Week eight of "Dancing with the Stars" begins with six couples doing the ballroom battle ... and ends with us saying goodbye to another star (Find out who was ELIMINATED here.)
Each pair danced an individual routine (in a genre that they had not previously done before); and then they were paired off for the "let's make up a new dance each week" competition. The celebrity dance duel or the duel dance? It kept changing. Either way, doesn't it seem like sometimes they are making things up as they go along?
Guest judge Abby Lee Miller from "Dance Moms" added some extra fireworks to the panel. Abby to head judge Len Goodman: "I'm happy someone else is mean!"
Here are the scores, from highest to lowest, including individual dance and team dance:
Amy Purdy and Derek Hough -- 40 out of 40 points / 39 out of 40 points for the celebrity dance duel = 79 out of 80 total points.
It's tough when the montage from last week shows a painful moment like Amy went through last week. Her back and shoulders went into spasm and she could not breathe. The doctors checked her out, and with therapy and manipulation, she was given the green light to continue. Once again, Derek Hough choreographed an innovative and amazing Argentine Tango routine involving Amy and a stool. Check out YouTube, you won't be disappointed.
Len asked that if he's dreaming, don't wake him up; Carrie Ann Inaba told the couple after 18 seasons she'd thought she'd seen it all but this routine got her excited about dance again; Bruno said he was spellbound; and Abby applauded Derek for taking risks, pushing the envelope, and focusing on making Amy look incredible.
Amy did the duel dance with James Maslow ... a Jive. He seemed (naturally) tentative about handling her but did a masterful job. The judges praised both couples and thought they all looked like pros.
Charlie White and Sharna Burgess -- 40 out of 40 points / 38 out of 40 points for the celebrity dance duel = 78 out of 80 total points.
Charlie finally got his perfect score! It looked like he was feeling left in the cooler by his skating partner, Meryl. But Charlie and Sharna Burgess had the right dance, and were in the right head space, to find perfection for their Quickstep. Maybe it was the hug Charlie got from his Mom, who came to bring the love from Michigan.
Len started the scoring off in an odd way; he just said "I'll tell you later." And a few minutes later, he gave them a "10." Bruno thought he came out of the gate like a thoroughbred at the Kentucky Derby; Carrie Ann said the couple has moved beyond their past missteps; and Abby Lee praised his musicality, but wanted Charlie to slick back his hair.
Charlie was paired with Candace for the duel ... a Contemporary routine. It fit both of their styles to a "T," with Bruno saying they were made for each other.
James Maslow and Peta Murgatroyd -- 36 out of 40 points / 39 out of 40 points for the celebrity dance duel = 75 out of 80 total points.
James appears a little frustrated and a little discouraged by his leader board standing these past few weeks but Peta Murgatroyd gives him the good advice to just focus on the joy of it all and (my words) "let it go." His pals from his band "Big Time Rush" stop by rehearsal and, of course, make a wisecrack about the fact that these two seem like they are a real couple. Their dance this week is the Viennese Waltz and it suits James' body type very well.
Len said he love the free flowing movement, but also criticized his legs and butt. Carrie Ann likes that he can easily switch from a sexy dance to being charming and elegant. His duel Jive with Amy looked risky in rehearsal, and dynamite on the dance floor. When they did the partner switch and James danced with Amy, Abby said he stepped into Derek's shoes beautifully. High praise indeed!
Candace Cameron Bure and Mark Ballas -- 36 out of 40 points / 38 out of 40 points for the celebrity dance duel = 74 out of 80 total points.
Candace has a burst of enthusiasm and confidence following last week's results and judge's comments. She said out loud to Mark Ballas that she wants to make the finals. Mark choreographed a fun Foxtrot. He also offered praise to his partner because she works hard with him and then goes home to the toughest job in the world: being a Mom.
Carrie Ann thought she saw a breakthrough in Candace's mind and spirit; Len called the dance bright, fun and joyful; Bruno praised her progress in the competition; and then Abby confused us all, at first, when she told Mark he should have just left her on the dance floor and quit. Everyone looked puzzled until she clarified by saying "choreographically" (a word I've never used before). But then it made sense; their routine's song had the lyrics "I Quit! I'm Moving On!"
As for the duel with Charlie, Carrie Ann called them an unlikely pairing but they made it look spectacular.
Danica McKellar and Valentin Chmerkovskiy -- 38 out of 40 points / 34 out of 40 points for the celebrity dance duel = 72 out of 80 total points.
Danica is so intense at her rehearsals; or at least, that's what they show us! Val Chmerkovskiy choreographs a Tango that fits her intensity. She believes power and confidence is sexy, so that's what she's channeling. And Val puts in lots of technical content to please Len.
The dance is dark and a bit of a tribute to "Game of Thrones," but the judges all loved the concept. Bruno said he'd be devastated if she is sent home; Len told her she was "on it like a bonnet" (whatever that means); and Carrie Ann thinks this was Danica's moment.
For the duel, it was the Chmerkovskiy brothers and their partners stepping in with a Samba; the rehearsal room got a little heated with all that dance knowledge and testosterone. But what better to cool down two hot Ukrainian men than a visit from Grandma! She was adorable and instantly made the room feel calmer. In the ballroom, Len acknowledged that the Samba is not easy, and praised their content and technique; Carrie Ann and Abby both had minor issues with synchronicity.
Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy -- 36 out of 40 points / 34 out of 40 points for the celebrity dance duel = 70 out of 80 total points.
Maksim Chmerkovskiy does his best to convince Meryl that this the characters in this dance need to be rough and tough and sexy; then she calls him a teddy bear and he melts. These two really do have a cute relationship.
The dance starts with a slap and throwing dishes and then gets into some sexy, fluid moves. Bruno said it was kin to "A Streetcar Named Desire;" Carrie Ann called it mesmerizing but didn't think there was quite enough content; Len agreed but admitted he wanted to watch it again. Abby complained about Meryl's feet; Maks told Erin Andrews he didn't care about anything Abby had to say. Maybe that's why she gave him an "8" for both dances!
Next week: the semi-finals!
Who do you think is going to win this season of "Dancing With The Stars" and who is going home next week? Vote in our poll below!