Hop on a cross-country flight because the ballroom is going from New York City to Las Vegas, baby. Vegas is all about sparkle, showmanship, and surprises — so it is the perfect theme for Dancing With the Stars. There’s oversized dice! And the Blue Man Group! And more feathers to be found than you could ever possibly need. See? Exactly like Vegas. But we’re not here (only) for the feathers — we’re here to dance. Let’s see which gambles on the ballroom floor paid off.
Juan Pablo Di Pace and Cheryl Burke
Foxtrot, “Why Don’t You Do Right?” by Peggy Lee
How do you come off the high of two nines? You don’t. You continue to get them. That’s what Juan Pablo and Cheryl do with their sexy foxtrot. The routine is about a glamorous couple who have a little-choreographed foreplay after a night out in Vegas. Sure, why not? It’s smooth throughout and I can’t get over Juan Pablo’s arm flourishes. He looks like a pro! Okay, so Len still isn’t pleased with his frame and wants cleaner footwork, but the makings of perfection are there.
Judges’ Score: 26/30
Milo Manheim and Witney Carson
Tango, “Ashes” by Celine Dion
I’m sorry, what glorious world have we stepped into? Celine Dion is now doing intros to routines on Dancing With the Stars? We are truly living tonight. Milo and Witney are doing the tango to one of her songs; she’s a Vegas staple, so she wishes them luck ahead of their dance. Actually, she says, “Put on your heels, the sky’s the limit,” which is very inspiring (to me). This tango is ridiculous. It’s still hard to believe it’s only week two! Len chides Milo for dancing down, instead of dancing his height, but otherwise, this is top-notch. Bruno is here for the staccato moments and Carrie Ann can’t get over how versatile a dancer and performer Milo is. And that’s the Power of Celine.
Judges’ Score: 26/30
Danelle Umstead and Artem Chigvintsev
Quickstep, “Luck Be a Lady” live performance by Donny Osmond
Tonight we get a prime example of the challenge’s Danelle’s disease poses to her dance routines. So much can go wrong even without the extra challenge of being blind. The Paralympian is a little intimidated by the quickstep, but she fully trusts Artem. The couple makes good use of the space, and Carrie Ann praises their first, extremely graceful, pass across the floor. Len thought it took a little too much time to get going, but enjoyed the performance overall. The very pleased judges give Danelle and Artem their highest score of the season so far.
Judges’ Score: 19/30
Alexis Ren and Alan Bersten
Salsa, “Booty” by Jennifer Lopez featuring Iggy Azalea
These two are feeling good after their very well-received Swan Lake Argentine tango, but things take a turn in rehearsals. Alan’s demanding a lot from Alexis, and she gets frustrated. Our first rehearsal room walkout of the season! How exciting. Out on the dance floor, all of that frustration is replaced with lots of booty shaking and wild lifts. Like Phoebe Buffay before her, Alexis Ren is very bendy, according to Bruno. Carrie Ann warns that Alexis’s flexibility is a strength (did you guys see those lifts?), but can be a detriment, too. Beware a lack of core strength!
Judges’ Score: 24/30
John Schneider and Emma Slater
Jive, “King Creole” by Elvis Presley
Bless this show. An Elvis dance-off? I didn’t even know I was allowed to dream that big. That’s the theme for John and Emma’s jive, which helps distract from the lack of actual jive content. His flicks and kicks are lacking, but it’s entertaining! That’s what Vegas is all about. Carrie Ann does offer some real notes for the couple: John needs to own his size — his arm movements are too small. Otherwise, this pair will skate by on sheer charm. How cute are they together? Fingers-crossed “the skunk” works its way into a future routine. The “angry rabbit?” Not so much.
Judges’ Score: 20/30
DeMarcus Ware and Lindsay Arnold
Quickstep, “Ladies Man” live performance by Boyz II Men
Boyz II Men is in the house! Remember how great Wanya Morris and Lindsay were back in season 22? Misty water-colored memories, ya know? Not that her current partner isn’t equally as fun to watch. DeMarcus is so charming! Still, he gets a lot of notes on his frame. Carrie Ann points out that his shoulder hunches over and it creates a strange topline. Lindsay takes the blame — her arms aren’t long enough for his frame! You can’t make your arms longer, so they’ll have to come up with plan B.
