I just had time to watch the latest episode of Dancing with the Stars from this past week. There’s been a lot going on personally for me that has prohibited me from being able to watch the episode when it airs. Nonetheless, this episode was one of the better ones of this season. Some of the performances ended up being breakthroughs for the contestants with some even hitting me in the feels. The opening of the show was slightly corny until Derek announced that he would be performing that night. Tyra is an Executive Producer on the show, and I have noticed that the openings have been cheesier since she has been the host. Hope this doesn’t remain the case. I’ve given Tyra credit for her hosting abilities in the last couple of weeks, but this week just fell flat for me with her. I also want to know who her wardrobe person is and demand that they be fired. She is a beautiful woman and none of the outfits she is in are flattering to her in any way.
Let’s get to the most important part of the show, the performances:
Johnny Weir (partner: Britt Stewart)
Dance: Salsa to “On the Floor” by Jennifer Lopez
Thoughts: I absolutely love the relationship that he has with his girlfriends that he revealed in his video package, especially the one he has with Tara Lipinski. I also love him and Britt as a dance couple. However, the performance just didn’t do it for me. His arm movements were messy, and the lifts looked a little clumsy. It didn’t look like he had a lot of hip movement either. I think Carrie Ann Inaba said it best that the performance had “too little earth”. I think he has a lot of potential, but if he can’t improve next week or the following week, I could see him going home soon.
Nev Schulmann (partner: Jenna Johnson)
Dance: Jazz to “Good Vibrations” by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch
Thoughts: Nev touched on how he thinks he’s improving, which I agree with wholeheartedly. I also thought it was hilarious that Jenna didn’t know that Mark Wahlberg was Marky Mark. I laughed out loud a little bit. I had no complaints about this dance at all either. The lift at the beginning of the dance was impressive. The judges kept harping on how the song didn’t match with the dance style, but I thought it totally worked and wanted more. I would have liked to have seen one 10 given to him. He’s well overdue.
Monica Aldama (partner: Val Chmerkovskiy)
Dance: Rumba to “Have I Told You Lately?” by Rod Stewart
Thoughts: I thought that Monica had an interesting story about her and her husband. I got a little emotional after listening to it. I think that her Rumba was one of her best dances. Her arms, hips and footwork were great, and she had full control throughout the performance. It also felt like Monica and Val were dancing as one. I also think that they deserved at least one 10.
Skai Jackson (partner: Alan Bersten)
Dance: Cha Cha to “Say So” by Doja Cat feat. Nicki Minaj
Thoughts: I commend Skai for competing on this show while also going to school. She seems like a driven young woman. However, her performance was my least favorite of the night. Her footwork was clumsy, and it didn’t feel like she was giving her all. I can’t tell whether it was nerves or if she was uncomfortable, but something was off. Her lack of consistency throughout the competition is starting to grate on my nerves and if she doesn’t start to improve in the upcoming weeks, it may be time to go.
Vernon Davis (partner: Peta Murgatroyd)
Dance: Cha Cha to “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang
Thoughts: Vernon’s story about the passing of his grandfather on the day of one of his football games, which ended up being one of his best, brought me to tears. His performance was okay, though. Vernon’s footwork was flat, and his arms were not fluid. It didn’t appear that his hips were moving all that much. His performances always seem fun, even if his technicality needs work.
Nelly (partner: Daniella Karagach)
Dance: Viennese Waltz to “Humble and Kind” by Tim McGraw
Thoughts: Nelly talked about how he wants to break barriers with his music, including with the song “Over and Over Again” with Tim McGraw that he released 15 years ago (he was dancing to one of Tim McGraw’s songs). I still think this song was one of the most innovative things for an artist to do. I was pleasantly surprised by his performance this week. His movements were smooth, and he was elegant, which was something that I haven’t seen from him all season. I know the judges said that he had his breakthrough dance weeks ago, but I really think that this was the breakthrough.
We now take a break for a performance from one of the best pro dancers in Dancing with the Stars history…
Derek Hough and Hayley Erbert
Thoughts: Their performance was just…damn! I was wrong that there would be an engagement, but everything about their performance made up for my disappointment. I loved the fact that Derek was dancing alongside shadows of himself and the feel of the dance.
Back to the contestants of season 29…
Jeannie Mai (partner: Brandon Armstrong)
Dance: Rumba to “You Gotta Be” by Des’ree
Thoughts: Jeannie’s story of her grandmother emigrating to the United States from Vietnam during the rise of communism was amazing. While they were traveling on a boat, someone was shooting at them and the boat was starting to fill up with water. Her uncle ended up siphoning the water out of the boat to save them so that they could make it to America. This story allowed her mother and Jeannie to fulfill the American dream. While I thought her story was beautiful, the dance needed work. Her movements were too staccato, and I felt like her arms weren’t fluid.
AJ McLean (partner: Cheryl Burke)
Dance: Samba to “Mi Gente” by J Balvin and Willy William
Thoughts: I love AJ and Cheryl’s partnership. I think he is one of the best partners for Cheryl from a personality standpoint. I also thought the “sorry count” was so funny. AJ’s Samba was his breakthrough of the season. He was so smooth and fun. I’m excited to see more of what he has to offer in the coming weeks. I’ve also concluded that Cheryl’s best dance to choreograph throughout her seasons on the show is the Samba.
Chrishell Stause (partner: Gleb Savchenko)
Dance: Contemporary to “Stars” by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
Thoughts: Chrishell’s story about the passing of her parents made me cry. I can’t believe that she lost them with a year to the same illness (lung cancer). I could sense her vulnerability in each movement of her dance and the fact that she poured her heart and soul into it. The judges were pointing out some issues with her technicality, but I didn’t see anything wrong.
Kaitlyn Bristowe (partner: Artem Chigventsev)
Dance: Samba to “Sorry” by Justin Bieber
Thoughts: I just think she’s adorable. She was fangirling over dancing to a song by Justin Bieber, and it was just so cute. I think that Kaitlyn is the best technical dancer out of the remaining contestants, but it also feels like she’s holding back. Carrie Ann Inaba pointed this out as well, saying that she needs to give more. Kaitlyn has the potential to win the competition and I think she (and Artem) wants it, but she needs to give more to the audience so that she can stick around for longer. God knows Artem deserves a mirrorball for some of the contestants he’s had over the years.
Justina Machado (partner: Sasha Farber)
Dance: Viennese Waltz to “She’s Always a Woman” by Billy Joel
Thoughts: Justina revealed that she is getting plenty of positive messages related to body empowerment, which is great to see. She revealed she was hard on her body in her 20s and 30s and now she accepts herself for who she is. Her performance was good. She had fluid movement and kept her shoulders down. I hope that she makes it into the finals as she has been one of the most consistent dancers all season.
Alas, the bottom two strikes again. Johnny and Britt and Vernon and Peta ended up in front of the judges for them to seal their fates. I’m not surprised to see Vernon go, but I was disappointed that he didn’t make it further and wasn’t improving nearly as much as other contestants.
Next week is a new spin on Halloween night with which we will see the contestants play different villains in the zeitgeist. I’m excited to see how this theme will play out.