Last night marked—finally!—the first live show of Season 15. We made it! And so did the Top 10. Now, it's up to the viewers (that's you!) to determine which contestants end up in the Top 4 and, eventually, which one will snag the sweet prizes up for grabs: $1 million, the cover of Dance Spirit (that's us!), and a role in FOX's live production of RENT, which will air January 27. Also awesome: tWitch is officially on the judging panel for the long haul, alongside Nigel, Mary, and Vanessa. Dreams do come true!
So how'd the two-hour event play out? Each contestant couple performed twice: once in the girl's style and once in the guy's. Here's what went down.
Need yet another reason to be ridiculously excited about "Dancing with the Stars: Juniors"? The latest iteration of the ballroom series, which features celeb kids performing with junior pros, will debut October 7th on ABC. And if you weren't already planning on tuning in (ha. ha.), this morning's news might change your mind: We just found out which industry stars will be judging the series, and they are literally three of our favorite people in the dance universe.
SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER right up front, guys, because we can't not talk about what happened at the end of last night's "Dancing with the Stars" episode:
Any time Mandy Moore does anything, anywhere, it's bound to be amazing. (I mean, La La Land? "SYTYCD"? You get the picture.) So as very active members of the Mandy Moore fan club, we were beyond excited that she was a guest judge on "Dancing with the Stars" last night—and on "Movie Night," no less. But we digress. There's a lot of dancing to cover (and two eliminations!), so let's get into it.
Today's guest post comes from Francesca Harvey, a student who came to NYC recently with Live! Starring...You!—a pop-culture media organization that trains teen reporters to cover people in the spotlight—for National Entrepreneurship Week.
Tony Dovolani and brothers Maksim and Val Chmerkovskiy have been famous in the ballroom world for a long time. It’s only in recent years that the trio—and several other ballroom champions—have become Hollywood celebrities.
That's what appearing on "Dancing with the Stars" will do for you.
For Tony, Maks and Val, their "DWTS" fame has also drawn attention to their business. With three other business partners, they own four Dance With Me studios: one in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood, and others in Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Now, they want to expand the studio across the country.
After all, there seems to be a need.
“One of the things we run into as we travel across the country is everybody is asking us for lessons,” Tony told me during a recent interview at the SoHo studio.
Francesca with Tony, Maks and Val. Not a bad place to be! (Photo by Tim O'Shei)
The guys have developed a teaching system that blends their individual approaches and styles. They instruct their own teachers in that system so all their students are learning the same way.
“Now, all of our teachers believe in the same system,” Tony said. “They’re taught by us. If you walk into our studio, you’re getting a combination of Tony, Maks and Val.”
Our interview also included a dance lesson with Val! We thought it was pretty cool that we got to dance with him one week before he was paired with "Shake It Up" star Zendaya Coleman for the next season of "DWTS." (Tony is paired with Wynonna Judd, while Maks isn't participating in the next season.)
Learning how to groove with Val! (Photo by Tim O'Shei)
If you want to find out how we fared, click here to read our story and watch the video on the Live! Starring … You! site.
But ask Tony, and he’ll tell you they can turn anyone into a dancer!
“We’ve developed a system where there's not one person we can’t teach,” he said. “If you can walk, we can teach you how to dance.”
Francesca Harvey is the student editor of LiveStarringYou.com and a junior at Mount St. Mary Academy in Buffalo, NY.
If it wasn't already clear that a decades theme is never wrong, this week's "Dancing with the Stars" episode officially proved it. Eras Night was just so fun to watch (the costumes! the stories! the group dances!). The couples performed pieces based on various time periods—from the Roaring Twenties alllll the way to the 90s—and it was everything you'd hope a time-traveling "DWTS" ep would be. Let's take a look at the historical highlights:
Our fave of the night was the adorable and bubbly 1940s jitterbug from James Hinchcliffe and Sharna Burgess. Hinchcliffe has had a tendency to be a tad flat acting-wise throughout the season, but last night he wowed the crowd (and the judges) with his believable commitment to the dance's love story. (Those insane somersault lifts he pulled off didn't hurt either.) Also, major props to Burgess for pushing through an injury.
Next on our best-of-the-night list is Calvin Johnson Jr. and Lindsay Arnold's '50s-inspired jive. Long story short: When Len Goodman calls your dance a "polished, high-octane performance," you know you've done something right.
