It’s a tough week as the “Dancing With the Stars” celebtestants are challenged with their regular dances and a Swing Marathon.
It’s a taste of what’s to come as there will be double dances from here on out now that the number of couples has dwindled down to seven. Next week will most likely be the Group Dance, which might actually be really good this year (but I won’t hold my breath).
1. Jake Pavelka and Chelsie Hightower
Dance/Song: Samba/”Comanche” a la the Revels
Jake almost fell again this time around. He got a little tangled during a close turn sequence and was too close to the steps. He’s not terrible, but there’s a serious disconnect between his upper and lower body to me — when one is doing the technique right, the other is a little off. He danced with his usual gusto and at least looked like he was having fun.
Judges: Len thinks the performance was more polished but lacked rhythm. Bruno agrees it lacked rhythm, adding it also lacked bounce. Carrie Ann says Jake pushes it to the max but he needs to connect to the music if he wants to reach the top.
Score: 21 (7-7-7)
2. Evan Lysacek and Anna Trebunskaya
Dance/Song: Samba/”Hey Mama” a la Black Eyed Peas
During rehearsal for the swing number, Evan cracked his head practicing a lift over Anna’s back. Um … concussion maybe? The doctor diagnosed it as a mild one and said he’d be OK. Whew! I really don’t need to see that clip ever again. Because, scary. Part of the emphasis in practice was getting a motor in his hips. They were really going at times. He was a little too upright/proper but did a good job overall. The samba rolls were particularly nice considering he’s like four feet taller than Anna. I think he should be most congratulated on showing a lot of personality during the number.
Bruno says Evan has great lyrical lines but didn’t really work for this, and he’s totally right. Carrie Ann says he lost the battle with the dance, agreeing the lines didn’t quite work and the samba elements never completely gelled. Len thinks it was his worst dance since it was too ballectic, adding that he’s found his nemesis dance.
Score: 21 (7-7-7)
3. Niecy Nash and Louis Van Amstel
Dance/Song: Argentine Tango/”El Sonido de la Milonga”
The sharpness of her feet is much better this week. I’m not sure how the judges will react to it but I love that Louis didn’t let the humor of the piece overpower the choreography (which was really good). Her technique definitely took a step in the right direction, and the performance level was great. And Niecy is working that dress.
Carrie Ann said it was nice to see Niecy “really dancing,” citing improvements in her lines but didn’t think the comedy was necessary. Len actually liked the comedy because it didn’t interfere with the performance, though he wanted a little more intensity. Bruno apprecited the improvement on her footwork but agrees the concentration might’ve robbed the number of some intensity.
Score: 21 (7-7-7)
4. Erin Andrews and Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Dance/Song: Samba/”When I Get You Alone” a la Robin Thicke
She’s got good hip action and bounce, but she’s a little ahead of the music at times. But then again the singer is a bit off too, so I don’t know if it’s a cause-and-effect situation. Not to be outdone by Jake, Maks ends up shirtless by the end of the number. Erin danced well but she could’ve softened up her facial expressions — she looked a bit smooshy-faced at times, probably from concentrating so much on the technique and forgetting about her face. Erin should get a good score.
Judges: Len was pissy about Maks taking his shirt off and says he’s tired of not seeing “proper” dances from them. Bruno disagrees, saying Erin danced the whole way through and her arm placement was good. Carrie Ann got up and did a little celebratory dance because she thought Erin nailed it.
Score: 25 (9-7-9)
5. Chad Ochocingo and Cheryl Burke
Dance/Song: Argentine Tango/Traditional arrangement
From the first steps I can see an improvement. His focus seems better this week. The frame is better, he looks like he’s leading, and he had the right character for the dance. Overall, he was very good — I didn’t see a single glaring flaw. I think one of the things he needs to work on is making sure there’s purpose behind every move and every step, something that’s a bit inconsistent from dance to dance.
