Welcome back to another exciting “Dancing With The Stars,” dance fans! While there’s no theme this week, former pro Julianne Hough returns to the ballroom, not as a dancer but as a judge, to fill in for Len Goodman.
I for one loved her. She’s smart, gives comprehensive, constructive criticism, and is sweet, caring, and lovely. It’s also nice to have two women on the judging panel, and I’m sorry, but Len can be such a fuddy-duddy.
Wow, with so many great routines tonight, I had trouble picking only five. As brilliant and thrilling as Corbin and Karina’s “Strictly Ballroom,” more-flamenco-than-paso Paso Doble was (again), I left him out this week, partially to give others a chance. I also left out Nicole and Sasha’s adorable and energetic cheerleader jive, though a terrific dance for her and a really touching, honest story about her struggle with anorexia.
Here are my faves tonight:
Jack and Cheryl’s Quickstep: I don’t know how he does it, but Jack pulls it off every week. Yes, he was slightly out of sync a couple of small moments, but he really did a nice job and looked great. He really gives his all, and he’s sweet. Happy First Anniversary, Jack.
Elizabeth and Val’s Argentine Tango: To me, argentine tango is one of the most exhilarating dances, to watch and to dance, and this one was very exciting. Elizabeth needs to keep her feet closer to the floor and smooth out her steps a bit, and the choreography needed more tango, more substance, but I still enjoyed it.
Valerie and Tristan’s Viennese Waltz: I’m not sure what’s happening to Valerie, if the dancing has become too taxing on her or if she’s just not focusing when performance time comes around.
The dance was rough and there were plenty of mistakes—but it was much improved from last week. She looked truly graceful and beautiful at times, and the sentiment behind the song was moving.
Leah and Tony’s Cha-Cha: Leah reminds me of Kirstie Alley, who of course kicked butt on her season and came back as an All Star. (Apparently Leah and Kirstie used to be close friends before the former left Scientology.) They seem to have similar senses of humor and they have a similar subdued style to their movement, one that goes with lots of sass.
I also think Leah’s losing weight too, like Kirstie did. Her cha-cha tonight was more confident; now the movements just need to be bigger. As the women judges mentioned, she needs to carry the attitude in her face all the way out through her body movements.
Amber and Derek’s Tango: Amber was one of many contestants battling an injury this week, but you wouldn’t know it from this routine. While I definitely prefer the sultry smooth argentine tango to the more staccato, whiplash-neck-and-garlic-breath ballroom tango, this routine was sexy and stirring.
Granted, it’s danced to a great song, Kanye West’s “Love Lockdown” (the show really needs to be better about crediting the music), which isn’t really a tango. But of course they made it work, and there was lots of great dance content, instead of gimmickry (pay attention, Mark Ballas).
Perhaps not surprisingly, Valerie and Tristan were eliminated. I’m sorry to say that while it was wonderful having Valerie on the show, and she truly is courageous and inspirational, it’s right that she went home tonight. The competition is very strong this season, and has been since the season 17 premiere.
What did you think, dance fans? Did the right couple go home on this week’s “Dancing With the Stars,” or were you hoping to see another dance from Valerie? What did you think of Julianne Hough as a judge? Excited to see the emotional stories next week as the contestants recount their most memorable year? Let us know in the comments below!