'Dancing With the Stars' Week 6 Recap: The Top Five Dances

Naivasha Dean

"Dancing With the Stars" hit a nostalgic note this week with an episode devoted to Motown, featuring genre legends like The Temptations, Smokey Robinson, and Martha Reeves. Our stars hand-clapped and hip-swayed their way through the evening, injecting a little bit of the sultry heat leftover from last week’s Latin Night. The performances were extra special because our stars got to dance to music performed live by the original artists -- a treat for the contestants and audience alike.

Added into the mix was a show-closing dance marathon, where the couples were awarded an extra 3 to 10 points based on who could dance for the longest amount of time before being tapped out. The evening held a few other surprises, including an impressive comeback by a star who had slid to the middle of the pack. Here are the top five dances of the night:

(5) Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd (34 points)
Donald wowed us last week with a strong Argentine tango, peppered with plenty of powerful lifts that had partner Peta spending most of the dance in the air. We were impressed, but notoriously tough judge Len Goodman gave Donald an unexpectedly low score of 8, infuriating the Super Bowl champ. This week, Peta harnessed Donald’s indignation and used it to spur him to train harder than ever, even bringing in a cardboard cutout of Len holding a “10.” The dangling carrot technique worked, and the pair was showered with compliments from the judges after dancing an elegant, precise foxtrot to The Temptations’ “The Way You Do the Things You Do.” Even Len was blown away, although he still only awarded Donald a 9. “This guy can be a great dancer,” he proclaimed, after ordering Peta to work Donald even harder. Donald is on board: “I need a ten from Len,” he responded.

[Related: More on Last Night's 'DWTS' Performances]

(4) William Levy and Cheryl Burke (36 points)

William established himself as the season’s sex symbol on day one, and expectations are always high for the Cuban-American TV star. Last week on Latin Night, he took advantage of being in his element and performed a devastatingly sensual Argentine tango that was the highlight of the night. The heartthrob tapped into his sex appeal yet again this week, and he was helped along by the sultry nature of the rumba he was dancing, Smokey Robinson’s smooth vocals, and partner Cheryl, who had him horizontal on the floor by the end of the performance. William is so good at being sexy that it’s easy to forget how great a dancer he actually is; he made the rumba look easy, and he has a natural grace and precision that is unmatched this season. Nevertheless, Len didn’t like how raunchy the rumba was, saying “I found it a bit harsh and a tad hectic.” Bruno, always William’s biggest fan, disagreed. “Absolute and utter filth,” he said, “and I loved every minute of it.”

(3) Katherine Jenkins and Mark Ballas (39 points)

It looks like Katherine might win this whole competition. The petite soprano tied for first place last week, and her consistency and class makes her a favorite among the judges. Motown Night saw her prance out in a retro beehive and shimmery gold outfit straight out of an "Austin Powers" movie, and she danced a spunky, bouncy samba that was high energy and pure fun. The Temptations’ “I Can’t Get Next to You” was the perfect accompaniment. Bruno said that “the marriage of Brazil and Funky Town has never been more exhilarating,” but Len had the quip of the night. “I’m going to call you the midwife,” he said, “because you keep delivering every week.”

[Related: The Top Five 'DWTS' Feuds Between Pros and Celebs]

(2) Jaleel White and Kym Johnson (37 points)

Jaleel’s suave cha-cha, accompanied by The Temptations singing “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” marked the greatest comeback story of the season so far.  Jaleel and Kym were at the front of the pack on Week One, but had gradually slid down the leaderboard with a progression of forgettable dances. The pair found themselves in the bottom two’s Dance Duel last week, which scared them both into training even harder. Jaleel’s performance was effortless, confident, and enthusiastic, with enough energy left over for him to lip-sync along to The Temptations. Bruno called it “the biggest sizzler of the season,” and Kym acknowledged that their close call last week was a blessing. 

(1) The Dance Marathon

The high-stakes, all-in dance marathon was a must-see, and not only because of the competition-wide costume change. It was reminiscent of an old-fashioned TV dance competition, and our stars were pulling out all the stops to vie for the judges’ attention, including some spectacular lifts and spins. Gladys and Tristan were the first pair tapped out, followed by, more surprisingly, Maria and Derek, who are consistently one of the strongest couples in the competition. The end of the marathon saw Jaleel and Kym, Katherine and Mark, and William and Cheryl battling it out. Although William ripped his shirt off in a last-ditch effort, Katherine and Mark emerged as the winners, perhaps helped along by their attention-grabbing lime-green outfits. These extra ten points puts them solidly at the top of the leader board -- as if they needed the help.

"Dancing With the Stars" airs Mondays at 8 PM and Tuesdays at 9 PM on ABC.

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