Dancing With the Stars: Juniors recap: Is Halloween Night in the ballroom a trick or a treat?
Halloween and Dancing With the Stars are always a great mix — the show is built for the over-the-top costumes and big production numbers a Halloween theme brings — but add in tiny humans in tiny human costumes and the fun factor gets kicked up a notch. Come for the cute kids really getting into character, stay for Val Chmerkovskiy dressed as Danny Zuko. You will not regret this choice.
Akash Vukoti and Kamri Peterson
Mentor: Witney Carson
Argentine Tango, “Weird Science” by Oingo Boingo
If anyone on this show should be playing a mad scientist, it’s the cutest nerd on the planet, Akash. He and Kamri are dancing an Argentine tango, a style typically all about passion and chemistry between partners, which is a lot to ask of a 9-year-old. (Sometimes a lot to ask of a 30-year-old.) But Witney gives the pair some creative choreography — he’s a mad scientist who has built a girl robot — and it all works in their favor. Our three judges agree that this is one of Akash’s best dances — goggle malfunction and all!
Judges’ Score: 21/30
Mandla Morris and Brightyn Brems
Mentor: Cheryl Burke
Charleston, “Witch Doctor” by Cartoons
Mandla’s back, baby! His “witchy” Charleston with Brightyn is fast and full of tricks (appropriate for Halloween Night, no?). Handing a teen a bunch of lifts isn’t an easy order: Mandla has to work on his stamina and power throughout rehearsals, but it pays off in the performance! Be still my heart, Val is so proud of Mandla for working hard and tackling a bunch of Charleston content and Mandy thinks it’s just as good as his week one routine, which really set a standard. A Halloween Night redemption if ever there was one.
Judges’ Score: 23/30
Mackenzie Ziegler and Sage Rosen
Mentor: Gleb Savchenko
Jive, “Monster Mash” by Atwater Men’s Club
I will always have issues with MacKenzie being a contestant on this show but bless her for being here if only because she gives Gleb a princess makeover. Our Gleb! He seems like he’s enjoying this mentorship thing, huh? The whole team is feeling great after their three 9s during Disney Week, but that also puts the pressure on this jive. Their “Monster Mash” is a Monster-filled Junior High Dance, which is basically the same thing as saying “It’s a Junior High Dance.” Mandy thinks MacKenzie loses character and focus in and out of transitions —something to work on for next time — otherwise, it’s a technically strong jive.
Judges’ Score: 25/30
Jason Maybaum and Elliana Walmsley
Mentor: Emma Slater
Argentine Tango, “Youngblood” by 5 Seconds of Summer
After seeing Jason’s rehearsal footage, my hopes were not high for this Argentine tango. He’s a goofy kid and most of his dances thus far have played that up. Argentine tango is very serious. It seemed like even Emma, dear sweet Emma, was getting frustrated a bit with the lack of focus. But then that little vampire busted out on the dance floor to tango with Patty (the secretary) and blew everyone away. Jason is getting better and better each week and the judges are noticing — they give him and Elliana their best score of the competition.
Judges’ Score: 25/30
Ariana Greenblatt and Artyon Celestine
Mentor: Brandon Armstrong
Paso Doble, “Ways to Be Wicked” by Dove Cameron, Sophia Carson, Cameron Boyce, and Booboo Stewart
Speaking of mentors getting frustrated in rehearsals — Brandon’s not having Ariana and her “paso doble sounds like Picasso” bit. He’s tough on Ariana and Artyon this week and it seems like she’s having a lot of trouble picking up the intense paso choreography. She brings that intensity to her Descendants 2-themed paso, but the judges are harsh on the tiny dancer this week. Adam wants to see a “greater range of emotion,” Val wants more content in the dance style, and Mandy thinks she needs to be challenged more. A lot of mixed messages there, judges panel!
Judges’ Score: 22/30
Alana Thompson and Tristan Ianiero
Mentor: Artem Chigvintsev
Jazz, “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr.
If this show is remembered for anything, let it be that time Honey Boo Boo caught Ghost Len Goodman with a proton pack. Or maybe that time Artem said “I have to believe that you are seeing ghosts” and was dead serious. What a time to be alive! Alana and Tristan’s jazz is definitely entertaining — and it ends with slime! — and you can see that Alana is really trying her best in this competition. Adam thinks she always gives 100 percent, Val had a good time, and Mandy Moore, Queen of Jazz, tells Alana that she hit all the jazz basics. The judges find it to be a solid performance on Halloween Night. Like the lady said, “They don’t call [her] Honey Boo Boo for nothing.”
Judges’ Score: 21/30
Sky Brown and JT Church
Mentor: Alan Bersten
Jive, “Little Shop of Horrors” by KIDZ BOP Kids
Everyone’s having a tough time this week! Sky gets frustrated when she can’t pick up the jive choreography and the little nugget starts crying! Everything should immediately stop once Sky Brown starts crying. She is too precious to cry! Remember when she told all of us to be brave? Thankfully, with Alan’s help, she pulls herself back together and she and JT nail their spooky routine. Seriously, that creepy backbend walk they did? It will haunt my dreams. So, mission accomplished, I guess?
Judges’ Score: 26/30
Miles Brown and Rylee Arnold
Mentor: Lindsay Arnold
Samba, “I Want Candy” by Bow Wow Wow
THIS KID. Adam’s right: Miles looks a like a pro out there. I mean, did you see his legs during this samba? His technique is leaps and bounds ahead of the other contestants. Miles and Rylee’s trick-or-treating samba is fast and furious and full of technical content. And the judges go crazy for it. Mandy says there is magic in the performance and loves watching his transition from actor to incredible dancer. Val, conjuring up the Ghost of Len Goodman, is beyond proud to see Miles in Latin shoes and doing a proper samba. No tricks, all treats.
Judges’ Score: 27/30
Unfortunately, someone’s Halloween is going to end on a rotten note. We bid farewell to…Team Artem: Alana and Tristan. I definitely thought she’d ride on her popularity and personality a bit longer, but dang that Live Audience is harsh.