When last we left “Dancing with the Stars,” David Arquette had become the latest surprising eliminee. After David’s turn as a dancing magician didn’t conjure up enough viewer votes on Halloween week, we were left with a final five of Hope Solo, Nancy Grace, J.R. Martinez, Ricki Lake, and Rob Kardashian.
With no specific theme planned for Monday night, each couple had to perform two dances. And one of those was the always nail-biting instant dance, in which all the competitors had to figure out a jive routine only minutes after receiving their music.
And yours truly was flying without a net as well, having to report from the ‘DWTS’ “prop cage” because the instant dance rehearsal space took over the usual press room area.
Watch: J.R. Grabs ‘DWTS’ Perfect Score:
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Here was how the fabulous five dealt with the pressure of individual AND instant dance night:
Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke : Quickstep
Rob told Cheryl in rehearsal to push him on his flaws. She didn’t hesitate to say he needed to move his feet in sync and keep his butt shoved in. “I’m tightening my butt right now,” he quipped. It was week seven and Cheryl was showing tough love: “Hold your frame up!” she told the Kardashian bro, who seemed much more focused when his mom wasn’t barging into rehearsal. But I guess Kris K. Jenner is putting out other fires these days! Anyway, Rob and Cheryl hit the ballroom floor, dancing to the song “Take on Me.” And A Ha, Rob showed off some cool bouncy leg kicks in his quickstep and kept up with the music really well. But he still looked to me a little like a calf learning to walk. The judges, however, heaped massive praise on the reality brother, with Len Goodman saying it was his best dance ever and Bruno Tonioli leering that he kept his butt in the perfect position this time. Was that Carrie Ann Inaba with those big bangs covering up her eyes? The unrecognizable judge said Rob looked elegant and smooth! Then Rob and Cheryl picked their instant dance song out of a DWTS mirror ball –they’re going to jive to “Maneater.”
Hope Solo and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Quickstep
In rehearsal, the “DWTS” bad boy said he was going to take responsibility for being an a… no, actually for being “overly rough.” Hope explained to him although she’s an athlete, “I’m just a girl” and she needed him to hold her hand sometimes. Maks toned down the intensity and tried a gentler approach (at last!). But old habits die hard – Maks still looked like he was holding in his annoyance. But he took Hope home to have dinner with his family (hometown visit? Is this “The Bachelor” now?). Maks’ dad revealed the dancer cried a lot as a kid, causing Hope to laugh. Their routine itself showed the new closeness paid off, as they came out with yellow umbrellas, “Singin’ in the Rain” style. Maks took off Hope’s yellow rain slicker to expose a beautiful, feminine sundress. The pro dancer smiled a lot during the dance, unusual for him, and Hope seemed happy as well. They danced with freedom and joy and Hope had improved so much from her usual stiff style. They concluded the dance by sitting under a gazebo and waving balloons—cute! They might make the final after all! The judges were unanimous in their praise, with Carrie Ann even giving Hope a hug. They got the song “The Best Damn Thing” for the instant dance—Hope never heard of it and neither had I.
Cut to Rob and Cheryl prepping for the instant dance—it was the first time Cheryl had done it, she said. Surprising as she has been on the show so long!
Ricki Lake and Derek Hough: (waltz)
Ricki was rushing in rehearsal and Derek talked to her about her bad shoulders. Ricki spoke to former “DWTS” winner and pal Jennifer Grey about how competitive “DWTS” was. The “Dirty Dancing” star told her to just enjoy it. Why does everyone say that rehearsing seven plus hours a day should be fun?! C’mon, Jen, tell her something more interesting! No such luck. Their waltz began with the couple standing in the mist. Dancing to “Natural Woman,” Ricki and Derek glided across the floor like butter. The former talk show hostess looked like the prom queen with her boyfriend. That shimmery blue gown made Ricki look so sophisticated. They seemed to be a little awkward tonight, however (did I see Ricki slightly lose the beat at one point?). I thought it an off night for the Golden Couple. Carrie Ann said there was a little stumble at the end but she lost herself in the dance. Len said it was like a river, beautifully executed, but her footwork was a drawback. Bruno said it was deliciously dreamy and gave them their one ten of the night. Their instant dance will be set to “Land of a Thousand Dances;” that sounded like fun.
The cameraman cut to Hope and Maks as they practiced instant dance. Hope said she thrived under pressure! Her soccer spirit had come back again and she was ready to kick (Rob K’s?) big butt!
Nancy Grace and Tristan MacManus: tango
After the disappointment of last week’s jive which landed her in the bottom two, Nancy was back—and not broken. Nancy keep quiet? Never! Tristan pointed to his mouth and told her to listen to him during rehearsal. Nancy had to respond to him, though, accusing Tristan of being negative. She admitted it’s hard to keep her lip zipped. Tristan showed his Irish temper, clutching his face because Nancy was misbehaving and mouthy as usual. “It ain’t over yet,” the HLN commentator vowed before her dance. During their tango, Nancy appeared to be playing a shady lady whom Tristan took away from her seat at a late night restaurant. Nancy exposed a lot of leg in the dance and maintained “tango face,” looking very, very serious for her dance. She ended the festivities by pointing a bit maniacally at the judges (I wouldn’t want to see her in a dark alley!). It looked like Nancy laid down a challenge to the judges and Len capitulated, saying she looked great. Bruno said her legs were like Velcro and she had the right attitude. Carrie Ann it was clean and sharp but she stumbled at the end. They got three straight 8s. Nancy and Tristan then picked their instant dance song as “Upside Down.”
