We're almost there, guys. Semifinals. Or as I like to call it, practice for Gilles, Shawn and Melissa. Sorry, Ty, I love you and all, but this gravy train needs to end. Just come back for DanceCenter, or you know, as co-host. Speaking of, Sam, what sacred Greek urn did you break to create that very unsupportive dress?
To fill up the unnecessary two hours, each couple will reflect on their best ballroom and Latin dances. Le sigh. They believe the foxtrot during Week 3 was Melissa's breakthrough because of her framework, and of course, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the samba. OK, let's get a move on, especially if you're not going to mention your wardrobe malfunction.
Gilles and Cheryl love their foxtrtot from last week. Cheryl notices his lack of rises and falls on the playback. You mean like a bride's nightie? They also like their Week 5 Paso Doble, aka Shirtless Gilles. Oh Cheryl, you lie! We did see Gilles shirtless again before the finale. Now they think it's all about performing. And being shirtless, of course.
Shawn thinks the quickstep last week was a turning point because her bubbliness shone through. She and Mark are adamant they the rule-breaking was worth it. But no more rule-breaking from now on. Aw, c'mon, don't be scurred. Make it a double! They pick their Paso Doble from last week as their Latin breakthrough because Shawn defied expectations with her aggressiveness.
Ty considers their Week 2 quickstep to be the game-changer because it showed how rock-solid his posture was. (Note to all future Dancing hopefuls: The foxtrot and/or the quickstep will turn the tables your way.) Week 4's Lindy Hop is their Latin dance of choice since Ty "blasted in" with a ton of confidence. His hop was fun, but I would've chosen his salsa from two weeks ago to be the choice breakthrough. I consider that more surprising than what they did with their lift-heavy hop.
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. Also, be sure to pick up Nancy's book, Full of Life: Mom-to-Mom Tips I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Was Pregnant. (Nancy got flowers and a card for Mother's Day!)
Melissa Rycroft & Tony Dovolani: Quickstep
Melissa's worried about her feet and heel-leads, or lack thereof. Her feet definitely look better to my untrained eye, but I feel like she's watching it and it's throwing off her hold. The choreography is whimsical and the dance itself is very pretty, but I'm not that impressed. There's something missing. I feel like I'm watching a Week 4 dance or something from her. Plus, I can't get Shawn's jaunty quickstep out of my head - especially since they just played it (devious ploy?) - and this doesn't compare to that. Len loves the musicality and the improvement in the feet. Bruno didn't find it as exhilarating as it could've been. Carrie Ann agrees and wants it connected to her soul. But it is connected to her sole, right?
Nancy says: I do agree with them that every dance she does is so pretty and I think that's her ballet background. It's funny because training can work against you. She's still such a beautiful dancer. The quickstep was a lot of fun. I get their point, but if it weren't for them being experts, I wouldn't know the difference. The problem now is that you're down to the best of the best so everyone needs to be perfect.
Gilles Marini & Cheryl Burke: Waltz
No more floor-rolling. Save it for your wifey, Gilles. In honor of the booted bionic booty, Gilles is going to shake his, but not before he can master the classy and sophisticated moves for the waltz. Enter Jonathan Roberts. He says something about stretching and pictures. It's a metaphor. He begins the dance in a chair, which automatically has me worried. I hate props. Anyhow, this waltz is totally dreamy and not just because of Gilles and Cheryl's cloud nine-like attire. It's light, floaty and just kind of perfect. I feel like I'm watching a Disney movie, and not just because this is ABC. Bruno screams something and all I hear is "irresistibly romantic." Carrie Ann calls it breathtaking. Len gives it a sitting-down standing ovation. And Gilles is reduced to tears. Oh, the French! So emotional.
Nancy says: The waltz was so pretty. What I think he does so well is that he really gets into the music. He feels the emotion of the dance really well.
Shawn Johnson & Mark Ballas: Argentine Tango
It's the night of the chairs, apparently. But hopefully it's knocked down and out for good now. Shawn's got her angry, Renee Zellweger face on again. Maybe she's pissed Mark used all of her eyeliner? I'm glad Shawn's gotten the Paso and the Argentine Tango the past two weeks as they've called for her to match the dances' emotional ranges that are beyond her years. This has got flair and is technically proficient, but I'm still not sure all the aggression and passion is there. Take more acting classes, girl. Carrie Ann thinks she delivered and says precision is her middle name. Len is impressed by her maturity and calls it her best performance. Bruno calls her Catherine Zeta-Shawn and starts belting "Cell Block Tango." They gift them their first perfect 30. I betcha you would've done the same. Wink.
Nancy says: She deserved the 30! I loved the Argentine tango. I like that she's gotten to show another side of herself. With this and the Paso Doble, you probably didn't expect her to be good at it. Her movements were so crisp and that's probably from her gymnastics background. Her arms were so straight.
