Credit: Rachel Worth/WENN.com Photo: Practice Makes Perfect
It’s that time of year again: when the leaves change colors, we’re reminded that Pride couldn’t save Margaret and the celebrities get two scores — one for performance, and one for technique. It’s also gimmick time, which explains the round, upraised stage and “acoustic week.” And for an extra treat, they clad Brooke Burke in a legitimately cute dress! Then they brought out the couples (but not the Staircase of Horror), showcasing Rick Fox’s new ‘stache, Bristol Palin’s pantless Lady Gaga-meets-Blondie costume and a lot of skin on almost everyone else.

Everyone then discussed their concerns about the new stage: the celebrities worried about falling off, while the professionals worried about having their students’ footwork be at eye level (and, in Lacey’s case, sweating on the audience) and about the lack of electronically-accented beats for their students to hear while dancing.

Chelsie and her no-name partner got on the round stage to demonstrate a Rumba and two, at least, of the difficulties of performing an acoustic Rumba: their high-energy dance didn’t match the low-energy music; and Chelsie’s slipping costume meant that her partner was often gripping both her hand and some extra material. For shame, costume designers!

Kurt & Anna


Kurt struggled with two parts of the Rumba: getting his hips into it; and, as he put it, “As a Christian guy, it’s definitely a challenge to dance intimately with someone who’s not my wife.” So Anna’s husband Jonathan and Kurt’s wife Brenda came to the ballroom to experience the sexiness. Jonathan thought it was hot... and Brenda told Kurt to “sell it” and was okay with the dance.

Dancing to Train’s “Drops of Jupiter,” Kurt had the same slightly-goofy nice-guy persona he’s had throughout many of his dances, albeit with the kind of hip motion that made it that. much. sexier. (We love nice guys, what can we say?) His arms, while still occasionally stiff, were definitely making progress when they had something to do, his footwork seemed pretty connected, if simply and he actually looked not completely out of place.

Len loved the lateral hip action, but felt Kurt’s posture lacked a little something — but he thought the performance was pitched just right. Bruno agreed with Len, and added that Kurt needed to continue working on making the movement continue through his arms into his hands. He felt the performance was better than the technique, but that the dance was too platonic and not raunchy enough. Carrie Ann loved the performance and thought that there was a level of trust and intimacy — and audience engagement — that worked quite well. Carrie Ann agreed with Bruno about his arms.

On the technical scores, the judges gave them unanimous fives for a technical total of 15. Carrie Ann gave then a 7 and Len and Bruno gave them sixes for a performance total of 19. Their overall total was 34.

Brandy & Maks


Brandy had trouble connecting with the Rumba because, she said, “I don’t feel sexy unless I’m in love, and I haven’t been with anybody in six years.” Seriously? Men of the world, you need to step up your game. To help, Maks took her on a field trip to a wine bar, giving her flowers and candy — by leaving them on the table — and Brandy then pointed out that pointing out stuff on the table wasn’t exactly “giving” them to her. But, a glass of wine in, she seemed to find Maks marginally less annoying. We feel the same way.

Dancing to an almost unrecognizably remixed “This Woman’s Work,” by Kate Bush, Brandy definitely managed to pull off more of a sense of vulnerability and showed the most emotional chemistry she’s show yet with Maks — though she definitely didn’t seem ready to rip his clothes off yet. It was a very lyrical dance, though there were definitely some little slips here and there.

Bruno, of course, loved the sensuality and the chemistry, but dinged them on their technique, telling Brandy she needed to place her hands to avoid them looking erratic after long extensions. Carrie Ann said she’d been “waiting for the real Brandy” to appear, and loved the performance, but agreed that she needed to focus on the little things — like her hands and leg extensions. Len liked the performance, though he found it “a little bit hot and spicy” for his taste, but would have liked to have seen her settle into her legs more.

Carrie Ann and Bruno gave them 7s and Len an 8, for a total technical score of 22. Carrie Ann and Bruno gave them nines and Len gave them an 8, for a performance score of 26. Their overall score was 48.

Before the next couple took the floor, two professionals took the floor to demonstrate an Argentine tango — proving that acoustic music can go well with a high-energy performance. Then, it was back to the competition.

