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

 After a brief hiatus to accomodate all of the hoopla of the revealing of the 13th couple, I’m back with another edition of my series examining the highs and lows of our all-stars’ original seasons.  As always, if you’re playing catch-up, check out the previous editions with Kelly Monaco, Emmitt Smith, Drew Lachey, Joey Fatone, & Apolo Ohno 🙂 Today I take on season 5 winner, Helio Castroneves. 

I picked his Mask-inspired quickstep as Helio’s best dance:


And for his worst dance, I chose he & Julianne’s bizarrely chilly rumba:

 First, I feel like I have to get this off of my chest: I do not think Helio was the best dancer on his season, and I actually think he was one of the weaker champions we’ve had, in terms of dance skill.  The one big advantage he had, though, was personality – in BUCKETLOADS.  😀 I think that’s ultimately what won him the MBT over Mel B. – while she herself was a big personality, I feel as though he managed to endear himself to viewers a bit more, and generated a stronger chemistry with Julianne than Mel maybe had with Maks.  I think his quickstep is a perfect example of how his chemistry with Julianne & his personality carried him through to the end – he was just so FUN.  Plus, he seemed to really excel at the ballroom dances, which seems to be an area in which even the best male contestants seem to falter.  However, when you take a closer look at his quickstep, you’ll see that he sometimes tends to get so carried away with the character of the dance, that he loses a bit of the technique – a problem similar to Joey’s.  And judging from he & Julianne’s rumba, in which he couldn’t really play a character, his weaker technique seemed to stick out like a sore thumb…and his chemistry with Julianne also suffered.  To date, I still think it’s one of the strangest, least romantic rumbas we’ve ever seen on the show…and as I recall, the judges seemed kind of horrified by it.  I think he & Chelsie are REALLY going to have to work on their chemistry, first and foremost, if they want to stick around – and if they can forge a good chemistry, then I think it’s on Chelsie to strike a balance between making Helio focus on technique, and still giving him the opportunity to be a showman. I do think they’re going to have to make a big splash, though, and they’re going to have to do it soon – because they’re kind of becoming this season’s “forgotten” couple for me: the couple that I always struggle to remember when I’m listing off all of the couples this season, because they haven’t yet made a huge impression on me. 

Court’s verdict: I think Helio’s success this season is seriously going to hinge upon whether he’s able to really connect with Chelsie – and if she’s going to be able to choreograph to suit both his technical weaknesses and his strengths as a showman. 

What’s your take on Helio? Is he going to struggle this season…or will he & Chelsie surprise us all?