'Dancing with the Stars' Season 18 Recap: Week Nine Performances (American Icons/Semifinals)

By Michael Pascua,
With two dances, can the celebrities get 10s from Len and Ken?

It’s the semi-finals and all five celebrities have a very good shot at winning, each having proven why. The couples introduced themselves with a little bit of dancing. I appreciated that Amy had her different prosthetics this week.

We welcomed choreographer Kenny Ortega. Kenny thought everyone deserved to be in the final five and was looking for enjoyment and wanted to be taken somewhere he’s never been before.

The competition began immediately as Candace & Mark started first for the night. After their performance, they were told that they made it to the finals next week. They were followed by James & Peta’s safety, meaning the three Olympians were in the bottom three.

Round 1 - Personal Icons

Candace & Mark
Dance - Viennese Waltz
Song - “If I Knew” by Bruno Mars
Candace acted silly knowing that she had to dance to “Nasty” for her second dance. She wanted to put in cool moves, but Mark immediately rejected those ideas. Mark appreciated the compatibility the two had together throughout the whole season. Candace’s personal icon was Angela Thomas, author. The two had time to talk and Angela told Candace to shine, dance and the two reaffirmed their faith. The couple started off light and friendly as the two had a nice glide across the floor. After a few turns, Candace lost her focus and stumbled around. Mark tried to keep her back on focus, but you knew that Candace psyched herself out. She proceeded to stumble a bit in little places that she didn't make any mistakes with in the beginning; her arms lacked the confidence she opened the routine with.

Len told her that the pressure got to her. Kenny loved the partnership and trust. Bruno loved the bright movements, but thought she could have done better to cover up. Carrie Ann knew that she messed up but she trusted in Mark. Score: 34 (8,9,9,8)

Charlie & Sharna
Dance - Foxtrot
Song - “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra
Sharna was worried because the one of the two dances the couple had was the Samba and for some reason Charlie’s body didn't really gel well with Latin motions. Charlie explained that Olympian Scott Hamilton was his personal icon. Scott explained that he was looking for versatility. Charlie is great in hold and as the couple began their dance, Charlie looked smooth as he performed. Sharna's choreography was perfect as the two glided across the dance floor. It was almost as if he was on ice. When the couple got up the stairs, the music swelled at the right time and he did the song justice. His ending proved how beautiful he could be on ice.

Kenny thought the routine was delightful. Bruno noted that the routine had flair and sophistication. Carrie Ann thought Charlie improved on the perfection he had last week. Len thought the performance was just right. Score: 40 (10,10,10,10)

Amy & Derek
Dance - Quickstep
Song - “You Can’t Hurry Love” by The Supremes
Derek explained that Quickstep and Jazz were the two dances and Derek was worried about traveling around the dance floor. Amy had to use her running blades because they gave her bounce in their step. Amy got a call from Oprah and Oprah explained how she’s been watching the whole season and has been supportive the whole time. Amy explained that Oprah is a true inspiration to her, but Oprah was even more inspired by Amy. Amy began running on her own and from there I was happy to see how much Amy had this spring to her step due to the blades. She kept up with the choreography correctly and Derek didn’t break any rules about breaking hold either. The routine looked fun, cheeky, and effortless.

Bruno’s jaw dropped to the floor after seeing the performance. Carrie Ann thought Amy was dancing full-throttle. Len wished there was more body contact. Kenny (and Oprah) pled for America to vote for her and called her triple Amy. Score: 39 (10,9,10,10)

James & Peta
Dance - Cha-Cha
Song - “Love Never Felt So Good” by Michael Jackson
Peta was proud of having James as a partner. The two got to dance to a new Michael Jackson song and he was under the pressure of dancing for his personal icon Michael Jackson. L.A. Reid stopped by and gave some advice; L.A. explained that Michael’s drive was how much he wanted to be great. The couple began their dance looking confident. There were very small slip-ups with arm or leg positioning due to the speed of the routine, combined with the energy that James wanted to put into the routine. The integration of Michael Jackson moves with cha-cha was better than Mark Ballas ever did with their routines and Mark is a huge fan of Jackson. James danced with an ease he didn’t have in weeks before.

Carrie Ann loved the integration of Michael Jackson with the James Maslow twist. Len loved the references, but there was a lot of cha-cha content. Kenny knew that James put his heart and soul into the electrifying performance. Bruno thought the routine was “effortlessly cool.” Score: 40 (10,10,10,10)

Meryl & Maks
Dance - Jive
Song - “Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley
Meryl explained that Kristi Yamaguchi was her Personal Icon and Meryl explained how Kristi has been supportive throughout her whole career; Kristi explained the mental stress was the biggest issue. Meryl knew there was a lot of pressure after landing in the bottom last week and Maks was stressed out even more because he knew he had the best partner. The silhouette moves in the beginning were creative. As they moved down the stage there was something weird about Meryl’s arms during the performance. Her legs and her movements were nice and she positioned her body correctly. There wasn’t too much comedy, but there were clear nods to Elvis without it being corny or distracting.

Len thought the routine was fantastic. Kenny thought Meryl’s kicks and flicks were amazing, everything was great. Bruno thought they were the king and queen of rock and roll; it was stylistically impeccable. After Maks provided the judges with kisses, Carrie Ann loved how flawless Meryl’s movements were even with a very basic costume. Score: 40 (10,10,10,10)

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