Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani delivered a smokin’ hot salsa on Monday night’s “Dancing With the Stars.” But after the show, Melissa found herself, once again, on the hot seat over her dancing background.
“I’m not the only person that has ever come in here with dance experience,” Melissa told Access Hollywood following the show.
Professional dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy sparked the debate prior to Week 2 of the hit ABC show, telling TVGuide.com it was “unfair” Melissa was allowed to compete with her background in ballet and as a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader.
When given the opportunity to backtrack on his comments, Maksim stood strong in his stance.
“Let me be that voice of everybody who thinks [it] but won’t say it,” Maks told Access.
“I mean, I can’t compete next to someone that’s had a lot of dance training,” Maks’ partner, Denise Richards, added.
And following Monday night’s show, more members of the cast were ready to throw fuel on the “Dancing” fire.
“I’m not going to say anything about it being unfair, but compared to everybody else, there is a huge difference in ability,” Julianne Hough told Access.
“I’ll say it! Melissa is a better dancer than I am,” Julianne’s partner and boyfriend Chuck Wicks joked.
Melissa’s dance partner, Tony Dovolani, took exception to the comments made by his good friend Maksim.
“Well, I would love to say to Maks, ‘How about Mel?’” Tony said, referring to Maksim’s partner from Season 5, former Spice Girl Mel B. “That’s all I’m going to say.”
Yet, Melissa insists her success on the dance floor is a product of her hard work with Tony, rather than her prior experience.
“There have definitely been people that have more [experience] than me. But it’s not benefiting me at all, believe me. It’s not like we practice for a day and have six off!” the former “Bachelor” star said.
Melissa and Tony’s fancy footwork has certainly paid dividends with the judges – earning the couple scores of 23 and 26 out of 30 in each week, respectively.
However, “Sex and The City” heartthrob Gilles Marini and partner Cheryl Burke have netted the high score each week so far, with scores of 24 and 27, respectively – despite no professional dancing experience.
But reigning “Dancing” champ Derek Hough said it’s up to the voters to decide if Melissa’s background goes against the theme of the show.
“It really just depends on what American wants to see. Do they want to see a non-dancer become a dancer, or do they want to see a dancer dance?” Derek noted.
Ultimately, Maksim seemed to agree and admitted it’s all up to the audience.
“Does she have dance training? Of course. But it doesn’t matter if the people love what she does,” he concluded. “You know, Mazel Tov to her, as we say.”