DwtS 4, Week 9: Performance Show

All of the couples were great for the semi-final Performance Show. Heck, the judges thought they were all so good that, even after two dances, the last place couple was only two points shy of a perfect score.

For this semi-final round, each couple had the opportunity to pick two of their favorite dance styles and create entirely new routines — complete with new music and costumes — in those styles. As in previous weeks, the performances were split into a Ballroom Round and a Latin Round.

BALLROOM ROUND

Apolo Anton Ohno & Julianne Hough — Quickstep
Song: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, "Mr. Pinstripe Suit"

Apolo looked very smart with a shorter haircut, and Julianne’s dress was beautiful. The bulk of the routine was a straight Quickstep, and they saved their tricks for the very end. Julianne swung Apolo into a kind of a toss, and he landed on his bum (deliberately, of course). It was a cute performance and a nice way to start the show.

Len was pleased: "I’ve gotta say, it was fantastic. I think you’ve got Restless Leg Syndrome — your feet are so fast!" Bruno agreed, telling Apolo, "Your footwork is incredible." Carrie Ann said, "Thank you for setting the standard way high for the semi-finals tonight."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…10, Len…10, Bruno…10 = 30/30

Ian Ziering & Cheryl Burke — Tango
Song: Nelly Furtado, "Maneater"

Ian’s attempt at projecting a look of strength with his facial expressions looked a little like he was sucking in his cheeks while smirking. That said, this was Ian’s most confident and sexy performance, so far.

Bruno told Ian, "The demon inside is starting to come out. If you make it to the finals… you have to be a little bit cleaner in the placement of your feet." Carrie Ann had some advice as well: "When you travel, you’ve gotta travel like you mean you’re going somewhere, not just put your foot there." Len had no complaints: "That was your best dance! I loved it!"

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…9, Len…10, Bruno…9 = 28/30

Laila Ali & Maksim Chmerkovskiy — Quickstep
Song: The Bangles, "Walk Like an Egyptian"

Laila & Maks chose this song because a Cleopatra-style costume would allow Laila to wear flat sandals — a necessity because of her aching knees. While it was certainly an odd song choice for a Quickstep, it was memorable. The tongue-in-cheek song allowed Laila to show a lot of personality, and she did a great job staying up on her toes throughout the performance.

Carrie Ann told Laila, "You bring a whole different sort of vibe to your dancing that I find so unique. It’s so sophisticated, so elegant." Bruno dubbed Laila "Cleopatra Ali — Jewel of the Nile."
Len complimented their Quickstep: "It was a little bit more basic than what we saw from Apolo & Julianne, but in its own way, it was equally as good." Maks said, "Basic is much harder to do." Len wasn’t pleased with the interruption, and responded, "My job is to talk. Your job is to listen." Laila tried to make peace: "I’m sorry for both of us." Len finished his comments by saying, "It was great."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…10, Len…10, Bruno…10 = 30/30

Joey Fatone & Kym Johnson — Fox Trot
Song: Mary Wells, "My Guy"

Wearing all white, Joey & Kym gave the most polished performance of the night. More than any other routine this season, this performance most closely resembled a show dance I’d expect to see from a pair of pros — at least in terms of its choreographic elements and character. It was charming, crowd-pleasing, and interesting, but free of gimmicks.

Len said, "It’s called American Smooth, and that was so smooth." Bruno agreed: "This was a Fox Trot with perfect Hollywood credentials. I was absolutely enchanted." Carrie Ann told Joey, "You do have what it takes to win this competition. You won the Ballroom Round, hands down."

It’s too bad that Carrie Ann had already given out two 10s, because that left her unable to support her statement with her scores. Her winner of the round could do no better than tie with two other celebs.

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…10, Len…10, Bruno…10 = 30/30

LATIN ROUND

Before the dances began, Tom Bergeron introduced some clips of Len visiting each of the couples during the week. Since Len used to be a Latin champion, he offered advice on their Latin dances. He showed Ian how to kick and Apolo how to position his feet. He also helped Laila with her arms.

Perhaps his biggest concern was Joey’s butt. He described the way Joey tends to lead with his top half: "Here’s my head. My butt’s coming in a minute."

Joey said he was happy to receive Len’s help, since "he’s been dancing for…what…95 years?"

Apolo Anton Ohno & Julianne Hough — Cha Cha Cha
Song: Salt-N-Pepa, "Push It"

It was a good thing this performance came during the second half of the program, because it deserved a PG-13 rating. There was no way to play it safe with a song like this, and Apolo & Julianne definitely didn’t hold back. Apolo did a fine job, but Julianne’s moves were so flashy, it was hard to even focus on her partner at times.

Bruno told Apolo, "You are like a shot of adrenaline." Carrie Ann said, "That was the sexiest Cha Cha I think I’ve ever seen. I felt dirty watching it." Len was impressed by Apolo’s feet, but he felt that "for me, it was too raunchy."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…10, Len…9, Bruno…10 = 29/30

Ian Ziering & Cheryl Burke — Jive
Song: Elvis Presley, "All Shook Up"

Ian dressed up as Elvis. We’re talking a full-on, Las Vegas Elvis impersonator get up, complete with pompadour wig. Somehow, it worked. The costume allowed Ian to really let loose, and he danced with tons of energy and personality. He even ended the routine with a round-off.

Carrie Ann cried out, "Hallelujah! Finally, Ian!" Len told Ian, "You’ve just gotta wear the wig every week." Bruno joked, "I don’t know if you’ve based yourself on Sanjaya or Liberace, but somehow, it works."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…10, Len…10, Bruno…10 = 30/30

Laila Ali & Maksim Chmerkovskiy — Cha Cha Cha
Song: Tom Jones, "She’s a Lady"

The purple costumes were a little to close to the color of a certain friend of the Fry Guys for my taste, but the couple executed a solid routine. The Cha Cha gave them the perfect opportunity to incorporate some funky moves, including Laila’s butterfly maneuver.

Len said of the routine, "It had far more content than I’ve seen in the past. You won me over with the butterfly." Bruno told Laila, "There is no doubt, you are a knockout." Carrie Ann said, "Your technique really shined through."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…10, Len…10, Bruno…10 = 30/30

Joey Fatone & Kym Johnson — Jive
Song: The Brian Setzer Orchestra, "Jump, Jive, and Wail"

Joey wore a bright yellow jacket that almost eclipsed Kym’s slinky black dress. At one point, Joey appeared to lose his place during a sequence of kicks. I don’t think any of the other couples should even bother to attempt a Jive in next week’s finale; this dance belongs to Joey.

Bruno said the routine had "more tricks than Houdini." Carrie Ann said, "That was fantastic." Len wore Joey’s yellow hat for his comments, and he may have made the censors nervous for a second when he told Joey, "You’ve got something that everyone’s got, but yours is much bigger… Personality!" He concluded by saying, "If you’re not in the final, this show will be missing a great dancer. You should be in the final."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…10, Len…10, Bruno…10 = 30/30

Leaderboard:
60
— Laila & Maksim, Joey & Kym
59 — Apolo & Julianne
58 — Ian & Cheryl

The majority of my votes this week have to go to Joey & Kym. They gave my two favorite performances, and I think they deserved to be ranked at the top by themselves.

I’ve got to throw a vote to Laila, just for her general fabulousness. Besides, another all-male finale would be a disappointment. And Ian deserves a vote as well, for finally performing as well as many of us always believed he could.

Honestly, everyone did a good job this week. It’s great to see that the season’s four best dancers were also the four who made it furthest on the show.

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