Dancing With The Stars

Island-born professional dancer Carrie Ann Inaba, judge, and actress Tia Carrere, contestant, meet up this week on ‘Dancing With The Stars’

Yu Shing Ting
Friday - January 06, 2006
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Carrie Ann Inaba
Carrie Ann Inaba

Local girls Carrie Ann Inaba and Tia Carrere return to TV, with Inaba as a judge and Carrere as a contestant on the second season of Dancing with the Stars premiering Thursday, Jan. 5 at 7 p.m. on ABC (KITV 4).

“I’m looking forward to this season,” says Inaba, who served as a judge last year. “We have 10 couples as opposed to six people, so it’s bigger and it’s gonna be a lot more fun.

“We have new dancers and new celebrities, and I’m looking forward to seeing them dance. Tia Carrere especially because she’s my home girl, although I can’t favor her at all.”

Dancing with the Stars will air every Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m. through March 18. The Thursday night show will feature each couple (a celebrity partnered with a professional dancer) performing either a ballroom or Latin American dance, who are judged by professional dance judges (Inaba, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli) and by the viewers at home.

On Friday night will be the Dancing with the Stars Result Show, where the couple with the lowest combined score from the judges and the viewers gets eliminated from the competition. There will also be performances from top musical acts, professional dance demonstrations and behind-the-scenes footage of training and other aspects of the show.

“I think the viewers and the judges are just expecting me to get through the whole thing because I just had a baby,” says Carrere, who gave birth to daughter Bianca on Sept. 25. “I don’t understand how women have kids and then go back to work full time and still are able to breast-feed. That’s a key thing, the breast-feeding aspect, because it’s the best thing for them. Between the pumping, the lack of sleep, the feeding, I just don’t know how they do it, and working full time.

Tia Carrere dances with Maksim ‘Max’ Chmerkovskiy
Tia Carrere dances with Maksim ‘Max’ Chmerkovskiy

“To be honest, I had no idea how difficult it was going to be. Granted, doing this kind of show has a physical aspect to it, and memorizing things your body has never done before. I’m tired, I feel bad spending time away from my baby, my muscles, my feet, my knees, my neck, everything is, like, crazy.”

For the show, Carrere is partnered with Maksim “Max” Chmerkovskiy, a Latin dancer from Russia living in New Jersey. And judging by his resume, Carrere, who has no dance experience except for one tango with Arnold Schwarzenegger in True Lies, should be in good hands.

Chmerkovskiy was the 2005 Yankee Classic Professional Latin Champion, the 2004 Manhattan Dancesport Professional Latin Champion, 2003 Ohio Star Ball Latin Champion, and ranked second in the United States.

“For True Lies, it was one dance in three months, and for Dancing with the Stars I’ve learned two dances in five weeks,” says Carrere, who currently has an apartment in L.A. while waiting to move into a new house in Malibu. “My parents were in a professional dance troupe before I was born, so I guess I want to see how far the apple has fallen from the tree.

“I wouldn’t say I’m nervous. I’m actually eager to get out there and do this waltz we’ve been practicing. I saw my gown and they took it in, and it’s been fun and exciting. And I’m looking forward to seeing everybody else’s dance.”

Carrere, whose favorite dance style is hip hop, has lost 15 pounds already from just practicing for her part on the show. “Now that I’ve seen what kind of shape you can get in, I just want to keep going,” she says. “I just want to challenge myself physically and mentally. It’s difficult, but it’s nice when you see it come all together.”

Inaba, who has been dancing her whole life, can attest to its physical demands. She recently discovered problems in her hips from “dancing all these years.” Along with dancing, she stays active and fit by doing tae bo almost every day as well as yoga and hiking.

“I love being a part of a dancing show,” says Inaba, who since leaving Hawaii after graduating from Punahou in 1986 has become a much sought-after choreographer in Hollywood. “I’ve been dancing since I was 4. I started at Creative Movement at Hanahauoli, and shortly after I started hula at St. Clements for a little bit and then at Punahou. I also danced a little bit with Kanoe Cazimero and Kaulana Kasparovich.

“What I like about the show is that dancing is back on TV. I think it’s very important for Americans to see dancing. We have so little of it in our culture, especially social dancing. And another thing I love about the show is that everything is done in good spirits. The three judges, we give critiques, but we’re not trying to be cruel.”

According to the show, Inaba is a naturally feisty character, and along with her

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