Not to scare you or anything, but the kids are in control now

By Maggie Fremont
November 11, 2018 at 10:12 PM EST
Credit: /Eric McCandless/ABC

Sometimes it’s so exhausting watching kids that adults just say screw it — let the kids be in charge. Yes, it’s scary, and also you should never do that but still, #SelfCare. And that’s exactly what happens on the latest DWTS: Juniors. It’s ‘Juniors Choice’ night, so all the contestants get to select the song they’ll be dancing to and get some creative control over the routine. It looks very painful for the mentors, but super fun for the kids!

Miles Brown and Rylee Arnold
Mentor: Lindsay Arnold
Jazz, “Space Jam” by Quad City DJ’s
Just when I think I can’t love Miles any more, he goes and chooses “Space Jam” as his song for “Juniors Choice” night. SPACE JAM IS A JAM. Both the movie and the song. Miles is an old soul, and that is appreciated. More than spectacular song choice, Miles and Rylee dance a super fun, high-energy jazz, complete with basketballs. The hardest of all props in history, probably. I mean, they bounce! Mandy loves that the routine focused solely on the dancing, Adam can’t resist calling the number “a slam dunk,” and Val drops a piece of wisdom so good I might get it tattooed to my body: “Ball is life.” Ball is life, indeed.
Judges’ Score: 27/30

Mackenzie Ziegler and Sage Rosen
Mentor: Gleb Savchenko
Cha Cha, “What If” by Johnny Orlando & Mackenzie Zeigler
Mackenzie here decides she would like to dance a cha cha to one of her own songs. She breaks down in tears during rehearsal talking about how she’s so happy she FINALLY found her passion in singing. Tell me what that’s like, 14-year-old who has her life figured out before me. Not surprisingly, Mackenzie is great in the cha cha, but honestly, Sage is the one who really shines in this routine. Will he be on SYTYCD soon? My DVR is ready. Mandy gives Sage a shout out too, and although she wants them to work on partnering a bit more, she tells Mackenzie she showed star quality tonight. I mean, when you’re dancing to your own song, you better have some star quality, right?
Judges’ Score: 27/30

Jason Maybaum and Elliana Walmsley
Mentor: Emma Slater
Jazz, “It’s Tricky” by Run-DMC
Um, so, apparently little Jason Maybaum is the biggest Run-DMC fan on the planet. As Frankie points out, “It’s Tricky” came out 20 years before Jason was even born, but the little dude knows his music history. He really takes charge in his homage to hip-hop and gets the troupe involved to make it a spectacle. The judges can’t believe this is a Jason Maybaum routine. I mean, the number of gold chains alone, you know? Val loves how unexpected it was. Mandy praises the tiny guy for dancing so big and is happy to see that the choreography included all the basic jazz elements. Adam loves seeing him really lead that routine. Gold chains from now on, I guess.
Judges’ Score: 25/30

Akash Vukoti and Kamri Peterson
Mentor: Witney Carson
Charleston, “Do Your Thing” by Basement Jaxx
Bless his heart, all Akash wants to do for his Juniors Choice routine is to spell a word. And not just any word — the longest word in the history of words. Not that I’ve ever had to think about it before, but the Charleston seems like the perfect dance style to add a super fast spelling component. Akash never had the natural ability that some of the other contestants on the show have, and his personality has for sure helped him get through each round, but as contestants get eliminated, that lack of skill is starting to show. But also, like, who even cares? Akash says, “You are never too young to do big things” and everyone’s hearts are collectively melting. Can you get scored on an inspirational post-dance message?
Judges’ Score: 20/30

Sky Brown and JT Church
Mentor: Alan Bersten
Samba, “The Greatest” by Sia
Before Sky performs in a skateboarding competition, she gets pumped up by listening to Sia’s “The Greatest” so it’s a no-brainer that she selects that song this week for her samba. Samba’s hard, man, so might as well dance to a song you love while working your tiny hips off, ya know? Even though it’s Juniors Choice and JT and Sky make Alan do push-ups all week, Alan is still in charge of the choreography and doesn’t go easy on them. There’s so much traditional samba content in this routine that it’s amazing Sky made it through the entire thing. The judges loved seeing the traditional samba content — Mandy gives an extra shout out to her and all of America’s favorite samba move, the slingshot — and again, praise Sky for giving it her all.
Judges’ Score: 23/30

Mandla Morris and Brightyn Brems
Mentor: Cheryl Burke
Cha Cha, “Perm” by Bruno Mars
I’m pretty excited that Mandla chooses this Bruno song for his cha cha, but Cheryl might be the most excited. Dancing to this song seems like it would be a real good time. The team makes sure to inject a lot of personality into this routine (how could you not), but more than personality, there are stairs. So many stairs! Mandy’s right — not only do you have to perform in a dance style that is foreign to you for millions of people, but you also have to make it down a flight of stairs without falling on your face. Good luck! I mean, Mandla gets down those stairs with aplomb, but I was scared. Apparently, his stair-prowess (and his energy and technique) is enough to earn Mandla and Brightyn their highest score of the season.
Judges’ Score: 25/30

Ariana Greenblatt and Artyon Celestine
Mentor: Brandon Armstrong
Jazz, “Rolex” by Ayo & Teo
Don’t get me wrong, Ariana and Artyon’s jazz is fantastic — stuffed with both personality and great technique — but was anyone else alarmed that this song was a “juniors choice?” If I can teach one lesson in these DWTS Juniors recaps, let it be that yes, Rolexes are cool, but so is reading. The judges love this routine. And since Ariana received some harsh critiques during “Halloween Night,” this is sort of a comeback for her. Mandy loves Brandon’s choreography — he made fan kicks swaggy, who knew? And Adam loves that Ariana took her critiques and really learned from them. As a reward, Ariana and Artyon get the first ten of the season. But still, guys: Reading.
Judges’ Score: 28/30

Well, it’s no one’s choice to go home, but those are the rules. Tonight, the fickle audience vote rears its head and sends Jason and Elliana from Team Emma packing. At least he got to live out his dream and dance to Run-DMC, right?

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