All together, now!
The remaining 14 contestants performed on Dancing With the Stars tonight, meaning each celeb had limited time to strut their stuff to ensure time for all—plus the requisite amount of judges' jib-jab—within the allotted two hours.
But the minute-long routines were enough to reshuffle last week's pecking order and make it a heartbreaker of a night for some and a whole new ball(room) game for others.
Here's how the seven guys and seven gals fared Monday:
Joanna Krupa & Derek Hough: Joanna and her lioness mane bounded into the jive with confidence—and, unfortunately, "spastic feet," according to Carrie Ann Inaba. There weren't really enough jive steps in the routine for us (with Len Goodman out tonight, we decided to pick up the persnickety slack), but it was a fun and energetic performance. Bruno Tonioli thought Joanna "lost it quite a few times," while guest judge Baz Luhrmann wanted to see "a little more actual relationship" between the cover girl and her partner.
Natalie Coughlin & Alec Mazo: Heavy and not that quick was how we would describe this quickstep. (Of course, 50 percent of the blame goes to the easy-listening version of the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" they were saddled with.) Natalie proficiently pulled off the speedy little traveling steps as she and Alec pranced across the floor, but like last week, her dance featured more studied poses than fluid movement. The judges reemphasized her potential, but pointed out that she needs to relax more.
Chuck Liddell & Anna Trebunskaya: Well, that was a scary face Chuck was making during the tango. Not a whole lot of grace there, but the UFC champ pulled it off, inexplicably. "Savage and primeval, but always a tango," praised Bruno, who appreciated the work he put into getting the steps right. And whatever he didn't get right, he made up for it with brute force. "Uncle Len…might rip you to pieces," Baz said, but "I thought it was fantastic." "Sexy but kind of scary, which I guess is kind of good," offered Carrie Ann.
Melissa Joan Hart & Mark Ballas: What with her perky blond ponytail, fresh-scrubbed good looks and that ruffly polka-dot dress, Melissa looked like a jivin' machine. Once the music started, however...We saw more than a few flubs, and she looked hard-pressed to keep up with the bouncy whirling dervish that is her short-pants-favoring partner—enough so that at times it looked as if they were doing two different dances. Carrie Ann could only talk about her "great energy," making us wonder if we were crazy, but Bruno pointed out that "down there sometimes you fell to pieces." (Don't worry, he was referring to her feet.)
Michael Irvin & Anna Demidova: We are in the camp that believes the retired NFL star did way better last week than the 13 he had to show for it. And we were pretty charmed by his quickstep, too, although it obviously wasn't easy for the former wide receiver to squeeze that big body into those tiny steps. "You delivered the goods and I love the way you stuck together as a team," Carrie Ann praised both of them, having been someone who came down pretty hard on newcomer Anna last week for her lack of fundamental choreography. "Everything was there," agreed Bruno.
Debi Mazar & Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Maybe it was good that Maks made Debi cry in rehearsal. She slapped him in the face and ended up looking far more relaxed this week! Their Moulin Rouge-inspired tango (wink-wink, Mr. Luhrmann) was fierce if not fabulous, but it was great to see Debi "channeling the feisty ball-breaker," as Bruno put it. Gorgeous posture, Carrie Ann said, while Baz thought she did "fantastically."
Louie Vito & Chelsie Hightower: Louie is just the cutest little thing on two legs this side of the half-pipe. The leather jacket he wore in their bad-boy, good-girl jive looked a bit cumbersome, but there were moments where you could see just how good an athlete the 21-year-old snowboarder is. Chelsie should have given him more jive to do though, because there were parts of the blink-and-you'll-miss-it routine (they were supershort tonight to accommodate all 14 contestants) in which he seemed to be just standing there, waiting for his partner to finish what she was doing. "You can do much better than that!" Bruno said, criticizing Louie for "just mucking about" at times. But all three judges dug the joyous vibe.
