The final four must choreograph two dances to styles they haven’t yet danced and then another shorter dance, which will be part of the Cha-Cha Challenge where the judges will declare a winner, who then takes all the points (a bonus of 15).
Tom: Welcome to Dancing with the Stars, the semi-finals.
This week Brooke gets the chance to introduce herself – yeah. She talks, too.
Tom: And then there were four. On Friday, Kym Johnson suffered a serious injury that we’ll tell you about later on.
The floor seems sparse as the four couples wave and sway to the theme music. Kym looks radiant in the line-up so I guess we wait for her and Hines' package to find out what happened. I am placing the two dance packages together for each couple rather than splitting them into part 1 and part 2. The Cha Cha Challenge will be recapped as it happens. I apologize in advance for any shortened judging remarks, but sometimes the crowd noise overcame the words.
Ralph Macchio and Karina Smirnoff: Argentine Tango "Violentango" Astor Piazzola
Ralph grew up in Long Island where his parents still live. He was a happy kid who caught the performance bug early. He and his wife, Phyllis, met when she was fifteen and had an instant connection. They met again years later, married and now have two teenage children. When The Karate Kid hit, he discovered it was hard to resist everything that goes with red carpets and teen magazines, but he didn’t succumb.
Phyllis: I think committed is the best word to describe Ralph; because he’s committed to his family, he’s committed to his kids, and he’s committed to the job he’s doing.
Though Ralph’s knee is still a little sore, he pushes onward to rehearse a Salsa and an Argentine Tango. For the Salsa they work on his butt/hip action as that has been lacking in his Latin dances and decide to add an appliance to make up for his flat backside. Then, they make an abrupt switch to the framing and footwork needed for the Argentine Tango.
The set up for the Argentine Tango presentation includes a couple of chairs on each side of a Parisian type lamppost. They step over the chairs, focused on each other and swing around the lamppost before going into hold. Ralph shuffled a bit during a change over, but the lifts were lovely and his face held stern. I did see intensity, but not passion.
Len: It lacked a bit of emotion throughout the dance. It didn’t really smolder. However, I thought the set up into the dance was sharp and precise, full of content; really well done.
Bruno: (vulgarity #1 of the night. I won’t repeat his words or innuendos, though I have in the past. My whacko meter is full and I’ve become disgusted with his antics. Your curiosity will have to be satisfied elsewhere.) Once you got hold of Karina you were very stern, slightly detached, cold determination of an executioner, and I still haven’t seen the Latin lover.
Carrie Ann: I’m going to agree with Bruno. I feel like your feet are sometimes dancing different than your upper body. I want to see it all connected.
Carrie Ann 8 Len 9 Bruno 8 Total: 25
Ralph Macchio and Karina Smirnoff: Salsa “I Know You Want Me” (Calle Ocho) Pitbull
Ralph, dressed in hip/hop rapper gold chains, accepts the advances of leopard suited Karina and he works his butt/hips across the floor. He breaks stern mode to show a smile toward the end and the crowd goes wild with cheers.
Len: I heard on the tape that you’re totally committed, and I see that; but there was no real rhythm. There is no equation the bigger the butt, the more rhythm. There was no rhythm; too much attack, too wild.
Bruno: You definitely went for a bad a** Salsa. Are you wearing an extra large diaper? (Vulgarity #2 accompanied by boos and looks of female outrage from the audience.)
Carrie Ann: Oddly, I liked it. To put on a booty-pad and shake it, I was impressed. Yes, your technique was off.
Tom: Oh, so this is where you wore the booty-pad? And, by the way, we want to thank the Bert Lehr estate for Karina’s wig.
CA 8 Len 7 Bruno 8 Total: 23
Combined Total: 48
Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Viennese Waltz “One and Only” Adele
A native of Wichita, KS, she will always have a soft spot in her heart for the state. A former boss tells of a young Kirstie being addicted to cocaine and that he told her she needed to develop enough self esteem to rise above it.
Kirstie: It wasn’t confidence that got me to pick myself up, it was desperation.
At 28 she moved to California to become an actress. She says the Cheers experience was divine, the most glorious period of her life. At that time she was a mother and a divorcee. She became a stay at home mom who loved to cook and gained weight as a consequence. Her life, as attested to by friends and family, is about her strength and the ability to re-charge after adversity.
During rehearsals, she tells us that she is eating five meals a day (remember Maks’ decree from last week) and getting as much sleep as she can.
Maks: How can you get prepared to do three dances on the same day for the semi-final while we are completely exhausted and in pain?
Wearing a light blue gown, Kirstie joins Maks on the dance floor with white light streams on scrims behind them. They sweep through the routine with Kirstie very good in tea-cup frame. There are beautiful turns and poses.
Bruno: Kirstie set sail beautifully like a majestic clipper (oh, brother) riding the waves. Well done.
Carrie Ann: You guys were tight the whole way through; your technique was amazing. You do something magical every time. Once again you did it tonight.
