In a competition this close, any little mistake can make a difference. All three female celebrity finalists on “Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars” had worked hard and performed exceptionally well, receiving tens. The decisive move may have been who took too many risks and not who performed the showiest freestyle.
Shawn Johnson had already won a mirrorball trophy with her original partner Mark Ballas. Ballas had been paired up with Bristol Palin this season and had already been eliminated. Kelly Monaco had been the first season champion with her partner Alex Mazo, two of the three had won mirrorball trophies before, but it was reality show personality and host Melissa Rycroft and her partner Tony Dovolani who took the mirrorball trophy. It was a first for both.
During the super-sized freestyle, Rycroft and Dovolani were the most downscaled. Monaco had performed aerial tissu with her partner, Val Chmerkovskiy on violin. Johnson had teamed up with the London U.S. gymnastics team.
Johnson and her partner for this season Derek Hough took risks. Their do-over routine didn’t make any of the corrections that the judges had requested. That put them in third. Their instant dance received a perfect score while Rycroft and Dovolani and Monaco and Val tied.
The chemistry between Val and Monaco had people wondering showmance or off-stage romance. No matter what happens, Val has stepped out of Maksim’s shadow although Maksim is definitely the larger than life bad boy of the ballroom.
Dovolani has actually played a bad boy of the ballroom in the Jennifer Lopez movie “Shall We Dance?” He’s had bad times and good times on the show.
Dovolani has been with DWTS every season since he debuted on season 2 with wrestler Stacy Kiebler. They finished third and until Tuesday night (Nov. 27), that was the best finish for Dovolani. Dovolani had finished third again during season 8 with Rycroft; Shawn Johnson and her then-partner Mark Ballas took home the mirrorball trophy that season with Gilles Marini and Cheryl Burke in second place.
Dovolani and Keibler received 15 tens during season 2 with four perfect scores (samba and jive). Dovolani was paired with Broadway star Marissa Jaret Winokur for a fourth place finish on season 6.With Winokur he received no perfect scores or tens.
This time, Dovolani and Rycroft beat Johnson. During season 8 with Rycroft, Dovolani earned 13 tens and two perfect scores, both for samba. Johnson and Ballas received 14 tens with three perfect scores. They received 21 tens for five perfect scores. This season with Hough, Johnson had 21 tens and three perfect scores.
Monday night, Rycroft and Dovolani were perfect.
- Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani: 30/30 for a samba to “Conga” by Gloria Estefan
- Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy: 29.5/30 (9.5,10.0,10.0) for a paso doble to ” Espana Cani”by Erich Kunzel
- Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough: 27/30 (9.0,8.5,9.5) for a quickstep to “Hey Pachuco”by Royal Crown Revue
The super-sized freestyle added other people, making this more like “America’s Got Talent.” Each group added different people, but the standings remained the same. Johnson and Hough and Rycroft and Dovolani posted perfect scores, but Monaco and Val were only a half-point behind.
- Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani: 30/30 to “I Was Here” by Beyonce with trapeze artists.
- Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough: 30/30 to “Carnival de Paris” by Dario G with the U.S. Women’s Olympic Gymnastic Team who had just competed this summer in London (Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross, and Jordyn Wieber).
- Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy: 29.5/30 (10.0,9.5,10.0) to “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes with troupe members and a church choir. Monaco did some aerial tissu.
At the end of Monday night the rankings were:
- Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani: 60/60
- Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy: 59/60
- Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough: 57/60
In the final dance on Tuesday night, it was an instant Latin round.
- Shawn Johnson & Derek Hough: 30.0 (10.0,10.0,10.0) for cha cha cha to “Respect” by Aretha Franklin
- Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani: 28.5 (9.5,9.5,9.5) for a Samba to “Life Is A Highway” by Tom Cochrane
- Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy: 28.5 (9.5,9.5,9.5) for a jive to “Cat and Mouse” by Nikki & Rich [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1XUmEsSJ2c]
Tuesday night, all the stars came back to dance. Most touching was Drew Lachey and Anna Trebunskaya for including Lachey’s daughter. Both of the team dances (“Gangnam Style” and “Call Me Maybe”) were performed although the finalists were replaced by another celebrity couple. At the end of Tuesday night, the judges ranking was:
- Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani: 88.5/90
- Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy: 87.5/90
- Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough: 87/90
The rankings didn’t change, leaving Rycroft and Dovolani the winners, but the audience favored Johnson and Hough over Monaco and Chmerkovskiy. Rycroft is only the second TV personality to win the mirrorball trophy (the first was Brooke Burke with Derek Hough during season 7). She is the seventh female winner and the only reality TV star to win.
Dovolani has always seemed like a nice guy, even when he had what seemed like the ultimate challenge: Kate Gosselin. Their paso doble to Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” has become infamous.
Rycroft improved over the season and was, along with Gilles Marini, the best celebrity dancers. Marini had a greater range of expression, but Rycroft and Dovolani always expressed joy. As a new mother, Rycroft also encouraged mothers everywhere to get up, get out and get in shape. Rycroft and Dovolani are perfect champions for season 15 of “Dancing with the Stars.”