Tonight on Dancing With the Stars is the much anticipated (and probably much dreaded) Switch-Up. For those of you – like me – who are new to this show, it’s when the “celebrities” are assigned new professionals to work with for the week. Comfort zones are sure to be squashed and patience is sure to be tested!
We have another guest judge tonight. Heavens to Murgatroyd, (SWIDT?) it’s Maksim Chmerkovskiy, former DWTS professional and brother of Val.
Tamar Braxton and Louis Van Amstel
First up is Tamar Braxton with Louis Van Amstel. How refreshing it must be for Louis to have a partner who has some actual dance ability! As Louis himself much more diplomatically puts it, “With Paula, it was about keeping the choreography very simple. With Tamar, it’s pushing her as a dancer.” Louis has chosen a Samba to do with Tamar, and as she says, “This is the toughest routine for me to date.” If Tamar learns it successfully, they should score high, as it looks quite complex. Quite the strategist you are, Louis!
Tamar and Louis enter the stage in white Drum-major/majorette costumes. I’m not familiar with the song they are dancing to, but it sounds like Beyonce’s particular brand of caterwauling, and it also has a marching-band-style drumline. Tamar puts forth a good effort, but you can see that she could have used some more rehearsal. She’s still clearly one of the better dancers though. I guess Louis’s strategy didn’t quite work out as planned.
Score – 29
**Once again, there are four judges this week instead of three, so scores are on a scale of 40 instead of 30. Couldn’t they present scores on a weighted average or at least a percentage if they are going to continue to do this? It makes week-over-week comparisons such a pain!
Hayes Grier and Allison Holker
This week we learn that Hayes Grier hasn’t completely finished puberty yet. Instead of dwelling on the full ramifications of that statement, I’ll forge ahead with Hayes telling us this because his voice has been cracking. He still manages to communicate though, and tells us that he and Allison will be dancing a Viennese Waltz to (no, not the Brady Bunch masterpiece, “Time to Change”) “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” by Meghan Trainor and John Legend.
Hayes wears white tie and tails, in gray, with a pink-sequin trim on the lapels, and Allison wears a baby-blue lace confection with a full skirt. They perform a very jaunty, swingy waltz with a lot of bold movements and a lot of traveling over the floor space. Hayes still has that suggestion of clumsiness; if he could overcome that, he’d impress even more than he does.
Paula Deen and Mark Ballas
Paula is alone in the rehearsal hall. She can’t stand the suspense: “Who did America choose, y’all?”, she wonders, out loud, to herself. The door opens and in walks Mark Ballas. “Oh Mark! Oh no! You’re not gon’ be able to take me, honey! You’re so edgy, I’m scared of you…” “Why are you scared?” Mark asks. “Because I don’t know if you have patience” Paula replies, in a moment of self-awareness. “I do.” Mark assures her. “I have ‘patience’ tattooed on my wrist!” Mark shows Paula that he indeed does have such a tattoo. Paula tells us, “He might need to get the other arm tattooed with ‘more patience’”, then cackles at her own levity. Then snorts. Paula asks Mark to pick her up and turn her upside-down, like he does to “those other girls”. Obligingly, Mark attempts the maneuver with a mild degree of success. Afterwards, apparently free of newly torn ligaments or herniated spinal discs, Mark remarks that Paula is “Wild. She’s wild. She’s definitely like, Bad Grandma!” Lets see if Paula can translate that wildness onto the dance floor!
Paula and Mark will be dancing a Jive to the song, “Shake”. Mark appears in an all-white Milkman’s uniform, riding a delivery bicycle emblazoned with the sign, “Mark’s Milk”. OK, I think I’ll just let that one go. Mark knocks on the door of one of two house-fronts set up on stage. The music starts, the door opens, and one of the female staff dancers steps out and starts the routine, pointing to Mark to kiss her. He does, then two other dancers pop up in the adjacent window. Mark sits in the window, and both ladies grab bottles of milk out of Mark’s, uh, basket. Out of the door of house number two Paula comes out. The theme of this scenario is, I suppose, that the ladies all just can’t get enough of Mark’s…um…milk. M’kay…Paula steps out and next to Mark, wearing…I guess it’s supposed to represent the dress of a housewife, with an apron attached? It looks much more to me like a leftover waitress costume from a 1983 roadshow production of Pump Boys and Dinettes, but whatever.
The Jive routine commences. Mark guides Paula while she shakes her hips from side to side, twirls an invisible Hula Hoop, and at one point lifts her skirt WAY up while thankfully facing Mark and not the camera. The judges are pleased with her performance. Carrie Ann says, “It was your best dance ever!”, after which Paula turns around, lifts her skirt again, and treats the audience to a view of her red panties that say “Shake” spelled out in rhinestones. Thanks for that, Paula. Julianne says, “Mark brought the milk, and you brought the cookies!” Paula then lifts up her skirt again, this time in front. Hey, hey Paula.
