DWTS Experiences an Emergency Withdrawal and a Painful Elimination
by Kim Krober
I was sad to hear Jeannie Mai was forced to withdraw from the competition due to an emergency throat surgery. I may not have known who she was prior to Dancing with the Stars, but her enthusiasm quickly won me over week after week. She was easily in my top five to win this season. We're down to eight couples and I hate to see anybody go at this stage, but I fear difficult decisions are on the horizon. At least we didn't have to worry about a double elimination due to Jeannie's surprising news. In the continued "what was she thinking" category, Tyra Banks came out looking like a hideous bath loofah this week. Was her dress lime green or canary yellow? All I know is it burned my retinas, and I had to look away. She's a beautiful, glamorous woman ... why don't they dress her like one?
Kaitlyn Bristowe & Artem Chigvintsev, Jive
Kaitlyn is my least favorite of those left standing, although I did enjoy their spirited Jive to Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now." Derek loved the jam-packed content and kicks, though he thinks her attack could be sharper. Bruno told her she has what it takes in this competition, although approaching the finals will require more attack and finesse. Carrie Ann felt torn about a lift, but she did note Kaitlyn looked looser and more at ease. Was it too little, too late?
Nev Schulman & Jenna Johnson, Viennese Waltz
After receiving the first perfect score of the season last week, the pressure was on Nev and Jenna. Their Viennese Waltz to "Stuck with U" by Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande was nothing short of perfection. Bruno enjoyed the oozed charm and charisma, complimenting Nev for being in control and light on his feet. Carrie Ann thought it was elegant and beautiful, while Derek admired the clarity of movement and smoothness of the dance.
Justina Machado & Sasha Farber, Samba
Justina and Sasha danced a vibrant, hip-shaking Samba to "Magalenha" by Sergio Mendes. Carrie Ann admires her fierceness, although she detected a bit of a stumble in the dance. Derek told her she looked absolutely beautiful and he loved the Samba rolls. However, he thought her feet could have used a little more articulation. Bruno called her a tangerine dream with an exuberant, joyful presence that makes it always feel like Happy Hour. I would concur.
Nelly & Daniella Karagach, Rumba
Nelly sharing his sister's story brought tears to my eyes. Nelly and Daniella's Rumba to "Nobody Knows" by The Tony Rich Project was a fitting tribute to her memory. His versatility continues to amaze me week after week. Derek felt it was a transcendental moment and thanked him for the performance even if it wasn't perfect. Bruno thought it lacked the necessary hip action required of the Rumba, but he appreciated his effort. Carrie Ann told him his sister would be proud of the way he dances from his heart, but she wants to see more from him. Aww, happy birthday, Nelly! I thought he deserved 8's, not 7's, but I'm also not a formal ballroom dancing judge.
Chrishell Stause & Gleb Savchenko, Viennese Waltz
Chrishell and Gleb showed off their amazing chemistry to a steamy Viennese Waltz set to Rihanna's "Love on the Brain." Carrie Ann called it sexy and elegant, but she cautioned her about her arm and neck movements. Derek said his heart was beating fast and praised her for improving every week. Bruno looked like he needed a cigarette afterward, telling them they had some great movements but they need to work on sustaining the momentum.
Skai Jackson & Alan Bersten, Salsa
Skai and Alan continued their rise to the top with a hip, action-packed Salsa to Missy Elliott's "Work It." Carrie Ann enjoyed seeing Skai be aggressive but she didn't think she nailed every lift's landing. Derek liked seeing her more grounded even though she had more lifts, but he thought there were a bit too many tricks. Bruno was on pins and needles thinking Alan was going to drop her at times, joking he must be training her for the Cirque du Soleil.
Johnny Weir & Britt Stewart, Foxtrot
I loved Johnny and Britt's Foxtrot to "Wonder" by Shawn Mendes. Johnny looked so sweet in his mock tux and curls. It was also adorable to see him geek out about his crush on Shawn Mendes. Derek said Shawn would be proud, praising him for his wonderful frame. Bruno admired his sweeping movement, while Carrie Ann enjoyed the emotion and artistry with jerky, stylized movements. She thought it was an interesting choice they've never seen done before.
AJ McLean & Cheryl Burke, Rumba
AJ and Cheryl's Rumba to KALEO's "Way Down We Go" was an emotionally charged ending dance, especially after listening to his struggle for sobriety story. Bruno was captivated by the intensity and storytelling though he thought it lacked Rumba movement. Carrie Ann agreed, saying there wasn't enough hip action or content. Derek called him a hero for sharing his pain, noting that the dance was for his personal healing journey and not necessarily the content.
Relay Dance Round
For the first time this season, each couple was tasked with learning a second dance during the Relay Dance Round. Couples were placed in groups dancing a secondary Cha Cha, Samba, or Viennese Waltz. One judge was appointed to each relay group and asked to rank the couples based on their improvement for the chance to earn much-needed bonus points (up to 3) to heat up this competition. While it lacked some of the fun of the team dances and side-by-side competitions of the past, it was good to see them dance multiple times. Let's take a look at how the couples did:
Cha Cha Relay Judged By Carrie Ann
Nev & Jenna, Chrishell & Gleb, and Nelly & Daniella each danced the Cha Cha (in that order) to Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande's "Rain on Me." All three couples seemed to be pretty evenly matched - I didn't envy Carrie Ann. She said it was a lot of fun, although she thought Nev was off to a slow start. She admired the content Chrishell & Gleb gave it, but she felt the most improved award went to Nelly & Daniella. It was interesting she awarded Nev more points than either of the other two after those comments.
Nev & Jenna: 3
Chrishell & Gleb: 2
Nelly & Daniella: 2
Viennese Waltz Relay Judged By Derek
Justina & Sasha, Johnny & Britt, and Jeannie & Brandon (who withdrew) were in Derek's Viennese Waltz relay group, dancing to "I Have Nothing" by Whitney Houston. Derek thought Justina & Sasha danced a proper Viennese Waltz, but told Johnny & Britt their frame was perfection. They did manage to look more graceful.
Justina & Sasha: 2
Johnny & Britt: 3
Samba Relay Judged By Bruno
AJ & Cheryl, Kaitlyn & Artem, and Skai & Alan made up Bruno's Samba relay group, dancing to "Levitating" by Dua Lipa. Bruno praised the couples for their improvements. I loved their colorful costumes.
AJ & Cheryl: 3
Kaitlyn & Artem: 3
Skai & Alan: 2
After the fun and fancy-free Dance Relay Round, it was revealed Chrishell & Gleb and Skai & Alan were in jeopardy of elimination. It felt like the judges could go either way on this one, but they voted unanimously to save Skai & Alan. I think they made the right decision, although Chrishell & Gleb did win me over the past few weeks. Next week is Icons Night, with tributes to some of rock, hip hop, and pop's biggest icons of all time. Who do you think has what it takes to make it to the finale?
Dancing With the Stars airs Mondays at 8:00 PM on ABC.