Louis Van Amstel’s ‘Dancing With the Stars’ Dish: Week 8

Courtesy Louis Van Amstel

Dancing With the Stars” pro Louis Van Amstel blogs on season 13 of “DWTS.” The three-time world dance champion, who starred on seven seasons of the hit ABC show, weighs in on the dances, judges scores and who will be eliminated.


This week is the first time the couples have to dance double solo dances. It’s going to be interesting to see who can remember both routines, and who can still “turn on” for the performance level and show personality in the instant dance.

Ricki Lake and Derek Hough’s Waltz. I just love watching Ricki enjoying herself so much and, at the same time, taking “DWTS” so seriously.  She did a beautiful job, both in posture and movement. Ricki did have a few timing issues, and what a shame at the end when there was a little glitch. Ricki has come a long way in moving very smoothly and becoming more confident. Len, the pivots are supposed to be on the ball of the foot, just saying!  Neither Rob nor Hope had heel leads in their ballroom dance! I agree with Bruno’s “10? in comparison to Rob and Hope.  Overall, Ricki was better.

Nancy Grace and Tristan McManus’s Tango. Why am I always laughing watching these two love birds in their video package?!  I loved Nancy’s attitude and confidence in the opening of their tango. I also find Nancy thinking less about her routine and focusing more on expression. It was risky to wear such a revealing dress because you could see everything, including some awkward leg actions. Having said that, I applaud her taking the risk with the short skirt. In the drop at the end, I would have liked to see a little more beautiful execution. I agree with the judges totally! I actually wouldn’t have minded one “9.”

J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff’s Waltz. The best dance of the night and I’ll tell you why.  That waltz had all the choreographic ingredients of a professional couple, and J.R. not only danced it flawlessly, he enjoyed himself throughout the entire dance. What made this dance worthy of three “10's” is J.R.’s partnering skill. He was there for Karina 100 percent, and more. To top it off, J.R. also paid attention to his footwork.  Their scores are totally deserved!

Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke’s Jive.  Rob did a great job on his instant jive and was much better than his first time in Week 2.  Rob is much more relaxed. I love it when Bruno or Carrie Ann comment about having to “point the toes” on the jive kick.  News flash:  you should NOT point or flex your toes, they should be relaxed! The jive kick is all about the knees rebounding. Scores were okay, a little mellow, but we haven’t seen any of the other instant jives yet.

Hope Solo and Maksim Chmerkovskiy’s Jive. Hope had great energy throughout her Jive and also showed a lot more of her true self.  That was nice to see. Her jive kicks were very sharp and totally in sync with Maks. I’m not sure if Carrie Ann is going to call them out for the lift from the stage back onto the floor.  Did Bruno just say it’s not good to have bent knees in jive? This is not the Cha Cha or the Rumba, Bruno!  Len is a bit over the top but, like I said before, this is so much nicer over-the-top positive than over-the-top negative.  They received good scores, but there could have been one more “9.”

Ricki Lake and Derek Hough’s Jive. Ricki dances this instant jive like she did when they did the encore dance, totally free and full of excitement. There were a few connections that were a little stiff, but the vast majority were awesome. I wonder if Carrie Ann is going to call them out for Ricki taking her foot off the floor slightly during their last lift?  Wow, Carrie Ann just said exactly what I wrote. I agree with judges. I do not agree with the scores. Ricki deserved “9's.”

Nancy Grace and Tristan McManus’s Jive.  Nancy had a rough start but then got into it and did great until she forgot her routine. Even though Nancy got back into it, I don’t feel she got her “mojo” back for the rest of their jive. What a shame because this could have been Nancy’s opportunity to make it into the top four. Even though Len is correct, he could have said it in another way. I, unfortunately, have to agree with the judges, but a “6? wasn’t necessary.  “7's” alone are a clear message!

J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff’s Jive.  This was another fabulous dance from J.R.  It was great from beginning to end. J.R.’s kicks were actually a bit sloppy, but his jive was still by far the best compared to all the other couples. Will Carrie Ann call them out for both of Karina’s feet coming off the ground while sliding through J.R.’s legs? Bruno says the sidekicks are impeccable? I disagree, but I do agree with the judges besides that.  I can smell more “10's” coming, and there they are.  Well deserved.

Overall:  What a great night. Every couple stepped up to the plate and tonight was such a great, classic “Dancing With the Stars” night, full of inspiration and fun dancing. That’s the reason why so many people fell in love with the show.

It’s very clear to me the top two is between Ricki and J.R. After tonight, Ricki will have to up her game. I’m worried for Nancy to survive tomorrow’s elimination, and both Rob and Hope have to show more energy in order to make it to the final. Both can take that third spot but, having said that, it ain’t over for Nancy yet, because we don’t know how you guys voted!


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