Dancing with the Stars recap: Orchestral Mirrorballs in the Dark
Planet Mirrorballus orbits a full orchestra during a lively jaunt across the Glitter Galaxy. It's Classical Night!
Hooray! As you may know from my American Idol recaps, I’m a sucker for a string section. So I was thrilled that Dancing With the Stars did another Classical Night for season 14. Welsh singer Katherine Jenkins had first visited our fair planet during the first classical go-round in the first go-round in season 12 — one of my favorite episodes ever. Here she is singing along with then-Troupe members (decoys, all of them) Tristan and Peta. This time, Joshua Bell, Jackie Evancho, Vittorio Grigolo, and 16 new orchestra members stopped by to share their talents. O Fortuna! I murmured, before realizing that The X Factor has ruined that piece of music for me forever.
Let’s all take a pause to remember, on this lovely and elegant classical night, that you can’t spell “classical” without “ass.” Thanks Mark! You could spell it without “abs,” is all I’m saying.
Will the judges please reveal their scores? Carrie Ann Inahhhh-ber?
Maria Menounos and Derek Hough: 30/30 paso doble + 27/30 Team Tango = 57 out of possible 60 Our Pretty Boy Pro had told Maria he had yet to see her “be a female,” so during their paso doble she decided to sprout fangs and kill him. Derek is always a great Dead Derek, and the perfectly structured routine set to “Montagues and Capulets” was exactly the tension-building theatrical masterpiece the producers wanted — especially considering the golden boy had sat out season 12. (It’s a testament to Derek’s choreography that since then, I’ve loosely associated his work with Classical Night. He wasn’t even there!)
Did this deserve the first perfect 30 of the season? I mean, I can’t argue with the DANCMSTR that the dance was “sharp as a razor, crisp as a Pringle, and had more tension than my grandmother’s knicker elastic” — mostly because I’m in shock that Len just name-checked Pringles. Shouldn’t he have said “crisp as a crisp”? But yeah, I don’t know if this was the best dance of the season.
We can add George Lopez and Wilmer Valderrama to Maria’s ever-elasticizing fan base. Kudos to Derek for waiting until week 7 so that he could properly heed the advice of a different Derrick on ABC. (“Save the drama for Wilmer Valderrama” is my favorite Happy Endings quote ever.)
Katherine Jenkins and Mark Ballas: 27/30 rumba + 27/30 Team Tango = 54/60 Mark went shirtless for the bedroom dance, which was sort of EWWW.com but really only fitting as their costumes had been donated by Game of Thrones: The Musical (joked Tom). Katherine’s huge fake braid with flowers and sparkles twisted in was possibly my favorite DWTS hairstyle ever. Their rumba to “Canon in D” (this is where an “Only on Planet Mirrorballus” bumper sticker would come in handy) was classic but restrained and obviously very slow. Fine with me — I love when there’s enough time for couples to try that crazy balancing act where the woman is on life support via her partner’s grasp of one of her legs and one of her arms and suddenly he releases the arm. And she makes it!
NEXT: Donald Driver and William Levy are all tied up (YOU WISH)
I’m glad Katherine’s rumba didn’t get raunchy — need I mention again that Mark was shirtless? — but Bruno, who “literally” wants to be “the girl on top every time,” would have liked the dance to be a bit sexier to “get my juices going.” This provided Tom Bergeron with the opportunity to use one of my favorite words, spigot, so right away I was completely enthralled by Classical Night, as expected. It was “the embodiment of the power of beauty!” “Like a frieze in the Getty Villa!” <– What?!
Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd: 27/30 Viennese waltz + 26/30 Team Paso = 53/60 Donald, who doesn’t like his kids to win at marbles or video games, crushed Peta in a magnificent thumb war during which you could make out all 600,000 of the muscles he’s Green Bay packing. Then he let her dress him up as some sort of drunken royal with magical gold sleeves for their Viennese waltz. So I was already flushed with glittery red satisfaction just a few seconds into their segment, as two of the three items on my Dancing With the Stars Must List (muscles, costumes, Tom Bergeron) had been checked off.
In the same vein as that previous train of thought — did anyone else notice the dances seemed to go on forever this week? I’m not complaining at all. Not on Classical Night! Sing on, Vittorio Grigolo, do sing on. This was the perfect opportunity for Peta to pack every single Viennese waltz move Len could possibly dream up into the routine. He appreciated Donald’s attempts, but complained “The fleckerl was a little bit bizarre.” So is the spelling of that word, Len.
William Levy and Cheryl Burke: 27/30 Viennese waltz + 26/30 Team Paso = 53/60 Like Peta, Cheryl had to stuff the technical components into their Viennese waltz because that’s the way DANCMSTR likes it. This proved problematic for William, who had twisted his ankle and might twist it again at any time! Lucky for us, there was so much smoke on the floor during their waltz that we couldn’t see his feet anyway. The deadly smoke monster’s efforts and the “HOW is that creature singing ‘Ave Maria’ only 12 years old?” factor made the possible detection of William’s pain a non-issue.
