Dancing With the Stars recap: Full of tricks, treats, and one truly frightening lift
Typically Halloween on Dancing With the Stars (a match made in dance heaven, let’s be honest) is known for the spooky spectacle of it all, for America’s Dad Tom Bergeron’s relentless holiday puns, and some off-the-wall dancing. This season, however, it’s all about breaking necks. Seriously, Tom keeps a running count of how many routines feature choreography that mimics breaking someone’s neck. It’s four out of nine by the end of the evening, which is like, three too many.
Aside from the repeated viewing of that harrowing image, there are lots of other treats from your nightmares by way of performances from the Jabbawoceez, our pros who are headed out on tour, and Stephen “tWitch” Boss. But not everything is a nightmare— some things are a straight-up dream come true. Um, remember when just two weeks ago I was aching for Allison Holker to grace the dance floor again? She joins her husband tWitch in their routine. You guys, The Secret is real and should not be messed with. If that isn’t spooky enough for you, perhaps our couples’ routines will give you your Halloween fix.
Milo Manheim and Witney Carson
Contemporary, “Toxic” by 2WEI
Witney calls this insane asylum-set contemporary the “creepiest choreography” she’s ever done, so right away you know we’re in for something REAL GOOD because, um, hello, do you remember her contemporary with Frankie Muniz? I still have nightmares. This routine might not be as haunting as that one, but she’s right: the creepy factor is very high. Milo and Witney are so in sync as the patient who has lost his mind and his hallucination. Carrie Ann is right to call out how amazing their partner work has been this season. Even Len, arch-enemy of jazz and contemporary, is all hyped up after this one. That’s how you kick off Halloween Night.
Judges’ Score: 30/30
John Schneider and Emma Slater
Paso Doble, “Main Titles” from Beetlejuice, by Ray Chew Live
I mean, John and Emma are handed the BLESSING that is the Beetlejuice theme and nowhere in their paso do they have giant shrimp hands attacking them. Instead, Emma gets extremely into the story she conjures up about Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII fighting in the afterlife. It’s fun! It’s epic! The judges are extremely harsh on the pair. They thought John never really found his footing and there were mistakes all over the dance floor. Len applauds what they did while in-hold, so that’s something. It’s Len! Still, not even Tom giving them an honorary ‘8’ paddle can make the sting of their low score hurt less.
Judges’ Score: 19/30
DeMarcus Ware and Lindsay Arnold
Salsa, “Under Your Spell” by Leo Soul
Poor DeMarcus and Lindsay were getting tricks well before Halloween Night — as they were part of the “fake in jeopardy” shenanigans of Disney Night. So this week he’s continuing to push his limits, which apparently are his hips. They don’t move! Lindsay focuses in on getting them in shape, which honestly sounds like a dream job. Maybe she should be focusing on that insane dead drop lift they put into the routine because HOLY HELL. But, like, hips, I get it. Their salsa tells the story of a groom in mourning who finds his zombie bride in the cemetery — an extremely bleak story for such a lively routine, but that’s Halloween Night for you. They, meaning DeMarcus’s hips, get rave reviews.
Judges’ Score: 26/30
Evanna Lynch and Keo Motsepe
Tango, “Disturbia” by Rihanna
Oh boy, Evanna and Keo took their ’24’ from the judges during Disney Night extremely hard. “Will I ever get a 10?” Evanna wonders, distraught in the bowels of the ballroom. Halloween is supposed to be spooky and scary, but not sad! Evanna has a new outlook: She’s not dancing to please the judges or anyone else for that matter — she’s dancing for herself. And maybe for cats. The girl loves cats! So she embodies one for this strong, intense tango and it pays off. Carrie Ann is just “a woman loving on a woman who is in her ferocity,” and the boys, too, notice how confident Evanna’s dancing is this week. I guess we should talk about cat energy some more. It seems to be working.
