'DWTS': Voting for your fave pro (and why it's not always such a bad idea)

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Anyone who considers themselves a real fan of Dancing With the Stars should have been disappointed to see Wendy Williams leave the competition — not because she was a decent dancer, but because it meant Tony Dovolani lost another chance at winning the mirror ball trophy. At least he’s not alone. Other fan favorites like Maksim Chmerkovkiy, Edyta Sliwinska, Anna Trebunskaya and Lacey Schwimmer have yet to join the winner’s circle during the show’s 10-year history — though the Ukrainian hoofer might have a chance to finally prevail this spring (as long he and partner Kirstie Alley avoid any more mishaps).

So would it be wrong for viewers to cast their votes based solely on the pros? Mark Ballas thinks so. “It’s a team,” he said this week. “They vote for a team, how we get along together. It’s not about each individual.” Then again, it’s easy for him to say: He’s won two times. Ask the others who haven’t waltzed away with a win, and the answers are very different. “At the end of the day, this show has become not just about the celebrities, but people who are falling in love with the pros,” said Chelsie Hightower, who has only gone as far as the semi-finals with partner Ty Murray. “I think they should be voting for whoever they want to vote for.”

In fact, Trebunskaya thinks it’s entirely reasonable for viewers to vote only for their favorite pros — even if their celebrity partners are burdened with two left feet. (After all, the repeat wins by Derek Hough and his sister Julianne have been credited, in part, to their huge popularity.) “The beauty of this competition is to see the celebrity growing and changing too,” said Trebunskaya, who made it to the finals with Jerry Rice and Evan Lysacek. “But the viewers are getting to know the pros, too. At the end of the day, a good performance is a good performance. If it’s exciting, they’ll vote for us.”

It always helps when the pros are paired with drama-free dancers who know how to move. Before he had Williams, Dovolani was stuck with Kate Gosselin and the awkward Kathy Ireland, while Derek Hough was blessed with the agile Brooke Burke, Nicole Scherzinger and Jennifer Grey. Then again, both of the Houghs have a real knack for choreography that showcases their celeb partners — which is why EW’s Annie Barrett thinks the pros should ultimately dictate how the public votes.

“I’m not a voting girl, but if I were, I’d definitely vote for my favorite pro as long as his or her partner wasn’t blatantly phoning it in,” Barrett told ITV. “I think a lot of the good vibes viewers get out of DWTS isn’t necessarily the 90-second dash of glitter you see on the floor, but the glimpses of the actual star-pro relationships that build (and sometimes break!) throughout the season. After about week 4 or 5, you’re rooting for the couple and not just the star. It’s really all about our pros, anyway — we all know it! Just admit it!”

What do you think? (Additional reporting from Carrie Borzillo)

Comments (46 total) Add your comment
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  • Gillian

    Anna’s made the finals twice. The first time with Jerry Rice in season 2.

  • Lynette

    I heart Maks.

    • sam

      the pros come up with the dances, they have to teach the stars — so they are very much a part of a winning team. This season makes me miss Derek even more. But my fav pros are Mark ballas, karina smirnoff, maks, cheryl — i’m pretty much mentioning everyone LOL. I wish that producers and edyta would work things out and bring her back!

  • Lynne

    I heart Maks. He is mine!

  • Mirrorballus Citizen

    I’m an occasional voter. My votes are based on not only who I like, but how I think America is going to vote as well. Most of my votes this season have gone to Petra and Dmitry. I like other contestants better, but I keep voting for her because models have done terribly on the show in the past (except Brookebot) and I don’t want her going home too early. I’m still a little bitter on Albert Reed’s elimination and that was 7 seasons ago.

    I don’t vote blindly for pros, but who you’re partnered with does have some pull in how I vote for you. It works both ways though. I do not like Karina at ALL, but Ralph has made me give up a little bit of my Karina hate to vote for him a couple of times.

    • Sparkle Girl

      Amen to your comment about Karina Mirrorballus Citizen! I’ve voted for Ralph but I can’t stand Karina either!

      • Annie fan

        Me too! Glad to learn in not alone. What is it about her?

      • Bosco

        I always feel like there’s “something going on” with her & her partner, but with Ralph, no chance! He’s too much in love with his wife, so I like Karina better this season- we’re seeing her happy side, not just her sexy side.

  • Shelby

    I only watch for the pros.

    • Dee

      Ditto. If you think about it, the pros are the most consistent thing on the show (should they return season after season). And after this season’s Dance Troupe, I realized how likable our Pros really are. I love watching them dance!

      • jen

        The Dance Troupe tickles me. Not because they are bad or anything, but I really think their purpose is two-fold. First, their presence puts less demand on the pros in having to dance so much on the result shows. Second I think the show hopes one or two of them catch on with the audience with prolonged exposure. They are going to have to have new pros and aside from the SYTYCD alums no new pro dancers seemed to have caught on with the audience since Julianne, Derek and Mark joined the ranks.

  • Heidi

    I like the transformations with dancers on the show. And I don’t get why Tony always seems to get women who really can’t move and are awkward. Give him a gorgeous, sweet mover and shaker next time!!

