Teen dancers Zendaya and Aly Raisman ruled once again on "Dancing with the Stars," but one of them leapt to the top of the leaderboard, scoring the first perfect 30 of the season.
Last week, Zendaya wrote in her blog for AccessHollywood.com that she planned to "work even harder" in the run up to tonight's episode, "to achieve that elusive 10-10-10." And on Monday, Zendaya met that goal, earning that perfect score in her second round - a trio salsa number she performed with partner Valentin Chmerkovskiy and pro Gleb Savchenko (Lisa Vanderpump's partner earlier this season).
Their group salsa put Zendaya front and center, as the 16-year-old tackled an athletic routine that left the judges raving.
"It was a star turn," Bruno Tonioli said, noting she "didn't need the underwear models," his jibe at Val and Gleb's costumes - white silk pants and unbuttoned shirts.
"The three of you worked great together," Len Goodman, the judge Zendaya was most looking to impress, said.
Len actually gave Zendaya at 10 in the first round too, following her foxtrot with Val. Carrie Ann Inaba suggested the start of the routine was "a little simple" for Zendaya's skills and she and Bruno both gave the pair 9s.
But, their combined score for the evening -- an impressive 58 out of 60, landed Zendaya and Val at the top of the leaderboard, a total likely to push them through to next week's semi-finals.
Also expected to make next week's semi-finals is the other teen in the competition -- Aly, 18, who has been performing each week with pro Mark Ballas.
They had two strong rounds on Monday, earning 29 out of 30 for their Round 1 Argentine tango, and 27 out of 30 for their Round 2 trio jive (with troupe member Henry Bialikoff).
"You've grown so much as a performer during this competition," Bruno said.
Kellie Pickler also had a strong start -- picking up 28 out of 30 with pro Derek Hough for their Round 1 dance -- an elegant Viennese waltz, but Round 2 was more dramatic on stage, and at the judges' bench.
The former "American Idol" contender took the stage with Derek and pro Tristan MacManus for a paso doble to E.S. Posthumous' "Unstoppable," a song often used to soundtrack epic-themed sports packages on television. The studio audience loved their routine, and gave them a standing ovation. Carrie Ann even started her critique by screaming a little like Mary Murphy from "So You Think You Can Dance," and Bruno called it "high art and high drama." But, Len was not impressed.
"I was expecting more than flashing lights and crashing music," he said, referring to what he felt was a lack of technical dance content.
The Leaderboard at the end of the night was:
Zendaya & Valentin Chmerkovskiy: Round -- 1 28/30, Round 2 -- 30/30 (first perfect score of the season); Total - 58/60
Aly Raisman & Mark Ballas: Round 1 -- 29/30, Round 2 -- 27/30; Total -- 56/60
Kellie Pickler & Derek Hough: Round 1 -- 28/30, Round 2 -- 27/30; Total - 55/60
Jacoby Jones & Karina Smirnoff: Round 1 - 27/30, Round 2 -- 25/30; Total -- 52/60
Ingo Rademacher & Kym Johnson: Round 1 -- 24/30, Round 2 -- 24/30; Total - 48/60
Sean Lowe & Peta Murgatroyd: Round 1 -- 21/30, Round 2 -- 21/30; Total -- 42/60
-- Jolie Lash
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