By Jake Donovan
Former welterweight champ Victor Ortiz knew he dodged a bullet last week, facing the threat of being the first contestant sent home from Season 16 of ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ His combined score of 36 out of 60 coupled with fan voting was enough to land him in the bottom two.
He was given a reprieve when former Olympic Gold medalist Dorothy Hammil agreed to bow out of competition. A recurring spine injury was too much to bear for the once popular figure skater, allowing Ortiz to exhale and continue in competition for at least one more week.
A lesson was learned, and Ortiz proved it with his words and ultimately his dance moves.
“To be in the bottom two was embarrassing,” Ortiz admitted prior to performing a Contemporary dance routine during Week 3 of competition on Monday evening. “It was degrading. I don’t want to live with it, so I’m going to work hard to stay out of that position.”
Ortiz did just that, receiving rave reviews from all three judges for a spirited performance with professional dance partner Lindsay Arnold.
“Contemporary has been coming to me easier, a little better,” Ortiz stated in a taped segment shown prior to his live performance. “I’m feeling good, actually.”
He had every reason to feel good. The couple received its higher score to date, registering a 23 out of 30 possible points. The score was a five-point improvement from the 18 he received in Week 2, the highest jump of any contestant from last week to Monday’s performances.
“What just happened? Victor, you’re a dancer,” stated judge Carrie Ann Inaba, who gave Ortiz an 8 out of 10. “I mean, that was breathtaking. Contemporary is about story telling. Every movement had meaning. It’s beautiful. That’s what Contemporary is all about. Fan-tastic!”
Bruno Tonioli was the most impressed of the three-judge panel, going as far as to give Ortiz a standing ovation at the end of the performance.
“Victor, unbelievable,” exclaimed Tonioli, who also gave Ortiz an 8/10. “You’re a dancer, babe. Gentle, caring, sentimental - with every movement, you made your partner proud.”
Len Goodman, traditionally the toughest to please among the three judges, admittedly expected disaster and was glad to have been proven wrong.
“I was hoping for the best, but I was expecting the worst. I gotta tell you; I was pleasantly surprised,” admitted Goodman, who rated Ortiz’ performance an 7/10. “I thought the lifts were very, very good. I thought you could have worked on the dance (part) a little more, but… your best dance so far. Very well done.”
Given the date on which the show took place, Ortiz believed the comments too good to be true.
“Not bad at all! I was surprised; I thought (the judges) were playing an April Fool’s joke,” Ortiz stated to co-host Brooke Burke after hearing the judges’ comments. “I was like, uh ok. But I had a good time. It was kind of tough because I come from a different world (than the spirit of Contemporary), which is not so friendly or loving.”
For at least one night, the judges were friendly and loving with their commentary. The rest is up to the fans at homes.
Fans wishing to vote for Ortiz can do so by three different means: calling the toll free hotline at 1-800-VOTE4-02 (1-800-868-3402); texting “Vote” to 3402 (limited to AT&T mobile subscribers); or going online to Dancing With the Stars’ voting page on ABC’s website.
Ortiz was the only contestant to perform a Contemporary dance this week. His score of 23 was enough to place him tied for third on the evening.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox