The fifth week of “Dancing With the Stars” season 14 featured Latin dances, and the ballroom dance floor sizzled as the celebrity competitors delivered intense sambas, salsas and Argentine tangos.
Jaleel White: The “Family Matters” star’s samba found favor with the judges, especially head judge Len Goodman. “One of the keys to samba is rhythm and I tell you what, you had rhythm in abundance, and your hips? Hip, hip, hooray!” White earned 8 points from each judge, for a total of 24 points out of a possible 30. White told co-host Brooke Burke Charvet after the scoring that he had been holding out hope for at least one 9.
Melissa Gilbert: The “Little House on the Prairie” actress sustained a mild concussion and whiplash after hitting her head on pro partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy’s leg during her performance last week, and in a short video that aired before she performed, she was shown rehearsing in a bedazzled neck brace. Judges found her salsa tonight needed more control. Goodman said her performance had “great rhythm” at times, but looked “untidy and rough” at other times. Gilbert earned 21 points.
Maria Menounos: The “Extra” co-host’s saucy salsa – complete with a kiss between her and pro partner Derek Hough — had judges cheering, although Inaba told them that the kiss was over the top. “Dancing is about the illusion of passion,” she noted. Judge Bruno Tonioli, giving his customary saucy feedback, commented by asking the pair three questions: “Was it legal? Do you want me to get you a room? Can I join in?” Menounos got 27 points.
Katherine Jenkins: The Welsh opera singer’s moody tango won rave reviews from judges. Carrie Ann Inaba called the routine “poetry in motion,” while Tonioli said the dancing and choreography were “of the highest quality.” She earned 29 points.
Gavin DeGraw: Judges found the singer’s samba lacking. Tonioli said it seemed as though DeGraw just let himself go, “hoping for the best,” but said he enjoyed the performance. Inaba said DeGraw appeared to be struggling, “but I love you for trying,” she said. Goodman drew some boos for his comments: “To be honest with you, Gavin, it was more of a shamba than a samba. This is a hard dance and I’ve got to say it was a gallant effort.” They awarded DeGraw 19 points – the night’s lowest score.
William Levy: The actor injured his ankle during rehearsals, but there was no evidence of injury as he performed a passionate, sultry Argentine tango. “That was ridiculously amazing,” Inaba said of Levy’s performance. Added Goodman: ”I saw mood, I saw passion, I saw sensuality and color. Well done!” Levy earned 29 points, tying with Jenkins for the night’s top spot.
Gladys Knight: Goodman told the R&B icon that she had a natural dance ability that was unmistakable. He added that her routine was “simple but effective.” Inaba noticed a “few tiny mistakes” but told Knight: “When you are out there you command the stage.” Knight earned 22 points.
Roshon Fegan: Judges commended the Disney star for never missing the beat in his salsa. “You were sexy – in a Disney way,” Inaba said. Goodman told Fegan he liked his enthusiasm, but urged him to be calmer at times. Fegan earned 26 points.
Donald Driver: The NFL player delivered a taut, sexy Argentine tango that earned him 27 points – including a 10 from Inaba. She called the routine “divine.” Driver had been aiming for a perfect score tonight, and he gave a mock frown at failing to hit his goal.
Tonight’s show featured live performances by Carlos Santana.
Elimination in the competition results from a combination of judges’ scores and audience votes. Starting Tuesday for the first time in the competition, the couples who have the two lowest combined scores face off in a dance duel, and the judges will make the ultimate decision about who stays and who goes home.
The celebrity with the lowest combined scores is sent home, until three stars remain. They and their partners compete for the championship.
One of the competitors will be voted off the show tomorrow night. Tennis great Martina Navratilova, actor Jack Wagner and talk show host Sherri Shepherd have already been eliminated.
Gavin DeGraw and Karina Smirnoff: 19
Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd: 27
Roshon Fegan and Chelsie Hightower: 26
Melissa Gilbert and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: 21
Katherine Jenkins and Mark Ballas: 29
Gladys Knight and Tristan McManus: 22
William Levy and Cheryl Burke: 29
Maria Menounos and Derek Hough: 27
Jaleel White and Kym Johnson: 24
Watch “Dance Floor Confidential: Behind the Scenes of Dancing With the Stars” on Monday, April 23, at 10/9c.