Louis Van Amstel’s ‘Dancing With the Stars’ Dish: Week 9

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.


Can you believe it?  It is already Week 9.  Only four couples are left.  It’s no surprise that two couples will make it to the final for sure, but it’s very interesting to find out whose dances are worthy of that third spot in the final.  Will it be Rob and Cheryl or Hope and Maksim? Well, I can only give you my opinion from a dancing point of view.  It’s up to you to vote to get either Rob or Hope into the final.

Hope Solo and Maksim Chmerkovskiy’s Paso Doble.  On a positive note, Hope kept the attitude of the Paso Doble by being powerful and strong.  In my opinion, there was a lot of walking around and very little Paso Doble content for a semifinal. I love Hope and want her to do so well, but being strong in attitude, unfortunately, also came with stiffness and sometimes awkward positions.  I agree with the judges. I think the scores are OK.

J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff’s Paso Doble. It’s not easy to dance the Paso Doble to Spanish Waltz timing (the same as Viennese Waltz timing) because it could make everything softer in character. J.R. did a great job, but I did see some tentative moments (I guess J.R.’s ankle is hurting). It also doesn’t help (like Chaz Bono in his Phantom of the Opera tango) that you can’t see any facial expressions. I want to see J.R.’s expressions be more touched by his emotions. This dance did have plenty of Paso Doble content. Len, you’re over reacting, it wasn’t all zero! All 8's in my opinion.

Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke’s Samba. Yes, I’m impressed with Rob in that party dance. I had a smile on my face the entire time to see Rob enjoy himself. He also did a great dance.  It was very basic but he had a good bounce and he was very musical. Rob was also aware of his arms and he partnered with Cheryl very well. Sometimes Rob holds back for absolutely no necessary reason. He’s got the goods, but he just needs to show it off.  I totally agree with the judges. I wouldn’t be surprised if Rob gets higher scores than J.R.  I don’t agree with a 10, but a 9 is absolutely right and well deserved.

Ricki Lake and Derek Hough’s Samba.  Ricki looked gorgeous in that yellow dress. Ricki did a very good job on executing all the details of the Samba. She was very precise and had great posture throughout. It was very pretty, but I felt it lacked a little excitement. I think the three dances are a lot to remember; therefore it became a tad bit tentative. The judges were very generous, but I’d rather see that than the opposite. One 10 yes, all three 10's no. But I love Ricki, so I’m going to be quiet!

Hope Solo and Maksim Chmerkovskiy’s Argentine Tango.  I have tears in my eyes watching Hope’s personal package. She has a humbling story that touches home.  With the Argentine Tango, couples are allowed to lift in this dance. Hope shows a lot of athleticism in her tango, and I appreciate all their lifts, which were not easy. It did lack intimacy and subtlety, which is very characteristic for the Argentine Tango. I agree with the judges, and also Carrie Ann.  It was better than the Paso Doble.  Their scores were good.

J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff’s Argentine Tango. J.R.’s mom is adorable and I feel for her, what she had to endure. What an angel, both J.R. and his mom.  What an inspirational story.  J.R. shows true professional partnering skills with Karina. Intriguing foot work.  I didn’t see J.R.’s ankle interfering with this dance at all, so I agree with the judges. I guess with all those 10's being thrown around, J.R. deserved at least a 10.

Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke’s Argentine Tango. Sad story but, Rob, you’re growing up in front of millions and performing beyond expectations. You should be so proud. I would have liked to have seen a little more intriguing choreography and intimate passion between Rob and Cheryl, but he did amazing in his partnering and was very solid in executing his choreography. Great posture.  Rob is smelling the final!!!!!! Great scores.

Ricki Lake and Derek Hough’s Argentine Tango. Ricki’s story is unfortunately many people’s story. I love you Ricki.  You’re such a great person inside and out. She had a very solid tango with great expression. It was another beautiful performance.  The lifts looked a little heavy. I agree with the judges, especially with Carrie Ann tonight. Awesome scores.

All Couples Together.  That’s going to be interesting! Going into this dance, I’d say Ricki’s int he lead with J.R. in second, Rob a close third and Hope fourth. Let’s see if the group dance changes my mind.

The packages didn’t. Now, let’s see the dance. Ricki is very clean, but a little tight and dances very small. I like seeing Hope smile. Unlike Ricki, I find Hope’s dance a little too big, which makes it quite sloppy. J.R. did a good job, but held back.  I’m not sure if that’s his ankle injury or Rob’s pressure.  J.R. is a solid dancer though. Rob’s energy was the best of all four couples but, from a dancing point of view Rob is still close behind J.R. and Ricki.

OVERALL:  My finalists are Ricki, J.R. and Rob! Having said that, it’s going to be interesting to see what the votes will be tomorrow. Nothing against Hope or Maks because I love them, but from a dancing point of view, Rob clearly danced to make the final. Rob created while Hope was surviving. That’s how it came across.

As surprising as the judges’ Cha-Cha relay scores might be, I wasn’t surprised based on performance energy. If it were just dancing, the results could have been different.

I’m very excited for the finale next week. Both Ricki and J.R. have to up their game or Rob might become the “Seabiscuit” and create quite an upset. Don’t forget, many times the freestyle has been the deciding factor for who wins “Dancing With the Stars.”

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