Previously on Dancing with the Stars: Nikki Glaser was the first one eliminated and I feel like, you, the voting public really dropped the ball there. You’re really going to have to make it up to me.
It’s New York City Week and I was going to jokingly suggest a weird song, but there aren’t really any New York songs I particularly like. I have no beef with the city, just the musicians I like didn’t make songs about it. There’s a long opening number that goes all over the studio and leaves a taxi on the stage. Tom and Erin do not mess around and kick it immediately to the first dance.
DeMarcus Ware and Lindsay Arnold – (24/30) Did I type “DeMarcus Tillman” first? Yes. Yes I did. The most notable thing about the rehearsal video is that DeMarcus calls himself “a chocolate piece of steel”, and that’s pretty rad. They’re doing the FoxTrot and it stats out pretty much by-the-numbers. If he’s not doing something exciting, it looks like a dance recital. But it picks up near the end with some really nice kicks and it feels like he’s very much in control after only two weeks. He’s good!
Len is impressed with his footwork and only has an issue with his left arm. Well, that’s the evil one. Bruno says it looks like he’s been dancing all his life. Carrie Ann says that the others said it all. What a copout! It’s a 24!
Tom Bergeron checks in with Mark Ballas, who’s doing Kinky Boots on Broadway. It appears to be a Skype call because he cuts out a lot, but hey, Mark!
Danelle Umstead and Artem Chigvintsev (18/30) – She really seems to be struggling in rehearsal, but also not as much as you’d expect a blind person learning ballroom dancing to struggle. They incorporate her walking stick into their Cha Cha and at one point she tosses it to Artem and for just a second I thought he was going to throw it back and I would have freaked out if she caught it, Daredevil-style. The dance itself is better than it should be but it seems a little unfinished. It’s so hard to say anything about her performances because the fact that they’re even happening is bonkers.
Bruno respects what she’s doing and her confidence, but notes that sometimes she used the wrong foot, but she recovered. Carrie Ann loves her radiance and confidence, but she’s also counting steps with her mouth. She gets an 18.
John Schneider and Emma Slater (23/30) – John is from Westchester County in New York. He grew up near Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Students! They’re doing a Charleston and it’s staged kind of like a Broadway number, but the old school kind where everybody in an office starts dancing and does these big broad moves. It’s kind of hard to focus on them as a pair with the backup dancers and all the props, but it’s dumb and fun. The Charleston is a silly dance no matter what you do with it, so you might as well lean into it.
Carrie Ann calls it “polished and professional”. She calls him the greatest showman, and we all know that’s Hugh Jackman. Len didn’t think there was enough Charleston in there. Bruno talks about the Rockettes. Finally. Something for daddy. It’s a 23!
Nancy McKeon and Val Chmerkovskiy (21/30) – Nancy finds out she has a fracture in her foot from a guy who has an X-Ray on his phone. It seems very back alley. They’re doing a Cha Cha to “Uptown Girl” and you can kinda tell something’s off. Val is running a lot of interference and there are long stretchers where Nancy’s feet stay still. The audience likes it, but it’s definitely somebody with a bad foot.
Len says she looks confident and was impressed at some of the steps they incorporated. Bruno talks a lot about her attitude. A lot. Carrie Ann says she was a little tentative but she eventually opened up. They get a 21.
Alexis Ren and Alan Bersten (25/30) – They’re doing a Swan Lake themed Argentine Tango and the New York connection is tangential at best. They talk a lot about ballet and it mostly makes me think about how weird that miniseries Flesh and Bone was. It’s very good except for those moments where it isn’t. Her breakaway tutu doesn’t break away, which leads to several seconds of awkward posing while Alan tries to deal with it. That aside, I really enjoyed it.
Bruno says “sensuality” in such an odd way that I can’t focus on anything else he says. Carrie Ann didn’t like a lift (even though it’s allowed in this style) but says they nailed everything else. Len didn’t expect to like it but says it turned out to be the best dance of the season so far. It’s a 25, which includes a 9 from Len!
Joe Amabile and Jenna Johnson (17/30) – I actively resent Joe for outlasting Nikki and for being from the Bachelor franchise. His girlfriend comes to practice and I’m not sure why. When they start their Foxtrot, Joe is not dancing much. There is so little footwork and they clearly put everything into a big twirl, but this dude was just standing for 75% of his stage time.
