"Dancing With The Stars" Week 7 Recap: Keep Calm And Tango On
The themes on this season of “Dancing With the Stars” have gotten a little… out there. (Cage fighting! In’ N Out! Strippers!!) So it was nice to see this week’s classical theme attempt to rein in all that creative expressionism and remind the contestants, and the audience, that this is indeed a ballroom dancing competition.
This is not to mean that the stars didn’t take this lesson, give it a good go, and then chuck it out the window in favor of an even more imaginative ridiculous routine. Staying true to their theatrical tendencies, season 14 contestants honored classical week with some fake vampire fangs, more bleeped out expletives than a “Real Housewives of New Jersey Reunion”, and so much semi-nudity that ABC should really consider changing that TV-G rating looming in the top right corner of the screen. This week also featured the first perfect score of 30 of the season! Who got their hands on that elusive Len ten? Read on to find out. (Hint! It wasn’t Katherine!!)
Despite being robbed of the first perfect score of the season, Katherine and Mark still put on one hell of a rumba. They had the additional challenge of trying to make this Bruno-approved raunchy dance into something elegant and ethereal. But what challenge was that really in the face of Katherine’s background in classical music and the fact that she is basically a fairy? None. Despite the unnecessarily entertaining Roman costumes, Katherine and Mark’s rumba was slow and precise. It was half ballet, half belly dancing. In other words – spectacular. Len appreciated their detour of the dreaded “raunchy route”, however Bruno wished they had taken it even further to get his juices really flowing. If anything, I think the overwhelming creepiness of Bruno’s last statement is enough to ensure that Katherine and Mark will wear turtlenecks and nun’s habits for the rest of the season. Can’t wait to see Sister Act all up on the dance floor next week, since Katherine’s score of 27 (unanimous 9’s) guarantees that she will be back for more.
For Melissa and Maks, placement in next weeks Hoedown Throwdown (just kidding!) isn’t so certain. After big and mighty Maks suffered an injury to the ankle, M&M were forced bring in backup in the form of Chmerkovskiy Jr. Val, who would be there all episode long playing awkward third-wheel just in case Maks was unable to perform. As Melissa punnily put it “with Maks’s injury, it takes three to Argentine Tango.” Haha, couldn’t resist.
Despite all the work M&M&V put into this tango, the result was disjointed, age-inappropriate, and as Bruno put it, “like the cyclone at Coney Island” – a scary ride you just want to get off. Even more frightening than the persistent anxiety for Melissa’s life through all through those lifts and acrobatics, was Maks’ sinisterly offensive idea of a costume. Now this one I can’t even come close to describing… but if I had to try I would say Russell-Brand-Becomes-Natalie-Portman’s-Black-Swan-Character-At-The-Ballet-Except-Goth. Carrie Ann was clearly feeling the same vibes as she cut down the dance as “Cirque Du Soleil gone terribly wrong.” With 7’s across the judges’ table, Melissa and Maks took home the night’s lowest score of 21.
William Levy really had his work cut out for him this week. He had to NOT be sexy. After last week’s raunch-fest of a rumba, the judges were afraid that he had gone a little to X-Tina and was, as her seminal classic goes, “too dirty to clean [his] act up.” Cheryl helped him “Dirrrty” detox with an ugly person’s routine – all substance, no show. If he wanted to prove he belonged in this competition, he had to make his dances look a little less like an audition tape for Magic Mike. Their Viennese Waltz was exactly what the judges were looking for. It was light-footed but heavy with choreography and that Carrie Ann desired “substance.”
It only helped that 12-year-old opera prodigy Jackie Evancho (AKA: Katherine 13 years ago) was serenading the audience with a beautiful rendition of “Ave Maria.” Len appreciated William’s efforts to clean up his act, saying that the dance brought him not quite to Vienna, but to Austria. At this point Cheryl looked up to host Tom Bergeron and asked, “that’s close, right?” and all of America shook their heads at her. Despite the “purity” and “vulnerability” of the dance, Bruno still found a way to hit on William just a little bit by calling him a good Catholic boy from Cuba. I feel like only he could make those words sound wrong. With unanimous 9’s from the judges, William’s substantial routine took a sweeping score of 27.
Back from the dead Dance Duel, Roshon and his partner Chelsie were back with a vengeance. Despite trying his very hardest every week, Roshon seems to have realized that there is a disconnect with the audience (i.e. All his votes go towards the more chiseled William Levy and Donald Driver). Having trouble wearing the pants in the relationship, Roshon sought out Val for some advice on how to be a man. I feel like he is running into the same problem every week: he wants to be more manly, he wants to be more sensual, we wants to be more like William Levy. No amount of lessons or bandanas can make this Disney darling something he’s not.
At this point, I would say Roshon’s best chance is to embrace what he is and rock those dances like a 20-year-old should. He has at least a decade of energy and flexibility on those older contestants who can’t seem to stop injuring themselves – time to play up that advantage. Roshon and Chelsie’s Argentine Tango had fast and furious footwork, which the judges praised, but warned about the looseness of his limbs. Dancing to an orchestral “Bad Romance”, Roshon showed the judges he stayed in the competition for a reason (Carrie Ann even hugged him!) and was awarded a total score of 25.
