When you look at the last few winners of Dancing With the Stars — Alfonso Ribeiro, Meryl Davis, and Amber Riley — they're all fun dancers with a lot of flair, but with even more dance experience (whether it be on ice, in Pepsi commercials with Michael Jackson, or at the hands of Ryan Murphy) in their backgrounds. But the newly reigning top spot on the overall leaderboard, Rumer Willis, and her partner Val Chmerkovskiy are no ringers; Rumer start this season of DWTS as a totally novice dancer... she just happens to be ending it basically looking like one of the pros out there. With the exit of Derek Hough's partner Nastia Liukin and her many 10s, we may just see Rumer & Val win the Mirror Ball trophy.
Of course, Riker's scores have been on the rise in recent weeks and he's serious competition in the fun-to-watch category, but Rumer's passion and technical precision alongside her pro can't be matched. As she's learned more and more from Val through the weeks, her dancing has gone from impressive to to full-blown professional; the judges are rewarding her with a constant barrage of 10s, and it looks like the fans might follow suit in the Finale. Let's take a look back at some of Rumer and Val's best dances thus far as a reminder of why Rumer should now officially be considered the DWTS frontrunner...
She's A Natural
Rumer pulled out her first surprise when she hit the dance floor as Bruce Willis and Demi Moore's daughter and made a name for herself completely on her own merit by dancing a gorgeous fox trot to Hozier's "Take Me to Church," one that, to the amateur eye, appeared to be a completely perfect dance. The judges found enough beginners' flaw in it to give eights all around, but they, along with the audience, were already blown away by Rumer's natural ability.
And then to have Rumer and Val repeat that fox trot and perfect it in that sharp, precise way that is so very them was just the perfect showing of growth. Like Julianne told them, the first time was great, "the difference is, tonight was flawless."
She Can Tell A Story
From Rumer and Val's relationship to her response to negative feedback, everything about Rumer is surprisingly subtle for the child of two Hollywood superstars. But getting to slowly hear Rumer's story over time and hear from her family about how much she's had to overcome being judged in the public eye, especially for her physical appearance, has been so moving. And it was that story of pain and overcoming it was all perfectly embodies in Rumer and Val's "Most Memorable Year" waltz to Adele's "Chasing Pavements." Julianne told Rumer that when she dances it feels like she's doing it for every girl, and as the last woman standing in the Finals, it still feels like that.
She Dances The Perfect Rumba... And Paso Doble
But as beautiful of a job as Rumer and Val did during the first eight weeks of the show, it was in "America's Choice" week that it suddenly became clear that technical precision and perfect dancing were what would likely win Rumer the Mirrroball. It's a rare thing on this show to have the winner's roster of dances not contain a gimmick or two, but it would be the perfect fit for Val's — a classic dancer in every way — first win to be with a contestant who was known just as much for her technique as she is for her charm.
For "America's Choice," Rumer and Val danced a perfect Rumba, as evidenced by their 10s, and somehow followed it up with a just as perfect Paso Doble trio, earning the first 80 of the season.
She's... A... DANCER!
The bottom line is that Rumer has gone from the completely novice dancer in Episode 1 to "the dancer's dancer" as Carrie Ann dubbed her in Monday night's finale. Her Freestyle to Britney Spears' "Toxic" (with Rumer singing and Val playing violin!) showed that, given the opportunity, Rumer and Val will always turn to dance as their number one priority. It's not about showing off or making sure everyone sees her personality, it's just about giving the audience two perfect minutes of dance and the rest will come along with it.
Rumer has some stiff competition in Riker and Noah, but her completely commitment to the artform that made this show a success is frontrunner material if I've ever seen it. And, of course, I completely trust in America's vote to sway toward any opportunity to see Bruce Willis cry those sweet, sweet dad tears one more time.
Image: Adam Taylor/ABC