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August 29, 2015

Dancing With The Stars: Week 8

by Brett Love, posted May 5th 2008 11:22PM

Mario & Karina Smirnoff - Dancing With The Stars
(S06E15) Last week things were turned upside down as Jason took the points lead from Kristi and Shannon left in a surprising elimination. No time to worry about that for our couples though, as week eight brings with it two more dances. If that wasn't enough, the lift ban is out the window. Each couple is allowed to do a lift in each of their performances, as long as it is performed in the character of the routine, whatever that means. Now they must weigh the prospects of it all going terribly wrong against the possible gain to be had in points and votes. Would Kristi reclaim the top spot? Or would there be a new leader? All that, and a rundown of all the week eight performances, after the jump.

Kristi Yamaguchi and Mark Ballas - Kristi took a couple lumps from Len last week and fell to number two. In the training video we saw the two of them disagreeing about whether or not to do a lift in the samba. Mark nixed the idea, worried that it wasn't in the character of the dance. They did decide to add the lift for their quickstep. Kristi was determined to get back to the number one spot.

(Quickstep) - As hinted at in the taped package, they did a pretty conventional quickstep, not that there's anything wrong with that. It was very intricate and Kristi more than held her own. The lift they talked about wasn't exactly a showstopper, but did fit in very nicely as Mark hoisted her to his shoulder to finish the number. It was another fine example of just what makes Kristi so good in this competition. Her attention to detail, and the difficult routines that Mark continues to choreograph for her, are always impressive.

Len said that cheered him up to no end. He loved the changes of speed and the light and shade. Fabulous. Bruno called Kristi a super-candidate with a super-ticket for the final. He said it was it beautifully moved. Carrie Ann liked the character and how they presented themselves to the judges. She also thought Kristi was a little out of sync, yet she said Kristi's technique was perfect. Those things seem to be at odds with each other to me, and it almost seemed like she was searching for a negative. Score 29 (9,10,10)

(Samba) - For me, this was a difficult dance to place. There were a couple moments where I thought it just didn't look quite as sharp as what we have come to expect from Kristi. On the other hand, the difficulty was incredible. The section in the middle where Kristi did eight spins right into a drop was unmatched by anything else we saw in week eight. It was such a good moment that I would have awarded an extra point just for that one move. I actually preferred the quickstep to this, but only by a little. Kristi continues to prove that she can do just about anything Mark throws at her. She even managed to do a nice job capturing the spirit, although it was more of the G-rated Disney spirit, of the samba.

Carrie Ann said she didn't care for it. She called it a bit awkward, and out of control. I just didn't get that at all. Len said that dance is a balance. They had great speed and fantastic energy, but lost the rhythm of the dance. Bruno thought she had beautiful spins, noting the eight spins into the drop. Score 26 (8,9,9) Total: 55

Mario and Karina Smirnoff - Mario's mission was clear coming into this week. He needed to get a stiffer, more traditional, ballroom posture for his dances. He was also quite excited to practice the lifts. To get started, they headed to the pool, for safety, not just because ABC wanted to put Karina in a bikini on the air. Really.

(Viennese Waltz) - This was a nice draw for Mario coming off of last week. It gave him a chance to showcase the work he has done on his posture, and the waltz just always looks good. Mario continues to work on the things that the judges suggest, and it showed here. He had a new found ballroom grace as they spun their way through the waltz. Their spinning lift worked into the dance very fluidly and should have earned them a bonus point. It was very impressive. And with all the noise made about the lifts, I thought this was the best one of the night. It flowed into their dance seamlessly.

Bruno said the chronicles of Dancing With The Stars has a new prince. Prince Mario. Everything they've asked him to do, he's done. Carrie Ann said it was nice and stiff, the way she likes it. She went on to add that his posture was the best she's seen and she really liked the lift. Len compared Mario's previous ballroom dancing to Britney Spears getting out of a car, not very elegant. But tonight, it was the most elegant he's seen Mario look. Score 27 (9,9,9) I would have liked to see one 10 just because the lift was so good.

(Jive) - They got off to a bumpy start as Mario's move off of the stage just didn't quite work and he stumbled on his landing. Things picked up after that though. The jive suits Mario's style well. He's light on his feet and has a smooth rhythm. Add to that the sense of fun that he brings to the faster paced numbers and the middle of the dance was very solid. I thought it took a bit of a hit at the end though, with the lift. It was a little too ambitious and ended up throwing them off.

Len said the whole thing had a roughness about it, and called Mario's feet bloody big ugly ones. Bruno said it was the spirit of rock-n-roll, and that's what the jive should be. Carrie Ann said this is the one dance where wildness works, and the flavor Mario brought to the performance worked. Score: 26 (9,8,9) Total: 53

Marissa Jaret Winokur and Tony Dovolani - Marissa had some ground to make up this week after landing in the bottom two last week. As you would expect, she was as excited as ever to still be in the competition. They drew the foxtrot and the mambo. Tony said that he was putting a lift in the dance because he wants Marissa to know that he completely believes that she can do anything.

