Dancing with the Stars recap: Most Memorable Year
Each year, Dancing with the Stars producers force contestants to think back on the most pivotal year of his or her life when something extraordinary happened that changed the trajectory of their existence. It can be good, or bad, but there’s one main purpose:
THE AUDIENCE MUST CRY AT LEAST FOUR TIMES WITHIN THE TWO-HOUR TIME SLOT.
They can be happy tears. They can be sad. One lone, single drop contributes to the final tally, as well as weeping over Erin Andrews’ choice of ballgown. That certainly counts. I understand that the skin-toned color paired with her Elsa hairdo (Elsa at coronation, not as the ice queen) is enough to make a person break down. I’ll admit I wrestled with it.
I also cried on more than one ocassion. I’ve included my personal count in my write-up of each contestant. Grab your Kleenex and join me in the ballroom!
Normani and Val
“Impossible” by Fifth Harmony
Memorable Year: 2012
Normani’s dream was to be Byoncé. Join the club. Her parents stopped their own lives, including her adorable grandmother, to help make Normani’s dreams come true. Normani surprises herself when she gets choked up remembering just how much was sacrificed on her behalf. She is thankful for The X-Factor TV show which catapulted her into fame as one of the members of the all-girl group Fifth Harmony.
Once in a blue moon, producers allow celebrity singers to come on stage and perform the actual song while a competing duo dances, instead of the official ABC Dancing with the Stars band. In this case, Fifth Harmony takes the stage. Not in recent memory do I recall one of the contestants kicking off her own song, handing a mic to a fellow bandmate, and then seductively walking onto the ballroom to perform a sultry rumba. I thought it was absolutely charming that she mouthed the words to her own song as she danced.
They were all in pink. Val, Normani, the Harmonies, but it was Normani’s slit up to her hip that stole the show, as well as her fringey wrist bands. They are a powerful couple. She’s quietly confident. I have no idea why Val choreographed a lift so Carrie Ann could dock points, but that’s life.
Bruno’s Best Line: I think you know what I like and you gave it to me. You were a rumba dominatrix. A diva on overdrive.
Lincee’s Tears: My eyes welled up when Normani threatened to cry, but we both pulled it together.
Nick and Peta
“Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran
Memorable Year: 2016
Nick’s most memorable year is when he told all of America to SUCK IT as he found love on The Bachelor after trying three other times. He mentions his fiancé Vanessa, but it’s clear that this romantic tryst is counting down the days until their contractually obligated time together comes to an inevitable end.
Peta is smart. She choreographs a rumba that depicts what it’s like to be the bachelor. She puts him in a sheer shirt that shows off his abs and invites all of the JV women together, like a group date, so they can volley for Nick’s attention at the beginning of the dance. He dips and twirls all of them, finally choosing Peta for his one-on-one time. Then Peta dances around Nick while he lunges to the left and to the right.
He finally takes Peta to the floor and kisses her. I guess he chose to forgo his individual room in exchange for a fantasy suite in the middle of the ballroom? Then he hops up, jogs over to the sidelines, lifts Vanessa and kisses her for a good thirty-seconds. It was meant to be romantic. It translated as awkward. The judges thought it was his best dance.
Bruno’s Best Line: I have felt something new stirring inside you. Did you feel it?
Lincee’s Tears: Dry as a bone.
Nancy and Artem
“My Wish” by Rascal Flats
Memorable Year: 1996
Nancy tells Artem that she and her husband decided to have kids at the peak of her skating career. She always wanted three kids by the age of 30. She had her first son with no problem, but then went through the pain of having six miscarriages in eight years. I can’t imagine. Nancy says she felt guilty, wondering what she did wrong. They eventually tried in vitro and welcomed two new additions to the family. Artem praises her for not giving up and keeping the hope.
Nancy is dressed in a flowy lilac gown that moves beautifully during her foxtrot. Artem looks good in a dark suit. He keeps the choreography clean and precise. It is a little safe in my opinion, but well executed. The judges love it, especially Len.
Bruno’s Best Line: This had an amazing lyricism. Wonderful dynamic flow.
