Dancing with the Stars Season 29, Episode 2: MID (Most Improved Dancers)

I didn’t have a chance to catch up on the second episode of the 29th season of Dancing with the Stars until this morning, but I have to say it didn’t disappoint. There were several improved dancers this week with which I was impressed. The opening of the show was corny and unnecessary; we understand that it’s Tyra’s first season and “smize” is one of her trademarks (I think she’s even tried getting this trademarked), but it took away from the contestants and put too much of the focus on her. I also thought her outfit in the beginning of the show was tacky. I didn’t think she was as natural as she was on week 1, but her hosting still wasn’t terrible.  

The contestants’ dances and my thoughts (of course, the most important part) is below:

Nev Schulmann (partner: Jenna Johnson)

Dance: Cha Cha to “Dynamite” by BTS

Score: 21 (well deserved)

Thoughts: I liked the video package prior to Nev’s dance that showed he was an everyday person that ended up becoming famous because of something bad that happened to him. It shows in a weird way that any of us could achieve fame and eventually end up on Dancing with the Stars for any reason whatsoever. Nev’s dance was great; it contained fluid movement, a smile that was infectious, and I felt like he hit every movement. I can’t wait to see what he offers in the upcoming weeks.

Skai Jackson (partner: Alan Bersten)

Dance: Samba to “Miss Independent” by Ne-Yo

Score: 15

Thoughts: I thought the opening of her dance was good, but there was a trick in the dance that got messed up. Skai seemed like she lost her energy and didn’t fully commit to the movements after the mishap. I wanted to see more from her, and I hope that she improves next week because there’s no where to go but up, which was similar to what Derek said in his critique. The judges focused on their height difference, and I don’t feel like this really matters one way or another. There are plenty of other couples that have had a big height difference and they’ve gone far in the competition or won.  

Johnny Weir (partner: Britt Stewart)

Dance: Foxtrot to “All of Me” by John Legend

Score: 18 (a bit harsh)

Thoughts: I love Johnny Weir’s energy and I think he has a lot of potential. However, I didn’t feel like there was a lot of tango throughout the performance and the showiness took away from the actual dance. Don’t get me wrong; I love Lady Gaga, but the performance seemed too much about the costumes and character. Johnny’s arms did not extend enough for the dance and I hope he works on his technique.

Justina Machado (partner: Sasha Farber)

Dance: Foxtrot to “When You Believe” by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey

Score: 21

Thoughts: Justina said in the video package prior to dancing that she loved to perform. I think that this translates well for contestants that end up being successful on the show. That being said, the performance was great. Her technique was on point and I had no complaints. I said last week that she is a natural dancer and it is still true this week.

Monica Aldama (partner: Val Chmerkovskiy)

Dance: Jive to “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift

Score: 16

Thoughts: Her video package stated that she has a good work ethic, which is something that I can appreciate. However, I was disappointed in this performance compared to last week. I have been a huge fan of Val for a while, but there was not a lot of jive content. Her energy was lost and she didn’t commit to the steps entirely. Carrie Ann Inaba had critiqued the lift in the performance, which wasn’t necessary; cool it, Carrie Ann.

AJ McLean (partner: Cheryl Burke)

Dance: Foxtrot to “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” by Dean Martin

Score: 19

Thoughts: I thought that him and his wife have such a cute relationship, given what was shown in the video package. The dance was okay. I thought he should have kept his shoulders down and work on his footwork. However, AJ’s energy was good throughout the performance.

Anne Heche (partner: Keo Motsepe)

Dance: Tango to “Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj

Score: 18 (a bit harsh)

Thoughts: Anne’s message to her sons during the video package was great: you can do anything you want (yes, I’m sure she’s not hurting for money, which will help her sons, but it’s a good message no matter your socioeconomic status). Her foxtrot and technique were an improvement from last week. I still think that she needs to work on completing each movement, but the footwork did not look bad at all. I agree with Carrie Ann Inaba that this is a good partnership and that it is apparent that Anne trusts Keo.

