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May 14, 2014

DANCING WITH THE STARS SEASON 18 WEEK 9: AMERICAN ICONS NIGHT – SEMI-FINALS

The Semi-Finals have finally arrived and we are down to five couples: Meryl and Maks, Amy and Derek, James and Peta, Charlie and Sharna, as well as Candace and Mark!

This was a special evening with guest judge Kenny Ortega, a famous producer, director, and choreographer who has worked on productions from High School Musical to Michael Jackson concerts.

Erin Andrews started by asking Kenny, “What is the standard you are looking for tonight?”

Kenny answered, “First of all, ya’ll deserve to be standing on this floor, no doubt about it.  And, uh, I would just say, I’m lookin’, I’m lookin’ to see ya surrender to one another, enjoy yourselves and take me to a place that I’ve never been.”

This was certainly the week that delivered everything he was looking for, because each of the couples performed so magnificently that it was hard to believe any of them were going to be sent home.

Since this week was “Icons Night” each star was visited by or got to speak with their role model and in Meryl’s case it was Olympic figure skater, Kristi Yamaguchi.  Coincidentally, Kristi was also the winner of Season 6 of Dancing with the Stars.

During Meryl’s interview, she said, “Whether it’s been on the ice or otherwise, she’s always been so encouraging to me.”

When Kristi sat down with Meryl, she said, “Athletes, you kind of are ready for the physical side to the show, but I think, um, the real shocker is how mentally strong and the mental stamina that you need for this experience.”

After this brief pep talk, Meryl explained how Kristi definitely gave her some perspective on the show.

In her interview, Meryl said, “Having two dances this week, um, and being at the bottom of the leader board, is putting pressure on the both of us.”

Maks said, “I’m afraid I might let her down every day.  It’s a lot of responsibility.  I do have the best dancer on the show.  That is what puts a lot of pressure.  You know?  It’s not like, oh my God, we might be eliminated.  No.  Oh my God, she’s the best.  What do I do now?”

Meryl and Maks have a unique relationship in that they both feed off of each other’s energy.  When one is down, the other is down.  When one is up, the other is up.  However, what makes their connection so special is if they are ever out of sync…they understand how to get right back in it together.  The love and friendship they share along with the talent and true dedication to the competition is the perfect mix for a winning team.

Meryl said, “Sometimes when Maks is a little bit stressed out about choreography, I think it’s nice for us to be able to rely on the friendship that we’ve built over the last couple of weeks.  I think we were both able to kinda step back and be a little bit more positive from that point forward for the week.”

Maks and Meryl performed the Jive to the 50’s classic “Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley!  Maks and Meryl began their performance in silhouette.  Maks opened with iconic Elvis Presley moves executed so well you would have thought it was the King himself on stage.

Their Jive was outstanding…from the style to the technique!  Not only did the audience love the performance, but the judges were thrilled as well!

Len Goodman, who we know is always ready to critique, said simply, “No peril Meryl.  That was fantastic!”

Kenny Ortega followed, saying, “Just…you were ice-skating tonight.  No.  Your kicks and flicks were sending sparks up all over the floor.  Your synchronization, your back turns…everything.”

Bruno Tonioli said,  “Oh yeah!  It’s the king and queen of rock n’ roll.  A 50’s inspired rock n’ roll extravaganza.  Apart from the fact that all the movement was so clear, sharp, precise, as they said…stylistically, it was impeccable.  It was, it’s like being there.  You captured the time capsule beautifully.  I loved the twist…I mean, perfect.”

Lastly, shocked by the fact that Maks gave her and all of the other judges a nice smooch on the cheek, Carrie Ann Inaba said, “Wait, wait, real quick, real quick.  I just need to comment on the dancing.  Meryl, usually a Jive, everybody wears very ornate costumes to create more movement.  What was so beautiful, this is a streamline costume.  Your movements were flawless and perfect.”

When they headed up to the balcony, host Erin Andrews said, “Hi, we have kissing down here.  Uh, let’s first get back to your video package because this is about you.  Maks clearly says you are the best dancer in the show this season.  You got the lowest scores last week.  They’re announcing you’re in jeopardy.  What’s your reaction to this?”

Meryl sighs and says, “You know, I’ve just been blessed with incredible partnerships.  You know, from Charlie for 17 years to this guy. I mean, I can’t even imagine being luckier.  Um, you know, he’s so giving and I think the pressure comes from, you know, feeling like he wants to give the people he cares about his absolute best and, you know, I couldn’t be more grateful for that.”

Meryl and Maks received a combined score of 40 out of 40!

Check out their video here:

VOTE FOR MERYL AND MAKS: CALL 1(800) 868-3406

Their next dance at the end of the evening was the Viennese Waltz!  Yet again, they danced with such charm and elegance it was hard to take your eyes off of them.

