'Dancing With the Stars' recap: Perfect 10s, a marriage proposal in the semifinals

'Dancing With the Stars' recap: Perfect 10s, a marriage proposal in the semifinals
Rumer Willis and Val Chmerkovskiy on "Dancing With the Stars." (ABC)

Here’s what you need to know about the semifinals of “Dancing With the Stars,” where the top four celebrities faced off for the chance to go to next week’s finale:

Paso, perfect scores, judge’s choice, Derek’s back, dance, dance, dance, blah, blah, blah. Noah popped the question. Noah popped the question!!!

That’s a first for “DWTS” – a live, on-air proposal. Isn’t that what everyone remembers about this two-hour live show?

So advance or not on Tuesday night’s results hour, know that Noah Galloway won’t be history. I have a sneaking suspicion that this inspirational Army veteran’s nuptials, and perhaps the run-up to the big day, will be televised. ABC executives must be salivating at the very prospect, knowing from this season of “DWTS” that audiences love and want to spend time with him.

And who doesn’t fall for a good love story? (It certainly kept Robert and Kym alive for weeks longer than their judges’ scores would’ve dictated.)

Oh cynics and buzzkills out there, you had questions? You had doubts? You wondered if this was a bold ploy for votes from someone who probably wouldn’t have made it to the semis without massive fan support? Would him dropping to one knee mean the difference between leaving and staying for the finale?

I might’ve seen your point except for that bushel of onions that was being peeled in my vicinity. Couldn’t. Stop. Tearing. Up. I wasn’t the only one – there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Even co-host Tom Bergeron needed a hankie. Bergeron! Just give in to it, y’all, and wish the happy couple well. (Girlfriend Jamie Boyd, of course, said yes in her delightful Southern twang to her handsome Alabama-bred warrio.r)

On to the individual dances, in chronological order, which were punctuated by mini-documentaries on each competitor instead of just rehearsal snippets. Those videos might just sway some votes, or encourage fans who haven’t been making their voices heard, because they were touching and personal without dipping too far into maudlin territory.

Rumer Willis and Val Chmerkovskiy

They had perfect scores last week, and they’d obviously taken to heart criticism they’d received previously about props and distractions. They kept it pure for their Viennese waltz with “Fifth Shades of Grey” overtones and one of the most stunning dresses of the entire season. (You go, sexy svelte grrrl!) Julianne Hough said that America “is falling in love with you,” and Carrie Ann Inaba called it “earthy and sensual, ethereal.” Bruno Tonioli had never seen such a steamy waltz, but said it didn’t lose “the lyrical quality that’s necessary” for the dance. Score: 38

Riker Lynch and Allison Holker

This contemporary routine was directly in Allison “So You Think You Can Dance” Holker’s wheelhouse, and it was beautiful. One look could predict that perfect score. Riker, for the second week in a row, dug into a character and settled there. He matched Allison so well that Julianne said she couldn’t tell who was the pro and who was the amateur (no offense, Allison!) Bruno called it a “hardcore and uncompromising contemporary” with “gutsy physicality.” Carrie Ann thought it was “vulnerable, raw, amazing,” and Len Goodman called it “a great dance and a great performance.” Score: 40

Nastia Liukin and Sasha Farber

Derek Hough hadn’t recovered enough from his ankle and foot injuries enough to tackle the quickstep, so pro Sasha continued to fill in. This was after a video intro where Nastia battled her image as a grump and a brat on the show. (Picture after picture of her frowning and complaining set the tone.) She probably did need to look a tad warmer and fuzzier to appeal to voters. Will it work? Technically, there’s little to quibble about – she’s a hoofer, plain and simple, who’s light on her feet, lovely, jaunty and flowing. Carrie Ann called the glammed-up routine “a showstopper,” and Julianne thought that nothing was out of sync. Bruno said she was “a blonde bombshell.” Score: 40

Noah Galloway and Sharna Burgess

And speaking of playing the thespian, or at least connecting to the pro, Noah really did kill it this week with the Viennese waltz. And then he told his girlfriend, visiting with co-host Erin Andrews, how much he loved her and asked if she’d marry him. Please! He was already a war hero, and now he’s a romantic hero besides? So. Stinkin. Sweet. About that dance: Julianne said it had “so much content” and was “so smooth,” and Bruno thought it contained “such honesty” and connection between the partners. Carrie Ann noted that he was “expressive, not stiff” and seemed to be having fun instead of counting steps and racking his brain over the choreography. Len thought it was emotional and his “best dance yet, and what a good time to do it.” What a good time, indeed. Score: 36

Another first: Judge’s Choice round, in which each couple worked with one of the series’ four judges to come up with an original number. How’d that shake out? Read on.

Bruno marshaled Rumer and Val, starting as all good partnerships should: with cocktails! It may’ve been called “contemporary fusion,” but it had heavy elements of ballet, a la “Swan Lake.” And Rumer could’ve given Natalie Portman a run for her money. If Len had his own private leaderboard, he said, the couple would’ve been at the top. Carrie Ann thought it was “genius mad” and “brilliant” and Julianne even tried out her best effusive Bruno impression. Not bad! Score: 30 from the three judges

Carrie Ann worked with Noah and Sharna on the couple’s first-ever paso doble that she called “epic and huge.” The challenge, Carrie Ann said, was not to overwhelm Noah but to support him with the additional pro dancers for the matador-themed routine. Julianne said she had “chills from head to toe,” and Bruno said he was “the tough bull taking control of the herd.” Len said Noah “gave us a battle” for the finale spot. Score: 30 (the couple’s first perfect scores all season).

Julianne collaborated with Riker and Allison for an Argentine tango that she also performed in as the non-third-wheel third dancer. She’s a two-time “DWTS” champ, so it couldn’t possibly hurt to have her back on stage. It didn’t, though Riker and Allison couldn’t have been more in step with each other and that complex number. Bruno called him a “leading man,” and Carrie Ann felt like they were dancing with their last breath. Len called him a “triple threat,” with musicality, flair and great technique. Julianne just took it over the top, he said. Score: 30

Derek just couldn’t stay away, broken bones and bruises notwithstanding, and his injury underscored the feeling of the Len-conceived piece he danced with Nastia. Len, often the grouchy judge who picks on everyone’s hybrid routines, talked about his old body failing him and how he wished he could still move like he did back in the day. Heartbreaking!

I’d say I’ll be nicer to you in the future, but there won’t be one, if that retirement claim at the beginning of this season holds true. But what a gift he gave us on the way out, actually taking the floor for a few steps, and no one could argue with Derek’s choreography. Everybody choked up, and Julianne said it was the most special dance she’d ever seen. Bruno said it “glowed with a nostalgic warmth and love.” Score: 30

So the second round of dances was a wash as far as scores were concerned, basically cancelling each other out, but they certainly added depth and drama to the night.

The show promised Flo Rida and music from “Teen Beach 2” (on the Disney Channel!) on Tuesday, but all anyone will want to see is the elimination. Who will it be? Only three can advance to the finale. Check back for the recap.


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