Dancing with the Stars recap: Can you believe we are mid-season

Dancing with the Stars Season 23, Episode 2

Hello dance lovers! Can you believe we are halfway through the Dancing with the Stars season? It seems like just a week ago we were introduced to America’s favorite athletes who aren’t currently training in their sport or studying for finals. Remember that night the female snowboarder took the floor? Or that baseball player who used to have a mullet but now has a mohawk?

Good times.

Previous winner Rashad Jennings is the special guest judge of the night and he has four goals: 1.) Reminisce how hard it is for an all-star athlete to transition to the dance floor. He wants us to know that he’s been there, done that, and has the mirrorball trophy to prove it. 2.) Rashad performs his solid gold lamé routine with Emma who looks like she is still high from winning season 24 with her favorite partner of all time. Sorry baseball guy from last week! 3.) He wants to pimp out his book. I get it. 4.) He prefers to score a point or two higher than the contestant deserves.

But Rashad is Rashad. So I’ll allow it.

We also have not one, but two dances this week at the mid-point of our season. Contestants will perform a routine with their partner and then one with a group. Here’s how the evening plays out:

Josh and Sharna
Paso Doble
“The Plaza of Execution”
As Josh and Sharna wander around the rolling hills of his spacious ranch, he ignores the way Sharna perches the cowboy hat incorrectly on the back of her head as he tells her that one of the ways he gets pumped up before a game is by listening to soundtracks.

Josh claims that Zorro gets him in the gridiron mood and once again, I wonder if the producers think we are complete idiots to believe this nonsense. I highly doubt the Washington Redskins cornerback gets pumped up to aggressive instrumental music. Everyone knows The Greatest Showman is where pumping up happens.

My point? Let Josh walk around his ranch with his crush who announces that they have chosen the paso and the music is from Zorro. The end.

Sharna creates and elaborate backstory about a vigilante who comes to save the town full of JV dancers who wear Zorro masks. Without the Zorro hat, they end up favoring the Hamburgler. She pumps in all the smoke from Los Angeles and blankets everything in red. For thirty seconds, the entire group stands very still, which impresses some of the judges.

Josh does a great job with his fast footwork. Sharna looks fabulous in a sparkly bodysuit with a long skirt. He flings her around and she busts out a move that shows just how flexible she is as a vigilante. But Josh kills her and the JV peeps at the end, which was a refreshing change from the traditional “guy holds girl in a backbend.” The judges drone on about strength, Josh’s attack of the dance, and domination. Then they give him crappy scores.

Jennie and Keo
“Do Like This” by Daphne Willis
The bulk of Jennie’s pre-show b-roll footage is Jennie calling producers to tell them that she’s not comfortable with the song choice for her cha-cha-cha. Keo pretends to be totally fine with this decision and changes the entire routine. New music, new choreography, new theme. She does her best to learn the dance in a short amount of time before slithering into a black leather cat suit costume to match topless Keo in his leather jacket.

Jennie is pretty stiff throughout the entire thing. You can tell she knows the dance and she remembers what is next, but you can also see the thinking behind the movement. It’s not that she’s phoning in the moves. She’s calculating her next step. That comes from not having enough time with the dance, which makes sense, and not having the natural ability to just go with it, which also makes sense. Although everyone compliments her for sticking with her ethical guns, she ties with Kareem for the lowest score of the night and the first dramatic backbend ending.

Kareem and Lindsay
“La Malanga” by Eddie Palmieri
Okay, I have to say that Kareem is charming, adorable, and has endeared himself to me forever. I also have to say that every time he steps on the stage, I get nervous for him. Who doesn’t want Kareem to perform well? But he is physically out of his league compared to the other contestants. I think it’s is WONDERFUL that he was invited on the show. But everything is moving so fast this season. I don’t want him to break a hip.

Let me remind you that the top of Lindsay’s head reaches just below Kareem’s sternum. What’s a choreographer to do? Well, if you’re Lindsay, you ask one of the JV dancers (hello Hayley Erbert!) if she can sit on her shoulders for half of the dance while Hayley salsa dances around blindly under a very long white billowy skirt.

