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Dancing With the Stars recap: Season 23, Episode 4

It takes two to make a thing go right (and also tango)

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Eric McCandless/ABC

Dancing With the Stars

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

Unfortunately, Dancing buddies, ‘Face Off Night’ is not an hour-long homage to the 1997 Nicholas Cage/John Travolta film, as some recappers previously thought (read: hoped). But seriously, how great would an Argentine tango with Laurie as Sean Archer and Val as Castor Troy be? Google it and get back to me. No, ‘Face Off Night’ is a new little challenge DWTS is trying out, mainly to fit 12 dances into a condensed 60-minute show (there is a presidential debate going on, if you haven’t heard), but also a little bit for the drama.

Here’s how it works: The 12 remaining couples have been paired up. Each pairing has to dance the same style of dance to different songs, back-to-back. The judges will score each couple and the couple with the higher score gets immunity for the week. It’s basically You Got Served: Ballroom Edition. (Wait, has that been pitched yet? Get on it, people.) The six losing teams will all be up for elimination during the results show. In short: ‘Face Off Night’ is a time to impress the judges.

Now to the dance-off:


Jana and Gleb vs. Babyface and Allison

It’s the Battle of the Singers. Jana says her 8th-grade self would never believe she’d be jiving against Kenneth ‘Babyface’ Edmonds. Obviously, Jana and I had very different vision boards in 8th grade. She’s also feeling some pressure thanks to the sheer speed of the jive. If she thinks that’s fast, she should watch DWTS try to cram 12 dances into one hour — seriously, this feels like Dancing With the Stars: Speed Dating. Anyway, Babyface isn’t feeling very confident in their given style of dance, either: The jive is about letting loose, and Babyface does not let loose. At least not in public. Babyface and Allison and their golden costumes take the floor first. It’s definitely not the fastest jive out there, and Babyface was right to worry about looking stiff. He attempts to channel Little Richard (he’s dancing to ‘Great Gosh A’Mighty’), but you can tell he’s uncomfortable. Jana, too, looks a little off her game; at times, it’s more like Gleb is flinging her around the dance floor. But her flicks and kicks are a smidge sharper — when you’re playing in the face-off, a smidge could be worth everything. Spoiler alert: It is!

Babyface and Allison: 25/40

Jana and Gleb: 26/40



Rick and Emma vs. Vanilla Ice and Witney

Ah yes, the unlikely bromance of the season is going head-to-head. Vanilla Ice and Rick Perry both hail from the great state of Texas, so, as Ice puts it: The boots are coming off. Vanilla Ice tries to sound intimidating, but he also pronounces his dance style as “paso boble,” so it’s really anyone’s game. Rick and Emma dance first and perform a more traditional version of the paso doble. It’s honestly not a bad dance style for the former governor. He’s still completely lacking in musicality, but he does punctuate his moves.

Fun fact: Watching Vanilla Ice dance to an Eagle Eye Cherry song was also on my 8th-grade vision board, and look at this! Okay, so it’s not the Eagle Eye Cherry version of “Save Tonight,” but close enough! Vanilla Ice and Witney hit the floor with a darker, sultrier paso, and I’m surprised how much I buy him as this intense character. Also, he wears a sparkly hat. If that’s not an obvious choice for a winner, I don’t know what is.

Rick and Emma: 23/40

Vanilla Ice and Witney: 23/40

IMMUNITY GOES TO: Head judge Len Goodman is our tie-breaker, and he gives a slight edge to Vanilla Ice and Witney


James and Sharna vs. Ryan and Cheryl

Sure, both James and Ryan are speedsters, but this feels like the most uneven match-up of the night. James is a little nervous going up against an Olympic athlete, but Ryan’s over in rehearsal doing his best to make Cheryl laugh — mainly via his complete lack of flexibility, but also purposefully. Cheryl wants to show off more of Ryan’s personality, and he does seem to be having more fun with the process. He’s into this now! Unfortunately, he’s going up against James, and he knows James is one of this season’s better dancers.

Out on the floor, James and Sharna give us a fun cha cha with lots of hip action and even more flirtation. They’re a great pair and it shows in this dance. James made it clear the cha cha is not a Canadian style of dance, but you wouldn’t know it from where I’m sitting. For me, this feels underscored. Ryan and Cheryl opt for a sexier version of the cha cha, by which I mean, Ryan shows off his pecs. He’s having fun on the ballroom floor, but Cheryl does most of the dancing.

James and Sharna: 29/40

Ryan and Cheryl: 25/40

IMMUNITY GOES TO: James and Sharna

NEXT: Megatron shows his softer side