Helene

Dancing with the Stars: Season 14

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abc announced the teams for Dancing with the Stars, Season 14, which starts March 19:

Jack Wagner (actor, "General Hospital", "Melrose Place")/Anna Trebunskaya (9)*

Melissa Gilbert (actress, "Little House on the Prairie")/Maksim Chmerkovskiy (12)

Donald Driver (athlete, former Green Bay Packer)/Peta Murgatroyd (2)

Sherri Shephard (actress, co-host "The View")/Val Chmerkovskiy (2)

Gavin DeGraw (singer)/Karina Smirnoff (11)

Martina Navratilova (tennis legend)/Tony Dovolani (13)

Roshon Fegan (Disney star, rapper)/Chelsie Hightower (6)

Maria Menounos (author, host "EXTRA")/Derek Hough (9)

Jaleel White (actor, "Family Matters")/Kym Johnson (11)

Gladys Knight (singer)/Tristan McManus (2)

William Levy (actor, telenovelas)/Cheryl Burke (13)

Katherine Jenkins (singer)/Mark Ballas (10)

http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/dancing-stars-season-14-cast-jack-wagner-sherri/story?id=15803787#

*() number of seasons for the pro.

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There are more familiar (to me) names this year than in past seasons. After telling myself that I wasn't going to get involved this year, my interest is tickled. See you there!

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This cast is a big improvement over the casting for the past few seasons. Most of the contestants have had some form of accomplishment prior to signing up for this show.

As someone who lives in Wisconsin, I can tell you that the Green Bay Packers fans will vote for Donald Driver until their fingers bleed.

Glad to see Tristan back for a second season although I don't know how far he will go with Gladys.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with William Levy, he appeared in a recent J.Lo video:

Melissa Gilbert has that scary Hollywood look.

And finally . . . Urkel!!!!!

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Mr. Levy will bring the pretty, but Urkel is sure looking fine as a grown-up. I hope he moves as well now.

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I was also pleasantly surprised that unlike many past seasons, I knew who many of the Dancing with the Stars contestants were. The only ones I didn't know were the two who didn't show up and the Disney channel kid. And some of them, like Martina N. (can't begin to know how to spell her name) and Gladys Knight are beyond stars - they're icons. I'm sure it's been mentioned, but I think the average age of the stars is considerably higher than in recent years. I wonder how long some of the contestants in their 50s (and older) will be able to last. I too, am waiting to see the grownup "Urkel" in action. He really did turn into a very good looking guy. And as Helen said, if he still has the moves of his younger tv self, White could go far. Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing what happens.

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As someone who lives in Wisconsin, I can tell you that the Green Bay Packers fans will vote for Donald Driver until their fingers bleed.

They will not allow themselves to be beaten by Steeler Nation!

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Hmmm... my early money is on Donald Driver, Jaleel White and William Levy. Driver has a strong fanbase and Peta Murgatroyd is a very strong teacher and choreographer. With Driver's fanbase carrying them them in the early weeks, Peta will have some breathing room to really work with him. White and Levy both have dance experience and if they're willing to put themselves in Kym and Cheryl's hands (respectively), I think they'll do very well also.

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I'm ALL for my Cuban, Mr. Levy..! clapping.gif

I had to lend my smelling salts to Bruno Toglioni, so that he could make it through the rest of the show.

Levy is a beautiful guy, but there's something kind of unreal about him, i.e., how anyone could look like that. My season's crush is Jaleel White. If I were going to have a girl crush, it would be on Gladys Knight -- take that Pips! -- though I must begrudgingly give credit to someone dancing with Mark Ballas, which tears at my heart, because Katherine Jenkins seems like a lovely person. But why oh why didn't Tristan McManus leave Ballas' spats where he dropped them? Have the pros made a pact to have rotating spats this year?

I was gobsmacked by the precision of Roshan Fegan's rhythm.

The make-up people did a stunning job with Martina Navratilova. Tony Dolovani did what he could. I wish they'd give him someone with whom he'd have a fighting chance at the mirror ball.

I enjoyed everyone. Not everyone was equally talented, but they had humor and almost all had performance quality, mostly without looking petrified.

Edited to add: I just read in Wikipedia that Jaleel White played Gladys Knight's (and Flip Wilson's) son on a TV show called "Charlie and Company". I never knew.

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I agree with Bruno that William Levy is the sexiest guy DWTS has ever had on the show. But I don't think he's that good a dancer. He'll probably last quite a while because he seems to already have a large fan base and every time women (and some men) get a look at him on the dance floor, they'll be using up all their votes for Mr. Levy. I do agree with Helene that Jaleel White (so far) is a fantastic dancer - not only did he have all the right moves (sorry for the cliche) but he's got charisma to burn and great chemistry with Kym Johnson. And she is a wonderful dancer - and a very good teacher too.

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But why oh why didn't Tristan McManus leave Ballas' spats where he dropped them? Have the pros made a pact to have rotating spats this year?

Since he can't do the "fringe and a smile" strategy that some of the female pros use *coughPeta*, Tristan probably thinks that the spats will distract the audience from the fact that Gladys wasn't moving a whole lot.

