Tom Bergeron

Dancing with the Stars started out as a small summertime series, but with 25 million fans, it has cha-chaed its way into American hearts!

In the show, celebrities endure ballroom dancing boot camp with professional dance partners to prepare for the competition of a lifetime. After learning to foxtrot, mambo and jive, the 12 stars set out to impress judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli and Len Goodman. The competition is fierce, and in the end, only one couple becomes the ultimate dance champions!

Host Tom Bergeron attributes the show's success to its sense of fun. "It is a reality show without a mean bone in its body," he says. "There's no bug-eating or backbiting or anything like that."

Judge Carrie Ann says she thinks the show inspires viewers at home. "I definitely think it's about watching people who we look up to and aspire to be like getting out there and trying something new and really going for it," she says. "They're way outside their comfort zone, learning something new."

"Everybody can share this show. It doesn't exclude anybody," Bruno says. "We laugh and have a bit of tension, but it is a great variety show."
Helio Castroneves and Julianne Hough

Race car driver Helio Castroneves and his partner, Julianne Hough, took home the disco ball trophy in fall 2007—but are they ready for a repeat performance? "Who's ever ready to go on The Oprah Show?" Julianne says. "I'm going to be so excited but so nervous at the same time."

Backstage at the Dancing with the Stars tour, Julianne helps Helio dust off his dance moves. "He is actually really coordinated. He picks up pretty quick," Julianne says. "The first lesson I ever had with him, I was like, 'Woo-hoo! We are going to do so good.'"

After a few practice sessions, Helio and Julianne are ready to take the stage! They cha-cha their way through their standout performance of "Love Rollercoaster."
Helio Castroneves and Julianne Hough

It's hard to believe that Helio had never taken a dance lesson before he signed on for Dancing with the Stars. "It's absolutely true. This was the first time in my life," he says. "I had such a great time."

Julianne says she knew Helio had a champion cha-chaer in him from the beginning. "He did so great," she says.

It's time for the reigning champs to face the judges, and Bruno says the duo hasn't lost its spark. "You two still have the power to light up the room," he says. "You smile, and everybody smiles with you."

In fact, they have so much chemistry, Oprah asks them the question on everyone's mind—are the rumors that they're dating true? "No," Julianne says. "Helio is one of my best friends."
Drew Lachey and Cheryl Burke

Second-season winner Drew Lachey says he is feeling good about performing again with partner Cheryl Burke. "But to be perfectly honest, I am a little intimidated to be going on Oprah," Drew says. "Actually, Oprah might be one of the few shows that has more people watching than Dancing with the Stars, which is a little scary."

After practicing their signature number, Drew and Cheryl are ready for the big show! "We dusted off the cobwebs, kicked off the rust. We are ready," Drew says. "We are coming to you, and we are going to blow the roof off the place."

Drew and Cheryl energize the audience with the show-stopping number that earned them a perfect score on Dancing with the Stars—"Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy."
Drew Lachey and Cheryl Burke

Seasons have passed since Drew and Cheryl took home the gold, but after bringing down the house with their signature performance, Bruno says it's like the pair never parted.

"It feels like I haven't stopped dancing for a day," says Drew, who has performed in three tours with Cheryl since the season two finale. "Every time I get back out there and we do our jive and our tango, it just comes back."
Kelly Monaco and Alec Mazo

When soap opera star Kelly Monaco appeared on the very first season of Dancing with the Stars she had a nerve-racking dance experience. In one performance, her costume strap came loose, but she continued like a pro and even managed to keep her top up! Soon after, she became the one-and-only female champ.

Since her victory, Kelly and her dance partner, Alec Mazo, have a lot of catching up to do before performing on The Oprah Show stage. "I think nervous might be an understatement," she says. "I'm going to try not to fall for you. [But], I can't promise anything."

She has nothing to worry about. Kelly and Alec's freestyle rendition of "Let's Get Loud" comes off without a hitch!
Kelly Monaco and Alec Mazo

The performance is behind her, but Kelly says the nerves aren't. "My knees are still shaking!"