Len: There are many forms to Viennese dance and I thought you would be a cling-on, hanging onto Maks for dear life – but no; beautiful posture, lovely sweeping movements, full rotations…you did well, that was a great dance.
Carrie Ann 9 Len 9 Bruno 9 Total: 27
Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Paso Doble “White Room” Cream
In black outfits with red flood lights filling the room, they collide on the stage then Kirstie pushes off taking Matador moves to the floor. She throws off the skirt cape to take up residence as the bull. When Maks hits the floor, the conflict is on. They are strong in their movement and intention.
Bruno: The power, the fire of an erupting volcano. You were really going like a force of nature.
Carrie Ann: You’re the Queen of the Paso Doble! That was fantastic! (Kirstie lets out a loud squee and grabs Tom and then Maks for double cheek kisses.)
Len: With two demanding technical dances this week, you’ve come out and danced fabulously.
Carrie Ann 9 Len 9 Bruno 9 Total: 27
Combined Total: 54
Chelsea Kane and Mark Ballas: Argentine Tango "Assassin's Tango" John Powell
She had a lot of room to just be a kid in Scottsdale, AZ. Her parents say she was a very creative child and, since she loved singing and performing, they enrolled her in the local youth theater. Jordin Sparks (American Idol Winner season 6) was one of her fellow thespians and says all the boys had crushes on Chelsea. She was just born to be on stage. At fifteen, someone claiming to be a manager convinced her family that she should go to LA where he would make her a star. It was a scam, but her dad who accompanied her, encouraged her to look for work since they were there. It did happen with a successful audition for the Jonas Brothers Show on the Disney Channel. Since then she has moved into voice work alongside Kyle Massey, winner, Season 11 DWTS.
At rehearsal they have to, once again, work on her angry face. She is such a giggle girl.
Chelsea: I don’t think I was even remotely prepared for the level of difficulty this competition requires.
Chandelier lamps dripping crystal grace the stage in front of red curtains as they open the dance on the floor to familiar Argentine Tango music. The choreography shows off high leg flicks, sensuous body slides and great lifts.
Carrie Ann: You’re such a fantastic dancer, but for the semi-final, your legs were not up to par. They were not sharp – you have to extend the energy out and yours were bent. It wasn’t as dynamic as it should have been.
Len: Your legs lacked a little bit of authority throughout the dance; however, it was clean, it was precise, the whips were right in character; first class performance, well done.
Bruno: (barely containing himself while the others speak leaps out of his chair and, at one point, takes a tease demonstration over to a skeeved out Len’s arm which causes Len to stand and move behind Carrie Ann until the “maniac” has finished.) I know how you played it, and you played it well. You were absolutely on it. (He follows with his usual list of superlative adjectives.) Well done.
Carrie Ann 9 Len 9 Bruno 10 Total: 28
Chelsea Kane and Mark Ballas: Rumba “Eyes on Fire” Blue Foundation
Chelsea wraps herself in a light gray see-through material with a very long train. She steps softly off the stage to the floor as the cloth trails behind. There is a very medieval feel to the start of the dance. Mark rips the veil off and it lies like water falling down the steps. The dance is as sensual as the opening promised, and Mark only over-compensates on arm work a couple of times.
Carrie Ann: Now that’s what I’m talking about. That’s what I wanted to see; full range of motion, full commitment to the music.
Len: So lovely and expressive with natural feet and legs, and hip action. Tonight you have fulfilled your potential, you’re there.
Bruno: A hypnotizing sequence of stunning shades. It was romantic and erotic at the same time; perfectly pitched. It was fabulous.
Carrie Ann 10 Len 10 Bruno 10 Total: 30
Combined Total: 58
Brooke (in her pitch for votes) If you haven’t voted yet, you’re lame. (Way to get out the vote, Brooke.)
Hines Ward and Kym Johnson: Argentine Tango “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps” Cake
Hines was born in Seoul, South Korea of an African American father and a Korean mother. His mother tells of a culture where mixed kids are not accepted. She left her country and her family in order to bring him to America for a better life. She didn’t have a job or language, but though she started at the bottom, she worked two to three jobs to give Hines his opportunity. He gets his hard work ethic from her. Hines always felt like he had to do more to fit in, but athletics removed the racial barriers for him. His Pittsburg Steelers Coach, Michael Tomlin, says that Hines always puts himself in a position to seize one of those once in a lifetime moments, not only because he is talented, but because he works so hard.
Hines: I am who I am today because of my mother.
Now is the point where we learn how Kym became injured. To push to the finals, Kym introduces moves she has never done before. At the Friday rehearsal, an attempt at a lift with a leg pass through, where Kym is in a curled position (head to chest) Hines drops her and she hits the floor hyper-extending her neck. Hines places an ice pack on the back of her neck, but she can’t feel her arms so the paramedics are called. Kym blames herself for making them try the lift. As she is loaded into the paramedic truck, Hines shakes his head over Kym being worried about their loss of practice time. He is just worried about her.