    • orville

      I think it has to do with which of the pros would have the most patience with a slow (or completely non-) learner. Even in his season with Gosselin, he had the patience of a saint. Can you imagine how many more high drama blow ups there would have been with someone like Maks?

  • Amy

    Sorry to be nitpicky, but the show hasn’t been going for 10 years, just 10 seasons. Regardless, I love DWTS and I love this season in particular. Great dancers and for the most part not too much drama.

    • Annie fan

      It’s not nitpicky! These are prof journalists, they should get these things right or move over to make room for those who do.

    • Raina

      I so agree! I was not two when the show started! I can clearly remember the show since the second season.

  • millie

    I’ll usually vote for Maks, but otherwise it’s tough. Except for Karina, I like all the pros.

  • Marie

    I always vote for Derek no matter who his partner is. I watch the show to watch him dance and to see his amazing choreography. I’m still watching this season, but I miss him very much. I can’t wait to see his movie next year, though!

  • Tiff

    I’ve been watching this show since it started and I vote based on celebrities and the pros. Even though I love love love Derek and Mark, I do not want either one of them to win again. It’s high time for pros like Anna, Tony, Maks and Lacey to win despite their partners.

    • Tina

      AND CHELSIE, maybe she has a chance with Romeo- but Louie was so small, Michael Bolton was terrible, Ty was not great, she deserves a solid partner or two!

  • Cecilia

    I wasn’t sure if I would watch this season after 2 seasons of Derek getting ringers as well as last seasons,um,issues.But why do they always give Tony the scrubs? And the one time they don’t(Audrina)she gets sent packing.I always try to vote for him except for the Kate thing,I thought the sooner she was gone the better for him lol.

    • Tina

      He had Melissa Rycroft and they came in 2nd, granted she was a last minute replacement for Nancy O’Dell, but she did get him to the finals! I agree though, he deserves a much higher percentage of quality partners.

  • Lucia

    I never vote for the pro. I vote for the celebrity. If you can dance and are likeable enough, you will probably get my vote. I would never vote for a poor dancer, even if they are with a pro that I like.

    • Jeze

      Same here.

  • Elizabeth

    It’s Season 12 in it’s 6th year, darling.

  • Kelly

    1. DWTS hasn’t been on the air “10 years” but since summer of ’05, i.e., 5 1/2 years.

    2. Re: fan votes “helping” Derek and Julianne win, ALL Derek’s wins were earned with the highest judges’ scores–and every partner he did NOT win with had higher scores than someone else when they were eliminated.

    Julianne won Season 5 with Helio Castroneves despite a one-point deficit BUT her partner Chuck Wicks was eliminated in Season 8 despite being FIVE points up on Melissa Rycroft.

    - Derek & Lil Kim were up 6 points over Ty Murray when they were eliminated.
    - Derek and Joanna Krupa were up 7 points over Donny Osmond and 3 points over Kelly Osbourne when they were eliminated.
    - Derek and Shannon Elizabeth were up 5 points over Cristian de la Fuente when they were eliminated.
    -Derek and Jennie Garth were up 2 points over Marie Osmond when they were eliminated.

    I’d say Derek earned those wins, and the fan vote has hurt his partners more often than not.

    • peggym

      The judges have always sucked up to Derek, and let him get away with things they called out the others for. I’m really enjoying the season without him, and without the awful Corky Ballas, who made a mockery of his partners.

      • Kelly

        Oh I don’t know, Len gave Derek a severe tongue-lashing and low scores for Lil Kim’s Jive and Nicole’s Quickstep and Samba. And routinely underscored Nicole.

        Carrie Ann docked Nicole for an end-of-song lift during the finals, despite having previously allowed more blatant beginning and ending lifts from other dancers, Shawn Johnson and Shannen Doherty to name just two–the former with a much longer ending lift in her Viennese Waltz and the latter with beginning AND ending lifts in her Viennese Waltz.

        I think Derek deserved all the praise he got from the judges and can cite plenty of times they overlooked ‘messing around’ or rule-breaking by other couples. BTW, Jason Taylor got two 10s for his Viennese Waltz despite stumbling twice, and Maks and Brandy’s Quickstep got high praise despite wasting one-fourth of the song–22 of 82 seconds–’messing about’ at the beginning and end.

        Corky made a mockery of Cloris Leachman? How funny. As if she needed any help in that department. She did outlast Toni Braxton, however, so I’d call that partnership a success.

        But glad you are enjoying this season! I am too!

  • Dr. Chim Richalds

    This is my favorite season since the Houghs took over the show because it’s HOUGH FREE. I like the old school pros (Maks, Cheryl, Kim, Anna, etc)

    • DeeDee

      Oh how I agree with you. I am so sick of the Houghs taking over the show and winning all of the time, even when their celebrity partners are insufferable. Now if we could only have Mark and Corky Ballas (like family to the Houghs!!) follow the Houghs out of Mirrorball Land, I would be truly happy.

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