DWTS 15: Finalists Monday performances

There will be a queen to the ballroom Tuesday after the final instant dance on “Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars.” Who will it be: Kelly Monaco, Melissa Rycroft or Shawn Johnson? You can still vote on  ABC.com website or by Facebook.until 11 a.m. East Coast time or 8 a.m. Pacific Standard time.

I have barely recovered from no men making the finals after last week’s double elimination took out Emmett Smith and Apolo Anton Ohno. The three female celebrity finalists are fantastic, of course, but men have a harder time learning the dancing because they are supposed to be leading.

Oh, Gilles Marini is an exceptional dancer. Apolo Anton Ohno was getting a bit more bravura than he had in his original outing. Emmett Smith has such a genial personality on the dance floor and he’s so big he can really dominate that space.

The only lovely lady who calls Los Angeles home is Kelly Monaco, the winner of the first season of “Dancing with the Stars.”  Monaco was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvannia but now calls West Hollywood home. She’s been on the ABC soap opera “General Hospital” since 2003 as the character Sam McCall. “General Hospital” is supposed to take place in the fictional city of Port Charles, New York. Her TV debut was with a Southern California based show “Baywatch.” She had been an actual life guard prior to being cast on the show.

When she competed on DWTS for the first season, she wasn’t the best dancer nor did she have the highest average score. She also almost had a wardrobe malfunction during one routine. Her partner was Alex Mazo and he came back for a special face-off with John O’Hurley and his partner Charlotte Jorgensen. The season was six weeks long and only required ten dances. This season (15) is 10 weeks long and requires 17 dances as of tonight, Tuesday. For the doubters, Monaco has really proved herself and has good chemistry with her partner, Val Chmerkovskiy.

Melissa Rycroft originally competed during season 8 as a last-minute replacement for the injured Nancy O’Dell. She would finish in third place in May 2009, behind Shawn Johnson and Mark Ballas (winners) and Gilles Marini and Cheryl Burke (runners up).  Also in 2009, Rycroft got married and just last year, in February 2011, gave birth.

Johnson won an Olympic gold medal for balance beam and all-around in 2008. She was the 2007 all-around world champion and the U.S. all-around champion in 2007 and 2008. She was on a high when she won season 8 of DWTS. She had surgery on her knee in 2010 , after injuring it skiing. But this year, despite a team gold at the Pan American Games in 2011 and a silver for uneven bars, Johnson retired due to continuing left knee problems. She was not on the Olympic team that represented the U.S. in London.

Yet this season has Maksim’s younger brother, Val Chmerkovskiy emerging from his brother’s shadow. Wouldn’t it be something if Val and his partner Kelly Monaco won the trophy that has eluded his brother for 15 seasons? Maksim, of course, hasn’t been on DWTS for all 15 seasons. He wasn’t on the first season or the sixth season. His highest finish was second with Mel B during season five and 12 with Kirstie Alley. He came in third during season 4 (Laila Ali) and 10 (Erin Andrews). He finished fourth during season 11 with Brandy and season 13 with Hope Solo.

Val just began competing on DWTS during season 13 with Elisabetta Canalis for an 11th place finish. She was beautiful, but stiff and had just broken up with George Clooney. He loosened up a bit when he had the bubbly Sherri Shepherd as a partner the next season (14) for a 10th place finish.

Tony Dovolani like Maksim did not appear during the first pilot season. He also joined during season 2 and his partner, Stacy Kiebler (now dating Clooney), finished third. Dovolani also finished third with Melissa Rycroft during season 8. He finished fourth with Broadway musical star Marissa Jaret Winokur during season 6. During season 10, he had the dubious honor of partnering with Kate Gosselin who famously made him lose his temper.  This time around Rycroft has really blossomed and they’ve remained a class act throughout.

Derek Hough is the only pro still in the competition who has actually won a mirrorball trophy. The 27-year-old was in the original London West End production of “Footloose: The Musical” as the lead, Ren. He didn’t get to star in the remake, but his sister Julianne did. Hough joined DWTS during Season 5 when he was teamed with actress Jennie Garth for a fourth place finish.  He did much better season 7 when he paired with Brooke Burke for a win. He also won with singer Nicole Scherzinger (season 10) and actress Jennifer Grey (season 11). That’s three wins. He sat out season 12 due to movie commitments. He finished third with actress/talk show host Ricki Lake during season 13. He’s finished fourth three times: Season 5 with Jennie Garth, Season 9 with Playmate Joanna Krupa and Season 14 with Maria Menounos.

This will be Hough’s last season and perhaps that’s why he’s taking so many risks with his choreography or maybe it’s just that gymnast Shawn Johnson makes him want to show off his acrobatic skills as well. Hough’s a year older than Val.

Dovolani is the oldest professional dancer in the finals at 39.

Of the celebrities, former Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson is the youngest at 20. Monaco is 36. Rycroft is 29. Only Rycroft is married (to Tye Strickland with one child).   Her partner, Dovolani, is also the only professional dancer in the finals who is married. Dovolani has three children, the youngest two (twins) were born during Season 7 when Dovolani was paired with soap opera diva Susan Lucci.

At the end of Monday night the rankings were:

  1. Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani: 60/60
  2. Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy: 59/60
  3. Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough: 57/60

The first round of dances were do-overs. Each couple took a dance they had previously performed and brought the routine back to the ballroom for a better score. Hough and Johnson could have scored better, but refused to change their quickstep routine which featured a lift and also got deduction for not remaining in hold.

  1. Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani: 30/30 for a samba to “Conga” by Gloria Estefan 
  2. Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy: 29.5/30 (9.5,10.0,10.0) for a paso doble to ” Espana Cani“by Erich Kunzel 
  3. 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.

  1. Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani: 30/30 to “I Was Here” by Beyonce with trapeze artists.
  2. 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 DouglasMcKayla MaroneyAly RaismanKyla Ross, and Jordyn Wieber).
  3. 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.

Over the last 14 season, women have only won six times. Besides Monaco and Johnson, the mirrorball was won by Olympic gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi (Mark Ballas), TV host Brooke Burke (Derek Hough), singer Nicole Scherzinger (Hough) and actress Jennifer Grey (Hough). The last three seasons were won by men: Hines Ward (Kym Johnson), J.R. Martinez (Karina Smirnoff) and Donald Driver (Peta Murgatroyd). You can still vote on

ABC.com website or by Facebook.until 11 a.m. East Coast time or 8 a.m. Pacific Standard time.

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