This is a part of the Pros and Cons of the DWTS pros Series. You can check out all the posts in this series here.
Louis van Amstel
Marianya: Okay, so Louis rubbed some people off the wrong way in the first season with his aloofness and stand-off-ish behavior (as depicted on screen) and I think the various celebs he has had from season to season has opened him up quite a bit (Lisa Rinna of Season 2 and Kelly Osbourne of Season 9 of note). And consider we all now have seen Louis in a dress (and wore better may I add) than Florence Henderson, I say he has opened up a lot. Add on top of that his precise dancing and strong choreography with the professional numbers I’d say he’s a pretty good package. Now I have no idea what was said behind the scenes because I don’t typically read all that stuff despite being a blogger myself, but what I have seen on screen I like and I like a lot. However, him being a “short” pro (both Mark and Corky are just an inch or so taller than him) he has only been on six of the previous ten seasons, but of all the pros he has the best non-winner placement thus far. Placing fourth twice, third once, and fifth in the last season. So he’s doing something right. I really enjoy watching him dance, and like Karina he has that strong classic ballroom feel to him that I really love, and seeing him and Karina dance together is magic to me for a non-couple.
Heidi: Believe it or not, Louis is my least favorite pro and it has nothing to do with dancing. I just think he was the most ungracious and rude pro last season – he seemed angry that Nicole was on the show, never clapped for her and Derek and looked like he’d sucked lemons after they danced. You know, if you don’t think it’s fair, take it up with the producers, but at least try to be gracious to your fellow pros and the other celebrities. I will say he did work wonders with Kelly and I really loved the two of them during her season. That said, when it comes to choreographing the tour, I was glad when Maks took over – I thought he choreographed a more entertaining, more contemporary show than Louis did. But maybe Louis was burnt out on it. And I think that’s enough of that. :-)
Courtney: I agree with both Marianya & Heidi – in the seasons he’s been on the show, he’s been doing something right technically, because his stars always seem to do decently well, even if they don’t make it to the finale; however, some of his behavior off-stage is just downright bitchy. I absolutely ADORED him in season 9 with Kelly; but after watching a post-show interview he did after Nicole won, he came across as bitter, petty, and an all-around sore loser – complaining about Nicole having a blatant “unfair advantage” and refusing to recognize any legitimate natural talent she may have had or hard work she may have put into the the show. Really, Louis – had Nicole NOT done season 10, do you really think you & Niecy would have won? And really, here’s my philosophy for all of the pros who think they’ve been “cheated” somehow in the course of the show: WORK HARDER. I’m a firm believer that in the hands of the right pro, even the biggest klutz can be a legitimately good dancer – it’s just a matter of how hard you work. Life’s not fair, and the show’s never gonna be 100% fair…so get used to it. Be gracious. Ok, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest – I really do respect how Louis tends to work with the strengths of his partners. Was Niecy a great dancer? Hell no, but Louis managed to work with what she had, and played on her comedy skills to make their performances entertaining. Was Kelly the most graceful star ever to hit the DWTS floor? Nope, but he brought something out in her that people adored, and instilled a sense of confidence in her that I’m not sure she had before. And I think I’ve mentioned this about Louis in general before, but he really seems to thrive when he has partners with a bit of a ‘tude – his best partners (Kelly, Niecy, Lisa to some degree) always seemed to be the ones that were a little mouthy. While this may have irked other pros (I honestly don’t see Mark, Jonathan, Tony, Dmitry, or Alec faring well with divas), I almost think it just fuels Louis – because as we’ve seen, Louis is a bit of a diva himself ;-)
John: I have a hard time really commenting on Louis. I feel bad trying to critique him when the stars he’s been paired with have been some of my least favorite stars on the show. Kelly, Niecy, and even Priscilla Presley always felt awkward to me on the show and I could never come around to liking them. I don’t really see that changing with Margaret. Man it sure seems like the producers have cast Louis with the eccentric star each season. Since I haven’t really liked any of the stars he’s been with, it’s really hard for me to fairly judge Louis. Seems like not too many people care about Louis either since I checked his Wikipedia page and it hasn’t been updated since Priscilla Presley. I can’t argue with his talent and dance ability. His partners seem to love him too. I’ll just hold out any final opinions until he has a partner that I really like.
Marianya: Okay between Mark Ballas and Derek Hough I definitely prefer Mark Ballas, he’s such a ham I love him. He’s so sweet and so cute, but he doesn’t have the choreography prowess that his “brother” seems to be blessed with. But I do know that when the two of them dance in pro numbers my eyes float more to Mark than to Derek, despite Derek getting front and center a lot of the time. In the very first pro number that they were in Mark really hammed it up… again something I enjoy. His dancing isn’t as sharp and crisp and he seems to struggle with celebs unless the celeb happens to be a ringer (Shawn Johnson and Kristi Yamaguchi anyone?). He needs to step things up with all celebs across the board to really have an impact I think. At least he’s not as lovesick as his “brother” though, and for that I am glad.
