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How Katherine Jenkins conquered America on Dancing with the Stars
Move over One Direction - there's a new Brit taking America by storm!
Katherine Jenkins entered Dancing with the Stars - the US version of Strictly Come Dancing - as a virtual unknown to Americans outside classical music circles and Doctor Who fandom.
However, she's won a place in the show's grand finale thanks to a steady stream of seriously impressive dances that have won over the watching US audience.
In honour of Katherine's big achievement - and in the hopes she'll be bringing that Mirror Ball Trophy back to our shores - we take a look at how she became America's newest sweetheart...
Nick Ray, ABC via Getty
Katherine rehearses her first dance, the foxtrot
While Twitter and Facebook is blowing up with British support for her, the Welsh soprano had many US viewers asking, 'Who is she?' when she joined the cast back in February. OK, she'd sung on a Dancing with the Stars (DWTS) episode prior to signing up, but numerous performers appear on shows, and are then promptly forgotten.
Katherine was a woman of mystery from the start, failing to join her cast mates for the official line-up announcement on US TV. However, she had a good excuse because she was performing for troops - the kind of gesture that makes American hearts melt.
But she didn't stay an enigma for long. Rumours about a romance with her professional partner Mark Ballas, a two-time winner, started to surface before the show had even aired. Inevitable when single celebrities are paired with hunky dancers.
Katherine was quick to brand the speculation rubbish and, unbeknown to most US viewers at the time, she was still nursing a broken heart after announcing her split from fiancé Gethin Jones. She even told the Daily Mail that being on DWTS was helping her cope: "I think anybody knows if you're going through something like this how hard it is. You need other things to focus on to make you happy again."
Week 1: Making a huge first impression
So with her energies firmly focused on the competition, Katherine got down to work on her first dance: the foxtrot. In an episode branded the best ever DWTS premiere of all time, she managed to steal the limelight, earning a whopping first night score of 26 out of 30.
The points helped her finish joint-top of the leader board. She was so flawless that judge Bruno Tonioli (yes, he's on the US version too!) even issued a complimentary warning: "Where will you go from here? You are setting the bar high." For any celebrities hoping to impress on a reality show, that's the way to do it.
Katherine and pro-partner Mark appearing on US TV show The Grove
Week 2: The blonde bombshell is unleashed!
If Katherine felt the pressure of being a favourite going into week two, she didn't show it. Instead, she focused on another pressing issue: dealing with the skimpy costumes and sexy dances. The singer admitted to nerves at shaking her "naughty bits" in the week's jive, but luckily for her scores (and male viewers!) Mark helped her perfect the "Welsh wiggle" for their fast-paced casino-themed performance.
Katherine earned another impressive 26 out of 30 points to stay joint-top. She also got her the ultimate seal of approval from judge Bruno, who gushed: "The blonde bombshell is unleashed. I know sexy when I see it and you've got it!"
Even Katherine's pal Piers Morgan was impressed, tweeting: "Keep shaking those 'naughty bits' @KathJenkins - you're (they're...) doing Britain proud!"
Week 3: A tearful tribute to her late father
Katherine adopted a very different tone for week three, which challenged each celebrity to use a memorable year of their life for inspiration. The singer didn't hold back, sharing the heartbreaking story about learning of her late father's cancer in 1997, when she was just 15.
The emotional tale was the backdrop for an equally delicate waltz which ended with Katherine, her proud mum in the audience, and millions of viewers at home, in tears. Even the normally stoic judges weren't immune, as a visibly teary-eyed Carrie Ann Inaba said it felt like Katherine's dad had been guiding her through the dance.
Unsurprisingly, given the feedback in just her third week, she before earned two 10s, with only Len Goodman holding back with the nine. (No fellow Brit favouritism there!)
Adam Taylor, ABC via Getty
Katherine awaits the results of the public vote in week four
Week 4: Rocking out - and finding new love?
If Katherine was going to stumble, it would most likely be with this theme: rock! But the classical star showed she was more than up for the challenge as she donned her finest black leather and studs (yes, really!) and blasted Muse in the background for a rockin' paso doble.
But despite her efforts, the judges felt the whole "Welsh warrior" vibe (or Storm from X-Men tribute, as Bruno termed it), got in the way of the actual dancing, so it was her lowest score since the show began; 24 out of 30 - not that many celebs would turn their noses up at that in week four.
She did, however, have to relinquish her top spot on the leaderboard.
Rock week also saw the return of the romance rumours. But this time, the tabloids decided she'd moved on another of the show's pro-dancers, Derek Hough, aka Cheryl Cole's rumoured ex-boyfriend.
