Dancing with the Stars Season 22 Week 8

The competition was at its finest this week with top dancing and some excellent choreography!  There were a lot of high scores (and even two perfect 30’s) – everybody seemed to give it their all!  The judges even went head-to-head for the Judge’s Challenge!  The challenge had each judge work with two couples, choosing the style of dance, the song they will dance to, and the final say in the creative process.  For each performance, the other two judges and the good viewers at home cast their scores.  It certainly made for some creative and awesome performances (though I think America was a bit stingy with their scores!)

The evening opened with a wild night-club-esque pro routine set to “Someone Who Can Dance” by Icona Pop.  It couldn’t have been more fitting, as the sharp dancing really set the tone and reminded us how each of our remaining competitors is definitely somebody who can dance!  Let’s see how they did!

Nyle & Peta – Coached by Bruno – Paso Doble to “Victorious” by Panic! At The Disco
Carrie – 10Len – 9Bruno – 10 for a total of 29

What an outstanding way to get the performances rolling!  This is my favorite performance of the season!  I was shocked at the power Nyle had with his steps, driving the choreography with purpose and control.  The number was creative and had some challenging moves.  It was strong but with an intelligent vision in each step.  Then, in a brilliant moment, the music went off and the dancers continued to move together, without having any sense of where the beat is.  This silent moment drove home what Nyle does every single day, and showed how hard you have to work at dancing when you can’t hear the music.  I was totally impressed and moved by the whole performance!  Absolutely fantastic and expertly done!  Len felt that the piece needed more, and that Nyle didn’t have his weight over his feet at some points, but still thought it was amazing.  Bruno said it was mind blowing and made an instant DWTS classic routine that won’t be forgotten.  Carrie thought it was fierce and deeply profound.

Antonio & Sharna – Coached by Carrie – Viennese Waltz to “Love on the Brain” by Rihanna
Carrie – 9Len – 9Bruno – 9 for a total of 27

Way to go Antonio!  He worked hard from last week and made some great progress with his footwork!  It looked like he was a smooth dancer out there, with a nice sense of confidence and elegance.  His frame slipped, as the number went on, but he did not miss a step.  Antonio’s arm work and expression came through, and he seemed more determined than ever to win.  His timing was on and his partnership with Sharna is blossoming.  He has found his niche and it made for an amazing performance!  Bruno was pleased with Antonio’s attention to detail and thought he really applied himself to the dance.  Carrie was so proud and felt the difference in caliber from last week.  Len said Antonio lost his posture but admired his will to win and noticed improvements throughout the performance.

Jodie & Keo – Coached by Bruno – Jive to “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” by Christina Aguilera
Carrie – 10Len – 10Bruno – 10 for a total of 30

Next came the first perfect score of the night – and boy was it a show-stopper!  Jodie surprised me with her sudden change of style!  She always seemed to be withdrawn inward and did not have confidence in herself - but that has apparently changed!  Jodie’s movements were crisp and precise, and her attitude was steamy!  Both Jodie and Keo really cut loose and gave it all they had.  It was vigorous and electric with no missteps or blunders!  The choreography made sense, and Jodie made it look natural.  It was so nice to see Jodie spread her wings and trust in herself to perform!  Carrie said it was incredible and that Jodie is a shining star.  Len was over the moon with her progress, saying it was brilliant.  Bruno rejoiced and said Jodie should be proud of herself.

Paige & Mark – Coached by Carrie – Viennese Waltz to “Stone Cold” by Demi Lovato
Carrie – 10Len – 9Bruno – 9 for a total of 28

Paige lit up the stage with an emotional performance!  The way she moved around the floor was graceful, even when some of the choreography made it challenging to remain that way.  Paige seemed a bit unbalanced in hold, but otherwise everything else went very well.  She had great foot placement and a lot of expression in her body language.  The routine had a lot of challenges and took some risks, but Paige made them work well with smooth poise and elegance.  She has consistently grown each week, and has become a wonderful dancer to watch!  Len wanted her head in a better position in frame, but said she is a terrific dancer.  Bruno noted the difficulty of the routine and thought she did an amazing job.  Carrie loved the quality of movement around the floor and enjoyed the emotional and expressive side of Paige.

