Right off the bat, I knew this wasn’t going to be a week where the guest judge would be showering the couples with 10s. For those of you who haven’t seen Dance Moms, Abby Lee Miller is a brutally honest, tough chick that will absolutely not let your mistakes and flaws go unnoticed. However, she does mean well…
The lovely host, Erin Andrews, asked Abby what she expected for the evening.
Abby replied, “Straight legs, pointed feet, perfect musicality, inspiration, emotional changes…pretty much everything.” No surprise there, Abby.
After a quick introduction, the couples up for elimination were revealed. Unfortunately, a family favorite Valentin Chmerkovskiy and his partner Danica Mckellar were standing up on the stage with Peta Murgatroyd and James Maslow, as well as Candace Cameron and Mark Ballas.
Val and Danica were first to perform a Tango after finding out they were in jeopardy.
During rehearsal Danica asked Val, “So, here’s the question. Considering everything…do you think we have a shot at making the finals?”
Without a doubt in his mind, Val said, “Yeah! I believe that your best now is more than good enough to make it to the finals. You can still do it.”
Danica went on to explain that the character for their Tango is supposed to be strong and powerful. She said, “I think that, you know, power and confidence, that is sexy. It’s different from like going hey, you know? But it’s grounded, and I think very sexy.”
Val explained during his interview, “Even though there’s a lot of drama around the injury, Danica is a fighter, she’s resilient, and most importantly, what I love about her is that she doesn’t want anything that isn’t earned.”
He mentioned how his main focus for this dance was to make sure there was “enough content to please a technical specialist like Len”, which would bring them closer to a perfect score.
Danica and Val took their places on the stage and immediately, the theatrics of the routine caught my attention. Danica looked like the black swan on the dance floor, and the feel of the dance along with the Tango technique was fantastic.
Abby Lee Miller was the first to comment, saying, “Val, amazing concept and I love to see a man down on his knees. Okay? Uh, Danica, I thought you were beautiful. I wish you would have danced on The Wonder Years. It was my favorite show, but it would have even been better. Yes. I understand that you could have been a professional dancer? You chose to be an actress.”
Danica replied, “My sister was a dancer, my mother too, so, but not me!”
Abby finished up by saying, “I loved it. I thought it was great. Watch with the halter, it makes the shoulders look a little hunchy at times. So when you turn and your walk, just watch that your shoulders stay pressed down.”
Bruno Tonioli excitedly said, “Ah, what is going on tonight? That crown shall be mine and I will rein forever with an iron fist! Danica, it was your most majestic and powerful performance. I’ll be devastated if you go, because tonight you pulled it all together as a dancer and as a performer. You showed us an incredibly powerful side. It was wonderful.”
Carrie Ann Inaba followed with her comments. “What can I say? Danica, it’s like I feel like your mom. I mean, watching you tonight…no, that was incredibly difficult, challenging choreography that you did with your broken rib and you were so refined, you hit every shape gorgeously. The definition of like artistry is sort of bringing your own touch…this is my definition in Carrie Ann’s world, in my head…is bringing your own touch to something that we’ve seen before. Tonight, it was like watching the black swan recreate the most beautiful ballet in the world and tonight, this was your night.”
Lastly, the technical king, Mister Len Goodman, said, “Well, it was a little, it took a while to get started. But I tell you what, once you got into hold and got into that Tango, you were on it like a bonnet. It was terrific.”
With great reviews, Danica and Val headed up the stairs to greet Erin Andrews before they received their scores.
Erin said, “The rib injury, we’ve heard from day one that you love this show, you’re a fan of this show. You guys dance right after they say you are in jeopardy. I mean, tell me what’s been going on?”
Danica shrugged her shoulders and answered, “Well, we were in jeopardy right before our Beauty and the Beast number which went really well, so I figured it was a good omen.”
Erin went on to say, “You said to Val in your video package there, do we have a chance to make the finals…put into words how bad you want this.”
Danica said, “Oh, I would love it. I mean, this whole experience has been so great though. I…I just want to dance with Val as much as I possibly can.”
Danica and Val received a combined score of 38 out of 40! Not bad for the week before semifinals.
VOTE FOR DANICA AND VAL: CALL 1(800) 868-3403
Meryl Davis and Maks Chmerkovskiy were safely away from elimination and showed us how they prepared for their lyrical Rumba next.