Judges: Bruno thought Chad proved he could dance. Carrie Ann thinks he nailed it and called his lines “gorgeous.” Len said that on the show “you either grow or you go” and Chad grew.
Score: 24 (8-8-8)
6. Nicole Scherzinger and Derek Hough
Dance/Song: Samba/”Maria” a la Ricky Martin
Nicole had her first freakout week of the season — not a yelling, screaming freakout but an “I’m stressed and worried about unimportant minutia” one. She’s not comfortable with this dance. For all her worrying, she performed great. There was some really nice hip action but she was missing a bit of bounce (*she typed unironically*). Overall it was really good, but I don’t expect they’ll get any tens.
Judges: The only thing Carrie Ann could find to critique was the occassional weird facial expression from Nicole. Len felt the choreography was mixing crucial samba moves, which made it a “hodge-podge of sexy moves and gyrations.” Bruno said she had nothing to worry about.
Score: 26 (9-7-10) – Sometimes I think Bruno scores out of scorn for Len.
7. Pamela Anderson and Damian Whitewood
Dance/Song: Argentine Tango/A cool Tango-fied instrumental of Depeche Mode’s “All I Ever Wanted”
Pamela is determined to not return to the bottom by killing this dance and by not attempting to manipulate the audience. It’s moments like that that reaffirm why I like her. This week, she’s sporting a brunette wig for her dance character. Her lines were good, but her steps were a bit timid sometimes. I’ll give them a lot of props for taking full advantage to the lifts. Overall the performance was strong, but she needs to consistently perform the moves with purpose.
Judges: Len liked the smoldering intensity and the lifts but noted it was a bit “scruffy” at times. Bruno loved the character again saying Pam “lived the part.” Carrie Ann said it was “unquestionably sexy” but wanted to see a little more technique in her legs.
Score: 22 (7-7-8)
Like last season, the Marathon dance will have all the couples on the floor at the same time with the judges eliminating them one by one. Scores will come in order of elimination — the last couple standing will get 10 points while the first ones out will get four. Hopefully there won’t be any questionable judging like the last time around.
Swing Dance Marathon
Song: An interesting instrumental arrangment of “In the Mood”
Chad and Pamela seem the shakiest based on the initial camera angle, but Jake and Chelsie are the first ones tapped out. Niecy and Louis, though very funny, are the next ones out. Evan and Anna are next … which is weird because every time I see Chad and Cheryl he’s messing up. Perhaps it’s a sympton of the shot choice? With four couples left on the floor, they can go anywhere on the floor they want, but Chad and Cheryl are tapped out before they really get to enjoy the freedom. Erin and Maks seem to be the most consistent. Pamela and Louis are having some nice moments but are eliminated fifth. That leaves Erin and Maks and Nicole and Derek. I didn’t really like what I saw of Derek’s choreography, but he and Nicole ended up winning anyway. Like I figured from the beginning. The results are not a travashamockery like last season (because Nicole is a great dancer), but I liked Erin and Maks’ choreography much better.
Judges: Len says they disagreed a lot and he was often out-voted but he agrees with the winner. Bruno thought everyone did really well, which made the decisions difficult. Carrie Ann loved watching the anarchy of the lifts.
Scores: Jake and Chelsie, 4 points; Niecy and Louis, 5; Evan and
Anna, 6; Chad and Cheryl, 7; Pamela and Damian, 8; Erin and Maks, 9;
(winners and overall leaders) Nicole and Derek 10.
Bottom Two: Hmmm…I think it’s going to be Jake and Niecy. The Marathon points didn’t really help them out at all. Pamela should be safe, and there’s an outside chance Chad might end up in the red light.
Who’s Out: I make no bones about the fact that I think Jake is pretty consistently overscored. I bet he’s a really nice guy but, unlike every other celebtestant, I wouldn’t be the least bit sad if he were eliminated and I believe he’s plateaued.
Do you like the Marthon dances? Think the right couple won? Which was your favorite number tonight? Think you know who’ll be going home? Anything else you want to add?