Rapper Nelly continues to charm on “DWTS”

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Love him or hate him, Nelly’s mega-watt smile disarms most people. That smile plus his weekly improvement likely contributes to his successful participation on the long-running “Dancing With the Stars.”

While this season of “Dancing With the Stars” has no shortage of stars, from Anne Heche (now eliminated), to daytime talk maven, Jeannie Mai, Nelly stands out.

A string of hits from the early years of the 21st century, and famous collaborations with both hip-hop and country artists, Nelly has proven that he is musically flexible.

On his own, Nelly performs with a stylized grimace as he spits bars about “Grillz” and various athletic shoes. When he does smile, it is a surprise. One online commenter noted that the rapper’s smile after this week’s performance was “precious.”

It is difficult to tell if people are voting for Nelly as a source of their favorite songs, or as the most improved and endearing dancer on the show.

Nelly on “Dancing with the Stars”: why it matters

Certainly Nelly’s presence on the show is drawing audiences that the show might not have had otherwise.

In addition, the diversity of the show now is more about representative arts, as opposed to race, as there are a number of people of color on the show. Simply put: people want to see what their favorite actors, athletes, and rappers can do on the ballroom floor.

Nelly has come a long way. Even a casual viewer can see that the Missouri native has worked on loosening his muscle-bound physicality to work more easily with the standards of ballroom dancing.

Over the past few weeks, Nelly and his partner have danced in Disney-themed choreography, 80s-themed combinations, and more, all within the limits of ballroom.

Nelly fans are likely to be hopeful that the rapper, perhaps the least likely to be on the show, might just win the whole thing. To some, that outcome is unlikely, others not so much. After all, the rapper was just as unlikely to never go on the dancing show.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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