Getting her groove back after three years didn't come naturally. "There was no muscle memory," she says. "Dancing muscles and regular muscles do not combine."
Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke

More than a year after his spectacular Dancing with the Stars win, three-time Super Bowl champion Emmitt Smith dusts off his dancing shoes for a last-minute practice with his partner, Cheryl. They have only 24 hours to work on their moves before the performance! "Only you, Oprah, could make me come out of dance retirement," Emmitt says. "Hopefully we don't disappoint you!"

Emmitt and Cheryl's mambo is far from a disappointment! They wow the audience with their hip-shaking version of "Que Bueno Baila Usted."
Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke

Emmitt says his experience with Dancing with the Stars has changed his life and caused fans of all ages to approach him. "They all have talked about how much they appreciated the things that Cheryl and I brought to the dance floor," he says. No matter where he is, Emmitt finds Dancing fans. He even had a flight attendant ask him for a spin on the dance floor. "It's kind of crazy," he says.

When Emmitt first announced to his NFL teammates that he was going on the show, he admits they didn't have much to say. "Everybody was real quiet until it got to the finals," he says. Then the phone started ringing off the hook! "Calls from Steve Beuerlein. Mike Irvin came to visit. Troy called. Daryl Burke called," he says. "Everybody called with congratulations."

Emmitt has impressed more than just his teammates—he's become a favorite of the judges as well. "I just thought Emmitt was so amazing because he's a big burly manly man and he got out there and got his groove on," Carrie Ann says. "He really made it okay for big guys to dance."
Derek surprises Deneen.

Dancing with the Stars champion Julianne Hough's big brother Derek is also a pro on the show—and he has a big surprise for an unsuspecting stay-at-home mom!

Deneen wrote in to The Oprah Show because she is a huge fan of Dancing with the Stars. The celebrities' cha-chas, waltzes and mambos inspired her so much, Deneen even took up ballroom dancing lessons.

As Deneen perfects her dance moves during a class, Derek sneaks into the studio to deliver some news that leaves her speechless. "You asked to be transformed into a ballroom superstar. Well, I am here to do something about that," Derek says. "You and I are going to be doing a little one-on-one dance training because next week, guess what? We are going to be dancing on Oprah!"

"Oh my god!" Deneen says.
Derek and Deneen

Deneen's dancing dreams come true when she takes the stage to perform a mambo with Derek. She doesn't miss a beat—you'd never guess that Deneen had a mere three days to practice—or that she just had a baby 15 months ago! "You did a great job," Oprah says. "You can be proud of yourself."

Was Deneen's Dancing with the Stars experience all that she hoped it would be? "Oh, it's unbelievable," she says. "I mean, truly it's unbelievable. I'm still pinching myself."
The season six cast of Dancing with the Stars

The Season 6 cast of Dancing with the Stars is all together to share what made them want to put on their dancing shoes. The cast includes: Oscar® winner Marlee Matlin, the one and only Priscilla Presley, Olympic gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi, NFL all-star Jason Taylor, tennis champ Monica Seles, actress Shannon Elizabeth, comic and magician Penn Jillette, actor Steve Guttenberg, comedian and radio host Adam Carolla, international film star Cristián de la Fuente, R&B singer Mario and Tony® award winner Marissa Jaret Winokur.

Priscilla Presley says she said yes to Dancing with the Stars because she's a huge fan of the show. "I think there's a little bit of a dancer in all of us," she says. "It's the opportunity of a lifetime, and I don't want to look back on my life and say, 'Why didn't you do it,' and then regret that I didn't do it. I think those chances when they come, you need to take them."

For Marlee, participating in the show is another way to communicate. "Because of being deaf, and knowing what dancers do, we do the same thing," Marlee says through an interpreter. "They use their hands and body. They make themselves understood that way and express themselves that way. It's like learning another language for me."

Some of the contestants are admittedly a little more prepared than others. "I think I might have made a horrible mistake," Penn jokes. "But I was born to dance. Look at me, Oprah, look at me—born to dance!"

Find your true passion
FROM: Oprah Presents Dancing with the Stars Champions
Published on February 21, 2008


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