After last week's double elimination, the Top 9 get down to business with the Viennese Waltz and paso doble. Did anyone put up a good fight? Find out below.
Granted, my exposure to ballroom dancing is limited to this show, but I think my favorite dance is the paso doble, so I'm actually excited for this week. The paso just looks so... awesome. Maybe I have underlying aspirations to be a matador, but who doesn't want to dance with a "bull"? Chelsie told me she might incorporate some cowboy-ness in her and Ty's costumes for the paso (in homage to his related, bull-riding sport), but it doesn't look like they did. Lies!
As an added bonus for all of you, we are featuring fallen Season 8 contestant Nancy O'Dell's take on all the dances and her predictions. If you've frequented the Dancing blog, you may have seen her general thoughts on the season already, but as we get down to the wire, it's time to get more specific too.
Chuck Wicks & Julianne Hough: Viennese Waltz
Julianne wants to push Chuck out of his comfort zone. More girly moves then! Oh, look, it's Barbie and Ken again. I have to say their standard dances kinda make me wanna vomit because of the cuteness. (I'm not jealous.) It's just... overwhelming. The dance is pretty and he's fluid with the sweeping arm extensions, but his footwork's not there. He still just looks good, but not great. This ain't gonna get you into the top 3, man. But if anything, Chuck's costume is perfectly tailored, aka tight as hell. He kinda looks like a gray Gumby. Len thinks he came out of hibernation, but he needs to work on the finesse. Bruno says he's emerging from Julianne's shadow and needs to keep up the confidence. Carrie Ann is gonna be the party pooper, calling out a "questionable lift," and his lack of focus.
Nancy says: I thought he did great. I think he does better than they give him credit for. I think maybe they expect more from him because he and Julianne have more time to practice. I did notice their footsteps were off a little bit, but I thought he compensated so much with the performance. He was just over-exaggerated, which made it look great. He did get good scores. I do think he has the potential to get 9s and 10s. He just hasn't completely let go yet.
Lawrence Taylor & Edyta Sliwinska: Paso Doble
LT equates the paso to watching TV with the sound off. Then turn on closed captioning, duh! I would think the slower pace of the paso would be more of bulky LT's speed, but apparently not so - at least, in rehearsals. On the floor, he's got the dramatic mood down (no surprise), but looks kind of wooden. His footwork's very mechanical, which I think has been his problem all along. Stop thinking about it and just do it! Bruno dubs him the Prince of Darkness (Dracula? Ozzy?), but was disappointed he wasn't into the dance from beginning to end. Carrie Ann thinks he has a limited range of motion, but thinks he used it well. Len was frightened - in a good way. He says it's his best dance yet, even if his skills aren't there.
Nancy says: He's another one I always think is better than they give him credit for, but maybe it's because I want my husband to continue watching with me! He does seem to try hard.
Shawn Johnson & Mark Ballas: Viennese Waltz
Mark wants to mold Shawn into a mini-Kristi. There will only be one Guch, Ballas! The top of Shawn's dress reminds me of Michael Knight's coffee-filter frock from Project Runway. Anyhow, they look gorgeous. Shawn really rocks the standards. It's lyrical, expressive and just so darn sweet. Except for that (scandalous!) almost-kiss. Hey now! Carrie Ann thinks it was beautiful and lets a lift go because it was part of an "artistic finish." Playing favorites? Len doesn't think she stepped forward on her heels as dictated by the dance. Bruno tells her not to worry because she's pretty as a picture, but wants her to keep her shoulders down.
Nancy says: I thought she was gonna get 10s! They looked perfect to me. I didn't notice any screw-ups. I know they were talking about putting your heel down first and I remember Tony telling me that, but it looked flawless. I agree with Carrie Ann about it not being a lift at the end. It wasn't a lift where you'd put her back down.
Melissa Rycroft & Tony Dovolani: Paso Doble
Melissa can't get into the intensity of the paso. She's a nice and happy person, you know. Either she's really perky too or they're both really good actors because they come across a little, uh, fake with their practice frustrations. I'm not saying it is fake; it just can appear fake. I know all this is hard, goddammit! Are they seriously paso doble-ing to "Poker Face"? I'm sorry, I can't get over this. There's also centipede growing on Tony's back. Their routine is very fast and she looks like she's having trouble keeping up with the steps. Or maybe she's distracted by the fact that she and Tony look like brother and sister. Seriously - the outfits, the teeth, the spray tan. Overall, the dance is decent, if only because she survived it and has rhythm. Len says there was a blunder in the pivot (PIVOT! PIVOT! Sorry, Friends shout-out). Bruno thinks she went for it in a very difficult routine, but there were mistakes. Carrie Ann concurs. And there was a "questionable lift." Psst... go for the "artistic finish," guys.
Nancy says: I thought it was better than the critical comments they got, but they got good scores. I noticed, like, one little mistake, but I'm not a professional judge. But I thought the routine was incredible. I thought the music was too fast. I was just thinking to myself, "Oh my gosh! If I go back and do this next season, I'm setting myself up for comparison and she's incredible!"
