Hey dance fans, "Dancing with the Stars" is back, and the incredibly high level of competition is maintained another week. Add to that this week, the emotional highs and lows as the contestants share their most memorable years and heartbreaking stories. The choice of year for each dancer isn't too surprising, and we get to hear the personal stories of the year the contestants became who we know them to be.
Apparently, our hearts aren't the only things breaking this week, as we're treated to some insane footage of injuries and mishaps sustained during rehearsals. Noah lost his tooth because Sharna accidentally kicked him in the face! Hasn't he suffered enough? I'm surprised they don't show those moments again later, since most other reality shows tend to play horrific falls over and over, but I also really appreciate that they don't. It's not what this show is about.
There's a slight format change this week, as Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews reveal the results slowly as the night goes on. The first couple in jeopardy is Michael and Peta, followed by Riker and Allison, and lastly Willow and Mark. I'm so surprised (and frankly a little annoyed) by this outcome, since the weak link definitely seems to be Chris, but he's safe. Riker and Willow are both in the bottom? They're both incredible, strong dancers. But this show has never really been about the strongest, most technical, or best dancer. I guess I have to make a point to vote.
I'll start by voting here for My Top 5:
Nastia & Derek's Argentine Tango: It's obvious before they start moving that this is going to be amazing-and one of my favorite dances of the night. It's Nastia and Derek, and it's Argentine tango! Of course I love it! She is so stunning, and he's strong and sexy. The choreography is complex and exciting, from her carefully stepping on his feet, to the beautiful milonga steps, to the super fast grapevines. And those lifts are insane. He's swinging her around like a rag doll, except she has too much control to be a rag doll. I have to admit, as incredible as it is, I would have liked maybe one or two fewer lifts in exchange for a little more tango. Perhaps that's similar to what Len was saying about the dance being too athletic with not enough character. Regardless, we still have our first 10 of the season. Score: 36
Riker & Allison's Tango: It's astounding that Riker and Allison are in jeopardy, because he is really great. This tango is so sharp and clean-but the song is definitely not a tango. I appreciate Bruno pointing that out for a change; it's frequent on this show that the music doesn't match the dance they're doing, especially when it comes to tangos and paso dobles. I love this song, but it overpowers the dance, because it has such a fun, playful beat, and because at this point, I can't help but think of this awesome video. But Riker is terrific, and loves what he's doing. I agree with Len that it's a bit hectic, and I can see what Julianne says about them being too close together, because it does look slightly like they're tripping each other up. The skirt doesn't help in that regard either. But Allison has the most incredible, muscular legs. Wow. Score: 34
Rumer & Val's Waltz: I don't always agree with Len, because I often find him old fashioned and grouchy. But in this case, I totally understand where he's coming from, because this song is NOT A WALTZ! I found it immensely difficult to focus on the dance because they're trying so hard to shoehorn a waltz into this four/four music, and it just doesn't work. It annoys me too, because unlike tango or paso doble, there are plenty of pop songs that are waltzes, so there's no need to settle for one that isn't. I absolutely appreciate the dance for what it is, once I could finally concentrate on it (the third or fourth time through), and I love the anti-bullying message (at least as it's described in the package). Rumer is a beautiful dancer, with gorgeous lines and such passion. There are a couple of mistakes though; she loses her balance slightly, and Val somehow trips on the death drop. But it is a beautiful routine, exquisitely danced. Interesting to see her mom Demi in the audience, as well as Glenn Close behind her. Score: 35
Willow & Mark's Contemporary: This is so amazing. It's pretty clear, and totally understandable, that Willow's most memorable year is the year she was cast in The Hunger Games. I absolutely adore both the books and the movies, and I love Mark's recreation of it as well. This routine is so exciting, from those first three low, syncopated runs off the pedestals, to the overhead shot of the circle, which makes me want them to do English longsword dancing. It's perhaps a bit on the nose in terms of concept, and there's an awful lot happening with lots of extra dancers. But who cares, because it's Just So Cool! The choreography is complicated and awesome, and really captures the style and mood of the films (the visual effects guys certainly have fun too). There's a thin line between dancing and fighting, and you can see that here in a really exciting way. They get a "killer" score too, with three 10s. Score: 39
Noah & Sharna's Contemporary: Oh my goodness. Noah's story is so heart-wrenching, yet totally inspiring, and his dancing is as well. Of course his most memorable year is when he lost his left arm and leg to a roadside bomb while on his second deployment in Iraq. What an amazing journey he's had. It's truly phenomenal, and so sad. The routine is gorgeous, moving, with very difficult steps and lifts. I really love both Julianne's and Carrie Ann's comments, especially the latter comparing him to a haiku: "with very few words, you say something very profound." Score: 32
Michael & Peta's Rumba: I appreciate Michael's story so much. It's touching and sad, and he's been through a lot, from his brother's death from a gunshot wound to his father's continuing disapproval. This rumba is lovely, and he definitely shows vulnerability, as the judges point out. He has beautiful, strong lines, but he still looks a tiny bit awkward, carefully placing his body in poses instead of flowing into them. But I absolutely admire his strength and courage. Score: 30
Robert & Kym's Waltz: Robert dances a lovely waltz dedicated to his mother, who passed away from cancer in 2006. He looks dashing in his white tux, and Kym's choreography is classic and pretty. He has beautiful lines and a good frame, and the dance is clean. I'm not sure where his hands are in that first waltzing pass, but I'll overlook that. And I laughed when Erin called Kym "Peaches and Cream Barbie." Score: 34
Chris & Witney's Rumba: Not surprisingly, Chris's most memorable year was last year, when he became The Bachelor and met his now fiancé, Whitney. Those kinds of fast changes would be extremely memorable. I'm not a fan of the show, and in fact I can get pretty cynical about it, but it would be lovely if Whitney really is the love of his life. As for this rumba, it's actually very pretty, especially as it goes on. Special guest star Gavin James's song is sweet, and Chris uses the music well. He does need to watch his shoulders, and Julianne is absolutely right that he needs to stretch through those lines, rather than stopping short. But I like it more than the judges do, and find it beautiful. The audience seems to agree with me; they do not like those scores. Score: 27
Patti & Artem's Jazz: Patti commemorates 1973, the year her son is born, with a fun jazz number to one of her early songs. The routine is cute and entertaining, channeling a little Alvin Ailey Revelations in the beginning, but then throwing in Charleston, jazz squares, and other jazzy steps. The steps aren't quite as basic as the Patti shuffle, as she calls it herself, but I'd still like more. It's starting to feel like the same thing over and over again. She's entertaining, and it's lot of fun, but that's about it. Score: 30
Suzanne & Tony's Fox-Trot: Suzanne and Tony recreate a bit from Three's Company to celebrate the year Suzanne was cast in the role, and bid adieu to the talented John Ritter. She is really lovely, and so smart-certainly smarter than Chrissy Snow. It's such a shame she's trapped in such a silly character all her life. I didn't think this fox-trot has the depth Carrie Ann is looking for, because it's still a pretty light, fluffy routine, but Carrie Ann likes it a lot. It's a sweet, classic fox-trot (though not really fox-trot music), and Suzanne looks good doing it. Score: 28
At this point, I'm nervous about the final results, because it's ludicrous for Willow and Riker to be in the bottom three. But fortunately, the final result is the correct one, and Michael Sam is sent home. It's sad, and I'd have preferred he stay longer, but not at the expense of Riker and Willow.
How about you? Are you surprised by the result? Which are your favorite dances this week? Who do you think will go home next? And are you excited for the return of Disney Night next week?