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This week, we’re down to the final five pairs and each of them will have to perform two individual dances this week: one Latin and one ballroom. Hurray for no group dances! Each Latin round dance with be based on a specific era: the 50’s, 60’s, 80’s, 90’s or the future. So much for the 70’s. Boo for no bell bottoms!

Before the Latin round, the pairs will get schooled by Garry and Rita Gekhman, who perform the “Dance of the Future” that got them disqualified from the World Championships in 2006 for being too edgy.

Throughout the show, the pros give their assessments of the remaining celebs. Here’s what we learned:
  • Anna says Erin’s long limbs are well-suited for ballroom. Her weakness is that she doesn’t trust Maks enough.
  • Anna thinks Erin’s Latin dances can look a bit sloppy and Derek agrees: she needs to tighten everything up and be more precise.
  • Louis predicts that Erin’s Rumba with Maks will be full of romance and chemistry
  • Derek wishes Erin would just come out and be aggressive on the dance floor.
  • Derek thinks Evan’s ballroom dancing is brilliant, but Maks thinks Evan needs to find more chemistry with Anna.
  • Anna says Chad has great posture and a gorgeous frame for ballroom, although Louis thinks Chad is capable of more than he’s shown this season.
  • Maks thinks Chad's best attribute for the Latin dances is his smile.
  • Louis says Chad has sex appeal, but his height can make him seem too stiff. He needs to free his soul and use his legs, knees and feet better.
  • Cheryl says Nicole is a beautiful ballroom dancer. Louis sums up my feelings perfectly: it’s kind of unfair to the other contestants because Nicole is so good. Still, Louis says, Nicole needs to enjoy the ride, because “perfect” doesn’t exist.
  • Maks thinks Niecy is very elegant, but she needs to be lighter on her feet and focus on her technique in order to shut Len up.
  • Anna thinks Niecy has a great bubbly personality, although Derek thinks Niecy lacks the strength and power for the Paso and Cheryl says that, without better footwork, Niecy may not go very far.
  • Louis thinks Evan sometimes doesn’t express what he feels: Evan’s movements are crisp and sharp, but sometimes everything is so “bleached out” it leaves Louis cold.
  • Derek thinks Evan has the potential to be a great Latin dancer, but agrees with Louis that Evan may focus too much on the technical side.
  • Anna thinks Nicole puts too much pressure on herself and could be headed for a collapse. Louis agrees that Nicole is just too critical of herself.

Chad and Cheryl
Cheryl says Chad can be exhausting because she never knows what mood he’s going to be in: he’s either quiet or loud. They dance their Samba to a song I don’t recognize. The ABC site says it’s “Sweet Dreams” by Beyonce, so I probably wouldn’t recognize it anyway, but I suspect the band has done its usual hatchet job. Again, it feels like Chad is holding back. It’s nothing I can put my finger on, it’s just like his personality isn’t there. He does all the steps well, but there’s no personality there.

Len blames the fact that they had to learn two dances on the lackluster performance. It just needed more polish and refinement, he says. Bruno thinks what Chad did was good, but the moves have to be slicker. The footwork and Chad’s frame and holds weren’t so good. Carrie Ann loved his attack and intensity, but says Chad’s posture was funky. Without a good base, it’s just hard for the dance to come together.
Carrie Ann: 7
Len: 7
Bruno: 7
Score: 21

Cheryl says this 60’s Jive will be perfect for Chad because it’s all about the ladies and throwing his cash around, which is pretty much what Chad does all the time. Chad rambles on about “Pimp Hands” in rehearsal. Cheryl doesn’t know what he’s talking about and neither do I.

Chad and Cheryl dance their Jive to “Love Man.” Which I last heard when Baby carried a watermelon. Honestly, this is the first time I’ve seen Chad actually interact with Cheryl on stage instead of just doing the steps. He’s engaged in the dance. It’s not great, but it’s pretty good. Chad’s long limbs make it difficult for him to get the sharp retractions needed for the Jive.

Len says it was high energy, fun and entertaining. There weren’t a lot of kicks, but that was a good thing, since the ones Chad did were terrible. Bruno says they definitely pimped out that Jive. It was great to see Chad smile and have a good time. Carrie Ann says it was great and groovy, although the energy was a bit wild at times. Fortunately, that suited the dance perfectly.
Carrie Ann: 8
Len: 8
Bruno: 8
Score: 24
Total score: 45

Niecy and Louis
Viennese Waltz
Niecy is just busy busy busy – her day apparently starts at 4:30 in the morning, which an hour I only see if I’ve stayed up all night. She does an episode of the Insider and it at rehearsal by 11:30 am. Louis says Niecy never complains when she’s tired: she works.

Will my torment never end? Niecy and Louis dance their Viennese Waltz to “I Got You Babe.” Seriously. Niecy looks lovely in peach and the routine is sweet, although her arms are a bit too fluttery. The routine ends with Niecy on the floor and Louis sweeping her around like a death spiral in skating. I’m sure that move actually has a name, but I don’t know it.

