'Dancing With the Stars': Rumer Willis's Perfect Rumba
Oh, dance fans, I had a hard time watching this episode of "Dancing with the Stars." Don't get me wrong, there's actually a lot of great dancing here for America's Choice and a trio round. The problem is, every couple to perform reminds me of last week's travesty: the heart-breaking elimination that sent home our beloved Willow. She should still be here, and it's disgusting to me that she's not. It's particularly hard to be objective about Chris and Robert when I'm still so angry over Willow's ouster.

But there's still lots to admire in this exciting "race to the semi-finals" episode, filled with chills, spills, high pressure, and even two birthdays. Yes, Erin is presented with a cake for her birthday, which she doesn't eat herself (women almost never eat on television) but shares with Tom for his 60th birthday on Wednesday. It's also America's Choice, as the fans vote on what kind of routines, songs, props, and costumes they want. The dancers can veto some suggestions, fortunately (dancing penguins, anyone?), but America does pretty well overall, resulting in some very entertaining routines tonight, and tough competition for tomorrow's double elimination. I'm just so glad they've finally listened to their fans and are bringing back Dance Center, one of the best segments of every season.

Here are my top 5 dances:

Riker & Allison's Viennese Waltz: Yes, I clearly don't hide my emotions, especially when it comes to Riker. I love him, and-not sure if I've said this so clearly before, but I really want him to WIN. He should take the whole thing. This Viennese waltz is so great! He's definitely vulnerable, showing raw emotion as well as power. His face at the end of the dance says it all, and completely makes my heart go pitter-pat! I'm sunk. The tempo is really fast, even for Viennese waltz, but he keeps with it and looks beautiful. His arms and hands are gorgeous. And I think there's plenty of waltz content in there, but I'm obviously not Len (no one is). I'm disappointed about Len's comments, especially because I want Riker to get the first perfect score. He comes pretty close though. Score: 39.

Nastia & Derek (& Sasha)'s Paso Doble: Good job, America! What a fun concept for this dance, and it works well with Fall Out Boy's great song, "Centuries." I agree with Len that there isn't much paso doble in this paso doble, but the concept, the choreography, the flips and attitudes are all such fun that I don't care. It's great to see Sasha shine too, he's a fun dancer. That beautiful, light somersault is gorgeous, the way he bounds up in the air and dives into the ground like a swimming pool. Nastia is still stunning and technically brilliant, of course, but she needs a bit more thrust. I love Bruno's comment that they "make the Lannisters look like pussycats." Mrowr. Score: 36

Rumer & Val's Rumba: This is beautiful. Good job again, America. You asked for a "classic, ultra elegant" rumba, "like the good old days." Apparently, that means a la "Strictly Ballroom," with the same great song ("Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps"). It's dance for dance's sake, with no gimmicks, no extra dancers or fluff, just clean, beautiful dancing. And that near kiss they sneak in is so much hotter than Robert and Kym's, in large part because it's unexpected. Downright sexy. Of course the judges love it, especially Len, who rewards them with a coveted 10. In fact, my only complaint is that they received the first perfect score of the season, and booted Riker and Allison out of the top position. Len, you beast! Score: 40.

Riker & Allison's Jazz with Brittany: Brittany Cherry from "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 10 joins Allison and Riker for their jazz trio, full of hip-hop, boy band, and classic jazz moves. I didn't know Riker danced in a crew. That explains a whole lot. But his technique is great too, his pirouettes and axel turn all look really good, despite that you can see him thinking just a tiny bit during those parts. This is a fun routine and he's clearly having a blast, and as Julianne points out, he's definitely leading the pack. Too bad Len is such a fuddy-duddy he brings their score down again. Score: 39

Nastia & Derek's Jive with Sasha: Since Nastia and Derek have already been working with Sasha, of course it makes sense for them to continue this collaboration for the trio round. This is a very inventive routine that reminds me of the musical "City of Angels" (I know, I'm probably one of only a handful who remembers that show), as Nastia sneaks off between rooms to jive with Sasha instead of Derek. The choreography is really fun, and the performance entertaining. I love Nastia's backward cartwheel onto the couch for the final "Singin' in the Rain" pose. So does Len, who goes so far as to give them a standing ovation. They earn the second perfect score of the season (and evening). Score: 40

