The contestants switched gears on “Dancing With the Stars” this week, leaving the raucous, sexy energy of rock, Latin, and Motown in the rearview. And that change left them with the first perfect score of the year.
Classical Night saw the stars tapping into regal, romantic storylines and threw in a new twist: After their individual performances, the stars split into two groups, Team Tango and Team Paso, to compete head-to-head in a battle for extra points from the judges.
Pint-size prodigy Jackie Evancho, along with classical icons Joshua Bell and Vittorio Grigolo, set the mood with soaring performances, and an enhanced orchestra was the perfect backdrop for the week’s challenge. Our stars proved their versatility, but some had trouble with the transition. Here are the week’s top five dances:
(5) William Levy and Cheryl Burke (27 points)
William Levy claims that he’s “not a classical guy,” but his wholesome, romantic Viennese waltz was one of the night’s highlights. The sweet, sweeping performance, already reminiscent of a fairy tale, didn’t need a flashy storyline to stand out. Although William usually brings out Bruno Tonioli’s saucy side, the judge was so unabashedly impressed that he shied away from his jokes and kept his comments sincere. “You captured the purity and ethereal quality of the dance,” he said, pointing out the vulnerability that William had conveyed.
(4) Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd (27 points)
Donald’s fiery paso doble during Rock Week seared a terrifying, shirtless image of the Super Bowl champ into our minds. That’s why it was refreshing, if a little disconcerting, to see him deliver a precise, pristine Viennese waltz that was all elegance. The performance, which started out with the royally attired couple perched on thrones, was regal with an overtone of delightful cheerfulness that kept it a little bit tongue-in-cheek. The judges loved it, and once again Donald found himself near the top of the leaderboard.
(3) Team Paso (26 points)
William Levy, Donald Driver, Melissa Gilbert, and their partners made up Team Paso, and they worked hard on a sultry, pyrotechnic-laden paso doble that displayed ferocity and intensity, along with three sets of shirtless six-packs, thanks to the men. Perhaps most impressive about the performance was Gilbert’s ability to keep up and blend in with the other two women in the dance, both of whom are pro partners. Although Melissa is struggling near the bottom of the leaderboard, her determination not to be the weakest link was enough to secure her success. Judge Carrie Ann Inaba claimed the performance would go down in history as a fan favorite, but their score still came in one point behind Team Tango’s.
(2) Team Tango (27 points)
Jaleel White, Katherine Jenkins, Roshon Fegan, Maria Menounos, and their partners teamed up for a somber, intense tango that showcased some spectacular choreography, along with a remarkable lack of grins and gimmicks. The fierce performance, which featured the dancers in tuxes and tails, gave each pair time in the spotlight. The judges agreed that Roshon and partner Chelsie Hightower outshone the other couples, and Bruno called him “a revelation.” Judge Len Goodman had his misgivings, but the tango was an impressive group effort that displayed outstanding grace and cooperation.
(1) Maria Menounos and Derek Hough (30 points)
The “are they or aren’t they” question, prompted by a few dance-floor smooches, landed this eye-catching couple in the headlines. Their sexual tension, along with a whole lot of natural talent, helped snag them the first perfect score of the season. Despite an emotional training process that left Maria in tears, their vampire hunter-themed paso doble slayed the competition. The diabolical dance told a passionate story of lust and fury while keeping technically precise and showing off Maria’s mouth full of ferocious fangs. Bruno called the storytelling “spellbinding,” and Carrie Ann told Maria, “Katherine has been in the lead for the girls, but she’d better watch her back.” With teeth like that, we would too.
"Dancing With the Stars" airs Mondays at 8 PM and Tuesdays at 9 PM on ABC.
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