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PureDWTS Season 18 Food For Thought & POLL: Is Danica This Season’s “Secret Ringer”?

Let me lead off with this: I don’t mind ringers.  Actually, I appreciate 2-3 in each season, for the simple reason that it ensures that we get to see some good dancing and that the bar is set high for the competition.  The show needs ringers just like it needs really bad dancers, and every skill level in between – it’s part of what makes DWTS work.  The ringers please those who just love great dancing, and the inexperienced dancers ensure we get to see some good growth arcs.

Now what I DO mind is when someone who has enough experience to be considered a ringer tries to insist that they aren’t – in our experience here at Pure, this certainly does not negate the fact that they do have a bit of an edge, and it also tends to rub some viewers the wrong way.  The viewers are not stupid – they know when their intelligence is being insulted by the machinations of the powers that be or a celeb that tries to downplay his/her experience level.  And they especially don’t like feeling like they’re being lied to.

So an interesting discussion came about when Vogue posted this video of Danica & Val’s first rehearsal yesterday. In it, Danica seems to give the impression that she’s new to this whole dancing thing – lots of giggling, clueless looks, and “Huh? What?” It’s what you’d normally expect during the first rehearsal with a celeb who’s never danced before – but considering that Danica has had some fairly extensive ballroom training, it kind of bugs.  We know for a fact that she’s taken lessons before – check out this clip of her on 20/20 back in 2008:

While working on Inspector Mom (the TV movie mentioned in the clip), she met Gocha Chertkoev, a Latin dance champion who was playing the role of a dance instructor.  Presumably, she started taking lessons with him, as that’s who we see her dancing with in the clip.  Some have argued that she “only took lessons for that movie”, and it was a “one-time thing” – but if that’s the case, then why is her picture plastered all over the newsletter from Gocha’s dance studio as recently as a year ago? And why is he plugging her book while she takes a cha-cha class?

danicabookplug

 

 danicachacha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Possibly worth noting: Gocha is also one of the judges on the Georgian version of DWTS, Tsekvaven Varskvlavebi.  Regardless, I get the feeling Danica’s lessons with Gocha weren’t just a one-time thing – they’ve more likely been ongoing.  She’s also had some dance training for another film, 21 and a Wake-Up, courtesy of Jamie Bayard (Lacey Schwimmer’s former swing partner, and of SYTYCD fame).  She talks about in more detail here, on this now-defunct post at her website. Yes, I’m aware it’s in code – that’s the only way to access it now that it’s been conveniently removed from her website (thank goodness for caching!).  You’ll see why in the excerpt below – pertinent parts in bold:

Says Danica, “I love to dance! I got hooked after learning to Tango for the TV Movie Inspector Mom: Kidnapped in 10 Easy Steps.”

Gocha Chertkoev and Shorena Gachechiladze are worldwide ballroom dance champions, and I was so lucky to be trained by them for the movie. I was a fan of Gocha’s from his TLC series, Ballroom Bootcamp. He was a real find – a great actor and dancer! Since then, I dance whenever I can — I love it! I’ve even trained with Jamie Bayard from So You Think You Can Dance”

“Perhaps I’ll end up dancing on stage or in front of the cameras again soon. I’ve been asked more than a few times about Dancing with the Stars, but I think I actually have a little too much professional training this stage. And that’s fine by me – I’m not sure I’d like the judges’ on-stage criticism very much!”

Sorry, but I’m having a harder and harder time buying the whole “I’m new at this!!!” act of their rehearsal video, and this interview that she herself posted presents some pretty damning evidence that she is, in fact, a ringer. The rehearsal video itself is a bit shady, too – my boyfriend (who has been teaching ballroom for 12 years) even remarked that “It’s almost like she’s trying too hard to act confused for the first half – she clearly has danced salsa before, she’s following him pretty easily.”  As for the second half of the video? “She’s already doing rumba walks with great hip action and transfer of weight, and she’s spotting turns like she’s been taught before.  No way Val could have taught her that in one short rehearsal.”

So what’s my beef? The fact that Danica has had some pretty extensive ballroom training is being conveniently swept under the rug, while Meryl & Charlie get raked across the coals for being “practically professional ballroom dancers already!” If you’re going to cry that “DWTS is for celebs with no dance experience!” (not true, but whatever floats your boat) and that it’s “unfair” that Meryl & Charlie get to be on the show this season – then it’s only fair that you call Danica out, too.  But for whatever reason, the two Olympians are the ones fielding most of the cries of foul from viewers, while Danica flies under the radar, with incriminating blog posts being quietly removed from her site and mentions of her previous dance experience being conveniently omitted from interviews.  And to what end? I like to think that Danica herself is too smart and too confident to let a few cries of “Ringer!! RINGER!!!” deter her from being open and honest about her dancing.  I’m leaning more towards someone from further up the chain at DWTS “gently encouraging” her to downplay her dance experience – it’s happened before.  Sabrina mentioned in an interview once that she was told by producers to “dumb down” her dancing during the first few weeks of her original season, in order to give the impression of a much more level playing field.  Sabrina (honest as a girl scout) didn’t comply, but it does set a precedent for what might be going on now with Danica – or it may even be someone from her own camp, such as a publicist, trying to paint a better picture of her client with regards to the show.

I guess overall, I’m just left feeling a bit…deceived by the whole thing.  I do not like having my intelligence insulted, and trying to pass Danica off as a beginner to me is insulting.  I’m left with a bit of a bad taste in my mouth, as I did back in season 14 when Sherri Shepherd tried to downplay the fact that she took lessons at Maks & Val’s studio immediately prior to being cast on DWTS. In both Danica AND Sherri’s cases, I think the whole situation would be a lot better-received by fans had they just been honest about it from the get-go, instead of lying by omission, dodging questions, and dancing around the truth before finally coming clean.  Hiding things implies some sort of guilt on the part of the hider. :-)  I actually really like her as a person, and I’m hoping that Danica, in the interest of full disclosure, is able to be open about her previous experience – I really don’t think being labeled a “ringer” is going to hurt her OR help her.  Ringers don’t always win, and they don’t always lose.  Unless, of course, they’re paired with Derek – in which case they ALWAYS win…cause “Ugh, Derek always gets all the good partners!!!”, y’all. 😉

So all of that being said…what do YOU guys think of Danica and her previous experience? Is she a ringer, or not a ringer?  Vote in our poll and weigh in down in the comments!

