From the beginning of Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough’s contemporary dance routine on Dancing With the Stars, I was riveted. It was like watching a flowing stream of the physical, emotional, and spiritual. It was poetry clothed in pattern and movement. It was the best routine and performance I have ever seen. And I had to watch it through a veil of tears. The applause went on forever.
Nothing else compared to it by any stretch of the imagination. I believe it will be one of those dances that will be played over and over and over, and become a classic. Derek’s decision to pare their free-style performance down to “simply” great dancing, was inspired. It stood out among the flash of props and extravaganzas like a Japanese garden in Downtown Hollywood.
Forget about Carrie Ann Inaba’s crocodile tears, the judge that mattered gave a lone standing ovation. I told my husband, “They ought to give them an eleven.” Just as the words were out of my mouth, so said Len Goodman, and Bruno seconded the motion. “A good dancer,” said Len, “engages the brain. A great dancer engages the heart.”
Kellie Picker is a great dancer. I have never seen Derek Hough — the “Golden Boy” of DWTS — so moved by any contestant. Dashing away tears as he stood beside her, he shared with the audience that he couldn’t believe he had almost missed her. He had just about decided to take this year off from DWTS. I think Kellie has been the highlight of his career on this show. They fit together and inspire each other like two little live blonde dolls — Kellie like a feather he can fling and toss and move at will.
Kellie’s down home sweet humbleness and cooperative spirit has shown through this season on a show naturally filled with a lot of egos. But so has her backbone — that of a tough country girl who has made it in the dog eat dog world of entertainment. She took a so-so singing performance on American Idol and turned it into a lucrative career, cashing in on the personality that America fell in love with — the little bitty, unsophisticated girl from the school of Hard Knocks whose voice progressed to stardom.
Kellie has taken the nit-picking of Carrie Ann with charm and dignity. But it is this judge’s finding of phantom faults which has denied Kellie the edge she has so well deserved. This reeks of favoritism, and subsequently, Carrie Ann’s hugs and tears seem condescending. Her favorite, Zendaya, IS an excellent young dancer. But, to me, her youth does tell and she is still in that gangly stage. Kellie performs with the grace and feeling that come with maturity, and a hard-working relationship with real life.
On Dancing With The Stars, as on American Idol, the best has not always won. But as Tom Bergeron commented as Kellie and Derek were walking off the stage, this dance will definitely make its way into the hearts of America, and like other enduring and beautiful routines, will never forget it. I know I won’t. And I don’t think America will forget this season with the amazing Kellie Pickler.