Thoughts were with those braving the storms in the East, but in the glitterverse the forecast was high and dry with a chance of twang during Country Week on “Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars.” The sixth week of competition was themed to match the Country Music Awards (also airing on ABC), and we were treated to down-home versions of ballroom standards, in addition to a country-themed group freestyle dance.
To kick off the proceedings, Little Big Town gave us a ride on the “Pontoon” accompanied by a cowboy hat-wearing, toe-tapping “DWTS” Troupe.
And the evening ended with the freestyle country group dance, set to a medley of Big & Rich’s “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” (a.k.a., the freestyle song that won Drew Lachey and Cheryl Burke the Mirrorball back in Season 2) and Cowboy Troy’s “I Play Chicken With the Train” (Season 14 champ Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd’s freestyle song). The rehearsals were in a room that featured a backdrop that looked like it was taken from the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride at Disneyland. Choreographed by Kevin Maher, the country-western in-line steps initially succeeded in immediately confusing our all stars. Emmitt Smith wanted to quit. Kelly Monaco felt like she and Val Chmerkovskiy were the losers in the group, and quickly took refuge in her partner’s arms (at which Louis Van Amstel voiced the sentiments of an entire nation and said, “Get a room”). Apolo Anton Ohno felt like the jackass in the corner. Gilles Marni showed up late wearing a bedazzled white vest and fringe chaps and was immediately told he was at the wrong party – the Village People were rehearsing down the hall. And Shawn Johnson did a lop-sided flip over Sabrina Bryan’s back and messed up her knee.
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The dance ended up a rootin’ tootin’ good time all around, and like any other good hoe-down, just two cowboy ticks short of chaos. But was it worth the two extra points? It was for Kirstie Alley and Maks Chmerkovskiy, who were smart enough to highlight their best, um, ass-ets (Maks’ butt) during their short solo and were awarded that bonus to their, erm, bottom line, keeping them out of last place.
We were also treated to not one, but two perfect-30 scores — the first of the season. How did the other couples stack up? Here’s a rundown:
Country night came with a lot of feeling for Sabrina Bryan, as hers and Louis Van Amstel’s song for the week, Hunter Hayes’ “Wanted,” reminded Sabrina of a previous relationship with a drug addict and her helpless feelings as to what to do about it. Louis Van Amstel took all of Sabrina’s raw emotion and crafted an emotion-packed rumba around it, reminding Sabrina that sometimes, imperfection can be beauty in the dance, too. And the crowd really picked up on the pair’s passion, rising to their feet by the end of the routine. Bruno called it a “sumptuous sequence of intriguing shape” that “always had an emotional thread running through.” He also said Sabrina’s solo was “seamless.” Carrie Ann credited Sabrina for finally letting her vulnerability shine through. “This is the true beauty of the dance,” she said. “You were dancing from your heart.” Len liked that the music was soft and quiet, but at times, the dance was full and strong. “It was fantastic,” he smiled. Sabrina and Louis received a score breakthrough for their emotional breakthrough: The first perfect 30 of the season. Their combined total from last week: 88.5 out of 90.