Dancing With The Stars: Week 8
(S07E16) Week eight. We're getting down to it now, just two weeks away from the finals. You can certainly make a case for a couple of teams that would be considered the favorites, but at this point in the competition, anyone can win. All of the teams are one bad number, one set of nutty judges scores, or one weak fan vote away from elimination. Upping the pressure this week, not only would each team be performing both a ballroom and a Latin number, but each star would have to do a 15-second solo.
Cody Linley & Edyta Silwinska (Foxtrot) Cody found himself at the bottom of the leader board last week, struggling to adapt to having Edyta as a partner. His friends showed up at the studio to help cheer him up. They were all quite impressed with Edyta. Getting to their first performance of the night, it was a very smooth foxtrot. Goofy Cody managed to pull off suave and cool. It made for a great opening to the show. It looked like the rough bits in the transition to dancing with Edyta had been smoothed out.
Len said even though they are doing two dances, the standards haven't dropped. He was pleasantly surprised. Cody did a top notch job. Bruno called Cody a cool dude. He was under control, sophisticated, and elegant. Carrie Ann loved the performance. She added that it's great that he's nailing these performances, while learning to work with a new partner. Unfortunately, she also noted a lift. Score: 24 (8,8,8)
Brooke Burke & Derek Hough (Tango) Last week Carrie Ann said that Brooke was getting as good as a professional. So Derek decided to start treating her like one and upped the difficulty of the performance. She's the only woman left, and we all know the history of women winning this thing, which added a little more pressure. In the end, it's nothing to worry about. With this performance, Brooke proved that she isn't going to be out danced. There's still every chance that someone is going to get more votes from the fans, or that the judges are going to do something nutty, but I have a hard time seeing any of the competitors out-dancing Brooke. Their tango was, once again, very impressive. As we have seen all year, Brooke just has a natural talent for this, and Derek is doing everything he can to take advantage of that. More intricate spins, more great poses, and another very good number.
Bruno said it was more than a tango, it was an epic drama played on a grand scale. Stunning. Carrie Ann told Brooke that this is why she is the last woman standing. She is beyond phenomenal. Fantastic. Len said the two of them make a great team, but then, rather unexpectedly, went off the rails. It seems Mr. Goodman doesn't cotton to people throwing around that "professional" term all willy nilly. He said he's going to treat Brooke like a professional, since Carrie Ann and Derek are telling him she is and proceeded to pick apart her performance. The lack of heel leads... how they lost body contact... he went on and on about the mistakes, until Tom intervened for time. It was all very strange. Backstage, Brooke immediately started backing away from that professional talk. Score: 28 (10,8,10)
Maurice Greene & Cheryl Burke (Quickstep) In the training video, Cheryl explained that they are in a unique situation because they are dancing the paso doble and they already did that in the team competition. Maurice was as determined as ever, saying tonight is his chance to prove he can do both Latin and ballroom. The quick step felt a little more like a kind of quick step. Given the energy we've seen from Maurice in previous weeks, I was expecting a little more. It was almost reserved. While well performed, and with a few really fun moments, I thought it lacked energy.
Carrie Ann loved it. Maurice's posture is so improved, and he looked very refined out there. Len said Maurice flew around the floor with great footwork. Bruno told Maurice that usually he deflates halfway through the number, but this time he kept it going all the way through, with aplomb. Score: 24 (8,8,8)
Lance Bass & Lacey Schwimmer (Foxtrot) The big question each week has become what would we see from Lance & Lacey this time? It seems that was all part of Lance's clever plan. He explained that at the beginning of the season he wanted to stand out, but at this point they really need to put those traditional steps in there. Lacey pledged that this week would be by the book. They weren't kidding. It was a much more traditional approach, complete with shoes. That didn't stop Lacey from giving Lance plenty to do. He had a number of little breaks where he got to show off his footwork and his charm. It lacked a certain wow factor, but was well done, and should serve to keep them in the running.
Len joked that Extreme Makeover was yesterday. He thought there were some great elements, but went on to tell Lance that his footwork is still a little dodgy. Overall, very good. Bruno called it a classic dance in the classic style, that retained Lance's quirky touches. Carrie Ann agreed with Bruno, calling Lance a bright light, and truly fun to watch. Score: 26 (9,8,9)
Warren Sapp & Kym Johnson (Tango) Warren didn't react well to his foxtrot last week. Backstage, we saw him really troubled by how he had performed. Fortunately, he had the team dance to pull him through. Warren compared this point in the competition to the playoffs in football. He also referred to last week as a bad play. A fair description, and this week he was back in the game. I still think Warren is just a step behind the leaders where the dancing is concerned. He's certainly improved a great deal over the course of the season, but the moves just don't quite have the same polish. He makes up for that with his ability to engage the audience. He had a very commanding presence throughout the number and really sold his portion of the dance.
