The ballroom transforms into the happiest place on earth (just kidding, it always was!)
Bibbidi-bobbidi-ballroom! It’s Disney Night on Dancing With the Stars, but the real magic comes from the fact that we’ve got ourselves a competition, people. With the quick disposal of some of the lesser dancers early in the season, we’re left with a hefty amount of contenders. On an evening where it’s much more about the spectacle of it all — did we really need the gazelle? — everyone brought their dancing A-game. Well, except for Doug. Poor Doug!
Here’s how the field shook out on Disney Night:
Antonio Brown and Sharna Burgess
Jazz | “Friend Like Me” from Aladdin
Everyone’s been expecting much more out of Antonio, including Sharna. After last week’s disappointing scores, she’s changing up the game plan. Whatever she does, it works. Like, a lot. Sharna describes this as the “2016 pimp version of Aladdin,” and I hope the Disney execs are paying attention. That’s a live-action remake I’ll pay good money to see. Especially if Queen Sharna is there as Tight Pants Jasmine. How fun was that choreography? For the first time since this whole shebang started, Antonio looks 100 percent into it. More importantly, the judges (including guest judge and delight, Zendaya) were feeling it, too. There are rave reviews across the board. Having such a strong performance up first bodes well for the rest of the evening.
Judges’ Score: 35/40
Marla Maples and Tony Dovolani
Waltz | “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid
Marla is quickly becoming my top pick for future life coach. What a classy broad! She talks about the people she’s lost in her life and how they’re giving her courage to dance her little heart out. It’s lovely. Also, she combats stress by doing cartwheels. Me too, girl! Well, if by “doing cartwheels” you mean “chugging three glasses of pinot noir,” then, yes, me too! The judges should be adding points to Marla’s score as soon as her waltz starts because hello, sister brought a dinglehopper to the dance floor! High marks all around. Okay, Marla is also allowed to get high scores for the elegance in her lines. The judges say it every week, but it’s true: Marla embodies grace while dancing. She’s certainly not the best dancer in the competition, but, as Len points out, she’s solid every time she steps out on the floor. That’s a good thing, in case you were wondering.
Judges’ Score: 28/40
Nyle DiMarco and Peta Murgatroyd
Samba | “Trashin’ the Camp” from Tarzan
Nyle is a big fan of Tarzan because Tarzan and Jane also have to find a creative way to communicate upon first meeting, just like he and Peta do. Swoon. I can’t handle this human. I especially can’t handle this human when he steps out on the dance floor wearing only a well-placed loin cloth. Seriously, double-sided tape is working real hard tonight. Okay, I know I’m supposed to be focusing on the abs-bait here, but I’m not biting (hard). Let’s talk about Nyle’s technique! Samba is so fast, with lots of armography, and aside from one small slip up, Nyle nails it. HE DOES A BACK FLIP, PEOPLE. If that doesn’t warrant some 9s, I don’t know anything about televised ballroom dancing. Len complains that there’s too much bongo, which, little does he know, is a scientific impossibility, but all the judges appreciate Nyle’s ability to get into character and his enthusiasm. And also his loin cloth, okay?
Judges’ Score: 34/40
NEXT: The curse of Mary Poppins lives on
Doug Flutie and Karina Smirnoff
Jazz | “A Spoonful of Sugar” from Mary Poppins
When Karina trotted out the canes for her and Doug’s Mary Poppins-inspired jazz routine, I immediately yelled, “Never forget Charlie White’s umbrella!” Props during Mary Poppins routines are the kiss of death. Doug claims this week will be a fun one but then proceeds to slam his cane in frustration. Karina reminds him this is only dancing, but Doug is determined to excel. Although there’s some fun TV magic with Doug popping out of Karina Poppins’ carpet bag, the rest of the dance seems a little out of Doug’s league. There’s energy but no real technique. The judges aren’t impressed, either. Len thought it was fun, but they all agree that a large portion of the routine was completely out of sync. Before Doug can go crush another cane, Tom gives him some good news: He and Karina are safe. America’s into the Flutie.
Judges’ Score: 24/40
Kim Fields and Sasha Farber
Quickstep | “I Wan’na Be Like You” from The Jungle Book
Just when Kim and Sasha think they couldn’t possibly have any more chemistry than they’ve already shown us, there’s more! By which I mean, they’re burping in each other’s faces. I didn’t know sharing bodily functions at close quarters equals chemistry, which is why I’m still single, I guess. Hey, whatever works, though, because Kim and Sasha are hands down the most fun couple to watch in this competition. Pay no mind to Len’s footwork critique, Zendaya has the right idea: That quickstep was fun, full of energy, and Kim is just a complete joy to watch. The highlight of the routine is that, after weeks of calling Kim out on her shoulders, Bruno compliments the obvious work she’s done to improve. Kim wastes no time in diving headfirst into the judge to give him a grateful smooch. Okay, so maybe Kim should be my life coach?
