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Last week, on Dancing With the Stars Jake was sent home. I'm grateful, because after taking off his pants and baring his chest in the last two weeks, I was sort of afraid to see his costume this week. For those keeping score, Brooke still cannot pronounce Maks' last name.

This week, it's another group challenge - the pairs will be divided into two teams, each of them dancing a cha cha. One team will dance to Madonna, the other to Lady GaGa.

The word of the night is “improvement” and all of the pairs are showing it…or maybe the judges are just being a little nicer after the lower scores and grumpy comments of the last few weeks. This week, we're going to do things a little differently, mainly because I'm a bit bored with the show. Call this an illustrated – and much abridged – recap.

I love salmon. It's the prettiest color for bedrooms.

Apparently, Maks thinks the way back into Len’s heart after his striptease last week (that’s Maks, not Len) is to wear the most garish salmon colored costumes in existence. Seriously, the costume designer should be shot. Erin and Maks perform a Quickstep that is energetic and fast and very good, even with Maks’ loud suit. All’s forgiven for Len, who says it’s Erin’s best dance. Both Carrie Ann and Bruno like it too. The judges give them 9s across the board and we’re off to a great start.
Score: 27

Today is Cheryl’s birthday, so Chad took the opportunity to ply her with some more bling – this time it’s a necklace. Call me crazy, but I think Chad could buy Cheryl a diamond mine and she wouldn’t be giving it up for him. Chad and Cheryl’s Viennese Waltz has the judges in a rapture. They use words like “graceful” and “fluid” and Len thinks Chad is officially a contender. I know I’m biased, but I still think Chad is too stiff and emotionless. They earn 8s from Carrie Ann and Bruno and a 9 from Len.
Score: 25

Look! She’s really bendy too!

What are the odds that Nicole and Derek will tank with their Waltz this week? Not very good. The dance was good, but they performed to “You Light Up My Life,” which sent me scrambling for the mute button. They chose the song in honor of Nicole’s aunt, who has Down Syndrome and is in the audience. This makes me feel like a bit of a heel for muting the song, but hey, it was self-preservation. The judges love the dance: Bruno praises Nicole as “dancing royalty” and Carrie Ann practically humps Nicole’s leg, telling her she’s the best dancer they’ve ever had on the show. They get three 9s for their routine, so apparently it wasn’t as good as it could have been. Score: 27

Man, you should see the view from here!

Nicole and Derek are probably a hard act to follow when you aren’t performing the same style of dance. Pam and Damian have to follow them with a Waltz of their own. On the whole, it’s a lovely routine: slow and romantic and not quite as good as Nicole and Derek’s routine. I really don’t think it was necessary to resurrect “At This Moment” by Billy Vera and the Beaters, but what do I know? It’s obvious Pam has worked on her lower body like the judges asked her to, but the best thing about the routine is Pam’s ability to get into character and continue it through the entire dance. They get three 8s from the judges.
Score: 24

"Kelly, he don't dance with you no more, boo,"

I’m just as surprised as anyone that Niecy does so well at the Quickstep. Their dance is light and elegant and she looks fantastic. She may not be up to the level of the top couples, but she’s really improved. Carrie Ann and Bruno agree that this is Niecy’s best dance, although Len says she needs to lift more in the ribcage. They earn 8s from Len and Bruno with a 9 from Carrie Ann. It’s their highest score of the season and Niecy is thrilled: the means she can really dance!
Score: 25

Further proof that Anna has a better job than I do

It’s really no secret that Evan is my favorite dancer. The only way I’d be more enthusiastic is if they’d given him Maks as a partner. He and Anna perform their Argentine Tango to “Bust Your Windows” and it works surprisingly well. It’s sharp and sexy and there isn’t a balletic move in sight. Evan and Anna have really worked on their chemistry. They get a standing ovation from the audience and the judges are thrilled. Say hello to the first perfect 30 of the season!
Score: 30

It’s time for the team Cha Cha Challenge. The first team to perform is Pam and Damian, Chad and Cheryl and Nicole and Derek. They dance do Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” and it’s not a bad routine, especially considering how little time they had to put it together. My one criticism is Pam’s legs. She doesn’t point her toes or straighten her legs when she needs to and it ends up looking sloppy. The judges are pretty happy with the performance. Carrie Ann does mention that Pam seemed a bit hesitant, but Bruno waxes rhapsodic, calling the stars “Pow,” “Wow” and “Damn” ( I guess Pamela would be the latter). Len says he’s eager to see Nicole perform the Cha Cha (she’s the only one who hasn’t tackled it yet this season)
Total score: 27

The second team consists of Evan and Anna, Erin and Maks and Niecy and Louis, who all have to dance to Madonna’s “Holiday,” which just screams “Cha Cha!” don’t you think? It seems a bit slow to me, but overall the dance is pretty good. The stars get quite a bit of the spotlight, starting out the dance without their pros. The routine is definitely a crowd-please, but Niecy seems to lose herself a bit – it’s more noticeable than it would be if it was just her and Louis. At the end of the dance, the guys rip the skirts off of their partners. The judges are pleased, although Bruno mentions Niecy’s flub at the end.
Final score: 24

Here’s what the leader board looks like:
Evan and Anna: 30 + 24= 54
Nicole and Derek: 27 + 27= 54
Chad and Cheryl: 25 + 27= 52
Erin and Maks: 27 + 24= 51
Pam and Damian: 24 + 27 = 51
Niecy and Louis: 25 + 24 = 49

Next week, things change as the pairs tackle two different dance styles. Who’ll be able to keep up with that pace? We’ll soon see!