Heidi: Ha! You’ve not been paying attention to Mark for long, have you? :-) Normally, Mark is the lovesick one and Derek is the one rolling his eyes. Derek is probably regretting this video right now (at the 4:50 mark). Give Mark time, he’ll be back in love land before we know it. You and I are complete opposites – Mark is much too frenetic and hammy for me. I also think that he has a bit of a tendency try to benefit from his “brother” without giving any of that loyalty back. I certainly hope it’s different behind the scenes. Mark never once tweeted good luck to Derek last season, or asked his fans to vote – yet Derek, to an annoying degree, was pimping Mark’s musical performances. That apparent inequity in their relationship is really starting to bother me, and I’m really hoping there is more going on behind the scenes. If there isn’t – well, that’s more Derek’s fault for letting that happen than Mark’s, when you get right down to it. As for Mark as a dancer – I think he’s very crisp and fast, and I only don’t like it when he goes all hammy and frenetic like I previously mentioned – I think he’s the only male pro who will dance around his partner, or try to draw attention to himself to cover for his partner when they’re faltering, whereas several of the women do it. I don’t think that’s the majority of the time, by any means. I think he’s a very good dancer, he just doesn’t do anything for me.
Courtney: While I don’t by any means hate Mark, he’s not my favorite male pro, either. Unfortunately, in the multitude of classes I’ve taken with his pops, I’m afraid the apple does not fall far from the tree as far as Mark is concerned – without going too far into detail, let’s just say I think he’s inherited some of his father’s less savory traits. While it has nothing to do with his abilities as a choreographer or a pro, his revolving door of a love life tends to bother me. He’s what I like to call a “serial monogamist” – totally in love with one girl until the next best thing comes along. It’s hard for me to take him seriously when he’s speaking all flowery about our dear Chelsie when he was doing the same thing about Joanna just months before…and he was doing the same about Sabrina not long before that. Or when he’s tweeting awkward things about sleeping with a Donald Duck doll since he isn’t “sleeping next to anyone at the moment”. TMI :-( Ok, personal life aside, I do think that Mark is the only pro on the show that can come close to matching Derek in terms of energy – granted, they’re also the two youngest male pros, so that might explain why they’re the ones out in front dancing the hardest and the fastest in the pro dances. He does a pretty good job of choreographing to his partner’s strengths and pulling the best out of them, but I worry that he often gets so caught up in the “vision” of what he wants a dance to look like that he’s reluctant to alter his routines when they clearly aren’t working for his partner – I think that’s what may have happened with Shannen’s Viennese waltz, where the poor girl just looked like she was trying to keep her head above water. His routines are creative, though – his cha-cha for Shawn to “P.Y.T.” is still one of my all-time favorites, as is his Jabbawockee-themed freestyle for her. And for some reason, I always remember his rumbas. But I do see what Heidi’s saying about his energy level – I think he sometimes resorts to dancing around or just flat-out “out-dancing” his partner in order to distract from a sub-par performance on their part – Kim’s dreadful mambo comes to mind. And it actually pains me to see him do jive – literally, it hurts my lungs & chest because the boy is just absolutely spastic. If he could just calm down a bit, in terms of choreography and performance, and pay a bit more attention to his partner’s strengths & weaknesses, I think he’d be neck & neck with Derek as the strongest male pro on the show.
John: No doubt that Mark is a ball of energy on the dance floor. It’s an interesting contrast to when I saw him backstage. He had all of his energy totally focused on his guitar. Plus, when he was asked to come and say hi he was incredibly kind to me and my wife and seemed to be totally focused on us. Which is a bit ironic since you’d think with his energetic dance style that he would be all over the place. Instead, he was incredible focused and welcoming in person backstage. In fact, it was Derek who seemed like the spastic one backstage who couldn’t focus on anything or anyone. I guess all the pros deal with the nerves before the performance in different ways. I loved Mark with Sabrina. The couple worked and the energy was incredibly fun to watch. However, ever since then his performances have seemed to be missing something for me. Sure, Kristi and Shawn were very popular, but I could just never get into their dances. I felt like Mark should have gotten a lot more out of Kim. Maybe it was all Kim’s fault, but she was a train wreck for me. Shannen was similar. I’m pretty sure Bristol is going to be overwhelmed by Mark’s energy as well. Mark needs a partner that can match his energy or it just feels awkward to me.
Louis van Amstel
Marianya: If he can pull off a tacky dress better than the women that have worn it… he can pull off much anything else.
John: Jury is still out for me.
Courtney: Quit yer bitchin’ and get out there and shake it! The latter works the best for you.
Marianya: Mmmm Ham…
John: I’ll take Sabrina and Mark, but leave the rest.
Heidi: Ham is too salty. ;-)
Courtney: Just reign it in a bit, dude. When you calm down & focus, I like what you do.