For the first time on ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ the contestants danced in the round to acoustic songs in a transformed ballroom that was in one word: magical.
The remaining nine dancers danced without the accompaniment of the full electric band, fancy lighting, or use of the larger stage. Instead, it was just acoustic instruments and a rather small, circular, elevated hard wood dance floor and, of course, a whole lot of romantic Rumbas and sensual Argentine Tangos.
Doubling the fun, the judges gave out two scores to everyone tonight: one for performance and one for technique, which was meant to shake up the leaderboard. Did it? Read on.
Mark Ballas said the stage was probably going to be “out of everyone’s comfort zone,” and Maksim Chmerkovskiy noted that by dancing so close to the judges, the three paddle pushers would really get a good look at whose footwork needs work and who’s really working it.
The first audible “whoa!” among the folks backstage was one minute into the show when Bristol Palin walked out onto the stage in a sexy, short, shirt-dress that made her appear pants-free, wearing darker, sultrier, vixen-like makeup. She looked pretty smokin’!
The first audible giggles, meanwhile, backstage were when Kurt Warner awkwardly shook his hips during an uncomfortable Rumba.
And the first and only trainwreck of the night was Mike ‘The Situation’ Sorrentino’s Argentine Tango, which Bruno Tonioli called “a really, really, really, really terrible Situation.”
I’m calling it: It might be Sitch’s week to go home.
Here is a look at the night’s routines:
Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough: Argentine Tango
Jennifer is feeling the pressure … and the pain of practice. The woman’s gone through several neck surgeries, has two bolts in her neck, and then apologized for being 50. Awww. But she still pulled through and danced probably her best all season. “One of my favorite tangos, beautifully played,” said Len. “This really is prime time delight,” said Bruno. “That was amazing,” said Carrie Ann.
Performance Score: 10
Technique Score: 27
Brandy and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Rumba
Hands down, Brandy rocked the hottest dress of the night. Smoldering! Shocking revelation of the night? Brandy revealed she hasn’t been with anyone in six years and because of that she doesn’t feel sexy. She only feels sexy when she’s in love. Well, she must love Maks, because this Rumba was s-e-x-y! “It was like watching two lovers stealing a moment of passion in a moonlit garden,” oozed Bruno. “It’s like your comeback night,” said Carrie Ann, who gushed “wow, huge difference” from last week. Len called it “very good,” but a little bit spicy for his taste.
Performance Score: 26
Technique Score: 22
Audrina Patridge and Tony Dovolani: Argentine Tango
She took the top spot on last week’s leaderboard with a touching Waltz, but she fell a bit short of that here. She might have said passion and aggression weren’t in her roster, but I think she channeled both beautifully. “I really enjoyed that,” said Carrie Ann, who didn’t like her toe pointing or dismount. “I thought the routine was very clever,” said Len. Bruno called her the “ice queen type – coolly determined, slightly detached.” He too complained about her feet.
Performance Score: 22
Technique Score: 24
Kyle Massey and Lacey Schwimmer: Rumba
Lacey was right. Kyle is too young and funny to really get sexy and romantic. It always looked like Kyle was trying to look romantic or sexy but not actually feeling it. It showed on his smirky face, didn’t it? “I think your footwork was much better,” said Len, who called his feet “atrocious” last week. “You just play it well. You’re a natural,” said Bruno. “I like the way you toned the performance,” said Carrie Ann, who noted that he is young and their dynamic isn’t exactly sexual, but she still loved the performance. “You still lit up the room,” she added.
Performance Score: 22
Technique Score: 18
Rick Fox and Cheryl Burke: Argentine Tango
Cheryl really put it all into the dance, including going to Argentina over the summer to learn the dance from the masters. It paid off when she hit the floor with her Foxy partner. Rick’s height and Cheryl’s petite-ness really came in handy with their lifts, which they did effortlessly. “It just felt one dimensional” and wasn’t romantic throughout, said Carrie Ann, to a booing audience. Like me, Len loved the lifts but complained that the dance gradually lost its energy. “It wasn’t as musical as it could have been,” said Bruno, who liked how Rick came out of the gate like Clark Gable.
Performance Score: 20
Technique Score: 19
Florence Henderson and Corky Ballas: Rumba
See, sexiness and age do go hand-in-hand. It takes a seasoned woman to display that kind of sensuality and kudos to Flo for showing the younger ones how it’s done. And, with humor to boot! I really liked this dance. It was funny! Loved the “appropriate” or “not appropriate” signs she had her pals hold up too. Cute. “And that’s our Season 11 get-a-room dance,” quipped co-host Tom Bergeron. “What just happened? You’re Mrs. Brady!” said Carrie Ann, who said age has no relationship to how raunchy and dirty one could be. “I was a little scared of you,” she joked. Len said it was much better than expected. Bruno called it scary, sexy, funny, and a slew of other things.
Performance Score: 18
Technique Score: 17
Kurt Warner and Anna Trebunskaya: Rumba
The ex-NFL star had a bit of trouble with the hip action in rehearsal and with dancing intimately with someone not his wife, because, as he pointed out, he’s Christian and all. Come on. Kurt, that’s very sweet, but as David Bowie (sort of) sang to John Lennon: it’s only dancing! Len gave him mixed comments. Bruno went on about his movement and said it was more like “brothers and sisters” instead of a raunchy rumba. Carrie Ann said, “I really loved the performance.”
Performance Score: 18
Technique Score: 15
Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas: Rumba
“I’m nervous about this one because it’s sexy and stuff and I’m not,” said Bristol. “Rumba and Bristol have absolutely zero in common,” noted Mark. Uh, Mark, do you mean Bristol is not sexy or romantic? I think she surprised us all and did show a sexier side that we weren’t expecting. And, wow, when she took off Mark’s shirt and got face-to-face with him at the end, I thought mom Sarah Palin would just die! Yes, she was here to witness her little girl turn into a woman on that stage. “What’s sad is you have all the makings, the way you move your body … but there’s no effort,” said Carrie Ann, who wants more intensity from the young mom. “I want to see more we and less me out of your routines,” said Len, who said her performances lack conviction.
Performance Score: 14
Technique Score: 18
Mike ‘The Situation’ Sorrentino and Karina Smirnoff: Argentine Tango
I’m still laughing over the rehearsal clip in which The Sitch flips Karina so hard on to the couch that the thud made you cringe. He clearly doesn’t know his own strength! Okay, onto the dance. He’s not exactly improving, but his heart was in it … and, finally, so were his abs. It looked like Karina made it easy on him – she did all of the work. He barely moved and when he did, well, it wasn’t enough. Will fans vote for that six-pack, though? Possibly. “You know that was a terrible mess,” said Bruno, who compared it to putting together a puzzle and making an incredible amount of mistakes. He called it a “really, really, really, really terrible Situation.” Carrie Ann welcomed his abs to the show. Funny. She saw improvement. I think not. Len called it consistently bad throughout.
Performance Score: 16
Technique Score: 12
Who do you think is going home this week? Hit the comments with your critiques.