Monday night brought the semifinals for season 18 of “Dancing with the Stars” and this season that meant American Icon night. Director and choreographer Kenny Ortega filled the guest judge chair and by the time the first dance was through, all three Olympic contestants were in jeopardy, meaning one of them would be going home. Hollywood Life called the eventual elimination “shocking” in their May 12 report.
The final five had to perform 2 numbers, one set to music buy a music industry icon. Below are brief recaps and scores for each performance.
Candace Cameron Bure and Mark Ballas danced a Viennese Waltz that was riddled with mistakes. After the performance, she learned she was safe. Given that status and heading for the finals, this was a disappointing performance for a finals contender. They scored a 24.
In the second round, Candace and Mark did snappy jazz number to Janet Jackson’s “Nasty.” This was much better. Len Goodman called it ‘clean, tight and together.” Kenny Ortega said it reminded him of “the great ladies of Broadway.” The couple earned a 38 for a total of 72 points.
Charlie White and partner Sharna Burgess met with Olympic skater Scott Hamilton to find inspiration. Hamilton recommended versatility to make it to the finals. White went into his performance knowing he was in jeopardy and pulled off a perfect foxtrot. Bruno and Kenny gave him a standing ovation for the number set New York, New York by Frank Sinatra. Ortega said “Indescribably delightful! You were the toast of New York dancing on that stage. Fantastic!” Carrie Ann Inaba gushed, “You just smacked me in the face with brilliant, brilliant, brilliant!” Score: 40.
For his second number, did a samba that fell just a smidge flat – flat-footed that is. Both Len and Carrie Ann criticized his heavy or flat-footed manner. He scored straight 9s for a total of 36 and an evening total of 76.
Amy Purdy and partner Derek Hough danced a quickstep that was aided by a special set of legs – running legs – like those worn by Olympian Oscar Pistorius. They gave Amy the bounce she needed and couldn’t get with other prosthetics. She and Derek received a pep talk from Oprah Winfrey who promised to take the pair to dinner if they won. The number was jaw-dropping and full throttle. Score: 39.
The second dance was a jazz routine that centered on a table and some trick moves set to “Too Darn Hot.” The judges loved it. Bruno called it “imagination at its classic best.” They went out of sync at one point but both Len and Kenny acknowledged Derek as a choreographer. They scored 39 for an evening total of 78.
James Maslow and Peta Murgatroyd learned they were safe and then did a Cha Cha to a newly released song by Michael Jackson that was co-written by Paul Anka, a guest in the audience. Incorporating classic MJ moves into his Cha Cha, James impressed the judges with his electrifying performance. They scored a perfect 40.
For their second dance, James and Peta did a cowboy rumba to “Islands in the Stream.” The mix of western garb and rumba moves seemed a bit odd at first but the duo managed to pull it off. Carrie Ann called James the “smartest competitor,” while the other 3 judges all advised James to learn to extend his movements through his hands to improve a bit more. He got a 36 for an evening total of 76.
Meryl Davis and Maks Chmerkovskiy struggled in rehearsal this week. Meryl got a visit from Olympic ice skating champion and DWTS season 6 champion Kristi Yamaguchi who advised Meryl to work on her mental stamina for the show. They did a jive to Elvis’s “Hound Dog” with Maks pulling off an impressive impersonation of The King. Kenny said Meryl’s “kick and flicks were setting off sparks all over the dance floor.” Bruno said it was “Stylistically impeccable.” During the dance, Maks kissed Carrie Ann which flustered her. Bruno pretended to be jealous so Maks kissed him too and then the pother 2 judges, Later he kissed former partner Erin Andrews when she interviewed the pair. They earned a 40 for the routine, not the kissing.
The second routine was a Viennese Waltz which drew a standing ovation from 3 of the judges and much of the audience. The judges couldn’t say enough about it. “It had a grand, cinematic sweep. Your dancing is magnificent,” Bruno said. It earned a second perfect score, giving them an 80 for the evening.
Derek choreographed an electrifying Macy’s Stars of Dance tribute to Hollywood. Sets and props were carried on and off the dance floor as part of the routine as though he and the troupe were performing on a some studio back lot.
At the end of the evening, Charlie White was voted off the show. He thanked everyone for the opportunity and the fun. Then he vowed to become a 100% cheerleader for his ice dancing partner, Meryl Davis.
Next week, the finals will play out across 2 nights. “Dancing with the Stars” will eliminate 1 competitor on Monday and the remaining three will compete again on Tuesday night before the mirror ball trophy is awarded. Don’t miss it!