Lincee’s Tears: I let one tear go when Nancy admitted that she felt ashamed that she couldn’t get pregnant on her own. Heartbreaking.
Mr. T and Kym
“Amazing Grace” by Ray Chew
Memorable Year: 1995
Mr. T discovered he had a rare form of cancer in 1995. He called on God to help him through both radiation and chemotherapy. He said, “It’s easy to say you love God when things are going good. It’s harder when they aren’t. But He has blessed me and now I’m a 22-year cancer survivor. I give that glory to God.”
Kym pieces together a slow and easy waltz that does just that. A gospel choir is brought in for the performance. The movement is intentional, even worshipful. To quote Carrie Ann, “Faith radiated out of you. You are gallant, gentile, and full of grace.” I loved this dance.
Bruno’s Best Line: You are a good man with a heart of gold. Your faith is inspiring all of us.
Lincee’s Tears: I cried several tears when Mr. T, full of emotion, stood with his eyes shut as he listened to “Amazing Grace” during rehearsal. I cried as Kym cried watching Mr. T in an obvious moment of personal worship. She was mesmerized.
Heather and Alan
“Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon
Memorable Year: 2015
In 2015, Heather married a boy who went to her high school who contacted her through MySpace. How vintage! They have a sweet love story that includes two kids. One of their favorite songs is “Shut Up and Dance,” so Heather was stoked to get to recreate her wedding to this special song.
It was probably the best cha-cha I’ve ever seen on this show. It was definitely the hardest cha-cha. Once again, Heather proves that she is a legitimate dancer who can master any move you throw her way. It was crisp, entertaining, and full of energy. Why Alan/Maks choreographed a lift is beyond me, particularly since the lift was so dumb. Alan picks her up and pretends to walk through the door of their first house. I didn’t blame Carrie Ann for taking off points. Sadly, they could have tied for the second highest score of the night had that not happened.
Bruno’s Best Line: Can I marry you both?
Lincee’s Tears: Heather’s white pant suit. Bless it.
While in the bedazzled sky box with Erin for their post-mortem interviews, Maks is still weird about giving us an update on his injury. He does say out loud, on national television, that Alan has proven his case time and time again, that he should be a pro next year. AMEN!
David and Lindsay
“Forever Young” by Youth Group
Memorable Year: 2016
Of course David picks the Cubs’ win last year as his most memorable year. As he should. He’s now ready to be a dad and make up for all the times he missed so far with his kids. Lindsay’s dance is a proper Viennese waltz, but David is a little to bouncy in his steps. He also looks like he skipped (what you would do in a quickstep) verses float across the dance floor. There was a Dirty Dancing drag, thank goodness. We haven’t seen many of those this year. Lindsay’s outfit was epic. It was the same sheer material my mom uses as curtains in her formal living room, but it was a deep purple. Legs…for…days.
Bruno’s Best Line: You have the vitality of a spring chicken.
Lincee’s Tears: I thought it was sweet when David told Anthony Rizzo that he loves him. There were no tears though. Just a warm, fuzzy feeling.
Rashad and Emma
“Unconditionally” by Katy Perry
Memorable Year: 2006
Spoiler Alert: I cried all through this package. THE ENTIRE THING.
Rashad tells us that his father was great, but not around much, because he was providing for the family. He also drank a lot. Fortunately, he had two brothers and a mother to help give him the love he was craving. When he received a full scholarship to a D-1 school, Rashad was excited to provide for his family. Sadly, his father had a stroke, and due to a complication with diabetes, he lost a leg. Rashad transferred to be closer to his family. Everyone thought he was crazy, but he had to be his dad’s legs. #bawling
Emma uses all of this emotion and choreographs a moving piece that is full of lifts, which I believe,. signifies Rashad’s strength and willingness to be there for his family. He effortlessly moves around the dance floor, always there when Emma needs him. He lifts her, twirls her, sets her down and then walks over to his father and weeps in his arms at the end of the dance. I am so glad Tom Bergeron let that moment last as long as it needed to. The audience erupted in a standing ovation. He deserved it.
