— -- Despite earning two perfect scores tonight, actress Alexa PenaVega was voted off ABC's “Dancing With the Stars,” leaving behind five stars –- among them her husband –- to try to make it into the semifinals of the competition.
The drama in tonight’s show wasn’t confined to just the elimination, in which PenaVega and her husband, Carlos PenaVega, were both in jeopardy of going home based on their performances from last week, where she had the third-lowest judges’ score and he had the second-highest.
Tamar Braxton, a singer and co-host of the talk show “The Real,” wasn’t present when the live show started because she had been taken to the hospital after falling ill earlier in the day. Judges has to watch and score the dress rehearsal for her first routine. She made it back to the studio with just minutes to spare before the start of her second routine, and was able to perform it live.
Tom Bergeron, the show’s co-host, said the network’s lawyers indicated Braxton would have been forced to withdraw from the competition had she not showed up for the second performance of the night. Reality TV star Kim Zolciak-Biermann was forced to withdraw earlier this season because of health problems.
When PenaVega’s name was announced as the contestant who was going home, her husband cried openly and said he wished he had been the one to be eliminated.
Although she was initially tearful, the “Spy Kids” actress told co-host Tom Bergeron: “I’m so happy that we ended on this note.”
Her pro partner, Mark Ballas, called her a friend for life and said he was proud of her.
The actress’ scores have generally put her in the middle of the pack for most of the competition, but she has had breakout moments – including when she earned the season’s first perfect score. She was among the three low scorers after last week’s show, but earned two perfect scores tonight.
In a powerful routine, PenaVega chose to tell the story of her struggle with bulimia, an experience she opened up about today on "Good Morning America."
"It was something that I knew at some point in my life I would talk about it, I just didn’t know when because I still carried that fear of what people would think of me," she said.
"This show allowed me to gain that confidence to just talk about it and maybe help other people who are going through that and really just put it all to rest."
Elimination is based upon a combination of judges’ scores and viewer votes, and the competitor with the lowest combined total is voted off.
The PenaVegas were the first married couple to compete against each other on the program.
Singer Andy Grammer, social media personality Hayes, Grier, TV chef Paula Deen, singer Chaka Khan, Triple Crown champion jockey Victor Espinoza and actor Gary Busey have previously been voted off this season.
Before tonight’s eliminations, the stars and their pro partners each had to perform an individual number and then a second, team routine based on a famous musical production.
Braxton wasn’t back in time to perform her individual contemporary routine so judges watched – and scored – a recording of her less-than-perfect dress rehearsal, giving it their lowest score of the night. After the rehearsal aired, Braxton’s pro partner, Val Chmerkovskiy, said his partner had pneumonia.
Following her live performance of the second routine, judges praised her perseverance.
Tonight’s top scorers: Bindi Irwin and Alexa PenaVega each earned two perfect scores – first earning 30 points each for their respective contemporary routine and Viennese waltz, and then another 30 points each for their team routine channeling the musical production “Chicago.” Judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli and Julianne Hough lauded the two women’s flawless performances.
Tonight’s standout moments: Alexa PenaVega brought the audience and all three judges to their feet in a rousing ovation with her powerful contemporary routine – a stark and touching representation of her years-long struggle with bulimia. The judges gave it their highest praise -- a perfect score of 30 points. “You really danced like a woman possessed … it was scarily brilliant,” Tonioli told the actress. Inaba said the routine sent a strong message and was “more than dance. That was healing … .” Hough called it a “great job,” and praised PenaVega’s pro partner, Mark Ballas, for the choreography.
Tonight’s Scores (First dance; second dance. Total.)
Bindi Irwin and Derek Hough: 30; 30. Total: 60
Alexa PenaVega and Mark Ballas: 30; 30. Total: 60 (They were voted off tonight.)
Nick Carter and Sharna Burgess: 28; 27. Total: 56
Carlos PenaVega and Witney Carson: 27; 24. Total: 51
Tamar Braxton and Val Chmerkovskiy: 22; 27. Total: 49
Alek Skarlatos and Lindsay Arnold: 24; 24. Total: 48