Ingo Rademacher and Kym Johnson (Adam Taylor / ABC )
Sometimes, real life can get to be too much and we need to escape to a place more sparkly and frivolous, if just for a little while.
And it’s in times like these that “Dancing with the Stars” can be such a glittery reprieve from a harsh reality. And there was much to look at in the fifth week of competition. More dances! More pros! More Len! Two Len Goodmans, in fact, standing side by side to introduce “Loveable Lenny’s Side-By-Side Challenge.”
In it, each of the remaining nine couples had to dance alongside a pro couple. The pro couple kicked off the dance, then the pro couple and the celebrity couple danced side by side, and then the celebrity couple danced on their own.
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That way all the couples are judged on a higher standard and, as Len said, “every step must be perfectly in sync.” Plus, it gave us a chance to welcome back some of our favorite pros: Chelsie Hightower, Anna Trebunskaya, Tony Dovolani, Tristan MacManus and ... Maksim Chmerkovskiy! (whose eyebrows got a huge entrance in the Lacey Schwimmer-choreographed group dance number at the top of the performance show).
And although having each celebrity dance alongside three pros seemed like a daunting task, the stars really rose to the challenge. Performance levels were challenged and raised, the routines were longer, the pro partners got a little break from all that instruction halfway through this 16thseason, and we got an eyeful of pro dancing, as well as really solid efforts from our stars.
Regaining the lead was Disney Channel star Zendaya -- who is quickly making gazelle leaps up the ranks as one of my all-time favorite “DWTS” competitors.
Not only did she and Valentin Chmerkovskiy have to dance alongside another pro couple, but it turns out that Val’s never danced the Argentine tango before in his life. And Zendaya’s only 16, so was having a hard time digging her neon-colored nails and her emotions into this performance.
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Luckily Anna (!) and Val's brother Maks (!) were there to show Zendaya the ropes. “Gotta teach a girl how to be a woman,” Anna commented. “It’s not easy.” Loved how Anna taught Zendaya, how Maks and Val danced together for a spell, and particularly how everything came together in their performance.
Anna and Maks slunk across the dance floor like hot bandits. Anna passed along her bejeweled bracelet to Zendaya, the “Shake It Up” star took it and ran with it like a stealthy pro. She “snapped” Val’s neck and took her seat alongside Anna like the pro that she was.
“Zendaya! A lethal beauty. Tale of entrapment, deceit and desire,” Bruno said. “Next to Anna you were as good and as strong. Your lines -- you were up there with the best we’ve ever had.”
Carrie Ann said she enjoyed how Zendaya’s every move “has a story. It’s like watching stylized life happen, and I love it.”
Len likened the dance to a lemon tart: “Sharp and tangy at the top, crisp and tasty down below,” the head judge said. “That was a gem of a dance.” And one that fittingly earned the first two 10s of the season. Total: 29 out of 30.
Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough were having a tough go of it during rehearsals this week. Their fox trot was the first ballroom dance of the competition, and in their awkward first steps at the dance, country singer Kellie predicted, “we’re going to be a tangled mess.”
Derek, particularly, was getting frustrated with how long it was taking Kellie to learn the steps. Luckily, Anna and troupe member Henry Byalikov came along, and Anna was Cynthia Rhodes’ Penny to Kellie’s Jennifer Grey/Baby, correcting every shoulder, back and arm position and giving Derek a much-needed break in instruction. And their fox trot, set to “It Had to Be You,” was classically beautiful and great (save Kellie’s wig).
“I think you’ve all blossomed working with another set of pros,” Carrie Ann observed.
“That was fabulous!” “That wasn’t a fox trot -- that was a hot trot,” hooted Len. “You put the ‘ooh’ in ‘smooth’!”
Bruno said Kellie managed to dance with the glamour and humor of Jean Harlow in “Dinner at Eight.” Total: 27.
We all knew Jacoby Jones was a Super Bowl champion, but who knew he was a superman as well? The NFL player’s got flight.
The Baltimore Ravens wide reciever wanted to get the encore this week, but the Big Easy native had to tamp down his itch to do the New Orleans skip in favor of the jive with Karina Smirnoff first.