Rick & Cheryl


Cheryl spent last summer in Argentina re-learning the Tango, and was excited about the performance right up until Rick growled at her. We dunno, it worked for us, but she told him not to do that. (We rewound the DVR to watch him do it again). Then they decided to fret about falling off the stage during the performance.

Sadly, it was us who was correct about the growling: in the absence of his almost-silly sexyfaces, Rick displayed a disappointing lack of emotion in his face (i.e. he pretty much just looked stiff and stern the whole time). Not matching his stiff face, however, was his limp posture, sagging arms and muddled footwork. The lifts were fun, but it didn’t make up for the rest of it. He should have growled.

Carrie Ann said the performance felt one-dimensional, because the movement in his legs wasn’t connected to his passion or anything else. She felt like he was too cognizant of the steps and the edges to be fully committed. Len loved the lifts, but felt his legs could have been crisper — and then noticed that the dance lost the energy of the beginning. Bruno, too, loved the beginning but saw that he lost energy and felt like it wasn’t everything it could have been.

Carrie Ann and Bruno gave them 6s and Len gave them a 7 for a total technical score of 19. Then Carrie Ann gave them another 6 and Len and Bruno gave them 7s, for a total performance score of 20. Their overall score was 39.

Kyle & Lacey

After last week’s accusation of “atrocious” footwork, Lacey put Kyle through hell about pointing his toes — but the real concern for her was that, at 19, Kyle perhaps didn’t know what sexy was yet. The producers then showed him making fart noises in rehearsal to underscore that point.

Did you know B.o.B.’s (featuring Bruno Mars) “Beautiful Girl” could sound good acoustic? Or that Kyle could, indeed, look kinda sexy dancing a Rumba to it? (We felt dirty, but it’s true.) Like a good student, he totally focused on the dancing this week, making definite strides in his footwork, his extensions and the lyricality of his movement overall. I mean... hardly anyone else is making this kind of progress week-over-week.

Len called his footwork much better, but felt like the dance had a “staccato feel” to it — you mean, like Chelsie’s demonstration earlier? — but he liked the performance. Bruno said he “played it well,” and that he had moments of fluidity but too many moments of beat. Carrie Ann liked the way he toned the performance as not being too sexual. She said that she noticed the improvement in his footwork, but that it wasn’t as fluid as they were looking for.

The judges gave them unanimous 6s for a total technical score of 18 — to boos from the audience. Carrie Ann gave them an 8 and Len and Bruno added 7s for a total performance score of 22. Their overall score was 40.

The Situation & Karina

The Situation was concerned about his ability to learn the steps — and, recognizing that they “aren’t the most technical couple in the competition,” Karina decides the way to win was on performance. And, by that, she apparently meant “doing insane lifts.” Oh, boy.

Dancing to the strains of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams,” The Situation couldn’t point his toes to save his soul, extend his leg in a real kick, or remember all his steps... but, man, could he toss Karina around like a ragdoll. It wasn’t one throw, or one lift, it was several, and they were all pretty spectacular. The dance, however, would’ve been an utter failure without them.

Bruno said, “You know that was a terrible mess.” He noted there were so many mistakes that he couldn’t get into a performance. Carrie Ann welcomed his abs to the show — she called it a “rough ride,” but she thought there was an improvement in the performance, but he needed to work on walking and he did a good job on the lefts. Len added, “Well, it was consistent: it was bad throughout.” Len congratulated Karina on doing a great job coaching something other than a great dancer.

The judges awarded then all fours, for a total technical score of 12. Carrie Ann gave them a 6, and Len and Bruno gave them 5s, for a total performance score of 16. Their overall score was 28.

Florence & Corky

Concerned that the two older dancers performing a Rumba might look slightly “undignified,” Florence & Corky invited her daughter and Mark to near witness their tush-smacking, rump-shaking, package-handling and, ultimately, nude performance. Even Mark was forced to cover his eyes, while we howled at his discomfort. And, it appears that Corky, too, has quite a situation under his shirt.

To the truly, truly unfortunate, tortured strains of The Beatles’ “Yesterday,” Corky & Florence performed a half-comic, half serious Rhumba with some serious geriatric sensuality on display. While we all want to have half of Florence’s sexual confidence at her age, her footwork was still messy, she still needs to point her toes, and she’s developing an increasingly orphaned arm in most of her extensions. If she hadn’t followed The Situation, we might have called it disturbing. We’re just hoping our parents don’t get any ideas for the next family wedding.

