Dancing with the Stars celebrated the decade of synthesizers, neon, and leg warmers last night with some breakthrough performances and some performances that were just…all right. The opening of the show included a “workout video” with the remaining celebrities. I liked this opening compared to the other ones. It could have come off being cheesy, but the producers didn’t even come close to it. I know I have criticized Tyra in the last couple of weeks for her outfit and delivery, but I feel like she is starting to come into her own as a host. I liked the two outfits she wore too.
Let’s get to the totally tubular dances of the night:
Justina Machado (partner: Sasha Farber)
Dance: Jazz to “Maniac” by Michael Sembello (the song from Flashdance)
Thoughts: Justina talked in her video package about how her journey to fame can be related to the message in Flashdance, which is to chase your dreams. I liked it. I liked her dance as well. The choreography and her movements were great. The ending of the dance with the water a la Flashdance was unexpected, but so awesome. I couldn’t stop looking at Sasha’s outfit and found it distracting (in a good way).
Jesse Metcalfe (partner: Sharna Burgess)
Dance: Tango to “Everybody Wants to Rule the Worldy Tears for Fears
Thoughts: Jesse talked about his “slow and steady progression” throughout the competition. I don’t completely agree with that, but okay. I connected with him feeling like an outsider and caring about being accepted as a child. Jesse’s dance was not great. His shoulders kept raising, making his posture bad, and his footwork looked clunky. I didn’t notice that he lost timing like Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno said, but agreed with Derek in that this was not his best dance.
Chrishell Stause (partner: Gleb Savchenko)
Dance: Cha Cha to “You Got It (The Right Stuff)” by New Kids on the Block
Thoughts: I thought Chrishell’s fandom for the New Kids on the Block was so cute. She told Gleb that “we can’t suck, then” in the video package. I wouldn’t say the dance sucked, but it was not one of her best. I thought Chrishell’s movements were awkward. Her footwork looked good, but it didn’t connect with her arms. I did agree with Derek’s comments that her and Gleb were better side by side. The members of New Kids on the Block recorded a video for her that she saw after her dance and her reaction was so adorable. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her in the bottom in the next couple of weeks or potentially eliminated if she doesn’t improve.
Jeannie Mai (partner: Brandon Armstrong)
Dance: Jazz to “Like a Virgin” by Madonna
Thoughts: Jeannie was bummed about her scores from last week’s dance, despite giving it her all. Her drive to do better came through in this week’s dance. It did look like she might have been ahead of the music at one point, but she gave attack with each of her movements and used the space around her to dance by extending her arms and following through.
Monica Aldama (partner: Val Chmerkovskiy)
Dance: Tango to “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell
Thoughts: Monica looked disappointed in last week’s results and her and Val were going to take advantage of the fact that they have another shot. I thought it was interesting and commendable that she had no coaching experience and took her training from business school (which she attended in the ‘80s) to make the program better. I think her tango was her best dance so far. She played the character of the dance well and all the movements in hold were great. I hope she remains in the competition for longer and doesn’t end up in the bottom 2 so soon.
AJ McLean (partner: Cheryl Burke)
Dance: Waltz to “Open Arms” by Journey
Thoughts: I liked his story of coming into his own in the ‘80s, although I had to look up how old he was to understand how much he really came into his own during this decade (he’s 42). I liked the prom theme for the dance, but I thought his frame was inconsistent. His footwork was much better. The crowns at the end of the dance was a cute touch. I’m hoping he has his breakthrough soon because I’d be surprised if he makes it to the finals.
Skai Jackson (partner: Alan Bersten)
Dance: Jazz to “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News
Thoughts: It made me chuckle that she said she was born in 2002 but knows a lot about the ‘80s. I really shouldn’t talk since I’m more of a ‘90s kid anyway. I thought the choreography was good, but I felt like Skai was ahead of the music at times. I also felt like her movements were clumsy. I agree with Derek that this was a fun performance, but also agreed with Carrie Ann Inaba that she finished her movements too quickly, which might have looked like she was ahead of Alan and the music. The competition is unpredictable, but it would surprise me to see her in the finals since she has been inconsistent from week to week.
Vernon Davis (partner: Peta Murgatroyd)
Dance: Tango to “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi
Thoughts: The video package showed that Peta being hard on Vernon, which is one of the reasons why I love her as a pro and think she is a great coach. I liked the background of the stage with Vernon’s name and his wig, but that’s about all I liked about the dance. I thought the footwork was clunky and his frame was not great. In the words of Tyra Banks, “we were all rooting for you”. I want to see him improve over the next couple of weeks, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go if he doesn’t shape up.
Kaitlyn Bristowe (partner: Artem Chigvintsev)
Dance: Tango to “I Think We’re Alone Now” by Tiffany
Thoughts: Her video package showed that her and her sister were close and how much of a cute goofball she really is. Kaitlyn and Artem were playing nerds in their dance, which was adorable and not believable since they are both ridiculously good looking. Everything in hold with this dance was great and she hit each beat of the music well. She continues to cement her as a contender, but I thought that the dance break at the end of the dance would affect her scores (I’m still thinking as if Len is a judge, who would have torn her and Artem apart for that). I want to see her do another Latin dance so that we can see a different side to her. I also want to see her score a 10 in the next two weeks.
Nelly (partner: Daniella Karagach)
Dance: Samba to “Rhythm of the Night” by DeBarge
Thoughts: I laughed out loud when Nelly pointed to the air to explain to Daniella what a jheri curl was in the video package, predicting that the producers would put a picture where he pointed to. Nelly looked more relaxed and happier in this dance. I think this was his best dance and could have been his breakthrough. I do want to point out that his partner, Daniella, reminds me of Karina Smirnoff for some reason. It’s definitely her looks, but it could be her demeanor as well.
Johnny Weir (partner: Britt Stewart)
Dance: Contemporary to “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler
Thoughts: I was surprised that Johnny was struggling with the movements of a Contemporary dance during rehearsals since it seems like a lot of the movements with figure skating and this style of dance look similar. I do like that Britt brought him to an ice-skating rink to bring him into his element and connect the two worlds. His Contemporary dance was his best dance, and I would say the best dance of the night. The costumes were interesting for this type of dance (they were playing David Bowie and Grace Jones), but he was smooth and elegant in the way that he moved. I agree with Carrie Ann that Britt’s choreography was good too. This performance shows that he could be a contender and one to watch.
Nev Schulmann (partner: Jenna Johnson)
Dance: Quickstep to “Take on Me” by a-ha
Thoughts: It was refreshing to see that Nev doesn’t take himself seriously in the video package, but is still serious about getting the dance steps correct and precise. I do like that the producers have acknowledged and pointed out to the audience that he does have a dance background but hasn’t danced in 20 years (wonder why he may catch on a lot easier than some of the other contestants?). I thought that this dance was his best to date. Nev’s posture was on point and he was light on his feet. The judges were not as enthused as I was, but I think he is continuing to cement himself in at least the semifinals, if not the finals.
This point in the competition starts to see people improving and shows that the contestants really want to stay, which makes it heartbreaking to see anyone go home and makes it unpredictable as to who will end up in the bottom two. I was surprised to see Vernon in the bottom two along with Jesse Metcalfe. The judges chose to save Vernon, which was the right choice. I didn’t think that Jesse was improving as much as the other contestants and I had a feeling that he didn’t want to be there.
Next week doesn’t have a theme, so we will see what new dances await our Top 11 contestants. We will also see Derek dance with his beau, Hayley, for the first time. I smell an engagement!
(Picture Courtesy of Catch My Party)