Greetings, Dancing Queens!
We're in the home stretch of Season 19 of Dancing with the Stars, with the semifinals next week and the finals the following. Before "America's Choice"-slash-trio night gets underway, Tom Bergeronreveals that last week's lowest-scoring couple, Tommy and Peta, are safe and have definitely secured a spot in the semis. So who will be the "surprise elimination" this week? (My money's on eitherLea or Alfonso.) Let's find out:
Alfonso and Witney (foxtrot)
The dance: Alfonso said he was going to channel Fred Astaire with this dance, and he certainly does. It's a classic ballroom number, one that demonstrates a less goofy side of Alfonso that we haven't seen too much so far. He and Witney are in sync from start to finish, and there's no sign of that pesky groin injury that Alfonso's been battling.
What the judges say: "That's the way to kick off the quarterfinals!"Len gushes, but still notes Alfonso's "suspect" footwork. Juliannecompliments Alfonso's elegance, and Bruno says it was a "brilliant" hybrid of Astaire and Justin Timberlake. Carrie Ann nitpicks that Alfonso needs more pizzazz.
Score: 37 (out of 40)
Tommy and Peta (Viennese waltz)
The dance: This is about the right pace for Tommy, who looks like he couldn't be more delighted to be twirling around with Peta on the dance floor, with the guarantee that he'll be back next week. He can even laugh off an arm mistake! I don't think he has a shot at winning the whole shebang, but bless his heart for hanging on this long. Peta also says that she expected to be eliminated in Week 1 or Week 2. (Ouch?)
What the judges say: Julianne says it was a perfect Viennese waltz minus the "trip-up." Bruno compares Tommy to a carousel. Carrie Ann says Tommy embodies the "less is more" philosophy and calls him a "true hero." Len, "from one old geezer to another old geezer," says he's doing well for a 76-year-old (ha).
Lea and Artem (samba)
The dance: I'm on Team Lea in the argument that she and Artem are having about whether to incorporate some hip-hop moves into their samba. The combination is a nice way to infuse some modernity and relevancy into their classic samba (and they're dancing to a current Top 40 hit, after all). Lea seems ever-so-slightly thrown right before she starts her "crotch-over" (Carrie Ann's term) move over Artem, but overall it's great. I can't believe she's 53.
What the judges say: Bruno loves Lea's confidence, and Carrie Ann loves her tiger outfit. Len thought it was "terrific," and Julianne notes that she wore a costume like that once too.
Bethany and Derek (Viennese waltz)
The dance: Bethany's mock-weeping at the end of the routine is a little too much for me, but the dance itself is great. She and Derek seem to have a nice brother-sister vibe going on. It's elegant and emotional, even if Bethany does veer into mawkish territory in the final moments.
What the judges say: Carrie Ann calls it "stunning" and "breathtaking." Len makes a technical critique about Derek's movement, and we all learn what a "fleckerl" is. Julianne says Bethany seems more "connected" this week than she has in the past. Bruno found it emotional and resonant.
Sadie and Mark (jive)
The dance: Gotta hand it to Mark shamelessly vying for votes by wearing their number on his back. But they don't need to rely on gimmicks. This dance is great. It's lively, fast-paced and fun, and I love Sadie's dress and jewelry combination. Mark's choreography is insane, and it's kind of amazing to see the leaps and bounds Sadie has made in her comfort and confidence since Week 1.
What the judges say: Len says Sadie's kicks and flicks could have been better, but she handled it so well for a tall girl. Julianne says it wasn't her cup of tea, but points for style. Bruno marvels at Mark's choreography and spirit. Carrie Ann notes that Sadie lacked strength in the first half — but made a nice recovery in the second.
Janel and Val (quickstep)
The dance: Love the staging and choreography of this, and it's a nice touch for Janel and Val to start in the audience before progressing to the dance floor. At a couple of points though, it seems like Janel's just getting dragged around the floor by Val. The only major misstep of the routine comes courtesy of Val, though, who sheepishly apologizes — after planting a big kiss on Janel at the end of the dance.
What the judges say: Julianne says, mistake and all, it was the best dance of the night. Carrie concurs. Bruno loves the detailed choreography, and Len says it was an all-around success.
