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'Dancing With the Stars' recap: 'Semi-Finals'

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Dancing With the Stars

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Tom Bergeron, Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli, Len Goodman
Reality TV

And then there were five — if you can believe it. It seems like just yesterday we were watching some fever dream salsa routine in which Geraldo Rivera donned an infamous blonde wig and “shook” his hips all over the oval office. Thankfully (hopefully?) we don’t have to endure that again. Instead, we’re left with one of the most exciting, up-in-the-air semi-finals in DWTS history.

Our five remaining celebs will have to survive the Trio Round in order to make it to the big finale next week. This challenge seems appropriate, no? Since, after tonight’s double elimination, we’ll be left with just three couples standing. Things are about to get real, you guys. Let’s recap.


Paige VanZant and Mark Ballas with Alan Bersten

Samba | “Hip Hip Chin Chin” by Club Des Belugas

Hey, remember when Mark injured himself and troupe member Alan had to fill in and he and Paige were extremely hot together? So does Mark, so he wisely chooses Alan as the third member in their little dance triangle. Erin remembers, too, and she, predictably, just can’t let it go. Let’s ignore the tabloid-fodder and focus on the dance. Paige, Mark, and Alan are portraying very sexy birds this evening, which, let’s face it, are the only good kind of birds. Mark’s choreography is so fun, and Bruno’s right, Paige is the star of this routine. If Paige doesn’t sail into the finals, that’s on you, America. 

Judges’ Score: 30/30

Antonio Brown and Sharna Burgess with Hayley Erbert 

Argentine Tango | “Mi Confesion” by Gotan Project

Antonio’s not scared of the pressure of the semi-finals; it’s basically the playoffs of televised dancing competitions. He’s ready to continue on his upward swing, and to help him and Sharna continue to improve, they’ve enlisted troupe member Hayley. Sharna wants another fierce gal beside her for this fiery argentine tango. Antonio really seems into this competition, finally. Bruno notes his improved confidence, and the fact that he seamlessly and powerfully led the two ladies throughout their routine. Carrie Ann wants more elongated lines, but Len disagrees, and reminds her that the argentine tango is a compact dance. Take that, Carrie Ann!

Judges’ Score: 27/30

Wanyá Morris and Lindsay Arnold with Witney Carson 

Paso Doblé | “Explosive” by David Garrett and Franck Heijden and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

You guys were crazy if you thought Z-Pak was going to pick anyone else but her bestie Witney for her and Wanyá’s trio dance. For good reason: Witney and Lindsay’s paso with Alfonso Ribeiro to “Turn Down For What” is one of the best trio dances ever done — and, to be honest, one of my favorite dances on DWTS period. Witney is just in time, too. Wanyá and Lindsay could use a little blonde ball of energy after their big props-related stumble last week. Wanyá even cries about it! After seeing his paso, there’s no need for tears. Bruno praises him for his passion and artistry, Len loved the details and finesse, and Carrie Ann is just a proud mama who wants a hug. Wanyá is back, you guys. 

Judges’ Score: 30/30

NEXT: Operation Make Jenna A Pro Partner commences [pagebreak]

Nyle DiMarco and Peta Murgatroyd with Jenna Johnson 

Jive | “Hit the Road Jack” by Hermes House Band

Can we get Jenna a celeb partner next season? The girl is so deserving. She serves face like I’ve never seen. Except for maybe Sharna, but, like we could always use more face in the ballroom. Nyle’s pretty excited to have Jenna join him and Peta in their malt-shop-date-gone-wrong-themed jive, probably because of the serving face thing, but also because she knows some sign language and she can’t help herself from complimenting the hunky dude. The light-hearted chemistry follows the trio out onto the dance floor. They’re all so cute it almost makes up for the timing issues the group has — almost.The judges praise the tone of the dance, but can’t ignore that the hectic choreography, and Peta’s slip up, pulled the trio out of sync. 

Judges’ Score: 27/30

Ginger Zee and Valentin Chmerkovskiy with Artem Chigvintsev 

Paso Doblé | “Shot Me Down” by David Guetta

We learned something really important tonight, you guys: Artem is honey, Val is mustard, and together they make honey mustard. Which is the perfect combo because Ginger is a chicken nugget, and she wants to take a dip of both. WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING HERE? Fight me in the comments, if you’d like, but Val consistently gives the best talking head interviews on this show. Speaking of the comments, I know there’s been some Ginger-hate from some of you, but, come on, guys, can we all agree that her paso was pretty legit? Okay, as the judges point out, there were some skirt issues and her shaping wasn’t as big or as sharp as the paso typically has, but she was in that. It was steamy and intense, and I’d take that over her Disney week dance any day.