Bruno said: Watch out, James Bond. Secret agent Warren Sapp is back and does a mean tango. Carrie Ann called the performance fantastic, and praised Warren for his connection to the audience. Len also thought it was fantastic. He said Warren was going up and down a little, but he's in it now. Score; 28 (10,9,9)
Cody Linley & Edyta Silwinska (Mambo) After the foxtrot, I didn't think there would be any more issues with Edyta standing in for Julianne, but Cody just seemed to have lost a bit of his swagger on the dance floor. He still had it backstage and during interviews, but he just looked a little off when he was performing. He had some great moments, like the toe-touching jump off the stage, but there were some down moments, as well. His solo didn't have a lot of dance to it, but a big finish that had him leaping onto the judges table brought it home.
Carrie Ann gave Cody an A for effort, and an A for energy, but added that it was a little erratic. She didn't want to discourage him, but it was a little disjointed. Len was hoping that Warren didn't use the same ending for his solo. He went on, saying Cody has done two really good dances tonight. Bruno said Cody has the mambo fever, but it went a little spasmodic at times. That said, he appreciates the effort. Score: 24 (8,8,8) Total: 48
Brooke Burke & Derek Hough (Mambo) An odd choice to start the dance with the focus on Derek, but things got back to Brooke soon enough for her solo. The whole thing took place on the steps in front of the judges. I would have rather seen it out on the floor, but it was an impressive, hip-shaking bit. Things dropped off just a little from there, and it looked like we might have seen a chink in the Burke armor. Their mambo looked like it didn't get quite as much attention as their other performance. It was still very good, and I'm grading on a curve here, but looked a little rough in spots as they got in and out of tricks.
Len called it a very ambitious performance. During the course of it, he thought Brooke's legs were a little too flexed. Bruno said this mambo could revive the dead, and he'll never forget the pictures in his head from Brooke's solo. She's a great dancer. Carrie Ann liked that the solo worked with the number, but added that at times Brooke's posture was a little awkward. Score: 27 (9,9,9) Total: 55
Maurice Greene & Cheryl Burke (Paso Doble) I was curious to see this one, simply because I liked Maurice's contribution to the team dance last week, and I thought it gave him a chance to make some noise. It didn't result in that big score, but it was still a really good showing. Maurice always does fun very well, but I really like his paso attitude. He really looks the part. He also had a very cool solo with the cape work. More and more I get the feeling that Maurice just isn't up to par with the dancing at this stage in the competition, but he is benefiting greatly from having Cheryl as his partner.
Bruno said Maurice was twirling that cape like a wind turbine in a hurricane. He called the performance strong, imposing, very powerful. Carrie Ann loved Maurice's focus and how he hit every step. Next week she wants to see him bridge the gap between that intensity and the finesse of the upper body. Len said the cape really fit the dance well, and the performance had attack and aggression. Well done. Score: 24 (8,8,8) Total: 48
Lance Bass & Lacey Schwimmer (Samba) They didn't waste much time, getting right to the Lance solo in the beginning. He deserves credit for having a lot of dance content in his solo. It didn't exactly fit in with the rest of their number, but it was very ambitious. The rest of the performance fit well with their earlier number. It was much more traditional and lacked any of the gimmicks or stunts that has caused the issues in previous weeks. Unfortunately, that didn't seem to make a difference with Len, and that was the entire reason they were doing it. At this point, I'm starting to buy into the conspiracy theory that Len has it in for Lance & Lacey. So, they might as well run with it and do what they want to do in order to maximize the fan vote.
Carrie Ann said the samba is one of the most difficult dances, but Lance did a good job. For the solo, she was distracted by Lance's eyes, which nobody else seemed to really get. Len said he saw elements of the samba, which was nice, but he didn't think the solo had the samba flavor. He said he's sure Lance will be back, because he's popular, but he has to work on his footwork. Bruno thought Lance owned the audience with his solo, and did a very difficult samba. Score: 24 (8,7,9) Total: 50
Warren Sapp & Kym Johnson (Jive) Warren had joked about the big 300-pounder doing the jive, and really, that is part of the attraction to this number. It's so fast, with so many steps, that he almost gets bonus points just for being able to pull it off. It's just fascinating to watch, like watching short guys dunk a basketball. Aside from that, it was also very well performed. Kym didn't take it easy on Warren with his second number. There really was a lot to do, and he managed it well. A couple little moments where it didn't quite go off the way it should, but overall, very nice. Warren's solo was very fun as well. He shines in the spotlight.
Len said Warren epitomizes the saying 'I could dance with joy.' It's such a joyful thing to watch, other than his feet. Bruno noted that Warren has the ability to release a contagious spirit of fun, but agreed the feet were a little flat. Carrie Ann agreed about the feet, but was amazed at how he kept them going the whole time. She loved his energy. Score: 26 (9,8,9) Total: 54
And there we have it. Based on points alone, you have to be worried about the prospects for Maurice and Cody. Julianne's injury is really unfortunate, because I think that, more than anything, is responsible for Cody's struggles. I hope to see him make it through to week 9 just so we can watch the two of them together again and see how much of a difference it really makes. We'll find out Tuesday night, where we'll also see Julianne's return to the ballroom and Lacey performing with her brother, Benji. And remember, an 8 from Len is like an 11 from Michael Flatley.