Dancing with the Stars Season 22 Week 9

The semifinals hit hard this week with another double elimination on the line!  Each couple had to learn two dances, one of which was a style they have not danced before, and the other was an exciting trio dance!  The first half of the episode brought out the trios, where each couple had another pro join in on the number, followed by the regular partner dances for the second half of the evening.

The tension is high, the competition is fierce and the mirror ball is being polished… now let’s see what the night had in store!

Paige & Mark with Alan Bersten – Samba to “Hip Hip Chin Chin” by Club Des Belugas
Carrie – 10Len – 10Bruno – 10 for a total of 30

First up, Paige took a walk on the wild side with Mark and Alan – and proved she’s queen of the jungle!  She didn’t miss a beat!  Her steps had a confident swagger and energized bounce.  Paige really got into the character of the dance, almost roaring with her expressions and ferocious attack in her leg work.  She meant business, and brought the dancing chops to show it!  Len thought it was a brilliant show-stopper, Bruno lauded her confidence and skill, and Carrie felt Paige was unstoppable.

Antonio & Sharna with Hayley Erbert – Argentine Tango to “Mi Confesion” by Gotan Project
Carrie – 9Len – 9Bruno – 9 for a total of 27

Speaking of roaring, Antonio did an awesome job!  His passion poured out onto the floor and kept my attention.  The showmanship was great, but his posture could use some work, and I was hoping to see some sharper footwork.  While the choreography was not as challenging as some other routines, the lifts were particularly spectacular!  All in all, Antonio gave it his best shot and really seems to have improved the most from his first week of dancing.  Bruno said he had the “confidence of a lion tamer taking on two wild cats” and was well in command.  Carrie enjoyed the intensity and details Antonio put in throughout the performance, but wanted to see longer body lines.  Len was amazed at his improvement and did not agree with Carrie about the longer body lines.

Wanya & Lindsay with Witney Carson – Paso Doble to “Explosive” by David Garrett, Franck Heijden & and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Carrie – 10Len – 10Bruno – 10 for a total of 30

Wanya took to the floor with a fury and drive that made this Paso one explosive performance! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun!)  All of his moves were sharp and focused.  It was such a nice improvement from last week, and I was glad to see Wanya back on his dancing game.  He had a passionate and electric attitude that was channeled through his steps!  Crisp arm-work, great details, precise lines and robust showmanship… his hard work has paid off!  Len was so pleased he gave Wanya a standing ovation!  Bruno loved the passion, fire and artistry he had, and Carrie was thrilled to see Wanya back to his talented self.

Nyle & Peta with Jenna Johnson – Jive to “Hit the Road Jack” by Hermes House Band
Carrie – 9Len – 9Bruno – 9 for a total of 27

Up next came Nyle with a fun and upbeat Jive!  The choreography was tough, but Nyle made the best of it.  Doing a Jive is hard enough with one partner, let alone two!  With so much going on, things got too busy and Nyle lost his timing in a few spots.  He was not as sharp as usual, and his technique suffered due to the speed of the dance.  However, Nyle still carried himself well and kept the energy flowing through to the end, making it a solid performance with great charisma!  Len said it was a tasty performance and was happy to see Nyle consistently giving it 100%.  Bruno enjoyed the attitude and gave kudos to him making it through the hardest dance he has done yet.  Carrie felt the overall performance was great and gave him credit for tackling such a difficult routine.  All three judges noted the timing issues and some minor mistakes, but thought Nyle really fit the style of what Jive is all about.

Ginger & Valentin with Artem Chigvintsev – Paso Doble to “Shot Me Down” by David Guetta
Carrie – 9Len – 9Bruno – 9 for a total of 27

Ginger gave us a dramatic and intense Paso!  Each step had full attack and power behind it.  She put a lot of work into her characterization and really honed in on the attitude of the dance!  Ginger put in some great detail work and brought a dramatic flair to her movements.  However, she had so much force that she lost control and balance at some points.  Also, some of her lines were off here and there.  With all of the drive and consistent commitment she has had week to week, she seems determined to win!  Bruno said it was fast and furious, and he loved her stylizations.  Carrie thought it was full force and dramatic, but at times a bit wild and unstable.  Len appreciated her aggression and attention to her dancing although it got a bit stormy in places.

With the Trios done, we moved straight into couples dancing!

Paige & Mark – Argentine Tange to “One Time” by Marian Hill
Carrie – 10Len – 9Bruno – 10 for a total of 29

This was one of the more sultry and seductive Argentine Tangos I’ve seen!  Paige gave a really dynamic performance, igniting some heat with power and sophistication!  The lifts were great, and the attitude was steamy.  Paige’s footsteps were clean and concise, and she has developed a fantastic partnership with Mark.  She had nice leg work and beautiful lines, too!  Paige’s dancing experience really shines through when she moves on the floor!  Len thought the choreography and dancing was brilliant, but said it was too hot and spicy for his taste.  Bruno ate it up, saying it was like watching Basic Instinct with a sprinkle of Fatal Attraction.  Bruno also went so far as to say he would judge in a speedo next week if Paige doesn’t make it to the finals!  Carrie thought it was phenomenal and really loved Paige’s versatility and layers.