Carrie Ann says he was transformed this week and then complains but in an enthusiastic voice. Len says it was refreshing, Bruno says he hit some nice lines. I’m not buying any of this. He gets a 17.
Tinashe and Brandon Armstrong (26/30) – They have a lot of lift trouble in rehearsal. That’s about it. It’s an Argentine Tango and I really don’t like the staging – it’s blacked out and there are people dancing in scaffolding and I’m just having a really negative reaction. Also, the lack of light makes it genuinely hard to say anything about the dance. It’s weird and I wish I could see a version in normal light.
Len says the lifts were spectacular but thinks they got away from the heart of the dance. Bruno compares the dance to Barbarella and I really think he considers that a compliment. Carrie Ann says “work” a bunch of times. They have better dark vision than I do. 26!
Milo Manheim and Witney Carson (26/30) – Oh, it’s another Charleston. Milo talks about being in an off-Broadway show. Thanks, Milo! It’s an elaborate subway-themed (the conveyance, not the sandwich chain) number and I actually think his footwork is off in the beginning. There’s something about his posture that makes it seem like he’s dancing ironically. I can’t explain it, but it feels like he’s doing a bit. I don’t have a lot of insight tonight, and I apologize for that.
Bruno says Milo never ceases to amaze him. Carrie Ann says it was ridiculously good. Len compares Milo to the city of New York and I think he calls Tom Bergeron “John”. It’s another 26.
Mary Lou Retton and Sasha Farber (22/30) – Wow, they’re doing a Waltz to “Natural Woman” which is a New York song because there’s a Carole King jukebox musical on Broadway at the moment. Guys, it’s not that hard to get actual New York songs. Their dance is maybe a little careful – like, it’s exactly what you would picture from a Waltz and only that. But the execution is really good.
Carrie Ann says Mary Lou opened up halfway through, which is the second time she’s given that critique tonight. Man, more than ten dances in a show can be exhausting. Len says it was lovely. Bruno says she embraced the music and it was inspired. Also he saw the Carole King musical twice. She gets a 22.
Juan Pablo Di Pace and Cheryl Burke (26/30) – I keep forgetting that Fuller House is a thing and whenever somebody mentions it, I think it’s a joke. It’s a real thing! He get a pain in his arm and Cheryl tells him to suck it up and then bullies him. She’s tough. It’s a Quickstep and it’s pretty good. It’s genuinely quick and has some really nice runs. It was really fun!
Len calls it “joyful” and tells him to work on his frame. Bruno says it was a smash hit and talks a lot about Broadway. Carrie Ann agrees with Len but says it’s one of her new favorite Quicksteps. Its a 26.
Evanna Lynch and Keo Motsepe (24/30) – Myndi is right – Evanna is very pale. And this is coming from me! They’re specifically trying to win Len over this week. It’s a Samba and starts with a solo section that’s fairly striking. I like this dance quite a bit but it seems like she’s lagging as it goes on. That may be me just misreading what I’m seeing but overall I thought it was very good.
Bruno raves about the performance. Carrie Ann is excited and semi-coherent. Len calls it a proper Samba, which is high praise from him. They get a 24.
Bobby Bones and Sharna Burgess (20/30) – Bobby is the human personification of the concept “a bit much”. Also, I think Sharna is just crazy attractive but she wears a hat in part of the rehearsal video that even she can’t pull off. We’re wrapping things up with a Foxtrot to the Sinatra song. I’m surprised at how well he does with a dance style that’s a little more restrained. No running around like a lunatic this week! It’s actually just a solid dance but he makes crazy faces. And he twitches around at the end and I can’t tell if Sharna thinks it’s hilarious or if she wants to kill him.
Carrie Ann calls him “authentically joyous”. Len and Bruno have to blaze through because we’re almost out of time and they kind of both settle on “weird but good” and we get a 20.
OK, Myndi will bring you tomorrow’s show. It’s not clear whether it’s going to have everybody dancing or just the people who are in jeopardy, but I think it’s the latter since they have a lot of DWTS Juniors to promote. And now I have to watch Better Call Saul!