May 15, 2013 at 2:42 pm , by Ladies' Lounge
Three hundred episodes! Wow. It’s an incredible feeling to celebrate our 300th episode. Back in the day, Mash was a very popular show that went on for quite a while. It felt like it was on the air my whole life, and they made 251 episodes. It was a breakthrough. I remember how America tuned in when it went off the air. It was such a big moment in my television history and now, to be a part of a show that has completed 300 episodes completed is an honor to say the least. I want to point out that there are three people who have been on every single episode since day one: myself, Tom Bergeron, and Bruno Tonioli.
It’s been a wonderful ride with extraordinary choreography, beautiful costumes and incredible production value. I’m really proud of our team. It takes so many people to make a show happen.
Here’s a list (in chronological order) of my top 10 dance performances on Dancing with the Stars in honor of our 300th episode.
1. Drew Lachey and Cheryl Burke
Freestyle (Season 2)
This piece was such an inventive and entertaining way to approach the finale. Cheryl really created a great number here and their performance brought the house down. It was so exciting. Magic!
2. Helio Castroneves and Julianne Hough
Quickstep (Season 5)
This performance was vibrant and lively, and it showcased Helio at his best.
3. Mel B. and Maksim Chermkovskiy
Paso Doble (Season 6)
It was powerful, and her costume was brilliant and very aggressive. She set a whole new standard for costumes and performance in this showstopper!
4. Gilles Marini and Cheryl Burke
Argentine Tango (Season 8)
Wow. This was such a work of art and passion. Their partnership was such a sensual one. They just had chemistry that wouldn’t quit. Gilles had this wonderful way of adding a suave debonair touch to all the dances he did. He was like a character from a romance novel that’s come to life. This was smoldering at it’s best.
5. Nicole Scherzinger and Derek Hough
Quickstep (Season 10)
This one was such a classic. It was a tribute to the musicals that inspired so many of us to be where we are today. They danced in harmony and really made all of us feel good!
6. Gilles Marini and Peta Murgatroyd
Bollywood (Season 15)
I loved this dance. We’d never had a Bollywood performance on the show before and it was just so energetic and lively. It really showcased the vibrancy of the Bollywood cultural phenomenon.
7. Andy Dick and Sharna Burgess
Vienesse Waltz (Season 16)
This was one of the most emotionally charged moments we’ve ever had on the show. He dedicated this dance to his daughter, Meg, and it touched our hearts in a very special way. He made an impact on all of us. He was celebrating his sobriety and his love for his daughter. It was a moment that had us all in tears.
8. Derek Hough
Macy’s Stars of Dance (Season 16)
Wow—this was such a great tribute to Fred Astaire’s Dancing on the Ceiling number but with a cool and modern twist. It was really innovative and pushed all understanding of gravity. But I think if you really want to appreciate the number and choreography and performances by Jaimie Goodwin and Derek, you have to see it while the “box” is moving. It was really something to behold.
9. Zendaya and Val Chermkovskiy
Samba (Season 16)
While it may not have gotten the best scores, I just loved this cool fusion samba. Her Beyonce-like presence on the dance floor blew us all away. The stylings of her movements and the way her body sung the dance made this a cool number not to be forgotten.
10. Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough
Argentine Tango (Season 16)
They started the dance in silhouette showcasing her beautiful lines, and her lines were perfection. Kellie delivered an impeccable and passionate performance.
Truly, there are too many great memories to mention. Being a part of the dance revival on television has been a great honor and achievement. I’ve been fortunate enough to see two generations of dance—back in the early 90s when the Fly Girls brought hip hop to mainstream television, and now again, as we see ballroom and Latin dances in our living rooms. I celebrate the great mind that really championed our show when we were just a pitch for a pilot. I have to give credit to Andrea Wong who really gave DWTS a shot in America. Here’s to you Andrea, and to the BBC and ABC for all you’ve done for dance in television. We’ve seen so many boundaries broken down and creative visions actualized; we are a lucky generation to have so much dance on the tube. It wasn’t always like this, but I’m sure glad it is now and I’m happy to be a part of all of it.
Until next week, keep dancing!
May 1, 2013 at 12:43 pm , by Ladies' Lounge
Okay, I said the word “fart” on national TV. Live television is a blast and you never know what’s going to happen next! I apologize to anyone who hates the word or is trying to make sure their child doesn’t grow up making fart jokes. I honestly didn’t mean to offend anyone. It just made sense at the time. Sometimes the wrong word comes out. Len and Bruno were laughing so hard at me during the commercial break, and then they got on the bandwagon and said the word about 20 times back to me. Lol. I love my boys. I guess I’m just grateful I didn’t say “fart” and then fall off my chair, because that would have been a doozy! And my friends would never let me live that one down.
