Recap: ‘Dancing with the Stars’ – Performances – Week 9

05.05.09 8 years ago

AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

It’s the “hooome stretch of the competition,” “Dancing With The Stars” co-host Samantha Harris asserts as our five remaining couples – including the will-she-be-there-or-not Melissa Rycroft, who sat out last week with an injury – head down those stairs and into ninth competition episode of the season.  It’s a two hour format again (oh, yay!), as made possible by a complicated new format (two dances per couple, a ballroom round and a latin round, in which for the first 15 seconds the stars will dance alone), and many extra montages.

The Ballroom Round:

Shawn Johnson & Mark Ballas

Shawn breaks down in tears in preparation the quickstep, alleging “it’s just so fast.”  Being an Olympic gymnast and all, you’d think she’d be able to handle it, and she makes it quickly clear she most certainly can.  Dancing to “Friend Like Me” from ABC owner Disney’s “Aladdin” (which unfortunately provides an excuse for one-too-many goofy facial expressions care of a too-in-character Mark), Shawn is on fire.  Fast, fun and focused, her and Mark rouse the crowd and put on a serious show.   It turns out they broke some sort of quickstep rule by separating (who knew?), but the judges love them anyway.  Bruno calls her “Spunky Spice,” unaware Spice Girls jokes have been kind of over for about a decade.

Score: 27

Ty Murray & Chelsie Hightower

Lucky to be here, and unless there’s another injury care on the part of the others, the likeliest to go tomorrow, Ty is pretty proud of himself for making it so far. Chelsie reminds us exactly how:  “What Ty may lack in talent, he makes up for in hard work in determination.”  But, as we know, work and determination can only go so far… and Ty & Chelsie’s Argentine Tango exemplifies this.  While certainly not anywhere near their worst work this season, the whole time Ty looks intensely frightened, and at one point he starts doing these little kicks that make him look like some cowboy-robot hybrid.  Somehow, Len is love with it, but Carrie Ann and Bruno rightfully acknowledge Ty’s shortcomings.

Score: 25 (his highest yet, but certainly the lowest of the night)

Lil’ Kim & Derek Hough

Coming off a first-place finish last week, Kim’s aim this week is to show off her versatility this week with a waltz.  But I question whether that’s always a good idea.  Wearing a floral, unrevealing dress she tries to do just that with a very lady-like, refined performance.  And I hate to say it – Kim’s my favorite – but it’s kind of boring, and even a little sloppy.  She just looks awkward up there – like she’s trying so hard to not be herself.  Though, once again, the usually crabby Len is all over it, the others generally agree.  Bruno puts it kind of perfectly: “You’re more comfortable being a tramp.”

Score: 25 (a tie with Ty.. eee)

Gilles Marini & Cheryl Burke

Gilles goal this week is very simple. He wants to reclaim the top slot.  And so far, his competitors are making that potentially easy for him.  Gilles decides to do a little research for his foxtrot, heading to a ballroom to witness some examples. It pays off.  Gilles is smooth, sexy (he even goes a blows a kiss to Carrie Ann, which frankly, might be a bit much), and – most importantly – accomplished.  He’s the only dancer that consistently gives performances in which it’s totally unclear who’s the “star” and who’s the professional dancer.  Len points out some technical issues I was unaware of, but generally the judges are very impressed (“you are in a class of your own,” Bruno says).

Score: 29 (on his birthday!)

Melissa Rycroft & Tony Dovolani

Despite being judged on some horrible rehearsal footage due to an injury, and getting the lowest score of the week, Melissa was previously saved by those rapid Bachelor-fans.  And apparently, the treatment for her injury is working, and she feels capable of taking on tonight’s double dose of dancing. Her first effort – set to Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel” with dressed very much like (a trampy version of) one – doesn’t show signs of her injury, but isn’t her best work either.  It’s definitely a graceful performance, but it doesn’t seem particularly challenging, and despite a pity standing ovation, I – and the judges – are left relatively unimpressed.  Gilles for the win.

Score: 27

I cannot believe I have to do this all again. And as some torturous intermission, the competition-within-the competition (where people compete to become a “pro dancer” next segment), gets a recap, and we learn that Brent and Snow have been eliminated.  If you care, and want me to elaborate, I’m sorry.

