Bust out that box of tissues ladies and gentlemen because it is the night where each competitor shares the most memorable year of their life. For some it is the joy of welcoming a new life, for others it was accomplishing a lifelong goal, for a couple it was the loss of a loved one. Each star used their emotional journey to really propel themselves forward and have some of the best dances we have seen so far in this season.
I will have to say, as much as I’m still burned out on “My Heart Will Go On” that opening performance from Andre Reiu with the pros and the orchestra was really marvelous. I had the chills. I think it helped that Celine Deon wasn’t singing.
Starting from lowest score and going to the highest:
Ryan and Chery (Contemporary) – The Olympian’s most memorable year was in 2008 when he won his first individual gold metal. The swimmer took the time to reflect on how his life choices after that point have not been the best (a disastrous reality show, Rio) and how it has hurt him. The cringe worthy moment in that package came when his mother said she encouraged him to swim to keep him out of trouble. Just wow. Moving past that, the dance itself was really excellent. Ryan was vulnerable and honest in his performance, crumbing over with the weight from the hardship of training and Cheryl acting as the hope and encouragement his family gives him that keeps picking him back up. My only complaint is Cheryl’s choreography was repetitive and in a night where there were a lot of tears and breakthroughs, it wasn’t enough to make him stand out. Scores: 24/30
Amber and Maks (Samba) – In 2013, the model and talk show host gave birth to her son Sebastian and she gained a new lease on life. She wanted to celebrate woman in general, but mothers specifically with this week’s performance. The problem was after last week’s leap forward, Maks is pushing Amber, leading to some communication breakdowns between the two. Those issues showed in the samba when the two danced together. The trust wasn’t there and they didn’t gel like last week. Going into hold, it was like the couple didn’t know how to approach one another. Amber dancing with the other women in the group was magnificent. She took the lead and fit in with the other pros. These two need to figure it out before next week if they want to stay in the competition. Scores: 24/30
Maureen and Artem (Foxtrot) – After The Brady Bunch ended, the years were not good for the actress. Like many child stars, she fell into drugs to cope. When she met the man who would become her husband, Maureen was starting to beat her addictions and he was a rock for her to lean on. Her most memorable year was 1985 when the two got married and her foxtrot was a recreation of their wedding dance. It is evident the breakthrough from last week was just the beginning, like Julianne said, Maureen is the “slow and steady one.” The star really let go of any fear she had and allowed herself to express her love to her husband in the dance. Maureen can really be the dark horse competitor. Scores: 24/30
Calving and Lindsay (Jazz) – In 2012, Megatron crushed Jerry Rice’s rushing record. The retired footballer has always been close to his family and they have been his support system all through his career. Calvin’s dance is not only about the love of the sport he used to play, but the love he feels from his family both on and off the field. Bruno deftly pointed out the routine had a Grease like feel to it and I agree, there was something about it that just felt wonderfully old fashion and cheesy (in the best way). In another great surprise for the NFLer, Jerry Rice popped up at the end to throw the ball to Calvin. It may seem unfair Calvin’s scores put him with so many others when he is a stand out, but I agree with Julianne in there is something more there and he needs to bring it out to really separate himself from the pack. Score: 24/30
Laurie and Val (Paso Doble) – For the gymnast, her most memorable year is 2016 when she achieved her dream of going to the Olympics. In the past with the younger kids on the show, it gets difficult to not roll my eyes a bit when they talk about their life experiences. With Laurie, I definitely didn’t feel that way. There is a huge amount of sacrifice that goes into training for any sport, but more so when 22 is considered way too old to compete. This week the pressure was on after receiving perfect scores from the judges. Val has been expecting more from his partner, but Laurie is having a difficult time explaining her exasperation with not getting the dance right. The Olympian used the frustration and dug deep to bring the fierceness necessary for a paso. There was some awkwardness there in the routine leading to her turning the opposite way during a pass, but overall she really is working on becoming more than just “Cute Laurie.” Scores: 25/30
Jana and Gelb (Contemporary) – Ten years ago the singer was in an abusive relationship that left her picking up the pieces of herself long after he went to prison for trying to kill her. This year, Jana gave birth to her super adorable little girl Jolie Rae. Wanting to be a good mom showed her how to put herself back together and raise her daughter to be a stronger woman. I’m going to admit I was openly bawling by the end of the dance. Jana was so beautiful and elegant, her lines were flawless, and her connection to the song, the dance, and her partner was perfect. In any other week, that performance would have put her at the top of the leader board. Scores: 26/30
Marilu and Derek (Vieneese Waltz) – 1978 was the year the actress booked her first major role on Taxi and was also the year she lost her mother who was her biggest supporter. Her mother was also a dancer, so watching rheumatoid arthritis break her mother’s body down had a powerful effect on Marilu. Coming on to the show and this week is a tribute to her. Marilu has struggled in the past with letting go and committing to the emotional center of the dance. This week was a real breakthrough as she got out of her head and just allowed herself to move with her partner. It was a perfect way honor to her mother. I wanted to go and give her a hug too. Scores: 27/30
Terra and Sahsa (Contemporary) – This week had the reality star reflecting on the close relationship she had with her father and the guilt she carries with her because she wasn’t by his side when he passed away in 2013. Wishing she had a chance to dance with her father on her wedding day, she and Sasha turned out a gut wrenchingly beautiful performance that, to me, resembled a father-daughter dance (and had me marveling at how awesome Sasha’s thighs are). Terra was easily the standout of the night. Score: 27/30
James and Sharna (Tango) – Last year during a qualifying race, James’ car malfunctioned causing him to crash into a wall. A piece of the car lodged itself inside of his hip and tore thru the other side. He nearly bled to death. James’ doctors didn’t think he would be able to race for at least two years, but he fought thru and is now killing it on the dance floor. That tango was (in my mind) perfect. He attacked the moves, but retained the control needed to keep the perfect frame. While Juliane thinks he needs to extend his lines just a hair more, I say he deserved three tens. Score: 29/30
Since there was a double elimination last week and the show is going back to its normal schedule of just a Monday performance, no one was sent home at the end of a truly emotional evening. Good thing because I don’t think I could have handled saying goodbye to anyone after all of that. Next week sees the return on Latin night with Pitbull acting as a guest judge and musical entertainment for the evening.
Talk to me in the comments section below and let me know what was your favorite performance from the night. Who had you breaking out the tissues? Who do you think is in danger of being sent home?