"Dancing With the Stars" may be winding down with only five pairs still dancing, but the teams are cranking up the intensity, hoping to get the votes to send them to the semifinals next week.
Apolo Anton Ohno and his partner, Julianne Hough, took last week's harsh criticism from the judges and let it fuel their dancing fire.
"Sometimes you have to get knocked down to come back even stronger," Ohno told the cameras during rehearsals before Monday night's competition.
To the tune of Rick Springfield's "Jesse's Girl," Ohno and Hough's first dance, the tango, received mixed reviews. Judge Len Goodman said it was a "cacophony of noise and music," but judge Bruno Tonioli disagreed, calling it "inventive" and adding that he was finally excited.
The duo brought the house down with their follow-up.
The Olympic speed skater and his partner were shooting for a "mind-blowing" performance, and that's what they achieved in their second dance of the evening -- a bullfight-inspired Paso Doble that netted the two a 30, the only perfect score of the evening.
Tonioli said that they danced like they were champions looking at the finish line, and that they were looking for the kill. The audience roared enthusiastic approval, and judge Carrie Ann Inaba said she had chills throughout the performance.
With the Highs, Come Some Lows
Billy Ray Cyrus worked hard to impress the judges and said all he wanted was to score an 8.
"I've made it much further than I ever, ever expected," he said during rehearsal.
Inaba agreed, saying she "marveled at the fact that he was still in the competition."
But Cyrus and partner Karina Smirnoff failed to impress with their dances, and the tension thickened when Tonioli called Cyrus' fox trot "crap."
Both Cyrus and Smirnoff were disappointed with Tonioli's lack of constructive criticism.
"What are we supposed to do with 'crap?'" Smirnoff asked behind stage.
Cyrus added, "Calling me 'crap' is the pot calling the kettle black."
Despite his lack of technique and frequent missteps, Cyrus has repeatedly won the audience's approval with his rebellious charm. As Tonioli remarked, Cyrus is a "wild beast that cannot be tamed."
But Tonioli's words Monday night were enough to send the country star over the edge. Backstage Cyrus was in disbelief over how "rude, rude, rude" the judges were.
A 'Dancing' Moment
As "Dancing" host Tom Bergeron noted, every season has its moment, and Monday night it was the one shared between Laila Ali and her partner, Maksim Chmerkovskiy.
Ali's father, Muhammad Ali, was in the crowd, as was her mother, and the waltz she danced impressed the judges in its elegance and emotion.
"It was poignant. It had class. It had elegance and the movement across the floor was fantastic," Goodman said.
Tonioli and Inaba both agreed her posture could be better, but said she still managed to sell it.
The judges seldom critique the professional dancers, but this time Chmerkovskiy took some unusual heat after the pair's second performance.
"Why give me an appetizer when you can give me a full dish?" Tonioli said.
Struggling to Shine
The judges disagreed on the authenticity in Ian Ziering's fox trot and rumba dances.
Goodman said that Ziering didn't have a "naturalness," and that it looked like he was thinking too hard, while Tonioli and Inaba said the pair were really in business with their passionate performance.
Ziering brought a cake to rehearsal for partner Cheryl Burke's birthday, and he put a "10" candle on top of it, hoping it would be their good luck charm. But the two failed yet again to score a perfect 10, totaling just 22 points from the three judges for their first dance and 25 for the second.
Joey Fatone continued to impress the judges Monday night, and he didn't let some partying at the Kentucky Derby get in the way of his dancing.
After last week's performance, Goodman said Fatone had too much "razzle dazzle," and Fatone said he was determined to tone it down for this week's waltz.
But Fatone can't please everyone.
Goodman loved the waltz, but the other two judges said it was too prim and proper. Inaba even said she missed the "Joey special."
Fatone's second dance was the mambo, and as Tonioli said, he "pimped" it. Goodman was impressed that Fatone managed to dance on the second beat, which is very challenging. Inaba said that it seemed like Fatone and partner Kym Johnson had it in the bag and that they continued to "bring it."
Tonight, one pair will be voted off. Will it be Cyrus? Will it be Ziering? Or will the audience buck the judges' scoring and vote off one of the other teams?
Nellie Furtado will perform live on tonight's "Dancing With the Stars," and one couple will be eliminated, leaving four left to "bring it" in next week's semifinals.