I agree with Bruno that William Levy is the sexiest guy DWTS has ever had on the show. But I don't think he's that good a dancer.

William Levy is probably the most promising male celeb I've seen out of the gate since R & B singer Mario. He intuitively gets the concept of leading from his body weight rather than his arm, and that is going to open up a lot of choreographic possibilities for Cheryl since she won't have to "muscle" as much of her dancing because of a lack of true lead. I think the footwork, stretch, etc. are fixable and I'm very sure that Cheryl will work hard at fixing them. Out of all the pros, Cheryl is smart at playing the DWTS game. She probably knew within the first few hours that she has a potential winner this season, and was planning how to make the most of it.

Maks' routine for Melissa Gilbert was ridiculously difficult for a beginner. I don't know what he was thinking.

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Since he can't do the "fringe and a smile" strategy that some of the female pros use *coughPeta*, Tristan probably thinks that the spats will distract the audience from the fact that Gladys wasn't moving a whole lot.

Then maybe he should have worn a red fringed sash, to bring attention away from feet.

Maks' routine for Melissa Gilbert was ridiculously difficult for a beginner. I don't know what he was thinking.

Is thinking his strong point?

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Donald Driver and William Levy are definitely the strongest this season so far. They're the only celebs who made it through the Quickstep without huge "gap" issues, and generally managed to maintain their centers for the duration of the dance. Levy loses the connection here and there a couple of times, but it's pretty clean, especially for Cheryl who's not a strong Ballroom dancer. (For comparison, watch Roshon's Quickstep where he and Chelsie lose their collective center several times during the dance even though Chelsie's a pretty good Ballroom dancer.)

At the moment, I'm saying that they're followed by Jaleel White, but it's hard to compare with Jaleel since he did foxtrot which is a much harder dance than the Quickstep.

Is thinking his strong point?

Maks is actually a talented choreographer and he comes into the show with one of the strongest teaching resumes out of the pros. I think he lets his ego get involved, though. After last season's fiasco, I think he's coming into this season with a huge chip on his shoulder.

Derek is dragging Maria around like a rag doll. She doesn't seem to be in physical shape and she's not coordinated. I'm thinking early exit unless Derek really can work miracles.

Strangely, i really like Gavin De Graw. Watching the B-roll, I expected utter disaster but he moves very musically and manages to hit his marks, which is much better than i thought he would do. Karina struggles with hopeless cases, but I can see this being a fun assignment for her after the intensity of last season.

Tristan seems to be becoming the new Jonathan Roberts, specializing in older and physically challenged female celebs.

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sidwich, I'd appreciate it very much if you'd give us your take past midpoint of the season.

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I, too, would love to know what you think, sidwich!

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Sorry, I've been finishing up some major projects this spring and haven't been watching the show as closely as I usually do. I will say that I'm pleased that the three strongest celebrities did make it to the final this year, and they're partnered with three very strong pros. Katherine, Donald and William are all very strong beginners, with strong points and weak points but unlike in previous years, I don't feel like any of them have been coasting with simplified choreography, say like Laila Ali. Mark, Peta and Cheryl have all been giving their celebs pretty well-rounded choreography for the most part throughout the competition.

Cheryl is clearly looker weaker and weaker as a dancer, though, and her choreography has been decided lackluster this year. I really hope she takes the summer off and puts herself in Louis' tutelage again. I strongly feel that she needs to let her body heal from the years of dancing with beginners, get herself back in shape and rededicate herself to keep up her own technique. Peta's emerging as the new star among the female pros, and Karina's improved leaps and bounds as a teacher and choreographer. Cheryl needs to take care of herself to keep the shine on her star.

In the round of 4, I will say that Maria was noticeably weaker than the final three. Although a lovely woman, Maria really lacks the strength and conditioning necessary for ballroom dancing. Derek was clearly reducing the number of weight changes she had to do in many of their routines. It was very noticeable in their Argentine Tango since it is essentially a walking-based dance. Still, Derek did really well to get her as far as he did.

The Bollywood Samba was a giant mess, but I will give Derek a pass since I suspect that he was directed to do that by the show producers. (Since DWTS doesn't qualify as a game show, the producers have wide latitude in giving out the weekly music choices and "suggesting" choreographic concepts.)

I liked the trio concept and hope they keep it. Donald and Peta clearly had the best routine, but they also had the easiest assignment. Jive, like most of the swing dances, lends itself to trio dancing, and a one lead/2 follow combination is relatively simple if the two follows are doing the same choreography. With two strong follows like Peta and Karina, the trio jive was pretty much a slam dunk unless Donald fell down.

I was surprised that Mark and Katherine's cha-cha worked out so well, though. Cha-cha does not lend itself as well to trios as jive, but Mark's choreography worked well.

I think Donald will win based both on his fanbase and how well he's done this year with Peta, but it's been a very good, enjoyable season for me.

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Thank you for sharing your views, Sidwich. I am glad to learn that you, too, think that the three strongest celebrities are in the finals. And I agree that Cheryl needs some time off to - as you put it so well - "keep the shine on her star." This has been a satisfying season, in that each of the three finalists has squarely earned the opportunity to carry the day.

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Thank you so much, sidwich!

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