Alek Skarlatos and Emma Slater
Well well well. My my my my my. Alek and Emma ended up together. //church lady voice// Isn’t that conveeenient? Either the voting public noticed what I did and dialed in their approval, or someone had some behind-the-scenes help. Either way, the couple are both quite visibly thrilled with their luck. The scenes of their working together in the rehearsal hall are rife with flirtation and verbal foreplay. A few highlights:
Emma: “This is sexy-dance week. I think I know you’ll be good with this!”
Emma: “Seriously, manhandle me!”
Alek: “Focusing while we’re dancing is a bit difficult, I mean, she’s super-attractive. I can get distracted very easily when I am dancing with her.”
Alek: “I tried to play it cool and that lasted, like, ten minutes. She’s just too hot; I can’t keep my cool under those kinds of circumstances, you know?”
All of this with a prodigious amount of giggling and blushing.
Alek and Emma will be dancing a Rumba to the song “Let It Go” by James Bay. No matter how good it is, I’m sure it will pale in comparison to the horizontal mambo that I’m betting they’ll be doing later tonight. They take the stage in blush-pink costumes (how a propos) which look silver under the lights. In a dry-ice-cloud dreamland, their Rumba is very floaty, fluid, and floaty, with no visible mistakes. They’ve managed to translate their chemistry to the dance floor. Judge Julianne Hough says, “I think we all just witnessed something happening on the dance floor.” Yes, Julianne, we certainly did.
Bindi Irwin and Val Chmerkovskiy
Bindi and Val are happy that they got each other this week. Val’s concern is maintaining the momentum that Bindi has built up. In an effort to let Val get to know her better, Bindi surprises Val in the rehearsal hall with one of her “friends” – a giant Anaconda. Sorry Bindi, you’re a dear, but the only snake I’m interested in is Val’s.
Bindi and Val do a Cha-Cha to an uptempo song, wearing sparkly yellow costumes. Bindi continues to impress. The routine was full of sharp, staccato movements executed precisely. The crowd, and judges, are impressed. Maksim gives her (and his brother) a perfect 10!
Carlos Penavega and Lindsay Arnold
Carlos says, “I was in jeopardy last week, and it was not fun.” You don’t say, Carlos. Ugh, this guy is so milquetoast that I’m bored already within the first 5 seconds of his “video package”. Suffice it to say that he likes both of his partners, but not as much as his wife (of course). He wants to stay in the competition. Yawn.
Carlos and Lindsay are dressed in purple for their performance, he in a purple suit and she in a heavily fringed dress that I can only describe as a purple-and-white representation of Cruella deVil’s hair. They do an athletic Quickstep which includes much jumping, twirling, and floor travel. The judges are effusive in their praise.
Alexa Penavega and Derek Hough
“This week, I have a wonderful, wonderful partner – Mr. Derek Hough.” Alexa is also pleased with her switch-up assignment. Apparently Alexa was also a bit discouraged after last week’s performance. (Oh, come on. You did fine. This narrative is getting old.) Derek, therefore, would like to ”build her back up”.
Alexa and Derek perform a Tango this week. The scene is one of a dystopian location, with the duo, and their five back-up dancers, in olive-mud colored quasi-militaristic costumes against a red atmosphere. Sort of Mad Max meets Red Dawn. Or something. The Tango commences and they impress. This is certainly the most artful performance of the night. Their movements seem expertly done, and the judges certainly agree!
Score: 40 (The first perfect score of the season!)
Andy Grammer and Sharna Burgess
Andy wants to get his scores up, but he is having trouble with his schedule. He apparently had to miss a concert this week due to scheduling problems, and he says it “Hurts my soul” when that happens. Well Andy, maybe your scores this week will make up for it.
Andy and Sharna do an Argentine Tango to the song “I Can’t Feel My Face” by The Weeknd. In maroon and black costumes, they take the stage, which is lit solely by red lasers and red footlights. This is another striking atmosphere visually, with the perhaps added benefit of it being dark enough that maybe the judges won’t notice any mistakes! The Tango proceeds seemingly glitch-free, and Andy proves that he is still one of the better dancers.
Nick Carter and Witney Carson
They love to shoehorn Nick Carter into the last ten minutes of the show. No matter, there’s still plenty of time for Witney to make us all feel old. “My mom used to play them a lot”, Witney says of The Backstreet Boys, “I was little. That wasn’t really my era.” What is this chick? An embryo?
Nick and Witney do a Paso Doble in black-and-black-leather costumes. Nick should definitely stick to short jackets – why cover your best asset? Witney, I will say, looks quite like the singer Pink in this hair and make-up. Nick does very well; it’s hard to tell who is the (so-called) professional in this duo. Their routine goes along with their look; very dramatic, severe, theatrical.
Tamar – 29
Hayes – 30
Paula – 26
Alek – 29
Bindi – 37
Carlos – 39
Alexa – 40
Andy – 36
Nick – 35
No one is eliminated this week, and no couples are revealed to be in jeopardy. Oy, they want to drag this show out for forever, seemingly, don’t they?
The scores from this week and next will be combined to determine who is eliminated next.
Next Week: Guest judge Olivia Newton-John!