It was Grease Night on Dancing with the Stars, and the effects were electrifying! I enjoyed everything about this theme, from the adorable costumes to the iconic soundtrack to seeing the ballroom transformed from set to set as the songs were presented in chronological order to tell the story. Who else loved that animated opening with the judges followed by the choreographed number with the dance pros dressed as T-Birds and Pink Ladies? It was also great seeing special guest Olivia Newton-John return to the program (albeit virtually), as well as special appearances by Didi Conn and Frankie Avalon singing "Beauty School Dropout." The "too cool for school" kids from Rydell High will always hold a special place in my heart, as I remember watching Grease on many a sleepover in middle school. This was a terrific follow-up to Disney Week in terms of entertainment value, although it's getting harder to say goodbye to the couples being sent home at this stage of the competition.
Who was left stranded at the drive-in and who goes together like "rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong?" Let's see how your favorites fared on this fifth week of competition:
Olivia Jade & Val Chmerkovskiy, Foxtrot
Olivia and Val's Foxtrot to "Summer Nights" was the perfect way to open Grease Night. I'm not her biggest fan, but I loved it from start to finish. Val was born to play a T-Bird. Len thought it was full of fun and great choreography. Derek proclaimed it his favorite themed night ever, telling her she had beautiful frame and spot-on characterization. Bruno felt it captured the sweet innocence of Sandy being swept off her feet by Danny. Carrie Ann loved their body contact and amazing technique.
Melora Hardin & Artem Chigvintsev, Viennese Waltz
I loved Melora and Artem's Viennese Waltz to "Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee." She portrayed a perfect Rizzo mocking Sandy at the sleepover. Derek called her the gift that keeps on giving, saying the theatrics looked straight out of a musical. Bruno told her she got the part because she makes the character her own with a bit of fun sass each week. Carrie Ann commended her for not playing it safe and for making it look so natural. Len admired the acting, dancing, and the couple's connection.
Iman Shumpert & Daniella Karagach, Viennese Waltz
Iman and Daniella's Viennese Waltz to "Hopelessly Devoted to You" may not have been as colorful as Melora and Artem's, but it was emotion-packed and elegant. Bruno could feel the sense of a love story but cautioned Iman about shrinking into himself when dancing. Carrie Ann didn't think it was the best-suited dance for Iman, but she did appreciate the chemistry. Len liked the gentleness of the dance even though his technique isn't the greatest. Derek loves watching Iman because he oozes charm. Both Len and Derek admitted how difficult it is to judge or critique him because he's so nice.
Mike “The Miz” Mizanin & Witney Carson, Jive
The Miz and Witney's Jive to "Greased Lightnin'" was something I've been waiting for all week, and it did not disappoint. Carrie Ann yelled, "Go, Miz Lightnin'!" She loved his energy and enthusiasm, even if he rushed through some of the song. Len thought a few of the steps were more problematic than hydromatic. Bruno said it fired on all cylinders even if it did have some timing issues. Derek looks forward to the Miz's performances every week, but he agreed with his fellow judges about their Jive losing some of its clarity.
Amanda Kloots & Alan Bersten, Viennese Waltz
Amanda and Alan's Viennese Waltz to "Beauty School Dropout" was enhanced by a special live performance from Frankie Avalon in the ballroom and some virtual advice from Didi Conn who portrayed Frenchy in the 1978 movie. Len said Amanda's definitely not going to be a DWTS dropout, as he loved it, saying the icing on the cake was seeing Avalon (one of his youthful heroes). Derek enjoyed her fantastic frame and legs but said it was missing something (though he had trouble pinpointing what) that would have tipped it to the 10 for him. Bruno told her she has nothing to fear, saying it felt like she stepped out of a dream into a splendid Viennese Waltz. Carrie Ann complimented her charm, musicality, storytelling, and technique. It was one paddle short of achieving the first perfect score of the season (thanks a lot, Derek, although I know what he meant). Can we talk about how much Frankie Avalon still has it? He's aged incredibly well and is as sexy as ever!
