Five years. 1000 dances. 121 stars. 200 episodes. Dancing with the Stars has come a long way since it started, and it was an anniversary (Milestone? What do you call a “200th episode”?) celebration worth watching.
The show opened with a routine featuring all the professionals from seasons past, dancing to the very first song ever played on the very first show (“Crazy in Love” by Beyonce). Also on deck – stars from all the past seasons, many of whom I had totally forgotten about. Heyyy nondescript model people …
And a twist! There’s a team dance competition tonight, and each team is captained by a former DWTS champion/Olympian, which narrows the field by … actually, not that much. The first captain is Kristi Yamaguchi, who has Rick/Cheryl, Bristol/Mark, and Kyle/Lacey. They will lose, obvs. The other team is headed by Apolo Ohno (my all-time favorite contestant), who has Rick/Anna, Brandy/Maks, and Jennifer/Derek. As team captains, Kristi and Apolo don’t really do anything except “coach” their team in rehearsals. No choreography, no technique help, just encouraging words.
Team Kristi – Cha Cha Cha: Despite having the weaker couples, Team Kristi did a great job. Lots of energy, lots of fun, lots of nice moments. Bristol was definitely the weak link here, losing the choreography a few times, but Kyle made up for it with all his personality. Len said they were the underdogs but they put up a fight, Bruno said they did a good job, and Carrie Ann loved the staging. Scores: 8-8-8.
Team Apolo – Cha Cha Cha: In short, Team Apolo rocked. They chose a less traditional hip hop-inspired Cha Cha, and the whole thing was a blast to watch. Extra points to Kurt for rocking the Apolo facial hair and bandana. Bruno called it “the cha cha with the flavor of the ‘hood” (awkward), Carrie Ann said they were all working at their best level, and Len said they upped their game. Scores: 9-9-9.
This week’s challenge: recreate an iconic dance from DWTS history, then be judged by the star who made that dance famous. Interesting, although I think this was once a Top Chef challenge, only with famous dishes.
Guest Judge: Mel B
The Dance: Paso Doble (you know the one)
The Players: Kyle and Lacey
This was one of the hardest dances to recreate, because the original was (in my opinion) the best routine in DWTS history. This should have been a complete disaster, but I think it was actually Kyle’s best dance to date! He was intense, he was passionate, he even seemed to have the technique down. Craziness. Len said it was his best dance, Mel B said it was amazing, Bruno called him an untamed young bull, and Carrie Ann said he was in control of his own power. Scores: (the first score is from the guest judge) 10-9-8-8.
Guest Judge: Emmitt Smith
The Dance: Tango
The Players: Kurt and Anna
I’ll be honest, I don’t really remember this original routine. Kurt did a decent job with this tango, he seemed a little clunky in places, but overall – a solid effort. Bruno said mission accomplished (the dance had a James Bond theme), Carrie Ann said he brought character into the dance, Emmitt said his technique was excellent (how would he know?), and Len said it was sharp and dramatic. Scores: 10-8-8-8.
Guest Judge: Kelly Osbourne
The Dance: Viennese Waltz
The Players: Bristol and Mark
In a way, Kelly and Bristol are really similar dancers who have had similar paths on this show. Bristol’s version lacked the charm that Kelly always brought to the dance floor, but I think this was one of her best performances to date. Carrie Ann said it was poetic but she sometimes looked lost, Kelly said she got goosebumps, Len said her footwork was good, and Bruno said she needs a little more fire. Scores: 9-8-8-8.
Guest Judge: Helio Castroneves
The Dance: Quickstep
The Players: Rick and Cheryl
After the Mel and Maks Paso, I would say this was the second most memorable dance of all time. Which meant Rick had some big shoes to fill. (More importantly, Rick Fox is dating Eliza Dushku?! What? Erm.) Rick turned in Helio’s trademark yellow suit for a more Celtics-friendly green. So, this was the first real misfire of the night for me. And while it wasn’t terrible, it just wasn’t great – like I said, big shoes. Also, when Rick tries to look “fun,” he ends up looking “crazy.” Len said it was quick and good, Bruno said it was his best performance, Helio enjoyed it, and Carrie Ann agreed with Bruno. Scores: 10-9-9-9.
Guest Judge: Gilles Marini
The Dance: Foxtrot
The Players: Brandy and Maks
Brandy has really surged ahead these past few weeks, and her road to the top continued tonight. Like the original, this was a sultry routine that set the bar for the other couples. Bruno got all hot and bothered, Gilles said it was unreal, Carrie Ann said she was sensual and elegant at the same time, and Len said it was a fantastic foxtrot. Scores: 9-9-10-9.
Guest Judge: Drew Lachey (nooooo)
The Dance: Tango
The Players: Jennifer and Derek
This is another routine that I don’t really remember – and not just because I try to block out all things Lachey. Jennifer needed to redeem herself after last week’s fiasco, and I think she took a big step in the right direction. It wasn’t perfect, and you can see the pain and exhaustion on her face, but she had control and technique on her side. Carrie Ann said she blew the doors off the competition, Len said she vented all her frustrations into this tango, Drew said she has a shot at the finals, and Bruno called her a phoenix. Scores: 10-9-9-9.
Tomorrow’s elimination is going to be tough. It should be a great show – see you back here soon!
The Disney Chick is celebrating her 200th time watching Dancing with the Stars over at www.thedisneychick.com.