For the opening of the dance, Kym holds a white stripper fan in front of her then drops it as she steps from a picture frame to vamp a club patron, Hines. The seductive feet and leg wraps are beautiful, and I didn’t see any risky lifts, but every time she bent backward, I have to admit I cringed a bit.
The judges stand along with the audience to cheer.
Tom: That’s a long way from Friday, my friends.
Len: (addressing a teary Hines) I was there; I was there in the club watching the whole story unfold. It was like coming from the Karma Sutra, it was all going on. Now - you understand (he jabs his arm at them) That Was a Tango!
Bruno: Every emotion was out there for this Tango; the battle of wills. (Vulgarity #3 – a little milder, but not worth recording.)
Carrie Ann: (A verklempt Carrie Ann tells Kym that she is happy Kym is okay without serious injury.) I’m so impressed with Hines and the way he partnered you though that routine. That was a dangerous dance for her and I saw how you supported her.
In the celebriquarium Kym says she feels blessed. She didn’t really want to dance tonight, but…you know.
Hines: She’s a warrior.
Carrie Ann 10 Len 10 Bruno 10 Total: 30
Hines Ward and Kym Johnson: Salsa “Hello” The Cat Empire
In primary red and yellow Latin costumes, they perform a flirty, fun routine without Hines showing flat feet and, once again, the twirls were done carefully.
Len: I loved it. You danced with joy.
Bruno: You’re just a beautiful man.
Carrie Ann: I get so much joy when you dance.
Carrie Ann 10 Len 10 Bruno 10 Total: 30
Combined Total: 60
THE CHA CHA CHALLENGE
The first place couple (Hines/Kym) face off against the last place couple (Ralph/Karina) in the first heat of the challenge. Then the second and third place couples will face off. The bracket winners of each heat will have a dance-off with only five minutes to prepare in order to determine the winner of an extra fifteen bonus points.
The routines are 40 seconds which is much shorter than the regular routines.
Hines Ward and Kym Johnson: Cha-Cha Challenge “Boogie Shoes” KC and the Sunshine Band
A quick costume change puts Kym in lime green fringe as they dance in sync with hips and legs doing the right thing.
Ralph Macchio and Karina Smirnoff: Cha-Cha Challenge “Mustang Sally” Wilson Pickett
Ralph’s feet are good, but his hip action, if any, is hidden under coat tails. It lacks the energy of Hines routine.
Len: Hines – you looked good doing it; great job. Ralph – you danced 100% - well done to you.
Bruno: Hines, as entertaining as ever. Ralph, you’ve upped your game.
Carrie Ann: Ralph, I felt you were in the dance. Hines, your hips were in it to win it.
A unanimous paddle vote has Hines and Kym winning the first heat.
Chelsea Kane and Mark Ballas: Cha-Cha Challenge “Makes Me Wonder” Maroon 5
They sing along with the song as they shimmy their way through the dance.
Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Cha-Cha Challenge “Walking on the Sun” Smashmouth
Theirs is more traditional without the extras and Kirstie hesitates on one of the steps.
Bruno: Chelsea, clean, sharp, precise; you’re full of vitality and fun. Kirstie, musicality, expressiveness and you really enjoyed dancing with Maks
Carrie Ann: You’re so different. It’s going to be hard to pick.
Len: Chelsea - 40 seconds of flat out clean, quick; personality coming out. Kirstie - more sensual, nice hip action, good rhythm. It’s a real challenge.
A unanimous paddle vote has Chelsea and Mark winning the second heat.
Tom: For the finalists, it is the ultimate instant dance as they have only the commercial break to hear the music (“Just Dance” Lady GaGa) and work out the steps to it.
In the celebriquarium Brooke tells Hines to choose heads or tails for the coin toss and he chooses tails and the coin comes up heads. A confused Brooke asks him whether he wants to dance first or second and he says second…but, then, the error is discovered and she turns quickly to Chelsea to ask what placement she wants, and she says second – and so be it.
Tom: So remember you’re watching the first and maybe the last instant Cha Cha Challenge. They’ve had, by the way, less than four minutes to listen to the music and figure out their moves.
Hines and Kym
Hines throws in an Argentine Leg wrap for good measure and they do a Cha Cha with verve.
Chelsea and Mark
Once again they shimmy, but Mark (I wonder if he panicked?) exaggerates his moves, though the double leg through slide is impressive.
Len: This is really two couples of totally varying styles – you both did well.
Bruno: He’s right. It’s like picking from diamonds and pearls. You both did incredibly well. The circumstances have been the hardest we’ve ever seen.
Carrie Ann: With that little time, this really proves if you’re a dancer. Both of you have proven yourselves dancers tonight.
A unanimous paddle vote had Chelsea/Mark winning the bonus 15 points.
Judges’ scoring totals for Week 9:
Chelsea/Mark 58 plus the 15 bonus point equals 73
A long and complicated evening, but next week is the Finals. Hooray!