"Dancing With The Stars" Semifinal Recap: I Could Have Waltzed All Night
We’ve lived through that ridiculous Rock week. We’ve made it through Jaleel’s jokes, Gavin’s hats, and Maks’ employment of every curse word in the English (and most likely Ukrainian) language. We’ve even persevered through those Dance Duels and the painful three-week-prolonging of Roshon’s inevitable elimination. And I really hate to tell you this, but now we are really getting to the hard part.
The four “Dancing With The Stars” competitors left – Katherine Jenkins, Maria Menounos, Donald Driver, and William Levy – have inarguably been the strongest since day one. I don’t think anyone is surprised that these four dance titans have made it to the semi-finals; the only problem is which one of them ends there? For all intents and purposes, these four are inexplicably evenly matched.
Donald has the advantage of being an athlete, therefore more in shape, however Peta is a newbie whereas Mark, Derek, and Cheryl all have multiple Mirrorball trophies to their name. Maria has a tight relationship with Derek, and during her better weeks she performs flawlessly, however their relationship has more tears, drama, and ups and downs than “Gossip Girl’s” Chuck and Blair – can they really keep it together for the finals? William has been a fan (and Bruno… and Carrie Ann) favorite since the beginning, let’s face it, because he’s gorgeous, but he moves at a slower pace than the rest of the competitors and might not be able to keep up. Lastly, Katherine has been blessed with dancing ability, an endearing personality, and as I’ve said many times before, the best choreographer on the show – Mark, as a partner, but after being in the bottom three last week, and hurting her back Monday night, is she reaching the end of her reign?
So many questions! I would say the obligatory “so little time” but it’s really not true. We have hours until the elimination Tuesday night so let’s kick back and take a look at Monday night’s performances.
Much like last week, Monday night required each star to put on two routines in front of the judges… so, without further ado, may I introduce
Warning! Warning! The bandana is back in action. Maybe he actually put his ridiculous headwear away for the past few weeks, or maybe I just failed to notice in light of all the drama, but this week William’s worst quality made its comeback in a major way. And I cringed. In other, potentially more relevant news, William and Cheryl were dancing the tango and the samba this week, and our Latin heartthrob was having a hard time deciding which one was more challenging. Winner? The Tango. And judging on the scores he received for both dances, the judges agreed (by 2 points.) But I digress, as the competition gets fiercer and Hunger-Gamesier each week, William caught on to the most important lesson of them all – Good isn’t good enough, you have to be excellent.
And by all means, he was excellent. Though William struggled while rehearsing his tango, the resulting routine was precise, technical, and choreography-heavy. It was none of the sexy steamy gimmicks that won him fan love lust loyalty in past weeks, but still maintained a sultry edge – which I attribute purely to the fact that it is gorgey William. If Len took his place in this tango, not only would it be disturbing on too many levels to count, it just wouldn’t come across as well. Speaking of Len, he though William and Cheyl’s tango was “terrific” and looked forward to “the best semifinal ever.” Bruno said his dance was full of “animal magnetism” and “there’s no question who was on top there.” Seriously? Can’t ABC censor this guy? Too much. With two 9’s from Carrie Ann and Len, and a 10 from Bruno, William’s first dance of the night won him 28 points.
Katherine was faced with two new missions this week – 1) to wiggle like she’s never wiggled before, and 2) to show the judges that there is more to her than just the sweet Welsh pixie that they have come to adore. No, no, she is far more complicated than that. As Katherine professes, there are two different sides of her personality, “Classy and sassy.” Gahh, even the way she phrases it is adorable. She and Mark were taking on a quickstep (classy) and salsa (sassy) to try and bring them through to the finals. Will it work?
Judging on the quickstep alone, it sure should. Katherine has always had the quickest footwork of the competitors (need I remind anyone of the week where said footwork threatened to make Mark a childless man?) and this routine was no exception. At times, Katherine’s feet were moving so fast, it almost looked like she was floating. Quite the quick step indeed. Feel free to wow yourself and check it out below. Bruno reeled back in the creepiness and told Katherine that her dance was “outstanding” and “picture perfect.” However, Carrie Ann took it one step further, declaring this quickstep “the best dance [she’s] ever seen on Dancing With The Stars.” Wow. Now that’s a compliment. With 10’s from Carrie Ann and Bruno, and a 9 from Len, Katherine one-upped William with a total score of 29 for round one.
