Leeza & Tony looked and sounded prepared for bad news tonight — and with good reason. The fabulous fifty-year-old and her partner were the latest couple eliminated from Dancing with the Stars.
After the judges’ very direct comments last night, Len Goodman clarified that the judges didn’t want to put any of the couples down; they just wanted to help them reach their potential. For an example of some of the good dancing that’s happening in the competition, Len asked for an encore of Joey & Kym’s Paso Doble — their second encore in a row.
Big & Rich were the first live act of the night, and they performed their hit "Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)." DwtS pros Cheryl, Tony, Edyta, and Alec dressed as cowpokes and used some of the same choreography that earned Cheryl an Emmy nomination when she and Drew Lachey had performed to the song during Season 2.
Hosts Tom Bergeron and Samantha Harris had promised a surprise during the Results Show, and the surprise ran onto the dance floor during the middle of Big & Rich’s song. Drew came out on stage, and he and Cheryl danced together for a couple minutes. The number ended with Drew dancing alongside all four of the pros.
As Drew caught his breath, Tom asked him if he had any advice to offer this season’s contestants. Drew said, "Listen to what the judges say. They know what they’re talking about." He joked that Len owed him money after the show for saying that.
Then the camera cut to the backstage waiting area, where Samantha interviewed some of the couples. Clyde was a bit defensive when Samantha asked if the competition was harder than he’d expected it to be: "It’s not that hard. It’s a lot of fun. Remember, we’re invited guests, so you treat people that you invite very nicely, judges."
That is exactly the wrong kind of attitude to have. Clyde is not there at the invitation of the judges; he’s a contestant — and a contracted employee of ABC, just like everyone else on the show. He’s not treating DwtS like the competition or job that it is, and that’s probably why his dancing isn’t getting any better.
Further limiting the chances of a renewed commitment to training, Clyde said that he’s flying to China tonight. Billy Ray Cyrus admitted to having scheduling difficulties of his own, as new episodes of Hannah Montana start filming tomorrow: "Talk about jugglin’ some balls, Clyde."
Then, Tom introduced footage of last night’s studio audience offering their opinions. Alfonso Ribeiro said that Clyde needed to "come alive." And if there’s one thing that Carlton Banks knows, it’s dancing.
After that, the first two safe couples were announced: Billy Ray & Karina and Apolo & Julianne. During Samantha’s interview with the couples, Karina echoed Billy Ray’s earlier comment and said he was going to have to "juggle those balls the best way he can." (That turn of phrase struck Joey, who was standing nearby, as especially funny.)
In an attempt to get away from the bawdy humor, Apolo said he and Julianne would be "juggling schedules."
Still backstage, Samantha confirmed a rumor that’s been circulating about her, recently. She’s pregnant with "a little baby dancer," the first for her and her husband, Michael. Karina was standing right next to the microphone and let out an ear-piercing squeal of delight.
The highlight of the night was a Samba performance by professional dancers Andrei Gavriline and Elena Kryuchkova. They won the International Latin division on this year’s America’s Ballroom Challenge. They’re exciting to watch, and I was glad that I didn’t have to wait until the next edition of ABC to see them dance again.
Big & Rich came out for a second performance, and they were accompanied by pros Brian & Julianne, who danced a lovely Rumba.
The performance was followed by a short lesson from the judges called "Anatomy of a Dancer." Fast feet and strong legs are necessary because, as Len said, "the hip action comes as a direct result from the foot and leg action." Carrie Ann said that flips are possible because of a strong abdomen, and not because of a strong back.
Tight shoulders indicate that a dancer is nervous. And the arm movements are what make one dance style distinct from another. "Drama comes from the head motions," said Carrie Ann. I plan on watching for a few of these points during next week’s Performance Show.
Then, Laila & Maks and Clyde & Elena were announced as the next two safe couples. To say that I was surprised about Clyde & Elena was an understatement.
Another video package focused on the decisions and pressures the pro dancers face every week. New choreography has to please both the judges and the fans. Julianne said, "If we make a bad decision on our wardrobes, it can affect the whole dance." And Elena said the pros must walk a fine line between "training or over-training" their celebrity partners.
Finally, Leeza & Tony and John & Edyta were announced as the two couples in the Bottom Two.
When Tom announced that Leeza & Tony had been eliminated, both smiled and nodded, looking as if they’d expected to go.
Leeza barely got to say, "Thank you to my Tony," before Tom had to usher them onto the dance floor. It’s unfortunate that the producers put Tom in this position, especially since he’s worked with Tony for three seasons. To not even allow Tony to respond to Leeza is shameful.
As "Miss You Like Crazy" played, the couple was surrounded with hugs from their fellow competitors.
Next week, the remaining couples take on the Rumba and Samba.