‘Dancing With the Stars’ recap: Switch ‘em up, partner

Derek Hough, Amy Purdy
Derek Hough dances it out with Amy Purdy.
(Adam Taylor / ABC)

The glitterverse had a little more swing in its step this week on “Dancing With the Stars,” as the producers took a cue from those key parties in the 1970s and had stars switch up their pro partners while their original pro partners (and an entire nation) watched.

Guest judging this week was Derek’s sister Julianne Hough, who showed up to offer her dancing critiques, act as a buffer between Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli, and distract viewers with her newly shorn hair and peekaboo dress.

It was almost like starting all over again, as partners had to get acquainted with one another and pull off a dance worthy of Week 4. It was interesting to see pro loyalty come out in the votes. And as host Tom Bergeron said, “I think in some ways we’ve learned more about the ongoing partnerships” than anything. Also, this was no elimination round; the scores and votes from this week will be added to last week’s to determine who has to hoof it out of the glitterverse next Monday.

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Speaking of hoofing it: The Macy’s Stars of Dance also returned with a gorgeous vengeance, choreographed by Derek Hough and featuring Kathryn McCormick from “So You Think You Can Dance"and “Step Up: Revolution” fame and Henry, Artem, Sasha, and Jonathan from the Troupe.

But back to the competition: Olympic gold medalist Meryl Davis had the enviable position of getting to switch out one Chmerkovskiy brother for another and built on her lead in her Argentine tango with younger brother Val. “This is like some incestual adultery now,” Val said. Meryl claimed Maks is more of a jokester, while Val is all business (even braiding Meryl’s hair so it wouldn’t interfere with her process), though the ice dancer could be assured that both Chmerkovskiy brothers have talent in spades. So of course, Meryl and Val’s Argentine tango was incredible. Not only did Meryl look the part in her slinky red lace number, but Carrie Ann said the way the Winter Olympian and Val tangoed all over each other put them in “a class of your own.” Bruno likened them to “two magical instruments perfectly in tune.” Julianne paid Meryl high praise when she said, “I would love to dance like you.” Len thought there was too much staccato at times, and was the only 9 holdout in this otherwise perfect routine. Meryl and Val received a 39 out of 40 for their Argentine tango. Two-week total: 78 out of 80.

Julianne called Big Time Rush’s James Maslow the total package. And he showed it in his hot game of thrones tango with new partner Cheryl Burke. James said he kind of felt like he was cheating on Peta by tangoing with Cheryl, “but it’s kind of exciting.” Even more exciting was Cheryl’s bedazzling Mirrorball scepter, golden throne and male attendants. We should all aspire to these positions in life. James didn’t (really) care that Charlie White was off with his Peta Murgatroyd, “dancing his little pants off,” and showed he was not just a one-woman guy by turning up the passion with a fiery new partner in this ballroom dance. Julianne thought James was the hot guy who can do it all, but said Peta could help him next week with “tucking your pelvis.” Bruno agreed that James needed to get “your butt under control.” Len said it was “hot and fiery,” but “a little too manic on occasion.” James and Cheryl received a 35 for their tango. Two-week total: 71.

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Paralympic athlete Amy Purdy was paired up with Mark Ballas this week. Though Mark initially had a hard time figuring out how to choreograph for someone with two prosthetic legs. Amy said at one point that it felt like she was leading Mark, so Mark and Amy’s original partner Derek put on their porkpie hats and powwowed by the wall to rap it all out. And it was an impressively spice and hot salsa show as a result. Amy shook her pink lipstick and great abs to great effect. Carrie Ann loved how Mark gave Amy “a lot of space to be on your own.” Len summed it all up: “Full of content, it was full of rhythm, I’m full of admiration … your bottom is the top.” Amy and Mark received a 34 for their salsa. Two-week total: 70.

Charlie White was matched up with Peta Murgatroyd and the two slick blonds came together like two purple peas in a pod. Only, Peta kinda felt weird about this new pairing. “I feel like I’m cheating on James a little bit,” Peta said after a particularly intimate rumba rehearsal move. “Is James not allowed to stick his nose in your mouth?” Charlie joked. Ha! And while their purple blond slicked-back dance in a fog was extremely picturesque, the judges were torn on whether or not it counted as a rumba. Bruno loved the grand intensity and sculptural shapes but “if you don’t get the feet right, your hips won’t ignite.” Julianne started out positive, saying it was “stunning and beautiful” but then fawningly called Charlie “a mother’s dream” and effectively put the Olympian’s sex appeal on ice. Crotchety Len did not think it was very much of a rumba. But Carrie Ann was worse, agreeing with Len and also calling out a lift violation before slapping them down with a particularly harsh 7. Ouch. Thus, Charlie and Peta only got a 33 for their rumba. Two-week total: 69.