Our eternal faves Laurie Hernandez and Val Chmerkovskiy grooved their way to prom with a '60s-style quickstep, which was adorable, technically on point and super high-energy. Hernandez also sweetly admitted that this was her first prom because she's been home schooled. Aww.
Then there were those insanely awesome group dances. The dancers were split into Team Past and Team Future—and Team Past (Maureen McCormick, Artem Chigvintsev, Hinchcliffe, Burgess, Johnson, Arnold, Ryan Lochte and Cheryl Burke) ultimately stole the night with their haunting, soft and graceful Viennese waltz to the "Outlander" theme song.
Alas, someone had to be sent packing—and last night that was Maureen McCormick and Artem Chigvintsev. What do you think? Did the right pair go home? Let us know!
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Last night's "Dancing with the Stars" had all the ingredients that make this show so delicious: Minor drama! Major sparkles! Inter-partner flirting that may or may not have been real! (Work that romance angle, Alek Skarlatos and Emma Slater.)
Yes, it was switch-up night on "DWTS," and as usual, the partner swapping generated a flurry of worries about chemistry and familiarity. But before we saw how each new star-pro pairing played out, we were treated to a delightful little opening number that made clever use of some aggressively glittery doors on wheels. The newly engaged (!) Witney Carson and newly preggers (!!) Allison Holker looked especially fabulous:
As it turned out, neither Mr. nor Mrs. PenaVega had any need to fret about their swaperoos. In fact, Alexa's post-apocalyptic tango with golden boy Derek Hough earned the first perfect score of the season. The end of the world looks good on these two:
Not far behind was Alexa's hubby Carlos, who teamed up with the fantastically fringed Lindsay Arnold for a sweetly retro quickstep that earned them a solid 39 points. Rock those saddle shoes, Carlos!
And no "DWTS" recap would be complete without an update on America's (not to mention Australia's) sweetheart, the too-cute-for-words Bindi Irwin. Her sunny cha cha with Val Chmerkovskiy may have lacked a little polish, but it had us grinning like fools—and landed Bindi in third place for the evening.
What did y'all think? Were you 100% obsessed with Hough's amazing French man-braid? Do you wish you'd seen 100% less of Paula Deen's booty? Let us know in the comments—and tune in next Monday night for the elimination that's been two weeks in the making.
Pretty much the entire universe can agree that Mondays are #theworst. But Mondays starting September 14th? Nope, Mondays are gonna be the best. Why? Season 21 (!!!) of Dancing with the Stars! And to get you even more pumped than you already are, the list of returning "DWTS" pros was just announced—it's as good as it gets, people.
Derek's baaaaack (screenshot via EllenTV)
First of all, we've got Derek Hough, Karina Smirnoff, Witney Carson and Mark Ballas, all of whom have previously won the coveted Mirror Ball. Already, the stakes are HIGH. Throw defending champ Val Chmerkovskiy into the mix and things get even more interesting. To round out the insanely talented field, we've got Allison Holker, Sharna Burgess, Peta Murgatroyd and Artem Chigvinstsev. Omg.
Dancing with the Stars pro Karina Smirnoff, with her Season 17 partner, Corbin Bleu, shows us how it's done (Photo ABC/Adam Taylor)
We'll anxiously be awaiting the announcement of the celebrity cast on September 2nd, but in the meantime, relive some of the more jaw-dropping moments of last season here.
Last night was Disney night on "Dancing with the Stars," and it left me somewhere between gleeful and totally creeped out.
On the gleeful side: DISNEY! So much happiness, so many childhood memories, so many fabulous princess dresses!
Just look at all the pretty princess dresses in the opening number! (screenshot from "DWTS")
On the creeped-out side: Ballroom is crazy sexy, and it is weird to see sexed-up versions of characters originally designed to charm people under the age of 10. (Also: there was a lot of lip-syncing. STOP LIP-SYNCING, EVERYBODY.)
Ultimately, though, the "DWTS" competitors won me over with their sheer enthusiasm. If there's one thing Disney does well, it's energy, and that's something that every ballroom number can use.
When did things really get supercalifragalisticexpealidocious? Not, unfortunately, in Robert Herjavec's underwhelming Mary Poppins–themed number. But Rumer Willis immediately got our attention by deciding to embody a deliciously evil, deliciously seductive Disney villain, rather than donning a princess-y hoop skirt, and her risk paid off. She made an eerily good Ursula—props to the hair and makeup team—and I love that Val Chmerkovskiy's Samba choreography was super-duper-technical. Rumor had it Rumer could handle it, and that rumor was true. (Sorry, I've been holding on to that one for a while.)
