Credit: ABC/Eric McCandless
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You didn’t think the miniaturized version of DWTS was so bad, either? You’re back to watch tiny people dance their tiny faces off? Good, I’m glad to know I’m not alone. A warning before we proceed: The kids will be dancing to songs from the year they were born this evening, which was like two years ago (I’m bad at math!), so prepare to feel old. Like, very, very old. Fun, right? Let’s dance!

Mackenzie Ziegler and Sage Rosen
Mentor: Gleb Savchenko
Quickstep, “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” by Jet
At least they’re easing us into “the year you were born” stuff with the oldest celebrity — born all the way back in 2004. We already know Mackenzie is a performer, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that the performance value in this cute little cheerleader quickstep is high. Mackenzie knows how to sell it! She and Sage are a good team and even in week two, they already seem comfortable together. The judges are happy to see that this week she’s more grounded throughout the routine and there’s more quickstep content. Val Chmerkovskiy gives them a standing ovation, which, like, hold it together dude, this is only week two.
Judges’ Score: 24/30

Sky Brown and JT Church
Mentor: Alan Bersten
Cha Cha, “Just Dance” by Lady Gaga featuring Colby O’Donis
Can we all agree that Sky is a Queen-in-training? The “little package of awesomeness,” as Mandy calls her, doesn’t even know what year she was born because guess what? Queens don’t need to know dumb stuff like personal biographical information. They have other people to do that for them. Queens are also fearless, which Sky proves very much to be as she is handed a cha cha routine with a ton of technical elements and doesn’t shy away from any of it. Val loves how mature she is, Adam praises how clean the routine is, and Mandy calls out her intense face. Girl must’ve gone to the Mark Ballas School of Facial Expressions.
Judges’ Score: 22/30

Sophia Pippen and Jake Monreal
Mentor: Sasha Farber
Foxtrot, “Love Story” by Taylor Swift
It’s kind of amazing to watch Sophia. Like last week, she appears so incredibly shy in rehearsals and on camera pre-dance, but then the music starts and she goes for it. She and Jake (who seems like the perfect partner for someone so hesitant) dance a lovely little foxtrot set to a Taylor Swift jam. She’s wearing a princess dress and there are little nose touches. It’s all very cute, but the judges are a little harsh on Sophia: Mandy wants her to work on her arms and extensions, and Adam wants to see more of her personality. Tough crowd!
Judges’ Score: 20/30

Jason Maybaum and Elliana Walmsley
Mentor: Emma Slater
Jive, “Shake It” by Metro Station
Jayson, who is having the time of his (very short) life apparently, and Ellianna give us an alien-themed jive because…I don’t know, they found those alien headbands in the costume closet and wanted to give them a whirl? I don’t get it, but the judges are into it. Val loves how much content Jayson got through and both Mandy and Adam praise his confidence on and off the dance floor. Mandy might not be praising it so much after he asks her to define “poise” just to see if she knows what it means. How much are these judges getting paid? Hopefully a lot.
Judges’ Score: 21/30

Mandla Morris and Brightyn Brems
Mentor: Cheryl Burke
Salsa, “Pump It” by The Black Eyed Peas
Wait a second, is the reason the theme of Mandla and Brightyn’s salsa is “old-timey gas station” because they are dancing to a song called “Pump It?” I don’t hate it, I’m just asking. Mandla and Brightyn, despite some disappointing scores, still remain a highlight. They get dinged by all three judges because the routine didn’t have enough salsa content, but that’s not on Mandla. They want Mandla to really feel the style of dance he’s performing. Which he probably can do! Given the right choreography! Anyway, lay off the kid is what I’m saying.
Judges’ Score: 22/30

Hudson West and Kameron Couch
Mentor: Hayley Erbert
Pasodoble, “4 Minutes” by Madonna featuring Justin Timberlake & Timbaland
Pasodoble must be a tough style for these kids. It is so intense and all about making these larger-than-life shapes—but their bodies are so tiny! It looks a little awkward on Hudson, but you can tell he’s trying his hardest. Val CANNOT BELIEVE he just saw a superhero cape become a paso cape (get out more, dude, but also: yay, Hayley!). Mandy thought Hudson really embodied his character and the character of the dance. Adam wants Hudson to loosen up a bit. We’re all supposed to be having fun here!
Judges’ Score: 22/30

Miles Brown and Rylee Arnold
Mentor: Lindsay Arnold
Argentine Tango, “I Don’t Want to Be” by Gavin DeGraw
So Gavin DeGraw’s 2004 hit “I Don’t Want to Be” might not be my first choice for an Argentine tango, but Miles and Rylee pull it off. At times, it feels more like a paso, but they really own this routine. It has a lot more technique and partner work (especially in hold) than their salsa from week one, but it doesn’t intimidate Miles. Mandy loved how in command Miles was the entire time—he was leading. Val agrees, and points out how hard it is to be in control during a dance like that when your partner is taller than you. #ShortPeopleProblems
Judges’ Score: 24/30

Alana Thompson and Tristan Ianiero
Mentor: Artem Chigvintsev
Cha Cha, “Don’t Cha” by The Pussycat Dolls & Busta Rhymes
True Confession: I was going to come on here and rail against the fact that they have a 13-year-old dancing to “Don’t Cha” but then Val uttered the most glorious phrase ever spoken on this show: “I never thought I’d get emotional to a Pussycat Doll song, but…” My heart grew 10 sizes. He’s proud to watch Alana’s transformation on this show. Mandy has some constructive criticism: Alana needs to work on her timing, she’s getting too excited and ahead of the music. Adam points out that at times she looks like she’s “walking around like [she was] at the mall” but at least it was less walking around than week one. Improvement!
Judges’ Score: 19/30

Akash Vukoti and Kamri Peterson
Mentor: Witney Carson
Cha Cha, “Dynamite” by Taio Cruz
It doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to explain swagger as long as you can perform with a little in your cha cha. I mean, did you see him tutting? Akashi has little baby swagger! Who knew? As cute as these routines are, my favorite part of this whole thing is still seeing our DWTS pros as mentors. Witney looks like she might have her hands the most full with Akash and Kamri. Having her explain that no, she never said this routine was “about partying” is a delight. The judges offer no real critiques so, like, thanks for being here I guess?
Judges’ Score: 21/30

Ariana Greenblatt and Artyon Celestine
Mentor: Brandon Armstrong
Jive, “Girlfriend” by Avril Lavigne
I’m sorry, did you see Artyon leap over Ariana’s head? Come on! Val calls them the couple to beat and he might be right: They have both sides of this show—performance and technique—down. Adam even gives their punk rock jive (why haven’t we always been jiving to this Avril jam from 2007?) a standing ovation, which I guess is a thing we’re doing now on this show. The official leaderboard might have a three-way tie at the top, but it feels like Ariana and Artyon have the crowd behind them, too. Okay, now I need to go do a Google search for an adult-sized punk tutu. The heart wants what the heart wants!
Judges’ Score: 24/30

As celebratory and upbeat as this show tries to be, we still have to take care of the depressing business of eliminating another couple. Unfortunately, this week that means saying goodbye to Team Hayley: Hudson and Kameron.

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Dancing with the Stars: Juniors
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