How were Ricki and Derek doing backstage? Just fine! These front runners weren’t nervous at all about the prospect of instant dance. If they don’t sail into the finale it’ll be the biggest shock ever.
J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff: waltz
J.R. said he wanted to get the first 30 of season 13. Karina told him to fix his frame as the war vet laughed. He was pissing her off by goofing off in rehearsal. But dang it, Karina has never won the trophy, remember, and she pushed him to do his best. “What the World Needs Now is Love” was their song and they come out both dressed in white and looking like they were deeply in love. Great acting there, as Karina is engaged to someone else. Karina showed off her body in a sparkly bra top. They looked like a couple that had just gotten married and were sharing their first romantic dance. Except these two rehearsed for days! The audience got so into it they started applauding wildly before the dance was done and they were framed by a heart at the end—so sweet. I thought they did more than enough for that perfect 30. Bruno said it was like a musical Valentine card. “Divine.” Carrie Ann said the middle of the dance was magic. Len asked where J.R.’s tie was—but said like the soldier he was, it was all guns blazing on the dance floor (and the cameraman cut to a group of real life soldiers in the audience, presumably friends of J.R.). J.R.’s dream came true as all three judges (teasing the couple by pulling out their ten paddles very slowly) agreed that this was the best dance of the season. As J.R. and Karina celebrated their good fortune, they got the song “Tutti Frutti” for their instant dance.
Rob and Cheryl: Instant Dance: Jive
Rob did the jive in week two, so he was rusty in rehearsal. Their “Maneater” song began with Rob shaking his butt on top of the judges’ table. We’re tired of the emphasis on the Kardashian a–! He seemed to have the right steps and frisky attitude for the dance, encouraging the audience to clap along with him and doing a “Pulp Fiction” move (uh oh, there were Kris and Bruce in the audience!). Len said it should have been sharper but liked it overall. Bruno praised his youthful energy. Carrie Ann said she was still recovering from the booty shaking but agreed with the others that the kicks and flicks needed more work.
Hope and Maks Instant Dance: Jive
Their strategy for jive was to do as much usual routine as possible. In week 2, Hope’s jive was jittery but she vowed to do it right this time. Maks and Hope hit and floor and the athlete was wearing a revealing sparkly low cut top, as bare as she’s ever been on the show. Her body looked fit and she kicked with quick abandon. Hope showed off her fitness. They ended their dance after the music ended, however. Bruno called them the fast and the furious as Maks whispered something to his celebrity. Wonder what that was all about. Carrie Ann said it was a much better jive but added her hands were strange. Len called it fantastic and “bloody brilliant” and Maks and Hope gave the normally cranky judge a high five. Is Len trying to make up with Maks because he couldn’t take the heat? The dance was good, but not bloody brilliant. Backstage, the couple said they loved Len. Maks whispered to Hope again as they received their scores. Their new bonding was incredible; they were sharing private moments.
Ricki and Derek Instant Dance: Jive
Ricki did great at her last jive but didn’t know how she’d do this time. When will she admit she’s a great dancer? Always so worried, Ricki! It’s becoming annoying. Derek leaped over Ricki’s head to begin “Land of a Thousand Dances.” Everyone was going more bare in their costumes tonight and Ricki was no exception in a sparkly minidress. She showed off that 20-pound weight loss beautifully. She seemed to falter a little in the middle of the dance – perhaps she forgot a step or two? And they, too, danced after the music had stopped. Carrie Ann said there were a few little stops and starts. “You stopped while Derek kept going.” Len confirmed there were dead spots and Bruno said they didn’t maintain the flow. Ricki apologized to the audience that she disappointed everyone. Oh, dear. This one was taking it too seriously—memba what Jennifer Grey said, girl. Have fun. Sigh.
Nancy and Tristan Instant Dance: Jive
Tristan said it was “instant panic” for them during rehearsal. Nancy reminded Tristan she was raising twins and had a full time job and he didn’t. And damn it, she was the oldest one in the competition (playing the age card again, go Nancy). Tristan jumped over Nancy’s head just like Derek had with Ricki. Gotta admit Nancy looked half her age in her tassled gold dress and she smirked throughout like she knew what she was doing. Lots of polished arm movements from Nancy here and she ended it all with a respectable version of a cartwheel. Take that, Carson Kressley. Len mentioned her Cinderella story but said it was midnight and time to go home as the cameraman kindly cut to her twin four-year-old kids and devoted husband in the audience. Bruno said the dance was too laid back and loose for a jive. Carrie Ann knocked her, too, saying she got lost in the choreography. Looks like Nancy has a target on her back for tomorrow’s elimination show.
J.R. and Karina Instant Dance: Jive
This couple was penalized last time they did a jive for doing a lift and wanted to perfect everything. They were the “Tutti Fruitti” couple and they did Little Richard proud with a high energy dance featuring all kinds of leg kicks from JR. He really knew how to get the crowd going as he strutted behind Karina, fanning himself with his hat. What a night for these two! Karina was all smiles, sensing the trophy was close. Bruno leaped out of his judge’s seat, calling it sensational. “You’ve got it man,” Bruno yelled. Carrie Ann said nobody was coming close to them Monday night. Len said it was the most fantastic jive of the show. No surprise they got another perfect 30—two on the night! J.R. said he was speechless, then tried to talk, then Brooke Burke-Charvet basically told him to be quiet because they had to end the show. And what can you say about perfection, anyway?