Nelly (partner: Daniella Karagach)

Dance: Cha-Cha to “Let’s Groove” by Earth, Wind and Fire

Score: 18

Thoughts: I liked to see Nelly’s journey to fame in the video package. However, his dance was not that great to me. I thought that he didn’t commit to the steps and didn’t have fluid movement. His arms were out of control and his feet were a little sloppy. I hope to see him improve next week.

Chrishell Stause (partner: Gleb Savchenko)

Dance: Rumba to “This is Me” by Keala Seattle

Score: 18

Thoughts: Chrishell’s rise to success that she discussed in her video package hit me in the feels a little. I thought her dance was one of the most improved this week. Her technique was a little off, but it was much better than what it was in the tango.

Charles Oakley (partner: Emma Slater)

Dance: Cha-Cha to “Never Too Much” by Luther Vandross

Score: 15

Thoughts: I didn’t think that Charles improved that much this week, despite the judge’s comments that he was better than last week. He was still stiff and his movements were awkward.

Jesse Metcalfe (partner: Sharna Burgess)

Dance: Foxtrot to “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac

Score: 20

Thoughts: Jesse’s video package alluded to him and Sharna having chemistry, which I’m sure will mean a showmance storyline depending on how far they get in the competition. Sharna and Jesse are single, but that doesn’t mean we need to set them up if there is no romantic spark there. Jesse improved from last week’s performance, but I noticed that he was looking at his feet again this week. Not only does he need to work on looking at his feet less, but also finishing his movements.

Jeannie Mai (partner: Brandon Armstrong)

Dance: Cha Cha to “Roses” by Saint Jhn

Score: 18

Thoughts: Her mom was her biggest critic in her video package, which was amusing, but make sure to ease up on her, Jeannie’s mom. Jeannie’s performance was good, but I thought that her feet were a little stiff and she needs to be tamed. She needs to have more control in her performance. Other than that, it was a great performance that had great energy and I can’t wait to see what she brings in the upcoming weeks.

Carole Baskin (partner: Pasha Pashkov)

Dance: Viennese Waltz to “What’s New Pussycat?” by Tom Jones

Score: 16

Thoughts: Carole’s video package focused on the negative media attention from the Tiger King documentary and how it has affected her and her family. I did feel sorry for her when she became emotional about this, even through the speculation of what has happened to her ex-husband. Her performance was also one of the most improved of this week. Carole let Pasha guide her and it was a lot better than last week.

Vernon Davis (partner: Peta Murgatroyd)

Dance: Paso Doble to “We Found Love” by Rihanna and Calvin Harris

Score: 18

Thoughts: I really like Vernon, but I was slightly disappointed in his performance. I was more focused on his partner Peta than I was on him. I thought his arm movements needed to have more shaping, as Bruno mentioned, and his shoulders needed to be down. I wasn’t a fan of the music either. I love this song, but the band performing the song wasn’t great. I would have preferred to hear the real song.

Kaitlyn Bristowe (partner: Artem Chigvintsev)

Dance: Foxtrot to “I Hope You Dance” by LeeAnn Womack

Score: 22

Thoughts: I felt for Kaitlyn and was really hoping that she would be cleared to dance from the ankle injury she sustained. This ended up being the case and I’m glad she performed. This was the best dance of the night; her movements were fluid and beautiful.

It’s hard to say who the front runner is in the competition because it seems like it changes weekly. It’s unknown who could end up in the finals at this point.

I thought that eliminations took entirely too long. It was unnecessary to call each couple safe and would have been more timely to just call the bottom two. The bottom two was who I expected to see for this week, which was Carole Baskin and Charles Oakley. I agree with the judges’ save being Carole since her dancing has improved over the last two weeks. My prediction last week was right in that Charles Oakley ended up being eliminated.

Next week is the obligatory Disney Week. Let that Disney magic pour into the contestants’ veins and into their footwork and finesse.

(Picture Courtesy of ABC/Disney)

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