‘Dancing With the Stars’ recap: Instant Jive!

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Week 8 brought a lot of excitement to the sparkly universe we know as “Dancing With the Stars.” First, we’re just a week away from the semifinals and that much closer to handing out that coveted Mirrorball trophy. Second, each of the five remaining couples had to dance another full routine, the Instant Dance, along with the regular routines.

Finally, we got not just one, but two perfect 30 scores! And by the same couple, no less!

Of course, I’m referring to…

J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff. And their perfect 60 out of 60 score all but cemented their position as the couple to beat for the shiniest trophy in all the land. After having an off Halloween week, J.R. was determined to get back on track. More than get back on track. He wanted to get the first perfect 30! And like a self-fulfilling prophecy, it was so. “What the World Needs Now” was a perfect 30 score. And J.R. and Karina delivered a swoon-worthy routine, extending and moving as easily as if they were breathing. “It was like a musical Valentine card,” raved Bruno. “You danced with your heart on your sleeve… It was divine.” “Tonight, something happened in the middle there that was just magic,” said Carrie Ann. “It felt like you brought us right into that dance.” Len said J.R. “came back all guns blazing.” Loved how J.R. received the perfect score like an award and delivered an acceptance speech. “I want to thank Mom, God, everyone. Justin Bieber! Never Say Never!”

The Insta-Jive, then, was just icing on the cake. And both he and Karina wanted to make sure that they weren’t penalized for the same ticky-tack fouls that they were called upon during their Newsies-themed performance earlier on in the season, so they made sure the dance was all jive (and not a bunch of Lindy Hop), and ix-nay the lifts. And their “Tutti-Frutti” piece, set against a backdrop that looked like a ballroom-size slot machine, really did hit the jackpot. Bruno said J.R. was “off like a rocket.” Carrie Ann said he was “in a class all of your own. There’s no one even coming close to you tonight.” “You’ve got the X factor and the feel-good factor mixed together,” Len applauded, “and you come out here with the most fantastic jive.” Another perfect 30. Total: 60 out of 60.


Ricki Lake was letting the pressure get to her. Derek said, “it’s just a waltz. It’s not the end of the world.” But maybe it is – I mean, Ricki feels like she’s on another planet. Luckily, Jennifer Grey was around to tell her what she’s feeling is true. “You are on another planet,” the Season 11 champ confirmed. “You’re on planet ‘DWTS.’” Now that they’ve gotten that straightened out, Ricki resolved to give into the sparkles and the fringe of this otherworldy experience and embrace it and have fun. And I loved her little twirl under Derek’s arms at the beginning of their “Natural Woman” routine. “What makes you so special is when you dance, you lose yourself completely,” said Carrie Ann, who nonetheless said Ricki “had a little stumble at the end.” Len said Ricki Lake was more “like a river… beautifully executed the whole way through.” And while Len said “my heart wants to give you the 10,” Ricki has to master the heel-toe leads first. Bruno called it “deliciously dreamy, floatingly soft. You have so much artistic detail.”

Ricki was a little disappointed by her insta-jive. Having done the jive before in Week 2, she felt she was fairly well prepared for what was to come, and Derek smartly had them rehearse to different songs with different tempos to prepare for the song surprise to come. And the jive, danced to Wilson Pickett’s “Land of 1,000 Dances,” had great energy, and there was that point where she dragged her feet in fear of being cited for a life, but the judges got on Ricki’s case for her “starts and stops.” Carrie Ann thought there were a couple moments where she “got lost in the choreography.” Len shrugged that it was “a tough dance.” Bruno said, “some sections didn’t flow together as well as they should have.” What do they expect? It’s an insta-dance! Ricki and Derek got a 28 for their waltz, added to a 24 for their instadance. Total: 52.

This week saw a “kinder, gentler approach” from Hope Solo and Maksim Chmerkovskiy. And thank goodness. Had they continued down the horribly destructive path they had gone the week before, they would have shredded each other to bits. But Maks took full responsibility for being “overly rough” and “too competitive” and both resolved to tone down the intensity and up the fun. Maks even showed Hope his softer side by inviting her to a family dinner, with mother Larisa and father Aleksandr, where we learned that Maks “cried a lot” as a mama’s boy. And much like how their relationship went from stormy to sunny in the course of a reality TV week, so did their quickstep routine, set to Amy Winehouse’s version of the Zutons’ “Valerie.” Bruno called it “a night of miracles” and said Hope was “rebooted, reenergized, light, breezy, radiant. You’ve never moved so well.” Carrie Ann got up to give Hope a hug. “There was so much joy and love.” Len said their dance was a “blend of speed and control,” Len said. “It was fast, it was energetic. … it’s your best dance. You fulfilled your potential.”

