The stars and pros take on four new dances, including that infamously forbidden one

By Annie Barrett
October 13, 2009 at 04:00 PM EDT
Craig Sjodin/ABC
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‘Dancing With the Stars’ recap: New dance sensations

On week 4 of Dancing With the Stars season 9, each of the 11 remaining couples performed one of four brand-new dances: the Bolero, the Charleston, the country two-step, and the Lambada, forbidden dance of love. Of course, we had no idea what we were watching. No explanation re: the unfamiliar dances from DANCMSTR, no 15-second demo from two eliminated pros who have nothing better to do than haunt the House of a Thousand Colors, not even a complicated sexual organs-laced metaphor for what the Lambada is or once was or might be from Bruno. NOTHING. They couldn’t have even thrown us a bone in the form of this crappy movie trailer? Honestly?

Okay, I’m done bitching — frankly, you and I both know we’ll probably be able to follow along with the season without ever learning the difference between ”the Bolero” and ”a bolero.” One is a mysterious slow-tempo Latin dance; the other is a cropped jacket draped over Maks’ bare chest that rightly qualifies as a complete costume. Without any further DeLay, let’s get to everyone’s favorite measure of earthly success: The Judges’ Leader Board!

Melissa Joan Hart and Mark Ballas: 28 out of possible 30 Did a brief black-and-white section at the beginning of their dance stun Bruno into submission and force him to award Melissa a near-inexplicable 10? We’ll never know. Mark and Melissa’s fun Charleston, full of fast side-by-side footwork, lots of squatting/plié movements, and ample opportunities for him to carry her as she wiggled her legs, was the perfect outlet for Melissa’s strength: hyper-enthusiastic campy kitsch. Honestly, it was fun — I kept thinking maybe she should close her mouth but, you know, nature of the dance and all. Couldn’t tell what was going on with Mark’s mouth, due to mustache. I thought Melissa had a bit of a Blossom moment as she danced solo while Mark played the piano in a ”1920s club” devoid of other humans. ’90s TV throwback!

Mya and Dmitry Chaplin: 28/30 First of all, I love that Mya wore what looked like a Dancing With the Stars costume during rehearsal. For some reason that black dress with a crazy neon geometric overlay just screamed ‘Lambada practice!’ in my head. We all have different voices in our heads. If she has any common sense whatsoever, Mya might want to stifle the one in hers that keeps telling her it’s cool to challenge her pro’s choreography. It really isn’t. Why would she want to make the dance easier, anyway? I suspected once or twice that she wanted to tweak the game plan just because she didn’t approve of what she perceived as unflattering body angles in the mirror. This was almost as lame as the 20 pounds of orange makeup and thick layer of Turtle Wax Super Hard Shell Car Wax that glossed Mya’s legs for her and Dmitry’s special joint-effort Lambada. The dance itself went smoothly, as usual, and she scored two 10s, but it remains to be seen what Mya needs to do to get a DANCMSTR 10. ”Simply make it past week 4” would be my guess.

Joanna Krupa and Derek Hough: 26/30 Joanna strikes me as a complete mess when she’s ”dancing” on her own, but whenever Derek’s guiding and/or grinding on her, I have to admit Miss Fish Lips pulls it off. The couple somehow incorporated the judges’ table without pissing off DANCMSTR, convinced me they were on a beach instead of a dance floor, reached a new Dance Floor Simulated Sex climax for the series, and managed to pull off blinding-chartreuse costumes despite both having blonde hair. All this, and they even took time out of rehearsal to share bathing duties of a canine named Conrad (last name not ”Green,” I presume) and lounge outside a storefront in canvas chairs begging passersby to adopt other dogs. Keep in mind that I’m not positive of any of the above contents of this paragraph, because those costumes did burn my retinas. I do know that Tom Bergeron stole this segment with his ad-lib to Carrie Ann’s comment that she hoped the kids were in bed: ”I bet some of the adults are now!”

NEXT: Nobody likes you, Aaron

Natalie Coughlin and Alec Mazo: 24/30 This couple’s Bolero (whatever that is) was sophisticated, sultry, and somewhat disappointingly similar to last week’s rumba. Natalie’s transformation into Edyta is nearly complete, with one major caveat: Lady Legwarmer would never tolerate the wearing of simple socks with heels during rehearsals. Other than that, our Olympic swimmer now has the ridiculous leg extensions, ripply burnt sienna back muscles, and drapey sleepytime toga costumes of her non-American Idol, the tigress betrothed to mood-meister Alec. Don’t worry; the striking similarities between Natalie and Edyta should only get ”Better in Time.” Bruno instead compared Natalie to Sharon Stone, who is beautiful and dangerous and knows what to do with her man. ”And you know that how?” piped up Tom. I don’t know; maybe they dated or something.

Donny Osmond and Kym Johnson: 24/30 He’s a waiter! But that red-fringed fancy lady doesn’t want a drink, silly — how ’bout you two dance the Charleston for 90 seconds instead? I couldn’t believe how many couples utilized the judges’ table last night — DANCMSTR must have popped a few muscle relaxers because he didn’t twitch as sharply as usual at all the ”messin’ about,” even when it was in dangerously close proximity to his noggin. The Charleston suited Donny and his black-and-white V-patterned vest perfectly, and it only helped that he and Kym were the best-oufitted pair of the night. Donny, a natural performer/drama queen, needn’t have thrown a temper tantrum on the rehearsal studio floor after all. I could barely concentrate on Donny and Kym’s good-natured Samantha chat due to the distracting cuddling going on between fellow Charleston dancers….