Ginger & Valentin – Coached by Len – Argentine Tango to “Telephone” by Lady Gaga feat. Beyonce
Carrie – 10Len – 10Bruno – 10 for a total of 30

And here we have our second perfect score of the night!  This one was such a memorable performance it has made my list of all-time favorites!  Ginger and Val brought exceptional dynamics and a phenomenal partnership to the dance.  All I could do while watching was enjoy!  There was nothing to pick apart – everything was spot on!  From the timing and energy to the shaping and frame, Ginger was on fire!  The choreography gave a lot to work with, and she made it radiant.  There were a lot of opposing forces that worked together, making this how Argentine Tango should be!  Quick and slow movements, hard and soft texturing, big expressions and little moments… all of it amounted to, as Len said, “one hell of a dance!”  Bruno was totally smitten with the performance and thought Ginger worked magic.  Carrie was impressed with how they moved as one entity, and Len applauded all of their hard work.

Wanya & Lindsay – Coached by Len – Jive to “Can You Do This” by Aloe Blacc
Carrie – 8Len – 8Bruno – 9 for a total of 25

Wanya put a lot of effort into this one, but he has slipped from last week – figuratively and literally.  The number had a fair amount of mistakes, including Wanya slipping on Lindsay’s bandana.  Wanya lost timing and had some issues with footwork.  Despite the mistakes, he powered through and pushed to the end.  While I think having energy in your dancing is a great quality to have, Wanya tends to put too much energy in, especially when he makes mistakes.  It is almost like he compensates for the errors with an abundance of energy, and although it is showy, it does not fix the problem.  In fact he speeds up with all of that extra energy, and it creates rhythm issues.  Overall, the performance was fun and upbeat with a neat style and theme.  Definitely not one of his best though.  Carrie felt it was a rough ride and urged him to push himself harder and harder to be on the edge.  Len noted the timing issues, but liked the rhythm and spunky moves.  Bruno thought it was like a rodeo, but warned him to watch his speed.

With the competition dancing over, the night moved into some fun with the Judge’s Challenge performances.  Kudos to the competitors for learning two dances in one week and for making these so awesome!  Team Bruno had Nyle & Peta and Jodie & Keo.  Team Len was made up of Wanya & Lindsay and Ginger & Valentin.  Team Carrie brought Antonio & Sharna and Paige & Mark to the floor.  First up was Team Bruno.

Team Bruno – Argentine Tango to “La Habanera” from Carmen
Carrie – 10Len – 10America – 9 for a total of 29

The dance was very creative with a lot of awesome choreography and content.  The partners were switched up during the song, and even had the risk of having Nyle and Jodie dance together.  It was a smoldering performance with sexy attitude, powerful movements and flawless execution.  Everybody was on the same wavelength.  Len loved the concept and bravery of the number.  Carrie enjoyed the risks and rewards, as well as seeing everybody in sync with each other.

Team Len – Samba to “Jump in the Line” by Harry Belafonte
Carrie – 10America – 9Bruno – 10 for a total of 29

It was an uplifting and entertaining performance, with a lot of vim and bounce!  It had a vivacious attitude, fantastic choreography and even brought out the wild side in Wanya.  The hips, the leg work, the timing and the energy was all top notch!  Carrie thought everybody was Caribbean royalty with the way they moved and Bruno thought it was downright delicious!

Team Carrie – Paso Doble to “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears For Fears
America – 9Len – 10Bruno – 10 for a total of 29

This was truly a neat dance with good imagination!  Everybody moved well with purpose and the choreography had some awesome elements.  The dancers had excellent physical expression and had emotionally charged steps.  Bruno enjoyed the ideas and creativity, loving every second.  Len was delighted with the full range of emotion, seamless transitions and the driven character of the dance.

With the scores, it seems America is even more scrutinous than Len at his grumpiest!  Speaking of scores, next came the eliminations.  The couples in jeopardy this week were Jodie & Keo, Antonio & Sharna, and Wanya & Lindsay.  Sadly, Jodie & Keo were eliminated.  I am bummed, especially after this week’s performance, to see them go.  I feel like she only just found her inner dancer and want to see more!

There you have it folks, our top five contenders are Nyle & Peta, Antonio & Sharna, Paige & Mark, Ginger & Valentin, and Wanya & Lindsay.  Next week brings us a step closer to one of our competitors walking away with the mirror ball trophy!  Week nine also brings us Trios Night, where each competitor will not only dance as a couple with their original partner, but they will do a second dance with another pro added into the mix!  Should make for some interesting performances!  I can hardly wait to see!  Don’t forget to vote – with the competition as steep as it is, your favorites will need every vote they can get!  See you next week!

Happy Dancing!