Every season, “Dancing With the Stars” has one contestant that clearly cannot dance, has no natural rhythm, very little potential to improve, and yet is voted through every week on popularity or pity, or really, for any number of inexplicable reasons.
In Season 11, that contestant is Bristol Palin.
I confess, I actually phoned in and voted one time, just once, for Bristol. It was the week of the gorilla suits, heaven help me. I didn’t vote for her out of pity, or because of my political affiliations. I’m not a big fan of abstinence or of her mother, Sarah Palin. I voted for Bristol that week because of Mark Ballas. As Bristol stood frozen in fear and forgetfulness, pink tutu quivering before a packed live audience and millions of television viewers, right beside her was Mark Ballas dancing his little gorilla-suited heart out. His was the effort of a pro determined that the show must go on, and that deserved a vote.
[Photos: See photos of “Dancing With the Stars” Season 11 performances here.]
The special 200th episode of “Dancing With the Stars” gave viewers a chance to look back on some of our favorite pros since Season 1. With encore showings of viewers’ choices for the Top Ten Dances, and the award for Biggest Dancer Transformation, we really got to see which of the pros have stood out from the rest and become audience favorites:
Derek Hough Always showing his originality with choreography (remember that Paso Doble from the future?), even nitpicky judge Len compliments him on choreography repeatedly.
Maksim Chmerkovskiy A “stubborn Russian” as Erin Andrews called him (although he’s actually Ukrainian) but a capable pro and generous dance partner. Also, much more attractive without the ponytail he had in earlier seasons.
Cheryl Burke Determined and talented, she led her partners Drew Lachey and Emmitt Smith in back-to-back winning seasons. She also has her own clothing line and dance studio. And she’ s only 26.
Mark Ballas Accomplished enough dancer to make Bristol Palin look slightly less awkward, he consistently and adorably coordinates his high-water pants with an assortment of glittery socks.
Lacey Schwimmer Like fellow pro Chelsie Hightower, she’s a recruit from “So You Think You Can Dance.” And she likely won quite a few female fans when she stood up to remarks from Maks and Louis Van Amstel about her (and Cheryl’s) slight weight gain in 2008.
There are more favorite pros, of course, like Chelsie, Louis, Anna Trebunskaya, Tony Dovolani, and Kym Johnson, and it’s not a coincidence that these stand-out pros are partnered each season with the celebrities having the most potential to move forward in the competition. (Notice I didn’t say the celebrities with the most dancing potential.) When the celebrity is voted out, viewers are denied the enjoyment of watching their favorite pros dance each week, too.
[Vote: Which professional dancer brings the better coreography to the competition?]
Would Bristol have made it so far in the competition if she had been partnered with, say, Damian? He’s an awesome dancer, but not the most-recognized of the pros. Celebrity contestants come and go, but viewers have come to know and admire these pro dancers over eleven seasons and we have our favorites.
What do you think? Who is your favorite pro dancer? Do you find yourself voting for the pros as much as the celebrities?
[Related: Famous Authors I Want to See on “Dancing With the Stars”]