Antonio & Sharna – Contemporary to “Hall of Fame” by The Script
Carrie – 9Len – 9Bruno – 10 for a total of 28

Antonio really has a fantastic stage presence, and I think that is why I have been so drawn to his performances.  He does not hesitate and always gives it his best.  Antonio had some lovely and flowing movements, not to mention all of those lifts – they were absolutely out of this world!  While Antonio had a couple of timing issues and could stand to be crisper, he brought a smooth emotion and determination to the dance that fit the mood.   Bruno told Antonio he is a magnificent beast and that it was his best performance of the season.  Carrie was at a loss for words, but said that even though he is not the best dancer in the competition, he is magical.  Len applauded the spectacular lifts and said that Antonio is a beautiful person.  I couldn’t agree more, Len!

Wanya & Lindsay – Charleston to “Shame on Me” by Avicii
Carrie – 10Len – 10Bruno – 10 for a total of 30

Yet again Wanya takes the stage with an electrifying performance!  Just watch those feet fly!  His steps were quick and clear while maintaining a light and peppy feel!  Wanya was on with his timing and hisleg work was energized.  His posture was good and his attitude made it all so fun to watch!  Wanya knows how to perform, and with his natural talent at dancing, he lights up the floor!  Carrie was happy to see Wanya bounce back from last week, saying he was her hero.  Len hoped Wanya makes it to the finals because of the joy he brings him and the whole ballroom.  Bruno loved everything and thought that is all that show business should be.

Nyle & Peta – Argentine Tango to “Unsteady” by X Ambassadors
Carrie – 10Len – 10Bruno – 10 for a total of 30

I was blown away by this performance!  Another first for Dancing with the Stars to be blindfolded for a portion of a performance!  Not being able to hear the music is hard enough, but then taking away sight and only being able to rely on feeling?  Bold, very bold indeed.  But he and Peta nailed it! His steps and lines were solid, and he did not miss anything out on the floor.  Just some minor timing issues and I would have liked to see the steps executed a bit more cleanly.  Otherwise, Nyle once again pushed the boundaries of dance and gave a stellar show!  Len noted the issues Nyle has to deal with to be on the show and was amazed at how he continues to shine.  Bruno was mesmerized, and Carrie was inspired by his fearlessness.

Ginger & Valentin – Quickstep to “Fire Under My Feet” by Leona Lewis
Carrie – 9Len – 10Bruno – 10 for a total of 29

For the last dance of the night, Ginger really moved like there was a fire under her feet!  She moved with vigor and pep, and had a great energy in her performance.  Her attitude and style were contagious, but I felt her timing was off on some of the moves and she needed to be more precise.  Ginger’s hold and poise were excellent, and her transitions were seamless.  It was definitely a high-quality routine with some nice footwork.  I personally think it should have been 9’s across the board, but it was a good one nonetheless.  Bruno felt it was superb dancing and a sensational performance.  Carrie commented on the elegance, and Len said it was fantastic.

On to the results!  It is always difficult to see your favorites leave the show, but this one hit especially hard for me.  Unfortunately, Wanya & Lindsay and Antonio & Sharna were eliminated.  Even though Antonio was one of my favorites, I had a feeling he would be leaving the competition.  I am glad he made it as far as he did!  I will miss Wanya though!  I definitely think Nyle and Paige deserve a spot in the finals, but I think it was a mistake for Ginger to be in there over Wanya.  Granted, Ginger was a bit more consistent, but when Wanya was on it, he was brilliant and outshone Ginger in my opinion.

The semifinals bring to mind how it is not the quantity of steps in the dance that matters, but the quality.  Of course some moves are more difficult than others – that’s a given.  However, sometimes simple is better.  Between performances, it is interesting to see how choreography differs.  Even tonight, comparing Wanya’s Paso to Nyle’s Jive – the two performances were set apart by the amount of steps.  Even though one could argue that Wanya did not “dance” as much as Nyle, there are reasons Wanya received a perfect score and Nyle did not.

Choreography can make or break a performance.  It is the job of the professional to figure out what moves will fit best with the song as well as their partner’s ability.  That being said, of course it is more impressive to see hard choreography in routines, but it only makes the difference if the steps are executed well.

There are all sorts of fantastic nuances and dancing styles that things are always changing and evolving in the ballroom world.  Dancing is such an intricate and unique sport as most of the judging is up to interpretation and every performance is different.  What one person likes, another may not.  Dancing is all about expressing yourself.  Nobody gets along with EVERY person that they meet, so the important thing is to stay true to you and your expression of yourself.

There are so many things that go into a routine – the choreography, the attitude, the lines, footwork, technique, style, frame, partnership… it takes such work to balance them all, so kudos to all of the contestants and dancers for working so hard!

The finals are next week, so I’m sure we will see some fantastic dancing!  I’ll be sad once this season is over, as there were so many awesome performances and some wonderful, quality people taking part.  With three couples remaining, it is as imperative as ever to vote for your favorite couple!  Ginger & Valentin, Nyle & Peta or Paige & Mark… VOTE VOTE VOTE and tune in next week to see who takes home the coveted mirror-ball trophy!

Happy Dancing!