'Dancing with the Stars' Exclusive Interview: Carrie Ann Inaba Raves About Season 14
'Dancing with the Stars' Exclusive Interview: Carrie Ann Inaba Raves About Season 14
Laurel Brown
Laurel Brown
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
Were you impressed by the performances on the Dancing with the Stars season 14 premiere? If so, you're not alone -- DWTS judge Carrie Ann Inaba agrees with you. Talking to BuddyTV shortly after the week 1 performances, Carrie Ann had lots to share.

Which star was the biggest surprise? Who would be Carrie Ann Inaba's dream casting pick? What's her favorite dance? Keep reading to find out!

BuddyTV: What do you think about Dancing with the Stars season 14 after the first week?

Carrie Ann Inaba: I'm blown away by the talent! The level of dancing this year has far surpassed any season opener, ever. So it's nice to see that season 14 is truly bigger and better than ever!

BuddyTV: Were you expecting that kind of talent from any of the stars this season?

Carrie Ann Inaba: Absolutely not! I honestly didn't know what to expect this season -- I was actually a little confused by the roster. Last season, in season 13, we had so many names sort of from pop culture, and this season we didn't have any. So I was a little confused by that choice. But I understand now why, and I think [DWTS producer] Deena Katz did a really great job casting our season, because this -- our dancing is gonna be phenomenal, as proven by week 1.

BuddyTV: You said all of the talent was a surprise, but which star was the biggest surprise when you saw them dance?

Carrie Ann Inaba: The biggest surprise was Gladys Knight. I don't know why that was such an exciting moment. She's our oldest competitor, right? And she's such a legendary name that I was worried that if she wasn't good... Those can be awkward situations when you're a judge. So I was really hoping that she would be good so I wouldn't have to have that awkward moment of: How do you tell somebody who's a legendary, Grammy award-winning singer that they're not so great on the dance floor?

And so I was just very happy to see how that music -- it's in her body! And the way she was dancing, I was blown away. I think that she is going to be a hero to a lot of women out there after this season is over. She's got a groove to her that I was not expecting!

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BuddyTV: What's your favorite part about judging a show like Dancing with the Stars?

Carrie Ann Inaba: You know, I love watching people have the breakthrough. Like when people have never danced before -- I've seen it my whole life in the dance community -- there's something very spectacular that happens when people finally become in tune with their body. I see it happening all the time on Dancing with the Stars with the contestants. That is one of my favorite parts of being on the show.

Also, being a part of this whole new dance revolution that's sweeping America. It's exciting to see how our culture has changed over the past 7 years Dancing with the Stars has been on, along with all these other dance shows. And seeing a show like Smash come out, it's nice to see dancing out there in such a big way. I know a lot of people who have danced for a long time and worked really hard. We weren't given a lot of opportunities. And now there are opportunities for dancers all over the place.

People who were afraid of dancing or never thought they could dance -- because of shows like Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance -- are getting out there and dancing. I have older couples coming up to me all the time and saying, "I've never danced before, but I watched the show. And you know, if Florence Henderson can do it, I can do it! And I went out and took a dance class and I do it every week now! My husband and I go out dancing every week!" And it's just wonderful to hear that.

BuddyTV: Dancing has gotten much more popular lately. When I was younger, nobody ever did ballroom dancing except when forced to in gym class...

Carrie Ann Inaba: I know, I know. And that's usually the class that people skipped out on!

BuddyTV: Yes it was. When you're watching the dances on the show, what are you looking for?

Carrie Ann Inaba: You know, one thing that's really important to note is that the audience at home, the television audience, actually sees a different angle than what we see from the table. We only see from that one angle. The viewers at home get all the camera angles and close-ups. And sometimes the close-ups are on something that we aren't looking at like, there might be a close-up on the face when the foot does something strange. Or vice versa.

I know the audience sometimes thinks, "What are you guys looking at?" We're looking at the same dance, but we only have one angle to look at it from.

I'm always looking for how it comes together as a whole. The musicality, you know if they're connected to the music. I do look at the technique, although Len is the biggest stickler for technique. I sort of look at all the elements, and I look at how they all work together -- the showmanship, the chemistry, the synergy, the synchronization, the technique of pointing the toe, if they're on the heel or the toe when they're stepping, where the weight is on their body, the extension of their arms, and their artistry. I think also then, how do they connect to the audience as well as their partner.

There's a lot to look at. And it's sometimes we're missing. You know, we're human!

BuddyTV: If you could pick any celebrity in all the world to dance on Dancing with the Stars, who would it be?

Carrie Ann Inaba: If I could just pick anybody in the world?

BuddyTV: Yes.

Carrie Ann Inaba: I would love to have George Clooney. I think I'm not alone. I'm not alone -- I think if I was one of the dancers, I'd be saying the same thing too.

BuddyTV: I'm sure the audience would agree.

Carrie Ann Inaba: Exactly. He's so debonair.

But as far as people who might perhaps join the show, I would love to see Craig Ferguson on our show. I'd love to see Lindsay Lohan, because I think the show is such a great opportunity for her to show people that she's going to work hard, really kind of create a new persona for herself and reinvent herself. I think it would be good for her. And I think Craig Ferguson would just be so dapper and hysterical, all at the same time.

BuddyTV: I can't disagree. But for one last question, what's your favorite dance style that's performed on Dancing with the Stars?

Carrie Ann Inaba: My favorite style is... Oh, that's hard... You know what? I like tango. No. I don't. I like paso. I don't know, I like all the Latin dances. The ones that are going through my head are rumba, tango and paso. But it really depends on who's doing it.

BuddyTV: I can imagine that makes a big difference.

Carrie Ann Inaba: Yes, it does.

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Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8pm and Tuesdays at 9pm on ABC.

(Image courtesy of ABC)