The real-life couple is chastised for showing too much romantic chemistry in a romantic dance style — meanwhile, JoJo Siwa transforms into Prince Charming for her first “male” lead role of the season.
Tonight’s episode of “Dancing with the Stars” was another first, with a short dance sequence being incorporated into every single dance as a “Mickey Dance Challenge.”
It was a cute enough series of moves, but certainly not in keeping with all of the various styles of dance on this show like the Viennese waltz or the jive. Still, the professional dancers did a great job of working them in, with the best incorporation scoring that couple a bonus two points — huge when things get tight.
As we saw last week, despite the women dominating in the competition this season, all of the men were declared safe and it was two women in danger, including “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star Kenya Moore. Personality and enjoyability is clearly as important as dance technique, so the challenge was real.
This week, after performing as a woman all season long with her partner Jenna Johnson, JoJo Siwa literally took on a Prince Charming role, challenging herself to bring genuine masculine movement to the floor.
But the best dance of the night — and of the season — came from an unexpected source, a star who has been improving week by week, but still we didn’t expect quite this level of breakthrough. The judges weren’t ready to hand out the season’s first perfect score — or producers were telling them not to — but even Derek Hough seemed to suggesting he was thinking about it. We not only thought about it, we did it!
Also, Cody Rigsby and Cheryl Burke were back in the ballroom for the first time in two weeks, actually getting to dance together after earning the lowest scores from the judges last week from their separate together quarantine dance that was a bit of a mess. Could they redeem themselves?
Fair warning, since I’m safe at home, I’m probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman, Derek Hough and Bruno Tonioli. But I might be nicer, too. Maybe.
JoJo Siwa & Jenna Johnson
(Viennese Waltz) For the first time ever, JoJo had to not only dance the “lead/male” position, but had to do it in a more literal sense as Prince Charming. That meant dancing masculine, and she really rose well to this challenge. There was power, as well as grace, and a real sense of command throughout the piece. JoJo had incredible posture throughout, with strong lines and a stately presence that really felt like the formal dances of royalty days gone by.
Judges Scores: 9, 8, 9, 9
Melanie C & Gleb Savchenko
(Jazz) The biggest thing about Melanie’s jazz number was her mouth, which she had opened way wider than necessary (was that a Dick Van Dyke homage?). There was nothing of the demure or fun side of Mary Poppins in how she delivered this piece. On top of that, she lost her place a couple of times, glaringly toward the top in the Mickey dance challenge as she did about half the move and then pulled her arms back in and tried to catch up. The whole piece felt under-rehearsed and never quite came together. It was a bit of a disappointment from one of the season’s stronger dancers.
Judges Scores: 7, 8, 8, 8
Matt James & Lindsay Arnold
(Quickstep) A challenging piece of choreography, Matt gave an admirable performance overall, keeping in step with the music and Lindsay throughout. There was one point he looked as if he was running to hit a mark rather than quickstepping his way there, and more than one where his elbow in hold was getting a little droopy, or forgotten altogether as he transitioned to the next position. He’s not quite as light on his feet as needed. All in all, though, Matt showed a lot of confidence in a style that’s killed many a stronger mover.
Judges Scores: 6, 6, 7, 7
Jimmie Allen & Emma Slater
(Pasa Doble) A very strong piece, Jimmie could have carried that strength a little more consistently in his posture. So much of paso is in the character of the male lead, standing at attention with back almost slightly arched. Jimmie was in and out of this throughout, just as he occasionally walked his way through the steps to stay in line.. But we absolutely loved how sharp the incorporation of the Mickey dance challenge was into the choreography, fitting the mood of the piece flawlessly. We thought him singing the whole song was a little off-putting, but it didn’t throw him much.
Judges Scores: 8, 7, 8, 7
Amanda Kloots & Alan Bersten
(Rumba) We couldn’t help but laugh at how quickly Alan knocked through the Mickey dance challenge with a style such a mismatch to it. Whether it was intentional or not, the mismatched jumps at the end, with Amanda’s awkward pause, tainted the challenge a bit. For most of the dance, though, Amanda’s technique was pretty strong. She has such a graceful fluidity in her body, with incredible lines that extend all the way through her arms and legs following through each movement beautifully. She still could loosen up those hips a bit, but her commitment to the piece was beautiful.
Judges Scores: 8, 8, 8, 8
Olivia Jade & Valentin Chmerkovskiy
(Samba) Val really dominated this performance, shining far brighter than Olivia. It’s not that she was bad in any way, but he just kept overshadowing her. We enjoyed the mid-dance breakdown to bring in the Mickey dance challenge, but we have to give credit for lots of good samba that Olivia mostly kept up with. She moved with real confidence and had great body rolls and connection. This is one of the strongest partnerships, as you can see Val bringing the best out of her.
Judges Scores: 8, 9, 9, 9
Mike ‘The Miz’ Mizanin & Witney Carson
(Quickstep) Mike lost a bit of his momentum and energy about halfway through, and was a little heavy on his feet in a few places, but this was a very good quickstep overall. He was clearly enjoying the character of the piece, and that helped us to have fun with him. The last trick was executed really well, and they incorporated the Mickey dance challenge into the piece flawlessly, with an assist from the song that offered a style break moment they took full advantage of.
