The Most Memorable Year dance was not Normani Kordei’s best Dancing with the Stars outing. Through a combination of bad choreography and being stranded in the opening death spot, it wasn’t surprising that Normani ended up at the bottom. Yet Normani proved to have quite the rebound with her Mulan-inspired number on Disney Night. Normani earned not only her highest scores of the season but tied with the highest of scores of any contestant thus far this season with a 39 out of 40. It’s an impressive achievement but Normani should have gotten that extra point more to get the very first perfect score of the season.
Disney Night is one of the most fun theme nights that Dancing with the Stars pulls out. It appeals mostly to fans of the films that are being honored and to children but it can still pull out the best in some contestants. Disney Night routines tend to be more about the character than the dance, though. They are the closest Dancing with the Stars gets to something like a Broadway production and that can be damaging when it comes to the scores. Disney Night can be more gimmick than ballroom.
Yet Normani managed to transcend the character that she was portraying in the dance. Normani and partner Val delivered the best of both worlds. Their paso was an obvious tribute (and borderline reenactment) of the Disney movie Mulan while still being a very content-heavy paso. It was a far cry from Normani’s Most Memorable Year dance which was a lot of something but it wasn’t really dancing. Normani was in character, commanding, and completely in sync with the techniques of the dance.
The crowning achievement of the dance was that the most gimmicky part, the “fight sequence,” didn’t feel at all cheap. It fit perfectly with the more traditional content and only added to the character and feel of the dance. Val and Normani didn’t get consumed by the idea that they would have a mini-battle on stage. Val kept everything in line with the theme and style of the dance. It was flashy but the exact right amount of flashy. It was enough to grab attention but not enough to be a distraction.
When it comes to the other high-scoring dances you can see the flaws. Simone’s Moana-inspired contemporary routine was more gymnastics routine than dance. Nancy Kerrigan did a stage recreation of her Enchanted song, but there was nothing that original in the dance to send it over the top. Nick Viall and Heather Morris did more of a character piece than a dance. Normani had everything she needed to do and more. It was the best dance of the night and there were no flaws, obvious or small. Normani deserved that first perfect score even on a night as fun and maybe disposable as Disney Night.
Do you agree? Was Normani’s paso the best of the season thus far? Do you think she deserved a perfect score? Was there a better dance on Disney Night than Normani’s routine?
Dancing with the Stars season 24 airs Mondays at 8/7c on ABC.
(Image courtesy of ABC)