It’s time to recap the second night of Week 5 of Dancing with the Stars, Prom Night! This theme was cool because each contestant was invited to reflect on their own prom experiences (or lack thereof), and each dance number was to a song that was popular when that contestant was a senior in high school. The opening number was one of my favorites so far. It was adorable, and a great way to kick off the night.
Daniel & Britt – Cha Cha 8/8/8/8
I will say, Daniel may be my favorite competitor this season. He seems to have such a sweet and charming personality, and he’s so fun to watch. Their pink cha cha was cute, with a lot of charisma, but the judges did have some notes on his arms and footwork. Carrie Ann used the words “safe” and “contained.” While I am always happy to see him dance, I think the judges are right in their corrections. He’s been a solid competitor since Week 1, so the judges are now pushing him so that he can reach the next level.
Heidi & Artem – Jazz 8/9/8/8
This piece was adorable! I loved the pink and blue costumes, and the use of the troupe to stage the opening few counts to recreate a school dance. Their choreography was wonderfully executed, but seemed to be a bit simple, especially for a number halfway through the competition, and for a dancer as skilled as Heidi. However, I was smiling all while watching it.
Vinny & Koko – Viennese Waltz 7/7/7/7
The storytelling of this number was precious. I really love how much Vinny has grown as a dancer. He can now pick up and execute choreography well, he just needs some “polish” (Bruno’s words) on his technique and musicality in order to continue performing. The judges don’t lie to him, but they make it clear in their notes that they believe in him.
Shangela & Gleb – Cha Cha 9/8/9/9
This dance stood out from all the others for a few reasons. The staging and style wasn’t modeled after a classic school dance, it was more inspired by nightclub energy. At first I was confused by this decision, but then I realized that, since Shangela talked in the rehearsal package about not having embraced all parts of herself as a teenager, this routine was about honoring the person her teenage self had yet to become by paying tribute to the style of drag performance. As for the dance itself, the intro was a little long, but once they got into the cha cha part, Shangela delivered an incredible performance as always.
Charli & Mark – Jive 9/10/9/10
This may be my favorite dance from Charli yet. Since Charli is eighteen, her prom number was less of a period piece, and more of a tribute to wholesome teen fun. Charli’s performance was remarkable, I couldn’t take my eyes off of her the whole time. And that trick into the ending pose? Incredible. The judges were divided on whether this jive was worthy of a 10, but I’m sure that Charli will be getting that perfect score soon enough.
Jessie & Alan – Viennese Waltz 8/8/8
This very pretty Viennese Waltz may be Jessie’s best dance yet.
Gabby & Val – Tango 10/10/10/10
In my opinion, this week was a breakthrough for Gabby. Since Week 1, Gabby has been one of the best dancers, giving the cleanest routines, but there was always a little something missing. This week, you could see in her rehearsal package that Gabby had this new, goofy attitude, which I think shows an increase in confidence. As for the dance, it was as technically exceptional as her previous dances, with that sassy personality added, which elevated the performance to the next level. Definitely deserving of the first competitive perfect score of the season.
Trevor & Emma – Jive 8/8/8/8
I know these costumes were inspired by 90s punk, but I’m sorry, all I can think about when I see yellow plaid is Clueless. As for the jive, it was cute, exciting and fun.
Joseph & Daniella – Cha Cha 8/8/8/8
I was so impressed by this dance! Joseph is really showing up as a serious contender in this competition. The judges are definitely impressed as well.
Jordin & Brandon – Contemporary 9/8/9/9
Jordin danced to her own song, which she recorded when she was a senior in high school, which was cool. During the performance, Jordin was really grounded in the dance. In all the movements, she was connected to the choreography and her own body.
Wayne & Witney – Samba 10/10/10/10
This was a fantastic dance from Wayne! Coming into the competition, he was already an established, confident, charismatic performing artist, and it showed in his dances. With this dance, he really broke through as someone who can embody excellent dance technique. The judges loved it as well, and gave him a perfect score.
This was the first night of the competition where there was a second round of dancing! This round was a “dance marathon,” modeled off of traditional ballroom dance competitions. All 11 remaining couples started at the same time on the dance floor, and the judges eliminated couples one by one until the winning couple is the last one dancing.
I enjoyed the compilation of everyone rehearsing and witnessing little bits and pieces of each couple strategizing for the dance marathon. I think I may have enjoyed the rehearsal package more than the actual dance marathon.
I will say, I LOVED how everyone was styled for the dance marathon. Almost every couple was dressed to match in their own solid, striking, bold color. It was easy to recognize and tell apart all of the couples, except for Alan and Artem, who were inexplicably dressed in the same outfit.
I’ve been watching this show for so long, I like to think that I’ve developed a pretty good eye for what makes a good performance. However, I don’t feel like that translates to this kind of competition, where a judge must take in all of the dancers at once and make quick decisions about who should be eliminated. I’m just going to assume that these professional judges know best for this round, even when I don’t understand their decisions. For example, Daniel was eliminated first! I don’t understand that. In fact, I feel like a lot of the really great competitors were eliminated earlier than I would expect. The final two couples of the dance marathon were Shangela & Gleb and Jessie & Alan. Surprisingly, Shangela & Gleb were eliminated and Jessie & Alan were awarded 11 bonus points (every other couple was awarded 1-10 bonus points, depending on when they were eliminated). Jessie’s been one of the lowest scorers throughout the entire season, so I suppose one could say that she was far enough behind that she deserves a leg up. One could also argue that she and Alan did the same moves over and over again, but honestly, I went back and watched all the couples, and a lot of them repeated moves multiple times. I don’t think that’s a surprising thing or a bad thing; all of these contestants are new to ballroom dancing, I wouldn’t expect them to fully master improv on top of that.
After the dance marathon, each judge got the opportunity to reflect on this round, and the competition overall. Len talked about how much he enjoyed judging the dance marathon. Derek, who spent many seasons as a pro, talked about how rewarding and difficult the position is. Carrie Ann spoke on the importance of connecting with the audience because “the audience is like an additional judge” (the part of me that feels compelled to write such detailed commentary each week appreciated that, haha). Finally, Bruno commented on how while this show is a competition, there is true camaraderie and love within the cast.
THE ELIMINATION: (do not read if you are avoiding spoilers!)
Before the dance marathon, Jessie & Alan were in 10th (second-to-last) place, but the 11 bonus points bumped her up to 6th place. That wouldn’t bother me, except for the fact that pushed Daniel & Britt to 10th place! During this season, the bottom two have consistently been from the bottom of the leaderboard, so I don’t like to see them ranked so low.
The final two couples this week were Heidi & Artem and Joseph & Daniella. If I remember correctly, these are the highest-ranking couples thus far to find themselves in the bottom two. If I were a sitting judge, Joseph & Daniella would have had my vote. Heidi’s always been good, but Joseph’s dances have always been a little more interesting, and both of his Week 5 dances were breakthrough performances.
Carrie Ann agreed with me about being “more curious to see how [he] will do in the future” and voted to save Joseph & Daniella, but Derek, Bruno, and Len voted the other way and saved Heidi & Artem. I was bummed because after this week, I was really looking forward to seeing where Joseph would go next in the competition. Still, Heidi is a great dancer and deserves to stay.
Thanks for following along for another night of Dancing with the Stars! I’ll see you next week, covering Michael Bublé night!