Dancing With the Stars Contestants Face Double Elimination in Cirque du Soleil-Themed Night

by | October 4, 2016 | Comments

Dancing With the Stars (ABC/Eric McCandless)

UPDATE: Scroll down or click here to find out which couple was eliminated in Tuesday’s results show!

Dancing With the Stars was back in showy style on Monday night, with a Cirque du Soleil-themed French acrobatics extravaganza. Judge Bruno Tonioli kicked things off in true carnival-barker form (“Frrrreeee your imagination and let the show begin!”), and host Tom Bergeron dryly countered by noting that the judges are seeking to “a level of excitement that lives in Bruno’s head 24-7.” Erin Andrews bantered right back with “Every party has a pooper, and that’s why we invited Tom.”

The contestants looked nervous at the start; this was, after all, a double-elimination night.

Calvin Johnson Jr. and pro Lindsay Arnold started with a Charleston, delightfully appropriate for the steampunk-influenced Cirque show Kurios. An aerial cyclist swirled around from the ceiling, which was probably as much of a distraction for the judges as it was for the contestants. Johnson’s kick-steps were brisk and on point, though his height makes him look like he’s standing up straight (a no-no in swing, jitterbug, and Charleston) when he’s actually not. The pair packed lifts into their routine, and Johnson curiously struggled for a second to get his feet under him while doing a straight-to-the-ceiling vertical lift of much smaller Lindsay. But he jumped like a scrawny teenager instead of the wide receiver that he is — which is exactly what Charleston calls for, and then proceeded to toss off a jaw-dropping series of aerials as though Lindsay was a football. The floor spin went right into an effortless-looking partner toss over the shoulder. Best of all was his unwavering, professional dancer’s smile.

Best Judge’s Remark: “Well hello, Twinkle Toes!” said Julianne Hough. She pointed out that the dances are much longer this week, and the show immediately cut to Johnson’s sweat-doused face. Carrie Ann Inaba was so happy that she eliminated her lifts penalty for the entirety of Cirque du Soleil night.

Final Score: 23/30

Rank: 6 (tie)

Actress Maureen McCormick and partner Artem Chigvintsev danced to the music of the show “Mystère.” Their dance followed clips of the two arguing and working through conflicts as they practiced, so the outcome was indeed a mystery. Luckily, being angry with a stiff upper lip means your tango is going to look amazing, and McCormick did. Impervious to the acrobat flipping behind her, McCormick was so fully invested in the posture and elegance of the dance that in moments she looked like a dance pro half her age, with her body forming impossibly gorgeous lines. The pair finished off with an airplane-type spin borrowed from flashier dances.

Best Judge’s Remark: Carrie Ann: “There was a lot going on with the taiko drums and the red bird … but you turned the world around you into what you were doing.”

Best Remark of All: “This show is a dream,” Maureen said after tearfully making up with Artem.

Final Score: 24/30

Rank: 4

One Tree Hill star Jana Kramer and Gleb Savchenko danced to the Beatles-themed show “Love,” choosing “Here Comes the Sun” for a foxtrot. Their opening, lying on the dance floor, head touching head, evoked Florence Welch’s iconic 2010 performance at the MTV Video Music Awards. Kramer looked the part with her hippie headband, sparkly top, and long, flowing hair, and followed special tricks and lifts in dance beautifully. But she still looked like she was going through the motions instead of performing, without a lot of eye contact with her partner. Gleb’s choreography was whimsical, loose, and unfussy, but Kramer’s occasional stiffness took away from the effect. Kramer pointed out that she’d not been able to sleep much, so her future performance might redeem her.

Best Judge’s Remark: Bruno: “Fruity, frothy, a big high, but that’s just me.”

Best Useful Judge’s Remark: Julianne: “Go back and learn how to spot.”

Final Score: 23/30

Rank: 6 (tie)

Glittery Marilu Henner and partner Derek Hough danced to the venerable Cirque show KA. Appropriate for paso doble, a bullfighter’s dance, the song was called “Battlefield.” Marilu talked about her diagnosis with Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory, which was a fascinating counterpoint to her less superior kinesthetic sense and muscle memory for dance. Derek was clearly motivated to push Henner to get the moves down after seeing that she could remember what happened on random days in the 1980s. Derek’s makeup and shoulder-padded costume, alone with the various dancing toreadors, almost stole the show, but Henner took it back as a lethal Spanish grande dame, executing pivots and turns very well despite looking a bit more fatigued than in her previous performance. Spoiler alert: she dance-murdered Hough at the end of their torrid performance.

Best Judge’s Remark: Julianne: “Think less, feel more.”