March 11, 2014 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Check out some of my other work at pureamericasgottalent.com!

DWTS Season 16, Week 1 – Dancing by the Numbers!

Hello folks (Hi Cheryl!!!)! :-)  It’s time once again to take a look at the numbers for a week of dancing. Of course, since there was no elimination this week, this is just an exercise to show you where the dancers stand going into week two. Is it possible for D.L. to overcome his extreme deficit? Well, I kinda doubt it, but you never know. Next Tuesday will either reveal that there are some seriously weak fanbases (by someone other than D.L. getting the boot), or it will reveal nothing at all.

Anyway, I think that the judges didn’t screw the pooch too badly this week, but there’s still plenty of time. What did I agree or disagree with? Well, I’m a proponent of a LOT more use of the 3 and 4 paddles in week 1 and they don’t seem to have that in them unless you don’t practice as much as you should. 😉 As much as I LOVED Wynonna, I think they were a bit kind to her – which is SOP for them when it comes to older, dance-challenged ladies.  I think Kellie got screwed by going first – also typical for these judges. There’s no way that Dorothy and Aly deserve the same score as her. That said, 21 is a good score for both, I’m just thinking that Kellie deserved a point or two higher.   Zendaya? Awesome. Loved the dance and I have high hopes for Val. That said, I think 24 was a bit of a stretch – but only by a point, really. The question on these ladies is – can Kellie keep it up (I think so), can Dorothy loosen up (I hope so) and can Aly ever even HOPE to match up to Shawn (doubt it). No, it’s not fair to compare her to All Stars Shawn – but if you think I’m the only person doing that, yer crazy. It’s how the brain works, whether you want it to or not.

LOVE Andy. Love him. I think he did a better dance that Wynonna did, actually. I certainly enjoyed him FAR more than the cheapo Foxtrot put on by Sean and Peta. What the hell was that, anyway?? But, since Sean is a member of the family, I expect him to be overscored right to the semi-finals. The imaginary scenario…

ABC Exec: :::cough::: Ahem. You know, Conrad, if Sean stays around until, oh, I dunno, week 8 or so, that would tie in perfectly with his and Catherine’s wedding, to air right after DWTS at 9 pm, that week. Whaddaya say?

Conrad: :::sigh::: I’ll see what I can do.

Expect nipples. Just sayin’. …Read more

March 20, 2013 I Written By

I'm a nerd and proud of it. Two degrees in geology also means I love BEER. :-) I'm also a Derek lover - proud of that too. So don't scream at those of us on this site and call us a bunch of "biased Derek-lovers" - it's just ME. :-) It may sound like I hate DWTS at times, but really, I'm just a snarky nitpicker from way back. And I'm cynical and jaded too. But I do love DWTS. :-)

DWTS Season 14 Stats Class: Week 1 Predicted Scores

So here we are, the first week of the season and rumor has it that the celebs are going to be dancing either the gracefully upbeat Foxtrot or the fun and flirty Cha-Cha. So let’s get cooking and see what their scores could be.

What I’m going to do this season is different from previous seasons. I will post up the average score of the dance in a particular group/category and then average all three scores completely and round up or down based on intangibles and there you have the final predicted scores. Keep in mind that popularity, previous dance experience, etc are not taken into account… that is simply too many variables for me to attempt to follow for any season.

GAVIN DEGRAW
Dance: Foxtrot
Average Scores:
– Age: 19.435
– Occupation: 20.000
– Professional Partner: 21.000
Predicted Score: 20
Comments: With most of his scores being “middle of the road” the only thing going for him is his partner Karina. Her scores on the Foxtrot in the first third of the season on average is relatively higher than most pros. Should he be part of the middle of the pack… he may be alright for the week (considering the rabid fan base I’ve noticed thus far) but if he doesn’t shine either this week or next week, he could be in trouble for the casual viewer.

DONALD DRIVER
Dance: ChaCha
Average Scores:
– Age: 19.667
– Occupation: 19.143
– Professional Partner: 14.000
Predicted Score: 18
Comments: It’s always hard to tell how a celeb would do when they are paired with a relatively new pro. NFL players typically do better in the Foxtrot out of the gate as opposed to the ChaCha, so with a couple of strikes against him… NFL players could surprise the audience by sheer weight of their personality, he might be lucky here. However, when looking at the scores of NFL players in their 30s, they tend to hit above average (21.000)… so I almost feel that this score is rather low overall. …Read more

March 19, 2012 I Written By

My life can be summed up in the following two quotes: 1) "I am married to engineering and am its faithful wife by day, but at night my wanderlust takes hold and the arts becomes my jealous paramour." and... 2) "Engineering is my safety net. Writing is my passion. Acting is my escape when the other two become too much." So where does dancing fit in? Pretty much anywhere at this point... =)

DWTS13 Chaz Bono On His Dancing Journey So Far, His Future Plans, & More (Video)

Jay Leno interviewed Chaz last night on the Tonight Show. He starts out by calling him the “Chazmanian Devil”. They review Chaz’s journey so far on Dancing With The Stars. Jay tries to point out that Chaz had a bad diet before starting the show and Chaz says it’s not true. He had the bad diet before getting clean and sober 7 years ago. Chaz also talks of his previous dance experience. He took tap and ballet when he was little and took performing arts in high school (oh no, here comes the ringer debate again 😯 😉 ). They talk of the transgender debate as well and how Chaz let’s the criticism roll off his back. Chaz discusses how he’d like to maybe act or even be a late night TV host after his gig on Dancing With The Stars is up (good idea. I’d love to see that happen too!). All this and more below.

