They say every picture tells a story. Monday night, every dance told a story as week three of “Dancing with the Stars” featured themed dances for “personal story week,” in which each contestant told the tale of the most memorable year of their lives.
Carson Kressley’s story was about “growing up gay.” Chaz Bono downplayed his transgender status and simply focused on becoming happy this past year. And Chynna Phillips reminded us of her past drug struggles. But it was J.R. Martinez who brought the house to tears with what was, hands’ down, the most emotional tale of the night.
Before we get to that, we had a bit of fun spying on some of the famous faces out on the dance floor just moments before the show went live. The vibe was festive for some and all business for others. On the festive side was Carrie Ann Inaba, who danced at the judges’ table toward Len Goodman’s direction. He looked unimpressed, but she was having a grand ol’ time shaking her booty by herself. Over in the audience, Kris Jenner was all business as she texted away at her front row table with daughters Kourtney, Kim, Kendall, and Kylie by her side.
Alright, spying aside, let’s talk dancing….
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Robert Kardashian and Cheryl Burke: Fox Trot
Kicking off personal story week, Rob honored the memory of his late father, O.J. Simpson trial lawyer Robert Kardashian Sr., who died of cancer in 2003. With a touching tale of how his dad was his best friend, Rob made some of us viewing backstage let out a collective “awwww.” The reality star danced to his father’s favorite song, Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon,” and showed off a charming debonair side that would make any papa proud. The judges loved it too. “You just put the dash into Kardashian,” said Len, who loved Rob’s footwork and posture. “Rob, the man is getting the upper hand,” said Bruno Tonioli playfully. Carrie Ann loved to watch him progress and called it a “debonair” dance. Hey! She took the word right out of my mouth!
Chynna Phillips and Tony Dovolani: Rumba
The year was 1990. The important event was the release Wilson Phillips’ first single, “Hold On.” The journey for Chynna was getting away from drugs and finding love. Did she evoke all of that in her Rumba (set to her own song, “Hold On,” of course)? You betcha! “You are a smoldering siren,” Bruno said. Carrie Ann said, “Well, we asked for more and you definitely gave us more.” Hard-to-please Len even loved it: “You’re gonna be here for weeks and weeks.” We couldn’t agree more. She even scored the first 9s of the season. Job well done.
Chaz Bono and Lacey Schwimmer: Rumba
Chaz’s most memorable year is this year, living his life as he wants and finding true happiness among the adversity. He chose a song his late father Sonny Bono wrote, “Laugh At Me,” which is about not caring what others think. Another fine tribute to another dearly departed dad. The opening line of the song was quite fitting as well: “Why can’t I be like any other guy?” Touching story aside, the dancing, unfortunately, was not great. Carrie Ann was impressed by his courage but said it wasn’t his best performance and was disappointed. Len, however, said, “That was your best dance.” (What?!) The cranky judge was clearly in an extra good mood. Bruno thought he “looked a little bit lost.”
Kristin Cavallari and Mark Ballas: Samba
Last week she masterfully transformed into Marilyn Monroe. This week she channeled Beyonce for a “Crazy in Love” sexy samba honoring the year 2005 – when she moved to Hollywood and started her entertainment career. It was sexy, high energy, and put the “F” in Fun. And hello? Jay Culter, her ex fiancé, was in the audience. Soooooo are the broken up couple back to being “crazy in love?” Not sure yet, but we do know the judges went crazy for it. “Keep going that way. You’re going right!” screamed Bruno. Carrie Ann added, “You are definitely pushing yourself to the limits. Keep it up.” As for Len, he didn’t care for the hair flipping part of her routine.
Carson Kressley and Anna Trebunskaya: Tango
The funnyman made us tear up a bit talking about how hard it was “growing up gay.” He chose to Tango to “It’s My Life” by No Doubt from his favorite year, 2003, the year “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” came out and became a phenomenon. As expected, the fashionista turned the serious into laughs instantly with an animated Tango that made us crack up backstage. Screw technique! Carson is entertaining. Bruno said, “Carson, that was insanely brilliant!” Carrie Ann l-o-v-e-d it! “You brought us drama, entertainment, enthusiasm…” she said. “A little bit of girlie-girlie, a little bit of masculine.” Len said, “You put the ‘boy’ in flamboyant!” The ballroom went bonkers over this one too.
J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff: Rumba
The most heartbreaking story of the night came from J.R., who was critically injured in Iraq while serving his country, leaving him badly burned. The inspiring dance, dedicated to those who didn’t make it out alive, got everyone on their feet in a rousing standing ovation that seemed to go on forever. “Heroes are ordinary people who do extraordinary things. Tonight you did something extraordinary. You touched us all,” said a teary-eyed Carrie Ann. Len said, “It was so poignant and I loved it.” Bruno said, “You really are a hero and you really area source of inspiration. You danced from your heart.”
Nancy Grace and Tristan McManus: Waltz
Wow, just when we thought J.R.’s story was emotional comes Nancy Grace, who talked about how the fluid in her lungs nearly killed her twins and herself, forcing the babies to come two months early in 2007. Once they were born, the first song she sang to them was “Moon River,” thus her chosen song for what turned out to be a lovely and, pardon the pun, graceful waltz. “Soft and dreamy,” said Bruno. Len complained about her ballroom stance. But Carrie Ann said she was “transported” and felt like “all the animals from the forest came and were watching you dance.” Tom Bergeron gave “Carrie Ann’s imagination a 10.” (It’s comments like that that make the co-host an Emmy nominee.)
Ricki Lake and Derek Hough: Rumba
Ricki’s Rumba was told through the story of the past year, in which the actress survived a devastating house fire and went on to become engaged to Christian Evans (the wedding is in spring). “I’ve never felt loved in the way I do with him,” she said with tears in her eyes. The romantic Rumba channeled her story of true love beautifully and even made her fiancé in the audience well up. “That was the actress dancer at her best,” said Bruno. “Ricki Lake is on fire!” said Carrie Ann. Uh, is it just me or was that a bit inappropriate given the fact that her house burned down? Len said, “Well done, both of you.”
Hope Solo and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Cha Cha Cha
2011 was her year. Losing the World Cup was the story. Maks got things off to an awkward start by saying that the athlete has a problem being sexy. Moments later, she accidentally seemed to step on his privates in rehearsal. Take that, Maks! While she looked the sexpot in a lacey black outfit, for some reason, there was zero chemistry between Hope and Maks. Carrie Ann wants to take her and “work on her walk.” Len thought it was too provocative for him, but thought the Cha Cha Cha was good and called it her best dance so far. Bruno squealed with delight, “Hope, the sexy minx is out of the cage! The man eater is there!”
David Arquette and Kym Johnson: Rumba
After landing in the bottom two last week, did David (shirtless, no less!) rally all of the entertaining bones in his body to bring it tonight? Yes, indeed. The story was about his breakup with Courteney Cox and the downward spiral that followed, and he choose the song “O-o-h Child,” which he dedicated to his darling daughter. And, yes, the super sweet Coco and super supportive Courteney, along with David’s sister Patricia Arquette, were in the audience tonight too. “It was a mix of motion and emotion,” said Len. Bruno said he brought “sensitively, vulnerability – you were achingly romantic.” Carrie Ann loved his “raw emotion that is pure and honest.”