Suni Lee & Sasha Farber, Charleston
Suni and Sasha's Charleston to "Born to Hand Jive" was full of fun and gymnastic tricks. It was good to see Suni come out of her shell to portray the feisty Cha-Cha DiGregorio during this performance. Derek loved it despite the comic confusion of it being a Charleston to a Jive with a Cha-Cha, but especially the iconic dance move with her shoe on his chest. Bruno enjoyed the performance and that they threw everything at it, including some Lindy Hop moves. Carrie Ann thought it was fantastic, saying she still wants some of Suni's movements to be more aggressive. Len liked the elements of the Charleston and that it made him smile the whole way through the routine.
Jimmie Allen & Emma Slater, Foxtrot
Jimmie and Emma's Foxtrot to "Sandy" was a standout performance of the night. Major props to him for nailing it after his wife had their baby this week. Bruno congratulated him for the new baby and the masterful storytelling. Carrie Ann admired the musicality but told him sometimes he's bigger out of hold than when he's in hold and she would like to see a more balanced performance from him. Len likes his flair and enthusiasm even when he loses technique. Derek thought it had a great concept with great choreography and storytelling, calling it a complete package this week.
Kenya Moore & Brandon Armstrong, Rumba
Kenya and Brandon's Rumba to "There Are Worse Things I Could Do" was made more poignant when she dedicated the performance to her deceased grandmother. Carrie Ann told her she was happy she was still in the competition to show them her sensuous comeback. Len said it had chemistry and control and was a spot-on Rumba. Derek called the opening half-split stunning. Faced with a situation of sink or swim, he told her she could definitely swim. Bruno said it was hot and brilliant with translated motion. It would be awful to see her go on the night of such a breakthrough.
JoJo Siwa & Jenna Johnson, Foxtrot
JoJo and Jenna's Foxtrot to "Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee (Reprise)" was brilliant and heartfelt. I especially loved their colorful costumes. Len said they affected his brain with the powerful technique and his heart with the powerful storytelling. Derek loves watching JoJo ebb between leader and follower and said this performance was an entire moment. Bruno was left shivering, calling it the most exquisite representation of the power of friendship. Carrie Ann was mad at the other judges for leaving her with nothing left to say except that it was perfection. It was enough to garner the first perfect score of the night and the entire competition!
Melanie C & Gleb Savchenko, Quickstep
Melanie C and Gleb's Quickstep to "You're the One That I Want" was iconic and full of lighthearted fun, just like the ending carnival scenes of the movie. Derek said confidence isn't something you have, it's something you do, and she should feel confident in herself because her Quickstep was perfection. Bruno said she got Gleb on his knees begging for it and admired her for doing a Quickstep in unforgiving Lycra that accentuates every movement. Carrie Ann appreciated her vulnerability and the beauty of her breakthrough performance. Len called it her best dance to date.
Cody Rigsby & Cheryl Burke, Quickstep
Cody and Cheryl's Quickstep to "We Go Together" was worthy of the celebratory finale of Grease Night. Bruno complimented the uplifting quality of the performance, although he admitted that Cody still needs to work on his footwork. Carrie Ann admired their ability to get through a Quickstep after having COVID because it's so much work and can really take your breath away. Len said they could have benefited from a stronger frame but felt it was a great effort. Derek said it was well done despite their many setbacks as a couple during this competition. It was enough to garner four 8's.
In a shocking turn of events, it came down to Olivia & Val and Melanie C & Gleb in the bottom two after the combined judges' scores and votes from the viewers. Derek voted to save Olivia & Val, while Carrie Ann and Bruno voted to save Melanie C & Gleb. It came down to head judge Len casting his deciding vote to save Olivia & Val. It was sad to say goodbye to Melanie C & Gleb when others deserved to exit before them, but that's how the game is played. Next week is Halloween Night - my favorite of the season, and I'm so stoked for the horror theme!
Do you think the right contestant went home? Keep voting for your favorites!
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