DWTS 15 All-Stars: The Great “Previous Dance Experience” Debate – Apolo Ohno Edition

Today we continue our series with season 4 winner Apolo Ohno – and if you’re still playing catch-up, be sure to check out our previous editions featuring Kelly Monaco, Emmitt Smith, Drew Lachey, & Joey Fatone 8-)

For Apolo’s best dance, I picked his samba – which I still think is the best samba from a contestant that we’ve ever seen on DWTS:

For his worst dance, I picked the ill-advised Pulp Fiction jive he & Julianne did:

I think the most obvious advantage that jumps out at me when I watch these videos is chemistry – Apolo & Julianne had FANTASTIC chemistry, and I think that helped carry them through week after week.  The question is: can he forge that same chemistry with Karina? If he can, then I think these two could be frontrunners this season.  Apolo’s obviously got some natural rhythm and is comfortable moving his body, so Karina’s definitely got something to work with.  However, Apolo’s Achilles’ heel (hehe) does seem to be really refined footwork – I saw instances in both his samba & his jive (ESPECIALLY his jive) where he just seems to put his feet wherever they feel comfortable, and the end result looks a bit confused and purposeless.  POINT YOUR TOES, APOLO! I also think his showmanship could use a little work – Apolo mentions in samba rehearsals that he’s used to keeping a “poker face” in speed skating, so it’s hard for him to really use his face to emote.  He did pretty well in season 4, but I still saw a few instances of “poker face” – especially if he wasn’t quite sure of what he was doing and was trying to regain his bearings…I noticed it in his jive, whenever he seemed to foul up.  With such big personalities like Joey & Kirstie around this season, I think Apolo is going to have to really work on projecting a BIG personality on the floor – he’s got the range of motion, now he just needs the range of personality :-) I also hope that Karina is able to strike a nice balance between dancing well and not outdancing Apolo – as much as I loved Julianne with Apolo, I do think there were times that she really outshined him, and I noticed it big time in their samba.  I do think Karina is a pro that is able to find that right balance, though, so I think that’s an advantage.

Court’s verdict: Definitely one to watch, especially if he can forge a good chemistry with Karina & clean up his footwork – and if he can bring enough personality to the table to compete with big personalities like Joey & Kirstie :-)

So what are your thoughts on Apolo? Does he have the juice to go all the way?