The stars reveal their most memorable years through dance. Crying ensues.
Gather ye round, Mirror Ballerz. It’s season 24’s turn to take us on the emotional journey that is “Most Memorable Year” on Dancing With the Stars. It’s a time for the stars to tell us their story, pro partners to awkwardly sit next to crying adults, and also, there’s a lot of tender face touching. How could you not love this theme?
Enough with the jibber-jabber! Mr. T says it’s time to dance.
Normani Kordei and Valentin Chmerkovskiy
Rumba, “Impossible” by Shontelle
Normani’s most memorable year is 2012, the year she was put into Fifth Harmony on The X-Factor, but her story is much more about the sacrifice her parents made to get her to that point. Normani’s mom quit her job to make Normani’s dream come true! Come on, people, that is some moving stuff! Dedicated to her family and to her bandmates (who sing live), Normani and Val dance a very powerful rumba. Len wants more rumba content, but the other three judges were absorbed in Normani’s story. Then Carrie Ann reads the definition of a lift (in all fairness, their lift is pretty blatant), and no one is engaged in anything anymore. Fewer vocabulary lessons, more dancing!
Judges’ Score: 32/40
Nick Viall and Peta Murgatroyd
Rumba, “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran
Nick goes for the obvious choice of memorable year for his rumba: 2016! The year he “found love” on The Bachelor. The ABC synergy is off the charts. As Nick talks about the rough road he took to finally become the bachelor, Peta doesn’t laugh even once. Good for you girl! The pair dance a steamy rumba in which Nick looks the most in control he has all season. The judges agree that it is Nick’s best dance so far in the competition. The routine ends with him pulling Vanessa on to the floor and them making out for at least an 8-count, which, like, HARD PASS. In better news, Peta’s legs are just as amazing as I remember. That leg extension in the first half of the routine? More, please!
Judges’ Score: 30/40
Nancy Kerrigan and Artem Chigvintsev
Foxtrot, “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts
Oh, Nancy. As the judges point out after her gorgeous foxtrot, Nancy is improving every week. She shares a painful story about her journey to motherhood and the miscarriages she suffered through in order to have her dream family. Understandably, she breaks down in rehearsal talking about it. Thankfully, Artem is there to use his big, burly arms for what they do best: hugging. I am really into this partnership. I’m also very into Nancy’s arm extensions. Len is happy with all the in-hold content, and Carrie Ann and Julianne both applaud Nancy’s courageousness. Erin is in tears in her post-dance interview. WELCOME TO “MOST MEMORABLE YEAR” NIGHT.
Judges’ Score: 33/40
Mr. T and Kym Herjavec
Waltz, “Amazing Grace” by Ray Chew Live
You know it’s an emotional night when Mr. T and Kym are both crying in rehearsals! Mr. T shares the story of his battle against cancer — he’s a 22-year survivor — and how his faith saved him. Mr. T will never be the best dancer on this show, but you can tell he is really putting his heart into this thing. Kym’s choreography is well-suited for her partner, but the real star of this routine is the Ray Chew Live band. Girl can saaaang. The judges are all appropriately moved by Mr. T’s story, and he earns his best score of the season. As one should on “Most Memorable Year” night.
Judges’ Score: 28/40
Heather Morris and Alan Bersten
Cha Cha, “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon
At last! We have discovered the true winner of this competition: Heather’s wedding white jumpsuit. That thing is working. As you may have surmised, Heather’s most memorable year is the year she got married. The biggest revelation, however, is that Heather and her husband Taylor went to the same high school but connected through MySpace. Let this be the revival of MySpace! Or… not. That thing was scary. Heather and Alan (and Maks, in spirit) dance a fun little cha cha to Heather’s son’s favorite song, and it’s a nice reprieve from all the emotional stuff. As usual, her technique is top-notch, but more importantly, I am very on board with Heather and Alan as a pair. Obviously, we need Maks back, but this isn’t so bad, is it? It’s all very confusing!
