Dancing with the Stars – The Pressure Builds

Welcome to week seven of this season. And if the stars weren’t under enough pressure before, they’ll definitely be under pressure tonight as they have to do two dances each. Fortunately, they have six weeks of experience behind them now. Still, it is always interesting to see how well they compete at this point in the season.

Up first are the ballroom dances, so let’s get to it.

Marissa Jaret Winokur & Tony Dovolani – Tango – I really don’t know quite what to say. The routine was certainly adequate. There were no glaring errors. But I never really got into it either. It just left me limp. I will give her credit for subduing her normal bounciness, but that look on her face (and what was it supposed to be?) was just weird. The judges, however, universally loved it. Len said it was her best dance, in fact.

Scores: Carrie Ann – 9 Len – 9 Bruno – 9 Total – 27 I didn’t expect any less considering the judges’ praise. A great start to the night, even if I didn’t care for it.

Cristian de la Fuente & Cheryl Burke – Viennese Waltz – That dance had elegance and class. I loved those ending moves; however, they were very close to a lift there. Carrie Ann thought it lacked a little flair, but she even admitted it was a nit pick. Len thought it could have used more traditional Viennese Waltz.

Scores: Carrie Ann – 8 Len – 8 Bruno – 9 Total – 25 Considering Bruno was the only one to praise the dance, I’m not surprised that he was higher. And, frankly, I’m not too surprised by these scores. Puts him a little behind Marissa for now. But we’ll see how the next round goes.

Kristi Yamaguchi & Mark Ballas – Viennese Waltz – If I were Cristian, I’d be so thankful that I got to go before Kristi. Yes, his dance pales in comparison to Kristi’s, but at least he was judged on his own merits. That was smooth and refined. While I’m not always a big fan of props, I really felt the umbrella added to the routine as well. I knew Len wouldn’t love the beginning of the umbrella, and I was right. The turns were a little off, according to Carrie Ann and Bruno, but that was their only negative comment.

Scores: Carrie Ann – 9 Len – 8 Bruno – 9 Total – 26 Wow, that’s Kristi’s first 8 (or lower). And she’s not in first place right now. That can change in the next round, but this is certainly a dance for this season’s record books.

Mario & Karina Smirnoff – Foxtrot – I was beginning to get into the routine until Karina did that back bending bit. That looked like a Latin move to me. There was a bit more R & B to this routine then normal, but I’ll agree with Tom on this one, overall it was fun. I can certainly see Len’s comment that it wasn’t as controlled as it could have been. Still, the judges basically liked it.

Scores: Carrie Ann – 8 Len – 8 Bruno – 8 Total – 24 The lowest dance of the night so far. And since he was in the bottom two last week, that’s not a good start.

Shannon Elizabeth & Derek Hough – Tango – Now there’s a Tango. Yes, it was quick, but it was also sharp and entertaining. The beginning almost went on too long, but it was great once it got going. You could see the fear in her face before the judges started talking. But the judges loved it. Carrie Ann called it her best dance yet, in fact.

Scores: Carrie Ann – 9 Len – 9 Bruno – 9 Total – 27 A great comeback. Hopefully, they can keep that momentum going for the next dance.

Jason Taylor & Edyta Sliwinska – Quickstep – It looked like they got slightly off at the beginning, but if they did, they recovered quickly. That was a fast, fun dance with some great intricate footwork. And throwing the papers from the judges table? Funny and got a smile from Len. I think Carrie Ann thought it was fantastic. And the other two judges liked it, too. Bruno called it the dance of the night.

Scores: Carrie Ann – 10 Len – 9 Bruno – 10 Total – 29 The best dance of the Ballroom dance. And I think I heard the crowd start to boo Len’s score. Come on, 9 is a great score.

Time to switch gears for the Latin round.

Marissa Jaret Winokur & Tony Dovolani – Rumba – I guess I am off the Winokur Bus because this dance didn’t do much for me either. I started to get into it, but then the shimmying pulled me right out again. I think they were trying too hard to be sexy and not hard enough on selling the chemistry between them as they danced. It wasn’t dirty enough for Bruno, but Carrie Ann loved it. Len commented on the lack of hip action, and I had noticed that as well, so I was glad to see someone mention it.

Scores: Carrie Ann – 9 Len – 8 Bruno – 8 Total – 25 Again, this is higher then I would have given it. I’m thinking a 23 was about right. Which means Marissa is glad I’m not the judging panel, I guess.

