It's semi-finals week, y'all! Last night's episode of "Dancing with the Stars" was supposed to feature the five remaining star-pro teams—but thanks to Tamar Braxton's early exit over health issues, it ended up being a four-couple, guys-versus-girl (singular) showdown, with Bindi Irwin trying to outdance Carlos PenaVega, Alek Skarlatos and Nick Carter. (Pour a little out for Alexa PenaVega, whom the producers apparently considered bringing back into the "DWTS" fold after Tamar's announcement. Miss you, lady.)
Four finalists + two hours to fill = three different routines for each celebrity. Which, OOF. I was exhausted just watching our valiant finalists, and the overall quality of the performances suffered a bit from their obvious exhaustion. But that doesn't mean there weren't highlights. (There are always highlights.)
Seeing more of the fantastic pro dancers is inevitably a good thing—which is why it's no surprise that the trio routines, in which each star was flanked by two pros, featured the best dancing of the night. I was especially into Bindi, Derek Hough and Mark Ballas' high-caliber jazz routine, which looked straight out of Travis Wall's playbook:
Carlos, Witney Carson and Karina Smirnoff all tried out the Charleston for the first time ever and more than pulled it off; Bruno even compared Carlos to the great Ben Vereen. (Chicago last week, Ben Vereen references this week: Bob Fosse, you'll never cease to be relevant.)
Nick pretty much choked during his tango earlier in the evening, but once he teamed up with Sharna Burgess and Peta Murgatroyd for a fiery-hot salsa, he seemed back in his element:
And even though Alek is the weakest dancer of the remaining bunch, he managed to bring the sexy in a steamy Argentine tango trio with Emma Slater and Lindsay Arnold:
Alek actually had an all-around great showing last night. His waltz to "America the Beautiful" was a poignant choice in light of Friday's attacks in Paris, and it brought out the best in a guy known for his patriotic heroism:
The happiest news of the episode came in its very last moments: Nobody went home! All four remaining contestants will go on to perform in the finals, since Tamar dropped out. EVERYBODY DANCE NOW. As if it needs to be said, you should probably tune in next Monday and Tuesday nights to see how that all goes down.
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers by clicking on their names here:
vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
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Dancers are naturally "in their heads" all the time—but not always in productive ways. Long days of receiving and applying corrections, taking class, and performing can get to even the most composed individuals. What should you do when you feel like your mind is just as busy as your rehearsal schedule? Try meditation. Dance Spirit turned to Adreanna Limbach, a head teacher at NYC-based meditation studio MNDFL, for a breakdown of this highly beneficial practice.
Liz Imperio teaching at Hollywood Vibe, Courtesy of Hollywood Vibe
It's an increasingly common scenario: A talented dancer wins big at a competition, is offered an assistantship with a famous faculty member, and ends up leaving her hometown studio to travel with a convention. Convention-hopping has obvious benefits. Every event generates new content for dancers to post on social media, gives them a better shot at ending up on their favorite choreographers' accounts, lets them learn from the best of the best, and helps them make valuable connections. "Traveling is a great way for dancers to gain admirers around the country," says Jen Jarnot, owner of Artistic Fusion Dance Academy in Thornton, CO. "That's something every dancer craves." So it's no surprise that weekend FOMO has been blazing through studios like wildfire.
But is this jet-setter lifestyle really the most effective road to take? Can weekends of dancing with top talent truly replace the bread and butter of daily work at your home studio? The answer, according to most industry experts, is no. We asked five pros to explain why.