Chelsie and Melissa grace ‘Dancing With the Stars’

Like surely many fans of So You Think You Can Dance, I’m stoked that the summer show’s Chelsie Hightower is now getting the enormous audience she deserves by being a professional dancer paired with a “star” (the term is often loosely applied) on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars.

The downside is that Chelsie’s partner is stiff as a board and dull as dust cowboy Ty Murray. Even while reigning it in and toning it down, Chelsie couldn’t help but dance rings around the aw-shucks slow-poke cow poke on Monday’s premiere, while Murray’s wife Jewel — who’d have competed against him with another partner — watched wanly from the audience, having been sidelined by an injury.

Due to Murray, not Chelsie, I’m think this pair won’t last long on this edition of DWTS, and that’s probably why Jewel was front-loaded onto next week’s debut results show without any delay. She’ll be performing, while he may be saying “Happy trails” as he saunters into the sunset. (Then again, he wasn’t the only lackluster dancer on a largely impressive opening night.)

But Chelsie, we love you — at least, I know I do, as you were the catalyst for the most-read blog entry I’ve ever written on this site. Your theatrical hip-hop performance of Leona Lewis’ Bleeding Love with partner Mark Kanemuraxx on last summer’s So You Think You Can Dance for Fox was as good as any dance I’ve seen on ABC’s often phony ratings juggernaut, and you well earned your place on this far more widely watched show — even if it doesn’t extend beyond the second week’s roundup.

And while we’re singing Chelsie’s praises despite her dance-challenged Texas pahd-ner, let’s salute another Texan who stepped up big-time last night: Melissa Rycroft, aka, the woman who was cruelly jilted on ABC’s The Bachelor in what was either (1) a ratings stunt, (2) a coldly calculated career move by an actor-wannabe bachelor, or (3) a horrendous personal injustice given the emotional enormity of the situation — and maybe all three.

All of that — and just over two days’ rehearsal — didn’t stop Melissa from performing superbly by displaying her ballet-training grace alongside veteran pro partner Tony Dovolani. Like The Girls Next Door star Holly Madison, Melissa was asked to join the cast last-minute when two contestants dropped out due to injury, the other being Nancy O’Dell of Access Hollywood.

O’Dell fittingly gave Melissa a standing ovation — despite a cast on her leg — as the Bachelor’s loss became Dancing’s gain. While Chelsie and Ty may not last long, I’m thinking Melissa and Tony will stick around for quite awhile. Give her some rehearsal time, and this spirited former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader is going to give us all something to really cheer about.

You see, there is life after The Bachelor. In fact, DWTS may make Melissa a far bigger star than The Bachelor has ever done for any of its shameless, fame-hungry contestants.

What a concept: Even in Hollywood, there can be poetic justice.


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