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Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Louie Vito Makes "DWTS" Debut

ABC's "Dancing With The Stars" premiered Monday night and yes, Louie Vito is officially a star. And yes, one of the judges, Bruno Tonioli, referred to the five-foot-six inch Vito as "a hobbit."

Take it easy, Bruno.

Painful "you're short" jokes aside, the consensus from the reports coming in is that Vito made a solid impression and from the looks of it, he won't be getting the boot from the show anytime soon. Vito performed two dances with his partner Chelsie Hightower, first the foxtrot to No Doubt's rendition of "It's My Life," followed by a group relay Salsa dance with three other couples to Sean Paul's "Get Busy." The couple received 19 points out of 30 for the foxtrot, (the 4th best score out of the eight male contestants), and second place behind Donny Osmond in the group dance, for a total score of 27 (fourth best for the night overall). The most impressive move of the night for Vito was a backflip in his second dance. Call it a snowboarding edge?

Click here to see Vito and Hightower making their debut with the foxtrot. And since I am by no means an expert commentator on the show, here's a quick look at what various bloggers are saying about Vito:

Sarah Kelber of the Baltimore Sun sizes Vito up: "Louie Vito is a snowboarder who has never danced or even watched one episode of Dancing With the Stars. So what is he doing here then? He looks rather hopeless in practice, but on stage, he looks like he is having a good time, with a big, goofy grin on his face while he experiences a case of PDLCAPS. Carrie Ann says she's surprised and that she can tell that he hasn't danced before, but he gave it a really honest, joyful effort. Len [judge] gives him trouble for his hair: 'I was surprised you could hear the music through all that.' He adds that his technique, holds and posture were good. Bruno [judge]: 'It was like watching a little dancing hobbit ... it lacked fluidity and you fell twice,' but he thinks if he sticks around, he will become really, really good."

Elizabeth Holmes, writer for the Speakeasy section of the Wall Street Journal, reported that Vito "was 'stoked' to have Chelsie Hightower as his partner, something you would expect from a professional snowboarder. Vito had never seen an episode of the show before joining the cast and yet pulled off the fox trot with a groofy grin. The pair already has won an award for the shortest couple on the floor. Vito said he is five-foot-six-inches 'on a good day.'" Judge verdict, according to Holmes: "Praise all around, perhaps because expectation were low."

Sammi T of TV Grapevine, who was live blogging, wrote that Vito "has no clue what he is in for. He jokes that he is glad his partner is shorter than him. He hopes he can bring some grace to the ballroom. The foxtrot was technically good on his part and with Chelsie's artistic side it was the perfect blend of both. Very well done for someone who never danced before. [Show judge] Carrie Ann says he really respected the ballroom and she liked that. Len [judge] makes a joke about his hair and says he loves the technical side of his dance. [Judge] Bruno [judge] loves the cuteness of his dance."

Linda Holmes of MSNBC: "Many in the audience undoubtedly were unfamiliar with snowboarder Louie Vito, who turned out to be a very petite guy with a broad, toothy smile. His partner, Chelsie Hightower, put together a foxtrot that didn't demand much of him technically, and he performed adequately, if a bit stiffly. Vito could easily become this season's Ty Murray, an underperforming lovable athlete with a great deal of charm. Holmes also called Vito, "a solid but limited dancer."