The scoop on Week 3 of Dancing With The Stars

Dancing With The Stars LogoYes, I know you’ve been dying for your weekly Dancing With The Stars update. Monday night’s show was a rushed one because it had only an hour due to the debate. In that hour, the twelve remaining stars were divided into competitive pairs that had to do the same dance. The couple in the pair who got the highest score could not be disqualified this week.

Here’s a quick rundown of what happened — and who got kicked off Dancing With the Stars on Tuesday night. As before, I’ll present the stars in alphabetical order by first name, but I’ll leave until the end who won in the head to head pairing and who had to go home. I wasn’t overly impressed by anybody’s dancing, but I wasn’t under impressed either.

Amber Rose and Maks danced a salsa to JLo’s “Big Booty.” It was fun to watch because both Amber and Maks were shaking their booties for all it was worth but, as the judges noted, the dance was not a salsa. Amber continues in my mind to be a bit of a non-entity, but a hardworking one, and I always admire that quality. That’s part of what makes Dancing With The Stars fun to watch. Amber competed against Maureen McCormick.

Calvin Johnson, Jr. and Lindsay danced a waltz that was just lovely. It’s amazing seeing a huge football player so smooth and graceful. And as I’ve said every week, Calvin has a glow. He competed opposite Terra. As to that pairing, for those unfamiliar with Dancing With The Stars, it may have seemed like a bit of a cruel joke but it actually made sense. All of the other pairs matched people with similar dancing levels. This pairing matched two people who both have dancing handicaps: Calvin is huge and Terra is tiny.

Jana Kramer and Gleb danced the jive opposite Babyface. As is the case with Amber, I find Jana both a bit boring and impressively hard-working. The fact that she is boring is made worse by the fact that Gleb is also boring (although a truly beautiful man). It ended up being a very decent jive and that was true despite the fact that Jana is still suffering from her rib injury.

James Hinchcliffe and Sharna danced their cha-cha opposite Ryan Lochte. What’s there to say about James that I haven’t said before? For a racecar driver, he’s a natural-born dancer. The easiest way to see this is to contrast him to Rick Perry. The ones who can’t dance, and who never will dance, don’t use the ball of their feet to dance; they just stop around flat-footed, as Perry does. James is light on his feet, has great body control and rhythm, and continues to be an entertaining person to watch.

Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds and Allison faced off against Jana, as I mentioned above. Babyface is frustrating. He’s obviously got the talent, but he’s such a locked down person he can’t seem to bring spark and drama to the floor. It’s like a tightly sealed box with candy inside. You know it’s there, but you just can’t reach it. Babyface’s jive was workmanlike but unremarkable.

Laurie Hernandez and Val danced a tango opposite Marilu. The competition continues to be for second place because it would be insane if Laurie didn’t win first. To her gymnast’s physical control she adds a pixie-like charm. For example, to get the snobbery and drama of a tango, this teen imagined walking into her favorite restaurant and getting a big whiff of its quesadillas (chin out, head raised). Val is also a great partner for her. He’s an imaginative choreographer, moves beautifully, and manages to maintain a respectful distance due to her youth. It says something about Laurie’s talent that I sometimes forget to watch Val.

Marilu Henner and Derek danced the tango opposite Laurie. I have to say, Derek was born to choreograph tangos. They’re invariably exquisite. Given that Marilu is a strong, graceful dancer, it should have gone well, but it somehow didn’t. According to the judges, she forgot to breathe and became too brittle. That’s as good an explanation as any I’ve seen for why a beautiful dance, beautifully danced (for the most part), didn’t quite work.

Maureen McCormick and Artem, as I wrote above, danced the salsa opposite Amber. In week one, Maureen was rigid. In week two, she was better. In week three, dancing a very traditional salsa with Artem, she was charming, poised, and lively. I also appreciated very much how she said that, at 60, she’s in chronic pain but she keeps on going. Good for her!

Rick Perry and Emma did a Paso Doble opposite Vanilla Ice. Because the two guys have bonded over Texas, it was fun to watch the different ways they prepared. Perry is such a sunny man and he’s another hard worker. Despite straining is ankle in a fall that was painful just to watch, he was a real trooper and gave it his all. Unfortunately, he’s not a dancer, so his all wasn’t very good.

Ryan Lochte and Cheryl danced the cha cha opposite James. Ryan was less rigid, unhappy, and defensive this week, so it was possible to see a personality there — and not an awful one. It was also surprising to learn that Ryan is half Cuban, something revealed when the show did a sweet little focus on his 95-year-old Cuban grandmother. Ryan is not a natural dancer the way James is, but he’s definitely improved.

Terra Jolé and Sasha did a waltz opposite Calvin. Terra is not a great dancer, and it’s not just because her arms and legs are too small to show the grace and long lines so many dancers require. What Terra is is a workhorse, so much so that what she presents on the floor is grim determination, not happy dancing. The result is that she’s technically very strong while nevertheless not being fun to watch. Terra would be lovely if she’d just loosen up a bit while keeping that technical strength.

Her partner, Sasha, deserves a word of praise here: Dancing with someone who has Terra’s very unusual body type and who is, moreover, very insecure, cannot be easy. Sasha has carried it off beautifully. He’s kind without being maudlin, does perfectly-sized choreography, and never outshines Terra on the dance floor. He is a great addition to Dancing With The Stars’ professional roster.

Vanilla Ice and Witney did a Paso Doble (or, as Vanilla said, “Paso Yoplait”) opposite Rick Perry. I continue to find him a bit endearing. He’s not the brightest bulb in the box (although I think he also plays up being stupid), but he’s a man who’s sunk to the bottom in life and come back up again. It was sweet to see him and Perry interact and I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t maintain contact when this season of Dancing With The Stars ends. Oh, and Vanilla’s dancing? He’s getting better. He won’t place in the top three, but he’s really improved and still has room to go.

How did the pairings end, you ask? This way:

Amber v. Maureen: Maureen won, so she was safe (meaning she couldn’t be kicked off Dancing With The Stars this week)

Vanilla v. Rick: Vanilla won, putting Rick at risk

James v. Ryan: James won, making him safe

Jana v. Babyface: Jenna won, so Babyface was at risk

Laurie v. Marilu: Laurie won, so Marilu was in the hot seat

Calvin v. Terra: Calvin won, though not by much

And who got kicked off? Rick Perry did. That wasn’t a surprise. The stompers — that is, the ones who can’t get on their toes — seldom last past week three or four. Perry was a happy, bright presence on the show, but it was reasonable for him to go.

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