Top 10 Dancing with the Stars Pros
Dancing With the Stars
Dancing with the Stars is an ABC reality series where professional ballroom dancers team up with celebrities in a dancing competition. Dancers are scored by both the judges in the ballroom and the viewers at home. Each week the couple with the lowest score is sent home. At the end of the season one professional and celebrity reign supreme and win the coveted mirror ball trophy.
The pros have to work with whatever talent and drive the celebrities they are given have. Some pros shine more than others using choreography and their own dancing skills to show off their celebrity in the best light possible. Below is my list – starting with #10 and working to #1 – of the best Dancing with the Stars pros.
10. Tony Dovolani
Tony is an Albanian dancer who won several titles before appearing on Dancing with the Stars. He coached Jennifer Lopez and Richard Gere in the 2004 movie Shall We Dance.
Tony Dovolani debuted on Dancing with the Stars way back in season 2 when he partnered wrestler and former George Clooney girlfriend Stacy Keibler to 3rd place. Tony's partners include Jane Seymour, Susan Lucci, Kate Gosselin, and NeNe Leakes. He won the show on season 15 with his partner, former bachelorette Melissa Rycroft.
Tony has a very calm and encouraging way about him. He has been given temperamental partners (Kate Gosselin anyone?) on more than one occasion and always seems capable of smoothing things out and getting them to perform.
Tony Dovolani and Melissa Rycroft
9. Witney Carson
Witney Carson is the most junior dancer to make the list. She first caught my eye when she appeared on So You Think You Can Dance in 2012. After finishing 6th that season, Witney joined the Dancing with the Stars troupe for seasons 16 and 17. In season 18 she was promoted to Pro and partnered singer Cody Simpson. Witney's most recent partner is actor Aldonso Ribeiro.
Witney brings an infectious, bright energy to the ballroom. She keeps things positive with her celebrity and seems full of encouragement. Witney's choreography is inventive and fresh. Her choreography along with her all-American good looks is likely what got her promoted from troupe dancer to pro so quickly.
8. Lacey Schwimmer
Lacey Schwimmer is another So You Think You Can Dance alumna. Lacey finished 4th on the show's third season. Lacey specializes in American Swing and international Latin dances. She appeared as a pro on six seasons of Dancing with the Stars.
Lacey's best finish on the show was with Disney star Kyle Massey. The pair finished 2nd. She also came in 3rd in season seven with N'SYNC star Lance Bass. Lacey infuses her choreography with the bounce that goes along with West Coast Swing dancing. She's very passionate and not afraid to defend her celebrity or her own choreography from the judges' criticism.
Lacey Schwimmer and Kyle Massey
7. Peta Murgatroyd
Peta Murgatroyd was born in New Zealand and raised in Australia. She trained as a ballerina while growing up – long before she took up ballroom dancing. In fact, only months after she took up ballroom, Peta was crowned the Australian State Champion. In 2004 she joined the cast of the ballroom show Burn the Floor. When the show hit Broadway, Peta was in the role of leading lady.
Peta became a troupe dancer on Dancing with the Stars in season 12. She became a pro on season 13 where she teamed up with celebrity Metta World Peace. They were the first team eliminated. However, the following season Peta teamed with Donald Driver and they took home the mirror ball.
Strict and exacting, Peta has a sophisticated style. Her routines are classic and sexy and she keeps a firm hand with her celebrities expecting the most out of them every week.
6. Cheryl Burke
Cheryl Burke has been on Dancing with the Stars since season 2. She won both season 2 (with Draw Lachey) and season 3 (with Emmitt Smith), becoming the show's first back-to-back champion. Cheryl has been a finalist or semi-finalist on Dancing with the Stars over a dozen times.
Cheryl is a very well-balanced pro being equally skilled in performing and choreographing both Latin and ballroom dances. This versatility spreads to the other styles of dance the show sometimes demands. Her winning freestyle routine with Drew Lachey to “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” is considered one of the best routines the show has ever seen.
Cheryl Burke and Drew Lachey
5. Kym Johnson
Kym Johnson was a professional dancer on the Australian version of Dancing with the Stars before joining the American cast in season 3. Kym was the season 9 champion along with her partner Donnie Osmond. Kym came out on top again when she partnered Hines Ward in season 12. She was also the runner up in two seasons with partners Joey Fatone and Warren Sapp.
Kym Johnson has a particularly charming and sensual personality on the dance floor. Her choreography is light and crisp and she always has a smile for her partner. Kym's also a tough cookie. She had a serious fall in rehearsals with partner Hines Ward. Despite a neck injury, Kym danced her way to the mirror ball trophy.
4. Mark Ballas
Mark Ballas grew up in the ballroom dancing world. His parents are skilled ballroom dancers and his father, Corky Ballas, has appeared on Dancing with the Stars too. Along with partner Julianne Hough, Mark won the Junior Latin American Dance Championships and the gold medal in the Junior Olympics.
Mark has been on Dancing with the Stars since season 5. He is a dynamic partner who often squires younger celebrities like Sabrina Ryan, Bristol Palin, and Sadie Robertson. He won the mirror ball trophy in season 6 with skater Kristi Yamaguchi and in season 8 with gymnast Shawn Johnson. Mark has been nominated for an Emmy for his choreography on the show.
3. Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Maksim is a Ukrainian ballroom champion whose family immigrated to America when he was a child. Maksim and his brother Valentin have both appeared as pros on Dancing with the Stars. Maksim owns five dance studios in the New York and New Jersey area.
Mak first appeared on Dancing with the Stars in season 2 with celebrity Tia Carrere. He has appeared on 14 seasons of the show, most recently with Olympic ice dancer Meryl Davis. Meryl and Maks came in first, winning the mirror ball trophy.
Maksim has a very volatile personality sometimes arguing with the judges when he disagrees with their opinions. Maks also argues with his partners and sometimes gets angry with them when they don't live up to his expectations. But Maks' choreography is very creative and fiery, sometimes pushing the boundaries of what a dance allows in order to make a better performance.
Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Meryl Davis
2. Julianne Hough
Julianne Hough first appeared on Dancing with the Stars in season 4. She is a two-time mirror ball winner, taking first place on the show with race car driver Helio Castroneves and ice skater Apolo Anton Ono. Julianne also starred in the 2011 movie Footloose. In season 19 of Dancing with the Stars she has returned as a judge.
An accomplished choreographer, Julianne was nominated for a Creative Arts Emmy in 2007 for her choreography on Dancing with the Stars. She is one of the most vivacious, sparkling personalities to have hit the ballroom stage. Julianne is also one of the strongest choreographers turning in innovative, engaging routines time and time again.
1. Derek Hough
Derek Hough has won multiple awards in the ballroom dancing community. He has also been nominated for multiple Emmy awards, winning the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Choreography in 2013 for his work on Dancing with the Stars.
Derek has won the Dancing with the Stars title more times than any other professional dancer – 5 times in all. He has won with celebrities Brooke Burke, Nicole Scherzinger, Jennifer Grey, Kellie Pickler, and Amber Riley. Derek has never finished lower than 6th place on the show.
Derek's innovative choreography has led most of his celebrity partners to success in the ballroom. Derek is particularly skilled at finding choreography that highlights his partner's dancing assets while simultaneously hiding their flaws. Combine this ability with Derek's great sense for what an audience will respond to and you have a winning combination.