Dancing with the Stars Recap: Halloween Night
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Ah Halloween week. It’s always one of my favorite episodes on Dancing with the Stars and even though this one fell a little short from seasons past, I still enjoyed myself seven ninths of the time.
Why is my fraction so specific? Because it’s the ultimate truth and I only just realized it when I was on the phone with Juan Pablo Di Pace Thursday afternoon.
I understand that I just name dropped. I also understand that my job is R-I-D-I-C-U-L-O-U-S because I get to interview famous people. The coolness factor is not wasted on me. Additionally, I’m living my best surreal life right now and I accept the fact that it could go away at any moment. So when your InStyle editor asks if you would like to speak with the Argentinian delight, you always answer YES.
So there I was, chatting it up with Juan Pablo, and he said something that I’ve felt for years now, but have never actually tried to describe the phenomenon behind the feeling. My pal JP said that the show is all about connection. If the audience is enjoying themselves, they give permission to the performer to take them away on a two-minute journey. We anticipate a fun routine and are invested in the moment. We root for these people to do well!
However, if the performer is nervous or has a tendency to go rogue or just isn’t very talented, we watch the entire routine with butts clenched. Or behind a couch cushion. Or both, in my case. Therefore, I don’t enjoy what’s going on because I’m anticipating mistakes or awkwardness. The judges look for technique and if you’re following the rules. The audience looks for ways to be swept away. Those are two very different things.
And he’s right! When I watch John Schneider, there’s part of me that expects him to miss steps, so I subconsciously wait for it to happen the entire dance. (I’m so happy when he nails it)! Joe the Grocer is another example. I would honestly rather fast forward through his dance, see how the judges score, and then go back and watch if the numbers are high enough. Isn’t that weird?
I’m sure it has something to do with my personality. Perhaps I’ll be able to wrangle it in one of these days, but I’m not going to hold my breath. It’s the exact same way I watch The Bachelor. If I haven’t changed in fifteen years, chances are it’s not going to happen.
Bring on the couch cushions!
Milo and Witney
“Toxic” by 2WEI
This is a perfect example of what I eluded to up above. I like watching Milo and Witney because I know eighty-percent of the time I’m going to enjoy what I see. The dude is talented with a capital T. Yes, he’s young and yes, he’s a Disney kid, but I don’t care. I am thoroughly entertained and this is why I watch the show.
Now was I creeped out by his weird white contact lenses? You betcha. Did I like the insane asylum set? Not a bit. But it was a solid contemporary with layers upon layers of acting. Not to mention the fact that Milo was in a straight jacket. Plus, Milo pulled a DeMarcus and lifted Witney with one hand! To quote Bruno of all people, “It was mind bending, insanely good, and impeccably acted.” So much control. So much phenomenal partner work. They deserved the perfect score.
John and Emma
Theme from Beetlejuice
Okay, now let me take the defense of what I just said about Milo. I like John. He’s the oldest person in the competition now, but what I appreciate about him is that he can dance! I do root for him. I do expect him to mess up. It’s hard to watch, sure, but I also think he deserves to be on the show. Because he can dance.
Unfortunately, Emma went a little too crazy this week and choreographed a number that had too much going on. She was all about heads being chopped off metaphorically and I don’t think John ever grasped the theme. There were also too many opportunities for John to screw up. Remember how the judges told Sharna that she produced a clean/easy routine for Bobby and he executed it well? Emma should have done that, too.
What I will say is that I had no idea that there were so many mistakes. The judges raked John over the coals for losing “the refinement” of his moves. Carrie Ann complained that he never got his feet under him and that her heart breaks because it was a hot mess. I didn’t see hot mess. I certainly think two sixes were harsh. You could tell John thought the same and was extremely disappointed with his marks.
He was also very humble when Erin asked him to react to his scores. He said that the judges knew what they were talking about and he would work on doing better next time.
DeMarcus and Lindsay
“Under Your Spell” by Leo Soul
When you think “salsa,” you probably imagine a zombie bride in a cemetery, right? Well that’s what Lindsay conjured up for her Halloween dance and it was clever. After oiling DeMarcus’ hips, she danced about in a shredded yellow gossamer dress with her fellow bridesmaids who perished on their way to the church. It was a disturbing theme.
Speaking of disturbing, what would have happened if DeMarcus dropped Lindsay on her head in that death fall move? I nearly died. I can’t imagine doing that. Lindsay said it was a rush.
I’m officially old.
The dance was okay. I didn’t think there was much salsa going on. I have mixed feelings about the two pros (Brandon and Artem) dancing with two JV dancers right alongside Lindsay and DeMarcus. On one hand, DeMarcus proves that he can hang with the pros. On the other hand, I’m interested in seeing DeMarcus and Lindsay on the stage by themselves. Show us that you don’t need all the pomp and circumstance!
The judges appeared to love it, but their scores were meh.
Evanna and Keo
“Disturbia” by Rihanna
Poor Evanna was crushed by her row of eights last week. She tells the camera that she thought the dance was beautiful and it’s the most confident she’s ever been. Considering that feeling didn’t reflect in the judges’ scores, Evanna has decided that she is no longer going to try and please the judges or Keo. She’s dancing for herself.
As a sexy kitten among trash cans.