Maks said, “I think this routine depicts a very convoluted story of a dysfunctional relationship.”
Meryl definitely gave us a feel of the dysfunction when she slapped Maks across the cheek as part of their routine, leaving him with a stunned look of confusion on his face. Be careful Maks, Meryl might be small, but she sure packs a punch!
She goes on to say in her interview, “I think a lot of people think that Maks is a little bit scary. He’s actually a big softy.”
Meryl and Maks started their routine sitting at a table looking as if there was no hope to recover the broken pieces of a long and strained relationship. It was intense! When they left the table and began their Rumba, there was not a peep in the audience as everyone was entranced watching them convey this sad story through beautiful movement.
Bruno was first to comment on their routine saying, “Tempestuous melodrama! TotallyTennessee Williams! Actually, it was like watching that scene…there is a play called AStreetcar Named Desire and Stanley and Stella have a confrontation. It was like watching a play without words. It was inspired, it was unconventional, it was different, and I loved it, I absolutely loved it.”
Carrie Ann, a little antsy to speak, said, “Can I speak? Okay, just checking. Can I speak? Yeah. Okay. Alright. Thank you. So, Meryl, you and Maks have this incredible fluidity and chemistry that is undoubtable and mesmerizing to watch. What I loved about this is Rumba is about continuous movement and even though you had the stops and the drama, there was energy that consistently kept moving through every single move. All of your lines, your hip action was right on par, the moves that you did that were Rumba were absolutely perfection. The only thing I have to say is because back when Charlie did his Rumba, and I have to always be fair, you know this, I called him out on not enough Rumba content. You guys did more, but still it felt just a hair…like I would have loved to see more because it was so brilliant!”
Len went on to say, “Well, I don’t normally go for overdramatic routines, but I must say the mood and the feeling of this was fantastic. I love that basic that you put in, she really squeezed out to her hip. The opening outs were great. Like Carrie Ann, I would have liked a little bit more Rumba, a little bit less contemporary. But I tell you what, listen, I could watch it again.”
Abby was the last to say, “Alright, shh! Everybody be quiet, I have a lot to say. Maks, I would never hit you. Just saying, alright? And I’m sure when a girl is on the floor dancing with you, the last thing that she thinks about are her feet. Meryl, those feet have been in ice skates for a long time. You laid on the floor in that ending pose when he rolled you and your feet were completely sickled on top of each other. When you did the side extension to the rond de jambe to the penché…that foot was like this. Remember, remember, I’m telling you this because I think you have what it takes to win this and you need to fix those things in the future if you are going to do anything that’s contemporary.”
As a ballet dancer, pointed toes and correct positioning of the feet is a pet peeve of mine, so I can understand why Abby mentioned it. However, these are not professional dancers, and we need to give them a break sometimes. Meryl did an incredible job and that small bit of criticism did not take away from her performance.
After enduring that last comment from Abby, Meryl and Maks headed upstairs to wait for their scores.
Erin greeted them saying, “I heard you say this was one of your favorite dances, because you throw things, you get to slap Maks…just kidding. It was gorgeous. Why did you love it so much?”
Meryl said, “I think it was just very emotionally raw. Um, and I think up until this point, it’s been hard to incorporate that for me. So, I don’t know if it’s the journey, the dance in particular, but ya know…a lot more emotion than before”.
Erin replies saying, “Alright. Well, she called you a teddy bear. Were you feeling like a soft teddy bear with the, uh, sickled feet comments by Abby? I don’t even know what that means. I’m not a dancer. But what were your thoughts on the constructive criticism there?
With a snappy reply, Maks said, “I really don’t care for anything that she has to say.”
Abby walked herself right into that comment.
Meryl and Maks received a combined score of 36 out of 40!
VOTE FOR MERYL AND MAKS: CALL 1(800) 868-3406
After two very exciting dances, the show moved on to the couples’ duels, which to no one’s surprise, put Danica and Val together with Maks and Meryl.
I’ve enjoyed watching this team switch off partners and work together in this number. It’s interesting to see how different Maks and Val are even though they are brothers.
After watching the boys let out some frustration on the girls for not getting the steps as quickly as they should, a pleasant surprise walked through the door to lighten the mood. Maks and Val’s grandmother came to visit and made those boys turn into mush!
