Time for a change! Week five mixed our dancers all around for Switch Up Week! This fun twist takes each celebrity and swaps their professional partners for one episode. Since the start of this traditional week, it has always been interesting to see how the competitors do with their new match-up. With the public voting, it certainly sent the partners flying around. Not only did America vote for the partnerships, but the dancing as well. Here are the pairings and dances:
Antonio& Karina – Cha-Cha
Kim & Keo – Viennese Waltz
Von & Lindsay – Jive
Ginger & Mark – Salsa
Doug & Peta – Tango
Nyle & Sharna – Viennese Waltz
Paige & Sasha – Rumba
Jodie & Valentin – Paso Doble
Wanya & Witney – Tango
Adding even more change, there was another guest judge at the table – Mr. Maksim Chmerkovskiy, the professional from Season 18 who took celebrity Meryl Davis to victory. Maksim had some great things to say, and I’m sure he was happy to see his fiancé Peta dancing out there.
The episode opened with a slick group number that brought the whole cast out to play! There were certainly some competitors in the number that looked like they really had to think about the dance, while others just embraced the performance and went for it. It was definitely cool to see how the competitors compare to the pros as they all danced side by side.
This episode had some astounding performances, and some interesting happenings, including the first 10 of the season (from Len no less)! There’s a lot to talk about, so let’s get to it!
Wanya & Witney – Tango to “Hold Back the River” by James Bay
Carrie – 8Len – 7Maksim – 7Bruno – 8 for a total of 30
Wanya has done such a great job in the past, that we as viewers have high expectations for his performances. While he delivered a solid performance with good drive, it felt a bit bumbling. I think the choreography tried to fit too much into a small amount of time. We did not get the typical confident and easy-stepping Wanya. As Carrie said, even the partnership did not have the same chemistry as with Lindsay, which is unfortunate. Len and Maksim thought it was too hectic and began to fall apart. Bruno enjoyed Wanya’s energy, but agreed with the others on how dizzy the dance was. We’ve seen better, but it was still fairly well done.
Kim & Keo – Viennese Waltz to “These Arms of Mine” by Otis Redding
Carrie – 8Len – 6Maksim – 6Bruno – 8 for a total of 28
The dance that Kim performed was elegant and romantic, but I was very disappointed to not see any partnered movement in frame. It was a decent performance to be sure, but it felt like a contemporary dance. I agree with Maksim and Len, who both commented that the dancing was lovely, but it was not a Viennese Waltz. Otherwise, Kim’s footwork went well, and she kept a gliding ease to her steps. The dance was interpretive and had nice expressive moments. Bruno was pleased to see Kim let go, and Carrie greatly enjoyed the musicality of the piece.
Doug & Peta – Tango to “Black & Gold” by Sam Sparro
Carrie – 7Len – 7Maksim – 7Bruno – 7 for a total of 28
This time around Doug really seemed more tense and a bit robotic while dancing. Though he had some trouble with his frame, Doug was on point with his timing and footwork. However, throughout the piece, there wasn’t much of a performance element to it. Doug was in his head thinking of the steps, not using the steps to express the song’s emotion. Bruno put it well, saying “you need to feel it - it is not just a sequence of steps.” The Tango steps moved well, but each judge wished Doug had a more expressive nature to the dance.
Ginger & Mark – Salsa to “La Malanga” by Eddie Palmieri
Carrie – 8Len – 8Maksim – 8Bruno – 8 for a total of 32
Ginger gave a spicy performance for her Salsa! The switch of partners did not appear to slow her down as she continued to look comfortable and develop chemistry with Mark. The dance was quick and lively with good timing. Ginger had a great musicality and brought her own spunky personality to her movements. Though this was not her best performance, she still came out swinging for the fence. Carrie and Bruno applauded her hard work, while Len and Maksim felt that she would fit right in at a Salsa club.