The word “fierce” was used nineteen times. Evanna and Keo were in head-to-toe black leather and they took their tango in a dark direction. It was sharp, crisp, and full of traditional tango moves. The bottom line is that Evanna can dance. In fact, she’s one of the better competitors. So what’s the problem?
I hate to say it, but I think it’s Keo. I never feel that Keo’s partners like him. Perhaps his personality is weird, or he may not be in touch with all the feels like the other pros, but Evanna never seems like she’s connecting with her partner on a deeper level. Like I mentioned earlier, I think that’s the missing link for some of these folks. Where’s the connection?
Bobby and Sharna
“Mr. Sandman” by SYML
Bobby’s montage begins with his crazy, crazy schedule. Since he’s on the west coast, he has to be up at one in the morning so he can be ready to host his radio show by six on the east coast. Then he has meetings, dances anywhere from four to ten hours, depending on the day. You can see the fatigue in his eyes. That’s why his energy level has plummeted, in my opinion.
But it’s another dance and another day. This particular tango will have Sharna in a pink see-through nightie with frilly panties, as one might wear to bed on an average Monday night. Bobby is the Sandman who ultimately kills her with a neck snap. Horrible, I know.
Bruno mentioned that the routine was part Argentine tango, party contemporary. That’s code for: there was a lot of musical theater. But as Len pointed out, kudos to Sharna for incorporating proper tango moves in fifty percent of the piece. Bobby crossed his fingers for a score of three eights. Len and Bruno let him down, even though Carrie Ann said it was his best dance ever.
Mary Lou and Sasha
“Shame” by Elle King
Sasha scares Mary Lou all week long, which was a bit lame. Then Mary Lou admits that she went through a divorce in February after twenty-seven years of marriage, which was sad. Then they performed their dance, which was forgetful.
I didn’t care for the theme. Mary Lou was a possessed old timey school marm who is irritated with Sasha for shooting spitballs at her chalkboard. She’s so mad that she makes books fall off the shelves. Oh, and she dances a little bit and busts out a strange laugh at the end. It was mediocre at best. The judges hated it, but she still scored higher than Bobby Bones, John, and Grocery Store Joe.
Alexis and Alan
“Candyman” by Christina Aguilera
I have lots of thoughts about this dance. First, as I suspected, Alexis is all about the “elephant in the room” and puts Alan on the spot by telling him WHILE THE CAMERAS ARE ROLLING that she has developed feelings for him. He basically says, “Thank you. Let’s dance!” and she seems okay with this response.
Second, the dance was a hot mess for many reasons. We’ve talked about how “jazz” can be interpreted in many different ways. I’m fine with that, but when you add Willy Wonka’s entire chocolate factory, including oompa loompas, it becomes a bit hectic. Especially since they didn’t really have a purpose. I think every extra JV troupe person was dressed as some sort of candy treat. None danced.
Finally, the song track did something weird. I was super impressed that both Alan and Alexis didn’t seem to be fazed by the fact, but later learned that Alexis did hear two beats and was unsure which to follow. But they looked like they enjoyed themselves in the most spastic way ever.
Also, how many of you thought Alan was going to kiss her after that opening montage of how Alexis didn’t expect to fall for him so quickly? Do you think Alan likes her back? Is he playing the game for the audience? They’ve been in the red light of doom twice now. Since no one is voting for them, do you think this is a publicity stunt?
PS: “Candyman” by Christina Aguilera is one of my favorite videos of all time. Bring on the judgement.
Joe and Jenna
“El Tango de Roxanne” from Moulin Rouge
Ah. Elementary school musical theater at its finest. Joe’s clomping around on the floor finally makes sense now that he’s in a Frankenstein outfit. It’s a good thing Jenna and Val took him on a haunted hayride to get him in the monster spirit. And well done Jenna for adding all the smoke, fire, lasers, and nearly breaking her back at the end so we wouldn’t focus on the actual tango. Carrie Ann loved it and gave the guy an eight.
Are pigs flying outside your window right now?
Juan Pablo and Cheryl
“Dead Man’s Party”
Of course now that I’m BFF with Juan Pablo, I will root for him and Cheryl all the livelong day. However, I did not love their Egyptian theme. I wish it had been a little more Halloweeny. I thought the ending was odd and didn’t love the weird techno vibe, but the judges loved every single bit and proved it in their scores. Take a look:
If you want to read more from my interview with Juan Pablo, click HERE for my InStyle profile!
Sadly, after Juan Pablo crushed it with a perfect score to end the night, Tom and Erin deliver the bad news that Mary Lou and Alexis are in the bottom slots. And because cupid wants Alan and Alexis to start dating, it’s Mary Lou who is kicked off the island to Sasha’s dismay.
It has to be hard to see Grocery Store Joe, who has never been in the bottom, standing there knowing he has another week to go. I wonder if DWTS producers ever consider approaching twelve contestants from all walks of life, who just so happen to dance or have natural abilities to learn?
Some say it’s not fair that regular people like Joe are compared to kids like Milo. I get that. So why doesn’t ABC go after a regular Joe type who has a bit of talent? They are big enough now that they can vet the system, right?
Case in point: James the race car driver from a few years ago. He’s not an athlete. He’s not an actor. But he killed it his season, especially during his Halloween dance, which is still one of my favorites to date. (Fun fact: Sharna was James’ partner, but she hurt her back. Jenna was called up from the JV bench and has been a pro ever since!) Watch this: