CLEVELAND - I think it's fair to say that Latin Night was muy caliente on "Dancing with the Stars." The couples had to perform two dances – except for one lucky team – including a dance off.
Oh, excuse me. I mean, a Dance Off (said in a big, booming voice - because the show always emphasizes how dramatic these things are).
First up are NFL star Jacoby Jones and Karina with a salsa. It's an energetic routine with good movement and a couple amazing spins. This looks like it used a lot of muscles, but Jacoby looks natural and fluid. Judge Len Goodman calls it an earthquake cause Jacoby rocked it. Judge Bruno Tonioli calls it a fiesta. Judge Carrie Ann Inaba says Jacoby could have farted the salsa. Well, maybe if you eat too much actual salsa, Carrie Ann. I guess that's her version of a compliment. Score: 27 out of 30.
Soap star Ingo Rademacher and Kym do a samba that is sultry and sensual, but smooth and deliberate. He looks very comfortable. But Bruno says his hip action was too jagged. Carrie Ann says he missed the fluidity. Len said it had good content, but didn't quite deliver. It's odd when it seems like the judges were watching a different dance. Score: 22.
In a cutaway before the commercial break, country singer Kellie Pickler knees a bedazzled kickball straight into Derek's face. Admit it… you've dreamed of doing it.
Kellie and Derek do a samba that starts with high energy. With her constant nationwide tours digging into her rehearsal schedule, Kellie has natural showmanship, which really helps, especially if she's halfway winging this dance, as she said she might have to. Once or twice, she looks a beat behind him. At the end, a bunch of streamers gets dumped on them for no reason. Carrie Ann says Kellie's moves are perfection, but she doesn't feel an emotional connection to the dance. Len and Bruno disagree. Len calls it crisp and clean. Bruno says it was everything you'd want in a samba. Score: 29.
Actor Andy Dick and Sharna have a rumba. He looks a little more comfortable tackling the sensual part of the dance, but it doesn't look like it comes naturally to him. It has decent elegance and they throw in some light comic touches. Len liked the fun of it, but missed the hip action. Bruno wants to forget it. Host Brooke Burke tells Andy, when she looks at him, she sees a Latin lover. Is her sight going? Score: 17. Rough stuff.
Colombian singer Juanes has been singing us in and out of some breaks. I hope they booked this acclaimed singer for more than just that.
Olympian Aly Raisman and Mark are slated for a samba. We soon learn that Mark suffered a back injury in rehearsals. Behind the scenes video shows him getting checked by a doctor wearing a paper smock and porkpie hat. Will Mark be well enough to dance with Aly or will backup Henry have to fill in?
It's Mark. Of course. But thanks for the suspense. Anyway, their dance has lots of energy and plenty of shaking. Some of their spins look a little forced. I can't help but wonder if he's compensating his posture due to his strained back. But Aly definitely looks more emotionally open and expressive in dance than ever. Bruno calls it uplifting. Carrie Ann says she loved it. Len calls it exuberant. Score: 29.
"Bachelor" Sean Lowe and Peta are up with a rumba. In rehearsals, Peta calls Sean's fiancé Catherine in so he can master the sensual moves. The dance is controlled and believable with sharp moves and palpable emotion. Carrie Ann is impressed. Len starts to critique, but the crowd boos, and he gets too insulted to finish his comment. Bruno says their musicality was better than ever. Score: 24.
Disney star Zendaya and Val have a paso doble. That's a wise choice, because the other Latin dances are very sensual. And she's 16. The routine starts with her clicking castanets as she whirls onto the floor alone, only to charge into Val. This number of full of content and very physical. Her performance is great and her lines are good. It's a great, fiery departure from the lighthearted Zendaya. When they aren't in hold, she doesn't even need to glance at him to stay in synch. She just gets it. Len says they transported him to the bullfight. Bruno calls her an angel. They both critiqued her lines, but Carrie Ann says her lines were gorgeous. Score: 27.
