John challenged me to do this, despite my clear and obvious Hough bias. But it does say MY favorites, so these choices are all my own. As I said in response to comments on John’s post, being a great DWTS Pro is about more than just dance ability. I think several things are required: choreography skill, teaching ability and PERSONALITY (aka The “IT” Factor). And, of course, you have to be one hell of a dancer. I don’t dislike ANY of the pros, male or female, but I do have my clear favorites. You all can guess my Number one, right? Say it with me:
- Derek, Derek, Derek – Derek is not only a great dancer and choreographer, but he’s one of the more charismatic people on TV right now. When he’s on screen in a pro dance, I occasionally read about people who are not fans being annoyed because he’s “distracting” – I have to laugh, because that “distracting” behavior is called charisma and “IT”. He draws the eye. As a fan of old movies (thanks, Grandma), he reminds me of Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire. He has never finished lower than sixth and he was only as low as sixth once, with Shannon. He has a way of taking celebs with either baggage or no fanbase (or both) and turning them into respectable dancers – or at the very least, making them likable. His celebs are always labeled as “disliked or likely to be disliked” (Joanna, Lil’ Kim) or as likely to leave early (everyone else) – yet he never leaves early. As for his choreo – two words: Futuristic Paso Doble. Wait…three words. (John’s Comment: See the rest of Heidi’s Derek bias on Pure Derek Hough)
- Louis Van Amstel – yes, this shocks me too. Louis was one of the faceless male pros who were there and gone most seasons. But holy cow – his work with Kelly Osbourne, and their relationship, was just a joy to watch. Kelly would never be the best dancer – in fact, I would argue that she was no better than 6th or 7th place – but people LOVED her and I think a lot of that is attributable to Louis. There is no question the man can dance, and he’s a very good choreographer (although I think my #3 did better on the tour), but I think it was only this season that his personality and teaching ability came to the forefront. Lovely, lovely guy.
- Maksim Chmerkovskiy – cranky as hell at times, the man also has IT. He really won me over with his work on last years tour – brilliantly done. He also manages to survive what I think is a crappy edit nearly every season – sure he’s blunt, but his partners seem to love him. And he writes a great blog, which I appreciate. I also love how he treats Derek and Mark as slightly annoying little brothers – very sweet to watch on tour. The feeling I get from Maks is that he’s all bark and no bite.
- Mark Ballas – I was tempted to leave Mark off the list, although he’s always been one of my favorites. Why? Well, maybe it’s just my perception, but I thought he acted badly when dancing with Melissa Joan Hart. He seemed upset that they weren’t doing that well – whatever the reason for his behavior, it seemed TO ME to be poor sportsmanship. He’s had two Olympians as partners – surely he can suck it up when dancing with someone who is trying hard, but isn’t an Olympian?? Anyway, despite that, Mark is a hell of a dancer and seems to be a good teacher. He gets a lot of flack for out dancing his partners (usually in the Jive, which I don’t think he can help), and he occasionally picks hellish costumes with polka dots, but he is a very talented guy.
- Tony Dovolani – Tony doesn’t really impress me as a particularly great choreographer, but he’s a hell of a dancer and he’s very, VERY charming. He’s just NICE. I like him a lot. He seems to work well with his partners, is a good teacher and is an all around good egg.
I think that only leaves Jonathan, Dmitry and Alec. Dmitry and Alec suffer from an apparent lack of personality – notice I didn’t say that they don’t have a personality, just that it isn’t *apparent*. They are too quiet, and I don’t think either of them did a particularly good job in terms of choreography. Doesn’t *everyone* know how Len feels about gimmicks, Dmitry?? As for Jonathan, he suffers as a result of drawing poor celebrities – how can I tell how good of a choreographer or teacher he is when he never stays on the show for long? That said – he clearly has the patience of a saint. And lord, when he’s dancing with his wife it’s a thing of beauty.
Okay, everyone, go ahead and tell me how wrong I am. I can take it.