Anyone who considers themselves a real fan of Dancing With the Stars should have been disappointed to see Wendy Williams leave the competition — not because she was a decent dancer, but because it meant Tony Dovolani lost another chance at winning the mirror ball trophy. At least he’s not alone. Other fan favorites like Maksim Chmerkovkiy, Edyta Sliwinska, Anna Trebunskaya and Lacey Schwimmer have yet to join the winner’s circle during the show’s 10-year history — though the Ukrainian hoofer might have a chance to finally prevail this spring (as long he and partner Kirstie Alley avoid any more mishaps).

So would it be wrong for viewers to cast their votes based solely on the pros? Mark Ballas thinks so. “It’s a team,” he said this week. “They vote for a team, how we get along together. It’s not about each individual.” Then again, it’s easy for him to say: He’s won two times. Ask the others who haven’t waltzed away with a win, and the answers are very different. “At the end of the day, this show has become not just about the celebrities, but people who are falling in love with the pros,” said Chelsie Hightower, who has only gone as far as the semi-finals with partner Ty Murray. “I think they should be voting for whoever they want to vote for.”

In fact, Trebunskaya thinks it’s entirely reasonable for viewers to vote only for their favorite pros — even if their celebrity partners are burdened with two left feet. (After all, the repeat wins by Derek Hough and his sister Julianne have been credited, in part, to their huge popularity.) “The beauty of this competition is to see the celebrity growing and changing too,” said Trebunskaya, who made it to the finals with Jerry Rice and Evan Lysacek. “But the viewers are getting to know the pros, too. At the end of the day, a good performance is a good performance. If it’s exciting, they’ll vote for us.”

It always helps when the pros are paired with drama-free dancers who know how to move. Before he had Williams, Dovolani was stuck with Kate Gosselin and the awkward Kathy Ireland, while Derek Hough was blessed with the agile Brooke Burke, Nicole Scherzinger and Jennifer Grey. Then again, both of the Houghs have a real knack for choreography that showcases their celeb partners — which is why EW’s Annie Barrett thinks the pros should ultimately dictate how the public votes.

“I’m not a voting girl, but if I were, I’d definitely vote for my favorite pro as long as his or her partner wasn’t blatantly phoning it in,” Barrett told ITV. “I think a lot of the good vibes viewers get out of DWTS isn’t necessarily the 90-second dash of glitter you see on the floor, but the glimpses of the actual star-pro relationships that build (and sometimes break!) throughout the season. After about week 4 or 5, you’re rooting for the couple and not just the star. It’s really all about our pros, anyway — we all know it! Just admit it!”

What do you think? (Additional reporting from Carrie Borzillo)

Episode Recaps

Dancing With the Stars
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