January 07, 2008 11:14 PM by Mary
Thirty talented and gutsy performers with both singing and dancing skills were invited by dancing judges Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli to return for Hollywood callbacks for a chance to land a slot as one of the final 14 on ABC’s new show “Dance War” which made its two hour debut Monday night. Inaba and Tonioli (not to be confused with Obama and HillaryÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â¬”but face itÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â¬”this is war) are best known for their roles as judges on ABC’s hit show “Dancing with the Stars.” In their new venture, these former dance judges will compete against each other on Dance War by forming and molding their own individual teams made up from a pool of amateur performers with the real kick being that the viewers will ultimately decide which former Dancing with the Stars judge brings the best group act to the stage.
The Dance War debut featured clips from the initial auditions which led Inaba and Tonioli to New York, Los Angeles and
Nashville to view hundreds of hopeful performers strut their stuff. Those trying out initially had to dance in groups of 15. If they stood out during the group dance they were then invited back that same day to do a solo performance where they had to sing and then put the microphone down to demonstrate their dancing ability to randomly selected background music. The pressure seemed to be nothing to some but enormous for others. In the end, Inaba and Tonioli managed to garner what they characterized as their technical performers from New York, their polished performers from Los Angeles and their diamond in the rough performers from Nashville. They both seemed to love the raw talent Nashville had to offer.
Speaking of those diamond in the rough performers, the host of Dance War, who happens to be season two winner of Dancing with the Stars Drew Lachey attempted to toss Carrie Ann and Bruno a curve when he dressed in a hick like outfit and sang “My Girl” in an extremely low baritone voice. Before he had a chance to dance for too long, Carrie Ann was on to his disguise and was amused when Lachey claimed he only did this to see how those auditioning really felt. Naturally, it didn’t take Lachey too very long to find out that those competing for a spot on Dance War have to feel totally ridiculous.
After the open auditions, 30 final contestants were selected. The elated group of winners were taken to Hollywood where they endured a grueling couple of days with both Inaba and Tonioli coaching them through intense vocal exercises and grueling choreographic moves. Inaba stressed she was lookingfor more than just talent. She wanted to see determination and proof of endurance to say the least. Once the initial Hollywood routine was over, more cuts were made and the group was eventually whittled down to the final 14 contestants.
As one might expect, those pouring their hearts and souls into the audition process only to discover they didn’t make the cut were crushed as many were convinced this was their big chance. Everyone had a story. Three friends from Louisiana, Megan, Mary Alice and Kelsey took the journey to Nashville together to audition. They were convinced they would be heading off to Hollywood together. All three of them initially attracted Inaba and Tonioli’s attention during the group dance back in Nashville but in the end, Mary Alice was cut leaving Kelsey and Megan with mixed emotions after learning they made it all the way to the Hollywood callbacks. During the end process, only Kelsey made it to the final 14 and Megan and Mary Alice have been forced to watch from the sidelines. One young rejected performer exuded wisdom when she said, “That’s entertainment…so I guess I gotta deal with it.” Just about any seasoned performer can tell you that for sure.
For the record, the names of the final 14 contestants selected are Allysa, Bradley, Charity, Chris, Corina, Elizabeth, Kelsey, Lacey, Mariel, Marquis, Maxx, Philip, Tony and Zack. It isn’t likely that the road ahead of this group of hopefuls will be an easy one but just making the cut to this point is pretty extraordinary given the intensity and passion Inaba and Tonioli are trying to instill in them.
Interestingly enough, the chemistry between Inaba and Tonioli to date has been relatively warm but we have only seen them together for a couple of hours and for the premier edition of Dance War the two were essentially on the same team with their goal being to select the show’s initial competitors. One can definitely presume that these two former dance judges will bring some heated excitement to the stage once their rival teams are in action pitted against each other. During the conclusion of the Dance War premier, Inaba and Tonioli came out together before the final 14 took the stage together for the first time and the sparks began to fly when host Drew Lachey asked them who would win this competition. They each insisted they intended to win with Inaba stating she would go for the underdogs on her team and Tonioli insisting he was going to create a unique team who would win the hearts of America.
It simply wouldn’t be a war without two opposing leaders determined to beat the odds and if those leaders can dance, all the better as they say!