Her eyes are half shut, and the bar is closing in 20 minutes.
The fun of this show also occurs on the reverse when a girl in Los Angeles comes on stage and sings "My Girl" in a key known as Carol Channing (thanks once more Bruno). The music then begins for her dancing portion, and your hopes are in the gutter. Suddenly, Carol Channing lite is moving around the stage like a hummingbird and performs a modern dance so accomplished it would have made Martha Graham proud.
Some star material did come through the auditions, however. Marquis, a 26-year-old Angeleno who came on a whim, popped and locked like a pro and had a voice that could reach a person in the farthest row with its sweetness. Some other surprises came in the form of a heavier girl who didn't have a dancer's body but enough charisma and skill to override her lack of a tightly toned, spandex clad body. A "mini-Justin" was found in Los Angeles as well, but do we really need another one of those?
Though "Dance War" started off slow, I can never deny a show where true, on-the-spot, on-display talent is imperative. When a good performance comes your way it makes you catch your breath and want to see more. Furthermore, I'm waiting to hear Bruno say, "Eef a leeettle tortellini filled with mascarpone cheese mated with Frrrrred Astaire, you would be their twinkle toed LURVE child!" Watch for it people, it's coming.
Recap by Tiffany Bagster
Starpulse contributing writer