We’ve made it to the semifinals of the “Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars” season, ballroom fans. In just two short weeks, the glitterverse will crown another Mirrorball champ!
First, though, we had to bid adieu to some of the season’s favorites. The first couple to leave the ballroom, to the surprise of absolutely no one, were Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy. The actress and her Ukranian partner were all smiles as they were given their last dance. “To be asked to come back, first of all, was an honor,” said Kirstie graciously, thanking her partner Maks (“He’s so patient with me”), the judges (“Your critiques really helped me") and her fans (“I love you”). She and Maks took the floor for a last dance with a twirl and a smile. She who laughs last, laughs best, indeed.
The other elimination was a bit unexpected, but not completely surprising: Gilles Marini and Peta Murgatroyd. While the French actor came out like gangbusters at the beginning of the season and held on to the highest score total of the competition until last week, Gilles had been slipping down a scale where his obvious desire for the Mirrorball trophy did not exactly match his results. But he also took his elimination graciously. “In the end, it’s just an incredible experience,” he said, calling Peta his angel and thanking his wife for her support. “I tried my very best.” It’s just unfortunate that Gilles isn’t able to pay homage to Michael Jackson, the guy who got him dancing, in the tribute to the King of Pop next week.
PHOTOS: 'DWTS: All-Stars': Who's been booted?
Kylie Minogue kicked off the show with a performance of the 1987(!) oldie but goodie “Locomotion” in a shirt of fringe (no bottoms), and accompanied by fellow Aussie Kym Johnson and fellow accent-haver Tristan MacManus and the "DWTS" Troupe on the dance floor.
Extra! Extra! Newspapers got some good face time as the Macy’s Stars of Dance performance featured 18 members of the cast of the Broadway hit musical “Newsies” tumbling, jumping, dancing and belting “strike” in a performance of their show-stopping number “Seize the Day.” Coolest part: when they slipped and slid on top of the papers. Any attention brought to newspapers is good.
Returning to the ballroom to perform his brand new No. 1 single was Ne-Yo, looking like a cool cat in his black outfit and fedora for his club-like performance of “Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself).” The title of the song may be long and meandering, but the club-like feel of the ballroom was tight and intimate, particularly when those three women wriggled their way up on that square stage with the R&B singer.
The pros got their own segment in which they got to talk about how much pressure they’re feeling this season. Cheryl Burke admitted she had gone through “a few nervous breakdowns” already. Karina says the fight she had with Apolo ended up being the best thing for their relationship. Tony talked about the pressure to have to constantly tweak his and Melissa’s choreography. Derek relayed his frustrations of being injured at such a crucial time. Val simply said this was uncharted territory for him, and he knows to take advantage of this unique opportunity.
The glitterverse went a little offbeat with next week’s dance styles and themes, in which each of the remaining five couples had to execute a dance they hadn’t performed before and incorporate the theme it was paired with. And as Tom said, “I don’t know what the producers were smoking” when they came up with these combinations. “I’m sure it was medicinal,” he added. Here’s how the pairings went down:
-- Kelly Monaco and Valentin Chmerkovskiy chose the “Caveman” Hustle for Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani.
-- Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke chose the “Knight Rider” Banghra for Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough
-- Gilles and Peta picked “Big Top” Jazz for Apolo Anton Ohno and Karina Smirnoff
-- Shawn and Derek chose “Espionage” Lindy Hop for Emmitt and Cheryl
-- Kelly and Val ended up with “Surfer” Flamenco
My favorite part of the night was a lovely routine courtesy of Anna Trebunskaya, Val Chmerkovskiy and New York City Ballet principals Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild. We were transported to an enchanted forest and cast under a charming spell of twinkling lights, Christina Perri and gorgeous dancing. It was like a lullaby of a performance: sweet, lilting and lovely.