Dancing with the Stars hopped a flight to New York City Monday night (or at least the theme did), meaning contestants channeled Frank Sinatra, danced on top of cabs and even turned themselves into Uptown Girls.
Despite nerves, injuries, bad cell phone service and visiting Bachelorettes, all our couples managed to make it out onto the floor tonight! Unfortunately, Season 27 is trying to fray all our nerves with these double-episode events, so we won't know who's going home until Tuesday's two-hour episode wraps up. Thanks to our recap below, though, you can probably pick out which couples will end up in jeopardy...
The dance: The main challenge for Lindsay this week was turning DeMarcus, aka the self-proclaimed "chocolate piece of steel," into a soft and smooth chocolate fondue, since they couldn't rely on his athleticism and gravity-defying leaps to win the judges over this time around. The video package might have hinted as some clunky and clumsy missteps in this flowy Foxtrot, but there was no sign of them on the ballroom floor. DeMarcus took to the Foxtrot like a fish to water!
What the judges said: Len loved DeMarcus' footwork (though not his arms), which is as surprising as it is exciting. Bruno and Carrie Ann agreed that right now, DeMarcus is the one to beat this season, and contestants who get reviews like that almost always stick around until the finale. Don't expect DeMarcus to be going anywhere anytime soon.
Calling my bookie to put bets on this guy now.
Danelle Umstead and Artem Chigvintsevdid: Cha Cha - "Welcome to New York" by Taylor Swift
The dance: The Cha Cha really intimidated Danelle at first, since it was so fast and unlike other contestants, she can't exactly look over and see what her pro is doing to catch back on to the rhythm. Then, Artem had the inspired idea to incorporate her folding cane into the dance, which made her feel way more comfortable. She made a small misstep at the beginning, which looked like it might have ended everything, but miraculously she recovered quite nicely! Not nicely enough to hide the fact that she was counting the whole dance out loud, but if the alternative is getting off the beat, I'll allow it!
What the judges said: "You got it wrong, but you recovered... You didn't let that get you down," Bruno commented. Carrie Ann caught the counting, which she didn't love, but she understood that it helped Danelle stay on beat. She might want to count in her head instead, which will help loosen her up and make things feel more natural for both the dancers and the audience.
Danelle keeps ending up at the bottom of the scoreboard. :(
The dance: This week's dance seemed like a sure thing for John and Emma considering John's history on Broadway — what's more Broadway than the Charleston? Unfortunately, the Charleston is also a lot of fast footwork, which is not John's strong suit. Despite a couple off-tempo moments, John performed marvelously, and he should get like 10 extra points for those facials! That boy knows how to ham it up!
What the judges said: The judges loved the Broadway element, and Bruno once again noticed John's high kicks and how they continue to improve. Emma got in trouble with Len for leaving out some of the typical Charleston moves, but Carrie Ann brushed that off because she loved the glam and polish of the number.
Those two 8s might just keep them in the competition this week!
The dance: Nancy's right foot was giving her trouble all week, and after non-stop rehearsals, she finally went to the doctor and found out she had a small fracture. Despite the injury, she decided to go through with her performance, which was another case of "Hey, thanks for trying!" Nancy obviously pushed herself very hard, but she just couldn't keep up with the choreography and always looked like she was spinning out or scared of spinning out. Unless people start screwing up really badly,Nancy is going to find herself in jeopardy again and again.
What the judges said: The judges were sympathetic to her injury, but that doesn't mean they didn't catch her flub with the footwork toward the end of the routine. "You as well went slightly wrong, but you did not let that stop the flow of the performance," Bruno said.
OK, she was injured, but let's not go crazy here...
The dance: A ballet-inspired Argentine Tango sounds like a mess for most people, but it was a walk down memory lane for Alexis because of her ballet background. Unfortunately, she struggled with a couple of the lifts and the cool, rip-away skirt move they tried with the tutu didn't exactly work out. It kind of reminded me of when a guy reaches around to unhook your bra and then... just can't? It shouldn't be that hard, but apparently the struggle is real. After those small bumps, Alexis and Alan recovered tenfold and ended the number so strong that you wouldn't have believed they had any trouble at all.
What the judges said: "The lift and the wardrobe — not so great. Everything else was stunning," Carrie Ann said. Bruno agreed that the recovery saved them but Len shocked everyone by calling it the best dance of the year so far. Umm... really?
The only person more shocked than me at that 9 was Alan.
Joe "Grocery Store Joe" Amabile and Jenna Johnson: Foxtrot - "New York State of Mind" by Matt Beilis
The dance: OK, so let's talk about improvements first. There were some. Like the fact that he didn't trip over his own feet this time. That and... yeah, that's it. I hate to keep being mean to poor Grocery Store Joe, but did these two even move? That was the slowest, most boring Foxtrot in the world. It barely qualified as dancing; half the time they were just kind of swaying back and forth. Maybe it's just because Joe's not a born performer (very few reality stars ever are), but the whole routine felt like Jenna was trying to act enough for the both of them.
