Dancing with the Stars
is in its 16th season and one thing is clear: the professional dancers
are bigger stars than the actual "stars." This has been an issue for
quite some time, especially since some of the pros have consistently
been on TV for the past eight years, but nowhere was it more evident
than on the first results show of the season. DWTS Results: The First Couple Goes Home>>
All you need to do is look at the results. For the first two weeks of Dancing with the Stars
season 16, the three celebrities in jeopardy were Victor Ortiz, Lisa Vanderpump and Andy Dick. Not coincidentally, all three are partnered with new pro dancers this year, Lindsay Arnold, Gleb Sevchenko and Sharna Burgess.The Cons of Being a New Pro
Yes, it's hard out there for a new pro. While others have had years to hone their skills and establish solid fan bases, the three newbies are untested and unknown. Sure, Gleb Sevchenko is hot, but he's no Derek Hough, who's been on the show for years.
And this is nothing new. The last time Dancing with the Stars
introduced new pros to the ballroom was in season 13 with Tristan MacManus, Val Chmerkovskiy and Peta Murgatroyd. In season 13, Peta was part of the first couple eliminated and Val was the second. Sure, they've had success since then (Peta won the following year and Val mad the finale last season), but that first time around isn't easy.
Heck, you can even go back to season 8 when newcomer Dmitry Chaplin was the third pro eliminated his first time out before finishing second with Mya the following year.
Of course there are exceptions, but those rely on a quality partner (Lacey Schwimmer made the finale her first time out with Lance Bass while Tristan MacManus' best performance was his first, when he reached fifth with Nancy Grace).
Even if it's just freshman hazing where the new pros are purposefully given subpar celebrity contestants, the new pros have an uphill battle to climb. They were all spared eliminated the first time out due to Dorothy Hamill's injury, but it's safe to assume Lindsay Arnold, Sharna Burgess and Gleb Sevchenko won't be dancing much longer in season 16. Better luck next year.The Pros of Being an Old Pro
On the other end of the spectrum, Dancing with the Stars
season 16 has also proven that having a beloved pro can save even the worst dancers. D.L. Hughley had the lowest score by a large margin, yet he wasn't even in jeopardy in the first results show. Why? The answer is Cheryl Burke.
Yes, Cheryl is the longest-running professional dancer, having appeared in every season since the second (Tony Dovolani has the same impressive streak). And that constant exposure every single year has helped to make her one of the more beloved professional dancers on the show, so I'd bet D.L. owes his survival to a great partner and not his Whitney and Bobby joke.
In fact, Cheryl Burke is almost always a good luck charm on the show. In 14 previous seasons she's reached the finale six times (tied with Derek Hough for the most finale appearances) and she had actually made it to the top 7 in 12 seasons. Her only early exits are when partner Tom DeLay withdrew in season 9 (so it doesn't really count) and when she was eliminated third on season 5 with Wayne Newton. So, unless the star is a truly terrible dancer, having Cheryl as your partner guarantees survival on DWTS
for the first four or five weeks.
But she's not even the best pro to have. No, if a star wants to be guaranteed success, getting Derek Hough is the way to go. In his 10 previous appearances on Dancing with the Stars
he's made the finale an astounding 60 percent of the time (including the last five times he has been on the show). He also has three Mirror Ball Trophies (more than anyone else) and his worst performance is sixth place in season 6 with Shannon Elizabeth. Yes, Derek Hough has NEVER been eliminated earlier than sixth place.
In other words, while Cheryl and Derek might be getting the cream of the crop when it comes to partners, they are also the two biggest stars on Dancing with the Stars
and, as such, the viewers are voting for them as much, if not more, than they're voting for their celebrity partners.
Luckily for the newbies, as I pointed out, the second time around is often a big improvement and, while Cheryl and Derek seem to be made of Teflon in the competition, the other established pros are all over the place, usually depending on the quality of their partner. So Dancing with the Stars
isn't all about who your pro partner is, only if that pro is new or named Burke or Hough.
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(Image courtesy of ABC)