Dancing with the Starstook a trip to the Magic Kingdom Monday night, with each pair of performers dancing to a song from a Disney movie.
For the intro, the show jackhammers "It's a Small World" into our brains as the dancers come out in their various costumes and try to dance around the cartoons that are superimposed into the shot. ("Now, that's an animated opening," quips Dad Humor Ambassador Tom Bergeron.) Later, they're joined by Disney characters in the flesh.
Suzanne Somers and Tony Dovolani (jazz)
The dance: Tony and Suzanne kick off the performances with a Lady and the Tramp-themed routine, seconds after learning they're in jeopardy, and following a package that features a teary Suzanne contemplating quitting the show. Yikes. Suzanne's confidence definitely seems a little shaky during this routine, with her movements a little more unsure and unsteady than they normally are (and one major misstep towards the middle of the number when her heel catches the hem of her dress). It's a classy routine, but there doesn't seem to be any spark between them this week.
What the judges say: Len tells Suzanne she's "easy on the eye" and says it was her best dance to date minus the hiccup. Julianne (sporting her new cotton candy hair) also laments the error, but says it was nice to see a different side of Suzanne. Bruno concludes "the lady was a vamp," and compliments Suzanne's lines. Carrie Ann thanks Suzanne for bringing her "A-game."
Score: 28 (out of 40)
Robert Herjavec and Kym Johnson (quickstep)
The dance: Kym gets airlifted in, Mary Poppins-style, and that's unfortunately the only smooth thing about the start of this routine. Robert is SO out of sync, which is only made worse by the music repeating "step in time" over and over again. The second half of the dance is a bit better than the first, but that's not saying much and Robert simply can't keep up with Kym's speed, or the music.
What the judges say: Julianne lets Robert down gently, criticizing his footwork. Bruno also sugarcoats his criticism by saying "Time is a relative concept." Carrie Ann says that Robert's enthusiasm can't make up for his lack of timing. Surprisingly, Len goes the good cop route and says Robert at least "popped" out on the floor.
Patti LaBelle and Artem Chigvintsev (waltz)
The dance: We learn that Patti has been battling a knee injury all week (But then again, "Noah only has one leg," she tells Erin Andrews, putting her own situation in perspective), and she and Artem are also forced to dance immediately after learning they're in jeopardy. But the singer, bless her, really does look like a princess during this waltz. She and Artem fall out of sync once or twice, but Patti's inner diva brings an elegance to the dance, and her lines are also great.
What the judges say: Bruno loves how Patti "sprinkled her own stardust" into the routine, which he calls "lovely." Carrie Ann calls Patti "the fairy godmother of Dancing with the Stars," but nitpicks her frame. Len says the dance could have used more flow, owing to Patti's injury, but was still charming. Julianne praises Patti's attitude.
Willow Shields and Mark Ballas (foxtrot)
The dance: Coming off of the highest score of the season, Mark and Willow channel Alice in Wonderland for their foxtrot, with Mark predictably going all out for his rabbit costume (not to mention the production). Mark does a great job of making this dance feel tense and a little bit scary. It's the first routine of the night that's truly engaging and entertaining from start to finish, and Willow's footwork is nearly flawless.
What the judges say: Carrie Ann loves the production, but criticizes Willow's footing in the first half of the dance. Len thought the concept sometimes stood in the way of the dance itself, but says Willow is getting better and better. Julianne gives Willow notes on her arms and wonders if she's still at Coachella. Bruno says Willow is becoming "a force to be reckoned with."
Witney Carson and Chris Soules (quickstep)
The dance: To-ga! To-ga! That's all I could think of during Chris' Hercules dance. After pitching a hissy fit in practice (prompting Witney to call last year's champ, Alfonso Ribiero, in for reinforcements), Chris then pulls his calf in rehearsals. Can he model through the pain? He certainly looks like he's stepping a little gingerly, and it must have been some sort of cruel joke on the part of TPTB to give both him and Robert the quickstep this week. The best parts of this dance are when Chris is striking a pose, but unfortunately his feet aren't as good as his face.
What the judges say: Len admires Chris for working through the injury, but cautions him that his footwork is too "hectic." Julianne says the judges have been tough on Chris and tells him to remember to have fun (and work on his musicality). Bruno agrees about the music, and Carrie Ann disagrees with everyone, saying this was Chris' best dance to date.
Noah Galloway and Sharna Burgess (foxtrot)
The dance: After some tough love from Sharna in rehearsals this week, Noah channels his inner Aladdin and floats into this routine on a magic carpet. Aside from a couple of distracting moments where the camera was focusing only on Sharna, this is their best routine to date. Noah's looking more confident on the floor, and for the first time seems like he's there to support Sharna, and not the other way around.
What the judges say: Julianne praises Noah's frame and his assertiveness, while Bruno says Noah could work on his spins, but his connection and interaction with Sharna are "flawless." Carrie Ann has mostly good things to say, but she wants to see a little more content in the dances. Len marvels at Noah's courage.
Riker Lynch and Allison Holker (paso doble)
The dance: It's hard not to appreciate Riker's dedication to Captain Jack Sparrow, thinking of the Mirrorball trophy as his treasure. This dance wouldn't work without him staying in character, and his complete commitment gives it just the level of intensity that it needs. There's a wince-worthy moment when he nearly flings Allison across the floor, but that mishap notwithstanding, this is a great routine.
What the judges say: Bruno can hardly contain his excitement about the production. "What the heck was that?" Carrie Ann squawks, telling Riker he "slayed it." Len also worried that Riker was going to "throw himself overboard" during the spin, and Julianne says the dance was a great combination of talent, technique and artistry.
Rumer Willis and Val Chmerkovskiy (salsa)
The dance: Rumer and Val go the Little Mermaid route, but Rumer opts to dance as Ursula rather than Ariel. (Their pool rehearsals, I have to say, were a pretty cool idea.) Rumer continues to be a phenom on the dance floor, with an attitude that manages to be dark and fun at the same time. And the dancing itself causes Val and Rumer to leave everyone else in their wake.
What the judges say: Carrie Ann says the dance was weird, but turned her on(?). Len leaves his criticism at just telling Rumer that she's a fantastic dancer, and Julianne says it was the best dance of the night. Bruno thought it was "deliciously wicked."
Nastia Liukin and Derek Hough (jazz)
The dance: Aside from being surprised that Derek didn't go to Winter Wonderland for this Frozen routine, I also couldn't ever fully connect with this dance, which seems to be lacking a little emotion. The steps is fine, but on the heels of Rumer and Val, it just feels ... lesser, somehow. And I'm not sure it was worth the time and effort for Derek and Nastia to dance up on the judges, especially when their silhouettes in front of the clock were so visually strong.
What the judges say: Len compares the dance to a "warm hug" and says it was nice to see Nastia's sunnier side. Julianne says the routine is Broadway-ready. Bruno felt the dance captured "the essence of Disney," and Carrie Ann says it was like a dream come true, but was bothered by the inconsistent lip-syncing.
So, who's going home tonight? The standings, as divulged throughout the show, are:
In jeopardy: Patti and Artem, Chris and Witney, Suzanne and Tony
Safe: Patti and Artem, Chris and Witney
Eliminated: Suzanne and Tony
What did you think, Dancing fans? What was your favorite routine on Disney night? And were you disappointed to see Suzanne and Tony sent home? Sound off in the comments!
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8/7c on ABC.
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