It's the round when things get really personal for the celebrities on "Dancing with the Stars." This marks the first of many different theme nights; this one, "The Most Memorable Year of My Life." Bring out the Kleenex! We have long lost daughters, the beginnings of careers, idols, immigration, lost loved ones, medical scares...and tears, tears, and more tears!
Here's a recap, from the highest score, to the lowest:
Katherine Jenkins and Mark Ballas - 29 out of 30
And once again we start with classical singer Katherine Jenkins! Katherine seems to be as surprised as anyone by her success. She never thought of herself as a dancer; she was wrong. Her emotional memory came from 1996 when her father was diagnosed with lung cancer. She tearfully remembered his final days, and was thankful that even as a young teen, she was able to say goodbye to him. Mark Ballas choreographed a lyrical and elegant waltz that the judges loved. First 10's of the season!
William Levy and Cheryl Burke - 28 out of 30
Let's check how many people play this dance back on the DVR's. At one hour, forty three minutes, and forty seconds into the show: William's shirt flies open! Cheryl promised she'd have her partner show more skin as the weeks progressed, and this week she delivered. The best part is this show of skin totally fit into the choreography of this salsa. William paid tribute to his family, and his Cuban roots, with this dance, and his most memorable year was 1995, when they came to the United States. He shared a great memory of seeing, and eating, an apple for the first time; reminds us how lucky we are!
Maria Menounos and Derek Hough - 27 out of 30
Things get steamy with Maria and Derek this week! The two danced a Rumba that is hands down the most sensuous Rumba of the show. Ever. Derek choreographed a dance to a much slowed down version of Madonna's "Material Girl" and it can only be described as unique, sexy, sultry and hot. Maria's personal story got a little lost... something about this being a song she danced around to as a kid. She did pay a nice tribute to her immigrant parents, who were janitors in Boston, and somehow tied in the Madonna song to going with them to work. No matter. She danced like a dream.
Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd - 26 out of 30
There's something about a big tough football player showing so much emotion that just gets you! Donald lost his best friend to cancer in 2010 and you could tell how much he still misses him. Donald said the big loss in his life did teach him a big lesson... to cherish every moment we have. He certainly seems to be doing that with DWTS. His partner Peta choreographed a rumba to a Mariah Carey song, and during rehearsal, Donald said he wasn't sure he could get through the dance because of his emotions. On "game day", he did, and through her own tears Carrie Ann said she was truly touched by his routine.
Roshon Fegan and Chelsie Hightower - 25 out of 30
Maria loves Madonna; Roshon loves Michael Jackson. His memorable year was 1996, which is when the very young boy discovered his entertainment idol. Chelsie brought in one of MJ's choreographers, Travis Payne, to help out. You can tell that Roshon is in heaven, no matter what happens in the ballroom or with the judges. They dance a samba to the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back," and the judges called it exuberant, innovative and a great tribute to Michael. They also said it wasn't quite a samba, more samba-esque, with a lot of MJ's moves.
Jaleel White and Kym Johnson -25 out of 30
Jaleel says he wants to leave "Urkel" behind but he keeps bringing his infamous TV character back into the conversation. Although this week he was actually channeling his primary TV alter ego's alter ego (got that?).. "Stefan Urquelle." Kym's goal was to infuse sexiness into Jaleel's rumba and the judge's were pleased. Len complimented his hips, but warned him to not forget about his upper body.
Jack Wagner and Anna Trebunskaya -24 out of 30
Jack chose just last year as his "most memorable" because of something he gained: a grown daughter. IN 2011, a 23-year-old woman introduced herself to him after a concert, and sure enough, he's her Dad. Jack saw the reunion as a celebration of life, and so he chose to samba to a song of his own, titled "Celebration." The judges were all pleased with Jack's progression in the competition, with Carrie Ann calling him effervescent and Len calling this is best dance yet.
Gladys Knight and Tristan MacManus -24 out of 30
Gladys continues to amaze me with her moves. You see how physically demanding this show is; Maria broke ribs for goodness sakes. And here's a 67 year old going toe to toe with the kids. Her memorable year was 1957, the first time she went out on tour with the "Pips." Sam Cooke was also on that tour, and he taught her a lot about performing. So it was fitting that she chose a Cooke song, "Cupid," for her foxtrot. The judges showered her with praise for her improvement, and Len asked if he could please be a "Pip!"
Gavin DeGraw and Karina Smirnoff -24 out of 30
Like Gladys, the singer also harkened back to his earliest days as a performer. He remembered going to a concert as a young man, seeing Billy Joel, and boom that was it! Gavin got very emotional thinking about how his family never wavered from supporting his dreams. Karina choreographed a rumba that suited Gavin to a "T". Bruno was thrilled to see him finally move his hips; Len likes that he sees progression; and Carrie Ann said she has a touch of Gavin Fever!
Sherri Shepherd and Valentin Chmerkovskiy -24 out of 30
The only thing Sherri loves more than making people laugh is her little boy Jeffrey. Anyone who watches "The View" knows how devoted she is to her son. So he's not just a part of her memorable year, he's the entire story. Jeffrey was born 14 weeks early and had a very precarious time as a preemie. Sherri looks at him as a miracle, and a reason to live life to its fullest. Val choreographed a slow and sexy rumba and the judges love that she was able to show a different side to her vivacious and exuberant self.
Melissa Gilbert and Maksim Chmerkovskiy -24 out of 30
It's pretty eye opening what you learn about people on this show. Apparently, in 2010 Melissa Gilbert broke her back while she was performing in a musical, and had to undergo a pretty rough surgery, and even rougher post-op. She used a walker! She didn't know if she'd be able to walk without aid! And here not only is she dancing, she's dancing with Maks! Melissa chose the appropriate song by Florence and the Machine, "The Dog Days are Over", and for the first time in the competition, she seemed to be enjoying herself. The judges gave her their best reviews to date.
It's a tight competition - who goes home Tuesday night?