'Dancing with the Stars' requires grit, pain tolerance

AP News
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Posted: Sep 30, 2015 6:12 PM
'Dancing with the Stars' requires grit, pain tolerance

LOS ANGELES (AP) — "Dancing with the Stars" brings to mind words and phrases including "waltz," ''paso doble" and "that's a star?"

Then there's this one: "Ouch."

There have been so many injuries and health woes over so many seasons of ABC's dance contest that it could be renamed "Triage with the Stars." Even Olympians have been felled by the seriously grueling demands of competitive ballroom dancing.

This season's first casualty was Kim Zolciak Biermann of "Real Housewives of Atlanta" fame, whose crisis came off the dance floor. She was flying home from Los Angeles after working on the show last week when she suffered a so-called mini-stroke that put her in the hospital. She helpfully posted a sickbed snapshot.

Zolciak Biermann has reported a full recovery but was dropped under series' rules because she missed a performance. She's campaigning to get back on the series airing 8 p.m. EDT Monday, proof of its addictive nature.

There's more than bragging rights at stake. "Dancing with the Stars" has helped contestants rev up their careers and even reshape their images, as happened when Jerry Springer, the king of rowdy TV talk shows, waltzed his way to a more lovable public persona.

But the earliest years of the show seemed to carry less risk, with scant physical fallout on the books. Is the quest for the mirror ball trophy becoming more competitive? Or are American celebrities, along with the rest of America, becoming less fit? Nah, impossible, with zero still the preferred dress size in Hollywood.

Here's a tally of the more seriously afflicted since the show's 2005 debut, including one professional dancer. As a testament to their dedication, only a handful of the 200-plus contestants to date have withdrawn because of health problems.

— Marie Osmond faints in season five, citing windedness from air pollution.

— Cristian de la Fuente suffers a bicep tendon rupture in season six, refuses surgery and dances on.

— Two-time Olympic beach volleyball gold medalist Misty May-Treanor leaves the show in season seven after tearing her Achilles tendon in rehearsal.

— Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay drops out of season nine because of foot problems.

— Jewel (tibia fractures in both legs) and Nancy O'Dell (a torn meniscus) fail to make it out of rehearsals in season eight.

— Pro dancer Kym Johnson hurts her neck during season 12 rehearsal but ends up a winner with partner Hines Ward.

— Melissa Gilbert gets a mild concussion and whiplash in season 14 after hitting her head on the dance floor.

— Lisa Vanderpump of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" faints during rehearsal in season 16, blaming fatigue, possible flu.

— Olympic figure skating gold medalist Dorothy Hamill is another season 16 casualty, withdrawing from the show because of pre-existing health conditions.

— Bill Nye, aka The Science Guy, suffers a leg injury in season 17, then gamely dances wearing a brace.

— Billy Dee Williams drops out of season 18 because of chronic back pain.

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Lynn Elber can be reached at lelber@ap.org and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lynnelber.