Now, onto the trio round, in which we get this amazing gesture from Len:
Alfonso, Witney and Lindsay (paso doble)
The dance: Witney and Lindsay have been dancing together since they were 6 years old, and it totally shows in this number. They could be clones of each other, they're so in sync — and Alfonso keeps the whole routine grounded by matching them step for step. A great, entertaining way to kick off the trio round.
What the judges say: Len isn't a fan of/doesn't understand "Turn Down for What" (see photo above), but loved the routine. Julianne can't get over the "chemistry" and "passion." Bruno is so excited I'm concerned he's going to fall over again, and Carrie Ann, who gives the group a standing ovation, sums up her critique with an enthusiastic "day-um!"
Tommy, Peta and Sharna (samba)
The dance: I love Tommy, but I don't see how Peta thinks she can get away with letting him sit down for the first part of this dance while she and Sharna do all of the heavy lifting. It's endearing to see Tommy's hip swivel when he does stand up — even if it's out of sync with what Peta and Sharna are doing. Ah well. It's entertaining, if nothing else.
What the judges say: Julianne and Bruno can't stop laughing/choking long enough to give their feedback. They and Carrie Ann are essentially rendered speechless, though Bruno sneaks in a reference to the mile-high club. Len's changing his ticket to London to Chong Air.
Lea, Artem and Henry (paso doble)
The dance: Lea is going for broke tonight. Costume- and choreography-wise, it's not that different from Alfonso's with the two ladies, and you can tell that Lea loves being able to channel her inner hot mama on the dancefloor. She certainly gets a 10 for attitude and intensity!
What the judges say: Bruno doesn't know how Lea stayed focused between those two beefcakes. Carrie Ann says she killed it. Len compliments Artem and Henry for making Lea the focal point, and notes that he was probably the only one who wasn't distracted by the two men. Julianne insists she wasn't either.
Bethany, Derek and Tony (tango)
The dance: Once again, Bethany and Derek pull off a routine that looks like it belongs in a professional performance rather than on a reality competition. Bethany is more intense than we've ever seen her — a perfect match for the dark, hypnotic music — and Derek's choreography is typically top-notch.
What the judges say: Carrie Ann would have liked to see smoother transitions, although Len says the switching between the partners was "seamless." Julianne can't believe the difference between Bethany's attitude in this dance and her previous waltz. Bruno has nothing but praise for what he calls the "Mad Max version of the Argentine tango."
Sadie, Mark and Emma (foxtrot)
The dance: I feel bad for Emma, after Mark and Sadie devote much of their package to explaining that she wasn't their first choice (even if the reasoning is that Mark didn't want her to show Sadie up). Combined, Mark and Emma do a great job of letting Sadie shine in the spotlight, and this foxtrot is wonderfully elegant while still really sweet. Also, Sadie wins the prize for best costumes of the night (even if she does get upset because she forgot a step at the end).
What the judges say: Len says it's the best trio of the night and he wishes he has an 11 paddle. Julianne praises Mark for the risks he took. "Movie star stunning," adds Bruno, who says he couldn't tell which girl was the professional. Carrie Ann gets cut off.
Janel, Val and Keo (salsa)
The dance: My first thought as Janel sashayed out, in between Val and Keo was, "I guess this is what Sadie's not going for." I love the tribal elements of the choreography and the music, but it's a little too uncomfortably sexual if I'm being honest — especially when Janel, in the words of Tom, pulls her "human wishbone" move.
What the judges say: Julianne laments the lack of salsa content, but she's in a good mood so it was still fun. Bruno says it gave him "jungle fever." Carrie Ann compares Janel to Beyonce (maybe a stretch). Len would also have liked to see more salsa content and, like me, was a little uncomfortable at times.
With three minutes to go, they won't be able to drag out the suspense of tonight's surprise elimination. But here are the final results:
Safe: Alfonso/Witney, Bethany/Derek, Janel/Val, Tommy/Peta
In jeopardy: Sadie/Mark, Lea/Artem
Eliminated: Lea and Artem
Well, there aren't going to be any easy eliminations from here on out, and I'm sad to see Lea go. But she has a good attitude about the whole thing and went out on a high note, at least.
What did you think? What were your favorite dances of the night? Which pairs will make it to the finals, and who's your pick to be the final winner? Sound off in the comments!
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8/7c on ABC.