Last night was part 2 of the Hometown Glory theme for Dancing with the Stars. On Monday, the pairs danced to songs representative of the stars hometowns but tonight the focus was on the dance pros. As the judges and the co-hosts noted, it was really nice to learn a little bit more about the dance pros and see a side of them we don’t usually get to see. However, there was also the potential for more drama and errors: firstly because this was the second dance the stars had to learn in only the second week of competition, when everything is still new and the rigorous practicing is still something they have to adapt to; and secondly, many of the pros were emotional and trying to pay respectful homage to places or people in their lives and both the pros and the stars felt the pressure to “do it right.”
First up was Hayes Grier of Vine sensation, performing to the quickstep with dance Pro Emma. I liked this dance much better than the motorcyle, orange jumpsuit number from Monday. He still dances like a teenager, but this was a very earnest and eager teen and I thought he did really well. There is some sophistication lacking in his movements, but he was invested in doing well and it showed.
Next up was Carlos PenaVega and dance pro Witney doing a cowboy version of Elvis Presley’s Hounddog. Did I mention I’m over this couple? I do feel like they are little too buddy-buddy with his wife on stage a few feet away and it just doesn’t work for me.
Gary Busey was next, performing with dance pro (to Russia with love) Anna. Their outfits were over the top, and so was his opinion of how great they danced. We know he’s just there for the trainwreck aspect, and he delivers. I waffle between fear for Anna’s being (as he continues to hug and grope her every chance he gets) and pity that they would put a dementia patient out on the dance floor. His dancing on Monday was relatively sharper. The word that kept running through my mind was “coherence”: he doesn’t have it in his perception or his dance skills and unlike past bad dancers on the show who may be funny – this time the humor is a little one sided as America laughs at him but he’s not in on the joke. I understand he’s good for ratings, but he needs to be put down gently.
Andy “Dancing is Hard” Grammer was next with pro Alison. (You may know Alison’s husband – he’s Twitch from So You Think You Can Dance.) I love Andy’s enthusiasm to do well – but I do think this dance was a little jerky. Still – he did well and I hope he continues to improve.
Next up was dance pro Mark Ballas with star Alexa PenaVega. First thing I have to note – what was up with her dress? It looked like a beautiful gown covered in leftover mummy wraps. One of the pieces was wrapped horribly over one boob and was very unflattering. Nevertheless, I really like Mark as a dance pro – and the video package about his mom and dad was just very emotional. Even though I am over the PenaVega Saga for this season – I do think she danced well and loved the choreography. However, she still has problems moving her hips and I do think Mark looked a little Fleetwood Mac with his hipster bun. His mom was in the audience and they danced to Somewhere in Time, which reminded me of a my romantic teenage self (which you probably couldn’t see with all my snarky wardrobe criticism).
Paula Deen with dance pro Louis was up next and I just don’t really know what to say. I just have this “awkard to watch” thing still. Her hair was less scary, but she reminded me of a vamped up Cruella DeVille in the red grandma gown. She does have great legs, but she just reminds me of a matronly dame from a Marx Bros movie. She still grips Louis too hard with fright which limits the fluidity of their dance. She can’t hear, or doesn’t focus, so she responds out of sync with the others. The judges commented she was light on her feet – I just don’t see it. I really wanted to see her be a comeback kid – but she looks more like Gary Busey’s sister.
Fortunately, Bindi Irwin was next and danced with dance pro Derek. She did a beautiful waltz and even though they got dinged for doing a slight lift (a big dance no-no) she still scored well. I love the polish and courtesy she brings to the show. She is very gracious when accepting compliments (something I struggle with) while still always giving back to her partner and those around her. Someone said she was a “real life Disney Princess” and I agree. I also noticed how her mom and brother stood out from the rest of the crowd when the cameras panned to them – they are like unspoiled goodness in a sea of American selfies. I really want her to stay in the game. (Incidentally, for those of you wondering why Beau Bridges was sitting in the audience with Bindi’s family – Bindi and he did a straight-to-video movie together – Free Willy: Escape from Pirate’s Cove)
Housewife Kim Z was next with dance pro Tony. This was another wardrobe malfunction in my opinion – as a busty woman I can tell you that was not a good look. (It also doesn’t help when judge Bruno equates you to a sofa – he must be focused on her . . . pillows) Just like she needs structure and energy in her wardrobe, she needs structure and energy in her dancing. Once again she danced – but there was a dip in energy from her performance the night before. Granted, this was a slower song, but still – she needs to maintain. Still on the fence about this star, but for the sake of the show I hope she improves.
Alek Skarlatos and pro Lindsay were next and although I could have done without the white tux and gown with the red white and blue accents, he danced incredibly well again. They called him Alek the Great, and I think he was. I look forward to him continuing on in the competition.
Jockey Victor Espinoza was next with dance pro Karina. The continuation of short jokes continued – with scenes of her carrying him and various others treating him like a little doll. Also continuing was the mini Latin lover stereotypical wardrobe – and the awkward ending of him on his knees with his face against the lowest edges of her stomach (aka – right between her legs). He did dance better, but it was obvious that he was the object of much kidding, and not being treated with the respect he deserved. (There was an interesting moment where he kept comparing Karina to taming his horse American Pharaoh – and he just kept repeating it.)
Backstreet Boy Nick Carter was next with aussie Sharna. As you may recall, Nick slipped and fell in his dance number the day before, so he was very concerned about being sent home. But tonight’s dance was about Sharna, and the video package strongly reflected that Nick’s focus was on doing a great dance for her. And he did! It was beautiful, so well done, and it was obvious that when Nick switched his focus from his mistakes to honoring his partner, he just did so well. There’s a life lesson in there somewhere. And with that, Nick as a gentleman, not just a boy band singer, really emerged. I’m rooting for him now as well as Bindi and Alek.
The finale dance was with Tamar Braxton and dance pro Val (last season’s winner). Although Val emigrated to the US, he considers NYC his home and there was a very cute Charleston number done outside a brownstone stoop. Her outfit was a bit much for me when she wasn’t dancing. This was the first night I felt like Tamar could really be a contender. It was cutesy but well danced with Tamar having much more life and less surreality star quality. Although not on my list of favs yet, if she continues this route, she could make it there.
SPOILER ALERT – ELIMINATION RESULTS REVEALED – YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED
Once the dances were done, we were again given another speedy elimination round. The bottom two were identified as Gary Busey and Triple Crown jockey winner Victor Espinoza. And since America loves insanity over short jokes, Victor was eliminated. At least he can move back to his dignity soon hopefully.