Len continued his Hope and Maks lovefest tour 2011 when they came out less than an hour later for their insta-jive. While Hope seemed a little frantic trying to keep up with Avril Lavigne’s fast-paced “The Best Damn Thing,” Len called it “fantastic. … everything a jive should be.” Bruno said the attitude and energy were good, but “you’ve got to stretch out the back of your knees.” Carrie Ann thought “the hands were a little crazy.” Hope and Maks received a 27 for their quickstep and a 25 for their jive. Total: 52.

Can Rob be the Kardashians’ final hope? It’s nice to see a Kardashian actually working hard at something and sticking with it. And he knew the key to making it all work during the quickstep was to tuck his bottom in. “I’m tightening my butt right now,” Rob announced. And their routine was set to a jaunty version of A-Ha’s “Take on Me,” with digital scoreboards in the back that looked like they were making figure 8s. “Growing up right before our eyes!” Tom announced. Len thought “the opening section was terrible” but “I got a good look at his buttocks” which were “tucked in.” “Rob, once you took off, you were speedier than a drag race,” said Bruno. “Once you know what to do with your bum, everything falls into place.” Carrie Ann called Rob the ideal “DWTS” contestant, who grew week after week. “You’re polished, you’re elegant, and you’re light on your feet,” she said. “And you had the best week out of any Kardashian,” Tom said.

Rob and Cheryl did the jive insta-dance to Hall and Oates’ “Maneater.” And it looked like Rob recycled his Gomez Addams outfit from last week with those striped pants and suspenders. Whoa, oh, here comes Cheryl, with her animal prints. And while it wasn’t bad by any stretch, I thought the resulting routine seemed a little sluggish. Maybe it was because he’d already done a quickstep and was tired. But as Rob said, “I’m 24 years old. I have no excuse” to be tired. Or perhaps it’s because, as the judges pointed out, Rob didn’t sharpen his feet in those kicks and flicks. Still, Carrie Ann liked how Rob was “in control on the dance floor,” though she’s “still recovering from the booty-shaking.” Rob and Cheryl got a 24 for their jive and a 27 for their quickstep. Total: 51.

There was a lot of love-hate going on between Nancy Grace and Tristan MacManus. I feel for the guy. Nancy does not seem like a walk in the park to get along with, and Tristan gets blotchy when he gets angry. As Tom said, Tristan “doesn’t have a full-time job, but he should get hazard pay.” Their tango seemed a little off and stilted, but the judges were generous with their praise. Len said she’d upped her plateau. Bruno called Nancy a “brazen jezebel, entrapping the handsome stranger.” Carrie Ann called Nancy “the friskiest little girl I ever saw” though her toes weren’t as pointed as she’d like them to be.

Are you actually acting tired? “We’re both tired of each other, We should just get married,” said Nancy. “That’s the way that works.” Oh, Nancy. Just when you start to become somewhat appealing, you have to stomp all over it. Tristan also started out their jive with a split leap over his partner and danced circles around a somewhat miffed Nancy during the insta-dance, and not even what Tom called “a cartwheel finish and some strategic begging” could sway the judges in her favor. Len called Nancy’s a “Cinderella story,” only now, “it’s midnight and it’s time to go home.” Bruno called it “a little bit laid back and loose for a jive.” Carrie Ann said Nancy unfortunately “got lost in the choreography,” though she liked how she “trusted Tristan to lead you completely.” Their lowly 20 score for their insta-dance was added to their 24-scoring tango. Total: 44.

Which again, puts Nancy in the danger zone for Tuesday’s elimination. What do you think? Is it Cinderella’s time to go home? Have your warmed back up to Hope and Maks now that they’re getting along? Did J.R. and Karina deserve those perfect 30 scores? What did you think of the insta-jives? Anyone else psyched for DanceCenter?


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—Allyssa Lee

Photo Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli Credit: Adam Taylor / ABC