Zendaya tweeted, "I love reading your tweets of support!! Sorry I didn't get that perfect score...I'm gonna continue to work my hardest to earn your votes!!"
That's all the couples, but not all the dances. Round 1 is done. The next part of the night is the Dance Off.
Here's how it works. The highest scoring couple is safe from elimination. But Aly and Mark are tied with Kellie and Derek at 29. According to the rule book, the couple with the highest cumulative score of the season, gets the nod. Between the two couples, that means Kellie and Derek are safe. The rest move
onto Round 2.
Ahh, here's Juanes finally performing more than a 10 second musical bump out of a commercial break. Thanks for playing.
To kickoff Round 2, the couple with the second highest total from the first round gets to pick who they dance again. Then that couple chooses one of three dance styles.
Aly and Mark are second highest, so they get to pick, choosing Andy and Sharna, and they pick the cha cha. They each get 40 seconds to the same clip of music. Aly looks sharp in her cha cha and moves well, but her part seems rather simplified, compared to Derek. The music restarts immediately and Andy virtually pushes Mark out of the way to get in place. That throws Andy, and he looks a little unsure at first, but gets better. He's moving around the floor more, and they have a good spin. Bruno says both couples did a fantastic job. All the judges decide that Aly and Mark were better. They get 3 extra points, jumping from 29 to 32.
Being tied with Jacoby, Zendaya and Val pick next, because their cumulative score is highest. They pick Jacoby and Karina anyway, who then pick the jive. Now, folks, the jive is not a Latin dance. Why is it in there? I don't think it's a coincidence that's the one Zendaya gets, because the other Latin dances might be a little too R-rated for a 16 year old.
Zendaya looks like she jives for fun. She and Val do a bunch of spins and her hands are waving everywhere. Jacoby looks like he's having the type of goofy fun we've come to expect from him. It's a dance suited for his personality. But wait a second - oddly, I feel I've seen him do this exact dance before, say, oh, two weeks ago. Bruno says it was like watching two champions. Len says Jacoby was fun while Zendaya was precise. Carrie Ann compliments Zendaya for picking tough competition in Jacoby. (Unlike Aly picking Andy, Carrie Ann? Is that what you're saying?) Val tells Brooke they chose Jacoby because they have to challenge the strongest if they want to be the best. (A slam at Aly?) The judges all pick Zendaya and Val, who get 3 extra points, rising from 27 to 30.
But Aly cleared up why she chose Andy, tweeting, "Love @andydick dancing with him was a mutual decision because we both wanted cha cha! No one else wanted that dance!"
So, Sean and Peta are left to rumba off with Ingo and Kym. Sean and Peta are serious and sensual with good lines and strong movement. Ingo and Kym have a similar approach. They have some good body work in hold, and she actually spins him. Neat. But, honestly, these rumbas all blur together by the end of the night. Carrie Ann says Ingo improved and Sean gave a strong performance. Len sees a clear winner. Bruno says Ingo improved and Sean was more impressive on his second dance. Carrie Ann and Len pick Ingo, while Bruno favor Sean. Ingo and Kym get 3 extra points, rising from 22 to 25.
That means that Andy and Sharna are way behind with 17 overall points. The next lowest couple is Sean and Peta with 24. Based on scores and that divide, it's likely this could be Andy's last week; he'll at least be in the bottom two. But it's still possible that Andy's fan base, his trying hard, his entertainment value, and that underdog sympathy vote could save him and possibly knock, say, Sean out of the competition.
And let's not forget that Kellie is safe, so her fans can divvy up their votes for other stars. Remember, Andy and Kellie were on the team last week (Group Pickler Dick, as Andy lovingly called it), which won, so he could pick up some of those residual votes, too.
We'll see who gets eliminated live Tuesday night at 9 on ABC. Singer Michael Buble will perform and the show will also feature special guest Adrianne Haslet, a dancer who lost a foot in the Boston marathon bombings. The show plans to show how it will help Adrianne realize her dream of dancing again.
More information can be found at: http://abc.go.com/primetime/dancingwiththestars/index .