Donald and Peta were up next, also with something to prove to the judges. After last week’s success, Len personally challenged Peta to push Donald even further. Donald’s biggest advantage in this competition is, and always has been, his football background. He has not only strength and flexibility, but discipline and drive to learn even professional standard routines. It only helps that Donald is unquestionably the most good-natured and levelheaded contestant.
In a week where curse words were flying like a South Park episode, Donald never uttered a *bleep* or even a complaint. Accompanied by Vittorio Grigolo, Donald and Peta danced a Viennese Waltz fit for royalty. In their regal costumes, the duo mesmerized the ballroom by waltzing with ease and grace. Len was impressed by the high quality of the choreography, while Bruno was engaged by the passion. Surprise, surprise. With 9’s across the judges board, Donald tied Katherine and William with a total score of 27.
Maria and Derek’s 7 minutes of air-time is so chock full of drama, tribulations, and triumphs that it feels like I accidentally switched to a Lifetime made-for-TV movie. This week the drama-for-your-mama was Maria and Derek’s love/hate relationship. They make out on the dance floor BUT he tells her that she isn’t attractive. They smile and hug and have inside jokes BUT he yells at her to be a woman for once.
Derek must have taken a sip of the Chmerkoskiy kool-aid because he was a downright bully this week. Maria cried to the cameras feeling frustrated because some of Derek’s past partners were dancers, she is not. They got over their lover’s quarrels quickly though to start prepping for their Paso Doble. Telling the “tragic love story” between a vampire and a human, Maria and Derek’s Paso was like Twilight… only with better acting. Better dancing too, as the routine was “sharp as a razor” according to Len. That coveted Len ten found its home tonight as Maria and Derek were given unanimous 10s for the first perfect score of 30 for the season. Check out their fang-tastic dance below.
Last but not least was Jaleel, who wanted to keep the momentum going after his cha-chamazing performance last week. Feeling the pressure of doing the same Viennese Waltz as William and Donald, Jaleel put his full faith in Kym to teach him a winning routine. Jaleel needs an edge at this point in the competition. Where all of the other couples have their niches, he and Kym just sort of fade into the background. My hope for them is that, given they stay until next week, they come up with something spectacular to really stand out in the competition. This week’s waltz, while soft and sensual, was not that level of spectacular they are going to need. The story behind it also confused me as Jaleel looked like he was going on safari, and Kym looked like Thumbelina. Don’t really see the forlorn love story there. Either way, the judges commended Jaleel’s efforts at a trickier dance but found that he was overwhelmed. Jaleel and Kym were awarded 8’s across the judges’ table for a total score of 24.
The last portion of the program was taken up by team dances, another gimmick for more points and more problems. Comprising Team Tango were Katherine & Mark, Maria & Derek, Jaleel & Kym, and Roshon & Chelsie. In the other corner, Team Paso Doble was made up of William & Cheryl, Donald & Peta, and Melissa & Maks. The deal was that each group dance was given a score, which would then be added on to each team’s individual score.
If M&M&V had enough issues trying to make a tango work for three earlier, signs would indicate that an eight player Team Tango was doomed. Add in a swearing Jaleel, sassy Chelsie, and Mark threatening Katherine that he might “lose his rag” – the whole thing was a nightmare. Luckily enough, Team Tango was able to pull their stuff together for a lightning quick and precise routine. Judges commended Roshon in particular for a great display and awarded Team Tango with 27 points (10 from Carrie Ann, 8 from Len, 9 from Bruno).
Team Paso Doble decided to close the night with the all the raunchiness Bruno had been hoping/ waiting for. If Maks’ marveling at the perfect blonde/brunette/red-head trifecta of ladies wasn’t enough, his jab that William was a little boy too afraid to take off his shirt in the face of Maks’ six pack (yes, he did refer to himself in the third person) was all we needed to know that this team was in for a bumpy ride. Once Donald and Maks peer pressured William into going along with the shirtless aspect, this team was ready to go with a passionate and fiery Paso Doble. All that sexiness wasn’t able to sway the judges however, as they lost out to Team Tango by a point.
While classical week didn’t stay very true to its theme, it did hold the strongest routines we have seen from these stars yet. Each week it is going to get harder to see another beloved celeburina/o go home, so make sure you vote to keep your favorites in the game. The last Dance Duel is going down Tuesday night, so click here to catch up before the next elimination.
This week’s scores are as follows:
Maria & Derek: 10 + 10 + 10 + 27 = 57
Katherine & Mark: 9 + 9 + 9 + 27 = 54
Donald & Peta: 9 + 9 + 9 + 26 = 53
William & Cheryl: 9 + 9 + 9 + 26 = 53
Roshon & Chelsie: 9 + 8 + 8 + 27 = 52
Jaleel & Kym: 8 + 8 + 8 + 27 = 51
Melissa & Maks: 7 + 7 + 7 + 26 = 47
Reach Kelly here.