Apolo Anton Ohno and Karina Smirnoff perform their perfect 30 rumba. (Adam Taylor )
It’s the last hurdle before next week’s finale, as two more celebrities and their partners were eliminated in this ninth week of “Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars” competition.
The first couple eliminated, despite landing in third place in the judges’ points and being selected for the encore performance, was Apolo Anton Ohno and Karina Smirnoff. Apolo smiled wanly as he and Karina stood on the stage right before Tom Bergeron announced the results, as if he knew it was his time. And while I’m sad to see the Olympic speedskater go, especially right at a point when he and Karina really seemed to hit on all cylinders, it’s nice to see that Apolo left this competition a more complete person, realizing that the journey can be just as important as the destination. Just like in his encore rumba, Apolo really did look at the man in the mirror and make that change. “This competition was hard from the beginning,” the gold-medalist said. “Karina’s a champion. I’ve learned so much about her, she taught me so much about myself.” The Season 4 champion went on: “Every single person who does this show is a champion. It forces you to become a champion in your own right.” Godspeed, Apolo, as you skate out into the great ballroom beyond.
The second couple eliminated was Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke. “It’s been a tremendous experience,” the classy NFL star said. “Season 3 was something else, but this right here takes it over the top.” And Emmitt said after his performances on Monday night that he wanted his kids to know that sometimes you can give it all you have, and it may be not be enough. That’s OK. Sad to see the former Dallas Cowboy go off into the sunset, but anyone with such a lovely wife and five kids and so much ease and elegance could hardly be classified as a loser. Tom spoke for everyone when he said, “After tonight, this show’s lost a chunk of charisma.”
PHOTOS: 'DWTS: All-Stars': Who's been booted?
But not its estrogen, as the all-stars going through to the finals are all women: Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough, Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani, and Kelly Monaco and Valentin Chmerkovskiy will duke it out starting next Monday for the new and improved Mirrorball trophy.
The AT&T Spotlight Performance featured Perris Goebel, a self-taught hip-hop dancer from Auckland, New Zealand, who has already made a dent in the dancing world choreographing for the likes of Jennifer Lopez and Missy Elliott at the ripe young age of 21. She and her ReQuest Crew threw themselves into a great fiery performance set to “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys that had her surrounded by fire at the end.
British pop band The Wanted performed, to the rabid delight of the audience’s younger demographic, singing a high-energy medley of “I Found You” and “Glad You Came” and using the grand staircase to great effect. Judging by the squeals in the audience, the girls really seem to like the guy in purple and the bald guy.
The last Macy’s Stars of Dance of the season was a multimedia event with Paula Abdul that incorporated four of her #1 hits: “Straight Up,” “Forever Your Girl,” Cold Hearted” and "Opposites Attract," called, appropriate enough, “Paula’s Dream Medley.” “It’s Paula’s dream, so anything can happen,” the erstwhile “American Idol” and onetime “DWTS” judge said. “Cross your fingers and pray that everything happens right.” And this super-size medley really did seem to have a little bit of everything, from the “Cold Hearted” scaffolding to a triceratops still looking for the caveman hustle, to Maks projected larger than life during the “Straight Up” segment. And of course, no Paula Abdul multimedia event could be complete without an appearance by MC Skat Kat, who rapped and danced on all different surfaces during “Opposites Attract” and sent us all hurtling back to 1989.
Derek Hough got to show off his chest and his passion project, a contemporary modern piece set to original music choreographed with “So You Think You Can Dance” superstar Allison Holker and also showcasing Jessica Lee Keller as well as fellow “SYTYCD” powerhouses Melanie Moore and Kathryn McCormick. And it was a powerful dancing tour de force featuring Derek and the incredible women that re-used that cool water platform from Kelly and Val’s surfer flamenco, and no doubt ended right where Derek wanted: shirtless and caught in a wet embrace with a beautiful woman.