Aaron Carter & Karina Smirnoff: What a happy lanky leprechaun Aaron proved to be! Dressed in head-to-toe green, he better have pulled a great quickstep out of his figurative hat—and he did. Bruno called him a "mini Fred Astaire," and Carrie Ann thought the contact in their hold "was ridiculous" (ballroom speak for "whoot-whoot!"). And this has got to feel good for Karina, who's working this season under inauspicious circumstances.
Kelly Osbourne & Louis van Amstel: Sadly, the belle of last week's ball landed with a bit of a thud tonight, repeatedly flubbing the steps of her tango, giggling nervously each time, and not bothering to mask her disappointment when the dance ended. And instead of holding the final pose for emphasis, she popped right out of it and apologized to her partner. Aw. Mama Sharon's look was more resolute support than proud beaming this time around. "When you got it right, I was looking at Eva Peron," Bruno said, but "it went very wrong with you with the mistakes." Carrie Ann and Baz also acknowledged the many bum moves, but both fixated on the "wonderful self-revelation" Kelly seems to be experiencing on the floor.
Kathy Ireland & Tony Dovolani: What was that music?! That version of "Shall We Dance" from The King & I could have sucked the wind out of any quickstep, least of all this entirely mediocre one. "You can't dance the quickstep two miles apart!" Bruno chastised the pair. True, Tony looks as if he's leading his tall, fragile aunt around the floor—and Kathy really is too hot to be giving off that vibe. "You're elegant, beautiful to look at, but you have to be engaging," entreated Bruno.
Mark Dacascos & Lacey Schwimmer: Mark be nimble, Mark be quick! He slipped to start things off—oops!—but rebounded tremendously as he went toe to toe and leap to leap with Lacey in a somewhat frantic, yet ultimately satisfying, quickstep. As an Iron Chef judge might say, some of the flavors didn't meld together but the presentation was beautiful. "What a great performer!" Bruno exclaimed. "If you could only get your feet under control..."
Mya & Dmitry Chaplin: Dmitry appeared to be wearing Mark Ballas' pants, minus a few inches, but whatever—what a jive! It had great bounce, great tricks and a great pair of legs—Mya's, not Dmitry's—pulling it all off. Len wasn't there to castigate them for the theatrical opening seconds—and you know the director of Strictly Ballroom wasn't going to quibble with a little scene-setting. "Claiming the dance, making it your own...that was a fantastic thing to see," raved the Australian filmmaker.
Tom DeLay & Cheryl Burke: It's OK, the ex-congressman is fine! Despite what looked like a debilitating wrong step at the end of their tango, the 62-year-old Texan picked himself up and maintained the integrity of the performance until the end. "Distinguished, determined...but it went to pieces," lamented Bruno.
Donny Osmond & Kym Johnson: Can Donny do the jive every week, please? The guy's just fun. Whatever he was struggling with in rehearsal fell by the wayside and he was spot-on every step of the way. "That was well pitched, well executed—you played it just right," Bruno said approvingly. "I think it's fantastic that dance knows no age," Baz said appreciatively. "This is why the name Osmond carries so much weight in this business," added Carrie Ann. "That was an amazing performance."
So...Kelly didn't hold up her end of the bargain this week (the bargain being, she does amazingly every time and makes her parents wail with happiness), but we think she'll come roaring back next Monday.
Meanwhile, Aaron broke out of the pack, Mya proved she's the most effortlessly fabulous of the bunch, and Donny again successfully straddled the line between dancing and showmanship.
Here's how the leaderboard stacked up:
Aaron & Karina: 27
Mya & Dmitry: 27
Donny & Kym: 25
Debi & Maks: 21
Mark & Lacey: 21
Natalie & Alec: 21
Joanna & Derek: 20
Michael & Anna D.: 20
Chuck & Anna T.: 19
Louie & Chelsie: 19
Kelly & Louis: 19
Melissa & Mark: 19
Kathy & Tony: 18
Tom & Cheryl: 18
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