Well dance fans, the “Dancing with the Stars” semi-finals are here, and they’re as exciting as we hoped! The dancing is really strong and there are lots of tough choices for my Top 5 this week, especially given that three of the 10 dances are Argentine tangos. In some cases theme wins out over substance, but it’s all right. It’s still fun and entertaining.
There’s a new, interesting concept for the show tonight, as the five remaining contestants each do two dances. The first dance is a new style for the couple, danced to the studio version of a particular song. The second is a different dance style to an “unplugged” arrangement of the same song.
It’s interesting, and really great, how much of a back and forth DWTS has with YouTube. Obviously one of their stronger dancers this season is a YouTube star, and I’m sure most of these unplugged musical guests are from the Internet channel as well. It’s wonderful that the show supports them and helps them find a wider audience.
As great as the first five dances are, they’re a little more conventional, and the themes in the second set of dances are so wonderful and each one so strong, that I’m putting all five in My Top 5 for this week. For me, the Unplugged round definitely wins this battle:
Sadie and Mark’s Argentine Tango: There are lots of Argentine tangos tonight, and yet no Argentine tango music. I really enjoy this tango though, to Noah Guthrie’s live acoustic performance. Sadie still needs to clean up her feet, point her toes and refine her footwork more. I think the fact that Mark is already shorter than her doesn’t do her any favors, as if she’s afraid to fully stretch and lengthen her limbs for fear of overtaking him. She also seems nervous, probably still psyching herself out because of her mistake last week—which no one would have noticed if she hadn’t told us. But Mark’s choreography is wonderful. I love those side-by-side ganchos, and the guitar does present a unique challenge.
Tommy and Peta’s Rumba: The couple uses an acoustic version of Tainted Love to recreate the ballet Coppélia, and it is so sweet. I don’t see much rumba in here, but the theme is beautiful, Peta’s developé is absolutely gorgeous, and the ending is so touching. It is magical, and just so sweet.
Bethany and Derek’s Contemporary: I love Bethany’s story and she has had an incredible journey. She’s really developed into a strong, confident, beautiful dancer, and it’s lovely to see. This contemporary really captures it too, with gorgeous choreography and a beautiful cover of the Jackson Five’s ABC by The Civil Wars. The picture frame is slightly limiting, but it’s a lovely, innovative concept that works really well.
Janel and Val’s Argentine Tango: I almost love seeing Val dance Argentine tango with Maks more than with Janel, but this routine is great. I love that dress! I’m on the Carrie Ann side of the lifts discussion though: I too think getting into the lift looks a little rough, but then all of a sudden she’s there where she’s supposed to be. The Time for Three arrangement is terrific too, especially when the tempo picks up, and it adds so much to the dance. Val’s right that his playing is flat, but he didn’t need to point it out.
Alfonso and Witney’s Contemporary: Poor Alfonso. It’s very clear he’s hurting from his injured back, and he’s careful, but he hides it well and dances a beautiful routine. Julianne’s absolutely right about Witney’s gorgeous choreography: she works well around Alfonso’s pain limitations without devaluing the dance. It’s a lovely routine, and Christina Grimmie’s live performance is great too.
Sadie and Mark’s Quickstep: I love this. There’s plenty of content, great swivels, and a mix of classic Charleston and quickstep with a little hip-hop thrown in. It’s also totally unfair how gorgeous Sadie is.
Tommy and Peta’s Jazz: I don’t care for this number much, except for the bit of Argentine tango tossed in. Too many butt slaps, and a little too messy.
Bethany and Derek’s Samba: This is a really adorable routine, and I enjoy it, but I don’t see the samba that much. I’m thrown off every week by the music, which gets further and further away from the style of the dance. This samba is too smooth and losing its Brazilianness, but the choreography is so cute.
Janel and Val’s Paso Doble: This routine is at its best when the beat of the music finally kicks in—but that’s about two-thirds of the way through, and then it’s suddenly over. That’s why everyone (myself included) wants to see more. The routine barely gets going by the time it ends.
Alfonso and Witney’s Argentine Tango: Alfonso’s clearly in pain, but the tango is nice. The ganchos are a little messy, but the lifts are interesting and really cool. I’ll just continue to overlook the fact that the song is not a tango.
The eliminations are not too surprising. It eventually comes down to Sadie and Tommy, and as much as I love Tommy, it’s time. His dancing is genuine and natural, but the competition is so strong that it’s tough for him to keep up. Tommy is voted off, and it’s as it should be.
So it’s time to vote for the Mirror Ball trophy winner before next week’s Finals! Here are your Top 4 couples:
- Alfonso Ribeiro and Witney Carson
- Janel Parrish and Val Chmerkovskiy
- Bethany Mota and Derek Hough
- Sadie Robertson and Mark Ballas
The competition is very tough, and it’s going to be interesting to see who will take the grand prize. I think it’ll come down to Alfonso or Janel, but you never know. Both Sadie and Bethany have had extraordinary journeys and have turned into terrific dancers with fairly strong fanbases. It’s going to be a tough final decision, and I’m excited to see how it turns out.
What do you think, dance fans? Did you hope Tommy would make it to the finals, or are you happy with the results? Which are your favorite dances this week? Who do you think will win the coveted Mirror Ball trophy? Cast your votes below.