In Round 1, one of the weirdest was Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani’s “Caveman” Hustle to “Walk the Dinosaur.” Melissa, as the only non-champion still in the competition, was surprised to find herself here but was spurred on to give it her best effort but what can you do with a caveman and cavewoman at a disco? Tony could barely choreograph it and to cap it all he hurt his back in training and didn’t know until the morning of the show whether or not he’d be able to dance. It wasn’t a good start and got worse with the CGI dinosaur. The judges were impressed, tough. Len Goodman said Fred and Wilma have never danced so well. Melissa never disappoints. It was the hustle with no hassle. Tony had the muscle, Melissa had the hustle. He enjoyed watching it. Bruno said it was the most effective use of animal skins since Raquel Welch. There was so much whiplash. But a couple of turns were a bit unsteady. Carrie Ann Inaba loved it. She thought it was a perfect way to bring together two random themes. They scored an impressive 27.5 out of 30.
Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough did the “Knight Rider” Bhangra and I was tired of the random juxtapositions already. But the routine was fast and fun and the audience went crazy for it. Bruno hugged Shawn for “Another megahit for Shawn and the Hough!” Len seemed veerrryyy impressed, declaring, “this dynamite was fantastic.” They scored maximum points. Wow!
Apolo Anton Ohno and Karina Smirnoff did a “Big Top” Jazz dance to “What You Waiting For.” It was a shame that their dance lacked the energy and drive of the previous dances, because they put in the most rehearsal hours, Apollo took a nasty knock to the nuts and this theme actually made sense. Like Carrie Ann I loved the concept but found the actual routine disjointed. They slipped early on and didn’t seem to recover well. Their synchronization was off which made the routine look messy and as Len said there were a couple of awkward moments but Apolo is a fighter and he came out and gave it everything. Bruno called it edgy and surreal. It was a blend of Cirque du Soleil and A Clockwork Orange. He loved the attitude turns and far from finding the routine disjointed, he called it “one of their most creative and inventive performances.” They scored 27 out of 30.
Emmit Smith and Cheryl Burke performed an “Espionage” Lindy Hop to “Secret Agent Man” with Cheryl playing the baddie and attempting to steal the Mirror Ball. I loved the theme and their energy. I agreed with Len that the lifts were great but it would have been nice to see more Lindy Hop. Bruno wasn’t put off by a Looney Tunes version of James Bond and said itt was the most fun performance he’s seen. Carrie Ann said that was Emmitt’s most animated performance. Funny, since they were aiming for a cartoon style. Anyway, nines across the board gave them a very good score of 27.
Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy performed a “Surfer” Flamenco to “Malaguena.” It’s always nice to see Val without a shirt and the Paso Doble elements suited this couple. Despite the little slip toward the end, I enjoyed this routine. Bruno said Kelly got upstaged by the Speedo and I have to admit that my attention was mainly focused on the semi-naked Val. Bruno said it had a lot of aggression and fire but their placement wasn’t there. It was erratic. The placement of the arms is very precise in Flamenco. Len also wanted to see more Flamenco but he loved the energy. Their score of 25.5 out of 30 was disappointing, I thought. Val was unhappy, calling the scores unfair, too.
Then it was on to Round 2 and the Michael Jackson tributes.
Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani danced the Argentine Tango to “Dirty Diana.” This is my favorite dance so I was very excited for this one and I loved, loved, loved the lifts and tricks these two did. Len reminded us that two couples would leave the show on Tuesday and hoped this wasn’t one of the pairs eliminated. But at this stage it’s always tough to see someone go. The dance was so intense that Melissa was in tears at the end and Bruno said she was possessed out there with a sequence of lifts he called extraordinary. Bruno said they exceeded all expectations and deserve to be in the finals, urging people to vote for her. Carrie Ann said it was beyond anything they could’ve imagined for her. She can’t believe Melissa is the underdog. It was sensuous and passionate and the lifts were out of this world. I can’t say I felt the passion but I did enjoy the routine, if not enough to give the maximum score of 30 that the judges awarded it.
Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough danced an Argentine Tango to “Bad.” Bruno called it “breathtaking” and stylistically perfect. Carrie Ann was less impressed, feeling that Shawn lacked the intimacy, passion, and drama. Len said there’s two parts to every dance; you learn the routine and you come out and sell it. For him, Shawn nailed both parts. They scored 29 out of 30.
Apolo Anton Ohno and Karina Smirnoff danced a Rumba to “Man in the Mirror.” It was sexy yet understated and Carrie Ann liked that. She called it emotional, passionate and beautiful. Len said it was like the sea, it was wave after wave of effortless motion. It was calm, captivating, and fabulous. Bruno said it was perfectly pitched between sensuality and romance. The flow of movement was perfection. No surprise then that they scored a perfect 30.
Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke danced the Tango to “Leave Me Alone.” Cheryl has certainly pushed Emmitt and it paid off here. The dance was intense and his movements were precise, which is so important in the Tango. They scored 27 out of 30.
Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy performed a Rumba to “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You.” This was “smoldering” according to Bruno, “driven by desire and lust.” Carrie Ann said it was beautiful. To interpret the song with such honest vulnerability was fantastic. Some of the movements were clipped, but that is Val’s style. Len loves when they speed it and slow it down. The light and shade was fantastic he said. They scored 28.5out of 30.
That left the leaderboard as follows going into tonight’s results show:
Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough — 30 + 29 = 59
Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani — 27.5 + 30 = 57.5
Apolo Anton Ohno and Karina Smirnoff — 27 + 30 = 57
Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy — 25.5 + 28.5 = 54
Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke — 27 + 27 = 54
“Dancing With the Stars” airs Mondays and Tuesdays on ABC. Who do you think has danced their last dance?