Entering the final stretch of the competition, it looks like Donald was facing his own mission – to be more feminine. Not exactly an easy task for a 6’ tall “hunky dunky” (nope, I’m never going to let him live that one down) football player. The waltz and samba that he was rehearsing required Donald to use those moves like Jagger Peta, and swivel those hips like a proper lady would. Meanwhile, Peta refuted my previous claims that Donald’s best attribute was his determination and said that it was actually his emotion. Donald was able to feel the dance, and truly put himself into what he was doing, which made the routines more genuine.
That waltz twas very emotional indeed. It looked downright divine between the stark white costumes, the slow and loverly choreography, and Donald’s complete emotional investment in the dance. Peta was right, when you’re looking for it, Donald’s emotion is fairly obvious (in a good way, a very good way.) Speaking of emotions, looks like Donald’s waltz filled Len with a particular one – nostalgia. Len said the routine took him back to another era. I couldn’t help but wonder if he meant his own glory days, you know, the Jurassic era. I’m only kidding. Bruno told Donald and Peta that it is much harder to impress with a waltz than with a quickstep or a tango, but he did just that. With 9’s from Carrie Ann and Len, and a 10 fro Bruno (Bruno was easy with the 10’s Monday night, yeah?) Donald tied William for a total score of 28.
Last, but never never least were Maria and Derek. They tried a little “Freaky Friday” action on us this week and had Derek having a minor emotional breakdown and Maria there to support him. So what exactly was stressing Derek out? The pressure to choreograph a perfect jive and Argentine tango to show the judges (and audience) just how good Maria was and how much she deserved to go to finals. Awww. That’s way cuter than Maks’ previous stress that Melissa was making him look like a terrorist.
Luckily, all that pressure paid off because Derek put together a sizzling Argentine tango that not only proved why he is one of the most successful dancers on this show, but just how freaking good Maria has gotten. I can say what I want about her theatrical antics, but there is no denying it, that girl’s got moves. When Maria intertwined her legs with Derek’s as he danced down the stairs, it was unquestionably one of the coolest pieces of choreography we have seen all season. See, Derek? Nothing to worry about. Bruno, for one, thought the routine was the perfect trifecta of words with an emphasized T sound, “Tailored! Enticing! Titillating!” Carrie Ann, however, was so overwhelmed regaling Maria with tales of her transformation that she kicked Len under the table. Haha. Can’t say that we all haven’t wanted to kick Len at some point or another, but I digress, with 10’s all around, Maria and Derek achieved their second perfect score of the season.
Since rehearsal footage was already shown before the first routines, and in an effort to educate viewers on the gritty heartwarming details of just who they were voting for, each star shared their backstory and what has motivated/led them this far in the competition. William was up first, sharing the story of his childhood in poverty in Cuba. A Levy sister told audiences that at one point, their family lived 9 people in a 2-room house. William even used to climb neighbors’ trees for fruit to eat. Lucky enough to arrive in America in a plane instead of a dangerous boat, William didn’t exactly fall into the fortune he has today. With no money and no knowledge of the English language, William worked tirelessly to try and find some way to support his family. Luck befell his good looks when he walked into Next Modeling Agency, with only the set of clothes on his back, and was booked for a photo-shoot within a matter of days. The transition into acting was quick from there and today William is one of the biggest stars in Latin America. Dios Mio, what a success story.
Channeling his history, the same success befell William’s Latin themed samba. Again, William displayed the accuracy with which he can complete the choreography and his natural proficiency at all things steamy and Latin related. Does that mean he can make some killer fajitas? I sure hope so. But anyways, Bruno savored the flavor of sexy Brazil in Williams dance, while Carrie Ann said he lived up to every expectation. Len graced America with this anecdote, “I’ve never looked at a man’s bum for so long in my life.” Len awarded the “hunk with the junk in his trunk” that coveted Len 10, and Carrie Ann and Bruno followed suit, winning William his second perfect score of the season.
Katherine’s sashay down memory lane focused on the story of a girl who always knew what she was meant for. “I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to sing,” said Katherine. At 18 she was accepted into the prestigious Royal Academy of Music, and it was only a matter of time from until she got a record deal from Universal Music. However, this Cinderella story didn’t quite get its happy ending yet as Katherine was devastated by the ending of her engagement to TV personality Gethin Jones in December. A combination of “steely determination and gut” according to Piers Morgan (and that is a seriously complimentary compliment if you know anything about Piers Morgan) Katherine has used “DWTS” as a way to get back on her feet again.