On a serious note, I have to say, I wish I could’ve given Andy Dick and Sharna a better score. But I couldn’t because at this point in the competition, I start to hone in on details and get really specific about things. I wanted Andy to stay in the competition until the end. He brought incredible heart to the show and he has a special quality to him. He’s a love bug on the dance floor and I love and respect him for his efforts and vulnerability. I was going to give him a 6 for that final routine, but then he had the lift in his routine, which means I dock a point. It happens. It’s my duty to do that, but I do hope he is okay. I worry about him because he is truly facing some big demons in his life. I want him to win the battle of staying clean and off of drugs as well as staying the positive role model he’s been this whole season. He’s given hope to the underdogs and shown that change is possible, fears can be faced, and demons can be battled and won—if you really want it. Andy really wanted to do well. He wasn’t afraid of making mistakes or looking silly. He just wanted to be his own personal best. In this day and age, we need more role models like him. If being inspirational were a category, I would’ve given him a 10. If courage were a category, yet another 10. If the power to move us were the only criteria we had to judge on, I’d give him a 10. Read more
April 22, 2013 at 9:53 am , by Mandy Velez
Looking for a guilty pleasure and like animals? Okay, us too. That’s why National Geographic’s Spoiled Rotten Pets is our must-see show this month. Host Beth Stern (Howard’s wife and the spokesperson for the North Shore Animal League) profiles America’s most pampered pets and their doting owners to show us just how far their love can go.
Viewers meet Wilma and Pebbles, two pot-bellied pigs who live with a couple inside their Pennsylvania home and get regular spa treatments, some diapered ducks, a few Pup Scouts, and a Pomeranian that has a bar mitzvah – yep – you read that right, a pupmitzvah!
Stern told us she and husband Howard have been known to spoil their four cats, too. “I’ve gotten horrible nights sleep due to the fact I didn’t want to move one of my cats, because they were resting so comfortably,” she says. “But I think anyone that loves animals or has pets is going to see themselves in each episode.”
Want to see it for yourself? Check out this trailer.
April 16, 2013 at 5:39 pm , by Ladies' Lounge
I woke up this morning after a restless night of heartache for the suffering and pain that was caused yesterday by the Boston Marathon bombing, and I don’t think I was alone in that state. Yesterday was a very sad day indeed and my heart continues to go out to all of those affected by this incredibly cruel act of disrespect for human life. For all of us at Dancing with the Stars, there was a strong feeling of duty for our fellow human beings. At about 3:00 p.m., just two hours before show time, there was talk of pre-empting us due to local news coverage. But in the end, they decided that people needed to be able to change the channel from the coverage for their children, to have something else available on the television set to lighten hearts and ease people’s minds, if only for short while. I think it was a good decision. Some people may have needed a respite from the heaviness of the news and the questions that have once again arisen about our safety.
Yesterday our vulnerabilities were once again exposed in a tragic act of someone or some organization. We don’t know who did this yet. But my stomach churns to think of a mind that would come up with such a terrible creation of destruction and pain that hurt so many innocent people, people who were at the finish line to support their loved ones and cheer them on in their most challenging hour. May God bless all of them.
I pray for their suffering to be eased by the love that is pouring out to them from everyone across our country. Social media and the internet have become important tools in times of crisis. I’ve found that when someone is troubled, Facebook and Twitter provide wonderful platforms of support. When a family member is sick, or has passed on, the support that is given via tweets and Facebook posts is truly comforting and life-changing. I know this from my own experience, but I certainly saw it yesterday and it’s a beautiful thing. Sure, some people use the platform to spread hateful words and anger, but the love overpowers the negativity. That’s what is so incredible about the human race. We have found a way to make computers, technology, and apps tools of humanity. Yesterday, the tweets and posts were so uplifting and helpful. There were updates, photos, videos, places for people to stay, support and valuable information being shared non-stop. People helping each other… that’s what I saw yesterday both outside and inside the ballroom.
What happened in the ballroom yesterday is tiny compared to what happened in America, but I hope that it helped to lift the hearts of those who watched us yesterday despite this terrible situation we’re in. But we’re in it together, and we each can play a part. We can do something to help those who’ve been hurt by the bombings, both emotionally and physically. It’s our duty as human beings to do what we can to help our fellow human beings in their time of need. And each act of kindness and generosity helps to heal our own hearts.