Carrie Ann gushed, as she does, over William’s ability to find the story in the music — “and it’s always a story of romance, which is what ballroom dancing is all about.” Awww. Len said William and Cheryl had transported him to Austria, which is close enough. Bruno referred to William’s vulnerability, used the term “boy inside the man,” and said he looked like he was dancing for his mom.
Tune in next week, when William Levy dances a very vulnerable mambo while wearing a bedazzled Active Ankle and nothing else. (What is taking so long???)
NEXT: Now that Val’s giving private lessons, I have the urge to become a man
Roshon Fegan and Chelsie Hightower: 25/30 Argentine tango + 27/30 Team Tango = 52/60 Roshon took valuable private lessons on how to be a man from Val Chmerkovskiy (mmm, sign me up). Maybe he should have given Maria some lessons on how to look like a lady?
I thought Roshon still looked wobbly during their difficult Argentine tango, but maybe that’s because Chelsie is always on fire during this dance. I can never take my eyes off her. And when there’s pink and orange Glitter Galaxy animations churning behind them and all over the floor and I still don’t look away, that’s how you know it’s good dancing. And when you realize the Harold Wheeler orchestra was attempting to make Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” into classical music and you still don’t storm out of the room in a deep rage, that’s when you know it’s really good. (I’m guessing the camera that caused the technical difficulty at the beginning of their tango had been operated by a horrified classical music purist.)
I was just kidding before — I know those weren’t LED screens showing the glimpses of outer space during Roshon and Chelsie’s tango. They were real windows this time, offering us a rare glimpse of the atmosphere surrounding Planet Mirrorballus. It’s a unique chemical combo platter of crushed Swarovski crystals, spray tan particles, and classical gas.
Speaking of gas. Karina explains it all.
Carrie Ann gave Roshon a hug and a kiss and a “welcome back into the competition” (ugh), while Bruno admired Roshon’s slick lines and clean lifts. “So, you see, size is not everything,” he pointed out.
Jaleel White and Kym Johnson: 24/30 Viennese waltz + 27/30 Team Tango = 51/60 It’s a good thing that the adorable stuffed koala with a ’10’ paddle was such a key player in last night’s episode. Otherwise I might have been turned off by Jaleel’s unfortunate boob-groping (“I’m just thinking frame!”) and a lovely section of Team Tango’s rehearsal section where he just stood in a corner yelling “F***! F***!” (It’s always somewhat disappointing when the on-screen asterisks aren’t diamonds.)
As for their Viennese waltz, I liked the look of it well enough (loved Kym’s frothy light pink princess gown) but found the singing of the Downton Abbey theme song distracting. Are “Bad Romance” and Downton Abbey based on similar never-before-heard operas? Was this Classical Night or not? I’m still really confused. Len, clearly not making the most of loving the nod to his native Britain, liked their dance “enough not to be cruel.” A rave review! Would he give them a spirited “seh-vehhhhhn?” No, just a grumpy 8. Len is not a silly koala. Carrie Ann urged Jaleel to stop focusing so hard on the steps that he loses his hands. I don’t think there’s any danger of that. Just check Kym’s lovely lady lumps.
NEXT: Of course you have to remove your shirt, William Levy. What planet do you think you’re on? Melissa Gilbert and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: 21/30 Argentine tango + 26/30 Team Paso = 47/60 “What you have is a cyst,” announced Dr. Kevorksequin. This does not bode well. Maks’ ankle had really started to hurt, so he pulled in little brother Val to help train Melissa for the Argentine tango. Not to worry, Maks assured Melissa — she’d still have her original partner’s “choreography and stronger body,” provided he felt up to dancing by Monday night. And he did! Instead of having to marry a mannequin, Melissa got to dance with her charming prince of darkness, who by the way was wearing lycra pants. Is this Maks’ most boldly ridiculous season, costume-wise, to date? I’m loving it.
Sadly, Melissa looked lost and the white nightgown didn’t help matters once I’d decided she appeared to be in the middle of a terrible nightmare, all stiff and preoccupied and resigned to jagged-leg lifts and sloppy steps. I agreed with Len that the music matched the tempo of the choreography, but it did have a weird sense of bad intensity throughout. I thought for sure Val would have replaced that dummy at the end.
The way you’d vote in today’s homepage poll probably offers a good indication of which dance you preferred: Team Tango’s or Team Paso’s. Team Tango — or “Team Kindergarten” or “Team Diapers” according to Maks and Cheryl — was pure Hough-Ballas whimsy, with meticulous storytelling and tons of subtle yet dramatic moments. I thought Maria gave off a near-Anna Tre-BUN-skaya level of intensity here (at least in terms of gaze), and Roshon was a more powerful anchor than expected. I loved Katherine “conducting” her little army of thoroughly professional violinists. Thank God nobody “lost his rag”! (Translation: Mark Ballas-Ciccone thinks he’s British again.)
Team Paso — or Team Shirtless or “A Bunch of Meatheads” according to Derek — was, on the other pec, pure sex. And I’m pretty sure the suspenders made it even hotter.
“THE MEN DOMINATED IT!” — and by it, I mean Bruno.
Who do you think will head home tonight?
Dancing With the Stars