TV Guide has a new interview up with Chaz today as well. He talks of how the “injury” talk has been blown out of proportion (I agree. I wish interviewers would stop going on and asking him about it as if Chaz is complaining when he’s not. He wouldn’t even talk of it if they didn’t ask). He also discusses the great cast and the fun he’s having. Below is a take of what it felt like being in the bottom two. He also comments how the Rumba is easier and rehearsals are going well. More at the link!

What was going through your mind when you were called safe and realized you weren’t in the actual bottom two?
Bono: I was just really happy. Both of us didn’t want to stop participating in this, so Lacey and I were just incredibly relieved. You hope that [your fans can save you]. Also, we were one point off three or four other couples, so it wasn’t like we were way below. We knew we definitely had a chance to go home, but hoped we wouldn’t. We were really thrilled the fans got us through.

You scored a 17 two weeks in a row. What are you working on to bump up that up next week?
Bono: Nothing in particular. We just want to do the best job we can. Every dance has its own technique and I think each of us contestants has our own strengths and weaknesses. [The rumba] will definitely be easier for me, physically, than the quickstep. It’s slower and there’s no skipping, and rehearsals are going well.

September 30, 2011 I Written By

I'm a fashion and music fan....and I have always loved dancing too of any kind. Dancing With The Stars seems to have this way of bringing all of those things together. One of my favorite dancing quotes at the moment: "No matter what, nobody can take away the dance you've already had...." ~Gleb Savchenko . For fun music and dance mixes, visit WilUnleashed Soundcloud. To view my photography site, see Lisa Kay Photography.

DWTS11 Preliminary Power Rankings, Part II

So last week, I formulated who wouldn’t last past the midpoint of the competition in part I of my season 11 preliminary power ranking.  Today, I’ll reveal my top half – and who I think is going to walk away with that mirrorball trophy.  Enjoy & dicuss!

6.) Florence Henderson & Corky Ballas – I think these two could be interchangeable with Michael & Chelsie, depending on how memorable Florence can be.  No doubt Florence will likely be the better dancer – she’s had legit experience, plus the footage I’ve seen of her practicing so far looks reeeeaaally good.  She seems like a very focused, hard worker.  She’s also got the boon of being the oldest cast member, which seems to bring its own voting fanbase with it.  The one problem I think Flo might have is the comparisons she’s likely gonna get to Cloris, since that’s been Corky’s only other partner – and she and Cloris are NOTHING alike, besides their older age.  While part of Cloris’ appeal was her outrageous behavior, it’s something we’re not going to see out of Flo…like I’ve mentioned before, Flo is very demure and classy, and not the type to throw out off-color comments and innuendo.  As for Corky and his fanbase…that’s a little harder to predict.  He’s only been on the show once before, and it seemed like it was his partner’s outrageous behavior that kept them around so long.  I’m not sure if Mark’s (or Derek’s, for that matter) fans are gonna throw any votes his direction, or if he has enough of a fanbase of his own to really make a difference.  Regardless, I’m actually kind of excited for these two – it will be nice to see what a dynamite choreographer like Corky can really do with a partner that’s willing to work. 

5.) Kurt Warner & Anna Trebunskaya – Now Kurt could be the worst dancer in the competition this season, and I still don’t think he’d get sent home any sooner than week 6 or 7, just due to being a former NFL player (the worst any of them have done is 7th place).  On top of that, he’s the first quarterback we’ve ever had on the show, and the QB’s are typically the most well-known players on each team. But I think Kurt could actually be pretty good, if his work ethic during dance practice is anything like his work ethic on the football field.  And really – Kurt just seems like a genuinely good guy.  Comes from humble roots, evangelical Christian, family man, does a lot of charity work…I’m not sure there’s a more likeable guy in the competition.  He also seems to have a goofy side (see The Great Previous Dance Experience Debate, Part II), which always seems to balance nicely with a serious work ethic.  I think Anna has also beefed up her fanbase after having such a breakout season with Evan – people have warmed to her considerably, and she seems to have gotten a good deal more comfortable with her own choreography.  But while these two will likely be Mr. & Mrs. Congeniality this season, I don’t think Kurt necessarily has the dance chops (or the explosive personality) to make it to the semifinals.  

4.) David Hasselhoff & Kym Johnson – I’m saying this right now – I don’t think the Hoff is going to be a fantastic dancer.  Decent, maybe; but not great.  However, I do think he will be this season’s funny man, and that will take him farther than his dance skills will.  From the bit of media that I’ve seen so far with him in it, I’m having flashbacks of Donny in season 9 – the Hoff is definitely hamming it up.  Very chatty, cracking a lot of jokes, but seems enthusiastic…I do think he’ll make an honest effort, but I’m just not sure he’s got a ton of natural skill to pair it with.  But that’s ok, because if there’s one thing Kym is really good at, it’s taking an okay partner and giving them choreography that really lets them shine – I think that’s exactly what she did with Donny & Warren, and I’m sure that’s what she’ll do with David.  Plus Kym is quite possibly the most likeable female pro in the competition – mellow, sweet, and drop dead gorgeous.  I think they’ll look good together, and will likely be one of the couples out there that is truly enjoying themselves – it probably won’t trump some of the better-dancing couples, but I could see it taking them to the semifinal. 