Antonio & Karina – Cha_Cha to “Son of a Preacher Man” by Dusty Springfield
Carrie – 7Len – 6Maksim – 6Bruno – 7 for a total of 26
Unfortunately, Antonio appears to have taken a step back from where he was last week. The switch of partners affected his performance. The moves and timing were okay, but there was a lack of fundamentals and challenge. As I said before, Antonio has the natural talent – it needs to be coaxed out some more for him to really shine. Once he trusts in his ability and gets his steps well-rehearsed, he will make for a tough competitor. Len thought it was short on technique and needed more refinement. Maksim said it was a good performance, but was unimpressed with the content. Bruno and Carrie each think Antonio has what it takes, but he needs to rehearse more and find more comfort in the steps.
Paige & Sasha – Rumba to “Perfect” by One Direction
Carrie – 8Len – 8Maksim – 7Bruno – 8 for a total of 31
I was not a fan of this number. Paige had nice movement and flow, but something just seemed off to me. Maybe it was the lack of actual Rumba steps or the emotion she tried to portray – either way, I was just not feeling it. However, her steps were clear, and she had great tone in her movements. Paige has a quality in her step that is undeniable, and she seems to flow evenly from figure to figure. Maksim recognized her ability, and Bruno commented on her graceful movements. Carrie Ann felt Paige was dancing with her heart. Len saw great precision, but wanted her to give even more emotionally.
Von & Lindsay – Jive to “Hips” by Beans & Fatback
Carrie – 8Len – 7Maksim – 7Bruno – 7 for a total of 29
Von went out on the floor with great style and swagger to perform a playful and creative Jive. It took a bit for him to find his groove, but once he did, Von gave it his all. His footwork was all there, though it could have been sharper. To me, this piece was a bit more about the fun and style Von has rather than the actual dancing. It was entertaining to watch and had some unique elements. There still needs to be some more polish and refinement in Von’s steps so they can be crisp. Bruno loved the unconventional moves and Carrie thought it was great to watch. Len was pleased with Von’s energy, and Maksim wanted Von to give more of himself over to the dance.
Nyle & Sharna – Viennese Waltz to “I Get to Love You” by Otis Ruelle
Carrie – 9Len – 10Maksim – 9Bruno – 9 for a total of 37
And then came Nyle…with the best performance of the season! What an outstanding showcase of talent! The steps were clean, framework was solid and it all had awesome precision. Nyle outdid himself and the other performers, proving that even though he may not be able to hear the music, he can dance to it with the best of them! The choreography really lent itself to the music, and the interpretation was spot on. Without his sense of hearing, Nyle is probably used to using/reading body language every day of his life, and that only helps him out on the dance floor. It was definitely a performance worth a 10, especially from Len! There was a bit of a mix up with scoring, as Carrie and Bruno each originally entered a 9 for their scores, and once they saw Len give a 10, they tried to change their paddles to a 10. It made for some funny shenanigans and made me even more grateful for Len’s presence at the judges’ table. Carrie told Nyle he was born to dance, and Len compared it to the fantastic beauty of a rare total eclipse. Even Maksim was moved, saying he had a hard time taking it all in due to the sheer quality and musicality. Bruno fell in love with the performance, and I know the audience did, too.
Jodie & Valentin – Paso Doble to “Under Control” by Calvin Harris & Alesso
Carrie – 9Len – 8Maksim – 9Bruno – 9 for a total of 35
Nyle’s performance was a tough act to follow, but Jodie did some serious justice to the Paso Doble! She seemed revamped and took to the new partnership very well. Jodie moved with determination, and had great attack in her steps. She had nice timing and great characterization with her arms. Some minor issues with frame and balance kept Jodie from achieving that coveted 10 score, but this was hands-down her best dance of the season. Len said her performance last week was lemonade and this week it turned to champagne. Maksim enjoyed the dramatic flairs, while Bruno and Carrie were happy to see Jodie charged up and moving with purpose.
Thankfully, there were no eliminations this week, but definitely expect one next time. With the varied performances from top to bottom, it will be interesting to see who ends up going home. Though it pains me to say it, I think Antonio is in jeopardy. I still think that Doug and Jodie are both in danger, but Jodie may have saved herself with her performance this week.
For better or worse, the celebrities will return to their original partners next week for Famous Dances Night. Tune in to see all sorts of performances and memorable dances from movies and soundtracks. It should make for a very entertaining night, and it will be exciting to see the songs come to life in new ways. Who knows, there may even be some different styles of dance creeping into the usual mix! See you next week!