Judges’ Score: 27/30


Paige VanZant and Mark Ballas 

Argentine Tango | “One Time” by Marian Hill

It was clear that Paige had some sort of dance training prior to this competition, but I didn’t quite realize how much. It doesn’t mean she deserves a spot in the finals any less, but, I need to go process this revelation. First though, a cold shower is in order. Paige and Mark’s Argentine tango is… hot. My only notes were “sexxxy” and “great table work.” America’s Dad Tom Bergeron agrees with the latter, after the smoldering routine, he perfectly notes, “I actually saw the table break out into a sweat.” It’s true! In fact, the whole thing was a little too steamy for Len Goodman (um, wasn’t he the dude grabbing his crotch during a team dance last week?) Regardless, Carrie Ann and Bruno loved it. Carrie Ann especially notes just how multi-dimensional Paige’s dancing is; she’s strong, athletic, feminine, intense… the list goes on.

Judges’ Score: 29/30

Antonio Brown and Sharna Burgess 

Contemporary | “Hall of Fame” by The Script

The dads are killing me tonight! It’s no secret that Antonio’s relationship with his father was strained growing up, so to hear him talk about how he regrets leaving Antonio, and to hear Antonio remark that “just because someone gives up on you, doesn’t mean you give up on yourself,” was emotional. When did this show get so real? I’m supposed to be crying over gorgeous lines and lifts, not real things! Okay, so I cried over the gorgeous lines and lifts, too. THOSE. LIFTS. The last one in particular was absolutely stunning; Antonio has never been a stronger partner for Sharna than he was in this routine. Carrie Ann admits that Antonio may not be the best dancer left, but his presence electrifies the ballroom. 

Judges’ Score: 28/30

NEXT: The Charleston meets its match [pagebreak]

Wanyá Morris and Lindsay Arnold 

Charleston | “Shame on Me” by Avicii

Have a dance style and celeb ever been so perfectly paired as the Charleston and Wanyá Morris? It was made for him. In his first package tonight, he made it clear he wanted to get out of his head and have fun again — that number was beyond fun. Carrie Ann called his feet “electric” and Len was filled with joy (finally!). A lot of people wearing sunglasses indoors told us how determined, entertaining, and straight-up talented Wanyá has always been, and he showed all of those things in this high-energy, sharp, exuberant dance. After that unreal routine, after a perfectly-scored night, it would be a travesty to lose Wanyá now. I mean, did you see that celebratory twerk? 

Judges’ Score: 30/30

Nyle DiMarco and Peta Murgatroyd

Argentine Tango | “Unsteady” by X Ambassadors

From the beginning of the season, Nyle’s theme has been fearlessness. He, perhaps more than any other celeb this season, has had to push himself to do seemingly impossible things. So, what’s one more of those impossible things, really? Peta and Nyle add a blindfolded sequence to their pretty, emotional, but less-than-traditional Argentine tango. It’s effective, and Nyle seems to perform best in these brooding, romantic pieces. Bruno accurately describes it as “mesmerizing,” and Carrie Ann is once again astounded by his quality of movement. With the amount of surprises and challenges Peta and Nyle have already packed into their routines, I’m looking forward to see what they come up with for their freestyle — we all know Nyle’s a shoo-in.

Judges’ Score: 30/30

Ginger Zee and Valentin Chmerkovskiy

Quickstep | “Fire Under My Feet” by Leona Lewis

Ginger opens up about her parents divorce and her eating disorder, and it adds new meaning to all of those times the judges have praised her control of her body. It adds a new dimension to Ginger. Still, something was lacking in her and Val’s quickstep. Sure, Leona Lewis was there, but something seemed off. Carrie Ann makes sure to call them out on her skirt slip up (Ginger’s skirts were against her tonight!), but the whole thing lacks a brightness inherent in the dance style. Carrie Ann and I stand alone, I guess, because Len and Bruno can’t get enough of the glittery routine.

Judges’ Score: 29/30

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And then everyone moves on to the finals! You get a mirror ball trophy! You get a mirror ball trophy! Everybody gets a mirror ball trophy! IF ONLY. Not even Tom wants to announce the results of the double elimination. In the end, we’re forced to say good-bye to Antonio and Sharna and…Wanyá and Lindsay. As my astute sister-in-law succinctly put it: DWTF, America? 

If you’d like to commiserate over this tragedy our nation is facing now that Wanyá is no longer competing for the mirror ball trophy, find me on Twitter. Be sure to let me know which of our three finalists — Ginger, Nyle, or Paige — you’d like to see crowned king or queen of the ballroom.