This week, "Dancing With the Stars" had a new theme, a new guest judge and, alas, a new elimination for the remaining seven couples. Week 7 was Latin Night with all the fancy footwork that the celebs and pros could muster, and Ricky Martin kicked off the evening by leading a hip-shaking, shoulder-shimmying opening number before heading to the judges' table.
Speaking of which, the guest judges have usually been seated between head judge Len Goodman and judge Bruno Tonioli. But that was before Week 5 when Donny Osmond joined the judging panel. It seemed that during his moments addressing the dancers, Bruno couldn't keep his hands off Donny, clutching his hand, stoking his arm. To Donny's credit, he always laughed it off and treated it as a joke. However, since that week, the guest judge now sits between judge Carrie Ann Inaba and Len. I wonder who was feeling more uncomfortable -- Donny, viewers or the producers?
Anyway, back to Week 7 -- if Latin Night wasn't enough to get your toes tapping in anticipation, it was a Team Dance week with both teams doing a "freestyle" routine to a Ricky Martin tune in addition to each couple's individual dance. On Team Loca, dancing to "Livin' La Vida Loca," were Meryl & Maks, Amy & Derek, Danica & Val, and Candace & Mark. Dancing to "Cup of Life," was Team Vida: Charlie & Sharna, James & Peta, and NeNe & Tony. At first glance, it seemed that Team Loca had an advantage, both in numbers of couples and in higher-scoring pairs, but who knew that one of the team would be missing in action.
Right off the bat, before a single toe touched the dance floor, results were announced. Danica McKeller and Val Chmerkovskiy, and Amy Purdy and Derek Hough were declared safe to dance next week, but James Maslow and Peta Murgatroyd were in jeopardy. How awful for them to wait through the whole program to find out if they were off the show, and I think the start of the show is a bit early to be announcing results.
Later in the show, NeNe Leakes and Tony Dovolani, and Charlie White and Sharna Burgess were also said to be in jeopardy. When the final results were announced, NeNe and Tony were eliminated. When asked by Erin of what she was most proud, NeNe said, "I'm so proud of myself and I hope that I have inspired women all over the world. This has been an amazing, positive experience for me."
After thanking her husband, children, family, friends and even the judges for their support, she said, "I am proud of NeNe Leakes!" She also thanked Tony with whom she has a "great connection." In turn, Tony said he made a friend and they had made it through some problems and "came out on top."
Amy and Derek were the first couple to dance tonight, but rehearsal footage showed that it wasn't shaping up as a walk in the park. They were dancing a rumba, a very, very sexy dance, but we found out that Amy has been having problems at home with the demands of her schedule conflicting with the challenges of a long-term relationship. With the help of Derek, she fought her way through it to perform a sensuous rumba that Len said was "first class." While Carrie Ann took off points when Amy's foot left the floor, Ricky described the dance as "stunning." Scores: Carrie Ann, 9; Ricky, 9; Len, 9; Bruno, 9 = 36
After the scores were announced, unfortunately, Amy said that she turned her head and felt something "pop." She had back spasms and was having a difficult time breathing, so she was sent to the hospital. As a result, Team Loca would be judged on its performance during dress rehearsal, and it was unknown if Amy would be able to continue in the competition.
Coming close to a perfect night, Meryl Davis and Maks Chmerkovskiy continued to roll with incredible dances. Although Len called their salsa "a bit hectic," it was an amazing routine, filled with fast footwork and complicated tricks. To me, it looked like Meryl was one of the pros dancing in the number. "You continue to surprise me," said Carrie Ann. Bruno added, "You were dancing in front of six of the best pros in the country and you pulled the focus." Scores: 10; 10; 9; 10 = 39
Week after week, Candace Cameron-Bure has had trouble with her nerves causing problems so pro partner Mark Ballas took her to see a sports psychologist for help. The doctor's advice must have worked because she danced her best routine, a smoldering Argentine tango that pulled high scores and compliments from the judges. Scores: 8; 9; 9; 9 = 35
It seems like the time in the competition for injuries to mount, and this week, Danica McKeller fractured a rib during rehearsal. However, she performed a salsa that partner Val Chmerkovskiy toned down a bit. Carrie Ann said she noticed that Danica's injury "stifled the dance" and Ricky praised her for "sticking with it." Scores: 8; 9; 8; 8 =33
James and Peta performed a sexy samba, and up in the skybox after they danced, co-host Erin Andrews pegged it right: "James, you take your shirt off and you (turning to Peta) come out as a Victoria's Secret ad." Peta costume was so scanty, the staff couldn't find a place to put a mic! Bruno said it was "filthy, dirty, and I loved it." However, Len said that he would have liked to see more hip action. Scores: 9; 9; 8; 9 = 35
No matter how hard pro Sharna Burgess tries to turn Charlie White into a bad boy or menacing villain, Charlie still looks like the cute boy next door. And it happened again tonight with their paso doble. Even stripping off his jacket didn't help and Len even asked if it was "take off your shirt night." However, when Len said, "To get a 10, it must be special and this wasn't special," it seemed to get Charlie a bit upset. Scores: 9; 10; 8; 9 = 36
Then it was team dancing time. Team Vida, a vision in turquoise, performed their freestyle that Len called "tight" and "well done." Scores: 8; 10; 8; 9 = 35, which was added to each couple's individual score. The judges watched a tape of Team Loca's dress rehearsal, but to their credit, the remaining members of Team Loca danced the routine for the audience with Derek dancing to an invisible partner. Len thought it was fantastic and Bruno called it "a show-stopper." Scores: 10; 10; 9; 10 = 39, added to each couple.
In the end, Meryl and Maks topped the leaderboard with a score of 78 out of 80, while James and Peta are at the bottom with 70 out of 80, and Charlie and Sharna are just one point ahead of them. As a result, it looks like a good dancer will be heading home next week. Until then, keep dancing.