Judges’ Score: 23/30
Joe Amabile and Jenna Johnson
Jazz, “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers
After showing some signs of improvement, Jenna wants to push Joe a little further. Although he seems like a great student — he’s taking notes! — he might not be ready for pushing. Bruno’s critique is spot-on: He tells Joe that he just needs to own it, if he doesn’t fully let go and get into it, the performance will always fall flat. That’s exactly what happens in this jazz-contemporary-country routine (what a combo!). Carrie Ann continues to see improvement but wants Joe to work on connecting his movements, rather than just hitting poses and moving on.
Judges’ Score: 18/30
Evanna Lynch and Keo Motsepe
Jive, “Heat Wave” by Martha Reeves & The Vandellas
Okay, so if I were stuck in the desert on my way home from Vegas, I’d be trying not to die from dehydration, not doing a jive. Keo and Evanna have different priorities, which is their choice. This desert-set jive is fast and fun, just how I like my jives. Len is a big fan (he’s hot on these two now, good for them!), Carrie Ann thought Evanna was a little ahead of the beat but loved how she “milked the movement,” and Bruno is happy that Evanna is letting loose this week. Most importantly, Evanna reminds us all that dying from doing the jive is actually a nice way to go out. What a silver lining!
Judges’ Score: 24/30
Bobby Bones and Sharna Burgess
Quickstep, “That Old Black Magic” by Sammy Davis Jr.
You guys! They just sawed Hayley in half! I’ll be honest: I spent a good portion of that Vegas magic routine watching Hayley split in half, just waving away in the background. Did she get paid extra this week? That must have been uncomfortable. Bobby completes this number without adding any of his own choreography or outbursts of energy, which is new for the radio host, but the problem the judges have with it remains the same. They want Bobby to tone down his energy a little bit in order to let the dance shine. He’s all performance and no technique. Ta-da?
Judges’ Score: 19/20
Nancy McKeon and Val Chmerkovskiy
Paso Doble, “Storm from KÀ” by Cirque du Soleil
The thing about Vegas is that you might think you’ve seen it all, and then it will surprise you one more time. I thought we had peaked with an Elvis-off, but then we got a pirate-themed paso. I am here for this, always. Nancy is intense and aggressive and nails her paso shapes. Not to mention, I’d like to live in her costume, should that become a thing. Len thought it lacked the light and shade dynamic — it was all attack and no finesse, but Nancy really owned it. Plus, she got to take a spin on a Cirque du Soleil pirate ship this week. She’s already winning!
Judge’s Score: 20/30
Tinashe and Brandon Armstrong
Cha Cha, “Circus” by Britney Spears
If we had gotten through Vegas night without a Britney Spears song, it would’ve been a travesty. Even better than anyone dancing to Vegas queen Britney, we get a person who has performed with Ms. Spears on stage in Vegas. Tinashe knows her personally. Her love of the music shows off in the appropriately chosen circus-themed cha cha. Tinashe is a singer, so it’s not really a surprise, but still, her musicality is insane. Len is ready to see this pair do a slower ballroom number (me too, Len!), but no one can fault Tinashe and Brandon for bringing the heat to every routine.
Judges’ Score: 26/30
Mary Lou Retton and Sasha Farber
Samba, “Copacabana (At the Copa)” by Barry Manilow
Mary Lou gets the honor of dancing to this iconic Vegas song decked out in yellow feathers. She is living the dream, people. Can we also take a moment of silence for Sasha and the costume he has to wear? So brave! Mary Lou has had numerous surgeries because of gymnastics, so the wear and tear that comes with this competition is catching up to her — but she won’t let it stop her. As if it’s any surprise, the couple dance a lively samba that makes Len very, very happy. All the guy wants is a routine with the traditional dance style done properly. Is that so hard to ask?
Judges’ Score: 24/30
As much fun as Vegas Night is, someone’s got to go home. In jeopardy this week are Danelle and Artem and John and Emma. This feels a little unfair and frustrating, but that’s the name of the game, people. And with that, we say goodbye to Danelle and Artem. Who do we think will be on the chopping block next week?