Judges’ Score: 29/30
Bobby Bones and Sharna Burgess
Argentine Tango, “Mr. Sandman” by SYML
Bobby’s schedule is the stuff of nightmares, so really he’s the perfect person to play an evil “Mr. Sandman” in this truly creepy Argentine tango. Seriously, anything with open windows and curtains blowing in the wind, I am getting chills. Not a nightmare? Bobby’s dancing! I mean, that knee slide alone should earn him some bonus points. The judges point out that the actual Argentine tango content is pretty simple, but that works in Bobby’s favor as he and Sharna focus on the storytelling. Even Len was into the story over the technique — the truly scariest thing to happen all evening.
Judges’ Score: 22/30
Mary Lou Retton and Sasha Farber
Tango, “Shame” by Elle King
If you’ve been watching DWTS for a while, you know that Sasha lives for Halloween. But he truly outdoes himself with the scare pranks this season: The dude jumps out of a tree to scare Mary Lou. They should be getting 10s just for that display of love for the holiday. Their dancing isn’t totally on par with 10s — Mary Lou slips back into some of her bad habits like getting over-excited and losing her neck. Carrie Ann thinks that Mary Lou is feeling over-emotional after sharing the story of her recent divorce with Sasha and the world for the first time and it is affecting her dance, but maybe that’s stretching things a bit. Sometimes things are just clunky!
Judges’ Score: 24/30
Alexis Ren and Alan Bersten
Jazz, “Candyman” by Christina Aguilera
Anyone else feeling nauseous and know it’s not from the candy? Don’t get me wrong, I love love but like, if it’s not in a routine KEEP IT OFF MY DANCE FLOOR. Am I dead inside? Maybe. But at least it’s on theme. Aside from the awkward talk about Alexis and Alan’s growing feelings, this is another great routine — Alexis has the technique, it can’t be denied! Obviously, the best part of this Willy Wonka jazz was Hayley scuttling across the floor as a mirror ball (or was she Violet Beauregarde?). As far as Alexis and Alan are concerned, Carrie Ann praises her flexibility and extensions, Len loved all the content, and Bruno is happy for a brief reprieve from the spooky stuff. Not a bad day’s work.
Judges’ Score: 27/30
Joe Amabile and Jenna Johnson
Argentine Tango, “El Tango de Roxanne” from Moulin Rouge
You think you’ve seen it all on this show, but then a contestant goes and draws inspiration on how to embody a character from a haunted hayride. Whatever works, I guess? As confused as I am about that turn of events, I’m more baffled by this song choice paired with a Bride of Frankenstein-Frankenstein’s Monster (kids, Frankenstein is the doctor, not the monster—reading is fun, I promise) routine. Other than that, and the lift-gone-wrong (really, really wrong) at the end, the judges are right: Joe is improving! It truly looked like an Argentine tango and Len calls it Joe’s best dance. So maybe I shouldn’t hate on the haunted hayride after all.
Judges’ Score: 22/30
Juan Pablo Di Pace and Cheryl Burke
Jive, “Dead Man’s Party” by Atwater Men’s Club
Dance a flawless jive that includes tutting or design costumes? Get you a man who can do both. And Cheryl has one! Not only does Juan Pablo take to their mummified jive incredibly quickly, but he also designs his Egyptian king costume. The voting has been so unpredictable this season, but JPDP here already deserves a spot in the finals. The always hard-to-please Len Goodman applauds the pair for finding the right balance between the theme of the routine and the technique of the dance style. He doesn’t say it outright, but Len Goodman loved that tutting armography and no one can ever tell me otherwise.
Judges’ Score: 30/30
After getting off easy on ‘Disney Night’ our contestants prepare themselves for a real elimination. Mary Lou and Sasha and Alexis and Alan find themselves in jeopardy and sadly, this Halloween adventure ends by sending Mary Lou and Sasha home.
The voting seems to be all over the place, friends, so who do you think has a shot at making it to the final three?