Talent Recap

Are ‘DWTS’ Judges Qualified To Critique The Pros Of Dance?


Dancing With the Stars is all about celebrities learning to dance and being judged by a panel of experts…but what happens when those experts start directing critiques to the pro dance partners instead of the celebs?

Who Should The Judges Be Scoring?

Choreography Critiques

Sasha Pieterse and Gleb Savchenko dance a choreographically-criticized jazz routine on Dancing With the Stars

Usually when the judges turn to address a pro dancer instead of their celebrity partner, the comments are about their choreography. For the most part, the pros on the show do all their own choreography, and even if they hire someone else to assist, it is ultimately a reflection on themselves.

Hannah Brown and Alan Bersten dance a foxtrot on Dancing With the Stars

Occasionally the judges will dock points in a dance based on their own personal tastes. But more often they’ll do it when they think a pro hasn’t included enough content (AKA dance moves) from the assigned style in the routine. For example, Len Goodman criticized Alan Bersten for not including enough in-hold steps in his foxtrot with Hannah Brown this past week, and ended up scoring them a full two points lower than the other judges.

The Lift Police

Nastia Liukin and Derek Hough dance a foxtrot – which was then docked for a lift – on Dancing With the Stars

Carrie Ann Inaba has earned the nickname “Lift Police” on the show because she is very strict about docking points on routines if they include any illegal lifts. (The majority of dance styles featured on DWTS do not allow for lifts.)

Style Over Substance

Sadie Robertson and Mark Ballas dance a Paso Doble – which Mark was subsequently criticized for due to focus on the story and theme instead of the content – on Dancing With the Stars.

Sometimes the pros focus more on the theme and story of the dance than the steps themselves. The judges often call them out for this, but the decision to go this route is often a calculated move; sometimes it may actually be better to sacrifice a few judges’s points in order to wow the audience and get more viewer votes.

Should The Judges Be Doing This?

Dancing With the Stars is about the celebrities learning to dance, so some fans find it unfair when the judges “punish” a star because of the choreography, something they don’t have control over.

Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani win Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars Edition after coming in third place during Season 8

However, it’s important to remember that both the winning star and the winning pro receive a Mirrorball Trophy. DWTS is a team effort, and if one pro doesn’t teach their celebrity the dances properly (or put enough of their skills in the assigned style on display) they shouldn’t be scored as high as another couple who was able to deliver a strong routine on all accounts. It simply wouldn’t be fair to the team who put in the effort to fulfill all the requirements expected of them.

Ally Brooke and Sasha Farber dance a cha-cha on Dancing With the Stars

Yes, some of the judges (looking at you, Len) may be a little too harsh in this department at times, but at the end of the day they are there to judge the dances, and if the pros don’t give the star enough true dance content, they’re doing them a disservice when it comes time for judging.

Do you think the DWTS judges should be critical of the pros? Tell us in the comments below!

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