It is certainly no secret that Dancing with the Stars, or DWTS as it is known in acronym form, has captivated the minds of the media and society over its past 11 seasons (2 per year) after beginning its run in the summer of 2005. Aside from providing the reality feel of “what is going to happen next” in addition to its competitive dance structure, the heart of DWTS fever lies within the celebrity personas that differ each year.
Generally, the show attempts to include a diverse group of celebrities, each with a unique background that helps to create intrigue amongst its viewing audience. These celebrity backgrounds have included individuals such as the world-renown astronaut Buzz Aldrin to the entertainment diva in Brooke Burke to the sports standout in Jerry Rice, just to name a few. Bringing these various talents together as one into a forum where most are considered amateurs, or novices at best, is what gives this TV series its combination of glamour and “wow factor”.
Since 2005, the show has had as little as 6 celebrity contestants and as many as 16. Season 12 will have the average of those numbers as 11 celebrities have signed on to dance for the championship, which begins March 21, 2011. The participants will be Chelsea Kane (Disney Channel actress), Chris Jericho (WWE wrestler & musician), Hines Ward (active National Football League player), Kendra Wilkinson (model & reality star), Kirstie Alley (actress), Mike “Psycho Mike” Catherwood (radio talk show host – “Loveline”), Petra Nemcova (supermodel), Ralph Macchio (starred in “The Karate Kid”), Romeo (rapper & actor), Sugar Ray Leonard (retired professional boxer) and Wendy Williams (media personality and former DJ).
At a glance, Kirstie Alley and Ralph Macchio appear to be the obvious underdogs. But, as we all know, with underdogs you also have the potential for upsets and great Cinderella stories. Which is exactly why these two are my dark horses for this season. Once the competition is underway, it will be very interesting to see how their dance routines unfold week in and week out. Just because Alley turned 60 years of age in January doesn’t mean you should count her out. Remember that the fans have a hand in keeping her alive each week. And although Macchio isn’t quite the same skinny teenager who perfected the Krane Kick some 27-years ago, he is still a personal favorite of mine in this contest. If Mr. Miyagi is in his corner, like he always was before, Macchio may have a fighting chance after all. Yes sensei!
That said, the true power within this season’s group of competitors comes from the sports realm celebrities of wrestler Chris Jericho, football player Hines Ward and former boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard.
I refer to Chris Jericho as member of the sports community because his boss, chairman and CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment Vince McMahon, refers to his employees as sports “entertainers”. Don’t let the title of entertainer fool you in the slightest. The Lion Heart (his ring name) has always had major athletic abilities. And outside the wrestling ring, he is no stranger to the entertainment business as he has been the lead singer for the heavy metal band “Fozzy” since 1999. When he performs in this competition, he will have more than enough strength to lift his dancing partner high in the air to pull off crisp stunts. And, in my opinion, he also has the right amount of agility that can help him keep up with the tempo of the dance routines.
When discussing championships and a person’s drive to win, you do not have to look any further than Hines Ward of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers. Ward has been playing professional football since 1998 and has had his fair share of glory days. In 13 seasons, he has two Super Bowl rings, is a one-time Super Bowl MVP and has been selected to the Pro Bowl 4 times. Admittedly, I have not witnessed many of his end-zone celebrations after scoring a touchdown, so not sure how he will compare to others on a dance competition level. Of these three athletes, Ward ranks third on my list due to his body fame being a bit heavier than his dancing counterparts, standing 6 feet tall and weighing 205 lbs. But his intangibles of determination and finding a way to win, however, are what will carry him to the final rounds of the show.
And last, but certainly not least, the 54-year-old Sugar Ray Leonard has an opportunity to rise above the rest with prior superb boxing skills stored away in his repertoire. If you’ve ever watched a match of the sport known as “The Sweet Science”, at least one in which a boxer doesn’t get knocked out in the first 30 seconds, you’ll notice the constant footwork that is used to gain the advantage. This was a trade perfected by Sugar Ray for several years and especially in 1976 when he took home the Olympic Gold in Montreal. On the flip side, he has also had minor acting roles in television and movies. But his entertainment breakthrough came when he hosted the reality boxing show known as “The Contender” which ran for 4 seasons. Since the dancing numbers performed on the show are based mostly upon proper footwork and precise body placement on the floor, Sugar Ray is my front-runner to win it all this season.
These three sports figures also have some statistical data at their back that suggests they will make it deep into the competition. Per the Dancing with the Stars Wikipedia page, five of the eleven dance champions have been individuals with a past or present career in sports (3 Olympians, 1 auto racer and 1 football player). And four of the eleven runner-ups have been involved in a professional sports career (3 football players and 1 Olympian).
The point to be made in this entire piece is that those contestants possessing athletic ability AND an element of entertainment in some fashion generally leads to championship contention on Dancing with the Stars. Now, if only Ralph Macchio will once again dawn that white headband and “wax-on, wax-off” the competition, I will feel young once again.
– Site references: Wikipedia.org