Cristian de la Fuente & Cheryl Burke – Samba – Now there was hip action. And I do mean both of them. It was looking great until Cristian pulled a muscle in his arm. I could tell something was bothering him when he stopped dancing. He did his best to continue, but it really hurt the ending of that dance, especially when they both fell. Despite his assurances that they could go on with the judging, we cut to a break. When we came back, we learned it was just an extreme cramp that should loosen up again. I hope so. We also learn that they judge up until the point when the injury occurred, but as Carrie Ann said it was hard since it ruined the end. The judges pretty much praised him, especially for keeping going even while in pain.

Scores: Carrie Ann – 7 Len – 7 Bruno – 7 Total – 21 I think there were some points marked off for the ending or lack there of. I have a feeling this will wind up being the low score of the night. But most importantly, I hope he truly is okay.

Kristi Yamaguchi & Mark Ballas – Cha Cha – Like the pro she is, Kristi came back strong. This dance had energy, hip action, and moves to spare. That was wonderful (to quote Tom. Again.) I’ll agree with Len that it had a bit of hip hop in it, but I thought it managed to walk that line between the two perfectly. And Bruno and Carrie Ann liked it.

Scores: Carrie Ann – 10 Len – 8 Bruno – 10 Total – 28 That’s closer to the level she’s used to, and it puts her in the top spot so far. I’m not surprised Len gave it an 8, and I definitely know I heard booing at that point.

Mario & Karina Smirnoff – Mambo – This was a much stronger dance than his Fox Trot earlier. He’s always seemed more comfortable with the Latin dances, and this is no exception. My only complaint is it seemed like they finished after the music. Bruno must have read my comments because he too said that Mario was more comfortable with the Latin dances. And Len called it “Wild, Wacky, and Wonderful.”

Scores: Carrie Ann – 9 Len – 9 Bruno – 9 Total – 27 Much better than round one for sure. I’m not sure if it will be enough to keep him safe this week, however. At this point, it just becomes a waiting game.

Shannon Elizabeth & Derek Hough – Mambo – Well, her hips might not have been consistently as good as some of the others, but they were much better than previous weeks. And starting and ending with shaking her hips in the judges’ faces was rather funny. Maybe they aren’t quite as over last week as they pretend to be. It left Carrie Ann speechless. When she finally did find words, she said Shannon needed to work on her lines. All of them commented on that, but they praised her hip action.

Scores: Carrie Ann – 8 Len – 8 Bruno – 8 Total – 24 These are the scores I was expecting after the comments, but I think it deserved at least one nine.

Jason Taylor & Edyta Sliwinska – Paso Doble – This dance always brings out the most creativity in costumes and music. From using the Monday Night Football theme to the costume that included his team colors, it was different. As a dance, however, it left something to be desired. Not to mention at least two lifts in there. If his first dance of the night was the best, I’d say this was the worst. But the judges proved once again that I don’t know anything because they loved it. At least Carrie Ann picked up on at least one of the lifts I saw.

Scores: Carrie Ann – 9 Len – 8 Bruno – 9 Total – 26 Wow, if Carrie Ann took a point off for the lift, she thought that was perfect. Honestly, I’d like to sit down with the judges on some of these and find out what I am missing.

Leader Board:
1. Jason – 55
2. Kristi – 54
3. Marissa – 52
4. Mario – 51
4. Shannon – 51
6. Cristian – 46

And it is official. We have a new person at the top of the leader board. But Kristi is indeed one point behind, so don’t count her out yet.

Encore: I feel pretty confident that Jason will be doing his Quickstep again for the encore. After all, Bruno did call it the dance of the night.

Bottom Two:

I definitely feel that Mario will be back in the bottom two. If he wound up down there after getting the second highest score, it won’t be that much of a stretch if he’s as low as he is.

I’m not as confident with the other selection. Cristian is 5 points behind everyone else, but he might get the sympathy vote. Could there be a backlash against Shannon and Derek for their harsh words last week (which I still feel were right on)? I think it will come down to who has the bigger fan base. I think I’m going to put Cristian there with Mario ultimately leaving, but it could be anyone’s guess.

Of course, if the doctors say that Cristian can’t come back and dance, then all best are off. He’ll be the star “eliminated” and we probably won’t even find out who was in the bottom two.