Judges Scores: 8, 7, 8, 8
Kenya Moore & Brandon Armstrong
(Contemporary) A little heavy hitting the ground after that final lift, Kenya needed to be lighter and more fluid in her movements throughout. She had moments of real grace and beauty, and we feel with more time this could have come together perfectly, but it wasn’t quite fully there, with the lifts the real weak spot. It was particularly evidenced in how high Brandon got during the Mickey challenge, while Kenya was much more grounded. This could be on him, as well, as his job is to elevate her, so he should have tried to match what she was delivering, while pushing her to give more.
Judges Scores: 7, 7, 8, 7
Brian Austin Green & Sharna Burgess
(Waltz) We knew the chemistry would come back stronger than ever for this real-life couple with this style, and it definitely did. Brian needs to work on his confidence of movement, committing fully to each step even in transitions. His waltz lines themselves were lovely, but he was hesitant between those moments. As for the Mickey dance challenge, we actually didn’t like at all how this was incorporated. We don’t know if Brian just didn’t do his part with the jump bit, but none of it quite worked, and happening at the top of the number, it threw off the rhythm and tone for a bit. We’re not sure what the judges were going on about the lovey-dovey content as this was a style that called for it, not to mention the characters of the dance. Plus, we didn’t see it nearly as much as in earlier weeks — it felt just right for us.
Judges Scores: 6, 6, 7, 6
(Salsa) We applaud Sasha salsa-fying the Mickey challenge, creating a really successful tandem moment. But throughout most of it, we were needing Suni to really let loose and be freer with her body. Sasha danced with such full body abandon, but Suni stayed tight and in her head, clearly concentrating so much. All of her gymnastic perfection techniques were working against her here in a style that wanted more hip action and light blasting from all four limbs. Yes, she is improving, but with such a big style, her smallness really stood out for us.
Judges Scores: 8, 8, 9, 8
Melora Hardin & Artem Chigvintsev
(Quickstep) At this point, we’re not sure we can still call it “the dreaded quickstep.” Everyone has handled it really well this season, but Melora just delivered the dance of the season with her first shot at it. There was nothing that wasn’t working in this piece. Her character, her hold, her footwork was incredible. She had energy for days that never wavered, never lost tempo and the incorporation of the Mickey dance challenge was flawless as well. That was just incredible..
Judges Scores: 9, 9, 9, 9
Cody Rigsby & Cheryl Burke
(Jive) It was great to have Cody and Cheryl in the same room together again, and it certainly helped with their sync issues. This was a much stronger performance, and indicative that there is still some life left in this pairing. What we didn’t see as much of as we needed was classic jive. On top of that, we could have done with a little more hop and intricacy of movement out of Cody and, as Carrie Ann also noted, a lot more follow-through with each move before heading into the next one.
Judges Scores: 7, 6, 7, 7
Iman Shumpert & Daniella Karagach
(Foxtrot) This is the most graceful we’ve seen Iman yet. There was a real beauty in his movements, especially as the dance progressed and he gave us his full extensions with his arm, owning his space. Before they descended the stairs, he was cutting those a bit short. Still, for such a height disparity, we thought he did a great job in hold and really paired with the diminutive Daniella well. This is the most like a dancer Iman has looked all season, easily his breakthrough moment.
Judges Scores: 8, 6, 8, 8
Once again, based on judges scores, the guys are all clumped at the bottom, with only Kenya breaking it up as the lowest-scoring woman (behind Jimmie and Iman). That said, once you movie ahead of them, only The Miz breaks up a cluster of women at the top, coming just ahead of Melanie C and behind the other five women in the competition.
We’d argue that these guys are in big trouble, but the viewing audience is apparently supporting them in hugely disparate numbers, or at least they did last week. Yes, Christine Chiu and Kenya had the lowest scores of the women, but there were plenty of guys lower than them.
The judges have Brian and Matt in the Bottom 2, but we don’t see that happening at all. Instead, we could see Kenya down there again, this time perhaps with Cody as we don’t see him having a bigger audience, and the Covid sympathy vote factor (if it was there) is gone.
As for the bonus points for best incorporation of the Mickey Dance Challenge this week, we’d give it to Jimmie for how dramatically and seamlessly Emma incorporated it into their paso doble. The judges couldn’t help but agree.
As it turns out, the magic of Disney Heroes, though, kept everyone safe for another night. They’ll all be back Tuesday night for Villains Night — so does that mean a double elimination is coming? That would be pretty villainous!! We’re kind of anticipating it at this point.
For the editors of the show, though, it absolutely kills the drama of everyone being safe when you have the credits rolling before Tyra has even said its time for said results. They should have just dropped this surprise early, and then for the cherry on top, awarded the two points. They could have even paid the points forward to next week, giving that couple a leg up on the night.
“Dancing with the Stars” continues its Disney Week celebration with Villains Night Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.