Once more, the judges had nothing but positive feedback!

Len said, “What I loved was the fact you took that right on the edge.  There was no playing it safe. There was no thinking hold back a little bit.  You went for it 100% and I loved it!”

Kenny’s response was, “You did it last week.  You blew me away last week with that incredible piece and now again tonight at the end of this incredible semi-final round.  Uh…Power, grace, synchronization.  Everything that you could ask for in a partnership.  You laid it out, you left nothing on that floor but a little bit of sweat.”

Bruno went on to say, “I mean you two are unbelievable.  It had a grand cinematic sweep.  It was like watching…you get really the Oscar for role playing.  Last week it wasStreetcar Named Desire.  Tonight, it was Giant!  Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, swept away in Texas.  I mean, I was watching…did you, did you plan it?  Was it planned?  I mean, it’s just your role playing is out of this world and your dancing is magnificent.”

 

Finally, Carrie Ann said, “Meryl, seriously, what you do is incredible.  The room, I was watching the room watch you and first of all, they were blown away with the magnificence of your movements, the quality, the grace, the elegance, and then the power kicked in, which is something only athletes are able to bring to this ballroom.  And it’s like you’re running for a touchdown and the whole room started like coming into you, and it was like a beautiful explosion.  You are fantastic and you better not go home.”

After they received such great reviews, Meryl and Maks headed up the stairs to speak with Erin and receive their scores.

Erin said, “These Canadian Tuxedos never looked so good.  Um, story of the night, our three Olympians, our three athletes, in jeopardy.  We will find out who is going home.  What’s the reaction to the three hardcore athletes being in jeopardy?”

Meryl responded saying, “Um ,you know, I think that going into the Olympics you really learn kind of something about life and what it all means and I think it’s very similar to this journey in that it is about the journey, it’s about what you learn and it’s about what you’ve become after the journey.”

Turning her attention to Maks, Erin stated, “You’ve been on a lot of journeys.  Some partners haven’t taken you to the end.  You said she’s the best.  What will your thoughts be if it comes to an end tonight?”

Maks looks at Erin and says, “I did kiss you.”

With a surprised look on her face, Erin said, “Come on.  We’re talking about right here on the cheek.  Let’s clarify!  No.  No.  What will your reaction be if it comes to an end for Meryl tonight?”

Maks replied, “Um, it’ll be upsetting, but I honestly think that all the celebrities deserve to be in the finale.  I’ve enjoyed this season unlike any other…let’s be real.  Not because of you, not because of you, but because, because of me…I’m different.  I enjoyed this so much more.  It’s so much fun to dance, to live this out, to, you know, enjoy the ups and downs.  It’s amazing.”

Meryl and Maks received another combined score of 40 out of 40!  This gave them a total of 80 out of 80 for the evening!

VOTE FOR MERYL AND MAKS: CALL 1(800) 868-3406

Although this couple received outstanding reviews, they were still in jeopardy along with Charlie and Sharna!

At this point of the competition, we don’t want to see anyone go home because of the amazing hard work and effort they have all put forth to make it this far.

However, the Mirror Ball can only belong to one couple.

So, at the end of the Semi-Finals round of Dancing with the Stars, we held our breath as we waited to see who would be going home.

Well…The Dance With Me Family will get to vote another day because Meryl and Maks were safe, which meant it was time for Charlie and Sharna to go home.

We were all sad to see them go and when Erin asked Charlie about his feelings now that the time has come for him to leave, he said, “I think, uh, all these people are so deserving.  From start to finish, it’s been an amazing journey and, you know, the friendship and love that we all share for each other has been amazing.  And now I can 100% be a cheerleader for Team Meryl.  Love you!”

Tom asked Sharna about the obvious chemistry that she developed with Charlie this season.

Sharna said, “Yeah, I mean he’s like my little brother.  I love him.  I’ve had such an amazing experience with him.  He’s taught me so much about positivity and just your outlook on life, and it’s been the most wonderful experience, a joy to teach, and he’s a wonderful friend now, dear to my heart.”

This season of Dancing with the Stars is by far my favorite in that every single star has something different to bring to the table and they are all marvelous individuals.

We are getting close to the end folks!  Don’t leave us just yet!  We have only three couples left, and now is when the dance floor is heating up more than ever!

Scores of Season 18 – Episode 9

Candace & Mark (V. Waltz) 34
 Charlie & Sharna (Foxtrot) 40
 Amy & Derek (Quickstep) 39
 James & Peta (Cha Cha) 40
 Meryl & Maksim (Jive) 40
 Candace & Mark (Jazz) 38
 Charlie & Sharna (Samba)  36
 Amy & Derek (Jazz) 39
 James & Peta (Rumba) 36
 Meryl & Maksim (V. Waltz) 40

 

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