BY BILL KEVENEY
Gannett News Service
LOS ANGELES — With his Tuesday victory on “Dancing With the Stars,” Alfonso Ribeiro made the strongest statement yet that his dancing ability goes far beyond the Carlton.
As much as his character’s dance from the 1990s sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” is imprinted in the public consciousness, “I don’t think it was a weapon in the win,” he said moments after triumphing in Season 19 of the dance competition.
“We did it Week Four to get that out of the way, so that people could love us for what we were doing on the ballroom dance floor,” Ribeiro said after the show in a joint interview with pro partner Witney Carson. “Not just people thinking, ‘Oh my God, it’s the Carlton, the Carlton, the Carlton.’ I wanted to prove we were more than the Carlton dance.”
Ribeiro and Carson received a perfect score from the judges for their last competitive dance during the two-hour finale. That, combined with fan votes and judge scores from Monday, helped them triumph over the second-place couple, “Duck Dynasty’s” Sadie Robertson and dancer Mark Ballas, and the third-place finishers, Janel Parrish (“Pretty Little Liars”) and dancer Valentin Chmerkovskiy.
Ribeiro said he tweaked his back, which he had injured earlier in the competition, during Tuesday’s performance.
“But hey, I’m not feeling any pain right now,” he said. “We’ll be fine. You know what? We got a mirrorball. We’ll be just fine. I’ve got a lot of rest coming.”
A month’s worth, at least. Starting Dec. 27, Ribero and Carson will be part of the “Dancing With the Stars: Live!” tour that comes to the Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville on Jan. 24.
Ribeiro wasn’t the only one playing in pain, as Parrish was recovering from a rib injury. “Last night, it definitely hurt, but you just get through it. We wanted to come out here and kill it and enjoy our last dances together,” she said after Tuesday’s show.
Parrish credited the “great chemistry” she and Chmerkovskiy enjoy for their passionate dance style, but he said there’s more to it than that.
“The passion you see in our dancing is a result of a ridiculous amount of work invested in those dances, pain and failure constantly until that Monday comes around,” the pro dancer said, referring to the weekly performance night. “And what you see on Monday is a result of that.”
Robertson’s proud parents, Duck Dynasty stars Willie and Korie Robertson, were at the show, supporting their daughter.
“She did everything she could do. She laid it all out there,” Korie said. “She was true to herself the entire time. She couldn’t have done it any better.”
Willie was beaming, too. “I was thrilled that she pushed through. She gained a lot of confidence [and had] a great experience that nobody can ever take from her. We’re glad that she is the bright light she is.”