I want to thank all the dancers for putting their hearts into their dances and giving so much of themselves. Ali is from Boston and had wonderful words to say about where she grew up. Our first two tens of the season, by Val and Zendaya, were dedicated to the Bostonians. There was a strong feeling of camaraderie amongst the crew, cast, audience and everyone who is a part of our show. We all knew we had to do our thing and that “the show must go on” for everyone at home who wanted a friend to sit with in their living room for a few hours, to take their mind off of what was happening. It seems strange to say, but there was more joy in the ballroom last night… there was more light and more vitality than I’ve felt in a while. I think that opening number was incredible. I wish they would do that every week; it added so much energy to the show. It was like a black pleather shot of liquid vitamin B—nothing but energy. It was a performance that celebrated our strength, vitality and never-ending determination. We all know that what happened yesterday isn’t going away and is now a part of our history. We will not forget this, but we will not let it stop us either…the dancing will continue and remind us to celebrate life.
That’s all for today. May you all be safe and celebrate life!
April 10, 2013 at 2:48 pm , by Ladies' Lounge
I think this week had two of the best shows we’ve produced in a long time. The competition show was filled with uplifting and inspiring performances as well as reminders of who our contestants are outside of the dance floor. It’s exciting to be reminded of their accomplishments. And then there was Andy Dick, who has captured so many of our hearts. His deeply moving performance to “Hallelujah” for his daughter was a real moment of magic. He went completely into his heart center and with the newfound elegance, posture and grace that he has worked so hard for with Sharna, he transported us all to somewhere deep into our own heart centers. I have never received more tweets and responses about a performance and how it touched people. A lot of men were also crying along with us, and that’s beautiful. To come into this competition not knowing anything about dance and then, in four weeks, be able to give us all a true moment of profound, intense and honest emotion is incredible. This is what dancing is all about. For me, dance in its truest form is about self-expression, movement to tell a story and inspiring people.
I was hit hard by Andy’s performance because of the recent loss of my father…it was the cry I haven’t really had yet, and it was really unexpected. I went four weeks without crying in public. I felt good because I had just gotten back from Hawaii and had a magical experience sending my father’s ashes back into the ocean, letting his physical form truly return to the earth from which it came. I felt peace and joy for all the beautiful memories he created, for all the laughter I heard and for all the love that was flowing. Andy’s love for his daughter was so beautifully expressed in his dance that it was a trigger for all of us.
Most people are so busy now. Our lives are packed with emails, texts, keeping up with our jobs, family responsibilities and Facebook friends that we don’t live with our hearts out front as much as we used to when things were simpler. Life is moving at a tempo that at times can feel out of control and overwhelming. Andy’s performance in particular reminded us that life is about magical moments. We have to stop and look up from our phones and computers to notice what is happening all around us. We need to slow down and take a moment to breathe in the joy and sadness and beauty that make up our lives.
I’m so grateful and proud to work on Dancing with the Stars because of these special moments that change the lives of our audience. With movement to music, we were able to open so many hearts, but it took great courage for that to happen.
To not be the best dancer, yet still go and pour every ounce of your being into something in front of millions of people with fear and trepidation is something to be applauded and applied to our own lives. To move forward with the fear you feel in your heart is the essence of living a full life. It’s strange to some that a dance could mean so much, but that is why I’ve loved being a dancer my whole life. The ability to touch people and get lost in the dance is a moment of beauty, and I wish for everyone to find those moments in their lives in whatever it is that makes them feel that way. This theme was evident in our results show with our courageous dancer Brilynn Rakes, who danced with Derek. She also proved that life is about facing fears courageously and she too inspired many with her dance and her courage. I also grew up legally blind but the doctors were able to correct my vision with contacts and glasses, so I understand how she sees the world. In fact, I was inspired when she said that because she couldn’t see very well, she had to rely on her emotions and how things felt. She taught me something—now I believe that is why I also honor my own emotions so much, because my sense of sight was diminished. And every morning when I wake up it’s still diminished, but I wear contact lenses and have perfect vision with them in. But at night, I love when I take out my contacts and just see the world hazy, and blurry, which some might consider a handicap. Brilynn proved that it is actually her advantage and it’s made her the beautiful person and dancer that she is.
Thank you to our producers and crew for making TV that inspires us, to the band for creating the music that is the foundation for all of the performances, and to everyone who works on our show so tirelessly. We have the most amazing staff and today I celebrate and thank them for making moments that we will not soon forget.
