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We began the night with a tribute to Michael Jackson's Bad album with a performance to "Smooth Criminal" and "The Way You Make Me Feel" and I'm almost surprised that two of the biggest songs weren't given to the celebrities instead. While the performance was interesting, the lack of distinguishable performers made a big difference to why I would even care about the dance. I was more impressed by the screens that looked like they were stolen from the X Factor set.
Round One - Off-Beat Challenge
Melissa and Tony - "Caveman Hustle" - After having a perfect score, Melissa and Tony decided to dance with no fear. She realized that she's the only one up against former winners. Melissa was worried about looking stupid as cavemen, but to make it 10-worthy. On Sunday, Tony's back gave out as Tom reminded us that Tony was cleared after getting a lot of injections. After the dumbest looking dinosaur animation (considering that ABC is part of the Disney family), I think the biggest challenge was the fact that both were barefooted throughout the whole performance. The moves generally skewed So You Think You Can Dance where the moves didn't match any real theme. They gave it their best shot, but it wasn't spectacular.
Len thought it was a hustle with no hassle. Bruno thought that there were unsteady turns but he was impressed by the performance. Carrie Ann thought the two merged sections; the caveman section was better than the hustle section. Score: 27.5 (9,9.5,9)
Shawn and Derek - "Knight Rider Bhangra" - While the two made it to the semi-finals, the two were confused by both Knight Rider and Bhangra. They had a choreographer come in and explain moves that they were looking for. I felt the worst for the two of them because this wasn't even close to having something DWTS related (Flamenco is close to Paso Doble, for example). Their lifts were really pretty to watch and their choreography seemed tight enough, but I didn't know exactly how to rate the dance. Again, it was very So You Think You Can Dance and I'm not sure if I like my two shows mixing in that extreme.
Bruno loved the routine, hugging Shawn. Carrie Ann thought that the movements were fantastic. Len thought the routine was also fantastic. Score: 30 (10,10,10)
Apolo and Karina - "Big Top Jazz" - Apolo and Karina decided to go with a more modern attempt at Jazz and Apolo was immediately confused; he decided to keep adding more hours. The two were too tired but kept working. The vocals of the song were so bad that it was confusing to watch. The two seemed to have way too much energy where they came off a little too broken and wild. There were a lot of lifts, but they all came off funny.
Carrie Ann loved the concept but she thought everything was disjointed; the dismounts were sloppy. Len knew there were awkward moments, but Apolo kept fighting. Bruno thought it was edgy and real; he appreciated that there were many types of jazz placed in the routine. Score: 27 (8.5,9,9.5)
Emmitt and Cheryl - "Espionage Lindy Hop" - Cheryl was excited about getting through a great salsa; the two were confused by the lindy hop and espionage. Cheryl decided to go with a "Spy vs. Spy" style theme and expected him to have better acting skills. He knew that the competition was challenging, but had to keep going. The routine felt a little too hectic again, but Cheryl tried her best to cater to Emmitt's strengths and put moments where Emmitt could stand in place. The lifts were smoother than Apolo's.
Len loved the concept, but wished there was more Lindy. Bruno thought the routine had so much fun. Carrie Ann thought that he was really animated. Score: 27 (9,9,9)
Kelly and Val - "Surfer Flamenco" - Val wanted to make sure that there were both pictures and timing; he wanted to make sure the choreography was more challenging. The two generally stressed out, but they both knew they had to put as much effort in as possible. The routine started off in high energy and picked up really well. I have no clue what the routine had to do with "surfer" but the flamenco section was great. When they got to the water section with Val in his speedos, I wasn't paying attention to the routine. Again, the water section was something done on So You Think You Can Dance but the two put in as much passion as possible.
Bruno thought there was fire, but no placement in the routine. Carrie Ann agreed, there was Paso in the dance, but it wasn't Flamenco enough. Len thought the routine had attack and her energy was high. Score: 25 (8,9,8.5)
Round Two - The Michael Jackson Bad Challenge
Melissa and Tony - Argentine Tango - Melissa could feel the pressure in the routine, she knew that she'd have to be in the studio. As the two began their dance, Melissa tried to have her seductress back from a few weeks ago. I thought the two were clean as they danced, Melissa's legs were wonderful throughout the routine. Her final leg sequence was amazing and it went through so smoothly that I think even Melissa was impressed.
Len really hoped that Melissa would make it to the finale. Bruno thought Melissa was possessed because the lifts were extraordinary; she deserves to be in the finals. Carrie Ann thought that Melissa was magnificent; she had the passion and the lifts were amazing. Score: 30 (10,10,10)
Shawn and Derek - Argentine Tango - Derek was nervous with choreographing as Shawn had to deal with getting past her gymnastics past. As the two danced, the interesting screen was underutilized. They had a routine that played on Shawn's height. Unlike Melissa's routine that had a lot of lifts, Shawn had a lot of leg work and low lifts. I thought the routine was nice and Derek choreographed the routine perfectly for Shawn.
Bruno knew that there were two different styles; the routine was still breathtaking. Carrie Ann thought the movements were breathtaking, but she lacked the intimacy of the Argentine Tango. Len thought she nailed the routine. Score: 29 (9,10,10)
Apolo and Karina - Rumba - Apolo knew that the show gave the two highs and lows throughout the show. Karina wanted to make sure that the two matched the loving theme of the rumba. Apolo had a smoothness that he didn't show throughout this season. I thought he could have been smoother, there were moments where it looked like Karina was doing all the work while he stood there.
Carrie Ann thought the routine had perfection. Len thought there was a subtle, effortless performance. Bruno thought he nailed the routine. Score: 30(10,10,10)
Emmitt and Cheryl - Tango - Emmitt knew that this was the playoff push. He remembered season 3 as he transformed himself and knew that six years have passed and he was still going to make everything happen. The two stressed out during practice and tried to figure out what was and wasn't working. As the two danced I found Cheryl’s good way of getting something that looked lift-like into the routine in the beginning. The two had a decent frame as they performed a very clean routine. I understand why Emmitt had such a serious face, but I wished it wasn't as stoic the whole time.
Len knew that he had the hardest challenge with a ballroom tango, but he coped marvelously well. Bruno loved the intensity of the routine, but he wanted better footwork. Carrie Ann also agreed, he brought his A-game this week. Score: 27 (9,9,9)
Kelly and Val - Rumba - Val wanted to channel their inner love for each other; he wanted to make sure there was a connection. Kelly had trouble with intimacy; she explained how easy it was to tell another person’s story on daytime television. I loved the fact that the two decided to dance their routine in a circle, similar to acoustic week. The lights helped emphasize the sensuality perfectly. I appreciated the quality of movement that Kelly was giving throughout the whole routine.
Bruno thought it was a smoldering routine; the chemistry was perfect. Carrie Ann loved the interpretation, there were some clipped movements though. Len loved the control and emotion, her lines and shapes were fantastic. Score: 28.5 (9.5,9.5,9.5)
Week 9 Scores
Shawn and Derek - 59
Melissa and Tony - 57.5
Apolo and Karina - 57
Kelly and Val - 54
Emmitt and Cheryl - 54