Judges’ Score: 32/40
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Jodie Sweetin and Keo Motsepe
Cha Cha | “Try Everything” from Zootopia
Even the tears I’m still wiping away from Jodie’s “Most Memorable Year” dance aren’t enough to stop me from seeing all the missteps that plague her and Keo’s cha cha. I don’t know what people expected when they forced them to dance alongside an animated gazelle in a crop top. I’d be distracted, too! When Carrie Ann asks Jodie what went wrong, Jodie admits that she couldn’t hear the music and lost her way. Keo, again, whispers what I imagine are life-changing sweet nothings into her ear to comfort her. It’s not all bad, really: Jodie proves that she’s the type of girl who will keep dancing (and smiling) through the mistakes; plus, she’s got LEGS. Her low scores, coupled with her repeated showings in the bottom have me worried for her chances next week. Please don’t take Keo away from me yet, DWTS. It should be our reward for the whole gazelle thing.
Judges’ Score: 27/40
Von Miller and Witney Carson
Viennese Waltz | “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes” from Cinderella
Von and Witney are feeling down about their low scores from last week’s contemporary. Von is ready to bring it for their Cinderella-themed Viennese waltz. This is a sentence I’d bet Von never imagined would be written. Or maybe he has! I don’t know him. Witney wants Von to fully embody his princeliness, which means no sticking his tongue out and no farting (if we’re grading chemistry on the Kim and Sasha scale, Von and Witney’s would be off the charts). You guys! Von is so ahem — charming — in this dance. I don’t know what the pros have been feeding their partners this week, but people are dancing. Len is rendered grumpy-less, and Carrie Ann exclaims that this is the type of dancing she’s been waiting for from Von. This is definitely the best he’s looked. Speaking of, I’m totally stuffing all my dresses with strands of lights. It’s so hot right now.
Judges’ Score: 32/40
NEXT: Making rattails look good since 2016
Ginger Zee and Valentin Chmerkovskiy
Foxtrot | “Belle” from Beauty and the Beast
Has a Disney Night dance ever been more perfectly cast than Ginger Zee as Belle and Val as GASTON? This is not a rhetorical question. The answer is no. The casting and staging of this foxtrot is perfect, down to Val’s rattail. Ginger is a big Disney fan (is she contractually obligated to say this? I don’t care), so she’s positive this week will be her chance to break away from the pack. The girl is right. Ginger and Val perform a big, theatrical routine, but Ginger never gets lost in it. Len calls it the best dance of the season (an exaggeration, but who am I to call out a happy Len?), Bruno refers to the whole thing as a “visual treat,” but perhaps it was America’s Dad Tom Bergeron who put it best when told Ginger that she “was made for that one.”
Judges’ Score: 36/40
Wanyá Morris and Lindsay Arnold
Samba | “Circle of Life” from The Lion King
The next time someone asks why I still watch Dancing With the Stars, I’m just going to describe that one time when Wanyá Morris from Boyz II Men Circle-of-Lifed a Mirrorball over Los Angeles. It doesn’t get any more Dancing With the Stars than that. Wanyá wants to win this baby, and landing underneath Nyle on the leaderboard last week has renewed the singer’s determination. He brings that fire and then some to the ballroom. Yes, Ginger’s foxtrot was an amazing production, but this dude straight up dances his lion tail off. Also, he does it wearing a lot of fur. How he didn’t pass out from heat is a Disney Night miracle. Everyone was feeling the intensity, but Carrie Ann thought she felt it a little too much. She wants Wanyá to rein it in. She’s being a real Zazu about the whole thing, if you ask me.
Judges’ Score: 35/40
Paige VanZant and Mark Ballas
Quickstep | “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from Toy Story
It’s a chicken or the egg thing: Were Mark’s facial expressions made for embodying a toy cowboy, or was the toy cowboy created to house Mark’s facial expressions? You tell me, ballroom babes. It may be the greatest debate of the season. Regardless of the answer, Mark is extremely well-suited for a Toy Story homage. Paige is pretty good, too. The judges rave over her clean footwork, and I have to agree with Carrie Ann: Paige’s athleticism is on display in this routine. The content certainly was demanding, and Paige, as always, is up to the challenge, but I’d choose Wanyá’s showmanship over Paige’s precision. That being said, I’m really glad Paige is building great friendships through this show. I’m not a monster!
Judges’ Score: 36/40
Len dubs Paige’s quickstep the happy ending we all deserve on Disney Night, but Grumpy Ol’ Len forgets: There’s still an elimination to deal with. And with Doug and Karina safe, it’s a scary one! There’s redeeming qualities about every couple left in the competition, so it’ll be sad to see anyone go.
Marla and Tony and Jodie and Keo are told they are this week’s bottom two couples, which is frightening. Sadly, tonight we must say goodbye to Princess Ariel — Marla and Tony get the sequin-covered ax. Marla wasn’t going to win, but she sure was nice to have around. At least Tony gets to go out in his Prince Eric costume, which was a gift to all of us.
Before you can get too sad about it, remember first, that it’s only dancing (thanks, Karina!) and second, that next week is Switch Up Week! My fingers are crossed for Nyle and Sharna and Paige and Val pairings. Who are you hoping to see coupled up? Let me know in comments, or come visit me on twitter @fremer, where the Mirrorball is always spinning.