Does Hayley agree because she really wants to be promoted from JV dancer? Is she scared of Lindsay? Was she chosen because she has shoulders of steel? We may never know. What we do know is that they girl KILLED IT. I’m unsure how she was able to twirl and ball-change with a grown woman (who probably doesn’t weigh in the three digit range, but still) is stilling on top of her. FOR HALF THE ROUTINE.

Kareem looked thrilled to be dancing with someone his own height. The audience loved it. And I shout from the rooftops AGAIN that Lindsay Arnold is the best choreographer on Dancing with the Stars. THE BEST.

Did Kareem basically stand there and shimmy a bit? Yes. Were we entertained? Yes. Did Lindsay make the most of her very tall partner’s abilities? Absolutely. Did she end in a dramatic backbend? You bet.

Chris and Witney
Viennese Waltz
“Next To Me” by Imagine Dragons
Chris knows how to hold a frame which is rare for a non-pro man in the ballroom dance world. He also knows how to swing and sway which is very important in the Viennese Waltz. He wears a traditional grey tuxedo and Witney flows around the floor in a divine pale pink gossamer gown. Although I don’t remember much of the dance, I’m reminded that Chris and Witney “nailed it” because he tells the judges that they nailed it.

Okay, calm down Chris. You are very pretty but rein it in a little.

The judges compliment his form, his hold, his posture, and finesse. After the dramatic backbend ending, the judges give Chris a mediocre score that places him smack dab in the middle of the leaderboard.

Tonya and Sasha
“Redneck Woman” by Gretchen Wilson
The title of this song may make some cringe, but Tonya embraces it with the strength of a thousand Chevy trucks. She is excited that she got to show people her softer side last week, and now she’s back to show them who she really is — A REDNECK!

Sasha is in camouflage and resembles a Boy Scout for some reason. Tonya looks sort of like am mermaid wearing boots. And the bear is big and brown.

That’s right. There’s a bear who dances with the couple at their campsite. Well, they quickstep around the campsite. You catch my drift. There was so much movement and wackiness going on. Sasha chooses to swing on the novelty side of the theme and Tonya really looked like she was having a ball. They thumb their noses at tradition and Tonya drops Sasha into a dramatic backbend to end the frivolity.

Mirai and Alan
“It’s a Small World” by The O’Neill Brothers
Some of you will not like what I have to say, but I have to say it. Mirai bugs me a bit. If you look closely, you can tell she’s crowding in on Alan’s nerves, too. Why you ask? How can the darling teeny tiny figure skater push my buttons? You’re not going to like it. You’re going to tell me that she’s been an athlete her entire life and doesn’t know better. I get it. But I think there’s a string of drama in there, too.

Mirai cries because she didn’t get three eights last week. If she had just told Alan she was disappointed and wanted to go for the eights this week, that would have been fine. Or she could have admitted that she has a problem with perfection and she needs to work on being more humble or live in the moment and do her best no matter what, yadda, yadda, yadda. But she cries about how she’s not in first place and I think my eyes may be stuck in the back of my head.

How is this different from Adam? Doesn’t he brag about how he wants to win and take the trophy? Yes. But there’s a lightness about it. There’s an underlying humor that makes me not take him so seriously. I just want Mirai to have fun and be great while doing it.

Belle, Cinderella, and Snow White show up to sprinkle pixie dust on, I’m guessing, Sleeping Beauty even though Mirai’s dress is white instead of pink. Cinderella’s actual coach sits on the stage as Mirai and Alan dance around the room on a cloud. She nails it. She looks great doing it. She’s a phenomenal dancer thanks to her ice skating background. I really like her and want her to step away from the athlete a little bit and just be a young girl, dancing with a handsome boy, having fun on a national TV show.

