After she tangled with a boa that was supposed to be a prop and her entire routine crumbled like bleu cheese in a salad, fashion designer Betsey Johnson had to know she was going home after the first episode of Dancing With The Stars season 19. But a funny thing happened: Olympic athlete Lolo Jones was sent home instead, and the enigmatic Betsey Johnson was spared to dance another day. The 72-year-old fashion icon probably saved herself with a post-dance cartwheel that surprised and delighted the crowd after her disastrous pas de deux with partner Tony Dovolani. The cartwheel’s seeming spontaniety was enchanting and athletically impressive–and did just enough to erase the clumsy dance in the short-term memories of the judges and the viewers. (If they’d all known the cartwheel has long been part of Betsey’s regular repetoire–she does it at the end of every fashion show–Lolo Jones might still be dancing.)
Jones’ reaction in defeat was a little alarming. She said on Facebook that she was “embarrassed” and felt like “vomiting.” And that she felt “broken” and “unloveable.” She worried people will “ridicule” her. Lolo could easily have done a cartwheel–she’s competed, after all, in the summer and the winter Olympics–but it wouldn’t have impressed as memorably. One can’t help but hope she gets the love she requires. Another factor hard to ignore is that Betsey Johnson’s pro partner, Tony Dovolani, has been on Dancing With The Stars since season 2. Nobody wanted to see him go (though how long can he stay around?). Lolo Jones’ partner was DWTS rookie Keoikantse Motsepe, who had no fan base built up.