Dancing With the Stars is a show which seems to deliver to the audience exactly what it says it will. However, who are the real stars of the show? DWTS 2011 and other pro-celebrity shows like it have long been criticized for having Z-list celebrities on them. After all, when would a Hollywood great have time to dedicate months to learning to dance? Now, we know more about the professional dancers than ever before.
So who are the real stars of Dancing with the Stars?
When ABC started broadcasting this sequin-encrusted competition in 2005, the celebrities were obviously soaps stars, boy band members and athletes. The ballroom dancing professionals were total strangers to us.
But now, after six years, is that idea being turned on its head as “celebrity” contestants have come and gone but we have built up a relationship with the professional dancers who come back season after season to tango their partners through a lot of humiliation and a certain amount of glory on the dance floor?
Now, it’s often the likes of Maks, Derek and Cheryl who grab the headlines. As each new season of Dancing with the Stars begins, if you’re anything like me, you’ll pray that your favorite pro gets a decent celebrity partner so they will stay in the competition and you can see more of them.
Even DWTS 13 executive producer Conrad Green calls this a “weird inversion of what the show was meant to be.”
Even the contestants know it’s happening. Former talk show host admitted she was star struck when she met her professional dance partner Derek Hough for the first time. He “melted” her as he has melted so many millions of viewers.
The pro dancers often have a huge fan base that follow them on Twitter and other social media. Often, a popular pro dancer seems to be able to keep a not so good celebrity in the competition for longer. As Tom Bergeron, the show’s co-host, says,
“People at home sometimes vote more for the dancer than the star.”
This season of Dancing with the Stars is having to fight hard for its audience against “Two and a Half Men,” and viewing figures are down on previous seasons. But this season’s celebrities don’t seem as well known as in previous seasons, and program makers seem to be relying on media attention generated by having the first transgender competitor, Chaz Bono, son of Cher, and Rob Kardashian, who is bound to be compared to his more media-hungry sisters. Other contestants include Elisabetta Canalis; she is a model and actress well known in Italy, but in the US she is probably best known for dating George Clooney.
The program makers and presenters are having to take up the slack from these C-listers by whipping up attention around the professional dancers. Hence we had The Return of the Hough, as Derek Hough took last season off to work on a movie.
There have even been attempts to cast the professional dancers in the stereotypical roles we know from soap operas. So, the no nonsense teaching style of Maksim Chmerkovskiy has seen him branded as “the bad boy of the ballroom.” Two-times winner Cheryl Burke is full of attitude and flicky hair, while Kym Johnson is more the girl next door. Her neck injury was one of the big stories of last season’s Dancing with the Stars.
ABC wants to use its well-known pros such as Mark Ballas, Anna Trebunskaya and Lacey Schwimmer to keep loyal viewers coming back, but it doesn’t want to build them up so much that they can hold the show hostage for bigger salaries, as the Jersey Shore stars did.
To keep the pros in line, they keep adding in new dancers and don’t let the dancers choose their partners. However, we hear a lot more of them now, both on the show and elsewhere in the media.
So who are the real stars of Dancing with the stars: the professional dancers or the s-called celebrities? Who do you look forward to seeing each season, and who is your favorite of Dancing with the Stars 13?