Dancing With the Stars: Juniors recap: Giving thanks for the tiniest of dancers
Are you thankful for DWTS: Tiny Human Edition? Because they’re thankful for you. Tonight, our remaining six contestants will all dedicate their dances to someone they’re thankful for. I mean, these are all little people, so it’s pretty much their family and parents the entire time. Still, it’s all very heart-warming!
Ariana Greenblatt and Artyon Celestine
Mentor: Brandon Armstrong
Salsa, “Pintame” by Elvis Crespo
To honor her family, Ariana is digging into her Puerto Rican roots to perform an authentic salsa. Her grandparents even come to visit the rehearsal studio! She wants to make them proud. It’s nice to see her and Arty perform a very traditional salsa number. She looks a little less sure of herself than she has in previous routines, but she still makes it work. Even Ariana’s grandma ends up crying — and that’s tough to do with a salsa. Mandy loved the shades of fast and slow and gives a shout out to that overhead press lift. Though they be but tiny they are mighty. Val calls it spicy and “earthy” which, like, is he just describing actual salsa? That’s cool, but please clarify.
Judges Score: 27/30
Mandla Morris and Brightyn Brems
Mentor: Cheryl Burke
Foxtrot, “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder
Mandla dedicates his foxtrot to his dad by dancing to his favorite Stevie Wonder song. Good choice, dude. To make it even more special: Stevie’s performing it in the ballroom! You guys, even little Brightyn is moved to tears after being part of this special father-son moment. Aw, tiny humans supporting each other! Mandla and Brightyn look like a real dancing pair in this routine — Mandy applauds Mandla really leading his partner out there. Val thought Mandla showed true foxtrot technique and Adam calls it one of Mandla’s best performances to date. Everyone — including Dad, of course — is so proud! I feel like we, as a country, really needed this. It’s all so nice!
Judges’ Score: 27/30
Akash Vukoti and Kamri Peterson
Mentor: Witney Carson
Jazz, “Jai Ho! (You are My Destiny)” by A.R. Rahman and The Pussycat Dolls
Akash tells us that he’s here because of his parents’ “extraordinary sacrifices” and, like, how can you even score a kid who says something like that? Witney choreographs a fun Bollywood jazz so that Akash can pay tribute to his family. There’s so much going on and although Akash doesn’t have the best technique of our remaining contestants, you can tell he loves dancing this routine for his parents. Again, the judges tell him it’s his best dance so far and Mandy is happy to see that they took in her critique from last week about things looking a little sloppy. He looks sharper. No doubt his adorable parents are proud.
Judges’ Score: 23/30
Miles Brown and Rylee Arnold
Mentor: Lindsay Arnold
Foxtrot, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
Dancing fam, I am thankful for this couple and this performance. My face hurts from smiling! Miles is dancing a foxtrot to his family anthem in order to give thanks to his parents. Could he and Rylee be any cuter? They dance a sweet little routine amongst a streetlight and a bench and Mandy (who Miles showers with a bouquet of flowers because he’s both adorable and very smooth) doesn’t hesitate to point out the similarities to her most famous choreography. But Ryan Gosling has nothing on the nuances and dynamic in Miles’ dancing. Also, can we give extra points simply for Miles’ dad telling him that his performance will be “lit,” air quotes included? Such a dad thing to say.
Judges’ Score: 26/30
Sky Brown and JT Church
Mentor: Alan Bersten
Foxtrot, “Unconditionally” by Katy Perry
Okay, everybody’s crying now. We meet Sky’s parents, but most importantly, her little brother — yes, his name is Ocean — and he tells us that his sister is brave and tough. How can you not burst into tears like Sky? She’s also crying because she just got the highest score of the season and it is very well-deserved. She and JT have never looked more like a couple than in this emotional foxtrot. Adam can’t hold back the tears! He’s so proud of Sky for pouring her heart into this routine. Mandy’s right to give Alan some accolades — she knows he worked his butt off to get these two looking extremely professional. The love is spread all around on this show!
Judges’ Score: 29/30
Mackenzie Ziegler and Sage Rosen
Mentor: Gleb Savchenko
Samba, “Cheap Thrills” by Sia featuring Sean Paul
You had to know this was coming: Mackenzie is thankful for her sister Maddie — and Maddie makes a surprise appearance in Team Gleb’s samba (to a Sia song, duh). I’m not mad about it! Mackenzie and Sage look great together in this routine and even when Maddie comes out to samba with her sister, Mackenzie more than keeps up. Mandy loves seeing Mackenzie dance “full out.” She performs every move with intention. Adam asks the question on many people’s minds: “How do I become the third Ziegler sister?” Honestly, I feel like Adam could don a Sia wig and fit right in, right?
Judges’ Score: 27/30
As much as we all wish we could spend forever being grateful for one another, this is a competition. Tonight it’s Team Witney that gets the cut. Goodbye, adorably well-spoken Akash and partner Kamri. Just because this feels like the right move, doesn’t mean it’s any less sad!