Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli awarded another perfect… (Adam Taylor )
The big to-do on this seventh week on “Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars” was the introduction of the Dance Fusions, in which each couple mixed two different ballroom styles with one song. According to the judges, the biggest challenge would be to maintain the character of the dance. The pro has his/her work cut out for him/her, because they have to come up with a strategy that suits each celebrity’s style. Mostly, Len wanted to see decent amounts of both dances: “To win something special, you’ve got to do something special.”
To give us a taste of the routines to come, Henry Byalikov from the Troupe choreographed a crisp and clean mutant super-dance hybrid for the Troupe and that featured Anna Trebunskaya, Louis Van Amstel, Tristan MacManus(!) and Kym Johnson.
The jampacked performance show also introduced this season’s first swing dance marathon, in which all the couples took to the floor for four minutes of Harold Wheeler Band music in an attempt to impress the judges and be the last couple standing. The first couple eliminated received 4 points (that was Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy), and the last couple standing went home with the entire 10. These scores were added to the couple’s individual fusion dances.
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This time around, the full 10 points went to the super stamina’d team of Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani, and put them at the top of the leader board. This good news couldn’t have come at a better time for Tony. His family lives on the East Coast and was affected by Hurricane Sandy, so the Albanian stallion took every spare moment from rehearsals to talk to his wife and adorable girls and to help with disaster relief. Melissa didn’t want to let her partner down, but she quickly became overwhelmed by having to fuse the cha-cha, which is toe-leads, and the tango, which leads with the heel. And she really didn’t during their fusion routine. Melissa attacked both dances like paparazzi on a Kardashian. Love that she completely changed her outfit from black dominatrix to a tight fringe number behind the steam jets. “The dark mistress of tango into a sexilicious cha-cha-cha,” crowed Bruno. “I thought Beyoncé all of a sudden came out.” “Tonight, you are a star!” Carrie Ann proclaimed. Len said the tango and the cha-cha were beautifully defined. “I loved the way that was all put together,” he said. “Well done.” Melissa and Tony got a 29 for their fusion dance and the full 10 points for their first-place finish in the dance marathon. Total: 39 out of 40.
After two weeks of stinky scores from Len, Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough were determined to make this week’s tango/paso doble fusion specifically for entertaining and pleasing the judges. But Derek’s neck vertebrae injury was still acting up, so his best friend and Shawn’s old partner Mark Ballas stepped in to dance with Shawn while Derek rehabilitated and played choreographer and coach from the sidelines. Shawn seemed truly conflicted: not just between these two styles, but between her former and current partners. She likened it to two chefs in the kitchen. But the dance she and Mark trotted out was truly a marvel, set to Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer.” I couldn’t tell where the tango ended and the paso began. “That was a fusion beyond anything I would imagine,” Carrie Ann marveled. “So seamlessly intertwined” and “not a step missed.” Len likened the routine to “a firecracker: The tango was the fuse. The paso was the explosion,” he said. As an Englishman, Len said, “I can’t vote tomorrow, but I’m voting for you.” “As fusions go, that was flawless,” Bruno confirmed “Performed to the maximum purity of the dance.” Shawn and Mark and Derek earned a perfect 30 for their fusion, but their acrobatics-laden swing dance routine only earned them 8 points, third place, and stomps of dismay from Mark. Total: 38.