Welcome to the highly anticipated Celebration of Taylor Swift Night on Dancing with the Stars! We started off with a wonderful opening number, and an introduction to the evening’s guest judge, frequent DWTS collaborator and Eras Tour choreographer, Mandy Moore.
This is the last week before the semi-finals, and the competition is as intense as it’s ever been, with everyone fighting for the top spots on the leaderboard and to make it to the final weeks of the competition!
Alyson has improved by leaps and bounds since week one, and since the cha cha is a common week one dance, I was hoping to see a great performance that showed just how far she’s come. However, for whatever reason, Alyson was off during this whole routine. It was not her best dance, which made me sad, since I’ve really enjoyed her recent dances. Maybe she is in pain? She did a really cool handstand at one point, which was a great show of strength, but I don’t know what that trick was doing in the cha cha cha. The beginning and end of the dance was so cute, though, since Alyson and Sasha have a great rapport when putting character into a routine.
I wasn’t sure how they were going to set a rumba to “Cruel Summer,” but this was a beautiful routine. The performance was confident, smooth, constantly flowing, and overall lovely. I think she could have gotten at least one more 10.
After starting the competition strong, then lagging in recent weeks, Jason and Daniella have set their sights on a comeback. In rehearsals, they threw everything behind technique, including having Pasha, Daniella’s husband and fellow pro, stop by to demonstrate. I like that they did that, because in this competition, contestants rarely get the chance to learn from a professional dancer of the same gender. The performance itself was fabulous. It still had Jason’s trademark showmanship, but with a restrained intensity appropriate for an Argentine tango. They got a perfect score, and this team is back where they want to be.
I thought it was interesting that this team was assigned a rumba, since they did it in the dance-off last week. Was this the production team’s way of setting Harry up for (at least a small amount) of success, since there’s such a widening gap between his skill and the skill of the remaining competitors? I do like how Rylee had Harry watch a video of her doing a competitive rumba, so that he has a solid example to reference. As for the dance itself, there’s not much to write home about. There was a lot of fog near the floor and spinning camera angles, which are misdirections that always irritate me. Derek mentioned that Harry looked comfortable, which I don’t disagree with. This may be the most comfortable that Harry’s ever looked on the dance floor, but he didn’t bring the technique. I don’t understand how he scored so high.
This routine was so smooth and had great lifts that were incorporated seamlessly. I loved how clean all the lines and shapes were. There were two or three moments where it seemed to me like the momentum slowed, but each time they got right back on track. I wonder if that would have happened if the tempo for the entire dance had been a little quicker. Still, the routine was very deserving of its two 10s.
I am so excited that this theme night featured one of my favorite Taylor songs ever! Xochitl and Val totally killed it. Their quickstep was full of pep and perfectly paced. They were totally in control and oozing charm.
In between the two competitive rounds, the pros who will be on the 2024 tour performed a contemporary routine to a special rendition of Taylor Swift’s “Style.”
ROUND TWO - RELAY
This relay was gorgeous! Both Viennese waltzes were so smooth, with a seamless transition. I loved how both sections ended. The judges had a hard time picking a winner, but ultimately went with Xochitl.
Alyson beat Harry at the dance-off last week, and this week they were matched up again in a jive relay. Neither of these contestants had done a jive previously, and while Alyson is a much stronger dancer than Harry, I could still see her struggling with a jive. During the relay, Harry performed far better than he usually does, and Alyson’s performance was good, but not as good as she’s done in recent weeks. I saw Harry feeling the music more than I’ve ever seen him do in this competition. However, Alyson had far better footwork, even though I would have liked to see more content in the choreography. Alyson was still the definitive winner.
These two pairs were assigned a cha cha, which I was looking forward to seeing from Jason, because that was his week one dance, but Charity did the cha cha in the dance-off last week!
Jason and Daniella didn’t miss a beat and were perfectly in sync for their turn. Charity and Artem also hit every move beautifully, making for another close competition. Jason won, but maybe Charity would have had a better chance for those bonus points if she was dancing either a new style or one we haven’t seen her do in a few weeks, rather than her third cha cha.
The bottom three this week were Alyson & Sasha, Charity & Artem, and Harry & Rylee. The couple ultimately eliminated was Harry & Rylee. This elimination was a long time coming, since Harry’s improvement has frankly plateaued for weeks while everyone else continued to improve. He worked hard though, and this was a great rookie season for Rylee.
Next, it’s time for the semi-finals! Who is going to get 10s? Who’s going to get a perfect score? Who is going to leave it all on the dance floor in that last push to make it to the finale? We’ll all find out soon!