The Latin Round:

Shawn Johnson & Mark Ballas

Not surprisingly, we get TWO rehearsal montages. This time around, I have really nothing to note re: Shawn and Mark other than potentially quote about how Shawn is “determined to make this work,” or something. But I won’t. Instead, I’ll cut to the performance, which starts off with an intense solo from Shawn.  Perfectly dramatic in the midst of some wild pasa doble moves, Shawn brings that intensity to her moves with a shirtless Mark.  They are totally in sync, and Gilles officially has some competition tonight.  The audience, Bruno and Carrie Ann all flip out for it, and the thing I like I about the Shawn is how genuinely affected she seems by their praise.  Len is slightly less enthusiastic, and the audience almost jumps him for it.

Score: 29 (their best score yet, which + 27 = 56 for the week)

Ty Murray & Chelsie Hightower

Jewel gets her fourth close-up-from-the-audience of the night as we head into her hubby Ty’s second montage, which gives us his umpteenth explanation about a being bull rider and latin dancing don’t mix.  Allegedly ready to rumba (to “Free Fallin'”?!), the pair do offer some impressive moves, but they are mostly care of Chelsie, or Ty’s ability to lift her up and throw her around a lot.   His solo is downright horrific, some sort of awkward striptease-esque number that leads him into the audience and to, who else, Jewel.  The judges go on about how likeable he is (really?), but all question whether he belongs to be here.  Let’s make it happen, voters. It’s time.

Score: 21 (which + 25 = a pilthy 46)

Lil’ Kim & Derek Hough

Alright, Kim, its the salsa, be the tramp you’re met to be. “I’m going to bring back the bionic booty,” she announces.  Yes.  Wearing, well, not a lot, Kim is the ball of energy we all know she can be.  Her in-the-middle solo ups the ante, complete with a splits and some serious bionic booty shaking (its nearly pornographic, seriously).  She’s obviously in her element and having a lot of fun, and Derek goes right along with her.  The judges’ main complaint is that maybe she was having a bit too much fun, and thus missed some technical requirements, but it was difficult for anyone unaware of professional dancing rules, or even remotely attracted to women, to notice.

Score: 27 (+25 = 52)

Gilles Marini & Cheryl Burke

Gilles ultimate goal on this show was do to the Rumba, and he’s ready to show the latin lover deep inside him. This bodes well.  Starting off with a unspectacular solo (is he moonwalking and stripteasing at the same time?), him and Cheryl move into a dance set to “Sexual Healing” that’s as pornographic as Lil’ Kim’s solo. At one point they are actually rolling around on the floor, dry humping (I’m not exaggerating). But  despite the over-the-top quality of it, the two of them are very impressive together, and like earlier tonight – they are clearly the most accomplished couple.  But I don’t know how that solo’s going to play out with his scores (the judges were all very confused).

Score: 27 (+29 = 56, that’s – deservedly – a tie with Shawn…)

Melissa Rycroft & Tony Dovolani

The Samba seems suited to Melissa, so this could be her chance to show she’s still a contender. She’s freaked out about doing the solo, but I can’t help but think: I’ve been watching this show for 1 hour and 55 minutes now… Just. Be. Over.  Melissa opens with the solo, going the sexy stripper route like her competitors Kim and Gilles.  Its effective. She moves into her Samba with Tony, which involves a whole lot of shaking, and very impressive execution of moves that must be particularly challenging in the wake of an injury.  Though I’m not a big fan of Melissa, it’s clearly the best dance of the night.  She is totally overjoyed by pulling it off so well, looking like she’s going to burst into tears as she heads over to hear the judges essentially call her flawless.  

Score: 30! (+27 = 57, putting her in the lead).

So, I’d say still a four way race, but Lil’ Kim is just barely hanging on.  Still, if she goes instead of Ty, its as much of a travesty possible on a d-list celebrity dance competition. But my guess is that if there are in fact a few heterosexual males that watch this show, she’s safe.

Who will survive?  Check Peter’s recap tomorrow on HitFix.

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