3.) Jennifer Grey & Derek Hough – Looks like Heidi and I are in agreement on this one – Team Jenougher will probably make it to the finale, but just don’t quite have the juice to go all the way.  Like Heidi, I agree that Jennifer’s age and recent health issues will likely hinder this pair a bit; however, I do think she will be a sentimental fave with the voters, and they will come out to vote for her in big ways…even if she isn’t the greatest.  She does have a big advantage in having Derek; choreographically, I think he’s the strongest male pro and the one most likely to bring out the best in his partners.  He’s also got an uber-strong fanbase, and they’re smart about how they vote.  The only thing I can’t really predict is if there’s going to be any backlash from his win last season – I can’t decide if those that are still pissed about Nicole winning are going to refuse to vote for Derek now, even if they really do like what he’s doing with Jen.  Ditto for the same people that are clinging to the (flimsy) notion that Jennifer is a “professional dancer” and that DWTS is strictly for stars with “no dance experience” (keep dreaming) – are they gonna refuse to vote too, just on principle? By the same token, are they gonna refuse to vote for Brandy, Florence, & the Hoff too? I would like to think that in a season like this, with a fairly level playing field, that people wouldn’t try to concoct conspiracy theories like that – but there’s always some renegades.  That whole mess aside, I do think these two will be one of the stronger couples this season…but I’m not sure they’re going to have enough momentum to win. 

2.) Brandy & Maksim Chmerkovskiy – I’m sure there will be shock, awe, and outrage over this one, but when it comes down to it I just don’t think Brandy is going to be the stereotypical “pop-star ringer” that everyone is saying she is.  As we proved with the previous dance experience post, Brandy’s career has not been nearly as dance-heavy as, say, Nicole, Sabrina, or even Mel B’s.  And unlike Nicole & Sabrina, who were still in the high point of their careers when they did the show, Brandy’s been out of the spotlight for a little while now…aside from an album she released last year that flopped, and the reality show she has with her family on VH1 (which I’m not sure paints her in the best light), she hasn’t really been up to anything “big” in over 10 years.  I’m not sure how much of her original fanbase is still invested enough to come out and vote for her, which will likely cause her to rely heavily on pulling people in with great dancing.  And from what I’ve seen from the media so far – Brandy seems like a focused, hard worker, but doesn’t seem to be a natural when it comes to ballroom.  However, I do think she has an advantage in having Maks, who does have a large fanbase, and is a good choreographer – when he isn’t pissing off the judges or throwing fits (then again, like Heidi, I blame a lot of his less savory behavior last season on Erin, who seemed to bring out the worst in him, for whatever reason).  However, it is encouraging to see Maks & Brandy practicing and no tantrums being thrown by either party – the energy between them seems much more synergistic than it was between him and some of his other partners.  I daresay this will likely result in some really good, memorable routines.  However, when it comes down to it, I think they’re no match for… 

1.) Rick Fox & Cheryl Burke – Ok, pick your jaw up off the floor, and let me explain why I think these two could be the couple to beat this season.  First off, athletes generally do well (duh) – and pretty male athletes tend to do REALLY well (think Jason Taylor, Apolo Ohno, Helio Castroneves).  And when a pretty athlete teams up with a pretty female pro – watch out.  I have already said multiple times that I think these two are going to be this season’s most handsome couple.  Plus Cheryl is statistically the strongest female pro on the show – two wins, one 2nd place finish, one 3rd place finish, and 2 trips to the semi finals in her 9 seasons on the show – and she’s also one of the toughest, which Rick has said works well for him.  I also have a sneaking suspicion that Rick is not completely inept in the rhythm department – ex-wifey Vanessa Williams was a fantastic dancer, and I can’t imagine that a little bit of know-how didn’t rub off on him during their 5-year marriage.  Rick also has the boon of being a star not only from his basketball career, but also his acting career – he’s appeared on quite a few TV shows.  Both he and Cheryl seem to have pretty good-sized fanbases on their own, too, which gives them a bit of an edge over couples where the celeb isn’t as popular as the pro, and vice-versa.  Seems like this couple has a pretty good hand to play…but they do seem to be keeping their poker face up.  Not a whole lot of media leakage on these two, which makes me think that they’re really trying to play up the whole surprise factor when Rick turns out to be pretty damn good.  Cheryl seemed to do the same thing with Gilles, and look how he panned out.  But I daresay it will be interesting to see what these two have up their sleeves 😉

So there you have it – I’ve laid out my predictions for this season’s couples, without any of them having actually set foot on the floor.  Definitely hoping for some surprises this season, since this is the most level the playing field has been in quite some time.  But what do you guys think? Am I onto something? Am I full of crap? SPEAK UP! 😀

September 15, 2010 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Check out some of my other work at pureamericasgottalent.com!

Derek Hough on “Ringers”

Very interesting interview with Derek – don’t let the title mislead you, he actually doesn’t back away AT ALL from Nicole’s previous dance experience.  In fact, I think even Derek detractors will have a tough time finding fault with what he has to say. But maybe I’m overly optimistic on that front. :-)  Anyway, from the Seattle Post – TV Guide, a few excerpts:

TVGuide.com: Anna Trebunskaya says you’ve been busting in on her rehearsals with Evan Lysacek. Are you scoping out the competition?

Derek Hough: Totally! We’re constantly walking in, like, “So what’s going on, guys?” [Laughs] It’s funny because Nicole does this certain move in our Viennese waltz that kind of looks like ice skating, like gliding, so every time she does it, she goes, “It’s the Lysacek!” Everyone’s having a good time. She gets along with everybody and she’s enjoying herself. Nicole’s a really hard worker, but we’ve been playing hard as well too. She’s a huge goofball. I thought I was crazy and goofy, but she’s definitely outmatched me.

TVGuide.com: There seems to be at least one person every season with a performing or dance background that people label a “ringer.” Some say it’s Nicole this season. Does that bother you?
Hough:
For me, I don’t think it’s Nicole. I think it could be Evan. He performs choreography on ice. He’s like Baryshnikov on ice! Nicole is like, “Wait a minute. I’m a singer who just happens to do a few chest bumps and a few head rolls.” That’s what she compares her dancing to. But what’s so great about this season is that I don’t think there is a definite ringer. You’ve got lots of people who can be very good. Evan will be tough for so many different reasons. Chad [Ochocinco]’s got a great personality. We’ve learned in the past that people who’ve danced before don’t necessarily do well, let alone win. The show is so much more than just dancing. It’s about personality, it’s about story, it’s about charisma. Just look at Ty Murray.

