Tonight’s episode of “Dancing With the Stars” on ABC featured two routines, first a ballroom dance with the stars and their pro partners, then a second dance featuring each couple plus a third professional dancer.
The night featured very strong performances, and telenovela actor William Levy earned a perfect score of 30 points for his suave foxtrot.
Donald Driver: The NFL star really wants to win the mirror ball trophy and he’s shown it by working harder and harder on his dances as the competition has progressed in his as-yet unfulfilled quest for a perfect score. His first-round tango was passionate and aggressive, and judges overwhelmingly approved. “Ding dong, Donald, a first-round knockout! You set the standard and you set it high,” head judge Len Goodman said. Judge Carrie Ann Inaba also liked the routine, but when she said Driver needed to work on the drama, fellow judge Bruno Tonioli interjected to say there was more than enough drama. Each judge gave Driver 9 points out of a possible 10, for a total of 27 points.
Driver’s trio round dance – a snappy jive with ousted pro Karina Smirnoff joining his pro partner Peta Murgatroyd – was “fun, fun, fun,” Goodman said. Added Inaba: “You kept up the whole time. I loved it. It was great!” Driver earned 28 points, but the audience apparently expected more because they erupted in boos when the score was announced. Driver had a total of 55 points out of 60 for the night.
Maria Menounos: The “Extra” co-host’s expressive Viennese waltz drew very high praise from Inaba and Tonioli. Tonioli said Menounos had “heavenly fluidity, seamless transitions from figure to figure of ever-increasing beauty,” and Inaba said noted that the emotional connection between Menounos and partner Derek Hough made the routine special to watch. Goodman, however, was booed briefly when he said the routine lacked more dancing in hold. Pointing at the pair, Goodman said: “You disappointed me.” The scores reflected the judges’ feelings: Inaba and Tonioli each awarded Menounos a 10. Goodman gave her an 8 – Tonioli turned to give him a shocked look — for a total of 28 points.
Her Bollywood-inspired trio round samba – with dance troupe member Henry Byalikov – also failed to please Goodman. He said he’d have given it a perfect 10 if he were judging a Bollywood dance, but said the routine had “no connection, for me, with a samba.” Inaba and Tonioli thought it was creatively outstanding, but said Menounos lost timing in a few spots. She earned 25 points, for a night’s total of 53 points.
Melissa Gilbert: Gilbert’s had a few missteps in the beginning of her foxtrot, but she recovered and completely the routine smoothly. “This was a fantastic dance …,” Inaba said, but pointed out the mistakes. The other judges agreed. “Yes, there were a couple of mistakes but the presentation was the best you’ve done …,” Tonioli said. In the short video of their practice that aired before they danced, Gilbert’s partner, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, harshly berated her for her failure to pick up some of the routine. Asked about his behavior after the performance, Chmerkovskiy told co-host Brooke Burke-Charvet that he believes he went too far and wouldn’t do so again in the future. Chmerkovskiy has a reputation for being hot-headed, and he’s been criticized for being too harsh with partners on previous seasons. Gilbert said she understood that passions ran deep, but said Chmerkovskiy was really sweet. The pair earned 24 points.
Judges praised her trio round samba. Inaba raved about being partnered by Chmerkovskiy and his brother, Val, telling Gilbert she was the cream filling in a Chmerkovskiy brothers’ sandwich. “Sometimes two’s company and three’s a crowd. Not tonight. This is your best dance,” Goodman said. Judges awarded Gilbert 27 points, for a night’s total of 51.
Katherine Jenkins: The Welsh classical singer’s sweet Viennese waltz was marred only by a slight loss of balance coming out of a spin on the floor, but judges noticed. Inaba told her that even though her technique was flawless, no one was truly safe at this stage of the competition. Goodman said it was terrific, except for “the spinning thing,” which he felt was out of character given the rest of the routine. She earned 26 points.
Her trio dance – a cha-cha with partner Mark Ballas and ousted pro Tristan MacManus – went off without a hitch, even though there were moments of anxiety when, after her partners ripped off her pantsuit to reveal a sparkly dress underneath, one of the pant legs remained stuck to her foot. She never missed a beat, and kept dancing until she was able to free her leg. Goodman called her second routine clean, clear and clever. Jenkins earned 29 points, for a night’s total of 55.
Roshon Fegan: The Disney star has found himself in the bottom two several times this season, and he narrowly beat actor Jaleel White last week in a dance duel to remain in the show. Tonight his whimsical foxtrot found high favor with judges. “What you’ve done in a week is incredible. No jerkiness in sight, your hold was superb, your lines – I’ve never seen them so clean … it was like watching a young Mickey Rooney, absolute and utter joy. Joy!” Goodman and Inaba offered similar praise. Fegan earned 29 points, his highest score of the competition.
His trio round paso doble resonated with the audience and the judges. Although Inaba and Tonioli pointed out that Fegan was out of sync with the third member of their group – troupe member Sasha Farber – they praised the routine, which had the two males battling for Chelsea Hightower. “You were like two skinny fries chasing the ketchup … great job, well done!” Goodman said. Fegan earned 27 points for his paso doble, for a night’s total of 56 points.
William Levy: The telenovela star’s stylish foxtrot earned a standing ovation from the ballroom audience, and had Inaba saying “meow, meow, meow. That was like a super-hot sexy pink panther!” Tonioli called Levy a debonair, suave heartbreaker, and Goodman said the routine had care and flair. Levy earned 30 points. It was his first perfect score, the only perfect score of the night, and only the second perfect score of the season. Menounos earned the season’s first perfect score last week.
Levy’s Zorro-inspired paso doble with partner Cheryl Burke in the trio round featured ousted pro Tony Dovolani. Judges praised the performance value, but pointed out that Levy lost sync with Dovolani at one point. Despite that, it earned rare high praise from Goodman: “William, Tony and you, Cheryl, I salute you. I thought you did a fabulous job …,” he said. Levy earned 27 points, for a night’s total – and the night’s highest score – of 57 points.
When the night was over, Gilbert was the night’s low-scorer and Levy topped the leaderboard.
There will be no dance duel on Tuesday’s results show. The two lowest-scoring couples will both be eliminated, and the remaining dancers will go into next week’s semi-final round.
Tennis great Martina Navratilova, actors Jaleel White and Jack Wagner, talk show host Sherri Shepherd, and singers Gavin DeGraw and Gladys Knight have already been eliminated this season.
Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd: 27, 28. Total: 55
Roshon Fegan and Chelsie Hightower: 29, 27: Total: 56
Melissa Gilbert and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: 24, 27: Total: 51
Katherine Jenkins and Mark Ballas: 26, 29. Total: 55
William Levy and Cheryl Burke: 30, 27: Total: 57
Maria Menounos and Derek Hough: 28, 25: Total: 53