Y’all, Rick Perry is not afraid to bust some moves.
The former governor of Texas made his at-times-rough TV dancing debut Monday night on Season 23 of “Dancing With the Stars,” performing the cha cha with pro partner Emma Slater to the song “God Bless Texas.” A giant Ferris wheel was projected behind them and a giant red, white and blue state of Texas under their feet. Although not the smoothest mover, Perry was game and enthusiastic throughout.
Judges comments were generally supportive, although head judge Len Goodman did call his moves “a little pedestrian at times.”
“When in doubt, go full out,” judge Julianne Hough said, adding, “That was so fun to watch, definitely a little crazy at times.” (Perry agreed.)
And from Bruno Tonioli: “Bold, brash, not exactly subtle.”
Perry talked about his daughter’s wedding (“I need to be ready for the dance floor”) and repeated his joke about being a lump of coal being turned into a bright diamond in the pair’s pre-dance video story. (Daughter Sydney was there to support her dad, and signaled her approval post-dance from the live studio audience.)
Perry seemed to have a great time. After the routine, host Tom Bergeron asked him to compare the experience to being in a political debate.
“A presidential debate ain’t even in the class,” Perry said. “This is as good as it gets.”
Perry will dance again. Judges scores will be combined with viewer votes, and the first star will go home next week (tune in at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 19, for another night of performances and at 7 p.m. Sept. 20 for the first elimination).
Between now and then, Perry, who was in last place on the leaderboard behind Olympian Laurie Hernandez and race driver James Hinchcliffe, has some homework: The judges suggested he work on his timing and awarded him 5’s for a total of 20, which Perry received with enthusiasm (“You’re awesome!” he yelled, answered with “Spoken like a true politician” from Bergeron).
Also Monday, there was some sort of incident involving Ryan Lochte, after he and Cheryl Burke danced. The camera was not on them, a scuffle was heard and the show cut to commercial break. When they returned, references were made to Lochte feeling hurt by what happened and to giving him a chance to redeem himself. It sounded as if someone ran onto the stage and attacked him in some fashion.