Katherine’s salsa aimed to showcase the sassy side of her personality and did she ever. Pulling a snake charmer opening, it was to the audience’s delight that Katherine wiggled out of the basket, kicking off a routine that had this Welsh Wiggler wiggling like nobody’s business. The belly-dancing theme was only made more entertaining by the song choice. I could keep going, but to keep it short, this routine was stellar. I mean, show of hands, who was actually even looking at Mark during this salsa? Who even noticed Mark was there? Unfortunately, at the very end of her routine, Katherine slipped and bent backwards in a painful looking way. She couldn’t hold back the tears, not just from pain, but from the disappointment of letting Mark and everyone else down. It was awful to watch, I just wanted to give her a hug. Len said he only wrote down one thing during her performance, “Katherine the great, the world’s wonder woman.” Bruno took it a different way, praising Katherine on “unleashing the harlot.” Ummm, ok. Unfortunately her slip at the end prevented the judges from giving her 10’s but Katherine took home three 9’s for a total of 27.
Looking at the smiling, good tempered, “DWTS” fanatic Donald, you would never guess that he came from a background of drugs and crime, his flashback told us just this. Coming from a tough neighborhood of Houston, Texas, Donald’s father was in jail during his childhood, leaving his mother to care for 5 children. They lived under a bridge for some time until Donald’s mother made the decision to send him and his brother to go live with their grandparents. In an equally tough neighborhood, Donald and his brother quickly fell into drugs and carjacking. Athletics was his way out. Donald credited the turning point in his life to be meeting his wife during college. She cleaned him up and helped him become the determined champ he is now. If that wasn’t heartwarming enough, Donald’s kids telling the audience that their Dad is going to get a 10 was just too much. Too. Cute. Ahhh.
Donald’s samba wasn’t quite as cute as his kids, but it was fun, flirty, and upbeat. It certainly didn’t pack the emotional punch of his previous waltz but it allowed Donald to showcase that masculine energy he wowed judges with during his Rock Week Paso Doble. Bruno commented that Donald took a risk with a Samba very far from its Brazilian heritage, but it worked. Carrie Ann said Donald brought his very best A + game to this dance. Len never commented, which was very weird, but maybe he was off having an intense inner struggle over whether or not to give Donald his desired Len ten. Turns out no, as Donald received a 9 from Len and two 10’s from Carrie Ann and Bruno for a total score of 29.
For Maria’s flashback, she gave an extended look at her connection with her Greek immigrant parents that we saw during the week where contestants danced in honor of an important year in their life. The story goes that Maria’s parents worked as janitors in a Boston nightclub to support the family and give her the ability to do as much as she could. Maria clearly inherited their drive, as she put herself through college (yay journalism!) and made it on to be a TV host for “Extra.” As Maria’s super adorable Momma said, Maria always wanted to take dance classes as a little girl but never could, so this is her chance.
Maria and Derek’s jive started off with a defibrillator, and if that was any indication, this routine was going to be heart pounding. I’ve never thought of the jive as the most enticing or entertaining of the dances on “DWTS” but Maria and Derek certainly proved me wrong. Derek’s killer choreography worked its magic again in an offbeat but extremely entertaining routine. For her part, Maria never missed a step. Bruno and Len had the same comment (for once) and told the couple that the dance was offbeat and quirky, far from the traditional jive… it shouldn’t have worked, but it did. With 10’s from Carrie Ann and Bruno and a 9 from Len, Maria and Derek ended round two with a total of 29.
That’s it for the semifinals. The prospect of these four fierce competitors being narrowed down to just one in the next 7 days is so daunting that I’m happily changing the subject. ABC announced today that this fall’s season of “DWTS” is going to be an allstar cast, meaning that the stars will all be returning contestants who lost out on their season’s Mirrorball trophy. Who from this season would you like to see? Who do you want to stay as far away as humanly possible?
Until next week, catch up in this week’s action here.
The scores are as follows:
Derek & Maria: 30 + 29 = 59
William & Cheryl: 28 + 30 = 58
Donald & Peta: 28 + 29 = 57
Katherine & Mark: 29 + 27 = 56