Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani maintain their top position. (Adam Taylor / ABC )
We’re one week away from the “Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars” semifinals, and the stakes are higher than ever. This week, each of the remaining seven couples had to perform two whole dances: an individual ballroom dance with a military theme in honor of Veterans Day and a Latin trio performance with another professional or troupe member added to their group. If that wasn’t pressure enough, all the stars knew they were facing a double elimination this week.
Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani have had their best two weeks ever. They were the big swing dance marathon winners and scoreboard leaders last week. And then they added two perfect scores to the mix! And to think: Melissa was afraid that the only place to go after being in first place is down. Their quickstep, set to the Andrews Sisters’ fun, upbeat “Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy” was a great big burst of patriotism set to song. Loved their sailor outfits and how Melissa woke a sleeping Tony with a bugle.
“That was the bees’ knees,” Len proclaimed. Bruno likened it to “watching Ann Miller and Gene Kelly in ‘On the Town.’” “I salute you guys!” Carrie Ann exclaimed. “You’re on fire!”
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There was no waning of that fire in the trio dance, when Melissa and Tony invited troupe dancer and choreographer Henry Byalikov to their paso doble party. Melissa doesn't usually take charge, but the paso needed her to nail the dominatrix role, and she did with great gusto (the driving beat of Adele’s “Rumour Has It” no doubt helped), even screaming out in the middle of the routine like a champ.
Len said Melissa transitioned seamlessly between Tony and Henry: “You were like a Frisbee being passed from one to another,” and said of all the celebrities, “you impress me most.” Bruno called her a “jaw-dropping whip-cracking queen bee … the passing from boy to boy was a thing of beauty.” Carrie Ann simply said, “I love seeing you so in control out there. You owned that paso.” And that second perfect 30 sent Tony off into paroxysms of delight. “I’m having the best time of my life right now,” the Albanian stallion roared. Go Tony. You deserve it. Total for last week and this week: 99 out of 100.
Shawn Johnson was still having partner issues. Sure, the Olympic gymnast was coming off a perfect 30 last week – except it was with her old partner, Mark Ballas, and not her current partner, Derek Hough. Derek’s neck injury has recovered enough so he could dance again, and he insisted he wouldn’t mind if they didn’t get a perfect 30 this week, so long as they honored the troops.
They did come close: Shawn and Derek’s lovely, lilting Viennese waltz showed a lot of emotion, with Shawn ably playing an “Angel” who helps lead hopeless soldier Derek back into the light. “Sometimes a whisper is louder than a shout,” said Len. And while the head judge wanted a little more in hold, “it was poignant, it was gentle, it was fabulous.” Bruno called it “heavenly perfection … the shapes and figures were absolutely exquisite.” Carrie Ann praised Shawn for turning into a “beautiful, rich, in-depth performer.”
Ooh, but their samba trio with Mark Ballas had the judges singing a different tune. Derek and Mark were really intent on pushing boundaries even though they knew that the tribal elements were going to put them at risk. What they accomplished was pretty awesome: There was great precision and sync and mood.
Tom knew that the trio was “taking a real risk on that one,” and the look of Len biting on his pencil said it all. “The problem was, I thought the two of you were very self-indulgent. … There was very little samba content,” the head judge complained. “Shawn, if you go home tomorrow, don’t blame me, blame these two.” “Even I have to admit it wasn’t a samba,” Bruno said. Though he did say that “as art, it was completely fantastic” and “I have jungle fever.” Carrie Ann disagreed with the two of them, saying the (small amount of) samba that was there was “executed with perfection.” “Sometimes you have to take a risk,” she defended. Shawn and Derek received a 29.5 for their Viennese waltz and a 26 for their samba trio with Mark (brought down by a ridiculously low 7 from Len). Two-week total: 93.5