This was a year of great creativity for Dancing With the Stars, with 2012’s two seasons giving us many memorable routines. We already shared our five favorite dances from DWTS All-Stars, but what were the "best" dances of 2012? We went back to Season 14, and took another look at All-Stars Season 15 to find different dances to include. Here are 10 dances that stood out to us, in chronological order, rather than as a ranking. Which routines stood out for you?
Katherine Jenkins and Mark Ballas, Waltz Season 14
Katherine Jenkins was a rock star her whole season. If the best technical dancer won every year, she would've won Season 14. She had so many great routines with Mark Ballas but this Personal Story Week Waltz to Josh Groban’s "To Where You Are" was particularly moving, because it was dedicated to her late father. It showcased Katherine’s amazing dance talent and ability to showcase real emotion, giving her two 10s — on Week 3! That’s impressive.
Maria Menounos and Derek Hough, Paso Doble, Season 14
No season is complete without at least one inventive routine by Derek Hough — he of Nicole Scherzinger’s 1950s Paso Doble and Ricki Lake’s Psycho Tango. And now we have Maria Menounos’s Vampire Paso Doble on Season 14’s Classical Week. As usual, the music was half the battle, with "Montagues and Capulets" by Sergei Prokofiev perfectly accentuating the passion and intensity. Did Maria keep those fangs? She should've.
William Levy and Cheryl Burke, Viennese Waltz, Season 14
Loverboy Levy was the Gilles Marini of Season 14, but even though he flashed enough skin to be a Playboy bunny, we loved seeing his classy side too, from his Foxtrot to this gorgeous Week 7 Viennese Waltz. Once again, a good amount of credit goes to the music, in this case a Classical Week performance of "Ave Maria," performed by Jackie Evancho.
Katherine Jenkins and Mark Ballas, Samba, Season 14
It was so much fun to see Kat’s personality come out in such a fun, genuine way in this Motown Week Samba. Katherine definitely looked the part with her '60 beehive hair, and she shook her “naughty bits” like she was every bit the pro Mark was. This was only on Week 6, but it looked like a Finale routine. Oh and having The Temptations perform live with them didn't hurt!
Maria Menounos, Derek Hough and Henry Byalikov, Bollywood Trio Samba, Season 14
Much love to Gilles Marini and Peta Murgatroyd, but this was the original Bollywood dance of 2012, and still the funkiest. It’s not perfect, but it’s here because the Bollywood aspect was fresh and fun and they made lemonade out of their lemon of a song, "Mama Do the Hump,” which wasn’t good for much of anything. If only they could take the “Jai Ho” music Gilles and Peta got and combine it with this Trio routine. Then again, this dance showed how much Len Goodman just doesn’t appreciate Derek’s Trio Sambas, since he gave this routine a 7 and that’s the same score Len gave Derek’s Tribal Trio Samba with Shawn and Mark on All-Stars. Love love love that Trial Trio Samba, which we ranked high on our All-Stars favorite list.
Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd, Freestyle, Season 14
You have to give credit to Drew Lachey and Cheryl Burke for popularizing clever country Freestyles back on Season 2, and more credit goes to Karina Smirnoff for suggesting the song, Cowboy Troy’s "I Play Chicken with the Train." But the rest of the credit goes to Donald and Peta for their cowboy football player dance in Green Bay Packers colors. It was fun and memorable and just exciting to watch. There's a lift sequence in this that is so Donald and Peta — reminiscent of their amazing Argentine Tango. His strength and her legs made the best combination all season. Freestyles win seasons and, with respect to The Fierce Five’s All-Stars cameo, this was the most memorable one of 2012.
Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy, Paso Doble, All-Stars
Loved their Rumba, but this sharp, sexy Iconic Dances Week Paso was a Team Vally favorite for good reason. It's the dance that made Len wonder where Kelly Monaco had been, launching her on a path to the Finals, and showing off the red hot chemistry that would be Kelly and Val Chmerkovskiy’s All-Stars signature.
Sabrina Bryan & Louis Van Amstel, Rumba, All-Stars
We were moved by Apolo Anton Ohno and Karina Smirnoff’s Viennese Waltz to "Skin (Sarabeth)" but All-Stars Country Week was packed with riches, including Sabrina Bryan and Louis van Amstel’s beautiful, emotional Rumba to Hunter Hayes's "Wanted." It got the first perfect score of All-Stars ... and it happened to be one of Sabrina's last dances of DWTS, since she was eliminated this week. Still can't believe that.
Melissa Rycroft, Tony Dovolani and Henry Byalikov, Trio Paso Doble, All-Stars
First of all, props to Henry for being the Trio King. He did Bollywood with Maria and Derek on Season 14 and got called back for this passionate and precise Paso Doble. Melissa was all over that floor, and they even put her to work while the announcer was still reading off the names! Melissa is more of a sunshine-happy good girl, but when she needs to be tough and intense, she delivers. Just watch her yell "Ha! Ha! Ha!" in the middle of the routine. As Carrie Ann Inaba put it, "You owned that Paso."
Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough, “Knight Rider” Bhangra, All-Stars
Our hearts are always with Shawn, Derek and Mark's Tribal Trio Samba that may not have been a real Samba, but it's even more impressive to think what Shawn and Derek had to go through to create this routine. First of all, Shawn and Derek didn't even know what Bhangra was. Thankfully, Derek wasn’t too proud to call in an expert for help. Then they had to figure out how to add the “Knight Rider” theme to it. They basically threw it together at the last minute, and it came out looking amazing. Although, honestly, does anyone at home really know what a perfect Knight Rider Bhangra would look like? There's not exactly a standard out there, but this looked like a pro version.
On our previously posted All-Stars favorites list:
• Apolo Ohno & Karina Smirnoff, Viennese Waltz
• Melissa Rycroft & Tony Dovolani, Freestyle
• Kelly Monaco & Valentin Chmerkovskiy, Rumba
• Shawn Johnson & Derek Hough & Mark Ballas's Tribal Trio Samba
• Team Gangnam Style
Watch those dances here.
Dancing With the Stars Season 16 premieres March 18, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.
Gina Carbone is a contributing writer at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @ginacarbone.