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Week 1: Sept. 20Welcome to the first week of “Dancing With the Stars.” It’s the 13th season of the very popular competition. I’ve watched quite a few seasons of the show, including the first.

Long-time viewers might notice that there’s something new about the show: the dance floor. It’s elevated, adding an extra layer of danger for the dancers. That’s just what we need. More injuries to the stars. But the competitors are all smiles as they come down the steps to the floor in the opening – and no one’s smile is bigger than J.R. Martinez’s.

Martinez’s performance is one of the last. He and partner Karina Smirnoff, one of my favorites, chose the Viennese Waltz as their first dance. Before they dance, though, there’s a nice vignette about their first meeting and rehearsals. “I had butterflies before I met my partner and when I saw it was Karina, I was so excited,” Martinez says in a voiceover.

Smirnoff asks about Martinez’s experiences and he explains about his injuries and the 33 surgeries he’s had since. The audience applauded when he says “I’m proud of my scars, and I’m proud of my journey. And I’m proud of it because it all led me to this moment to be right here with you.”

Smirnoff calls her partner a hero and admires his positivity.

Martinez’s last words in the vignette were: “The Army taught me a lot. But there’s one thing it didn’t teach me: The Viennese waltz.”

But Smirnoff did what the Army didn’t. The couple danced to “Breakaway,” originally performed by Kelly Clarkson. And in my opinion, it was beautiful. Martinez was so graceful, and he looked like a natural dancer. His arms were extended, his transitions were smooth

From the judges:

Len Goodman: “For me, J.R. stands for just right.” He added that among “the best performances of the night, you were right up there.”

Bruno Tonioli: “I can’t believe for someone who’s never danced before how well you did it.” He added that the some “spit and polish” was needed, but he agreed with Goodman.

Carrie Ann Inaba: “I was absolutely touched by your performance.” She appreciated the emotional quality he brought to the dance on day one. “It’s beautiful to see that confidence, and that beautiful fluidity and musicality,” she said.

They got a combined score of 22 out 30 possible points – and they are tied for first place! Looks like we’re going to be following Martinez for a while -- we’ll find out Wednesday!

Update, Sept. 21:Team Martinoff - J.R. Martinez and his dance partner Karina Smirnoff - made it through the first elimination on “Dancing With the Stars.”

Before announcing the results, the show aired a clip of the pair just after their first performance.

“Three weeks of hard work and you nailed it!” Smirnoff told him.

“Three weeks of dropping you,” Martinez kidded.

Eliminated this week was Metta World Peace -- the new name of basketball player Ron Artest.

Stripes in 7

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