TVGuide.com: How much has Nicole’s dance background helped?
Hough:
I hate when people say, “No, it’s a totally different monster. It doesn’t help at all.” That’s ridiculous. Of course it helps! I think what helps the most is her musicality. But it is very true that this is hard. People make it look easy, but that’s what’s so hard about it — making it look easy. It’s definitely a struggle, but I think her dance experience has allowed us to up the ante as far as choreography.


TVGuide.com: Who are you excited to see dance?
Hough:
I think Pamela Anderson is going to bring something good. She’s with Damian [Whitewood], the new guy, who’s going to bring new energy. Erin Andrews and Maks [Chmerkovskiy] should be something as well. I can’t wait to see Buzz [Aldrin]. Buzz is a little party animal. I went out twice last week and he was at both parties. He was kicking it right until the end. … This guy is a party animal and he’s 80 years old! He’s awesome. When he practices, he wears this shirt with this guy walking on the moon, and I said, “Is that you?” He said, “Yeah, it is, actually.” “Oh, wow!” [Laughs] People say that he’s a moonwalker, and he doesn’t like that. “No, I walked on the moon. I’ve actually walked on it.” It’s pretty funny because it’s true! You’re like, “Right, sorry. Duh. You’re a legend.”

March 19, 2010 I Written By

I'm a nerd and proud of it. Two degrees in geology also means I love BEER. :-) I'm also a Derek lover - proud of that too. So don't scream at those of us on this site and call us a bunch of "biased Derek-lovers" - it's just ME. :-) It may sound like I hate DWTS at times, but really, I'm just a snarky nitpicker from way back. And I'm cynical and jaded too. But I do love DWTS. :-)

DWTS Season 9 – Preliminary Power Rankings

Greetings all! I’m Courtney, and I’m super pumped that I’ll be doing this season’s power rankings.  Being that I’ve been an amateur ballroom dancer for the past 6 years, I tend to really get down to the “nitty gritty” of choreography and technique, but I’m also a sucker for an entertaining and likeable contestant, regardless of how good or bad they may have danced.  I’m definitely looking forward to see how things pan out this season (16 couples…wow!), and I look forward to seeing what you guys think as well :-)

Since we now know all of the celebs and all of their pro partners, I thought I would do a preliminary power ranking based solely on each celeb’s previous dance/athletic experience & overall likeability.  In addition, I have also taken into account their pro partner’s likeability and fan base, as the pro’s themselves have taken on an almost celeb status through the years, and many of them have almost as big a fan base as the celebs they teach (can you imagine how many teen voters tune into DWTS each week in the hopes that they might catch a glimpse of a bare-chested Mark or Derek?).  So without further ado, here they are…I’m curious to see what you guys think, so please, all feedback is appreciated!

1.) Mya & Dmitry Chaplin – Mya has, arguably, the most previous dance experience of any of this season’s celebs.  She had ballet & jazz training from the age of 2, and later picked up tap as well, and was good enough to land a spot performing with Savion Glover of the Dance Theater of Harlem (for those of you unfamiliar with him, he is to tap what Clint Eastwood is to Hollywood – a pretty big deal!).  She’s also fairly recognizable, as she’s a Grammy-winning recording artist and has had bit parts in a few movies (anyone remember her as Vern’s fiance in Shall We Dance?). And Mya is SEXY…I don’t see her as someone who would be timid on the dance floor. Dmitry also has a following of his own from his SYTYCD days, and now also has an Emmy nomination under his belt for the Argentine tango he choreographed for season 4 of SYTYCD.  For me, this is the couple to beat.

2.) Donny Osmond & Kym Johnson – Do I honestly think that Donny will outdance the 14 other couples in this competition? Absolutely not…but I think his fame alone (especially with female baby boomers) will make him a contender this season.  Granted, Donny has SOME dance experience from his years performing with The Osmonds, but I’m not sure it’s enough to outshine trained dancers like Debi or Aaron.  But think back to season 5, and the juggernaut that was Marie Osmond, who made it to the finals despite mediocre scores from the judges.  He also has an advantage in having Kym, who I find to be one of the more consistent & likeable pros on the show.  I don’t think these two have the “juice” to win the whole thing, but I definitely think they’ll be around for awhile.

3.) Debi Mazar & Maksim Chmerkovskiy – Little known fact: Debi began her career as a hip-hop B-girl in New York, and has appeared in 4 Madonna videos…so she is no stranger to dance.  She’s also appeared in quite a few movies, so she’s a fairly recognizable actress (another fun fact: She appeared in Beethoven’s 2nd with another season 9 celeb – Ashley Hamilton).  Debi is known for her roles as feisty, tough women, so that could be an advantage when it comes to aggressive dances like the paso doble & tango – however, it could also hurt her if she butts heads with her equally as feisty partner, Maks.  I see Maks as one of the more popular pros on the show (especially with the ladies), so I see this pair having some staying power.

4.) Mark Dacascos & Lacey Schwimmer – Ok, so maybe he isn’t a household name, but once people see him, the lightbulb comes on: “Ohhh, that Iron Chef guy!”.  You might also recognize him from martial arts films such as Cradle 2 The Grave, where he squared off with Jet Li. His expertise in martial arts could definitely be a strong advantage for him this season – I think he could be this season’s Gilles Marini, the lesser-known actor with a martial arts background that takes the competition by storm.  Did I mention he’s also pretty easy on the eyes? It’s never been a disadvantage in this competition (at least for the men) to be good-looking.  And he’s lucked into getting fan-fave Lacey as his partner, who I have found to have an almost cult-like following from both SYTYCD & the past two seasons of DWTS.  A hot combo, these two!

