"Dancing With The Stars" Recap: Season 12, Finale

Hines Ward is the new king of ballroom! He and his pro partner, Kym Johnson, were awarded the mirrorball trophy on last night's "Dancing With The Stars" season finale. Hines' victory wasn't surprising because he's been a leading contestant throughout the season. The real shocker was that the aging sitcom actress Kirstie Alley knocked Disney kid Chelsea Kane out of second place. Clearly Kirstie's super-awkward cartwheel during her freestyle wasn't enough to overshadow her fame and general like-ability for the American voting audience.

The rest of last night's show was chock-full of video clip packages (yawn) which were interspersed with repeat dances by eliminated contestants (blah) and performances by The Black Eyed Peas and The Go-Go's (fast-forward). If I had to sum the show up in one word, I'd go with "meh." (Full disclosure: I know that "meh" isn't actually a word. My apologies.)

Rather than ramble on about how bored I was by last night's show (soooo bored), I'd like to end the season on a positive note. Without further ado, here are five things I really liked about Season 12.

  1. The introduction of the "DWTS" Dance Troupe. These up-and-coming ballroom professionals offered entertaining performances week after week. They were the highlight of every results show. I hope they get even more screen time next season!
  2. The series of inspirational stories that showed the "power of dance" (those were Tom Bergeron's words.) Last week's performance by Tayla Kelly—the 13-year-old dancer who suffers from primary immunodeficiency disease but who can still keep up with the best comp kids on the scene—warmed my heart. I applaud "DWTS" for opting to cut out a few lame video packages and use the time to shine a light on real, hardworking dancers who've overcome serious challenges. Bravo.
  3. The general increase in the number of fresh performances in the results shows. I'll admit that I don't have any hard stats to support this claim, but overall it seemed like we saw more real dancing in this season's results shows than ever before. Yes, the introduction of the "DWTS" Dance Troupe helped, but it also felt like the show's regular pros had more chances to perform onstage and it seemed like many of the musical guests helped by bringing dance-heavy songs to the show. Do you agree?
  4. Host Brooke Burke's new-and-improved wardrobe. Brooke has always been stunning, but this season her classier-than-ever gowns took her look to a whole new level. In season's past, I always thought Brooke's outfits made her look like a cougar rather than a confident woman in her 30s. Her dresses were always too short and too tight, and she just came off like she was trying too hard to be a hot 20-something. This time around, she sported gowns with more length and flattering lines and it made her overall appearance much more elegant. Keep it up, Brooke! You look fantastic.
  5. Tom Bergeron. No, he's not new. He's my constant "DWTS" favorite and I thought he deserved one more mention before we say goodbye to this season for good. Tom is clearly aware of how cheesy his show can be, and when things get too out of hand (say, whenever Bruno or Len go off on tangents) he's always there to bring everyone back to earth with a well-timed crack. Love him!

What was your favorite thing about "DWTS" Season 12? Tell us on Twitter or Facebook.

(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)

Congratulations to Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.

We also want you to get social! We'll be factoring social media likes and shares into our final tallies. Be sure to show your favorite finalist some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, sharing their profile pages and using the hashtag #DanceSpiritCMS.

Cover Model Search
Photo by Erin Baiano

Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.

Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."

Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?

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Amblin Entertainment

Steven Spielberg's much-anticipated remake of West Side Storychoreographed by Justin Peck, and starring a bevy of very good dancers—is in production, hooray! And that means it's finally time for us to get a look at the film's cast members in character. Let's break down the first photo from the project.

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