Season 16 of “Dancing with the Stars” didn’t break the pattern set over the last eight years. Since the show began in 2005, no African American woman has won and no Disney kid has won. This season was close and the scores for instant dances had little effect since it was a three-way tie between the three remaining couples. It was the voters who decided the winner: Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough.

Although Alexandra Raisman and her partner Mark Ballas had scored well and second on the judges leader board at the end of Monday night, they were eliminated based on the fan votes. Due to website problems, all votes from the ABC website were eliminated.

Pickler and Hough actually had a slightly better average than Zendaya and Val Chmerkovskiy who had topped the leader board Monday night.

Hough is one of the more popular dancers and Tuesday night was his fourth mirrorball. His first was earned with Brooke Burke during season 7. He then won again during season 10 with singer Nicole Scherzinger and the next season with actress Jennifer Grey.

Hough reached the semi-finals season 5 with Jennie Garth and season 9 with Playboy covergirl Joanna Krupa and during season 15 with TV personality Maria Menounos. With actress Ricki Lake, he finished third. Last season, during the All-Stars, he finished second with Shawn Johnson.

Val Chmerkovskiy has only been a competitor for 4 seasons.  He was first partnered with Italian actress Elisabetta Canalis, but finished 11 (second elimination) during season 13. The next season, he finished 10th with comedienne and talk show host Sherri Shepherd (third elimination). Season 15, he did better. Paired with season 1 winner, Kelly Monaco, he finished third.  Prior to being one of the professional dancers paired with a star, he had appeared in a dance routine during season 10 with his brother and Edyta Sliwinska and Snejana Petrova. He again appeared during season 11 for a dance duel against Mark Ballas.

While he hasn’t exactly been the ballroom’s bad boy like his brother, Val has already established himself in our minds with a bit of heroism. Injured and a bit bloody after a rehearsal on Monday night, Val still went on to perform with an injury above his right eye that later required stitches.

Val’s brother, Maksim, finished second with singer Mel B. during season 5 (behind winner race car driver Hélio Castroneves and Julianne Hough) and with actress Kirstie Alley during season 12 (behind football player Hines Ward and Kym Johnson).  Maksim finished third during season 4 with Laila Ali and season 10 with sports newscaster Erin Andrews. It was Maksim and Andrews who performed that bedroom contemporary number for their freestyle.  Apolo Anton Ohno with Julianne Hough won season 4 and Nicole Scherzinger and Derek Hough won season 10.

While black men have won the mirrorball trophy such as retired football star Emmitt Smith with Cheryl Burke (season 3),  football player Hines Ward with Kym Johnson (season 12), J.R. Martin with Karina Smirnoff (13) and football player Donald Driver with Peta Murgatroyd (14), no African American woman has  been able to win despite high scores from the judges.

Stars from the Disney channel often do not have the support of fans to take the mirrorball trophy. Disney star Kyle Massey with Lacey Schwimmer finished second like Zendaya and Val. Chelsea Kane and Mark Ballas finished third behind Kirstie Alley and Maksim.

Monday evening ended with Pickler and Hough (30 + 4 + 30) with 64 points and in second place, just in front of Alexandra Raisman and Mark Ballas (28 + 3 + 30 = 61). Zendaya and Val Chmerkovskiy had 65 having earned two perfect scores and an extra five points from winning the cha cha cha relay.

With the scores for the two individual dances and the cha cha cha relay on Monday and the instant dance on Tuesday, the total scores for the finalists were very close with Zendaya and Val Chmerkovskiy only one point ahead of Pickler and Hough.

Zendaya and Val Chmerkovskiy: 30

Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough: 30

Jacoby Jones and Karina Smirnoff: 30

  • Instant salsa
  • “Aguanile”-Héctor Lavoe
  • TOTAL: 27 + 2 + 27 + 30 = 86

Pickler and Hough had a slightly better season average than Zendaya and Val Chmerkovskiy, 27.4 compared to 27.3–with only the dances given a traditional 30-point scale from 15 dances. Raisman and Ballas would have had a 26.7 for 14 dances. Jones and Smirnoff had an average of 25. 6 for 15 dances.

Pickler and Zendaya will hopefully find projects that suit their talents. Maybe we’ll even see them on stage in a musical.

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