The dancers add a Latin performance that is meant to spotlight their solo work, a good thing for some (Brooke) and not such a good thing for others (Cody)

By Annie Barrett
Updated November 10, 2008 at 05:00 PM EST
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Dancing With the Stars

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‘Dancing With the Stars’ recap: In the spotlight

On last night’s Dancing With the Stars, the showrunners decided to really switch things up by demanding a 15-second solo from each of the five remaining ”stars.” Were we even ready for it?! You tell me. Cody Linley leapt onto a table, Warren Sapp played hopscotch, and Lance Bass appeared to have been auditioning for the role of ”special dancer” in a vaguely hip-hop version of my junior high’s production of Cats. (Yes, that was my role. What?) Maurice Greene wielded a periwinkle-on-one-side cape. The upper half of Brooke Burke did the twist. Yeah. I think we could handle it.

Indeed, my excitement level for the week 8 performance show about matched Tom Bergeron’s as he uttered the line — and I wish I was kidding here — ”The always hot and spicy Latin round is about to get all hot and spicy.” Still, there were some bright spots — namely, the dozens of giant gold sequins on Kym’s 2008 Wall Street Bailout tango costume, which I’m praying one of the wardrobe assistants wore on Halloween. So topical, this show! Here’s how the final five ranked after completing a ballroom and a Latin on week 8…

Brooke Burke and Derek: 55 out of possible 60 Brooke is undoubtedly the best dancer of the final five, but Carrie Ann’s exaggerated praise from last week, about Brooke being as good as the show’s professionals, clearly struck DANCMSTR’s cranky nerve after Brooke and Derek’s tango. He got as nitpicky as he would with a pro, saying the dance was ”riddled with mistakes. Derek knows that.” I was less surprised by Len’s uncharacteristic fault finding in Brooke than the way Carrie Ann ignored the little lift at the end of the tango, just moments after she called out Cody and Edyta for including a lift in their fox-trot. I actually enjoyed Brooke’s tango much more than her mambo, and I’ll go ahead and superficially blame costuming for that. The unnecessary ”belt” part of Brooke’s tango gown — which served to hold up nothing — was quite mesmerizing, whereas the heinous wig she donned for the mambo somehow managed to lend Brooke a slight desperation/Lisa Rinna vibe. I didn’t even recognize her at first, and assumed this was a last-minute stand-in — DANCMSTR’s latest Hooters server, perhaps, having been instructed to ”Do this, and, um…wear this,” to which she obliged because she already knew she looked good in orange and quite frankly just needed the cash.

Warren Sapp and Kym: 54/60 We know that Kym loves herself a sweeping cinematic theme song (who can forget her dance with Joey Fatone to Star Wars). For ”Secret Agent Warren Sapp,” it was a tango set to the Peter Gunn theme. (Not 007. Thanks!) Actually, the music wasn’t even the most significant detail — rather, the big news here was that two people not wearing any red whatsoever danced a tango on DWTS and somehow pulled it off! Kym was the real hero last night, likely due to her recent penchant for knee-high leg warmers (in two colors!), each of which was a quantum of solace amidst the harsh climates of the DWTS rehearsal studios. Kym’s crafty choreography couldn’t mask Warren’s flawed footwork during their jive, much to DANCMSTR’s dismay, but I’m with Carrie Ann on this one: When Warren falls behind or forgets a step, he always does realize it, and makes a valiant effort to catch up. (Ha! And this is the person who will probably beat Brooke Burke for the sparkly trophy. The unapologetic ridiculousness of DWTS never ceases to amaze me.) Warren’s solo had the best ”flavor of the given dance” vs. ”flavor of the celebrity” combo, so for at least 15 seconds at least, he has already won!

NEXT: Lance and Lacey trotted out a new philosophy

Lance Bass and Lacey: 50/60 Kudos to the editors for using a clip of Lance and Lacey open-mouth kissing over Lance saying that the pair’s efforts to stand out ”sometimes didn’t” work. I am supremely sick of Lance and Lacey’s endlessly repetitive 180-degree changes of heart — one week they’re ”rebels,” the next they go by the book. That’s fine if it gets you through the grueling internal dilemma of being a reality TV star, but don’t pretend it plays out in a compelling ”personal growth” story line on camera, because that’s just sad. That said, I did enjoy Lance and Lacey’s edgeless fox-trot, once I’d trained myself to look away from their shared ”I can’t believe we’re being so boring” facial expressions. Loved the textured red gown on her, and Lance’s sequined lapels and sequined racing stripes down his pants. Did anyone else do a double take when they broke hold in the middle of the fox-trot so he could randomly test his vertical leap in the middle of the floor? Save it for the solo, Lance! After his actual solo, a samba, Carrie Ann called out Lance’s habit of gazing upwards at nothing in particular while he dances. And DANCMSTR gave Lance a scathing ”Now you tell us!” critique that might have been better suited to week 2: ”You have pigeon toes and your footwork is atrocious.” Well then. Save it for the master class, Len!

Maurice Greene and Cheryl: 48/60 It’s pretty obvious to me that the producers want Maurice gone — despite receiving barely any criticism from the judges, he still ”coincidentally” earned the same amount of total points as Cody, who in my opinion is the worst dancer. After a solid but generally uninspiring quickstep, the judges tepidly praised Mo’s posture, footwork, and endurance, but any real satisfaction with his gradual improvement seems to have petered out after last week’s ”cheap jewelry” cha-cha. Later on, after a very well-executed paso doble that the crowd seemed to adore, even king of hyperbole Bruno could only spit out a very measured and rather surprised ”You’re doing well tonight.” Maurice will probably take heat in the comments about his one-note solo, but at least it fit the character of the dance, and I loved the way Cheryl choreographed ”the running of the cape” to make the solo/couple transition as seamless as Maurice’s shirt. Psych! He wasn’t wearing one!

Cody Linley and Edyta: 48/60 After Cody and his ”bro” posse passed Edyta around like a charred-to-perfection New York strip during rehearsal footage, the ”Cool Dude” and Lady Leg Warmer danced a fox-trot that DANCMSTR called Cody’s most grown-up performance to date. It’s interesting, and yet kind of useless, to wonder how Cody would have interpreted the mature dance differently with the more-fiery Julianne. In this case, at least, Edyta’s low-key serenity worked completely in Cody’s favor. His solo during their subsequent mambo was hilarious, ending with a horizontal leap onto the judges’ table that could easily have headed into lap-dance territory with a little more force — or, as DANCMSTR jokingly suggested, if Warren had attempted the move instead. Otherwise, Cody’s mambo was positively ”spasmodic” (thanks, Bruno).

I have to say, as a side note, that I love when the dancers perform a significant section on the little platform, because it’s fun to watch the inactive band members trying not to be distracted by the his-and-hers whirling booty a few feet above. Speaking of which, Cody’s ”complete package” also inspired the…

Hidden Gem of the Week: Samantha fired off one of her brilliant non-questions directly into Cody’s crotch!

A close second was that blond woman with bangs seated in the crowd between DANCMSTR and Bruno, decked out in a blouse with oversize sequins that almost rivaled Kym’s. Sometimes it seemed like she was nodding or swiveling slightly just so her sequins would catch the light. What do you think, dance masters — did the stage manager put her up to it? Whose solo impressed you the most? And who goes home tonight, Cody or Maurice?

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