Dancing with the Stars – Lifts and the One Armed Man

5 stars.  Two new to them dances. 10 dances and 10 lifts. I had forgotten about the 1 lift per dance rule from last week. But I would be willing to bet anything that every star will include a lift in each of their routines. They’d be crazy not to since everyone else will do it.

Shall we see if I’m right?

Kristi Yamaguchi & Mark Ballas – Quickstep – In their interviews, they said they were only going to do a lift in this dance, which I guess blows my theory out of the water. Already. This was a classical Quickstep with almost all of it in the hold position. Len definitely can’t get on them for taking too long to start. And I loved their half speed steps blending right into the full speed stuff. They finally did break apart at the end before ending with their lift. I really liked it. Len and Bruno loved it, but Carrie Ann thought she noticed a spot where they got out of sync. As an aside, I wonder what effect Carrie Ann’s comment about appreciating the fact that they target their dances to the judges will have on future weeks’ and seasons’ dances.

Scores: Carrie Ann – 9 Len – 10 Bruno – 10 Total – 29 I would have been shocked with anything else to be honest based on the comments. Well earned.

Mario & Karina Smirnoff – Viennese Waltz – I’m really not sure what the judges meant last week when they said he needed to stiffen up in the Fox Trot. But whatever it was, I don’t think it helped here. It was fine, but it didn’t have the finesse and charm that some of the others have had. In fact, it seemed almost too stiff. It did have a lift, and it was honestly the most elegant part of the routine, I thought. I guess they were talking about lines and posture, and they thought it was much better this week. In fact, they all universally praised it.

Scores: Carrie Ann – 9 Len – 9 Bruno – 9 Total – 27 A high score for the ballroom round for Mario. That might make Mario a serious contender for this week, too.

Marissa Jaret Winokur & Tony Dovolani – Foxtrot – The Foxtrot is never a flashy, exciting dance, but I enjoyed this one. They possibly played it a little safe, but it was fun. And the hold they ended with was nice. I’m really enjoying this one lift rule for something different. Bruno thought it was too stompy and needed to glide more, but the others praised it.

Scores: Carrie Ann – 9 Len – 8 Bruno – 8 Total – 25 I expected the 8 from Bruno, but I thought Len would join Carrie Ann instead of Bruno. Interesting scores.

Jason Taylor & Edyta Sliwinska – Tango – Edyta still seems to think she needs to do those weird bendy things, but I enjoyed all the kicks and sharp turns she was doing. Still, there was a little too much of him standing while she danced for this stage of the competition. The lift seemed a little over the top to me. But it was a dramatic, great dance. Len thought it was an Argentinean Tango instead of what exactly? We never found out because Bruno jumped in praising it. Carrie Ann liked it, too.

Scores: Carrie Ann – 10 Len – 9 Bruno – 10 Total – 29 I actually thought Len might give that an 8, but he didn’t. So he’s tied with Kristi and they are both doing the Samba tonight. That should be interesting.

Cristian de la Fuente & Cheryl Burke – Tango – Now here is the star I thought would break my everyone does lifts prediction, but he seems determined to give it a try. I’ll just be interested to see how he does with only one arm. You could see the pain and concentration in his face. But the dance itself looked good. And they even managed to work in a great lift that worked for the routine. The rest of it was still sharp. And the judges praised it. They said they couldn’t see any problems with it. Maybe he was supposed to look like that.

Scores: Carrie Ann – 10 Len – 9 Bruno – 9 Total – 28 His first 10 and the third person of the season to get a 10. I’ll admit that 10 surprised me a little, but I’d say Cristian is back and a force to be reckoned with if they can keep this up.

And after a quick commercial break, we move on to the Latin dances.

Kristi Yamaguchi & Mark Ballas – Samba – I’ll agree with what Edyta said earlier, this dance is flamboyant. But it is also fun when done right. And this one was lots of fun for me. I especially loved that spin at the end. Almost makes up for not having a lift. The judges didn’t seem to like it. Carrie Ann thought it was awkward and Len said it sacrificed something for the speed. Bruno, however, loved it. Poor Carrie Ann was apologizing even before the crowd started booing, too.