Final Score: 21/30

Rank: 9

Model and former exotic dancer Amber Rose discussed Julianne’s comment on her previous performance (which was seen by some as body-shaming), but shook it off for a tango to the show “Zumanity.” Amber was fresh off her “SlutWalk” the previous day in Los Angeles, Her dance with Maks Chmerkovskiy featured a lingerie-inspired ensemble, heels, and slinking across a well-placed table. Julianne and Carrie Ann reassured Rose with “you do you, this performance was you,” although it was unclear if that meant they saw Amber as primarily a “sexy” dancer.

Best Judge’s Remark: Bruno: “I would have plenty more of THAT dish.”

Final Score: 24/30

Rank: 4 (tie)

Harlequined swimmer Ryan Lochte did a much better job of leading Cheryl Burke around the dance floor in an uncomplicated Viennese waltz made complicated by Cirque dancers from the show “O” wielding black umbrellas. His arms still aren’t as confident as Calvin Johnson’s, but Ryan tentatively began to express himself. His adoring smile was what every follower has ever wanted to see on her dance partner, and closed the sale on the dance.

Best Judge’s Remark: Bruno: “You really were dancing tonight…You had a wonderful connection with Cheryl.”

Final Score: 22/30. (The pair collapsed in happy hugs.)

Rank: 8

Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and his partner Allison Holker chose “Come Together” from “Love.” The pair had felt pressed for rehearsal time for their dark, spotlighted dance performed in shiny red outfits. Producer Babyface suffered from Lochte’s problem in the previous round; a partner dancing around him while he stiffly went through the motions. Worse, Edmonds missed several crucial moments in timing and Holker was left without a hand to take hers.

Best Judge’s Remark: Carrie Ann: “It happens.” “I just want it harder, stronger, and more definite.”

Best Babyface Remark: “I was like, ‘What is going on with you right now?”

Final Score: 18/30

Rank: 10

From her first solo sashay, Little Women L.A. star Terra Jolé demonstrated her confidence on the dance floor. With Sasha Farber, she showed that she is the best follower in the competition. The pair samba-ed around a fire dancer, clad in zebra-print outfits, and Jolé’s hair was even crimped to add to the crazy, wacky feel.

Best Judge’s Remark: Julianne: “You inspire others to feel free.”

Final Score: 25/30 (The first 9 of the season!)

Rank: 3

“Michael Jackson One” was the source of Laurie Hernandez and partner Val Chmerkovskiy’s jazz dance inspiration. Hernandez was out of town during some of the week and appeared to be practicing her dance with FaceTime. But when the two burst out to a scene of greaser-type guys lounging by a ’50s Chevy, Val in white and Laurie in a sparkly pink dress, she owned the stage with her hair flips, hip shakes, and fearless mugging. I didn’t notice anything Val was doing the entire time.

Best Judges’ Remarks: Bruno: “It was like watching Debbie Allen, Janet Jackson and Paula Abdul all combined.” Tom: “How old are you really?” Laurie: “16.”

Final Score: 30/30, the first perfect score of the season.

Rank: 1

Vanilla Ice and Witney Carson danced the Viennese Waltz to Cirque’s “La Nouba” (I hadn’t heard of it either). Vanilla was another contestant who wasn’t available all week, but Witney gamely flew to his tour locations to practice dancing. Their dance evoked a creepy magician with his fantasy acrobat, and Vanilla’s makeup evoked a bit of Dave Navarro — romantically dangerous. As a women spun upside down from the ceiling, Vanilla and Witney executed a beautiful waltz — arms extended, bodies in sync, Witney sweeping across the floor weightlessly. Vanilla’s “pancake hands”? A minor point.

Best Judge’s Remark: Carrie: “Tonight, I really see who you could be in this competition.”

Final Score: 23/30

Rank: 6

Quickstepping race car driver James Hinchcliffe wowed with knee slides, Charleston kicks, and moments incorporating the Cirque dancers of “Paramour.” Dressed more or less as Jessica Rabbit, Sharna Burgess was along for the ride, as her partner had things 100 percent in control for this Broadway showstopper. Carrie-Ann and Julianne noticed a small mistake, but basically didn’t care.

Best Contestant Remark: James: “I sit for a living.”

Final Score: 28/30

Rank: 2

DOUBLE ELIMINATION! Babyface and Allison and Vanilla Ice and Witney were eliminated in the Tuesday, Oct. 4, results show.

In a feel-good moment before the elimination, pros Emma Slater and Sasha Farber got engaged. Congrats to the happy couple!

Dancing With the Stars airs  on Mondays and Tuesdays at 8/7C on ABC

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