Regular readers know that I’m quite fond of Dancing With The Stars. I like it on several levels. First, it’s what I call a “getting it right” show. The stars begin as neophytes, and through a lot of hard work, all get better and some get totally wonderful. Second, I love watching dancing and the pros on this show are really good. Third, I like the camaraderie that develops on the show. It most certainly could be faked, but I actually don’t think so. These people are living in each other’s back pockets for weeks at a time, and they seem to enjoy each other’s company. Given how much I liked the show, I thought I’d share a season wrap-up with you, including a few facts and tidbits that aren’t so obvious.
This season, after a lackluster start, proved to be one of the most exciting Dancing With The Stars seasons I’ve watched. While those who dropped out early were an unimpressive bunch (although I think Randy Couture should have lasted much longer than he did), the four stars going into the finals proved to be really exciting dancers who matured beautifully during the short season. Here’s a bit about each of those four:
1. Alfonso Ribiero was in The Tapdance Kid on Broadway, Silver Spoons, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Aire. From Day One, he had just a delightful television personality. A week before the finale, I had this to say about him:
[W]hen the season ends, my definite favorite will be Alfonso Ribeiro, known for his role as Carlton on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Aire. Maybe it’s all an act, but Alfonso comes across as just a wonderful person: thoughtful, optimistic, hard-working, kind, intelligent . . . you name it. He also has a wonderful, very deep, speaking voice, which he uses to speak the King’s English — despite having been born and raised in the Bronx.
Will you be surprised to learn that this apparently quite wonderful man is black? Some of you might be. After all, the man I’ve described doesn’t sound like the types of black people populating our TV screens in telecasts from Florida and Missouri and whatever other place is the momentary flash point for the professional African-American grievance mongers.
Where Ribeiro differs from these blacks is his parentage: His folks are from Trinidad and Tobago. In other words, he’s yet another of those Caribbean black people who are as successful as their white (or Asian or whatever) counterparts. Their skin color is not a barrier. One can therefore deduce that white Americans aren’t opposed to the color of black peoples’ skin; they are, instead, affected by the types of behaviors many American blacks display (see above references to Florida and Missouri).
Aside from being a superb dancer, Alfonso benefited from being partnered with Witney Carson who, although only 20, proved to be an excellent, creative choreographer. Here’s a video of the freestyle highlighting Alfonso’s incredible dancing chops, which carry from the tilt of his head to the precision of his feet:
2. Sadie Robertson is the utterly charming 17-year-old daughter of Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame. She’s unaffected, sweet, pure, and, despite never having danced before, was a natural who brought incredible charm to each dance she did. Sadie also benefited from working with Mark Ballas, who has grown to be a very creative choreographer and who managed to be respectful of Sadie’s modesty. Here’s video of Sadie’s freestyle:
3. Janel Parrish, who stars in Pretty Little Liars, was someone I had a hard time warming up to. In the beginning, when she felt insecure, she relied on hypersexuality — all touchy-feely sleazy — to create her persona for the show. It was creepy. As the season progressed, however, and Janel developed into one of the best dancers, she abandoned the slut act and became quite lovely dancer to watch.
I actually had another problem with Janel that wasn’t her fault at all: She was partnered with Valentin Chmerkovskiy, the younger brother of Maksim Chmerkovskiy (who has retired from the show after winning last season). Val is my favorite dancer to watch, and I had a hard time even noticing Janel when my eyes kept drifting to Val. He moves so exquisitely, and with such precision, she just faded into the background. But if you watch their freestyle, you can see why Janel made it to the finals:
4. Bethany Mota, the last of the four finalists, made me aware of the fact that teenagers are becoming mega stars simply by blogging out of their own bedrooms. I was worried that she’d be a sleazy girl, but she too was a fresh and wholesome young woman. She started off as a fairly mediocre dancer but, through hard work, quickly became a real contender, helped by the fact that Derek Hough, one of the best choreographers, was her partner. Here’s Bethany’s freestyle:
Having described the finalists, I can now tell you the outcome, and it was one that made me very happy: Alfonso won the Mirror Ball; Sadie came in second; Janel was third; and Bethany was fourth.
And now, before I sign off, a few other interesting things.
I didn’t know this, but Maksim and Valentin Chmerkovskiy are Jewish. To appreciate why this matters to me, you have to understand that, since the dawn of Hollywood, Jews have been fascinated to learn that their favorite stars, unbeknownst to them were, in fact, Jewish. The oh-so-goyish Leslie Howard? Jewish. Sultry Lauren Bacall? Jewish. Movie crime kingpin Edward G. Robinson? Jewish. So for me to discover that the incredibly fabulous Val and Maksim, who also have quite charming personalities, are Jewish . . . well, I don’t know, but it means something to me (and my sister got it).
Here’s another tidbit: I think Alfonso might lean conservative. In the last week, when DWTS prepared little testimonial bios for him, two of the people saying how wonderful Alfonso is were Dan Quayle, former Republican vice president, and Charles Barkley, who has no compunction about telling the truth about things, without regard to race. Considering that Alfonso asked that these two people give him a testimonial (or at least approved their inclusion) seems to me to speak volumes about the man.
Little Bookworm and I are going to see the DWTS live show! Yes, she and I both feel vaguely tacky (kind of like the women who throw underwear at Tom Jones), but we’re actually thrilled to see the live show, which will include Alfonso and Witney, not to mention the lovely Val. We bought our tickets in the nick of time, too. One nearby venue had already sold out, and we swept up some of the last remaining tickets at the other venue.
Lastly, Little Bookworm has not in the past liked Meghan Trainor, who sings “All About That Bass,” a song I like. However, after having seen Trainor perform live on DWTS, Little Bookworm came away quite impressed. I was too: