Previously on Dancing with the Stars: After the week’s second performance show, Danelle Umstead was eliminated, proving that being inspirational as hell can’t overcome a lack of name recognition. Also, maybe if she’d struggled a little more, people would have latched on to the narrative, but it turned out to be “hey, the blind lady is surprisingly good at dancing”.
Apologies that this is late – Myndi and I each thought the other was planning on covering this episode and forgot to check in. Pobody’s nerfect, you know?
It’s Memorable Years night which means at least a couple of people will discuss something unbelievably tragic.
I’m going to keep it kind of short this time, since it’s already late and I’m wracked with guilt. Let’s get to it!
Mary Lou Retton and Sasha Farber (24/30) – Her year is 1984, because if you win a gold medal, that’s your most memorable year. We learn that there were concerns about her knee right up to the last minute (in ’84, not tonight). They’re doing a Viennese Waltz to “We are the Champions” and it’s very good. It’s not super exciting but the technique is great. I feel like maybe the dance could tie in to her story a little more, but that’s just a nitpick. The judges are positive but not rapturously so. Nobody stands up and screams or cries or anything. Carrie Ann cries a little, but not much more than her baseline. It’s a solid 24.
Milo Manheim and Witney Carson (27/30) – His most memorable year is 2018 because he doesn’t know that many years. And they’re dancing a Jive, so it’s an uphill battle. It’s well choreographed with some nice moves, but I so rarely enjoy a Jive. He does a backflip off the judge’s table, though. That’s pretty sweet. Bruno is all charged up because somebody did a backflip off his table. That would be fun to see once you know for sure they didn’t bust their fool head open. He gets a 27.
Nancy McKeon and Val Chmerkovskiy (22/30) – Her most memorable year is 2006, the year her family was complete. I guess she had kids that year? They don’t come out and say what happened that year and I wonder if there’s some backstory that I should know. It’s a Rumba and it’s nice but has that wedding feel to it. Know what I mean? The choreography has the feel of people who worked very hard to prepare a wedding dance and they did a good job, but they’re also just regular people so it’s not going viral or anything. The judges like but Len wants more hip action and compliments Val on his judging in the Juniors show. It’s a 22.
Alexis Ren and Alan Bersten (26/30) – Her year is 2014, which is the year her mother died of cancer. It’s a very sad story and I don’t want to seem disrespectful by, like, recapping a tragedy so let’s just let it be. The musical choice of “How to Save a Life” is maybe a little insensitive, but that wasn’t my call. They’re doing contemporary which is a perfect fit because it allows for some more interpretive elements. It’s really lovely and affecting and I hope you’re all fighting back tears. Len actually picks at some footwork and Carrie Ann is holding it together so much better than I would have guessed. She gets a 26.
Evanna Lynch and Keo Motsepe (27/30) – Her most memorable year is 2006 because she’s friends with Nancy McKeon’s kids. No. It’s the year she was cast in a Harry Potter movie. (I don’t know which one. I don’t know Harry Potter stuff.) She says that when she was a kid she suffered from an eating disorder and it was only being pen pals with J.K. Rowling that got her through it. That’s very sweet. They’re doing a Viennese Waltz to what Wikipedia tells me is “Hedwig’s Theme” and I thought it would be from Hedwig and the Angry Inch, but apparently that’s a Harry Potter thing. Look, I know all the Clayfaces in order and I can do Usidore the Blue’s introduction off the dome. I can’t keep track of everything. I was so busy trying to figure out this Hedwig thing that I missed most of the dance. I’m bad at this. The judges like it a lot, so I assume it was very good. It’s a 27.
Joe Amabile and Jenna Johnson (18/30) – His most memorable year is this year because people pointed cameras at him. I’m never going to care about this guy. They do a Viennese Waltz and the camera focuses more on the singers performing the song than on the dancers, which means this can’t possibly be good. It’s nothing special and it feels like he’s squatting the whole time. Carrie Ann says it’s hard to judge him because he’s trying hard. Since when has effort been a factor? Are the judges supposed to pump him up because he’s part of the ABC reality show family? It’s an 18.
Juan Pablo Di Pace and Cheryl Burke (30/30) – He picks 1999, the year he moved to America to become an entertainer. They are doing a Samba and it is rad. He’s nailing some complicated choreography and this does not look like a Week Three dance. It’s so good and the audience goes nuts. The judges love it and they get the earliest perfect score in the show’s history. Awesome!
John Schneider and Emma Slater (21/30) – John tells us that he lost everything in 2016 – a flood washed away his house but he got closer to his girlfriend and then his mom died and this story is a rollercoaster. They’re doing a Waltz and it’s emotionally evocative but they’re letting the song do a lot of the work. As a dance it’s fine but not outstanding or especially memorable. They’ve been pumping up John, but I think there’s a limit to how good he’s going to get. The judges mostly talk about him being a nice man rather than his dancing. It’s 21.
Bobby Bones and Sharna Burgess (23/30) – His year is 1998, when he was the first person in his family to graduate from high school. That inspired his mom to get her GED and it’s weird to see him express an emotion beyond hyperactivity. The song is “A Million Dreams” from The Greatest Showman and I still love that movie. Don’t judge me. It’s the song that kids sing, so that’s a bit of a bummer. It’s another Contemporary dance and I feel like it strays a little too far into the interpretive realm to the extent that they’re not letting the dance speak for itself. Len says it’s his best dance yet and Bobby ends up with a 23.
Tinashe and Brandon Armstrong (27/30) – Her most memorable year is 2014 because that was the year both Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy came out. Nope. That was the year her first album came out and she’s actually going to dance to one of her own songs, which always feels weird. But then, most of my songs are dog-themed versions of eighties and nineties hits that I sing when I’m feeding the dogs. You know like singing “Dog Food” to the tune of “Love Shack”. They’re not popular songs, but I keep plugging away. It’s a Rumba, and it’s solid. She’s very talented but she’s not clicking in a way where I get excited about her performances. That may be in part because I don’t know who she is and her partner’s a first-timer so I’m not bringing anything to the table myself. Len says it’s her best dance and the others are similarly impressed but in weird ways. It’s a 27!
DeMarcus Ware and Lindsay Arnold (26/30) – His year is 2016, when he won the Super Bowl. Yeah, that’s another good landmark. They’re doing an Argentine Tango, which is one of my favorites. It’s great. Maybe not as much drive as I like to see, but what they’re doing fits the music. There are some really beautiful poses and an excellent lift. It’s a good way to close out the show! The judges love it. It’s a strong 26.
Results! Nancy and Val are in jeopardy. So are Tinashe and Brandon. Wow, that’s surprising. Unfortunately it also means Nancy and Val are definitely out, right? Sure enough, Nancy McKeon is eliminated. And yet, Grocery Store Joe still walks among us.
Next week, Myndi will be here for Trios!