Performances on tonight’s episode of “Dancing With the Stars” featured routines that reflected the stars’ most memorable years, and the celebrity dancers didn’t hold back, putting their raw emotions on full display. Judges thought Katherine Jenkins’ routine was so good that she earned the first 10s of the season, topping the leaderboard for the third consecutive week.
Jack Wagner: The singer/actor’s samba celebrated meeting his adult daughter for the first time. In the short introduction to the live routine, Wagner teared up as he described the moment. His performance pleased the judges, who told him it was his best so far in the competition. They told him his timing and rhythm were good, awarding him 24 out of 30 points.
Maria Menounos: The “Extra” co-host’s rumba was a statement on the success she’d achieved as the daughter of immigrant parents worked hard as janitors to take care of her. The routine got rave reviews from the judges, both for the strength of her technique and her interpretation. “It was a mix of the ballroom with a little bit of the bedroom,” head judge Len Goodman told her, while judge Carrie Ann Inaba declared the performance “breathtaking.” Menounos got 27 points.
Gladys Knight: The R&B icon’s foxtrot recalled her introduction to the music business and her education from singer Sam Cooke. Her turn on the dance floor elicited praise from the judges, who acknowledged that her frame had improved. “My darling, you have such grace, such finesse … You were absolutely gorgeous,” judge Bruno Tonioli told her. Knight was thrilled to earn 24 points, her highest score so far in the competition.
Roshon Fegan: His Michael Jackson-inspired samba earned the Disney star 25 points. Inaba thought the Jackson moves in the samba threw Fegan off his timing, and Goodman said the routine could have had “a little more traditional samba,” although he praised the flair and attitude. Tonioli said he’s seen Jackson rehearse and thought he was looking at the pop icon when he saw Fegan dance. “Michael Jackson would love it and so do I,” he said.
Gavin DeGraw: The musician’s smooth rumba impressed the judges, who gave him 24 points, his highest score so far. Goodman told DeGraw that he had shown “good hips” and more musicality, while Inaba said: “It was really sexy, there is something so sexy and sensual about the way you move … .”
Katherine Jenkins: The Welsh opera singer moved Inaba to tears with her poignant waltz that was dedicated to the memory of her late father. “Your dad is smiling down upon you. That was magic,” Inaba declared. Her efforts resulted in the first perfect scores of the season – two 10s – and one 9, for a total of 29 points. It’s the highest score of the season so far.
Sherri Shepherd: “The View” co-host’s rumba showed a different side of the usually jovial woman. The dance dedicated to her son — who battled severe health problems when he was born – overflowed with emotion and Goodman appreciated it. “You did a great job … well done,” he said. Shepherd earned 24 points.
Melissa Gilbert: Inaba thought the “Little House on the Prairie” star’s jive was “dynamic,” while Goodman declared that Gilbert had “come into the competition.” The dance marked the time in her life when she fell and broke her back, and it also celebrated her return to health and her joy at being able to dance. She earned 24 points.
Jaleel White: The “Family Matters” actor’s suave rumba celebrated his time playing Stefan Urquelle, the far cooler alter ego of the sitcom’s iconic, dorky Steve Urkel. White earned 25 points. Goodman called the performance “confident” but told him his arms were a little stiff. In an interview with co-host Brooke Burke Charvet after the performance, White was overcome with emotion. “Stefan Urquelle and Steve Urkel are my Mickey Mouse. I love entertaining people, and I’ve done it since I was three…,” he said tearfully, adding that he just “wanted to complete this week.”
William Levy: The handsome telenovela actor danced a passionate salsa to recall his childhood life of hardship in Cuba, and when his partner popped his shirt open to reveal a sculpted chest, the audience cheered and never stopped. The actual routine met with unanimous approval from the judges, Tonioli declaring it “amazing!” Levy earned 28 points – the second-highest score of the night and his highest of the season.
Donald Driver: The NFL player said his rumba would remember the life of his best friend, who died of cancer in Driver’s arms. The moving performance earned Driver 26 points, and praise from the judges. “What I like about you is that you push yourself to the limit every time,” Tonioli said.
One of the competitors will be voted off the show tomorrow night. Martina Navratilova was the first of this season to be voted off.
Elimination in the competition results from a combination of judges’ scores and audience votes. The celebrity with the lowest combined scores is sent home, until three stars remain. They and their partners compete for the championship.
Gavin DeGraw and Karina Smirnoff: 24
Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd: 26
Roshon Fegan and Chelsie Hightower: 25
Melissa Gilbert and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: 24
Katherine Jenkins and Mark Ballas: 29
Gladys Knight and Tristan McManus: 24
William Levy and Cheryl Burke: 28
Maria Menounos and Derek Hough: 27
Sherri Shepherd and Val Chmerkovskiy: 24
Jack Wagner and Anna Trebunskaya: 24
Jaleel White and Kym Johnson: 25