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.

2014 Choreo Nominations

Derek Hough – Human / Ameska / Too Darn Hot
Travis Wall – Hanging by a Thread / Wicked Game / Medicine
Nappytabs – Puttin’ on the Ritz / Gold Rush / Run the World (Winner)
Mandy Moore – Edge of Glory / Feelin’ Good / I Can’t Make You Love Me
Christopher Scott – Trigger / Sand / The Gravel Road

2013 Choreo Nominations

Derek Hough/Allison Holker – Heart Cry / Stars
Derek Hough – Hey Pachuco / Para Los Rumberos / Walking On Air (Winner)
Warren Carlyle – Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel (Live From Lincoln Center)
Sonya Tayeh – Possibly Maybe / Turning Page / Sail
Mandy Jo Moore – The Power Of Love / Wild Horses
Nappy Tabs – Call Of The Wild (Circle Of Life) / Love Cats / Beautiful People
Travis Wall – Where The Light Gets In / Without You / Unchained Melody

Watch the above dances and tell me honestly if anything from DWTS the last two seasons really compares. Not surprising, considering that most on DWTS are not trained dancers, like I said. Most of the choreographers, if they are ABLE to choreograph to this level, just can’t because their celeb can’t handle it.  But many or most of the dances that got nominated the last two years were  VERY different from most things shown on DWTS and many were *special* in some way. Derek’s were very special and there were many by the other choreographers that I  loved. By the same token, I look at some of them and say to myself that they really weren’t THAT amazing – but they are in a genre the Emmy favors. And that ain’t ballroom. And the majority of DWTS choreographers can’t do contemporary, jazz or hip hop on the same level of those on SYTYCD. They weren’t trained in it.

Watch Chris Scott’s “Sand”, Derek’s “Walking on Air”, NappyTabs “Puttin’ on the Ritz” (which Mandy Moore ‘borrowed’ in concept for DWTS) or Travis’ “Wicked Game” (to see REAL contemporary from someone other than Derek) and ask yourself, honestly, if anything from DWTS the past two seasons comes close to these dances.

Okay, some things I keep in mind when trying to guess what might get a nomination from DWTS. First,  it’s unlikely to be a contemporary or a jazz dance. Why? Because DWTS is going up against professional contemporary/jazz dancers and choreographers. Derek is the only one that can touch any of them and then it likely has to be highly emotional (Amy) or with another professional.  Allison can touch him in dancing it, but in choreographing it? Only this past season has she really come into her own as a choreographer and I’m still not convinced, as much as I love her as a dancer.  Her previous nominations were with Derek. Second, it has to have been very well executed, with few exceptions.  Third, it is likely to be odd or unusual in some way; DWTS dances have to REALLY stand out because they are ballroom dancers going against contemporary choreographers with NO RULES.  Fourth, it is most likely to be a pro dance (and this is part of why I hesitate to say DWTS will get a nom this year). One only has to look at DWTS history of nominations to see that this is usually true.  Either a pro dance or something odd/different.

2014 – Derek, shown above, 2 dances with Amy and a Pro Dance
2013 – Derek, shown above, 2 Dances with Shawn and a pro dance, plus two pro dances (2nd nomination)
2012 – Travis Wall/Teddy Forance/Nick Lazzarini – pro dance
2011 – Mark Ballas, three dances with Chelsea Kane
2010 – Derek/Chelsie – pro dance AND Futuristic Paso Doble” and Quickstep to”Anything Goes” (2nd nom – Nicole and Joanna)
2009 – Derek/Julianne – pro dance
2008 – Julianne – Mambo with Helio
2007 – Louis – pro dance
2006 (Pre-SYTYCD) – Cheryl (freestyle), Tony (Jive), Cheryl/Nick Kosovich (Paso) – not sure if these were pro dances or freestyles, not that it matters since it was pre-SYTYCD

Anyway, there were lots of great dances on DWTS the past two seasons. That’s not the same thing as thinking they are Emmy worthy. Here is my narrowed down list, which consists of what I would submit if I were them and what strikes *me* as memorable:

Derek: Singing in the Rain (Bethany), Charleston (Sadie), Jive (Nastia), Freestyle (Bethany)
Derek w/Tessandra Chavez for Elastic Heart, IF he did more than concept
Mark: Duck Samba (Sadie), Freestyle (Sadie – although that’s more concept that choreo)
Witney: Carlton Jazz and Freestyle (Alfonso)
Sharna: Tango, Contemporary, Paso Doble (question if CAI sneaks in there with concept)
Travis/Shaping Sound: for their pro dance
Mandy Moore: All Female pro dance, Season 19

Looking at my list of what I think has potential, I don’t see a nomination coming out of DWTS this year UNLESS it’s for either Sharna or a non-DWTS pro.  I think Tessandra has a shot and I think Sharna has a better than even chance for a stellar body of work with Noah. It IS a choreo nomination and although the execution was shaky at times, choreographing for Noah is probably the hardest thing that’s ever been done in dance, period. That she got several amazing dances out of it is worthy of at least a nomination.  I don’t think either Mandy or Travis are really worthy of a nomination for the DWTS work, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see either, since their work is what the academy typically goes for. Which is why I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Derek up there, although I doubt it. Since SYTCD has been on the air, the academy only sees fit to give DWTS one choreo nomination a year (if that) with the rare exception of Derek, who has snagged two in a year in 2010 and 2013. I don’t think it’s his year this time, however, no matter how much I love his dances.

So, my prediction is that Sharna or Tessandra will get the single nomination for DWTS although I won’t be surprised if NO ONE does.

My second prediction is that Travis Wall will win the actual Emmy for his body of work on SYTYCD, which included dances like “Wind Beneath My Wings” and “Wave” – I often feel he’s over rated, but when he nails it, he nails it.

Let’s see what Courtney and Vogue think about the Emmy’s this year:

When Miss Heidi first approached Court and I with the idea of this post, so many dances came flooding back to me from Season 19 and 20. As you can see from my list, not only do I like strong and creative choreography. I like artistic, theatrical, and big productions….those that give me that special big “moment”. This is who I think are most deserving for an Emmy nod from Dancing With The Stars Season 19 and 20. I marked the dances in “bold” that I think have the most potential:

DWTS 19:
Derek & Bethany Mota – I loved the “Singing In The Rain” performance. They blew me away with it, and I would love to see it nominated, but, I also loved their “Run Boy Run” Paso Doble from DWTS Week 7 was in another element. Gone was Bethany’s youthfullness, fear, and nervousness. She grew up into a “woman” right before our eyes with this dance. There was a super intensity and fire. The choreographing by Derek was just superb. Their costumes and make up …just perfection.

Sadie & Mark – Another stand out dance that deserves an Emmy nod in my opinion is Sadie & Mark’s week 7 Paso Doble. It was like watching ‘The Walking Dead’ meets ‘Thriller’. So creative and theatrical. The production and costumes were off the hook.

The choreographer (??) to Allison Holker and Maddie Ziegler dance to Sia’s live performance of “Chandelier” on the Dancing with the Stars Top 12 results show. I remember some fans saying this dance was just so odd to them, but, I thought it was pure magnificence. The emotion was just fierce in every move. It gave me a huge “moment”.

DWTS 20:
Allison Holker, Jenna Johnson, and Travis Wall’s “Shaping Sound” dance in Week 8 to “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes. It was so sexy and clever the way they danced in cornered rooms. I loved the red lighting too. Fierce and so cool.

Derek & Nastia – I loved every one of their dances so much, but, their most stand out dance which deserves an Emmy nod in my opinion was their “Charleston” Subway dance. Leave it to Derek to find a way to dance while sitting (since he was hurt). It felt just like we were all in a subway with them. I loved the slow motion, blurry effects too in part of it. The “movement” was just brilliant and in an element of it’s own.

Riker & Allison – Another huge stand out of DWTS 20 was Riker & Allison’s “Pirates Of The Caribbean” Paso Doble dance. I’ll never forget that feeling afterwards. It was a huge huge “moment”. The costumes and make up were out of this world. Allison’s choreography could not be more perfect for it. Their dancing was off the hook. Riker was so into his part, he convinced me he was indeed “Jack Sparrow”.

