On Dancing with the Stars, more than one celebrity dancer has succumbed to the curse of inequitable fame and endearing personalities. Can it, or should it, be helped?
Pairing celebrities with professional ballroom dancers should produce an entertaining dance competition that ultimately crowns the best dancer as the winner. But that's not always how it happens on ABC's hit show, Dancing With the Stars.
To date, sixteen celebrities in the Dancing With the Stars series have claimed the show's mirror-ball trophy. The Season One through Season Sixteen winners are:
- Kelly Monaco, actress
- Drew Lachey, singer
- Emmitt Smith, football player
- Apolo Anton Ohno, speed skater
- Helio Castroneves, racecar driver
- Kristi Yamaguchi, figure skater
- Brooke Burke, actress
- Shawn Johnson, gymnist
- Donny Osmond, singer
- Nicole Scherzinger, singer
- Jennifer Grey, actress
- Hines Ward, football player
- J.R. Martinez, actor
- Donald Driver, football player
- Melissa Rycroft, reality show contestant, TV host
- Kellie Pickler, singer
The Season Seventeen winner is yet to be determined, but when the trophy is awarded, will that victory be a reflection of the winner's superior dance ability? Maybe.
The Jerry Springer, Cloris Leachman, Steve Wozniak, Carson Kressley Factor
While the judges cast their votes based on ballroom dance expertise, the viewers repeatedly vote with their hearts. Emotions trump technical skill. Likeability and empathy outweigh talent, and to the public, entertainment value matters most.
Further, when judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli dare to deride a favored celebrity, the wagons circle in protection, and people rally behind those celebrities perceived to have been unjustly wronged. This often results in the elimination of a better overall dancer while a less technically gifted, but more entertaining and more endearing, celebrity moves on in the competition.
It Pays to Play NFL Football
Football players have a particularly strong following on Dancing with the Stars. When NFL players compete they are likely to do very well. In fact, in the first four seasons, four football players competed. Two of them won, while the other two finished second.
How is this striking statistic explained? How can four out of four football players finish in the top two? Are football players simply better dancers than celebrities from other mediums? Sometimes yes. Sometimes no. But America is a football-loving nation. That devotion insures a broad fan base and appears to guarantee football players a long run in the competition. As early elimination is not likely, it gives them time to grow as dancers.
Others are not so fortunate. Regardless of his or her dancing prowess, a lesser-known celebrity with a smaller fan base may have the most difficult time lasting in the competition.
Does Maksim Chmerkovskiy Make a Difference?
Another factor that may influence how a celebrity fares in the competition is the behavior of his or her professional partner. With his talent and style, professional dancer, Maksim Chmerkovsky, won the hearts and admiration of millions, easily becoming one of the most popular Dancing with the Stars pros. His controversial interview comments, however, began to cast a shadow over his popularity. After each questionable comment, Internet message boards soon filled with derogatory remarks directed toward him.
Does the behavior of a professional dancer influence the eventual outcome for that pro's celebrity partner? Human nature suggests that the likely answer is "yes". Just ask Derek Hough, the dancing pro with the most mirrorball trophies. Not only is Derek a brilliant choreographer, he's kind to his partners. He always exhibits a caring about them, and he showcases their talents first, before his own significant skills, and that generosity shows.
The Public's Winner
In the end, the public speaks. If the best celebrity dancer does not win,
then he or she does so at the hands of those who voted. Not everyone who
watches votes. If all viewers voted, would it change the outcome? Should it
matter? Dancing with the Stars is first and foremost an entertainment TV show.
If it continues to produce ratings and water cooler buzz, it is more than doing its job.
Should anyone care that the best dancer may not win? As with any
election, that's up to the voters to decide.