5.) Aaron Carter & Karina Smirnoff – About 11 years ago, during my awkward teenage years, I attended a Backstreet Boys concert where Aaron was the opening act.  I was amazed with the ease at which this kid was cartwheeling, handspringing, and flipping all over the stage…and he was only 10 at the time! Aaron’s got a background in gymnastics, as well as some hip-hop experience from his years as a pop act.  However, he also has a bit of a checkered past: troubles with substance abuse and the demise of several romantic relationships have made several tabloid covers, which may make him a bit less “likeable” to viewers.  But I could also see mom’s latching onto him as a sort of son-type figure, a la Cody Linley.  I think Karina is also one of the strongest female pros on the show, and has a knack for choreographing to showcase her partner’s strengths while hiding their weaknesses. These two could either be really good or really bad – I’m crossing my fingers it’s the former.

6.) Melissa Joan Hart & Mark Ballas – Could they have picked a more adorable, likeable gal to be on this season of DWTS? I find Melissa to be a prime example of a “girl next door” type – or rather the girl upstairs type, as she played on Clarissa Explains It All.  And she “bewitched” (pun intended) audiences for 7 seasons as a lovable teenager with magical powers on Sabrina the Teenage Witch.  I don’t know that she has any real dance experience, but, like Donny, I think she’ll be a contender based on star power alone.  And I think  reigning 2-time champ Mark has the chops (and the female following) to keep this pair going in the competition, regardless of the judge’s scores. These two also have an adorable moniker for their partnership – “Malarky”, which could help them to claim the spot as this season’s “cute” couple, much like Shawn & Mark last season.

7.) Joanna Krupa & Derek Hough – Models have generally not fared so well on the show.  And I’m afraid Joanna’s recent obscenity-laden tyrade against Terrell Owens on this summer’s reality show The Superstars could make her look a bit, er, “witchy” in the eyes of female viewers.  But the ladies love Derek Hough (ask Heidi!), and they want to keep him in the competition to watch him week after week.  Not only that, but I find Derek’s choreography to be very clever and entertaining (think last season’s “Jailhouse Rock” jive with Lil Kim), so this pair could get by on Derek’s skill & popularity alone.  They’re also both young & good-looking, which seems to be an advantage in romantic dances like the rumba & waltz.

8.) Kathy Ireland & Tony Dovolani – Echoing my sentiments above, models seem to really struggle on this show (remember first-round cast-offs Josie Maran & Paulina Porizkova?).  However, Kathy Ireland seems to be one of the world’s most recognizable supermodels, appearing in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue 13 years in a row, as well as owning a clothing line and writing 5 books.  I think her level of fame could keep her around for a little while.  Tony is a fairly experienced pro on the show, too, so maybe their collective “fame” will help carry them through week after week.  They’re also well matched in stature (she’s 5’10″; he’s over 6′), which actually makes more of a difference (especially in the smooth dances, such as the waltz & foxtrot) than you might think!

9.) Ashley Hamilton & Edyta Sliwinska – I had to really rack my brain to think of a movie that Ashley had been in – and all I came up with was Beethoven’s 2nd (he was Nicholle Tom’s sleazy boyfriend).  I did, however, remember his reputation as a bit of a partier, and his infamous 5-month marriage to Shannon Doherty.  Oh, and he’s season 2 celeb George Hamilton’s son.  I daresay Ashley might have a bit more to prove on the show given his iffy recognizability (on many messages boards I encountered, people thought he was a girl!), but he’s got Edyta, the only pro to be on all 9 seasons of the show, and they both are attractive individuals.  If Ashley really works hard, I could see him moving up in the ranks.

10.) Natalie Coughlin & Alec Mazo – Olympic athletes seem to really thrive on the show (think Shawn Johnson & Apolo Ohno), so I think Natalie might have a lot to prove.  But she is an athlete, so she may be able to withstand the grueling pace of the show.  She has Alec, who, despite having choreography that the judges like, always seems to blend into the background for me.  I fear that this pair might get lost in the shuffle, and may get forgotten by America when it comes time to vote. 

11.) Michael Irvin & Anna Demidova – I’m a bit indecisive about this couple: on one hand, Michael is a former NFL Hall-of-Famer, and NFL players have generally done well on the show – however, he is also no stranger to controversy, having a few brushes with the law throughout the years.  I fear that viewers might not like that, and may not vote as a result, even if he is quite good.  But he does have Anna, who proved herself during last year’s pro competition and was voted by America to be part of this season’s cast, so she’s got a following…she also seems to know how to bring out the best in her partner, as evidenced by her tango with Maurice Greene last season.  I have my fingers crossed with this pair as well – I would really like to see more of Anna.

12.) Chuck Liddell & Anna Trebunskaya – Not gonna lie – Chuck scares me! He’s a very intimidating guy,but I guess that comes with the territory when you’re a mixed-martial arts champion.  So here’s my dilemma: the only precedents we have for professional “fighters” on the show are Evander Holyfield (the 2nd contestant voted out in season 1) and Floyd Mayweather (4th voted out in season 5) – and neither did exceedingly well.  I fear that Chuck may fall prey to the problem of being rather “heavy” on his feet – however, he is extremely strong (which helps with lifts & stunts), and is obviously no stranger to grueling training, so he may be able to push through and really improve week after week.  Anna has been out of the DWTS game since season 6 (due to the fact that she was one of the top ranked International Latin competitors in the country and was still competing as a pro – not an easy feat!), so she may not have quite as much of a following as some of the other pros…however, I think that at least some of Chucks MMA fans might tune in and vote for him, which could tip the scales in their favor.

13.) Louie Vito & Chelsie Hightower – Some of you are probably very shocked about my placement of this couple – let me explain.  I think these two may have a lot of work to do based solely on the fact that not many people outside of the extreme sports venue have heard of Louie Vito (to quote my mother, “Wasn’t he in The Godfather?”).  Looking back to previous seasons of DWTS, we can see that decent dancers are often voted out before their time simply because they don’t have the fan base to vote for them (I thought Ted McGinley in season 7 was great – but no one seemed to know who he was!) However, Louie is an athlete, so he is definitely not a stranger to getting physical, and Chelsie has some popularity from both her time on SYTYCD & last season of DWTS.  If these two hit the ground running the first week and keep up the good work, they could be around for awhile.

