Double the dancing, double the fun? Or double the torture?
With only five celebs left on Dancing With the Stars, it was time for each couple to learn two routines apiece. First, the ballroom round, and then themed Latin dances, with each couple picking an era (i.e., '50s paso doble) out of a hat.
All was well—better than usual, in fact!—on the Pussy Cat Doll front, but how did her four remaining competitors fare, none of them as multifaceted as she when it comes to both ballroom and Latin styles?
Chad Ochocinco & Cheryl Burke
Tango: The pair can't help but look a little awkward on the floor because of the height difference, but Chad's posture was pretty funky this time, his shoulders hunched forward and elbows askew. Credit to Cheryl, though, for turning the big, strapping football player into a dancing machine. Len Goodman pointed out how hard it is to learn two dances at once, perfectly, and said this tango "needed more polish and refinement." "The footwork, frame and hold went a bit," lamented Bruno Tonioli.
Score: 21 (Not too great for the final five.)
'60s Jive: When Chad actually did those fun, bouncy jive steps, they were great. But there weren't nearly enough for our increasingly fusty taste! His energy and rhythm were great, but he stiffened up a couple times, causing minuscule stumbles. "The few kicks you did do were terrible," commented Len, who didn't mind that there weren't more of them.
Niecy Nash & Louis van Amstel
Viennese Waltz: Niecy looked lovely in a gown evocative of Peaches 'n' Cream Barbie back in the day. And for the most part, her waltz showed that we girls can do anything. But her rise and fall was a little pronounced and a few of her transition steps were of the toddler-tiptoeing variety. As always, however, her personality was a 10. When she swung her arms, "it looked like you were chased by a swarm of wasps—a tiny little thing in an otherwise good performance!" Bruno said, his voice rising as the audience booed heartily.
'90s Paso Doble: What does that even mean?! Like the running man 'n' stuff? Well, we're not sure where the 1990s were in this routine, minus the song "Rhythm Is a Dancer," but it didn't matter because the spirit of the paso doble was missing too. Carrie Ann Inaba put it perfectly when she said the "balance of power between [them] was out of whack."
Erin Andrews & Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Argentine Tango: She did the lift, and it was good. But even before Erin bravely leaped off the steps and onto Maks, her right leg curled over his shoulder, we knew this was going to be a good dance for the duo. Carrie Ann Inaba called her legs "phenomenal" and praised how committed she was to her lady-of-the-night character. "I absolutely loved it!" Len raved for a change before hoisting his "10" paddle for only the second time this season. "[Maks], you're a lucky fire hydrant," Bruno teased, referring to Erin's earlier comment about feeling as if she was "humping a fire hydrant." "You were on fire!" he told the ascendant star.
'80s Rumba: What, no Robot?! Oh well, Maks, clad in Miami Vice's finest, must have suffered a creative block. Erin's awkwardness when not in hold was magnified in the slow, pose-heavy rumba, but she did a great job looking sexy in leggings and an off-the-shoulder T-shirt. Carrie Ann reminded Erin that there's no need to doubt herself, that she dances beautifully. "The whole thing was jerky," Len observed, but Bruno thought they "made great music together."
Evan Lysacek & Anna Trebunskaya
Waltz: Get past the wretched cover of Journey's "Open Arms," and you get a really beautiful performance. (Vera Wang and Kim Kardashian, sitting together in the audience, seemed to love it.) It's still near-impossible to separate Evan the Dancer from Evan the Skater—but in the waltz, that doesn't really matter, because it's all about beautiful lines, extension and grace. "I'm not sure if I liked it or not," Len said fussily, largely referring to the Romeo-and-Juliet-awaken bit at the beginning. "Your lyrical lines are really something to behold," Bruno said. "Impeccable," Carrie Ann called those lines, but she doesn't know if he's been able to truly lose himself in the moment yet.
Score: 27 (Len liked it just fine.)
Futuristic Cha-Cha: How fun! Interestingly, the futuristic theme allowed the unbouncy Evan to get away with being stiff-as-usual in the Latin round. So in this case, "slightly mechanical" was a compliment! Carrie Ann and Len differed in response to the apparent "luck" Evan had in getting a futuristic dance. Carrie Ann thought it worked well, Len was "confused." "Mr. Spock meets Barbarella!" pronounced Bruno, stealing the show.
Nicole Scherzinger & Derek Hough
Fox-Trot: The most fun fox-trot we've ever seen on this show. Derek added just enough backstory to make it interesting, Michael Bublé's "Haven't Met You Yet" helped, and the dancing was spot-on. "One-half minute of pure dancing joy," raved Bruno. "The "lack of body contact" in hold "spoiled it a bit" for Len (it spoiled their otherwise perfect score, too). But Carrie Ann was all over it, her imagination both dazzled and defied.
'50s Paso Doble: Well, if anyone was going to make that combo come together, it was Derek. He did a greaser, James Dean thing, and she channeled Dorothy Dandridge for a hot routine that, if you didn't take the concept too literally, totally worked. "I was very nice about your fox-trot, and it's not in my nature to be nice about two dances," Len informed Nicole. "So I was disappointed that there was nothing I could see to criticize."
Score: 30 (Their first.)
Here's a rundown of the leaderboard:
Nicole & Derek: 59
Erin & Maks: 53
Evan & Anna: 53
Chad & Cheryl: 45
Niecy & Louis: 43
The Gypsy Kings perform Tuesday and one of these decade-defying stars will be eliminated. Whose turn do you think it is to go home?
She's not doing a '50s paso doble, but we think Lady Gaga looks pretty hot in our Big Picture gallery.