Two weeks until the "Dancing With The Stars" finale and boy are things heating up! Our first perfect score! A brawl between the judges!
This round, the six remaining couples have been challenged to learn two complete routines; one solo dance in the ballroom style, and another one with an added professional in a "trio" competition.
From what we see in the rehearsal footage, tension is high during these practice sessions. And it looks especially tense for the dancers who have spent the most time at the bottom of the judge's scoreboard: Sean Lowe and Ingo Rademacher.
Here's a rundown of the night's cumulative scores, from highest to lowest:
Zendaya and Val Chmerkovskiy - 28 out of 30 for their Foxtrot / 30 out of 30 for their Salsa trio / Total = 58 out of 60
Zendaya looks every bit a Disney princess in her colorful dress for this flowy Foxtrot. She and Val Chmerkovskiy perform to "Don't Worry, Be Happy" and they seem to embody the words of the song. Len Goodman praised Val's choreography and told Zendaya she gets stronger every week; and Bruno Tonioli called her performance graceful, light and a breath of fresh air.
For her second dance, Zendaya did a trio Salsa with Val and Gleb. I felt sorry for everyone else who has to follow because these three showed just how it's supposed to be done: She's the focus, and they are there to support her, completely in sync. She looked every bit as much a "pro" as the guys. Len called them a great team; Bruno said their salsa was sizzling and dazzling.
Aly Raisman and Mark Ballas - 29 out of 30 for their Argentine Tango / 27 out of 30 for their Jive trio / Total = 56 out of 60
Aly's maturity throughout this competition shines through in her first dance, the Argentine Tango. Mark Ballas asks her to dig deep and find her inner sex kitten seductress. She giggles; but only during rehearsal. Aly is completely focused during the performance and nails the dance. Carrie Ann Inaba is thrilled with her transformation; Len called the dance smooth and seductive; and Bruno told her he had no idea she could be so good at being bad.
Troupe member Henry joined in for the Jive in the trio routine (he filled in for Mark during rehearsal last week when Mark was hurt). The two pro dancers have fun teasing Aly about her inability to count and keep on the beat. But you can tell they are having fun and pull off a sharp, fast moving routine. Again, the judges praise Aly's growth, versatility, consistency and confidence.
Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough - 28 out of 30 for their Viennese Waltz / 27 out of 30 for their Paso Doble trio / Total = 55 out of 60
Kellie has been at or near the top just about every week of the competition. Carrie Ann pointed out her one minor flaw last week; that she sometimes seems to lack an emotional connection to the dance. Kellie is determined to fix that problem this week.
Derek encourages her to dig deep for those emotions; she immediately thinks of her late Grandma and the tears flow! Kellie's learning it's okay to let her walls down every now and then, especially on the dance floor. Bruno called her Queen of the Viennese Waltz; Carrie Ann thanked her for bringing the emotion; and Len said the dance was lyrical and lovely.
The biggest controversy of the night ... maybe of the season ... happened with Kellie's trio. She and Derek danced a dramatic Paso Doble with Tristan MacManus. The men do their best to bring out Kellie's inner lioness but fear she is really just a kitten with only a purr and not much of a roar. Derek's choreography tied the second dance into the first ... an angel/devil, fire/ice type of thing.
Carrie Ann and Bruno loved it and each gave a "10." Len argued that it was more flashing lights and hodge-podge than real dancing and told Derek he'd let him down. Cue the booing not just from the audience but from Carrie Ann and Bruno as well!
Jacoby Jones and Karina Smirnoff - 27 out of 30 for their Viennese Waltz / 25 out of 30 for their Paso Doble trio / Total = 52 out of 60
There's a third player in Jacoby's partnership with Karina Smirnoff: His adorable Mom. She comes to rehearsal as part of team Jacoby and warns Len that he should ease up on her baby boy. Jacoby's had great luck with the fast and rhythmic dances where he gets to use his speed and his hips; who knew he could nail a Viennese Waltz too? He also knew how to play to his audience when he popped open all the buttons on his shirt.
Carrie Ann had to fan herself a bit after that, but she gathered herself and called the dance smooth and stunning. Len asked Mom what she thought; of course she loved it, and Len said he did too!
Jacoby channeled his inner bullfighter for a rousing Paso Doble trio with Karina and Cheryl Burke. He's all testosterone for this routine, flinging those "capes" all around the dance floor. And in true Jacoby form, we get a DOUBLE jump over the ladies, PLUS and slide under them both! Len and Carrie Ann praise his presence in the ballroom, with Len adding that he moved into "contender" status this week.
Ingo Rademacher and Kym Johnson - 24 out of 30 for their Foxtrot / 24 out of 30 for their Jive trio / Total = 58 out of 60
This week is bound to be a throw down between Ingo and Sean and their pro partners know it. Kym Johnson gets as tough as we've ever seen her when trying to whip Ingo into shape. But poor guy is beyond exhausted and I can't imagine how much his feet hurt.
After a rocky couple of days at rehearsal, Ingo breaks through and performs a fine Foxtrot. Bruno thought he had channeled a bit of Fred Astaire (with a little Fred Flintstone mixed in); Carrie Ann believed Ingo should be compared to Gene Kelly.
Lindsay Arnold joins in for the trio number and it's a Jive with the movie theme of "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes." Ingo finally looks like he's having fun! Bruno said he looked like a kid in a candy store; Carrie Ann said he brought the heart and fun we'd seen previously from Andy Dick.
Sean Lowe and Peta Murgatroyd - 21 out of 30 for their Tango / 21 out of 30 for their Jazz trio / Total = 42 out of 60
Peta Murgatroyd tells Sean in no uncertain terms that they need to focus on beating Ingo. It was nice to hear her say out loud what everyone else is thinking. The two perform a Tango to Katy Perry's "Hot N Cold" with a runaway groom/wedding theme? get it, because he's the bachelor! The dance is clunkier than it should be at this point in the competition and the judges tell Sean it seems he's taken a step backwards instead of moving ahead.
Round two didn't fare much better for Sean. He and Peta invited Sharna in for a Jazz trio. I kept thinking of the kid's song "One of these things is not like the other" Bruno told Sean his performance level was there but his feet were a jumble; Carrie Ann agreed; and Len said while he was attacking the dance he lost its style.
Another couple goes home Tuesday night; who will it be?