14.) Kelly Osbourne & Louis Van Amstel –  Oh Kelly…I sincerely hope your years as a foul-mouthed teen on The Osbournes and stint in rehab have not disgraced you in the eyes of the American public! While I adore Kelly’s quirky, edgy style and multiple tattoos, I don’t know that the rest of America will, and may not vote as a result.  However, Kelly has lost quite a bit of weight through diet and exercise in recent years, so she may surprise us all.  Louis has also been away from the pro role on DWTS since season 6, but he has definitely not fallen off the radar, performing in group numbers on the show & choreographing for the most recent season of SYTYCD.

15.) Macy Gray & Jonathan Roberts – Macy has been out of the spotlight for a few years now (her last album came out in 2007), and Jonathan has been as well (he returned last season after being absent since season 6, only to be voted out the first round).  I worry this could hinder them in votes, as well as the fact that Macy is not an athlete – I think having at least some experience in a sport (or any form of movement) seems to help when learning any kind of dance, so compared to a lot of her competition this season, Macy may be at a disadvantage.  She does, however, have an advantage in the fact that she is a mother of 3, which may endear her to the many moms that tune into the show. 

16.) Tom DeLay & Cheryl Burke – Poor, poor Cheryl Burke.  Someone had to take him on this season, and I guess she drew the short straw.  At 62, he is the oldest contestant this season (and a non-athlete), so he may not be able to keep up with young, athletic powerhouses like Louie & Natalie.  He’s also a former politician – a disgraced former politician.  I think that alone will make him hard for America to rally behind, and may be his undoing in this competition.  However, we have no precedents for politicians on the show, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see how the votes fall. I have a feeling that any chance of success this pair has this season will hinge upon Cheryl’s instruction and choreography.  She’s a two-time DWTS champ, and is known for her “tough love” approach to teaching, which seems to bring out the best in her partners…so if anyone can keep Tom in the competition, it’s Cheryl!

So there you have it…my initial predictions for this season’s 16 couples.  Who will end up on top and who will get stuck at the bottom of the heap? We’ll see!

August 26, 2009 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Check out some of my other work at pureamericasgottalent.com!

Dancing with the Stars Season 9 Cast – Announcement set for August 17

UPDATE: Check out the latest Dancing with the Stars Season 9 cast rumors here.

UPDATE 2: It’s official, check out the cast of Dancing with the Stars Season 9. Nice to see lots of the cast were on our rumor list.

Tom Bergeron

Yay!! Not much longer now and we’ll find out which (and how many) celebrities will be on the show for the 9th season.  The Nashville Examiner says that Tom Bergeron will make the cast announcement on Good Morning America on August 17th.

So, does anyone have any special wishes in terms of celebrity?  Have a favorite pro that you’re praying gets a good partner? My wishes are simple:

  • I want Derek to get someone he’ll sizzle (and go far) with
  • I want Maks to get someone with backbone that is good, but gives him a hard time :-)
  • I want Kym to get someone who will last a while and who isn’t old enough to be her father or a football player
  • I want Mark to get someone who will challenge him (i.e. non-olympian or person with NO  previous dance experience – but NOT another Kim K.)
  • I want Jonathon to get someone younger than his norm
  • I want Cheryl to get Kym’s typical partner 😉
  • Karina? Give her someone who has a shot for a change
  • I want to see Lacey dance with Derek, really – she’s gotten interesting celebs her two times out, she’ll likely get one again
  • Chelsie…hmmmm.  I dunno, she did great with Ty. She’s a toss up. I expect her to fill the Julianne slot.
  • Tony had two good partners this past season, but he’s been under utilized so give him another good one. Or at least, one who appears to be good on paper. 😉
  • Anna has a guaranteed shot at a celebrity, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be good – I would say they have to give her someone tall, but she danced great with Derek and he’s no giant. Any suggestions?
  • Did I not mention your favorite? Tell me.  I personally am not a big Alec/Edyta/Louis fan, but I don’t dislike them at all. Plus, Louis is working for So You Think You Can Dance, so I think it unlikely he’ll be back. Particularly since SYTYCD is going to a two season per year format and will be overlapping with DWTS on tuesday nights this coming season.

    July 18, 2009 I Written By

    I'm a nerd and proud of it. Two degrees in geology also means I love BEER. :-) I'm also a Derek lover - proud of that too. So don't scream at those of us on this site and call us a bunch of "biased Derek-lovers" - it's just ME. :-) It may sound like I hate DWTS at times, but really, I'm just a snarky nitpicker from way back. And I'm cynical and jaded too. But I do love DWTS. :-)

    The Emmy Nominations – Does DWTS have a Shot at the Choreography Statuette?

    Or any other statue for that matter? :-)  (NOTE: Nominations are announced July 16th at 11:30 eastern) We tend to focus on the choreo nominations – mainly because it’s the one we care most about and it’s also the most difficult. So, do you think any of the DWTS pros will be nominated for an Emmy this year? Don’t forget those like Travis Wall who came on and choreographed dances.  If so, which dances will get a nomination? What dances do you WANT to see get a nomination? I think it will be a tough year to get a nomination, but if anyone from DWTS does it will likely be Derek or Mark or Sharna…or Travis. I have to review some videos to figure out my guesses. I’m not sure that anyone else had anything Emmy worthy. Here are the rules you need to know:

    • The eligibility period is June 1, 2014 through May 31, 2015. HOWEVER, because of submission requirements, it’s very possible that the last few weeks of Season 20 may not be eligible. It’s hard to say. All entries must be submitted by May 4th, but you can modify your entry until May 31st.  Meaning that if a choreographer has a better dance after May 4th, they can switch out one of the ones submitted on May 4th.  There is also normally a DVD submission deadline that falls after May 4th and they probably have to make that. Usually, I believe the last two to three weeks of the spring season don’t get submitted because of the DVD deadline. It has to be shown on TV and a DVD of that airing submitted. Obviously, because the show is live, if it hasn’t aired, it also can’t be recorded to DVD and submitted.
    • All that said…if Derek (for example) submitted three dances, he has until May 31st to substitute, so he could replace one dance with a later one if he liked it better – IF the DVD submission deadline is after the end of the season. We’re not sure.
    • The great news is that the previous yes/no vote for a nomination is now a numerical score – I think this increases the possibility of a nomination.
    • An individual achievement is typically only eligible for one nomination. That said, pros could be nominated alone AND as part of a team nomination – this is what happened a couple years ago when Derek was nominated solo and then with Allison Holker. BUT, if he has 10 great dances that he choreographed solo, he can only have ONE nomination and he has to narrow down his entry to three dances.
    • Finally, based on all of the above, DWTS Season 19 and most (or all) of Season 20 are eligible and last summers SYTYCD is eligible.

    I’m gonna start my speculation by stating straight up – it will be very difficult for someone from DWTS to get a nomination this year, including Derek. There just wasn’t that much that stood out and, unfortunately, the dances have to be WAY better than anything seen on SYTYCD in order to get a nomination. Why? Well, Courtney and I have discussed this many times and the fact is that most dancers (and, hence, people voting on nominations) are going to be contemporary or perhaps Jazz/Broadway dancers. Most can’t do Ballroom and don’t care about ballroom. I’ve heard that they think Ballroom has no depth of feeling and is too technical (B.S. – of course they say that because they can’t DO it well). So technical that it can be passion-less. Again, utter B.S. But that is the sad fact of it. And of course, most of the time, the pros on DWTS are dancing with amateurs, while the choreographers on SYTYCD are choreographing for professional dancers. Like it or not, execution does matter.  Just look at some of the dances that were nominated the last two seasons. …Read more

    July 12, 2015 I Written By

    I'm a nerd and proud of it. Two degrees in geology also means I love BEER. :-) I'm also a Derek lover - proud of that too. So don't scream at those of us on this site and call us a bunch of "biased Derek-lovers" - it's just ME. :-) It may sound like I hate DWTS at times, but really, I'm just a snarky nitpicker from way back. And I'm cynical and jaded too. But I do love DWTS. :-)

    Dancing With The Stars Live Tour Interview With Peta Murgatroyd And Witney Carson, Another Press Review

    Just a few media items for the Dancing With The Stars Live Tour. First, Peta Murgatroyd and Witney Carson talked with Richmond.com about the new tour and Dancing With The Stars. Here is a take with Peta below. More at the link with Witney.

    Fans of the show will get to see a variety of new dances during the tour — some choreographed by the show’s professional dancers and others by choreographer Mandy Moore.

    Professional dancer Peta Murgatroyd hopes the experience of touring will bring the dancers even closer together. “I am thinking the touring side is where you get to do your bonding,” she said, speaking from Los Angeles and joking about the “tight quarters” on the bus. “The pros are like family. We have a great time. We have mutual respect for one another.”

    Murgatroyd danced on Broadway before joining “Dancing with the Stars.” Originally trained in ballet, she competed in ballroom competitions from ages 17 to 21. “Ballroom is extremely different than ballet,” she said. “I had to throw away a lot that I learned in ballet. I didn’t know what I was doing at first. With ballroom, you have free range to do what you want with your artistry. It’s an amazing art form.” She thinks that shows such as “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Dancing with the Stars” have brought ballroom to the forefront. “Before, it was boring and uncool, something your grandparents did. It wasn’t for young people,” she said. “Now, ballroom dancing is on another level.”

    Working on “Dancing with the Stars” is intensive. Professional dancers mentor their celebrity partners at least five hours a day, seven days a week during the competition. “We have a lot on our plate,” Carson said. “We have to come up with choreography, wardrobe and production. You have to please the fans, and you have to please the celebrity. I always want my celebrity walking away like he had the best experience possible.” She and the other pros will only have about 72 hours off after the tour ends before they begin mentoring new celebrities for the winter season of the television show. “We are going nonstop,” Carson said, adding that the workload doesn’t bother her. “This is a passion of mine. It’s something I have wanted for some time.”

    Also, here’s a review from MassLive.com. This review says this show is a “vast improvement” from their first.

    Clearly, Willis has the moves and voice to succeed on Broadway.

    In addition to Chmerkovskiy, “DWTS” pros Peta Murgatroyd, Witney Carson, Artem Chigvintsev, Keo Motsepe, and Emma Slater strutted their stuff alongside troupe dancers Alan Bersten, Brittany Cherry, Sasha Farber and Jenna Johnson.

    With a lineup heavy on professionals and light on celebrities, the Mohegan Sun Arena crowd was treated to 90 minutes of top flight ballroom dancing, including a lively jive set to “Jump, Jive an’ Wail” and performed by Slater and Farber.

    Melissa Rycroft, who was the Season 15 champion, was a congenial hostess for the night. A recent knee injury kept her off the dance floor, but she moved the evening along at a brisk pace.

    The current tour is a vast improvement over a previous trek, which played the Mohegan Sun Arena in January.

    Gone was the poorly scripted banter between the participants and a greater emphasis was placed on dancing.

    Chmerkovskiy, Murgatroyd and Carson, all “DWTS” champs, were clearly crowd favorites.

    More at MassLive.com.

    June 21, 2015 I Written By

    I'm a fashion and music fan....and I have always loved dancing too of any kind. Dancing With The Stars seems to have this way of bringing all of those things together. One of my favorite dancing quotes at the moment: "No matter what, nobody can take away the dance you've already had...." ~Gleb Savchenko . For fun music and dance mixes, visit WilUnleashed Soundcloud. To view my photography site, see Lisa Kay Photography.