April 3, 2013 at 1:11 pm , by Ladies' Lounge
This week’s prom theme took us all down memory lane. It reminded me of the good times back in Hawaii, growing up in those beautiful islands, surrounded by wonderful people, dancing out on the deck of our house and dreaming that one day I would become a dancer. I had great parents who let me pursue my dreams and supported me 100 percent. They also challenged me to be a better person, and I hope that this show—and our prom week—did that for our contestants as well. I hope everyone had the chance to walk down memory lane and smile, remembering the good times and chuckling at the awkward moments that happened along the way to adulthood.
I have to say, I really enjoy writing these blogs. Although the conversation is kind of one sided, it feels like I’m sharing with my girlfriends. Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts with you each week. And as far as the dancing goes, well… I thought all of the performances last night had plenty of color and personality, and it feels like this season has a lot of heart. I also think the addition of the Jazz and Contemporary routines brings a new element to the show. There’s less mandatory technique in those dance styles, so we’re seeing some really creative approaches to showcasing the stars by our talented pros. For me, this season is revitalized and exciting and I really hate to see someone go home.
But someone has to get eliminated, and last night it was Wynonna Judd’s time to go. I wasn’t prepared for her early departure; I guess I thought she had a strong enough fan base that could save her. Sometimes I think the fans assume their favorite is safe, and maybe that’s what happened here. I was really hoping we would get to see her blossom and have a break through next week, but ultimately we need to remember why she joined the show. She had been through so much with her husband, supporting him through such a difficult time in his life, and then she had the courage to do something for herself. To me, she was a winner the moment she walked onto our dance floor. So many women get caught up doing everything for everyone else. I can relate to that, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. I’ve also been taking care of a lot of people for a long time, and it’s hard to remember to do things for ourselves. I applaud Wynonna for having the courage and strength to take her life into her own hands after giving so generously of herself for so long. She should be very proud of her choice and we should remember what she did. We’ve had two very courageous women go home so far, but they’re still very inspiring.
Who knew a dancing competition could be such a life changer? But it is! People’s lives are changed by our show; they learn new things about themselves. Watching Wynonna thank her country music fans with what seemed to be an even deeper appreciation of their support was a very poignant moment. And in turn, when we watch these moments, we learn new things about ourselves. That is television at its finest.
Have a great week and take care of yourselves. Treat yourself well.
March 27, 2013 at 1:39 pm , by Ladies' Lounge
I began this season with cautious excitement. I honestly hadn’t heard of many of the stars and had no idea what they would be like. Last season we had some incredible dancing and we knew everyone because it was the all-star season. But this time around, we’ve gone back to the heart of the show, which in my opinion is transformation. There is transformation on so many levels on our show and I love it. We transform our views and ideas of the stars as we watch them go through an intensely challenging ten-week competition. There’s also the physical transformation for every celebrity that dares to battle for the mirror ball trophy. And of course, there is emotional transformation of their spirit in the process of this soul-baring competition. And I think that’s what gets people hooked on the show.
This year we have some really fun personalities and I’m already excited to see them come back and perform their next dance. I think this season will be remembered as the season with heart. Everyone has room to grow. This is not feigned. It’s real and true, which makes for exciting TV.
Two of the biggest transformations so far are those of DL Hughley and Andy Dick, two comedians who have been through a lot and experienced many challenges in their lives. They were both so genuinely excited and relieved to be safe, you could see how much it meant to them, and that shows me how genuinely hard they’re working.
While I have flashed more “6″ paddles than I usually would at this point, I think our contestants are all very special. They have large personalities and their performances are bright and filled with energy and charisma. They all need to work on their technique, but there’s still an enjoyable quality to their performances. It’s refreshing.
Last night, when Dorothy Hamill suddenly decided to excuse herself from the competition—yes, that was a real moment—I was shocked. But then I was very impressed. In this day and age where we’ve all become so competitive and driven to succeed, she stopped and reminded us that we have to take care of ourselves first. Our health and our well-being should be our first priority. And while I am sad I won’t be seeing her dance again, which was a treat, I wish her well and I hope we women follow her lead by taking good care of ourselves and knowing our own boundaries as she did.
Next week we have a prom theme. I went to about 11 proms when I was in high school and I have fond memories of Journey songs and taffeta. Evening gowns have come a long way since my 80s prom days back in Hawaii! I can’t wait to see what happens next week, and I’m still wondering who would have gone home if Dorothy hadn’t pulled herself out of the competition. Someone got a free pass, but I wish everyone well and we’ll see how they do on Monday night. Until then, let’s all take good care of ourselves.