Dancing With The Stars: Week 9
After congratulating the remaining couples, Len warned them that "good enough" simply wouldn't cut it. They were looking for greatness and expected the dancers to up their game significantly.
Gallery: Dancing With The Stars: Season Six
Jason Taylor and Edyta Sliwinska (Foxtrot) - Jason's fall to fourth place last week motivated him to make a comeback. The couple drew the foxtrot and paso doble. Since he did the foxtrot at the beginning of the season, Jason hoped to demonstrate how he'd improved in his second attempt. Edyta helped her partner size up the competition and surprised him with a video pep talk from Dan Marino.
Jason looked very dapper as he and Edyta danced to "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off." His movements were smooth, he had fabulous posture, and he captured the spirit of the dance. The routine was light and playful. Jason's come a long way with performing the character of his routines. I wasn't sure if his personality would come through at first, but now it's present every week. I expect him to make it to he finals, but he'll probably fall short of getting the trophy.
Marissa Jaret Winokur and Tony Dovolani (Quickstep) - Marissa didn't expect to make it as far as she did, but was grateful that her fans saved her last week. She and Tony drew the rumba and quickstep. Stacy Keibler dropped in on rehearsal to give Marissa some advice and support. Both women had trouble looking at Tony in a romantic sense, and Stacy told Marissa to picture someone else when they were dancing. Marissa wanted to dance for the people who believed in her when everyone else wrote her off.
I loved the glittery purple dress that Marissa wore for this routine. Their quickstep, performed to "Around the World" by Brenda Lee, included plenty of strong content. As usual, the entertainment value was extremely high. I noticed that she missed a jump towards the end, though. I believe that Marissa is the least likely to make it to the Finals, but I've been wrong about her week after week. Either she has a devoted fan base, or her steady improvement and energetic performances have won voters over (or both). She'd make a fun addition to the Finals, but I'd rather see the other contestants battle it out.
Bruno thought Marissa started out like a locomotive and took off after that. He pointed out that she missed a jeté, though, and that those mistakes count even more at this stage. Carrie Ann was impressed that Marissa has turned into a contender for the title. She like the spring in Marissa's steps and called the routine a classic quickstep. Len acknowledged that the quickstep has a high level of difficulty, since you need to maintain the hold throughout the performance. Although he wanted to see more body contact, he said the couple did a great job with a difficult and highly technical dance. Score: 26 (9, 9, 8)
Cristián de la Fuente and Cheryl Burke (Viennese Waltz) - Cheryl and Cristián groaned a bit when they drew the Viennese waltz and the samba, the same dance that resulted in an ER visit for Cristián. Cheryl told him to treat it like a completely new dance, and not to focus on the past. Cristián looked frustrated and worried in rehearsals. They cheered themselves up by walking around the city and meeting their fans.
The routine was beautiful and romantic, but Cheryl's dress was a disaster. At least once per season there's a costume that is seriously distracting, and the metallic silver gown with rings along the shoulder took home the title this season. The couple danced to "Satellite," by the Dave Matthews Band. Cristián brought an element of grace and sophistication to his performance. They did a good job of dealing with his arm limitations, although I thought the second half of the routine was stronger than the first.
Carrie Ann was glad that Cristián broke through his nerves during the performance. She enjoyed the movement and rotation. Len said that better content, movement, and mix of steps were going to earn better marks for the couple. Bruno loved that the partners played off one another so well, and thought the routine had a wow factor. Tom compared Cheryl's gown to a weather balloon. Score: 27 (9, 9, 9)
Kristi Yamaguchi and Mark Ballas (Tango) - After drawing the tango and the jive this week, Kristi was worried about topping her perfect 30 on the jive. For the tango, Mark worked on bringing out Kristi's sensuality. They got a 27 last time they performed the dance, so there was room for improvement. The couple went to a high-level ballroom class for pointers on chemistry.
Their tango put them back on track. Kristi embraced the sensual nature of the dance and nailed the attitude and performance aspects of the routine. There was a difficult-looking footwork sequence towards the end that I loved. Kristi showcased her ability to tackle far more difficult choreography than her competition, and this was the right time to do it. I'd give this round to Jason and Edyta, but with Kristi and Mark as a close second. The couple got a standing ovation when they finished.