Dancing to “I Luh Ya Papi” by Jennifer Lopez, the couples hit the floor and danced a very fun, light, and upbeat Samba.
The judges agreed that it was fun, however, did have some actionable advice for this group.
Len was first to say, “Well, Samba is no easy dance to get through. There you go! I love the content in there. There is so much proper Samba going on. The technique was terrific. When you two got together, a little bit of lack of synchronicity here and there, but as a number, as a performance, it was fabulous. Well done.”
Abby said, “When the guys left the floor and you two were on your own, you could see that even in a simple chaînés turn, the arms are going way behind your line of center.”
Val fires back saying, “They’re doing a chaînés turn…Like, she doesn’t do this. She did that for you! And she killed it! She don’t do that.”
Abby replied, “Well, you have to love a man that protects his woman. Right? Yes. So, ladies…I would have rather seen the girls in heels for the number. I think it would have been easier moving.”
Bruno restores the peace a little by saying, “Okay, now. Wonderful Salsa …Samba! Sorry! Len is right. The Samba…Let me explain, no, no, shut up a second! Let me explain. No, excuse me. You know why? Len is absolutely right. It’s very, very difficult. The content was there and it was very, very good. What happens is if you don’t take the bounce on the Samba exactly the same time you look slightly off. That’s what happened, because if you take the bounce slightly on a different timing, it takes a quarter of a second and it shows side to side. That’s why sometimes it looked a little bit off. But I’m telling you, it was a sexy Samba by Versace.”
Carrie Ann said, “I agree. I thought it was sexy and I thought the content was all there, and the Samba is one of the hardest ones to match. But because this is the duet and the duel, it’s like, it’s weird because it’s a duel, but really you guys have to work together to get the better score. It’s really all about synchronicity and you both have such very different styles. I thought you did well in coming together and I loved the look, but some of the turns, the spots were off and some of the bounces, the spots were off, the timing was off. And also some of the arms, sometimes you added an arm and sometimes you added an arm and then the dips were out. So, as much as I really loved it as a whole and I love seeing you brothers dance together just like your Grammy, I have to say that it was, it didn’t quite do justice.”
When they were up on the balcony with Erin, she said, “Well, I’ll be positive. You both look hot, you danced to one of the hottest J-Lo songs right now, and you had these two gorgeous men to dance with. Really, really quick Meryl, what was it like going to practice with these two?
Meryl answered, “Ya know, it was tough. I think one of the greatest things about them both as instructors, and I think it’s cool that we got to work with both brothers individually as well, is that they’re really teaching their partners how to dance. So, um, you know, we feel like we’re not just throwing stuff together, but we feel like we’re really learning the process.”
Maks and Meryl, and Val and Danica received a combined total of 34 out of 40.
Watch the Duel Dance here!
I would love to end this on a high note, however, if you missed the show, which is why you are reading this post, the fans sent home Danica and Val! It was a huge surprise to me as I’m sure it was to everyone else, but we still have one more from the Dance With Me Family to bring home the Mirror Ball Trophy. So come on, America! We need your votes!
Before she left the stage, Danica said “It’s been absolutely amazing. I’ve had the best time ever, and I didn’t want to see any of them eliminated, so I guess it works out.”
Val followed up with, “It’s been amazing. She’s, uh, she’s a great, great person, works really hard and uh, ya know, really embraces the process. I met a great individual. We had some fascinating conversations and, uh, you know. It’s been a blast!”
Memorable Quotes of the Night:
“Oh, he’s been doing it very long…I’m sure you could tell.” –Val
“I want to wear the crown now. It wouldn’t even fit on this weave…don’t try.”- Erin
“I really don’t care for anything that she has to say.”- Maks
Scores of Season 18 Episode 8:
|Charlie & Sharna||40 / 38 / 78|
|Danica & Valentin||38 / 34 / 72|
|Meryl & Maksim||36 / 34 / 70|
|Candace & Mark||36 / 38 / 74|
|James & Peta||36 / 39 / 75|
|Amy & Derek||40 / 39 / 79|
|Meryl & Maksim/ Danica & Valentin||34|
|Charlie & Sharna / Candace & Mark||38|
|Amy & Derek / James & Peta||39|