Carrie Ann said, “What just happened?” adding, “You definitely proved that age has no relation to how sexy, raunchy and dirty you can make that dance.” Len called it much better than he expected. Bruno felt whipsawed through many emotions in the dance, and noted that she lacked a little technique, losing her timing “many, many times.”

Carrie Ann and Len gave them 6s and Bruno gave them a 5, for a total technical score of 17. The judges then awarded them unanimous 6s, for a total performance score of 18, which earned the judges boos from the audience and the backstage waving of “Not Appropriate” signs (left over from their comedy bit) from their fellow competitors. Their overall score was 35.

Jennifer & Derek

In addition to the screws in her neck, it turns out that Jennifer also has a pinched nerve in her foot that is, of course, aggravated by dancing for hours in heels. But she’s determined and competitive, blah, blah, we went through this last year with Nicole after the Rhumba. Bring on the Tango!

The Tango was, of course, everything we could have hoped for: tight, sharp, sexy, complicated and did we mention sexy? There’s nothing to recap: it was nearly perfect. If you didn’t know what an Argentine Tango was supposed to look like, now you do.

Len said it combined excellent technique, great performance skills, and one of Len’s favorite Tango songs. Bruno called it “prime time delight,” and loved the intricacy and musicality of the dance. Carrie Ann called it “a-maz-ing.”

The judges awarded them unanimous 9s, for a total technical score of 27. Carrie Ann and Bruno gave them 10s and Len gave them a 9 for a total performance score of 29. Their overall score was 56.

Bristol & Mark

Mark said, “The Rhumba and Bristol have exactly zero in common,” and Bristol wondered how, as a 19-year-old mom, she was supposed to be sexy. Um, we are pretty sure she figured it out once or twice a couple of years ago. As though to prove that she is thoroughly unsexy, Mark went to her apartment to show Tripp their dance. Oy.

She began the dance lying on the stage, stretching like a cat to Rihanna’s “Umbrella” as Mark sexy-danced his way over to her and “awoke” her with what looked like an actual kiss on the lips. Slightly more virginal than most of the Rhumba’s tonight — including Kyle’s — Bristol didn’t do much to promote abstinence with her coming-of-age Rhumba that included (faint) the moment where she stripped Mark’s shirt off. Things got a little hazy after that, but we think it was OK. Mark definitely was.

And then the camera cut to Todd, Sarah and Piper Palin watching, and we felt dirty again. We can only imagine how Mark felt.

Bruno called it technically clean, but that she didn’t sustain the performance through the dance. Carrie Ann said that Bristol has all the movements down, but that she still isn’t dancing to the audience. Len said he wanted to see “more we and less me” out of her performances.

The judges awarded them unanimous 6s for a total technical score of 18. Carrie Ann gave them a 4 and Len and Bruno gave them 5s, for a total performance score of 14. Their overall score was 32.

Audrina & Tony


Audrina was scared by the raised stage — and the smaller space. Tony then explained they had to add “the acting part” and intensity, which Audrina was worried would give her wrinkles. Ugh. You'd think she'd be used to acting from her award-winning experience in Sorority Row and on The Hills.

Much like Rick before her, Audrina had difficulty carrying the emotional intensity with which she began the dance throughout the performance and a couple of missteps didn’t seem to help. The choreography, or perhaps her performance of it, lacked the constant movement of Derek & Jennifer’s Tango and the music (“Somebody To Love” by Jefferson Airplane) was just a terrible choice.

Carrie Ann told her she needed to extend her leg, and noticed sloppiness in her dismounts, too. Len thought it was clean and liked the routine — but he felt the performance lacked a little something in terms of hotness and raunchiness. Bruno felt she performed as “an ice queen type,” which worked, but it lacked the drive. He added that the choreography and embellishments were great, but her lack of extension through the leg hurt them

The judges awarded them unanimous 8s for a total technical score of 24. Carrie Ann gave them an 8 and Len and Bruno gave them 7s for a total performance score of 22. Their overall score was 46.