Arike and Gleb
“What About Us” by Pink
This week, Arike is going to put on high heels and dance a hard dance. She’s also going to travel back home to study for finals. She’s also going to look H-O-T in a stunning purple gown doing it. When Arike smiles, the entire room lights up. However, she spends most of her time concentrating, so that smile waffles. It’s so brilliant and gorgeous that you notice it when it’s not there. I think that’s a strike against her. I also think Gleb is not a great choreographer (sorry Gleb!) and has a tendency, as I’ve mentioned before, to choreograph for the dance and not the dancer. She wasn’t horrible, but she wasn’t outstanding either. Middle of the pack was an appropriate score even though Carrie Ann weeped at “something powerful” that was going on in the routine.

Adam and Jenna
“Make Way” by Aloe Blacc

It was really, really good. See for yourself. Notice Jenna’s kick behind her head and the infamous ending pose.

Team 50s Tennis
“Baby One More Time” by The Baseballs
Chris, Josh, Kareem, and Tonya
Hot mess. Hot mess all around. Three cheers for hot messes. It wasn’t even organized chaos. It was a bunch of people running around with tennis rackets attempting be funny. Sweet Kareem stood in the back and blew a whistle the entire time. Josh and Chris tried to carry the guys, but Sharna, Witney, and Lindsay did their best to stay front and center so they could draw attention. Bless. It. Bless it all day long.

70s Team Football
Adam, Arike, Jennie, Mirai
“Instant Replay” by Dan Hartman
Disco was the way to go, even though not one of the contestants on the floor was born in the 70s. I’m going to bless my own heart right now.

They performed a solid, clean routine that wow’d the audience. I don’t remember much, other than Alan and Josh dumping a cooler of confetti on Tom’s head. I was entertained. Adam totally kept up with the other guy pros. I also remember Alan spinning a glittery football on the ground and it spun forever and ever. It was a cool distraction.

Tom and Erin announce Kareem, Arike, and Chris at the final three in the red lights of doom. Chris and Witney are deemed safe. Arike seems a scooch irritated that she was voted off the rhinestone island, but Kareem saves the day with a touching good-bye. Everyone looks relieved that the legend is about to leave the building. So am I.



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Shannon MOld ChristineabbyLindaCathy Recent comment authors
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Also, Mirai’s voice. Ugghhh


Lol so agree with you Jennifer and Lincee! I just don’t like her….

Shannon M
Shannon M

I with you!

Mollie A
Mollie A

I’m still undecided on my feelings about this express season. Hopefully that means no athletes will be selected for the next full season. Great recap, Lincee!


How cute was Adam’s outfit in his quickstep with Jenna? I just loved those bold red roses on the black background of his suit! Overall, Adam and Jenna just looked SO elegant together. Really feel like the mirrorball is theirs to lose this “season.”


Thank you thank you thank you for recapping this season even though it’s just a blip in the TV programming schedule (an appetizer to the new Bachelorette season if you will.) Absolutely agree with you about Marai. Annoying as all get out. I’ll watch to the end but it’s just weird that it’s 4 weeks. Bring back the original!! OH, and your book rocked Lincee. Can’t wait for the next one!


I am annoyed by both Mirai and Adam. Also, I’m finding it harder to be excited about and get invested into this season knowing it’s so short. We usually have some time to develop our preferences and favorites, and by the end, you’ve been rooting for one person or a couple of people consistently for a while. It makes it exciting. This season is going by so quickly that I’m finding it hard to “care” about any of the contestants or have a preference for who wins. I will still watch, of course, but I am not a fan of this 4- week format.

Old Christine
Old Christine

Marai is so annoying. But her foxtrot with Alan was magical. And that beautiful dress! She looked stunning.


Agree: that really was a lovely dance with Mirai and Alan. Her dress was breathtaking! I don’t usually care much for the foxtrot but I really enjoyed this one.

Shannon M
Shannon M

I’m a little behind but I had to tell you that I completely support how you feel about Mirai. She’s bugged me since the Olympics and the comments she made afterwards regarding her massive part of Team USA. I wish I could say that she doesn’t bug me anymore but I’d be lying if I did.