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So dance fans, we’ve made it to Week 7 of “Dancing With The Stars.” Everyone’s exhausted and suffering from injuries, as Derek pointed out, and they now have two dances to do. It’s getting down to the really strong dancers. Good for Leah, Bill, Brant, and Jack for holding their own against the others with dance experience. They’re doing great. So great, in fact, that we’re faced with a really shocking, and sad, elimination.

But not before a strong opening group number, choreographed by Emmy-nominee Mandy Moore. I also wonder how much tonight’s episode channeled Halloween. Obviously the teams did, but did Brooke Burke mean to look like a sparkly Morticia Addams in that provocative gown? Sparkly Morticia. Is she Edward Cullen’s mother?

And kudos to the troupe dances tonight, which I enjoyed a lot more—you know, those little choreography snippets they do into and out of the commercial breaks. I wonder what Len thinks of them, since he complained about Corbin’s gyrating (more on that later). I generally find them mostly made up of strutting, posing, and gyrating. But tonight there was a great three-person Salsa Rueda (traveling circular salsa), and a terrific bit of quickstep. More of that, please.

Finally, here are my top 5 dances for tonight:

Brant and Peta’s Jive: This jive was lots of fun, and Brant looked great doing it. Actually, he looked like Darren Criss in that bowtie. I don’t love that Peta always needs to make it sex-kitteny, and the smushing food in the face is my least favorite part of weddings, but it was cute this time. I didn’t always understand the judges’ comments though: If Brant got all the steps right, as Carrie Ann said, how was it too hard for him? And Bruno said he had “too much sugar.” Or was he saying “too meshugge?” Same difference, I suppose.

Leah and Tony’s Salsa: Wow! This is her best dance yet! Tony really did what he set out to do: She did very difficult, professional-level lifts, and did them pretty well. She needs to help him out a little more by jumping better, but they got through them pretty smoothly. And she looked strong, and like she was having fun—and with a rib injury no less.

Jack and Sheryl’s Jive: I honestly don’t know how he does it, but Jack is successful nearly every time. He can really move, and it’s naturally effortless. Or he works his butt off (I suspect it’s both). The exhaustion probably is tougher for him while dealing with MS, so it surprised me that Cheryl made him run all the way up those stairs. I wonder if she did it to challenge him further or build his stamina.

Amber and Derek’s Paso Doble: Absolutely fantastic. Either my opinion is changing on paso dobles or dance shows are finally starting to do them well (probably both), because I’ve liked many more pasos this year (in “So You Think You Can Dance” too) than I usually do. This one had a strong, thrilling opening solo, a powerful use of stillness, and exciting choreography to fantastic music. Even Len liked it. I love that they’re using real paso (or at least flamenco) music, instead of trying to wrench the paso into some pop song that really doesn’t fit.

Corbin and Karina’s Cha-cha: Man, he is sexy. And he’s a phenomenal dancer. His movements are so sharp and crisp; everything is exactly precise. I didn’t think Len would appreciate all the hip-hop mixed up in his cha-cha, and he commented on Corbin’s “gyratering” (um, what?). I too wanted a little more content, but it was still a great, clean dance. I’m so glad they abandoned the broom concept and went for pure dancing.

Before we discuss the elimination, I want to list one of the team dances as honorable mention:

Team Spooky Bom Bom: Both team dances were great, and while Foxing Awesome was more polished than Spooky Bom Bom, I was so thoroughly entertained by this Halloween-inspired number (and not just because it reminded me of Ramalama Bang Bang from “SYTYCD”) that I just have to hand it to them.

I loved Bill’s starring role—not to mention that fantastic outfit he wore. He has the best attitude of anyone in the competition, giving it his all and just having tons of fun. It’s also great to see new pro Emma coming into her own. Yes, Elizabeth loves her 1980s jazz, but she does it well, and Nicole was terrific here, much better than she was in her partner routine. That basket toss was super exciting.

Speaking of Nicole, her elimination tonight was truly shocking! I did not see it coming at all, and clearly, neither did anyone in the ballroom. I thought for sure it would be Bill or Leah. I think even Bill thought it was his turn. I’m very sad for Nicole. It’s clear that she’s extremely hard on herself, and she was really heartbroken to go home. Even Tom Bergeron seemed at a loss for words. A rare sight indeed.

So what did you think, “Dancing With the Stars” fans? Did you have any indication that elimination was coming? Are you sad for Nicole? Or are you too excited for next week when the performer and guest judge will be the one-and-only Cher?

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