Also fantastic: Riker Lynch channeling Johnny Depp in a fantabulously intense Pirates of the Caribbean–themed Paso Doble. I'm not really sure who Alison Holker was supposed to be playing—an especially gorgeous pirate wench?—but the two of them looked amazing together, so I'm not complaining.
We also need to give a shoutout to the RETURN OF THE DANCING CRABS, who appeared in a Little Mermaid filler number alongside Peta Murgatroyd's Ariel. Way to get a ton of mileage out of those borderline-disturbing crab costumes, "DWTS."
In the end, we said goodbye to Suzanne Somers and Tony Dovolani—which, much as I worship Ms. Somers and her leeeeegs, was about right. Who'll be next to face the chopping block? Will Julianne Hough's pink Coachella hair survive to see another taping? (PLEASE KEEP IT IT'S AMAZING.) We'll be back after next week's ep with all the details!
Last night's "Dancing with the Stars" left much to be desired—namely, a performance longer than 15 seconds from the "DWTS" Pro Troupe Team. Nevertheless, the stars kept things interesting during the "Dynamic Duo" episode, which featured routines channeling the likes of Adam and Eve, Bonnie and Clyde, Lucy and Ricky...you get the picture.
It also included a second round, the dreaded dance-offs: The pair with the highest score from the first round would be safe from elimination; the rest would challenge another team to a dance duel. The scoring seemed rather complicated—and somewhat arbitrary. The team eliminated, as it turns out, was the team with the lowest score from the opening round. Goodbye Tarzan and Jane (aka Michael Waltrip and Emma Slater).
While Waltrip and Slater's jungle-themed routine was pretty bad, there was some good on the show. You guessed it, Alfonso Ribeiro and Witney Carson's Batman and Robin cha-cha. Week after week, these two can do no wrong.
Also amazeballs? The two-second tango from Cheryl Burke and Tony Dovolani (it's included in the video below). Unfortunately, the other brief Pro Troupe routine was just so awkward. On Sunday, "DWTS" must have turned their clocks way back to 2011. Here's the weirdest Royal Wedding portrayal:
Also pretty good (but also sorta awkward) was Janel Parrish and Valentin Chmerkovskiy's contemporary routine as dynamic duo Romeo and Juliet. I'd love to see an actual dancer play Juliet; but the judges apparently saw something in Parrish and her bent knees and floppy feet, and the couple earned perfect 10s. I couldn't help but think back to the other Chmerkovskiy's (brother Maksim's) contemporary number with partner Meryl Davis last season. (Though Parrish and Chmerkovskiy were missing the famous big, fat, wet smooch at the end.)
What did you think of last night's episode? Did you like the contemporary routine? Was the right pair sent packing? Let us know in the comments!
I'm kind of bummed that "Dancing with the Stars" is back to airing just one night a week. Not only are Tuesdays a little sadder when they don't include Betsey Johnson doing the splits, but the tighter format also means that we see less of the "DWTS" pros and troupe dancers doing their thing in featured numbers. And those numbers are where the real mad hot ballroom happens. Sad. Face.
That said, it's nice that shrinking down the show means that every episode is, out of necessity, jam-packed—no weird fillers or overly long introductory videos. And the pro dancing that we did get this week was pretty amazing. I loved last night's high-energy, Marilyn Monroe-y opening number, in honor of the Movie Week theme. (Witney Carson makes the most perfect Marilyn ever, amirite??)
At this point in the competition, we're also starting to see some legitimately great dancing from the stars—or, rather, the other stars are finally catching up with the fantabulous Alfonso Ribeiro. Ribeiro and Carson's Austin Powers quickstep got solid 8s across the board from the judges, but the two couples who chose to channel older classic movies both earned perfect (!) scores. Janel Parrish and Val Chmerkovskiy's West Side Story jazz routine ("DWTS" is really branching out stylistically these days, eh?) was fiery, fun and impressively high-caliber—especially considering that they were forbidden from using any moves that resembled choreography from the movie. Bethany Mota and Derek Hough's jazzy Singin' in the Rain piece was, IMHO, the highlight of the night: Hough was feeling the pressure of living up to Gene Kelly, one of his idols, and pressure apparently does really great things to his choreography.
In a surprise twist, Randy Couture, whom I always assumed was a fan favorite, got the axe at the end of the night. This show is getting real more quickly than I expected. Let's just all agree to keep Alfonso around until the end, K? K.