Nobody went home on Dancing with the Stars Monday since this week was the notorious "Switch-Up," which has contestants paired off with a new pro dancer/choreographer. But even though they'll all be back to boogie next week, the toes that'll tap in the final weeks are getting as easy to spot as a sequined jacket.
How'd the remaining nine do? Check out the recap below.
The dance: Witney acknowledged in her intro how much switching up sucks, and, well, she kind of proved why in their performance. Wanya moved with more confidence that ever, with sharp, precise movements and an easy gracefulness. Ironically, it was Witney that you wanted to see more of - her legs were swallowed up in a hot air balloon's worth of fabric. Something was off about them, for sure, but they still managed to give off major feels.
What the judges say: The audience was too busy clapping to notice that Len's initial compliments were just prefacing a critique about "turbulent waters." Too many moving parts, he said, and too much going on. Carrie Ann and guest judge Maks Chmerkovskiy knocked their performance too, saying they expected better.
The dance: Yes Kim! Finally, our sweet auntie from Atlanta is throwing down--and throwing herself all in. She opened her set acting her face off, then launching into a sensual, suave routine that showed progress. She's more limber, more open and, as she mentioned in her intro, is beginning to understand how to surrender. That was very evident as she was dipping lower, reaching further and was more fluid overall. Did someone spike her drink? Whatever they did, it's working.
What the judges say: Unfortunately, the judges weren't too impressed, mostly because of technicalities; both Maks and Len noted that it wasn't a proper Viennese waltz. She got two sixes.
The dance: In a red herring of an opening, Doug talked about his age (53), his aches and pains as a result of his NFL career, and his declining memory. What a smooth setup for a sendoff! The routine prepped us for his departure too, as Doug was, again basically a prop for his partner. He's a fighter, for sure, but watching him is like watching Frankenstein trying to use chopsticks. Bless his heart. That said, he ended up getting one of his best reviews yet, since his dance was in fact all about execution of tight steps. Go figure.
What the judges say: Bruno noted that he could see Doug improving, but he needed to basically become more at one with the music, and not just do the steps. Maks called it "a little pedestrian" but on point.
Ginger Zee and Mark Ballas - Salsa - "La Malanga" by Eddie Palmieri
The dance: At this point, Ginger has to be graded on a different scale than her competitors. She's a natural talent--like, if the weather thing doesn't work out she could totally do well in Vegas. She has more to work with, and therefore more responsibility. No doubt, she's incredible, as she shook and shimmied with animal magnetism. She even handled being turned upside down and flipped right side up like it was as simple as tying her shoe. Still, she showed some weakness: she needed to be looser in the torso, and the timing was off a few times.
What the judges say: Len called it fantastic; Carrie Ann called Ginger liquid sunshine and Bruno called it a "hot, hot, hot!" frenzy of excitement
The dance: Antonio's intro didn't make him look good. Karina was waiting for him for an hour by the time he arrived, and he blamed his, uh, dropping the ball on football practice and his kids keeping him busy. That preoccupation showed in the dance. Antonio is just here to have fun, it seemed, from his initial somersault onto the floor and then what was basically an extended play of him goofing off. He was energetic, sure, and really, really shiny in sequins. But dancing? Not really.
What the judges say: Len said it was long on performance and short on technique, calling out the disproportionate amount of bump and grind in the routine. Even the perpetually sunny Carrie Ann said it was barely there.
Paige VanZant and Sasha Farber - Rumba - "Perfect" by One Direction
The dance: The challenge with Paige, as reiterated in her opening, is to make her more feminine. That part worked: thanks in part to her billowy, fairy gown and curls in her hair, it's easy to forget that she's capable of a Mortal Kombat-type kick that can send your eyes flying across the room. But she has the same good curse as Ginger; she's naturally gifted, and thus must be graded on a tougher set of criteria. While the dance was romantic, sensual and beautiful at times--honey, that girl can extend a leg longer than a Congressional deadline--it overall lacked oomph.
What the judges say: Bruno shouted out her beautiful, extended lines but Len said it best: it wasn't exceptional.
The dance: Aw, look at Von! He's been practicing, and working hard at improving, hasn't he? Sure, he's still a novelty contestant - I mean, you saw that outfit, right? - but his performance was fun, upbeat and cute.
What the judges say:Maks, summing up how we all feel, said it was hard to judge (what are we looking at here?!), but an amazing performance.
Nyle DiMarco and Sharna Burgess - Viennese Waltz - "I Get to Love You" by Ruelle Paige
The dance: Nyle noted how hard he had to work this week, after falling out of first place last week and of course, having a new partner who had to adjust to his hearing impairment. He got a lovely pep talk/hug in a surprise visit from
Erykah Badu — Nope, sorry, that was Tyra Banks with dreadlocks and an army fatigue jacket! — which must've felt great. As for the dance, it was lyrical, porous and just altogether beautiful. People in the audience were crying, it was so good.
What the judges say: Everybody gushed; Maks called it the best dance of the night, "mind boggling" and "amazing." Nyle got three 10 paddles, including one from Len, until we later learned Maks and Bruno intended to give him 9s in a head-scratching moment that had even the judges confused. Did we just see a conspiracy?
The dance: Hey now, Jodie! A thrilling performance from her, after a lackluster turn last week. She's working hard, and made her fiery desire to win this contest evident in sharp footwork and Spanish flamenco style turns. If Jodie would just maybe ease up on that Monster face, she'd be absolutely perfect. But it's a small critique. She gave it her all, and gave us the business on the floor.
What the judges say: Len called it full of attack, and full of person; Maks called it amazing.
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8/7c on ABC.