Dancing with the Stars celebrated its 10th anniversary with a huge special featuring the return of many contestants and pros, past and present, including a slew of winners, NFL stars and more. Sure, it’s a tad premature (the actual 10th anniversary of the series premiere isn’t until June 1), but with so much great dancing talent, I’m not complaining.
Here’s a breakdown of the 10 best moments from the hour-long special.
From Kelly Monaco to Alfonso Ribeiro, kicking the night off with a montage of all 19 winning couples was a fantastic look back at the show’s history. Highlights included Drew Lachey’s “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” Freestyle (still the most memorable routine ever as far as I’m concerned) and Donald Driver’s complete freak-out.
Kelly and Val Strip Down
Is anyone complaining about season 1 winner Kelly Monaco and her All-Stars partner Val Chmerkovskiy stripping down to their underwear for a quick dance? That was a treat for everyone.
A Tribute to Mark and Derek (without Derek)
A tribute to pros Derek Hough and Mark Ballas, filled with many of their former partners, was a great idea. Sadly, Derek’s recent injury caused him to miss out, with Sasha Farber filling in. That was disappointing, but it was still cool to see Mark dancing with Kristi Yamaguchi, Chelsea Kane and a four-months-pregnant Katherine Jenkins while Sasha paired up with Derek’s old partners Amy Purdy, Maria Menounos and Amber Riley.
Maks and Len Make Up
After a montage of screw-ups, injuries and fights (almost all of which includes Maksim Chmerkovskiy yelling at Len Goodman), we got to see Maks and Len riding a bicycle built for two. It’s nice to see that they can bury the hatchet and get past their constant beef.
The Inspirational Stories
A segment highlighted some of the many inspirational stories from the contestants, including the touching tales of Heather Mills, Amy Purdy, Noah Galloway, J.R. Martinez and Marlee Matlin. Those are all very moving, and I get why they focused on physical disabilities, but I’m a tad disappointed they didn’t even mention Valerie Harper. The woman was diagnosed with an inoperable, terminal brain tumor that doctors said would kill her months before she even competed. Now THAT’S inspiring.
Alfonso and Witney vs. Meryl and Maks
The most recent winning pairs competed in a ballroom shwodown, showcasing two very different styles and way to win the Mirror Ball. Alfonso Ribeiro and Witney Carson are all about crowd-pleasing, show-stopping entertainment, which they delivered. But it’s hard to take your eyes off of Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy. There’s a reason they have the highest average score ever. They’re electric, emotional, powerful and brilliant. To undercut their brilliance, Tom Bergeron shows us Maksim’s original audition tape when he was a cocky jerk bragging about how hot he was.
The Judges’ Favorite Routines
It was nice to see each of the judges pick a single routine that best exemplifies what they look for.
Len Goodman: He likes technique, so he chose Helio Castroneves and Julianne Hough‘s Quickstep.
Carrie Ann Inaba: She likes emotion, so she chose Amy Purdy and Derek Hough’s “Human” Contemporary routine.
Julianne Hough: She likes artistry, so she chose Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd’s Argentine Tango.
Bruno Tonioli: He likes passion, so he chose Mel B. and Maksim Chmerkovskiy’s dominatrix Paso Doble.
NFL Players Paso Doble
OK, this wasn’t the best-danced routine of the night, it was still awesome to see seven NFL players and former contestants (Kurt Warner, Donald Driver, Jacobey Jones, Michael Irvin, Hines Ward, Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith) doing a football-themed Paso with three female pros, Karina Smirnoff, Emma Slater and Anna Trebunskaya.
“Lady Marmalade” with Patti LaBelle, Lil’ Kim and Amber Riley
Who doesn’t love a diva trio with Patti performing her classic song with two of Derek Hough’s former partners, Amber and Lil’ Kim? You will rarely see that much soul and attitude on a single stage at one time.
The Last Dance
What better way to close out the night than with everyone, dozens and dozens of former and current stars and pros, hitting the ballroom floor for a big routine. Heck, even the four judges plus Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews got into the mix. That’s what has kept Dancing with the Stars on the air for 10 years, that constant sense of joy that comes from the people on that stage.
(Image courtesy of ABC)