Ty Murray & Chelsie Hightower: Viennese Waltz
Ty wants to give Chelsie some payback for that rumba, so he brings her mechanical bullriding. And then it's back to samba-ing. It's supposed to be a party, but it's more like a pain in the ass, Ty says. But he's using the Viennese Waltz first to justify his stay over a "more skilled dancer." You can clearly see him giving it his all in this. His movements are a tad crisper and his arms are more extended. Unfortunately, he stumbles on a few turns, most notably at the end when he nearly drops Chelsie and skids to catch up to the steps. My heart is already breaking. Len admires his effort and finds the dance fabulous despite the missteps. Bruno says something about chasing flies and engages in a war of foreign words with Len. Carrie Ann's deducting for the wobbles, and now everyone's fighting.
Nancy says: Ty was as cute as he could possibly be last night. You just want to squeeze him and I love Jewel, so part of me doesn't want him to go. So much is the audience's vote and he's just so likeable. His Viennese Waltz was very nice. He got nearly the equivalent of Melissa's score.
Melissa Rycroft & Tony Dovolani: Cha-cha
More filler: It's the Dancing: True Hollywood Story. Melissa doesn't want you to mess with Texas, especially not with her Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders' trainer. Yeesh. Then she dresses up as a disco ball for this cha-cha. With her eyes obscured by that hat, she kind of looks like Fran Drescher. Do we want The Nanny to win Dancing with the Stars? Technically, the pair looks fine, but like their quickstep, something's MIA. As my favorite boss, Michael Scott, would say: "You took a life here today... the life of a party." Seriously, where's the spark and spunk from the samba? The cha-cha's just as fun and flirty. Bruno likes his cha-cha full-thrust and full-on (just the cha-cha?), but didn't find that she sustained it throughout the whole dance. Carrie Ann notices the different in sizes in her steps. Bruno hoped to like it more and thinks it was lackluster in some places.
Nancy says: The cha-cha needed more energy, but the music wasn't fast enough. It wasn't good music.
Gilles Marini & Cheryl Burke: Salsa
Viva la France! In Cannes! Don't let the film festival fool you, there's a tough part of town, and that's where Gilles is from. How adorable was his baby pic? Not as great as those shirtless model pics. He's living the American dream now and just wants to win the biggest trophy the States have to offer. Well, it certainly is the shiniest. Gilles is keeping his word and shaking his bionic booty here. Is that thing battery-operated? Because I don't even think Kim shook it like that. Bootyliciousness aside, the dance is pretty awesome. The choreography's funky and it has enough zestiness to invigorate Melissa's two dances and then some. I smell another 30 coming his way. Carrie Ann does some crazy bamboo-shrieking, twirling shiznit. Is she wearing a maternity dress? Len wishes he had an 11 paddle. Bruno says Lil' Kim is hanging in Gilles' pants. Not like that.
Score: 30 (perfect 60, y'all!)
Nancy says: Gilles was the standout. He looks like a professional. That's what I always say. The salsa was good. His Latin dances are good all the time.
Shawn Johnson & Mark Ballas: Jive
Time to head out to Iowa! (I've been there and got some weird bug bite that lasted for six months... so, go at your own risk. No offense, Iowans. I did have a nice time there.) Shawn's been a daredevil basically since birth. Her baby pic may rival Giles' in cuteness. Her jive dress too, even. I'm a sucker for polka dots and pink on black, and what does her dress have? All three! The dance is, well... bouncy's the first word that comes to mind. It feels like she's bouncing around more often than dancing, and she seems slightly off-pace from Mark. Her Argentine tango was definitely better. Len loves the fast pace, but thinks there was too much slapstick. Bruno loves it when she goes wild, but sold it completely. Carrie Ann thinks she lost some steam toward the end and went through mud. Can you jump on a table whilst going through mud?
Nancy says: I'm trying to remember it! It was a little bouncy, but she is a gymnast!
Ty Murray & Chelsie Hightower: Samba
Baby Ty in baby chaps on a horse trumps baby Gilles and baby Shawn. Can he get some sort of honorary Mirrorball trophy for that? And Ty's showing off his killer arms again... his own bionic booty. I'll give him points just for that. Poor Ty. Well, at least this is better than his rumba. He seems more comfortable with the steps, if hesitant, and is actually shaking something. Bruno says he lost his footing, but appreciates the effort. Carrie Ann votes him MVP of Season 8. Len echoes the sentiment and compliments Chelsie on her work.
Nancy says: His samba was better than his rumba. I think everything was better than his rumba.
I don't know. Maybe they won't do a bottom two. That's a tough one. Based on dancing it should be Ty, which is what we always say. But he is the most likeable. If he's not booted, I think they will save him first because it will totally add the drama. Ty was pretty decent and when you vote, do you vote for someone who's come the farthest? If it's not him, it'll be Melissa or Shawn. But I can't say Melissa and Tony! Tony will kill me forever. He's playing golf with my husband today! They're having their man-date.