Shimmying stormtroopers. R2-D2 beeping to disco music. Lando Calrissian taking Princess Leia for a spin on the dance floor. While it sounds like one of the gaming levels in “Star Wars Kinect,” this was the “Dancing with the Stars” debut of actor Billy Dee Williams and his dance partner Emma Slater.
Dressed in a costume reminiscent of his role as Lando Calrissian, Williams began the cha-cha number flanked by stormtroopers and announced by a beeping R2-D2. His dancing partner donned a costume inspired by Princess Leia’s metal bikini in “Return of the Jedi,” as well as her famous hair buns.
MECO’s disco remix of the “Star Wars” and “Cantina” themes accompanied the dancers, complete with a spinning intergalactic backdrop. And yes, even the stormtroopers danced.
Williams, age 76, is no spry Jedi. His past health battles with arthritis and two hip replacements may deter him from being a top competitor on the hit show, but his impressive showmanship is worthy of a Lobot slow-clap.
While Ewoks cheered from the audience, the judges weren’t as impressed, giving the number the lowest score of the night.
Comparing Williams’ dancing technique to C-3PO’s robotic moves, judge Bruno demanded the drama of Darth Vader. Judge Carrie Ann called Williams “the most relaxed dancer I’ve ever seen” and asked him to step it up next time. Judge Len was impressed Williams remembered his routine and its overall entertainment value.
Of course, this isn’t the first time a celebrity contestant on “Dancing with the Stars” has shown off fancy Force footwork. ‘N Sync’s Joey Fatone also paid tribute to “Star Wars” by dancing the tango dressed as a Jedi, with his partner dressed in a costume modeled after Slave Leia’s bikini — all to the “Star Wars” theme.
While Fatone’s dance number was much more energetic than Williams’ slower moves, “Star Wars” numbers never fail to excite the show’s audience. Perhaps it’s not the skills that matter, but the heartfelt passion behind the dance routine itself that makes even Ewoks get up and yell “Yub Nub.”
Tune in to “Dancing with the Stars” on Monday nights at 8 p.m. on ABC for more dancing by Williams, and if we’re lucky, a few more stormtroopers.
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