According to Len, Kristi got the drama back with a performance that included great movement, hold, and posture. His only criticism was that the tango was a bit hectic. Bruno told Kristi that she squeezed every drop of drama, passion, and sex appeal out of the dance. Her footwork was phenomenal. Carrie Ann welcomed Kristi back to her position as queen of the dance floor. Their attempt at the tango featured way more emotion than their last routine. Score: 29 (10, 9, 10)
The Latin round began with a fun James Bond-style segment about Len's visits to rehearsal. I always love this stage in the season. Len's playful sense of humor comes out when he's dancing. Len gave Jason advice on the paso doble's fire and aggression. Kristi learned the Arkansas pull-through step for her jive, and Cristián got help with his running promenades. Len also helped Marissa to improve her hip action.
Jason Taylor and Edyta Sliwinska (Paso Doble) - Jason took Len's instruction to heart and gave a convincing and dramatic performance in his paso doble. He exuded passion, intensity, and aggression. I'm impressed with how well he's progressed with his showmanship and on-stage persona over the last few weeks. The routine had plenty of content as well, which made the judges very happy.
Bruno said that Jason had strength and momentum, and thought he looked like a true matador. Carrie Ann commended him for having a lot of content and choreography in this routine. Their paso doble was well-executed. Len praised the attack in the dance, and declared that Jason was going up like the price of gas. Score: 27 (9, 9, 9). I expected to see a 10 in there, but no such luck.
Marissa Jaret Winokur and Tony Dovolani (Rumba) - Tony and Marissa might have emphasized the attitude and sensuality of the routine at the expense of content in the second dance. Their rumba, danced to "Just the Two of Us," was a bit plain and unmemorable. They executed their choreography well, but there wasn't much there to evaluate. This dance could be what costs them a spot in the final round. Then again, there's always the fans.
Carrie Ann wasn't excited by the routine, and thought it wasn't at the semi-final level. Len defended Marissa by explaining that the rumba wasn't a "wow" dance, but that it required precision with technique and choreography. He thought Marissa did a fine job. Bruno disagreed with Carrie Ann as well, and said that Marissa sold the sexuality of the routine and sustained the right attitude throughout the dance. Score: 26 (8, 9, 9)
Cristián de la Fuente and Cheryl Burke (Samba) - Cristián performed a lively samba, open shirt and all, to "My Sweetheart from Venezuela." Nerves weren't an issue as he swung his hips and shook his booty during the routine. This dance definitely had the wow factor that Carrie Ann was looking for during Marissa's rumba. I'm glad that Cristián got over the trauma of his earlier samba routine and delivered a fun, entertaining comeback dance.
Len told Cristián that he was hotter than a chili pepper. His injury made him focus and come out stronger than ever before. There were some issues with flat feet, but beyond that Len loved it. Bruno called Cristián's samba the rematch of the century. He truly made it a party dance. Carrie Ann thought the routine was reminiscent of Emmitt Smith, who just happened to be in the audience. Score: 29 (10, 9, 10)
Kristi Yamaguchi and Mark Ballas (Jive) - It was Kristi and Mark's turn to top their own perfection. Their jive, performed to Tina Turner's "Nutbush City Limits," came close. Kristi's tough to evaluate sometimes. Like all her routines, the jive was full of technically difficult moves, and she did an admirable job with the performance elements. I simply liked it less (although just a little less) than her first jive. That's the down side of being so talented, I suppose. People notice when you're not at your absolute best.
Bruno was thrilled with the routine, and told Kristi that she proved she can do it all. Carrie Ann could tell that their jive was extremely difficult, but thought Kristi and Mark were slightly out of sync. The jive is so fast that the timing is crucial. Len praised Kristi's rhythm, movements, and stop-and-go. On the down side, she looked stiff at times. Score: 28 (9, 9, 10)
Kristi reclaimed her spot at the top of the leaderboard, with Marissa in fourth place. Only five points separate them, so it looks like this one will be decided by the fans.
Best performance of the night: Cristián's samba comeback
Most likely to go home: Marissa & Tony
On Tuesday night's finale--Omarion performs, the ballroom kids get one last dance, and another more couple is sent home. Until then, check out AOL's extensive Dancing With The Stars coverage, which includes photo galleries, polls, and a live chat.
|Kristi & Mark||21 (2.9%)|
|Jason & Edyta||46 (6.3%)|
|Cristian & Cheryl||64 (8.7%)|
|Marissa & Tony||604 (82.2%)|