I remember when I took a hiatus from my television/sports career to go rumba with a professional dancer at my first prom. Actually, scratch that: photo and video evidence confirms that I was a pimply lad who spent most of the evening quietly and gracelessly shuffling around the dance floor with my uninterested partner while futilely racking my brain for conversation topics.
The evening begins with a bizarre unison clap from the audience, while hosts Tom and Brooke try not to get distracted. The following bit is pretty cool, though, as the entire group is showcased in one long camera pan.
Alexandra Raisman and Mark Ballas
Dance: Viennese Waltz
Aly apparently couldn't count music before the show began, but she doesn't seem to be struggling with it too much now. She and Mark kick off the night with a fluid Viennese Waltz, evoking a prom night that lovey-dovey high school couples can only dream of.
Len: "Up to now, I have been really impressed by your dancing, tonight not so much -- April Fools!"
Bruno: "We were all swept away in a whirlwind of romance."
Carrie Ann: "What I want you to focus on more is staying in character."
Andy Dick and Sharna Burgess
Dance: Cha Cha Cha
The conceit of this dance -- Andy gets dumped and then nerdily amps up his sex appeal -- is better than the routine's execution. There are a number of missteps along the way, the story feels point-to-point rather than organic, and by all accounts it was a difficult week in rehearsals. When he rips off his shirt and gets encouragement from the judges, however, I can't help but root for the guy.
Bruno: "Timing a bit off, placement a bit odd, entertainment value fully on."
Carrie Ann: "The only way to win is to try, and you try with your full heart and soul."
Len: "What you do is you make me feel good."
Ingo Rademacher and Kym Johnson
Dance: Paso Doble
It's always amusing to me when shows like this do their take on "bad": in the DWTS world, a middle-aged man in a black tank top entering on a motorcycle to a brassy arrangement of a Queen song is about as close to criminal as we get. It's a fun number, though, as the admirably disciplined movements contrast comically with the general silliness.
Carrie Ann: "Way to come back!"
Len: "There's more to cheer than jeer."
Bruno: "Sometimes you have to hold it in to show it out."
Lisa Vanderpump and Gleb Savchenko
Dance: Viennese Waltz
This is easily a high point for Lisa and Gleb, especially in light of their lackluster efforts previously. Where past routines tried a little too hard to be spicy and sexy and whatnot, this one puts elegance on the floor and left Gleb's pecks on twitter.
Len: "I like the feel of it, so well done for that."
Bruno: "It's much better, but you missed a few passes."
Carrie Ann: "I love watching you two."
Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough
Last week, Kellie and Derek asserted themselves as major contenders, and they're at the top of the leaderboard again this week. Their Jive tonight is fast, technical, demanding and streets ahead of anything else we've seen tonight.
Carrie Ann: "That was incredibly amazing!"
Victor Ortiz and Lindsay Arnold
Contemporary routines have seemed to bring out the best in everyone so far, and Victor is no exception. While he's had trouble with lines and rhythm previously, he thrives in this more abstract environment.
Carrie Ann: "That's what contemporary is all about."
Len: "Your best dance so far for me."
Bruno: "You make your partner proud."
D.L. Hughley and Cheryl Burke
And we're back. Remember that goofy, old-guy-trying-to-be-sexy four-scored routine that D.L. started with? The bad news is that he's trying to do that again, but the good news is that he does it a little bit better than last time, albeit only just. I know it's prom week, D.L., but it's time to let go of those moves you got lucky with 30 years ago.
Len: "If you're a sex machine, I'm America's Next Top Model, I'm telling you."
Bruno: "What you looked like was almost like a case of hip replacement."
Carrie Ann: "This show is about baby steps."
Jacoby Jones and Karina Smirnoff
Jacoby has proven himself a capable entertainer on the faster numbers, but this time he finally gets a chance to show off his sensitive side. The shirtless rumba is about as far from the prom theme as you can get, but that hardly matters: it's a top routine that bumps him up from the middle of the pack.
Bruno: "You were a smoldering volcano of passion."
Carrie Ann: "You have incredible artistry."
Len: "This had a refinement, it had quality of movement!"
Wynonna Judd and Tony Dovolani
It's nice to see Wynonna trying to amp it up, but she's going about it in all the wrong ways: while her routines, props and songs are all cranked up to 11, she still looks like she's sleep-walking. With a little more joy and energy, this would have worked; unfortunately, it doesn't.
Carrie Ann: "I didn't see it, it's still not coming out."
Len: "You're like Mount Rushmore, you look great but you don't move."
Bruno: "It was a bit sedated for a performance, you know?"
Sean Lowe and Peta Murgatroyd
Dance: Cha Cha Cha
I have a hard time working up much passion for Sean. That's strange in some sense, as he consistently does high-concept routines that should, in theory, be polarizing -- see tonight's big tribute to the Y.M.C.A. dance. Ultimately, however, he's still struggling to break out of the middle of the pack.
Len: "It's your best dance I've seen."
Bruno: "It was really, really full of fun.
Carrie Ann: "There was one thing that was missing in that routine: Bruno."
Zendaya and Val Chmerkovskiy
Dance: Viennese Waltz
With no personal relationship to prom to speak of, Zendaya uses this week to pay tribute to her grandmother. She's a strongly emotional dancer, and her connection to the routine is palpable tonight -- she drops the ball on an ambitious spin, but the performance is lyrical enough to overcome it.
Bruno: "It was as charming as Venice in the moonlight."
Carrie Ann: "I still feel like the best is yet to come."
Len: "It's a bit too wafty."
That does it for prom night. And tomorrow, we'll have the after party -- unfortunately for the DWTS crew, one couple will wind up expelled.
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(Image courtesy of ABC)