Lucky Danica McKellar also got to be in the middle of a Chmerkovskiy sandwich, switching out Val for Maks in this week’s switch-up event. And while that’s usually an enviable place to be, Julianne “went there” when she suggested that Maks phoned it in this week with the “Wonder Years” actress so he could get back with Meryl. And while Maks defended that because of his age, he always dances each dance as if it is his last, Maks did look a little piqued at all of Danica’s “drunken sailor” questioning during rehearsals. And there was a weird musical timing issue (the first of two this evening) to contend with as well. Carrie Ann said Danica was a “bright light” but pointed out she and Maks weren’t quite in sync. Len liked the energy, but there was “a little bit too much goofing off for me.” Danica and Maks received a 32 for their jive. Two-week total: 68.

Cheryl Burke called her partner Drew Carey’s new matchup with Witney Carson “Cute. Creepy, but cute.” But the “Price Is Right” host was having way too good of a time with this teenage pro dancer to even miss his old partner. And what Tom called the star graduates of the May-December Dance Academy’s cha-cha was very much like Drew’s gold lame suit: shiny and wild yet completely irresistible. Bruno pitched the performance “somewhere between Elvis Presley and Liberace.” “I’ve never had that much fun in a minute and a half since I was a teenager,” Len said. “You came out like a dancing Ferrero Rocher.” Drew and Witney received a 33 for their cha-cha. Two-week total: 66. 

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Cute accent alert! Cody Simpson got fellow Australian Sharna Burgess as a pro partner this week, and it was fun to see them let their wonder Down Unders fly. Turns out Sharna is a good 11 years older than the 17-year-old Cody, and at times she used that age difference to snap her young whippersnapper of a partner into shape. Though it hardly mattered to the gaggle of squealing girls when Cody started his fox trot by singing his own rendition of Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours.” And while the judges lauded Cody’s charming stroll through the park performance, they all said he needed to work on his technique more. “There’s so much of you I find you’re not quite in control of it,” Bruno said. “I almost want to see you do something completely un-Cody just to challenge you,” Julianne ventured. Cody and Sharna fox-trotted their way to a respectable 31. Two-week total: 66.

Ooh, NeNe Leakes got to let her inner Beyonce fly with an Afro-jazzy routine with her switch-up partner Derek Hough. “Your munchkin awaits!” the shorter Derek greeted the Real Housewife of Atlanta. Luckily, any mismatch in their height difference was quickly glossed over by Derek and NeNe’s matching hair color and utter commitment to all things sassy and fierce. And Nene was a true glamazon and soldiered through the band’s second music malfunction of the night. “It was finally great to see you kill it,” Carrie Ann said. Len called it “the best dance you’ve done this season.” “Every girl wants to let their inner Beyonce out,” Julianne declared. Bruno likened it to “being in the presence of the queen of Sheba.” Can’t help but feel the slightest bit bad for what Tom called the “alternately jealous and appreciative” Tony, who insisted that he was saving all those moves for later. NeNe and Derek received a 32 for their jazz routine. Two-week total: 63.

Candace Cameron Bure had a tall order this switch-up week: Not only did she get teamed up with Tony Dovolani, who’s always embarrassing her, but she had to perform her first ballroom dance of the season – a “Rocky Horror Picture Show”-themed quickstep. And while the judges liked the energy and the commitment and the tinges of red on Candace and Tony’s hair, the body contact was, as Julianne said, “a little too gapped.” Candace and switch-up partner Tony received a 28 for their second dance, and the “Full House” actress who went first in this fourth week of competition ended up last. Two-week total: 60.


Talk about a switch-up: Who would have thought Candace would be in danger of elimination? 

What do you think, ballroom fans? Did you enjoy the switch-up? Were you as happy as I was to see the Macy’s Stars of Dance back in the ballroom?  Who knew Drew Carey was such a delicate flower? Has Candace Cameron Bure turned into Lori Laughlin? What is a drunken sailor? Should we just give Meryl the Mirrorball trophy now?


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