DANCING WITH THE STARS' Contestants Quickstep, Jive on 3/26 Episode
The 14th season of DANCING WITH THE STARS, hailed as the "most competitive season ever" by judge Len Goodman, continues this week with all twelve original competitors. The amateur dancers and their professional counterparts were given the choice between a quickstep and a jive, in hopes to survive tomorrow's elimination episode, set to air at 9pm EST. Contestants' scores from this week will be added to last week's, creating cumulative scores that will be considered in the elimination process.
Roshon Fegan & Chelsie Hightower
Cumulative Score: 49/60
What began as a campy Hollywood romp across a red-carpeted stage quickly became a performance of impressive glam with, as viewers begun to see, Fegan's mandatory infusion of swag. It was very foreign in comparison to he and Hightower's previous routine, an unbelievable improvement that opened the show on an extremely high note. "You had so much swagger last week," Judge Carrie Ann Inaba said, who awarded him a 9, his highest mark thus far. "I didn't think it would turn into a good quickstep this week, but you turned that swagger into sophistication and elegance."
Sherri Shepherd & Val Chmerkovskiy
Cumulative Score: 46/60
"This ain't gonna be Proud Sherri, this is gonna be Dead Sherri," Shepherd said during rehearsals for this week's jive with partner Val Chmerkovskiy. However, donning a gold flapper frock, she proved that the jive wasn't enough to deter the sass - though it was notably less enchanting than her performance in the premiere episode. Inaccurate footwork aside, Shepherd's routine to "Proud Mary" was enough to rouse Judge Bruno Tonioli into a fit of shouting, most notably, that Tina Turner would have been proud. "I don't know what happened out there," Shepherd said, out of breath after the dance, "but if anyone's got a heart monitor and an oxygen tank, I need [them] stat."
Melissa Gilbert & Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Cumulative Score: 40/60
Gilbert and Chmerkovskiy performed a balmy quickstep to "Dancing with Myself." And with Gilbert's stiff frame and posture, it did, in fact, seem as if only one person was dancing; it's unfortunate the way her mildness is exceeded by Chmerkovskiy's perfected technique and energy. In rehearsal, after defending her "tears of joy" Gilbert said the quickstep "[is] more difficult than childbirth" - so it wasn't entirely a surprise when she garnered the same score as last week's.
Jack Wagner & Anna Trebunskaya
Cumulative Score: 44/60
With significant less schtick that the routine the duo performed during the premiere, Wagner and Trebunskaya created a smiley, flashy, and notably overdone (as pointed out by Carrie), jive. Len admired the energy of the pair, but only labeled the routine as "an acceptable standard," a meh-worthy performance to scoot Wagner through the first elimination.
Gladys Knight & Tristan MacManus
Cumulative Score: 42/60
For the first time of the season, the intimidation factor that accompanies performing at the end of the broadcast was brought up by Knight. "I love performing on one of the most competitive seasons," Knight said, "I used to do shows with JAmes Brown...so you know, that makes you step up." But the star-power the living legend brought to the DANCING stage in last week's episode was obviously vacant in her and MacManus' quickstep, this week. In the performance, Knight underscores the fact that rhythm can transcend the voice to the feet and the rest of the body - but only to a certain degree. "As much as I admire you, I didn't really, 100% appreciate the dance tonight," Len said, who rewarded the singer the first 5 of the season. "I'm out of my element," Knight said. "I don't dance!"
Katherine Jenkins & Mark Ballas
Cumulative Score: 52/60
In the premiere episode, Jenkins tied with Jaleel White for the top spot, but edged her way to the front of the rag-tag pack, securing the first place position (point-wise), thus far. Partner, Ballas, pushed her to bring out the sexy, to get past her struggles with shyness, and to shake her Welsh "naughty bits!" Jenkins, admittedly nervous, delivered the most visceral dance of the season thus far - she had the sort of sharp energy that hits in pointed barbs, aligning perfectly with each kick and extension. All three judges praised praised the routine, with Carrie labeling the classical singer as absolutely "brilliant."
Jaleel White & Kym Johnson
Cumulative Score: 48/60
With a soda-shop themed jive, White and Johnson delved into the land of schtick that Wagner had previously made unbearable. It wasn't the rhythmic rapture like last week's performance, more of a cringe worthy eye-roller at best. "Last week you blew the socks off this place" said Carrie. "[This dance] didn't have the same sparkle." It's unfortunate White's lost his grasp on second place behind Jenkins, but the theatricality of the performance felt more Urkel than Astair - and the average viewer isn't likely to respect any sort of cheap physical comedy on the DANCING stage.
Maria Menounos & Derek Hough
Cumulative Score: 46/60
Though she strained her ribs in rehearsals for this week's routine, Menounos vowed to be a "tough Greek" and quickstep through the pain. With a caper-themed, Bonnie and Clyde-esque performance, the duo received mostly positive comments from the judges - all agreeing it was a vast improvement over last week's mediocre cha-cha. The middle of the routine though, as noted by Carrie, was disctractingly heavy - as if Menounos had stuffed a few hundred of those prop-bills into her garters.
Martina Navratilova & Tony Dovolani
Cumulative Score: 37/60
With a rough rehearsal week, a reinjured sports injury in her toe, and difficulty learning moves, one shouldn't be surprised at Navratilova receiving the lowest scores of the week. The jive she performed with Dovolani was slow, stiff, sludgy. The necessary grace required in even an amatuer dancer is notably missing - though Navratilova's frequent forgetfulness of moves isn't. "The jive is about whaming us," said Len. "You've got to come out here and attack these dances." And though it seems as if Navratilova may be the first to depart the DANCING stage, one can't discredit the quiet charm she brings in her humility post-performance. "I blew it," she admitted, and regardless of one's feelings towards the routine, it's nice to see someone like that on national television.
Donald Driver & Peta Murgatroyd
Cumulative Score: 45/60
Driver and Murgatroyd's quickstep was full of flashes of impressive footwork - reiterating the fact that his professional football career has done nothing but make him capable of being a dancer. For the first time ever, Len offered Driver an apology over his critique on last week's episode, "I undermarked you." And though Driver was hoping for a higher score, both Carrie and Bruno applauded his apparent refined charmed, and smooth elegance.
Gavin DeGraw & Karina Smirnoff
Cumulative Score: 41/60
DeGraw's disappointing performance from the premiere episode, accompanied with his frustration and attitude in rehearsal with this week's jive makes one wonder if Gavin has what it takes to be part of the DANCING cast - or if he even really wants to be. And though his Elvis-esque performance was more stylish, sharply framed, and more animated than the last, regardless of some lagging footwork and borderline arm-flail here and there, it wasn't enough to land him a score to place him at the top of the pack. Like last week, DeGraw found himself scoring towards the bottom of the group.
William Levy & Cheryl Burke
Cumulative Score: 49/60
Much like DeGraw and Smirnoff, Levy and Bruke fell into the lump of decent dancers, right in the middle of the pack. With a so-so routine, the focus on Levy's moves rather than his only mediocre talent to move was dance-dejavu - with the judges commenting more on his appearance (disappointingly clothed, according to Bruno) than his routine. "Even fully clothed, you have the ability to dazzle," Bruno said.
For coverage of last week's premiere episode of DANCING WITH THE STARS, visit http://www.broadwayworld.com/article/DANCING-WITH-THE-STARS-Debuts-Season-14-Premiere-Recap-20120319. Check out BroadwayWorld tomorrow night, following the first elimination, for a recap and review.