David Alan Grier & Kym Johnson: Viennese Waltz
DAG is determined to bribe the judges. He's gonna do it with wine or something. Not whine. But maybe cheese. Did Kym get the PC version of Karina's outfit from last week? Or maybe Karina just slashed off, like, 90 percent of that thing. The routine is nice, but like Chuck's, there's nothing amazing about it. DAG looks serviceable for the most part, but his frame does not. His extensions aren't, uh, extended. Plus, there's like zero chemistry between these two for this dance of romance. Bruno is under DAG's spell, but wants less gimmicks. Carrie Ann tells DAG's nostrils that she doesn't think they're moving in unison. Len loves the routine and is very pleased.
Nancy says: I liked that one. I thought they did really well. I just like his facial expressions. He looks so concentrated when he gets into the dances.
Gilles Marini & Cheryl Burke: Paso Doble
Gilles is pumped about the paso because he's studied martial arts... and he's brought his son along to watch. Do you hear that? It's the sound of ovaries exploding. Especially now that Gilles is topless... and shaved? Waxed? Let's go with waxed. Cheryl didn't lie about the less clothing week-to-week! I appreciate that they're not clothed in the typical red for the paso. I take back what I said about Chuck's tight clothes because dayum. Their routine is theatrical, passionate and totally striking. Someone just needs to give him the trophy now. He also gets a mini solo toward the end too, which is nice. Carrie Ann is almost reduced to tears. Len thought it was hectic and was unsure about the shirtlessness (jealous, much?). Bruno says "Jill" is going for the kill.
Nancy says: Oh my God! I couldn't tell if they were giving him the 10 for his chest or the dance. Len just has pec-envy! I liked that comment. He was amazing! Could he get any better? He just looks like a professional dancer and the chemistry between him and Cheryl is amazing. I've [met his son] and they have such a great relationship. He was my favorite.
Steve-O & Lacey Schwimmer: Viennese Waltz
Steve-O gets a visit from his Jackass jackasses for some moral support, and a dance with Wee-Man. Hot! They waste some time in the beginning with some mime set-up. Sneaky, sneaky. This is actually very adorable and precious. There's something inherently endearing about Steve-O and I think that comes across best in his standards. He's more calm this week and seems in step. Len thinks it's his best dance, but doesn't want him to get too excited. Thanks. Bruno thinks his timing was on. Carrie Ann thinks the acting worked in this case and would like him to work on his posture.
Nancy says: He might be in trouble. He was really sweet. I was wondering if he felt really funny in that outfit. He does all these guy-guy stunts and he has to come out in that outfit in front of his Jackass friends. I thought he might've felt like a jackass in that outfit. It was cute; it totally worked with the song.
Ty Murray & Chelsie Hightower: Paso Doble
Ty's excited for the paso because it's a man's dance and he knows how to deal with bulls, like Chelsie. Like Melissa's, I think the music's too fast for the movement, but unlike Melissa, Ty's not trying to pick up the pace and hit the steps. He's very methodical and deliberate. I think if the tempo was slowed down, it would look a lot better. That and if he's less stiff. Poor Ty. I think everyone, including him, had high expectations for the paso, and he just didn't deliver. Maybe the pressure got to him. Bruno thought it was too robotic. Carrie Ann wants her little dancer back. Len doesn't think it's up to par with his past two dances, but it's still miles better than his first one. And in other news, the sky is blue.
Nancy says: His music was a little fast too. I was kinda bummed for Ty. He did look a little stiff. I thought it was gonna be a good one because of what he said about bull-riding, but I think he's going to be safe because I think he's been embraced by the public. There are so many people who are pulling for him. Maybe he added a little pressure. It's one of those dances where you're supposed to be tough, angry and mean and he just doesn't seem to be mean or angry!
Lil Kim & Derek Hough: Viennese Waltz
Kim's worried because this is her busiest week ever and she has no time to practice. Which means it's gonna be good. Edwin McCain, notwithstanding. Kim's waltz is up there with Shawn's. It's lithe and completely bewitching. She looks more Disney princess than Shawn does, in fact. I always have a good laugh every other week or so that this graceful creature is the same person who asked, "How Many Licks." Carrie Ann feels like her mom. Do you want CA to be your mom? Len played podiatrist and found plenty (OK, some) wrong with her footwork. Bruno can't believe she made the Viennese Waltz "sassy" and loves the harmony between her and Derek.
Nancy says: She was good! She's very good with those leg extensions. She just makes those cute legs of hers look very long. I think she's very sweet and likeable. I think the final four will be Gilles, Melissa, Lil Kim and Shawn.
Nancy's predictions:It's hard now because all the obvious ones are gone. Everyone's decent and trying really hard. The ones who are not the best dancers have great personalities, so it's gonna be tough. But I think Steve-O will be in the bottom, though I don't want him to be. Maybe Lawrence. I don't want him to be there either. Maybe David Alan Grier. ... Steve-O got a 6, 6, 6 - that's one reason I have to put him in the bottom two. That's a telling sign! He may get votes from his Jackass fans, but if I went by dancing, I'll have to say Steve-O will leave.