Alfonso Ribeiro looked to his past for inspiration on Monday's episode of "Dancing With the Stars."
Ribeiro starred from 1990 to 1996 as goody two-shoes Carlton Banks on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” alongside Will Smith. The character wore cardigans and khakis and danced to Tom Jones music, an arm-swinging move affectionately called “The Carlton.”
“Carlton was someone I had a blast playing for six years,” Ribeiro, 43, said in an interview for this week’s episode of “DWTS,” which featured the theme “Most Memorable Year.”
Ribeiro also said the role stunted his career development.
“I was pigeon-holed as an actor based on that character,” he said. “There were years when casting directors wouldn't call me because they felt like, ‘Oh, well, he’s Carlton, and that’s not right for this role.’”
But Ribeiro says he has learned to embrace his role as Carlton, dance and all.
“I love the Carlton dance. I love how it makes people feel. I certainly don’t do it a lot. But I love the fact that people have this nostalgic look at that dance,” he said.
Ribeiro, wearing a sweater and bow tie, began Monday’s week-four performance sitting on the sofa alongside dancing partner Witney Carson. As “It’s Not Unusual” – a song Ribeiro performed with Jones on a 1993 episode of “Fresh Prince” – blasted over the speakers, the pair transitioned to the dance floor.
There, Ribeiro broke into his Carlton – arms flailing, fingers snapping, hips ticking and tocking in goofy innocence. Carson joined Ribeiro in performing “The Carlton,” too.
The judges were impressed.
“I’m so glad that you made us wait for the Carlton,” Julianne Hough said. “Not only did you separate yourself from Carlton tonight, because we all wanted it, we all loved it, I think this show and what you’re doing each week, people are going to remember Alfonso.”
Bruno Tonioli called it a “flirtatiously delicious dancing sitcom.”
“All I can say is, finally!” Carrie Ann Inaba said.
Afterward, Ribeiro admitted that the dance was for the fans.
“I’ve been wanting to do this for them forever, and this is a moment I dreamed about for many a years,” Ribeiro said. “I went back. I went back in time.”
“The Carlton” was a hit, with Ribeiro and Carson earning 10s from the judges and fan vote, the only perfect score of the evening.