It’s week 4 on Dancing with the Stars, and we’re down one DeLay due to injury. It’s a darn good thing the show started with 16 contestants this season – the producers can probably spare a couple more unexpected departures without it affecting this season’s projected end date. But enough speculation – on with the show!
This week, the couples will be performing one of four new (to this ballroom) styles: 2-step, Charleston, bolero, and – dear me - the lambada. I should point out that these styles aren’t your typical ballroom flavors, and it’s safe to say that the professionals may not be all that familiar with these dances (remember last season when Derek Hough had to read about the jitterbug on the Internet before he could teach it?). Plus: lifts are allowed! It’s going to be an interesting night …
Chuck Liddell and Anna Trebunskaya – 2-Step: For a country boy, this should have been a lot better. Chuck wasn’t really dancing so much as clomping around the floor, and there was a lot of dead time in between moves. But Chuck continues to charm, even if he’s underwhelming. Len praised their lifts and called Chuck a “novelty,” Bruno said Chuck brings a sense of mayhem to the ballroom, and Carrie Ann thought it was an authentic 2-step. Scores: 6-5-6.
Melissa Joan Hart and Mark Ballas – Charleston: This is Mark’s first time competing with the Charleston, and he took Melissa Joan to a 20′s club to help her get into the spirit of the dance. It paid off big time – this was an awesome, entertaining, classy routine. Melissa Joan’s timing was impeccable, her movements were nice and big, and she and Mark brought a bit of classic slapstick to the routine as well. Huge kudos to Mark for the choreography, and even more (fictional) bonus points for the fabulous styling. Bruno said she brought the flapper girl back to life, Carrie Ann called it a breakthrough routine, and Len said it was everything the Charleston is supposed to be. Scores: 9-9-10. Well deserved.
Natalie Coughlin and Alec Mazo – Bolero: Despite their rehearsal squabbling, Natalie and Alec delivered a smooth, crisp bolero. Natalie needs to work on keeping her shoulders down and not flailing her arms around, but she’s showing steady improvement from week to week. Carrie Ann said she thought it was difficult and Natalie was struggling in places, Len praised the lyrical nature of the routine but wanted more romance, and Bruno kept referencing Sharon Stone and said Natalie needs to watch her swimmers’ arms. Scores: 8-8-8.
Aaron Carter and Karina Smirnoff – Lambada: I don’t know if it was the music, the costumes, or the lambada itself, but this whole routine screamed “cruise ship”. But I will give credit where it’s due - from his opening gymnastics to his major hip action, Aaron was performing 110%. The ending lift/jump didn’t go as planned, but it was a minor snafu. Len said their dance wasn’t raunchy enough, Bruno said Aaron missed the character of the lambada (“You need to be Gilles Marini” – who was conveniently in the audience). Carrie Ann cut it straight up and dirty – chill out dude, you’re creeping everyone out. And then Aaron looked like he was about to cry (again). Scores: 6-6-6.
Mark Dacascos and Lacey Schwimmer – 2-Step: Well, this was an unexpected surprise. Mark really got into it and had a honky tonk rootin’ tootin’ time with the 2-step. This was a fun, sassy routine, and even through it had shaky moments, he’s getting better each week. Bruno said Mark finally found his confidence but missed his footing, Carrie Ann said praised their chemistry, and Len said he loved the choreography. Scores: 8-7-7.
Kelly Osbourne and Louis Van Amstel – Charleston: Wilkommen back Kelly! She still has moments where you can tell she’s unsure, but this was a vast improvement over the past two weeks. I thought some of her moves could have been more exaggerated, but it was a great performance for her. Carrie Ann said she lived up to her look, Len praised her confidence and performance, and Bruno -surprise!- is a big Liza fan. Scores: 8-7-8.
Joanna Krupa and Derek Hough – Lambada: Len said he wanted a raunchy lambada, and he certainly got one here. Joanna’s legs are still a mess – she needs to work on pointing her toes and keeping her legs extended at all times. The judges appear to be under some sort of spell (maybe it’s all the nakedness?) because no one really critiques her: Len loved the choreography but then called it repetitive, Carrie Ann was really excited and said their dance was “fueled by the crotch area” (a compliment). Bruno said (and I quote): “when animals get physical! bursting with sexual energy! I have had enough for the next 6 months!” Annnd, let’s move on. Quickly. Scores: 9-8-9.
Donny Osmond and Kym Johnson – Charleston: Performance-heavy dances like the Charleston are made for guys like Donny Osmond, and this was another great routine for him. Kym showed her smarts choreographing to his level and played to his usual strengths. As they say, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, and there ain’t nothing broke here. No kissing this week, but Bruno liked it anyway. Carrie Ann also had lots of nice things to say but called out one small stumble, and Len praised their performance. Scores: 8-8-8.
Michael Irvin and Anna Demidova – Bolero: I always forget that these guys are still around (foreshadowing?), and it was a bit weird that Tony Dovolani taught him the bolero (does it count as cheating if you bring in the world champion because you can’t teach the dance?). The choreography was really easy and the dancing was bordering on sleepy. Carrie Ann said there wasn’t enough dancing, Len agreed it was “economical,” and Bruno took the schtick one step further and declared “iz like the economy: you expect it to be getting better but nothing happens.” I think Michael is definitely in trouble tomorrow. Scores: 5-6-5.
Louie Vito and Chelsie Hightower – 2-Step: Chelsie has never done the 2-step before, so they turned to the expert: Ty Murray. Rehearsal footage tells us Louie is not the world’s greatest cowboy, and the 2-step is definitely not his calling. And it was pretty obvious it’s not Chelsie’s either – her choreography, which is usually so smart and creative, was all muddled and bleh tonight. Len said it best when he described their dance as “a series of walks and then Chelsie did something.” Bruno said it was “dazed and confused,” and Carrie Ann said Chelsie was trying too much to overcompensate for her partner’s shortcomings. Scores: 5-5-6. Ouch.
Mya and Dmitry Chaplin – Lambada: This was more or less guaranteed to be a showstopper – they closed the show plus, hello, it’s Dmitry. This was definitely the best routine of the evening. Bruno called it “an exotic and (PG13 word) rollercoaster you want to ride again and again until you are left exhausted.” Oh my. Carrie Ann barely contained herself enough to bust out a rhyme: “My-ah’s on fi-ah!” Len said he has really high expectations and their lambada didn’t meet them, and then everyone got all shouty. Scores: 10-8-10.
After a long night of ballroom, two things are clear: the 2-step is a lame ballroom style (at least for the purposes of this show), and Michael Irvin is likely headed home. Join me tomorrow to find out who does the lamba-bye-bye.
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