US mags pounced on pictures of Katherine and Derek chatting at a Steel Panther gig in LA, but sadly for gossip hounds, she responded by tweeting, "another day, another silly story".
Week 5 - The best legs on DWTS ever!
Week five was all about the sizzling chemistry often on display in Latin dances. A slick performance saw them back at joint-top of the leaderboard with 29 points. Bruno gushed over the storytelling and acting - could Hollywood be calling next? - but the best comment came from Carrie Ann, who said Katherine had the best legs of any DWTS contestant ever! High praise indeed when you consider Nicole Scherzinger is among those past dancers.
Katherine attends a DWTS after-party with pro dancer Cheryl Burke
Week 6 - The dancer becomes the midwife
Katherine returned to the dance floor for week six's Motown night on a high. She delivered a funky samba that earned her the seemingly unflattering nickname of "midwife" from Len. But, you guessed it, he was hailing her for delivering every week! Despite that, the hard to please judge was once again the only one to keep his 10 paddle firmly hidden, offering a nine instead. But it still gave her an incredible 29 out of 30 points (just what will it take, Len?!)
Week 7 - Bruno wants more raunchiness!
If there was ever a week to get Katherine that elusive 30, it was week seven, otherwise known as classical week. She certainly looked the part in a gorgeous white Grecian style gown and long blonde plait - even if the host did joke she'd borrowed a costume from Game of Thrones: The Musical!
Unfortunately, Bruno was disappointed with the lack of raunchiness in her rumba and the judges seemed to agree that while she was technically unmatched, something was just missing. That said, the singer still got an impressive 27 out of 30 and a further 27 out of 30 for a team tango.
This far in the competition, it was clear every celebrity was giving it their all, which meant long, hard hours in the gym and, inevitably, whispers that maybe Katherine was losing too much weight.
But the star was quick to assure fans she was fine, saying she was "eating more than I've ever done in my life" but the weight was "falling off" because of the exercise. She also nixed rumours she was planning a permanent move to the US. Phew!
Katherine and Mark appear on Live with Kelly!
Week 8 - An accidental wardrobe malfunction - or sabotage?
Still aiming to best her top score of 29 out of 30, Katherine moved forward to week eight's quarter-final where, unfortunately, she became the victim of the wardrobe malfunction that seems to strike one unlucky dancer every season.
During a trio challenge cha cha with Mark and Irish pro dancer Tristan MacManus, the boys tried to rip her suit off to reveal a sexy dress underneath, but a piece of the trouser material got stuck to her shoe (she later joked she'd been sabotaged!).
Whatever the circumstances, the singer's cool-as-cucumber reaction and ability to keep dancing impressed the judges, who were sympathetic and delivered another 29 points (again, the usual suspect held out).
Katherine and Mark also performed an elegant Viennese waltz, but surprisingly it didn't live up the (admittedly hugely) high standards they had previously set, so the judges gave them 26 points and advised them to watch their lifts and footing.
Week 9 - Hanging out with Beyoncé and a dramatic fall
If Katherine thought she'd had her bad luck in week eight, she was wrong. In one of the worst places to make a mistake, the singer suffered a fall during the semi-final. After starting with yet another 29 points for a slick 1920s-style quickstep (yes, Len holding back again), an otherwise amazing belly dance-themed salsa was marred when she fell to the floor at the last hurdle.
The pressure of the whole situation became apparent when she burst into tears, apologising for letting Mark down. As if! The judges looked genuinely gutted for her, but still showered her with praise, particularly Carrie Ann who said her pre-fall moves had been so good it was like she'd "hung out with Beyoncé" over the weekend.
The skill of the dance certainly shone through; despite the mishap, the judges awarded her 27 points.
Katherine celebrates her success with Mark at a DWTS after-party
"Thank you for all your concerned tweets... I'm with the Doctor, he says it was a reflectorical spasm in my lower back (sic)," Katherine later tweeted.
After reading dramatic media reports and hearing from worried fans, she clarified the situation with this tweet:
"Lets not get carried away with how serious my 'back problem' is... Was a spasm, I didn't go to hospital & it's not going to affect nxt week!" [sic]
And that's a good thing! Despite her fall to the ground, the audience showed their support for their newfound star by voting her through to the finale, where she will compete against Latin soap star William Levy and American football player Donald Drive.
Will the Welsh wonder earn that perfect score of 30 that has eluded her so far?
"Can't tell you how thrilled I am to be in the final," the singer tweeted. "Thank you to all who voted and made this dream come true!"
We'll be joining America in cheering her on; Katherine's been such a success on DWTS, let's hope they're willing to give her back to us when the show is over!
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