Bruno says that, although the Viennese Waltz is supposed to cover the floor, he’s not sure about polishing it. The routine was very pretty, but Niecy’s arms were swinging a bit too much. Otherwise, it was a good performance. Carrie Ann notes that they’re heading into the semi-finals, which means the judges will be looking for errors. There was just too much push and pull in this dance and the transitions were not quite there. Len was pleasantly surprised and praises the dance’s lovely, floaty quality. As opposed to last week, this time Niecy’s carriage was so high, Len was surprised she could hear the music.
Carrie Ann: 7
Len: 8
Bruno: 8
Score: 23

Paso Doble
Niecy and Louis will be doing a Paso Doble 90’s style. So is that grunge? I have no idea. As they begin rehearsing the dance. Louis practices in a skirt as well so that Niecy can understand how to work her costume. Niecy admits she’s having trouble with the drama of the Paso: she’s more easy breezy. Louis says the 90’s was an era of divas and Niecy fits into that. Cut to her having a hissy fit when Louis touches her hair. Niecy tells us she wants to prove she can be intense, fierce and powerful in this dance.

I’d say it’s hard to be intense, fierce and powerful when dancing the Paso Doble to “Rhythm is a Dancer.” The routine starts out with them standing under a disco ball and it just gets stranger. It’s not bad, but it feels more like Disco than a Paso Doble. It’s also obvious that Niecy has suffered from having to learn two full routines this week.

Bruno says Niecy threw herself into the dance, but it was a bit like an avalanche: it could have ended in disaster. This is a difficult dance and it requires a lot of power, but it also requires control. Carrie Ann says Niecy deserves a lot of credit because she pushed herself to do more difficult routines. Unfortunately, this dance felt a bit like bumper cars: the balance of power felt out of whack. Len says that, at this point in the season, getting through the routine isn’t good enough. Everyone has a dance that doesn’t suit their personality and the Paso was Niecy’s.
Carrie Ann:
Score: 20
Total Score: 43

Erin and Maks
Argentine Tango
Because lifts are allowed in the Argentine Tango, Maks really wants to wow the judges. Unfortunately, the lift he has in mind has got Erin shaking in her….Capezios. It involves her leaping onto Maks from the stage, while he stands on the dance floor. So far, she hasn’t been able to do it in rehearsal….because she’s too scared to try it. Maks stalks back and forth, completely exasperated as Erin bails out of the jump again and again. Maks says Erin has trouble seeing that a position is good or bad. She notes – as she straddles him in front of the mirror in rehearsal – that the position makes her look like she’s straddling a fire hydrant.

There are no nerves when Erin finds herself onstage performing for the audience. The jump is every bit as scary as Erin thinks it is: Erin leaps off the stage and ends up straddling Maks – one leg over his shoulder, the other around his waist. Her long legs really work with this dance. They look fantastic together, as usual Maks’ choreography really plays up Erin’s strengths.
Carrie Ann leans over and gives Len a big smooch on the cheek and then exclaims, “That was HOT!”…. I assumed (I hope correctly) that she meant the dance and not the kiss with Len. Finally, a number that showcases Erin’s legs. She committed to the character and it was fantastic. Len starts his criticism with “You dirty, dirty girl!” and tells her he absolutely loved it. Bruno tells Maks he’s a lucky fire hydrant. He never knew Erin could be so bendy. They were on fire.
Carrie Ann: 9
Len: 10
Bruno: 9
Score: 28

For this round, Erin and Maks will have to perform an 80’s-style Rumba. This means she will be working the leg-warmers and torn sweatshirt, while Maks will be all Miami Vice-d out. Call it When Jennifer Beals Met Don Johnson if you will. Maks isn’t sure if the Rumba has changed much since the 80’s, but he’s going to rely on the costumes to portray the 80’s. Erin admits she has trouble with the smoothness of the Rumba and blames her long, skinny arms, which make her really self-conscious. She also admits that people have told her she belongs at the top with Nicole and Erin – she just has to believe it.

Erin and Maks dance their Rumba to the John Waite classic “Missing You” and good grief, did
men ever wear pants that high-waisted? The dance looks pretty good to me. Erin shows off her flexibility and her movements are much smoother than they have been.

Carrie Ann agrees with what Erin’s friends are telling her: she should be at the top. The reason she isn’t there is because she doubts herself. She tells Erin that she is beautiful and moves beautifully and she should love every minute of being on stage. Len thought the mix of steps was good. It was a bit jerky at times – she needs to be even smoother. Bruno thinks Erin and Maks make great music together. He thinks the dance had a spiky, bitchy, Madonna feel to it. Erin’s extension is getting better and better. They should definitely be in the final.
Carrie Ann: 8
Len: 8
Bruno: 9
Score: 25
Total score: 53

Evan and Anna
After last week’s perfect 30 for their Argentine Tango, Evan is most proud of Anna. To celebrate, they decide to take a break and go ice skating. Evan imitates Anna, telling her that she’s too loose in the hips. He finally picks her up and takes her for a ride across the ice. Anna doesn’t humiliate herself or anything, but she really wants to get off the ice and back into rehearsal. Evan is excited about this dance because it requires no hip action. When rehearsing a specific movement, Anna stops and tells Evan that this is not a technical moment and that, sometimes, he can come across as cold. She knows he is not and wants him to show his warm side. She wants this to be the most romantic Waltz ever seen on this show.