Judges’ Score: 35/40
David Ross and Lindsay Arnold
Viennese Waltz, “Forever Young” by Youth Group
Well, this is a little different from the Magic Mike Wears Bedazzled Boxers Extravaganza David and Lindsay provided during Vegas Week. David’s most memorable year is, of course, 2016, in which he won the World Series with the Chicago Cubs and then retired from baseball to become a full-time dad. “Forever Young” was David’s walk-up music, and that paired with watching a package about his kids, makes the whole thing very emotional for the guy. His Viennese Waltz isn’t the smoothest, and David looks a little out of his element, but all is forgiven thanks to Lindsay’s gorgeous purple dress. Fashion always wins! The judges enjoy David’s enthusiasm, per usual, and Len delivers his critique in baseball signals that end with him pointing toward his crotch… which I think means he likes it?
Judges’ Score: 31/40
Rashad Jennings and Emma Slater
Contemporary, “Unconditionally” by Katy Perry
It seems unfair to the other couples for Rashad and Emma to get handed contemporary on a night that is all about tapping into your emotional side — but, honestly, Rashad’s contemporary would’ve been something to see regardless of which week he performed it. The guy dances like he was made to do contemporary. He dedicates this dance to his father. They had a tough relationship growing up, but when his father needed him the most — after his leg was amputated due to diabetes — Rashad put his football dreams on hold to help him. Rashad and Emma are a well-matched pair, their lifts are gorgeous, and it was unfair for this routine to ever end. Even Len was moved! Not moved enough to help Rashad and Emma get the first perfect score of the season, but close enough.
Judges’ Score: 39/40
Erika Jayne and Gleb Savchenko
Cha Cha, “Express Yourself” by Madonna
Erika Jayne is hot and she doesn’t care who knows it. Or, in her words, “I am what I am. I’m not going to tone it down.” It’s how she survived trying to make it in the entertainment business in NYC and L.A., and it’s how she is going to survive DWTS. Her Madonna-themed cha cha is actually the best balance of her sexiness mixed with technique we’ve seen so far. She still looks a little nervous out on the ballroom floor, but Carrie Ann is happy to see the increased difficulty in the choreography. It’s time this feisty lady push herself further. Len may want less sexpot, but Julianne asks for more hip action. Take a guess who is going to win that little judges’ war?
Judges’ Score: 30/40
Simone Biles and Sasha Farber
Viennese Waltz, “Good, Good Father” by Chris Tomlin
Leave it to Simone Biles to finally break through emotionally on the evening when it counts the most. Her biggest critique from the judges has been her inability to show her vulnerability and be emotionally present in her routines, but when she’s dancing in honor of her parents, she almost can’t help herself. Simone tells the story of how she was put in foster care at the age of three, until her biological grandparents adopted her. Serious question: Is Simone’s dad the cutest person ever? Discuss in the comments. He couldn’t help fall in love with Simone, and neither can we — especially after her most moving and graceful routine to date.
Judges’ Score: 36/40
Bonner Bolton and Sharna Burgess
Foxtrot, “Feeling Good” by Michael Bublé
No matter how many times they show the footage of Bonner’s rodeo accident, I’ll never be able to wrap my head around the fact that he survived it. Obviously, that moment is forever ingrained in Bonner’s and all of his family’s minds. We could all learn a lot from Bonner, who faced something so traumatic but is still able to wake up and be thankful to simply be alive. Bonner and Sharna infuse their routine with that enthusiasm for life. Not to mention: DAYUM, these two look good dancing the foxtrot. Julianne is right: The ballroom dances suit Bonner. And also, that suit suits Bonner. Hopefully, this marks some upward momentum for the bull rider.
Judges’ Score: 32/40
It’s always rough to watch someone bare their soul only to be sent packing, but this is the dancing competition you signed up for, people! It’s Mr. T and Kym and Erika and Gleb who find themselves in jeopardy on this emotional evening. Unfortunately, all the smoke machines in the world can’t stop Mr. T and Kym from being asked to exit the ballroom.
He seems like a good dude, but this elimination was fairly predictable. Who’s next on the chopping block? Len called Nancy one of his front-runners — who’s yours?