What the judges said: The judges were preoccupied with gushing over Joe's improvements, which were definitely there, but they did recognize that the momentum was just not moving fast enough for them. "You're still, like, maybe the slowest little turtle going," Carrie Ann joked, but she did call him "much improved." Then she proceeded to nitpick the lift where Joe kind of flung Jenna around instead of letting her slide across the floor.
Do scores matter when Bachelor Nation votes will keep you alive no matter what?
Tinashe and Brandon Armstrong: Argentine Tango - "New Dorp. New York" by SBTRKT featuring Ezra Koenig
The dance: Hot damn. Are we sure Tinashe isn't actually a pro? This tango was fast and fierce, and Tinashe completely owned it with stellar lines, pointed feet and perfect poses! And that's not even counting the lifts! There were at least four major lifts that could have broken her neck (or Brandon's), but each was executed flawlessly — and more importantly, they looked effortless! Tinashe won't find herself in jeopardy this week, that's for sure.
What the judges said: Len called the lifts spectacular, but he did criticize Brandon for getting too far away from the Argentine Tango flavor. He wanted a smokey nightclub with passion, not an electric, futuristic time warp. Bruno loved it though, calling it an "Argentine Tango that Lady Gaga would die for." You heard it here first: Tinashe is this year's powerhouse.
Highest score of the night... again.
Milo Manheim and Witney Carson: Charleston - "Living in New York City" by Robin Thicke
The dance: Watching Milo struggle and pant through the choreography and rehearsals was so relatable. You'd think he was super fit being a 17-year-old actor, but apparently not. It's OK though, it reminded us lesser humans of what it's like when your super-fit friends invite you to work out with them and then you just kind of want to die. The routine itself was an explosion of flailing and fun though, and Milo's adorable, "That was the best I've ever done!" as he climbed the stairs to get his scores was just soooooo cute.
What the judges said: Last week Bruno called Milo's legs gangly, and he had to recant this week, calling them incredible and "so strong yet light and bouncy." Carrie Ann called this routine a dance we'd remember forever, and even Len was pleased with the way Witney incorporated so many New York styles into her Charleston! He usually hates that!
Whyyyyy not give them a 10?
The dance: Mary Lou continues to impress with her ability to pick up the faster, more bendy choreography that other stars just can't get a hold of. The funniest part of watching this routine, though, was how Mary Lou started out a little stiff and unsure, and then when the chorus of "A Natural Woman" came in, she just let loose. How can you not let it all go when that song comes on? It just goes to show how the tunes these pros choose can really be make or break on this show.
What the judges said: Len made Sasha's night when he praised Mary Lou's hand on her final turn, which apparently had been a point of contention between them. He did criticize her shoulders, which Bruno echoed when he warned against "losing her neck" on occasion. Yikes haha.
Juan Pablo Di Pace and Cheryl Burke: Quickstep - "42nd Street" by Cherry Poppin' Daddies
The dance: Juan Pablo thrived with last week's salsa because he got to really let loose with the hips. This week, he struggled with all the rules and stiffness of the Quickstep. Once again though, the struggles of rehearsals seemed to disappear on stage, even though Juan Pablo did stumble once or twice trying to keep up with Cheryl's quick choreography. Mostly, it was hard not to worry he'd start catching flies, since his mouth never gave up that open-mouthed grin the whole time. Ehhhh, it's Broadway, I'll let it slide.
What the judges said: Oh dear... the dreaded FRAME! Len loves a good frame, and he hated Juan Pablo's, calling his hands "a big bunch of bananas." Bruno was of a different mind, calling the final jump a total Gene Kelly move, and who doesn't love Gene Kelly?
Evanna Lynch and Keo Motsepe: Samba - "Can't Touch It" by Ricki-Lee
The dance: Holy cow, Evanna can dance. Last week's Foxtrot really didn't show of how much this girl can shake it.
What the judges said: The judges loved the new attitude, but they also appreciated how much strength and power it took to hit each of her lifts and poses. Words like terrific, powerful, fierce and excellent were flying during the feedback round, which is always a good thing when it comes to scores.
They'll need to step it up if they want to get to the top of the leader board.
Bobby Bones and Sharna Burgess: Foxtrot - "Theme from New York, New York" by Frank Sinatra
The dance: Only Bobby Bones would ditch his pro's choreographed ending in favor of his own hip shaking. That was just so not the Foxtrot. Here's the thing: Bobby doesn't have the skill or the fanbase to keep him alive in this competition for very long, but he can ensure he stays on the show by being memorable — and I can't fault him for that strategy. Tom really got it right when he called him the love child of Elvis Costello and Bill Nye the Science Guy.
What the judges said: Carrie Ann really said it best: "I'm confused."
Same, girl. Same.
His personality makes up at least 6 of those points.
No elimination Monday night, come back Tuesday to see who's headed home!
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8/7c on ABC.