Reality-TV star NeNe Leakes was voted off “Dancing With the Stars” Monday night at the end of a show during which the stars had to deliver an individual Latin routine plus a second group dance that Paralympian Amy Purdy missed because of an injury after her performance.
Although it was a rough week for many of the dancers, with Purdy being sent to the hospital during the live broadcast and actress Danica McKellar recovering from a broken rib, in the end, it was Leakes, 46, whose time on the dance floor came to an end, although she’s still incredibly proud of her performance.
“It was a great, amazing, positive experience for me,” she explained on “Good Morning America” this morning, alongside professional partner Tony Dovolani. “I felt blessed to be there … made friends for life.
Leakes was impressed with herself for being able to compete with Olympians even though she had no previous dance experience.
“Me, fabulous at 40, competing against Olympians,” she added, “I thought I was amazing. I went further than I could have ever imagined. And I’m proud of that.”
Leakes and actor/singer James Maslow had both faced elimination Monday.
The star with the lowest combined total of judges’ scores and viewer votes from the previous week’s performance is generally voted off.
TV game show host Drew Carey was voted off last week.
Monday’s guest judge was Latin music star Ricky Martin. Martin performed his new song, “Vida,” to open the show.
This is the seventh week of the ABC show’s 18th season.
Amy Purdy: The paralympian’s sensual rumba with pro partner Derek Hough set the tone for the judges. “First out, first class!” said head judge Len Goodman. Bruno Tonioli said Purdy combined sexuality and class, and while Carrie Ann Inaba said Purdy was “fantastic,” she pointed out a prohibited foot lift. Martin said he was trying to make notes but couldn’t take his eyes off Purdy. “You were stunning … I felt things!” Purdy earned four 9s for a total of 36 out of a possible 40 points. The shows’ hosts announced later that Purdy had injured her back after her performance. She was forced to miss the group dance and go for treatment.
James Maslow: The actor/singer and his pro partner Peta Murgatroyd’s steamy samba wowed most of the judges. “That was filthy. That was dirty. And I loved it!” Tonioli enthused. Inaba, using her hand to fan her face, told the pair that their chemistry was “beyond sick,” and she said Murgatroyd “worked that samba.” Martin said the two were like “the gift that keeps on giving,” but Goodman felt Maslow’s footwork “wasn’t that great all the time,” and said he’d have liked to see more hip action. Despite that, he pronounced the performance entertaining. Maslow earned three 9s and an 8, for a total of 35 points.
Danica McKellar: Despite fracturing a rib during practice, “The Wonder years” actress and her partner, Val Chmerkovskiy, delivered a careful but sexy salsa. Judges appreciated her effort but noted that her injuries limited her range of movement. “I do think because of your injury … the injury stifled the movement,” Inaba said. Martin asked her how she felt, and she replied that she felt sore but was pushing through it. Martin also said she and her partner had “amazing chemistry” and wished her the best. Tonioli appreciate the “ghetto fabulous” vibe of the routine but said it was impossible to perform it properly with her kind of injury, and Goodman said he saw only some salsa and pop/music video dancing. He also pointed out that McKellar messed up during the routine and seemed cautious because of her injury, but said she did well under the circumstances. She earned three 8s and a 9 for a total of 33 points.
NeNe Leakes: The reality TV star’s Argentine tango – which was enlivened significantly after the audience voted to have her pro partner, Tony Dovolani, dance shirtless – was deemed entertaining but judges encouraged her to work more on technique. Inaba said her leg movements weren’t sharp enough, but added: “I’m just so impressed at how far you’ve come in this competition.” Goodman said “the footwork and leg action could have been a bit crisper, but, as always, fun to watch.” Martin said he loved the character that Leakes played, and Tonioli said the leg hooks of the style needed to have been sharper. Leakes earned three 8s and one 7 for a total of 31 points.
Charlie White: The Olympian ice dancer was intent on earning a perfect score this week, and while an intense paso doble with partner Sharna Burgess brought the audience to its feet with a standing ovation, judges were not as enthused. “It had flair, it had purpose, it had power, it had great artistry but you messed it up … you put so much into it that you kind of lost a little bit of steadiness,” Tonioli said. Added Goodman: “Listen, to get a ten you have to do something special, and for me this wasn’t special.” Inaba said White needed to have more sharpness when he finished his movements. Martin said he saw the other judges’ points, but loved the performance. “The passion, the connection that you guys have, the chemistry … it was beautiful.” White earned an 8, two 9s and a 10 for a total of 36 points.
Candace Cameron Bure: The “Full House” star’s sultry Argentine tango brought her and partner Mark Ballas screams of appreciation from the audience, and judges commended the actress for her turnaround. “The confidence was there, the lines were crisp … the game is on,” Inaba said, although she pointed out that Bure seemed to have forgotten some choreography. Goodman was also appreciative. ”I thought your legs were clean and sharp. (It) could have smoldered a bit more, but I tell you what that was hot …,” he said. Martin said Bure’s lines were “amazing,” adding of the routine: “It was clean. It was superb.” Bure earned three 9s and an 8 for a total of 35 points.
Meryl Davis: The Olympic ice dancer performed a high-energy salsa with partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy, and Inaba said it blew her away. “You continually surprise me … you were so in your element,” she said. Martin said the routine was intense and he loved it. Added Tonioli: “You were dancing in front of six of the best professionals in the country and you held your own and you always pulled focus of attention. I salute you my darling,” he said. Goodman said he found the routine – with all the extra dancers – “too involved” and “a little bit hectic.” Davis earned three 10s and a 9 for a total of 39 points.
Each of the two teams danced a Latin freestyle to Ricky Martin’s “La Vida Loca.” The score each group earned was added to its individual members’ totals for the night.
Team Vida: Judges had high praise for Charlie White, James Maslow and NeNe Leakes for their group dance, but pointed that it wasn’t always in sync. The team earned 35 points.
Team Loca: Purdy had been assigned to this team but she had to miss the routine because of her mid-show back spasm. Because of her absence, judges based their scores for the performance on the group’s dress rehearsal, and they were all extremely pleased with the effort. Meryl Davis, Danica McKellar, Candace Cameron Bure and Purdy each earned 39 points.
The Scores (Individual Routine, Group Dance)
Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: 39, 39: 78
Amy Purdy and Derek Hough: 36, 39: 75
Charlie White and Sharna Burgess: 36, 35: 71
James Maslow and Peta Murgatroyd: 35, 35: 70
Candace Cameron Bure and Mark Ballas: 35, 39: 74
Danica McKellar and Valentin Chmerkovskiy: 33, 39: 72
NeNe Leakes and Tony Dovolani: 31, 35: 66 (Leakes was voted off tonight.)