Scores: Carrie Ann – 8 Len – 9 Bruno – 9 Total – 26 I thought it should have been a little higher. Especially from Bruno who praised it. But it does give them a point over last week, but they aren’t too badly off yet.

Mario & Karina Smirnoff – Jive – I know this winds up in the Latin area, but I still think of it as Ballroom. After all, it is based on the Swing. But enough of my pre-dance commentary. Considering how much I normally love the Jive, I was a little disappointed with this one. It just didn’t have the high energy feel I like. I did enjoy the part where they broke apart. And that lift at the end was something else. For once, I’m in line with the judges. Or at least Len. He thought it was rough and his footwork was sloppy. The other two thought it was good while Carrie Ann did acknowledge the bad footwork.

(And they seem to be breaking up the routine about thanking the band and singers since this is when they thanked them this week.)

Scores: Carrie Ann – 9 Len – 8 Bruno – 9 Total – 26 I’m definitely with Len this go around. In fact, I might even agree with my roommate that it deserved a 7 despite the most amazing lift of the night so far.

Marissa Jaret Winokur & Tony Dovolani – Mambo – Well look at that, Marissa did the same spin that Kristi did at the end. It was a nice dance. I’m not sure I have much more than that to say about it. They really didn’t have much of a lift, so I’m wrong on two stars now. Bruno loved it, Len thought it was too dainty, and Carrie Ann picked on a technical point from the spins at the end.

Scores: Carrie Ann – 8 Len – 8 Bruno – 9 Total – 25 They were consistent between their two dances, getting a 25 both times. They are so far the lowest score of the night. With the red light hitting them last week, could this be the end of the road?

Jason Taylor & Edyta Sliwinska – Samba – I felt like I was watching this one is slow motion at times. It was fine most of the time, but not nearly the flamboyant joy this dance can be. But that lift at the end? The best one of the night with Edyta sticking straight up from Jason’s shoulders. Carrie Ann agreed with me, and she pointed out that he was looking down a lot, which I had picked up on, too. Len and Bruno didn’t seem to like it either, so for once I wasn’t missing something or being too critical.

Scores: Carrie Ann – 8 Len – 7 Bruno – 8 Total – 23 Wow. The Latin dances seem to be getting worse as the night wears on. But usually at this point if I’m not blown away, I think I’m missing something. Glad to know that isn’t the case here.

Cristian de la Fuente & Cheryl Burke – Mambo – Since this dance wasn’t in hold, you could see the arm a lot more. The way he had it behind him for most of the dance looked weird. Still, he did use it some. And it was fast and fun. Much better than the last couple of dances we’ve seen. Plus they ended with a lift. It was pretty much like the first one, but it looked so great. The judges universally loved it. I’m glad because I thought it was the best Latin dance of the night.

Scores: Carrie Ann – 10 Len – 9 Bruno – 10 Total – 29 Ladies and Gentleman, we have a new leader. Not only is this his best dance of the competition, but this also makes him the leader of the night. Well deserved, in my opinion.

Leader Board:
1. Cristian – 57
2. Kristi – 55
3. Mario – 53
4. Jason – 52
5. Marissa – 50

You know, Kristi had better step it up if she is going to win. I’m just saying.

I hope that Cristian gets the encore. That Mambo was my favorite dance of the night, and it’s my prediction. We’ll see if I’m right or if the judges go with the higher scoring Ballroom dances from Kristi and Jason. Still, I’m pretty confident in this prediction.

The Bottom two is tougher this week, however. I think Marissa will be back in the bottom two, possibly even going home. And I think Mario will be joining her. But it really is up in the air, so we’ll see if I’m even in the ballpark.

And in case you somehow missed it, don’t forget the judges will be picking their 10 favorite dances from the previous five seasons starting an hour before the normal results show time. Then we’ll get all kinds of special guests as Dancing with the Stars pulls out all the stops for their 100th episode. Should be quite a night.