The judges were in awe. Carrie Ann could barely speak. Julianne asked Rashad, “Can you feel that?” and pointed to her heart. Rashad thanked everyone for the opportunity, making sure we all know he’s nothing special. He’s just a guy in a unique position to remind folks that a family who stays together and prays together can make it.
Bruno’s Best Line: I’m mesmerized.
Lincee’s Tears: I cried through the entire thing, but the floodgates opened when Rashad’s dad tried to talk, but kept crying through his interview. And the end hug slayed me.
Erika and Gleb
“Express Yourself” by Madonna
Memorable Year: 1989
Bless Erika’s heart. There’s no way she could make any kind of waves after Rashad’s performance. It’s technically not her fault, but her entire routine seemed silly. 1989 was a memorable year because she moved to New York City. I assume it was to become an actress or model or singer, but she never really digs into that decision. She talks a lot about making her own future, then before we know it, she’s dancing in a Madonna onesie with a ton of JV girls behind her. It’s way more jazzy than cha-cha. She looks mostly annoyed the entire performance. My guess is that she’s ticked she followed such a passionate routine with a dance that is one step below her wearing a cone bra.
Bruno’s Best Line: I love a goer. And you go for it.
Lincee’s Tears: I got nothing.
Simonne and Sasha
“Good, Good Father” by Chris Tomlin
Memorable Year: 2000
You’d think that an Olympian would choose the year she won several medals as her most memorable year. Instead, Simonne chose the year she was adopted by her maternal grandfather. Her mom battled drugs and alcohol, was in and out of jail, and as a result, Simonne and her siblings were in an out of foster care systems. Her grandfather agreed to keep Simonne and her sister for a while. He was determined that she was not going to steal his heart. Well, she did. And now she calls him dad.
The Viennese waltz has always been one of my favorites. I think it’s so simple and pretty. I always love a full skirt that flows along the dance floor. Simonne is in a bright, cheery yellow dress with delicate flowers. From the first eight count, she fights the tears that overwhelm her sweet heart. I imagine it’s really hard to hear those interviews right before you dance in front of a live audience. She nailed it, almost crying the entire time.
For the third time this night, another contestant leaves the stage at the end of the dance and embraces a loved one. Simonne hugs her father and weeps years and years of gratitude and emotion onto his shoulder. Once again, Tom lets it happen. He even pulls her parents onto the stage so they can stand with Simonne and Sasha for the judges’ scores. All four praise her for finally letting her emotions shine on the dance floor.
Bruno: You are so adorable. Thank you for wearing your heart on your sleeve.
Lincee’s Tears: I cried when Simonne cried. I bawled at the end when she hugged her dad.
Bonner and Sharna
“Feeling Good” by Michael Bublé
Memorable Year: 2016
Remember how Bonner was paralyzed after a bull ride last year? That’s a memorable year for sure. One that brings him a lot of pain and heartache. Now that he’s not a bull rider, he has to reinvent himself. Sharna takes this reality and runs with it.
At the beginning of the dance, Bonner stands in full cowboy attire (yes, please) and tips his hat to the current Bonner who is in a tuxedo. Cowboy Bonner symbolically waves for Ballroom Bonner to take the floor. This dude can dance the slow dances with easy, but he still looks stiff (I’d imagine) and his face is stoic. He does dance with dignity, though. Sharna is a good partner for him.
Bruno’s Best Line: I think there’s a new leading man in town.
Lincee’s Tears: I think I got a lump in my throat when he cried, but that’s it.
At the end of the night, Tom and Erin announce that Mr. T and Erika are in the bottom slots. I understand this, and I’m pretty proud of the voters for getting it right in my opinion. Mr. T is sent home, and I’m so glad that he went out on a high note. He is gracious in his exit. I imagine he was ready to hang up his jazz shoes. It wouldn’t surprise me if Erika and Nick are in the bottom next week. Their dances didn’t have the emotional string pulling as most of the others. David and Heather’s didn’t either, but they are audience favorites. I don’t see them being in the bottom at this stage of the game.
Would you agree? Who is your favorite? Does Rashad have what it takes to win this? Will Heather continue to dominate on the floor? Is Maks faking an injury so he doesn’t have to compete with his wife? Why so mysterious? Sound off in the comments section!