(Foxtrot) - Their performance was solid, but calls to mind some of the comments from last week. It was good, without any major mistakes, but very safe. They really didn't take any chances with the difficulty. Following Kristi and Mario it almost made them look a step slow. The lift followed similar lines. They did it adequately, but weren't as smooth getting into it. You can't really say anything was bad about the performance, but there wasn't a lot there to convince you Marissa should be back next week either.

Carrie Ann loved it, saying she brought joy out on the floor. Len said she looks better when she's in hold and has great posture and lovely movement. Bruno compared her to Ethel Merman. For the foxtrot though, he wanted more gliding movement and said this wasn't quite appropriate for the quarter finals. Score 25 (9,8,8)

(Mambo) - This was more of the same from Marissa. She's so likable, and she really does do a good job. That being said, it's starting to look like she may have peaked in the competition. I don't see her pushing it like the other couples are. Although, that could be more a comment on Tony than it is on Marissa. It may just be that he's not comfortable giving her the more difficult choreography, erring on the side of caution. While still a bit on the safe side, it's easy to understand how Marissa continues to garner a big fan vote. She has an infectious personality.

Bruno said Marissa can do sexy and he wants more of that. He loved the hip action and called it really really nice. Carrie Ann said it gives her joy to watch Marissa because she goes for it, but she didn't like the turns at the end of the performance. Len said that she really came out and performed, but it was a little bit careful. Score 25 (8,8,9) Total 50

Jason Taylor and Edyta Sliwinska - Jason had a great week seven, taking the lead for the first time. Now that lifts were in play, both of them were very excited to add them. They were less excited with Jason embracing the spirit of the samba. As part of the preparation, and one of the sillier training videos we have seen, Edyta took him to get a spray tan... His reaction was pretty funny.

(Tango) - Their night of dancing got off to a good start with what was a fantastic tango. Edyta gave Jason plenty of intricate steps and he was up to the challenge. The attitude of the tango suits Jason about as well as any of the dances could. He showed a great command of the dance. Their main lift was huge, with Jason lifting Edyta high above his head. It worried me though, because previous to that they had two very small moves that could have been considered lifts. For a moment I worried that Carrie Ann would still find a way to complain about lifts, even with the lifted ban. Fortunately, the judges let those go.

Len said he agreed with the audience that they did a good job, but for him it was too much like an Argentine tango, which got Bruno's dander up, and confused the heck out of me. Bruno said he hates them because they are so beautiful, adding that Edyta has never danced better, and Jason was right with her. Carrie Ann said that beyond the beauty, Jason brought a whole new dimension to the dance, calling it intriguingly great. Score 29 (10,9,10) It was my favorite performance of the night.

(Samba) - There was a lot riding on this for Jason. He had the opportunity to retain the number one spot if he delivered with his samba. Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out that way. There were some nice moments, but overall it just wasn't there. The samba is difficult to start, and just not the right dance for Jason. This looked like the Jason of week two or three, still unsure of everything. Not what you would have expected from him in week eight. The huge lift, with Jason doing four spins while Edyta did a handstand above him was certainly impressive, but not enough to save what ended up being a so-so performance.

Carrie Ann said it didn't go so well. His head was down a lot and his musicality was lagging. She called it muddy. Len said it was alright, but next week is the semi final. Jason looked uncomfortable and it lacked rhythm. Bruno said that after a series of blockbusters, he got a turkey tonight. It didn't look as good as it could be. Score 23 (8,7,8) Total 52

Cristián de la Fuente and Cheryl Burke (Samba) - Cristián was probably the most intriguing story coming into this week. Last week he suffered a torn tendon. The doctor told him not to put any force on the bicep, but he could still dance. They were set to do the tango and the mambo. The challenge fell on Cheryl to choreograph in a way that would disguise the injured arm. The rub was that Cristián wanted to do lifts, because everyone else would be.

(Tango) - This was a somewhat strange tango. A cross between Saturday Night Fever with the white suit, and Michael Jackson, as they worked the music, "Beat It", into the performance. I did have a moment of worry when Cristián kicked things off with his best Michael Jackson move. It seemed like the kind of thing that would get Len's panties in a bunch. That all went by the wayside quickly though as they jumped into hold and delivered a great tango. Cheryl succeeded in hiding any trouble that Cristian was having with his arm. They managed to hit all the right spots without missing a beat. The cleverness of that choreography was most on display with their lift as Cristian used a leg and his good arm to boost Cheryl into the air seamlessly. Very slick.

