It's Latin Night on "Dancing with the Stars," dance fans, and I was preparing myself for a night of slightly raunchy choreography. I'm so happy to say, it wasn't like that at all. Even the great opening number (choreographed again by Mandy Moore) and the post-break in-betweeners have more actual dancing and less strutting and posing than they did last season.
Tom Bergeron is his usual hysterical self, and even Erin Andrews is getting more comfortable with the gig, getting some good jokes in. At week three, the judges are getting pickier, and the contestants have come down a little after last week's stellar round. But they've all rallied pretty well, and some dancers are still leading the pack.
Let's check out My Top 5:
Rumer & Val's Disco Salsa: Rumer and Val start the night off with a bang and a smoking hot Disco Salsa. She's awesome, and clearly fearless, as Val said, going for that lift so hard in rehearsal that she busted Val's lip with her crotch! Yoiks! But it pays off in the routine and they do it flawlessly. I'd have liked a little more salsa in there, I only saw about 8 measures of actual salsa, but the routine is so hot that it doesn't matter. I especially love the sharp, percussive footwork, like the "rat-tat-tat-tat" part. But I still want Rumer to relax more, and have a little more fun and freedom with it, as the judges also mentioned this week. Len sure is in a good mood, awarding her a 9. Score: 33
Riker & Allison's Salsa: This is HOT!! What a great routine - and I'm so glad they kept Riker's hair back. There are still a couple slightly awkward moments in there, like Allison's hop during her opening pirouette. It's as if Riker has a little too much energy and he's overpowering Allison just a tad, pulling her off her balance. But he's also really great, with sharp, clean movements, great energy, and clearly having a ball. Wowza. I love those hip-hop moments too. Carrie Ann's comments about him being more "testosteroney" (the San Francisco treat?) are interesting, as are Julianne's comments about them relating to each other as a couple. My thinking behind this is that Allison, the "So You Think You Can Dance" alum, is such a star that she just stands out and takes the stage no matter what. I talked about this a lot last season, saying she had a "Cassie" problem. I think she's better about blending this season though, and Riker is more able to keep up with her than Jonathan Bennett was. Oh well, so much for Len's good mood; his comments do not reveal his low score. Score: 34 (tied for first place)
Robert & Kym's Rumba: This is a very nice Rumba, and Robert looks really lovely doing it, if a little stiff. His shoulders are relaxed, which is great (that's very important, and an easy mistake to make), but he needs to watch his hands. He clearly works so hard though; I love how he's internalizing the judges' comments as they're giving them to him. I also love Julianne's comment that he was in fact leading Kym, because leading is often secondary when working with choreography (since both partners know what they're supposed to do). I admit Kym's flowy dress (which, btw, is not a dress but a leotard with scarves) makes me nervous: I keep waiting for her to step on it, and I think she does at one point. I think she grabs his butt too, at the end. But I can't completely blame her; it's kind of a nice butt. Score: 29
Willow & Mark's Paso Doble: As that tweet on the screen read, "Willow is the girl on fire tonight!" What a smokin' hot, (Catching) Fire and Ice routine. And a lengthy, complicated routine at that, with great choreography-well, except for that WTF moment in the middle with Mark doing some strange footwork. He looks like he's spoofing Lord of the Dance. I sure hope he's not going for zapateado or something, because it does not work. But Willow looks great. She's got such power and strength, and growing every week. It's beautiful. Score: 32
Noah & Sharna's Argentine Tango: Wow. This is just amazing. It's really so incredible to see Noah dance, and an Argentine tango no less. And this routine is as dramatic and sexy as any other. Noah is obviously so strong, with such control. Sharna is truly amazing too, and I admire her so much. What a challenge for her as a choreographer, especially when it's literally one-sided, because Noah lost the same arm and leg. And then, having to re-choreograph with just a couple days to go because they decided not to use the prosthetic arm. What a stupendous routine, beautifully danced. Score: 30
The Rest: Charlotte & Keo's Rumba: This rumba isn't bad; it's got some nice moments. Charlotte is surprisingly flexible, despite bending her knee slightly on that impressive arabesque developpé. She does make gorgeous lines and pictures, as the judges said, but she's still a little stiff and mechanical. She needs to smooth out the transitions between each movement (what Bruno says about sustaining the concentration), and show a little emotion. Bruno's comment about her body over her brains is pretty appalling, but the audience calls him on it immediately, and it's clear he has no idea what he's saying. Might want to think a little more before talking, Bruno. Score: 22 (tied for last place)
Michael & Peta's Salsa: That's a shame. Michael's a good mover with great energy, but this salsa definitely looks uncomfortable. Maybe they were too relaxed at their spa day and didn't quite practice enough. It's a shame, but I agree with Carrie Ann that the lifts don't feel safe. But Michael looks awkward and stiff just doing footwork too. It's very difficult not to watch Peta. Michael's face during the judges' comments is truly heartbreaking though. Poor guy. Score: 24
Suzanne & Tony's Samba: Suzanne's channeling Carmen Miranda in her fun, fruity samba to Barry Manilow's classic, "Copacabana." This is a fun routine, and she dances it well, though she does lose her footwork at one point. I think she looks slightly better in the package though, because she's still a little careful. I wonder if she's nervous. I agree with Carrie Ann about showing more depth in the routines. Tony tends to do these light, fluffy (like Suzanne's tail feathers) routines with props and such, but Suzanne is an actress, so she can handle more gravitas. The judges' relatively low scores don't really match their more positive comments though. Score: 25
Chris & Witney's Argentine Tango: As I said last week, I've yet to meet an Argentine Tango I didn't like, and this one is no exception. But Chris looks very uncomfortable at the beginning-Bruno's comments about his turn are exactly spot on-and the routine really gets going when the music picks up, but at that point it's all Witney's legs anyway. I love her fast flicks and ganchos; it's what makes Argentine Tango so sexy. I'm not sure how much Chris brings to it, though of course being a good support for your partner is extremely important. Score: 28
Patti & Artem's Cha-Cha: Yes, this is an entertaining routine, but they're starting to get a little the same. Artem definitely uses more "baffle them with your bulls---" than he should. At first I thought he hides quite a bit of content in the routine, but I didn't think about it until the judges point it out: it's not much cha-cha content. It's more Patti doing her own thing or club dancing than ballroom. She's definitely a fun performer, and I like the hambone in there, but as the judges said, it's not enough. Score: 22 (tied for last place)
Nastia & Derek's Samba: Nastia is still so gorgeous, and of course she dances beautifully, even when injured (that thumb injury looks really awful too). Perhaps it's good that they have a handicap because of their schedules. I love the little assisted jump-step, which reminds me of Derek's incredible quickstep with Shawn Johnson a couple years back. Of course the judges glow, awarding them two 9s. Score: 34 (tied for first place)
With time quickly running out on the clock, they jump to the bottom three couples: Chris & Witney, Charlotte & Keo, and surprisingly, Noah & Sharna. But Noah and Sharna are safe, of course, and instead Charlotte and Keo are going home. It's a small shame she won't be able to reach her true potential, but someone has to go. At least she'll have more time to deal with the many offers that are apparently coming to her cellphone.
So what do you think, dance fans? Are you surprised by the outcome? Which are your favorite dances this week?