Inaba’s top 6 ‘Dancing’ celebrities

These stars earned respect of choreographer

As a judge on “Dancing With the Stars,” choreographer Carrie Ann Inaba, right, has observed numerous celebrities attempt ballroom dancing — some well, some not so. The following are hoofers who earned her respect over the past five seasons.

Kelly Monaco
(season 1, winner)

Best known for: Actress
When Monaco started, Inaba thought she was the least likely to succeed due to her awkwardness and lack of awareness of her own body. “She struggled and fought hard for her improvement, but she really learned how to dance. It was exciting to watch her have breakthrough after breakthrough.”

Drew Lachey
(season 2, winner)

Best known for: 98 Degrees
It was fun for Inaba to watch Lachey grow as he took ballroom dancing in a whole new direction, especially with his “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” original freestyle dance he performed with Cheryl Burke. “He had a breakthrough with the shoulders — his shoulders dropped, and he became a whole other dancer.”

Jerry Springer
(season 3, fifth place)

Best known for: Talkshow host
Inaba credits Springer with bringing a personal element to the dance floor, especially when he shared his motivation for appearing on the show — to learn the waltz for his daughter’s upcoming wedding.

“He was the first one to make the show feel really human.”

Emmitt Smith
(season 3, winner)

Best known for: Running back, Dallas Cowboys
Inaba labels Smith as being a “manly man” dancer who took the determination that he had on the football field to being “unstoppable” on the dance floor. “He brought a groovy style that was exciting to watch. It was magic.”

Joey Fatone
(season 4, runner-up)

Best known for: ‘N Sync
Fatone had experience entertaining an audience as a member of ‘N Sync, and Inaba credits his success to being so “charismatic.” Fatone and Kym Johnson received their season’s first 10 in week four, and Inaba says, “His parody of himself was like a true gentlemen.”

Melanie Brown
(season 5, runner-up)

Best known for: Spice Girls
Despite being in a girl group, Inaba says Brown was not known for being a fantastic dancer and knew just enough to get by in videos and while touring. “She really became quite the dancer. She went from being a nonprofessional to professional.”

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