March 15, 2013

New 'Dancing' gets our preview

Who can maintain that competitive dancing edge with a show-stopping smile? Tune in to the new season of "Dancing With the Stars" and see.

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Mark Ballas says he already knows who's going to be hoisting the Mirror Ball Trophy months from now on Dancing With the Stars.

He knows how to pick the winner, he says, because there's a formula that almost never fails.

"The key to the show is to take it seriously and to be competitive, but also to enjoy the process," says Ballas, a professional ballroom dancer from Houston who has partnered with celebrity amateurs since 2007. "You can see it in past seasons. Someone can be an amazing dancer, but they end up taking it so serious that all the fun gets sucked out it and it becomes hard for an audience to enjoy.

"There has to be the perfect balance of dedication and hard work, and fun and enjoyment."

So there you have it. Or were you expecting Ballas to make it easy for you by naming names?

No, you'll have to watch the show and assess the 12 celebrity dancers for yourself.

The two-hour Season 16 premiere is 7 p.m. Monday on WFAA/Channel 8.

The first elimination episode will air at 8 p.m. March 26.

But if you follow the Ballas formula, boxer Victor "Vicious" Ortiz appears to be the one to watch.

The 26-year-old welterweight has the work ethic that helped him win a WBC championship, but he also has a million-dollar smile that allows him to connect with fans.

Transfer that to Dancing With the Stars, and Ortiz has all the makings of a viewer favorite.

"Fun is the key," Ortiz says. "If you're not having fun doing something, then why do it? My thing is I'm going to have a blast, but at the same time I'm going to work hard.

"And I'm shooting for the...what is it called again? The Globe?"

No, Victor, it's the Mirror Ball.

Ballas' partner, 18-year-old Aly Raisman, seems to have what it takes as well.

Raisman captained the 2012 U.S. Women's Gymnastics Team to its first team gold medal since 1996. She won a gold medal in floor exercise and a bronze on the balance beam, making her the most decorated American gymnast in the London Games.

She also knows how to win over a crowd.

"This show, I want to take it really seriously," Raisman says, "but at the same time go crazy and have fun and show everyone my personality."

If she succeeds, she will be Ballas' third partner to claim a Dancing With the Stars championship. (The others also were athletes: figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi in Season 6 and gymnast Shawn Johnson in Season 8.)

Meanwhile, Sean Lowe, the Arlington native who just found his love match on ABC's The Bachelor, thinks Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl hero Jacoby Jones is the man to beat.

"Jacoby is obviously very athletic," Lowe says. "And every time he gets into the end zone, he's dancing already. So he's on my radar."

Lowe was added to the Dancing With the Stars field Tuesday, one day after he asked Catherine Guidici to be his bride in The Bachelor finale, but weeks after the other 11 celebrities were announced.

But that doesn't mean he's at a disadvantage. An ABC spokesperson says that Lowe actually started rehearsal at the same time as everyone else, but he rehearsed the whole time in secret.

The rest of the pack typically includes a wide range of personalities from different walks of life.

That includes ice-skating legend Dorothy Hamill, an inspired choice who's likely to be a fan favorite; Ingo Rademacher, the requisite soap-opera star (General Hospital); Zendaya, a youth-skewing Disney Channel personality (Shake It Up); two country music artists, Wynonna Judd and Kellie Pickler; and comedian-actor D.L. Hughley.

Rounding out the group are two in-over-their-heads types who are already preparing themselves for elimination with self-deprecating jokes: comedian Andy Dick and Real Housewives reality show star Lisa Vanderpump.

"This is probably the hardest thing I've ever taken on," Dick says. "I'm completely a panicky, shaking, hairless Chihuahua. That's my reality of this whole thing."

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