'Dancing with the Stars' Top 6: The Good, The Bad and The Opportunities
'Dancing with the Stars' Top 6: The Good, The Bad and The Opportunities
Meghan Carlson
Meghan Carlson
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
We're now at the halfway point of Dancing with the Stars season 10. Two men and four women remain in the race for the Mirrorball Trophy and ultimate ballroom glory.

Dancing with the Stars Week 6 Performance Rankings

As anyone with two eyes and a brain knows by now, there are two clear front-runners: Nicole Scherzinger and Evan Lysacek. They came into the season on top, and, besides Evan's relative fall from grace this week, they've stayed there. But, as anyone who's seen a season or two of Dancing knows by now, it takes more than talent to clinch the top spot. So don't count Chad, Pamela, Erin or Niecy out just yet.

As we round the bend on the half-way mark, let's take a look at where each of the final six stand: their strengths, their weaknesses and their opportunities to forge ahead.

Then, given all you know and all I've laid out here, tell me: Who do you see dropping out of the running next, and who is your half-way point pick for the winner of Dancing with the Stars season 10?

nicole-top6dwts.jpgNicole Scherzinger

Strengths: Dance ability. Like, whoa. That means the whole package: technique, energy, partnership, performance level, athleticism, hard work ...

Weaknesses: Taking it too seriously. Some viewers also resent her place in the cast altogether, saying she has too much professional dance experience, an unfair advantage in their eyes.

Opportunities: Nicole is in a unique predicament: she looks more like a learned pro and less like a learning star. We love her now for her gorgeous routines, but will we be tired of her top dog status by the finale? To avoid last season's "Mya curse," Nicole needs to show more vulnerability. Not by intentionally fumbling her moves, but by coming out a little more raw, a little less game-faced, a little less like the perfectionist she is--or I fear we'll hear the same refrain we heard about Mya last season: "She deserves to win, but I don't want her to win."

evan-top6dwts.jpgEvan Lysacek

Strengths: Lyrical movement, grace, calm under pressure, ability to pull off complex twists and lifts, work ethic up the wazoo. Plus a big fan base after his exciting Olympic win this winter.

Weaknesses: As we saw this week with the samba, Evan has a hard time fully detaching himself from his lyrical figure skating lines, which just don't work for every dance. He's also on the road with Stars on Ice, so fatigue and lack of sufficient practice time could end up aggravating that weakness even more.

Opportunities: A little bump in the road can go a long way. After dipping down on the leader board this week, Evan now has somewhere to go: up. If he can come back and conquer the samba, or something like it, he'll show his dedication to win and prove he's grown into a multi-talented dancer.

erin-top6dwts.jpgErin Andrews

Strengths: Perfectionist nature (and a perfectionist partner), natural rhythm, legs that go on for days (and can dance something fierce as they go), likability and can-do spirit.

Weaknesses: Perfectionist nature that seems to get her (and her perfectionist partner) side-tracked in practice at times, Maksim's ideological feud with Len Goodman. 

Opportunities: With her crowd- and judge-pleasing samba this week, Erin showed that she's got the talent to dance with the big dogs. What she needs is a revelation dance: that routine that will combine all the elements of performance, technique and wow-factor power (and no arguments between Maks and Len). A night like that would give her the confidence boost she needs to deliver the whole package every week from here on out.

chad-top6dwts.jpgChad Ochocinco

Strengths: Athleticism, personality, chemistry with Cheryl, "humbled big dog turned underdog" story arc in the works.

Weaknesses: Before this week, I would have said he has trouble with slower, more romantic dances. Now I think he's maybe just inconsistent. Or just a little slower learner than the rest? Also: for every fan of his persistent "I love you, Cheryl" act, there's another viewer who thinks he's acting a desperate fool.

Opportunities: Chad's riding a high this week after performing a passionate Argentine tango that Len deemed his favorite routine of the week, and Chad's best of the season so far. He's got to hold on to that wave as long as he can, and that means coming out consistently with performances that show off his best assets: strength, determination and plenty of personality.

Pamela Anderson

Strengths: Sexuality, sensuality and ability to fully dive into her character. Her dancing's not half bad, either.

Weaknesses: Sexuality: she's risking overkill and making some viewers uncomfortable, especially for what they're used to on this "family show." This certain lack of, shall we say, refinement is also a risk in her "scruffy" (Len's word) dancing.

Opportunities: Back off on the "sex on the dance floor" act and show a different, more relatable and refined side of Pamela. Her Marilyn Monroe foxtrot is a good place to revisit: it combined classic beauty and classic elegance while still showing her ability to transform and really perform as a character. She can't just rely on sex appeal anymore, so she's got to up her skill level or it's bye-bye for Pam 'n' Dam.

niecy-top6dwts.jpgNiecy Nash

Strengths: Personality and likability on and off the dance floor, big "bazookas" with big shimmy power, a pretty consistent upward arc of skill growth and technique development. 

Weaknesses: Up against five dancers, performers and athletes who have a lot more experience and physical prowess coming in.

Opportunities: Niecy has remarked that she's just trying to "stay in her lane and run her own race" against her younger, leaner competition, but her place in the bottom two this week shows that it's now do or die time: this week, she needs to come out with a routine so sharp, challenging and exciting that the judges, and audience, can't help but see her as a serious contender. It's a big risk, but one she needs to make at this point. Either way it ends up, at least she'll go out swinging.

What do you think? Agree, disagree?