Bruno said Cristián was the man with the golden arm, and that he could see no problems with his tango. Carrie Ann agreed, she saw nothing at all with regards to his injured arm, great job. Len praised Cheryl's choreography, and said they did a great job. Score: 28 (10,9,9) Cristián was thrilled to get a ten.

(Mambo) - Tom noted before the dance that a 28 would give Cristián and Cheryl the overall lead. I don't know that they needed the encouragement, but it couldn't have hurt. They came out with a high energy mambo, and Cristián really hit the character and style of the dance out of the park. It made for what was my favorite Cristián performance of the season. Again, his injury was an afterthought as Cheryl worked around it. They even managed another solid lift to finish off the evening of dancing.

Len said it was full of energy and Cristián had great hips. A fabulous job, well done. Bruno said the things Cristián can do with one arm is magic. More energy than a volcano in the Andes. Carrie Ann agreed, adding that the two of them were definitely on fire. Score 29 (10,9,10) Total: 57

And just like that, we have a new leader. With Cristián & Cheryl at the top of the leader board, and safe spots growing more and more scarce, it could make for some interesting results Tuesday night. It certainly looks like Marissa will find herself in the bottom two again, but who will be joining her?

Best dance of the night: Jason's Tango
Most likely to go home: Marissa
Craziest Quote: Samantha Harris -
"On Tuesday, Shannon's padded butt was kicked out of the competition."

Make sure to tune in Tuesday for the huge results show. You'll find Apollo & Julianne dancing, as well as Mel & Maks. In addition, Mario Lopez will perform with Chorus Line. And if that's not enough, it also promises the biggest pro number the show has ever done. In the meantime, check out AOL's extensive Dancing With The Stars coverage, which includes photo galleries, polls, and a live chat.

Which couple is leaving this week?
Marissa & Tony615 (72.1%)
Cristin & Cheryl40 (4.7%)
Jason & Edyta17 (2.0%)
Mario & Karina159 (18.6%)
Kristi & Mark22 (2.6%)

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I also think the judges comments have been inconsistent
& hard to follow. I think they have their "favorites" just as us fans do. I do agree that Marissa is this year's Marie, a better entertainer than dancer. I think the judges have been very lenient on her, and much harder on Mario, even though I think Mario is the better dancer. Mario is good enough for the finals, along with Kristi & Jason, but I now think Cristian could get there with "sympathy votes". I would like to see Edyta/Jason take the trophy. Edyta is a fantastic dancer who has been there from the beginning, and unfortunately, for a few seasons, got stuck with partners that had no rhythm. Now she has the best shot with Jason, who is doing an amazing job, especially since he has no prior dance or performer training as some of the others do.

May 06 2008 at 5:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It really did seem like the judges were very inconsistent last night. I realize that it's difficult to choreograph for someone with an injured arm, but I don't think Cristian should have been given the scores he was given for routines nearly as simple as Marissa's. Overall, I think his performances (especially the Tango) were overrated by the judges. He was impressive, but Bruno stated that they still have to judge on what they see and I didn't see anything particularly difficult or remarkable in his routines.

I really hope that Kristi wins. Even those who say that she has an unfair advantage can't deny that she's working very hard at this and even improving consistently in the degree of difficulty of her routines. I think that Marissa will go tonight (even though I wish it were Cristian), and then probably Mario, followed by Cristian. I would love watching a Jason/Kristi finale.

May 06 2008 at 3:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think Adam Corolla should've still been in it.

May 06 2008 at 8:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Did not seem like a vote grab to me, that interview was taped away from the studio earlier in the week. She simply answered a question about being in the bottom two and put it in perspective. Marissa has been consistently better than Mario and Cristian all season. If there is any vote grabber here it is Cristian. He should have been out before Marlee, Priscilla and Shannon.

May 06 2008 at 7:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Looks, diseases are serious business so I don't mean to diminish how great it is to overcome one. But when Marissa pulled the "when I was diagnosed with cancer..." line then it just felt like a vote grab.

Anyway, I'm a big fan of Christian and thought he did great considering his circumstances. But they really seem to be buffering people's scores in order to keep it "competetive". Christian got a bit higher than he deserved and Yamaguchi has been put down to keep the playing field more level. I don't know if I like that...

May 06 2008 at 1:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Aren't Apolo and Julianne dancing tomorrow?

May 06 2008 at 12:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Sara's comment
Brett Love

Right you are Sara. Occasionally the fingers get ahead of the brain. I've fixed that bit.

May 06 2008 at 12:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The judges were crazy tonight! I always scoffed at the idea of it being fixed. After tonight I can't help but think it to be so. Kristi was AMAZING!! The marks they gave her were nuts. 8 spins into a drop and he gives her a 9? But the whole judging thing was off. It just seemed they noticed some minor faults in some and ignored other more obvious in other dancers. They need to have a clearer judging system-one that we could understand and they need to actually specify the audience votes as well.

May 05 2008 at 11:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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