The rest:

Noah & Sharna's Tango: I'm glad to know that the contestants can veto some of America's choices, as Noah did, declining a military uniform. Instead he wears a dashing white suit for his tango with Sharna. They look great together, as usual, and in some ways the stiffness in his legs works well for tango. It takes away some of the smoothness, however, which may be what Carrie Ann refers to with her comment that it's "blocky." I hate to say the choreography starts to feel the same to me, and I wonder how far he can push himself because of his challenges. But it's still amazing how he does everything he does. Score: 31

Chris and Witney's Contemporary: I wish I like this dance as much as the judges do. I don't dislike it, it's very pretty, but I feel Witney is still dancing around Chris. Based on the package, I thought contemporary could be a great challenge for him, but Witney doesn't give him enough to do. I blame her choreography more than I blame him, because he does fairly well with what he's given, and the lifts are strong. Yes, he could show a little more emotion, but he's not an actor, he's a farmer (as they keep reminding us). The judges love the dance though, and reward him. Score: 34

Robert & Kym's Contemporary: Phew. I for one am so glad that they don't make a big deal out of that kiss. I hate that it's all America can talk about. Yes, there might be something between them in real life, but so what. This competition should be about their dancing, not their relationship, and I suspect it's the latter that's kept them on the show this long. I do like this dance more than I thought I would. It's lovely, and Robert dances a lot more than Chris did in his contemporary. And again, I appreciate that the kiss is tucked in the middle instead of some big overly dramatic thing. Bruno's comment about it being like watching a deodorant commercial does not sound so good though. I often wonder if he has any idea what he's saying. Score: 33

Noah & Sharna's Salsa with Emma: This is pretty cool, yet there's something missing for me, and I'm not sure what. Something in the package led me to expect more with the "armography," as Bruno calls it, and it doesn't quite come through. But the routine is still innovative and clever (though a shame the freeze frame is a little off-balance). I especially like the Pilobolus-esque opening pose, but I could do without the butt drumming again-though it's pretty hysterical to see Bruno fall off his chair like that (especially in slow motion). Ah, live television. I bet Len is so glad there's now a Julianne-shaped buffer between him and Bruno. Although what was with that weird picture of Len with two mannequins? Scary. Score: 32

Chris & Witney's Paso Doble with Lindsey: Witney's season 19 trio paso doble with Lindsey and Alfonso Ribeiro was one of the best dances last year, so there is potential with this one. Unfortunately though, Chris is no Alfonso, and this paso is nothing like the last one. There are a few moments here and there, but Chris mostly looks awkward; so stiff and uncomfortable. He's very mechanical and clompy, as Carrie Ann points out. It again makes me angry that he's still here and Willow is gone. Score: 30

Robert & Kym's Samba with Jenna: Robert, Kym, and Jenna's "Men in Blue Steel" samba has a lot of really fun choreography in it, but unfortunately the execution is rough. Audience boos aside, Len is absolutely right: it's messy. The steps are muddled, the timing is off in places, and the knee slide just looks painful. But as Bruno mentions, Robert has great Italian style and gives his all. He's actually a cute guy, but I'm so tired of the slimy relationship stuff. At least with Jenna there he seems to be keeping it slightly under control. Score: 29 (lowest score)

Rumer & Val's Paso Doble with Artem: They're doing very well tonight with the classic, gimmick free dance routines. Just like their rumba, this paso doble is clean and sharp, dance for dance's sake, and beautiful. I personally find the rumba a little more dynamic, but this routine is exciting too. Great skirt/cape work and strong choreography earn the couple their second perfect score-making me that much sadder for Riker. Score: 40

Well, there are your dances. I feel a little badly picking the same few couples over and over for my Top 5, but they are the strongest, as well as my personal preference. It just shows, again, how unfair it is that Willow was sent home last week. If a similar thing happens in tomorrow's double elimination, I'm going to be beside myself.

How about you, dance fans? Which are your favorite routines tonight? What do you expect for the double elimination tomorrow? Are you as excited as I am for the return of Dance Center?