Mark & Willow – Three dances: their “Fire and Ice” Paso Doble from week 3, their contemporary “Hunger Games” dance from week 4, and their “Alice In Wonderland” dance from week 5. Mark really stepped up his choreography (like he did in the previous season). It was so cool to see Willow embrace Mark’s choreography the way she did. So theatrical, clever, and artistic.

Sharna & Noah – Their contemporary dance. They soared into a heaven of their own with it. Their lifts were so full of art, muscle, grace, and creativity. It was one of those “defining” moments.

Derek, Julianne, Sia “Elastic Heart” dance choreographed by Tessandra Chavez. The concept was just brilliant. They covered all of their bases with emotion in their dancing for what it’s like to be siblings including the very worst. I also loved the clever production and the way the furniture moved. So so cool.


Heidi & Vogue hit on most of the ones I would have chosen, so I’m just gonna offer up some thoughts and a few others I think might be on the radar.  I think Derek has the best shot at a nom with he & Bethany’s “Singin’ in the Rain” jazz,  and he & Nastia’s Charleston & jive.  Having a hard time recalling any of the pro dances he may have choreographed in the past 2 seasons…were there any? I think Witney might have a shot with she & Alfonso’s jazz, salsa, and freestyle – but I have to wonder if the sheer campiness of them (what with the inclusion of the Fresh Prince references) might end up hurting her…I’m just picturing a bunch of haughty, intellectual, Mia Michaels-esque contemporary choreographers turning up their noses at just how “fun” the routines are, despite how well-executed and performed they may be.  ‘Cause dance is all about ANGST, y’know 😉 I think Mark might have a shot with the Duck Dynasty samba, the Up Viennese waltz, and the Adam & Eve contemporary he did with Sadie – the latter in particular seems like the type of routine that those contemporary choreographers just eat up.  But again – I wonder if the campiness of the samba might hurt his chances. Sharna’s probably got a good shot with Noah’s contemporary and freestyle (if the latter is eligible), but I have a feeling that his paso would have to be split off into a shared nomination with Carrie Ann, since CAI did contribute choreography. As for Allison – part of me wonders if she might actually have it a bit easier than some of our other pros, simply because she lauded as a deity of sorts amongst the contemporary dance community; the fact that she tends to break the rules of DWTS quite a bit may also bode well for those in the anti-ballroom camp.  I, like Lisa, think she might have a chance with Riker’s pirate paso, and perhaps his contemporary and freestyle (if they’re eligible – both were in the last 2 weeks of the season); the jazz trio they did with Brittney could also be subbed in, in a pinch.  I also thought that she might have a shot with Jonathan’s Men in Black jazz – the version that they performed during the season 19 finale, with Twitch. 

I’m sure there some that are going to be CLAMORING for a Val nom, since he’s uber-special and has some fancy schmancy gold MBT now *eye roll*, but I think he, more than any other pro on the show, seems to suffer from the “strictly ballroom” syndrome that makes it nary impossible to get noticed by the ever-present contemporary squad that turns its nose up to ballroom and carries a lot of weight on the voting.  I’m sure he probably submitted the Ursula samba (which, despite the campiness, is still too chock full o’ samba to please the contemporary squad), and possibly the disco salsa; but everything else is too ballroom or too…well, weak, I think, in order to be competitive.  I think the Swan Lake contemporary is probably going to be moot, since a) Bruno was a co-choreographer, and b) it’s a ballet routine where the main dancer has no ballet experience and doesn’t do any pointe work. 

As for the non-DWTS pro nods – I’m sure Travis is gonna get recognized for the “Seven Nation Army” wall routine he did on one of the results shows (despite the fact that I think it’s one of the weaker, less inspired routines we’ve seen from him), and Lil Miss Mandy is gonna submit one or more routines of the female DWTS pros flipping their hair like Beyoncé (forgive me, but I’m finding Mandy’s choreography to be more and more one-dimensional, as the seasons progress).  I could only stomach watching about half of SYTYCD last season (and I’m not watching it AT ALL this season), so I’m not sure what DWTS is up against…but I’m sure Nigel will be out in full-force on Twitter, bragging on the usual suspects: Travis, Tabitha & Napoleon (always hated the moniker “Nappytabs), Sonya, Chris Scott, etc. But I do think this is yet another season where DWTS is gonna need divine intervention to get more than 1 nod in this category…let alone actually WIN anything.