The stars had their work cut out for them in Week 7. Not only did they have to combine two dance styles in their individual “fusion” routines, they also had to prepare for a swing dance marathon. Lucky for viewers, the couples rose to the challenge and offered some clever, memorable performances.
Shawn Johnson and stand-in partner Mark Ballas were the high scorers of the night, receiving a perfect 30 for their tango/paso doble. The routine was choreographed by the injured Derek Hough, who was obviously bummed to have been sidelined, even temporarily. However, when the competitors’ dance skills are at such a high level, you start to notice the little things. No one could fault Shawn’s execution last night, but for me, she lacked the intensity and fire that would have made her paso truly exciting. I would argue that several of the other couples delivered much more in the showmanship department.
Speaking of stellar performances, Melissa and Tony had a one of their best nights yet. Melissa, who’s always been a beautiful and technically precise dancer, really let loose and brought a fun, sexy side to their tango/cha cha. You can always tell when the stars are concentrating so hard on the steps and the count, that they forget to enjoy themselves. While that’s never been an issue for Melissa, last night she danced with an even greater confidence and abandon than ever before. She and Tony were in second place on the leader board going into the swing dance “marathon,” but took over the top spot with 10 extra points and a high-energy win.
Dance of the Night: I gotta give it to Apolo and Karina. Their cha-cha/paso doble was sharp, strong, and sexy. Apolo’s footwork was impeccable, but let’s face it, once he took his jacket off, we were all more focused on his pecs. The pros, especially the Chmerkovskiy brothers, are known for their shirtless dancing. But this was a first for Apolo, and the judges took note. Len jokingly said it was “like looking in a mirror,” and Bruno declared that “alpha-male” Apolo should be in Twilight (watch out, Team Jacob). Carrie Ann thanked him, adding, “it’s about time.” Even Brooke chimed in, asking why he’d waited seven weeks before doffing his shirt. Without missing a beat he replied, “It’s very cold in here.” However, you may feel warm after watching this.
Best moment: At the end their dance, Val popped open a black velvet ring box and offered it to Kelly, reinforcing all the romance rumors swirling around their partnership. Brooke commented on the growing chemistry between the two, and asked, “At the rate you’re going, what can we expect in the finale?” Val’s answer: “Children.”
Best hip action: Emmitt Smith. Seriously. They should name a cologne after this man. I can see the ad campaign now. Picture a hot guy in a fuchsia shirt and Cuban heels… “This holiday season, give the gift you both want: ‘Always Emmitt.’ In stores now.”
Quotable quote: “Apolo Oh-no… Apolo oh yes!” – Len Goodman, on Apolo’s performance
Scores: (individual dances only)
Shawn & Mark 30
Melissa & Tony 29
Gilles & Peta 28.5
Emmit & Cheryl 27.5
Kelly & Val 27
Apolo & Karina 27
Kirstie & Maks 24