Evan and Ann begin their Waltz flat on their backs and then roll around together. Meh. Len is going to hate that. They dance to Journey’s “Open Arms,” the lyrics of which were probably written on my notebook in the 8th grade. Evan’s frame is just made for ballroom. The dance is lovely and graceful and although it’s not overwhelmingly romantic, Evan is working on his connection with Anna.
Len isn’t sure if he liked it or not and says he may have to watch it again to decide. He definitely didn't like the “rolly polly” stuff on the floor. Evan’s posture was great and his footwork was good. Bruno calls it “Romeo and Juliet Reawakened.” Evan’s lyrical lines are something to behold. Carrie Ann says there no question that Evan’s lines are impeccable. Now he has to lose himself in the moment. The movements are there, she’s just not sure if Evan is there yet.
Carrie Ann: 9
Len: 9
Bruno: 9
Score: 27

Cha Cha
Evan is thrilled that he and Anna will be performing a futuristic Cha Cha: He can do it without emotion and with less hip action than a traditional Cha Cha. Anna tells him that the traditional Cha Cha is cheeky and flirty, but theirs has to be cool and modern. He knows there’s a lot of pressure, because their last Latin dance earned them their lowest score. Evan hopes his hips will be better in the future.

I can’t even see Evan and Anna at the beginning of the number because there is so much fog on stage. They are dressed perfectly for the part and the dance itself is terrific. They do the Cha Cha, but it’s definitely more stiff and modern than a normal Cha Cha. It reminds me a bit of the futuristic dance we saw from the pros earlier. The audience gives them at least a partial standing ovation.

Len thinks Evan had some luck this week. Evan’s Latin dances generally lack rhythm, but this time he had an excuse to not be loose and fluid. They pitched the futuristic part really well, but it lacked the fluidity of the Cha Cha. Again, Len is confused. Bruno calls the dance “Mr. Spock Meets Barbarella in Cha Cha Trek the Next Generation…. in 3D.” The dance couldn’t have been more futuristic. It was very inventive and creative and he really liked it. Carrie Ann thought Evan was much more committed to the character in this dance. She both agrees and disagrees with Len. She thinks Evan was perfectly lucky to get this style because, unlike Len, she thinks the stiff movements worked really well.
Carrie Ann: 9
Len: 8
Bruno: 9
Score: 26
Total score: 53

Nicole and Derek
Fox Trot
In rehearsal, it’s not really clear who the pro is and who the star is. Nicole seems to have as much input into the choreography as Derek does. Derek says people have high expectations of Nicole, but she’s still learning. Once again, Nicole is crying in rehearsal. This time it’s about how everyone thinks dancing comes so easily for her. I’d love for her to experience what it’s like to be at someone else’s skill level – even Niecy’s – for one day: then she could talk about how NOT easily dancing comes to her.

I have to confess, I really don’t like “Haven’t Met You Yet” by Michael Buble, so I watched this one with the mute on. The dance is very good, but it’s a bit too theatrical for me. I do believe Derek has met his match in the ham department. They have the same “O” face when they dance. Honestly, I’m not a ballroom dancer, but I wouldn’t have been able to tell that this was a Fox Trot. It looks more like a freestyle dance to me. A really good one, but still.

Bruno calls the dance 1.5 minutes of pure dancing joy and says it was like a jewel created by a master [see ABC.com for video of the moment when Derek’s head exploded after being over-inflated] Carrie Ann comments that it’s nice to see Nicole smiling again. Len says they took a Fox Trot and a Buble song and turned it into an enchanting lose story. In hold, the lack of body contact spoiled it a bit, but it was a wonderful dance.
Carrie Ann: 10
Len: 9
Bruno: 10
Score: 29

Paso Doble
Derek is puzzled as to how he’s going to combine the Paso Doble with 1950’s style. Nicole admits she was excited about doing the Paso, but now she’s not so sure. It’ll be like Elvis at a bullfight.

Nicole and Derek definitely got great costumes, although I’m worried that Nicole’s top might take a dive. I hope that thing is reinforced. What’s up with all the pros? They just LOVE dressing up like extras from Grease. Come to think of it, Nicole looks a bit like Cha Cha DiGregorio. The dance is, of course, terrific. They got the Paso-1950’s combo just right and the audience gives them a standing ovation.

Bruno says it was a feisty, vibrant, passionate performance. Carrie Ann doesn’t know what to say. How did they do that? Brilliant. Len was very nice about their Fox Trot and it’s not in his nature to be nice about two dances in one night. He’s really disappointed.….because there was nothing there to criticize.
Carrie Ann: 10
Len: 10
Bruno: 10
Score: 30
Total score: 59

Who will make it to the semi finals next week? Stay tuned and MFWalkoff will give you the 411 on the results show.