Kelly Osbourne and Louis Van Intensity: 23/30 Styled as Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey (the Kit Kat Club’s Master of Ceremonies) in Cabaret, Kelly and Louis avenged the Broadway role that got away (but could not bypass Samantha Harris): Roxie Hart in Chicago. Their Charleston wasn’t as high-energy as Melissa and Mark’s, but upon a second and then third viewing, I enjoyed it so much more for its subtleties and, let’s be honest, Louis’ crazy makeup. I wouldn’t mind seeing Kelly and Louis perform ”Money” à la Liza and Joel in an effort to complete Kelly’s self-imposed Broadway re-audition. They might even be able to incorporate this sophisticated step sequence: ”Run run run run, turn, butt.”

Mark Dacascos and Lacey Schwimmer: 22/30 Mark and Lacey danced the loser of the night, the two-step, because they had nothing better to do. Lacey copped a truly bizarre faux-Asian accent to remind Mark during rehearsal that there would be ”no stressing,” but then his adorable kids showed up to detract his attention from Dance Worries just in time. There is a general lack of chemistry between Mark and Lacey, but I thought his dance, featuring over-the-top winking and bales of hay, was pretty good considering the circumstances. At one point, Mark swept Lacey up so that she could scrape her feet in a running motion along the judges’ table. This was useful — she had to get where she was going! Mark also executed a sideways Lacey-clearing leap I had until recently only seen executed by figure skaters. It was indeed ”the most exciting two-step of the night,” so claimed Carrie Ann after only one other dance of its kind had been performed.

Aaron Carter and Karina Smirnoff: 18/30 At the beginning of his and Karina’s Lambada, Aaron performed a lofty back flip because he had the ability to perform a lofty back flip. DANCMSTR did the unthinkable and demanded more raunch; Bruno chastised Aaron for not playing the role of Gilles Marini as well as audience member Gilles Marini, and Carrie Ann basically told Aaron that nobody likes him. ”You’re trying too hard…it turns people off to you.” This gave Samantha the perfect opportunity to follow up with Aaron backstage: ”How do you not try too hard?” and for Aaron to respond: ”You can’t not try hard,” and for me to realize yet again that as long as I never fast-forward through the backstage portions of Dancing With the Stars, all the overarching truisms I need to learn in my lifetime will just leap off the TV screen and burn into the surface of my skull with an intense heat, naturally.

NEXT: Chuck Liddell can beat the dance

Chuck Liddell and Anna Tre-BUN-skaya: 17/30 Even though I wanted to rip out the hidden hot rollers from Anna’s hair the whole time and had to squint to imagine a color scheme less terrifying than beige/black/sky blue just to get through it, this pair’s was still not the worst two-step of the night. The judges love the charm (which is appropriately kind of a cross between ”carnage” and ”mayhem”) that Chuck brings to the dance floor along with his bartending background and form-fitting pleather vest. ”You may not have a lot of grace,” said Carrie Ann, ”but you never let the dance beat you.” Meanwhile, I’m struggling to think of anything that could beat Chuck at anything.

Michael Irvin and Anna Demidova: 16/30 It’s not happening with this guy, and I hate to blame Anna D. because she’s new and nice and all, but what is going on with the lack of content in her choreo? The judges have given Michael the same ”give us more” critique for a few weeks, so I want to believe Anna would be smart enough to go all out and challenge him for this week’s Bolero. But it was the same old step, pose, look at each other, sexy smile, lather, rinse, contribute to the failing economy, repeat. He wants to do more! He wants to ”FEEL THE MUSIC!” Anna needs to give him more content. Might I suggest famous Albanian football star Tony Dovolani as a permanent rehearsal fixture?

Louie Vito and Chelsie Hightower: 16/30 Speaking of no content…Louie barely seemed to break from a sedated gait to a slight bounce in his country two-step. At first I blamed the song (”Sweet Home Alabama”) for not picking up, but soon realized, after noticing that the jazzy floor holograms were more interesting and dynamic than Louie and Chelsie, that it was probably the dance’s fault instead. You know it’s bad when Bruno calls your performance ”dazed and confused.” Not even ballroom standards specialist Ty Murray could help Louie find his inner cowboy when all it took to knock the guy out was a bale of hay to the face…and, maybe once he was down for the count, some totally f—ing delicious sugar beets and oats left over from one of Ty’s horse’s mid-afternoon snacks.

Do you feel sorry for Aaron? Is Kelly the new Roxie? Will Louie survive the munchies? DANCMSTRs, leave your thoughts on the week 4 performances — and your nominations for the Hidden Gem of the Week — in the comments! And press play on the ‘Réalité’ video embedded below to hear Michael Slezak and I discuss last week’s reality TV (the DWTS section is about two minutes in, starting with a loving closeup of Natalie’s face in Alec’s crotch). See you tomorrow morning.

Follow Annie on Twitter: @EWAnnieBarrett

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