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Dancing With The Stars

Len vs. The Choreographers: DWTS Routines Grumpy Judge Didn’t Appreciate

Grumpy old Len Goodman prides himself on liking traditional dances without all that “stuff” before, during, and after the required elements. You know — the stuff some people call “creativity.” (By the way, Len makes exceptions for boobs, which are always in season for him.)

This season the head judge on Dancing With the Stars has saved most of his angst for pro Mark Ballas, but he’s usually pretty equal opportunity when it comes to challenging choreography that he feels isn’t up to snuff.

Mark is having a rough time of it on Season 12, but our favorite Len vs. The Choreographer battles have involved Len taking on both Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Derek Hough on Season 10. Let’s take a stroll down awkward bickering lane...

Len vs. Mark

Len’s one-man-attack on Mark’s Season 12 choreography started with a general distaste for Mark & Chelsea Kane’s Jive on Week 2. He said there was too much “messing about” and not enough Jive. “This girl has got fantastic potential. [...] But not with dances like that.”

Then he went after Mark & Chelsea’s Week 4 Viennese Waltz, reminding Mark that “It’s a 300-year-old dance” and, in his view, Mark’s job was to fit 22-year-old Chelsea into the dance, not adjust the dance to her youth.

And in his most recent Week 7 complaint, Len went after Mark & Chelsea’s Paso Doble, calling it — of all things — too “in-your-face” and aggressive. Mark was open about his disappointment with still another “8” from Len, telling the cameras in the confessional that Chelsea had the perfect amount of intensity for a dance about fighting a bull. Mark also used his Celebriquarium time to tick off all the required moves he did put in the dances — this week even saying he included one move just to please Len. Whoops, didn’t work!

Len vs. Maks

Len didn’t like Erin Andrews’ Season 10 Week 3 blindfold Waltz with Maks. “I never thought the thing was gonna start. [...] It was the most boring start I’ve ever seen.” The audience booed as Len insisted, “It’s a Waltz, sunshine,” poking fun at how Erin & Maks floated around the dance floor before actually dancing together.

Week 6, Len decided to diss Maks for his sexy shirtless Samba, saying Erin should be getting 8s and 9s but she keeps getting 7s because Maks hasn’t choreographed a proper routine. “I’m fed up, Maks, with shirts coming off, all this. She’s too good for that." He said Erin should be up there with frontrunner Nicole Scherzinger, but the routines were holding her back.

Well, Maks did not like that one bit. He retaliated for the Samba slur by doing a post-show interview with, saying Len may be “too old to be on this show and judge”:

"Len is wrong one billion percent. He said we didn't have enough substance in Samba. Are you out of your mind? I could give you a list right now, probably would take about three pages, of all the steps we did in samba. This is what I do for a living! I know that not everyone knows what goes into this, but I go back to running four very successful dance studios. I have a staff of about 50. I have trained a ton of US champions and world champions, and I've coached [everyone] from juveniles to professionals. Don't tell me what I didn't do right because you're wrong! And if that means you're too old to be on this show and judge, then that's what it means.”

And yet they’re still on speaking terms today. Amazing.

Len vs. Derek

On Season 10, Week 4, Len unleashed his angst on Derek — arguably the most creative choreographer on the show — thanks to his Quickstep choreography for future winner Nicole Scherzinger: “You are taking the mickey out of us judges! Because that was not a Quickstep; it was just a load of vaudeville.”

Len got really vicious when dissing Nicole & Derek's Season 10, Week 6 Samba, including insults for his fellow judges: “I think Carrie Ann [Inaba] is misinformed and judging from the noises. [Points to Bruno.] I think you should be chloroformed. […] I thought the line at the end was ugly. They were ugly legs. The gyrations I thought were surfeit the requirements. Derek, I judge mostly the Sambas on Voltas and Bota Fogos. I like to see them in the routine. Not one in there. Not one Volta. Not one Bota Fogo. I can’t accept it. It’s not a Samba; it’s a hodgepodge of sexy moves and gyrations.”

Derek didn’t retaliate much, even though Len did call Nicole’s leg lines “ugly,” which is just rude. Why not unleash his own fury? Probably because Derek learned his lesson back on Season 6. He was criticized at the time for lashing out at the judges in the confessionals as partner (and girlfriend-at-the-time) Shannon Elizabeth sobbed over their Rumba scores.

"I did the hips! When I did the fan moves, I did the hips," Elizabeth said. Derek was upset that the judges were commenting on their hip action when the other dancers were doing much worse. "What about the heel leads happening out there? What about the heel leads, the feet coming off the floor, the horrific, demented lines people are making out there — and you're giving them 9s and 10s? Are you kidding me?" Yikes.

So on Season 10 he just shook his head and tried to defend his moves, but in a respectful way. Lesson learned!