The contestants must have been inspired by all the Disney music and guest stars on the night, as even "Grocery Store Joe" and Bobby Bones showed marked improvement.
We don't usually write about the opening number on "Dancing with the Stars," but they really went all out this season for Disney night!
Uniting the casts from both "Juniors" and this show, the number featured "Juniors" contestants Jason Maybaum and Ariana Greenblatt searching for Mickey and "Juniors" co-host Jordan Fisher provided the vocals and some fine dance moves for the celebratory piece.
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It was a great way to kick off the high-spirited performance, and it got us picturing a time when Tom Bergeron might want to step down as host of "DWTS" and how good Fisher would be in that spot. He's growing into his own on "Juniors," where he shares duties with Frankie Muniz, and is a natural entertainer.
On top of that, the magic of "Disney Night" really inspired the remaining contestants, too, as we saw some of the strongest performances of the season, including real growth from both "Grocery Store Joe" and Bobby Bones. And it all culminated with a truly shocking results moment. The looks on the contestants faces said it all.
Check out the intro sequence below, and then see how the rest of the night played out:
Who do I think I am? you ask. Well, I spent nearly a decade of my life sweating and bleeding to the music as a dancer. From a young boy learning a shuffle-ball-change to performing with the St. Louis Ballet Company, I experienced the ups and downs of one of the most difficult physically demanding sports on the planet. During this time, I was also a member of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, as well as a gymnast, writer and cartoonist. I had a lot more energy in my younger years. And I've spent the last sixteen years analyzing and critiquing reality competition shows for various media publications. I've got this.
Fair warning, since I'm safe at home, I'm probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Carrie-Ann Inaba, Len Goodman, and Bruno Tonioli. But I might be nicer, too. Maybe.
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Alexis Ren & Alan Bersten
What a stunningly gorgeous foxtrot. Alexis displayed a beautiful grace and fluidity throughout, while the ebb and flow of their movements mirrored the current of a river. Her hands were well-positioned, her hold looked rock solid throughout this long piece. This was a performance on par with some of the best foxtrots we've seen on this show, with Alexis matching Alan note for note. Whether she's crushing on him or not, she's definitely eager to please her teacher, and they should both be proud. On top of that, she radiated joy with a glowing smile throughout. This couple is in trouble every week, so this was a slap in the face of viewers who keep not supporting them, telling them they're not going to make it easy to get them off of this show.
Judges Scores: 10, 9, 10
My Score: 9
Juan Pablo Di Pace & Cheryl Burke
There were some rough moments marrying the Viennese waltz format to the character of Gaston from "Beauty and the Beast," but Juan Pablo proved more than capable of handling both sides, if the transitions were a little shaky at times. He had a nice carriage throughout the waltz sequences, save for some trepidation when they were dancing atop the narrow table. But all in all, he did both the style and the Disney villain justice. He redeemed a rough outing last week and put himself back in contention for that Mirrorball trophy.
Judges Scores: 10, 9, 10
My Score: 9
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DeMarcus Ware & Lindsay Arnold
DeMarcus really let himself down on the footwork on this one, though it is admittedly very fast and complex to learn. What's worse, if you miss one step or kick, as he did early on, it's very hard to figure out when and how to come back in to set it right. The lifts were beautifully performed, and he was in character well, but he was too heavy in the slight Charleston sections, and lacked the hop and full extension of any of his moves. But as a growing dancer, he really gave it a solid effort and remains so charismatic and fun to watch, it's easier to forgive his imperfections in form.
Judges Scores: 9, 8, 9
My Score: 7
Evanna Lynch & Keo Motsepe
While it petered out a little toward the end, Evanna was fantastic with attack and energy and verve throughout this jazz piece. She brought just the right amount of energy and enthusiasm to the piece, nailing the choreography with gusto and a true sense of joyousness. She embodied the character of Rapunzel perfectly, bringing her acting background to bear, and really showed herself a passionate dancer as well on this piece. It was so entertaining from start to almost finish, except that she started to look a little lethargic in the closing moments.
Judges Scores: 8, 8, 8
My Score: 8
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Joe Amabile & Jenna Johnson
Hey, look at that! Joe actually showed some real improvement this week, offering some hop and energy in this jive piece. He's still got a long way to go, but he looked fully committed to a routine for the first time all season. Sure, he's still really rough around the edges, but he finally looks like he cares about that and is working to improve what he's putting on this floor. This week, he justified America's ongoing support of him by proving that he does have what it takes to at least start to improve as a dancer, and it was refreshing to see.
Judges Scores: 6, 5, 6
My Score: 6
Mary Lou Retton & Sasha Farber
There was definitely a beauty to this contemporary piece, but it felt like Mary Lou was rushing it a bit. Especially at the beginning, she was pulling ahead of the beat a bit and not breathing in the moments between steps. The lifts were also a little stiff going into them, and there was a missed opportunity for one that just felt glaring. But all in all, it was a lovely nuanced piece performed with real heart and compassion. You could just see Mary Lou embracing her own grace and beauty and truly feeling herself in this performance in a way that was heartwarming to watch.
Judges Scores: 9, 8, 8
My Score: 8
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John Schneider & Emma Slater
Props where they are due, that was a proper quickstep and John looked like a true gentleman throughout. He was right where he needed to be for Emma, he kept his energy and character throughout, and his footwork was pretty clean, all things considered. This is not an easy dance to learn at any point, and as the oldest competitor at 58-years old, this might seem daunting but he go through it like a champ. Even more impressively, the quickstep is now one of his most accomplished and successful routines.
Judges Scores: 8 8, 8
My Score: 9
Bobby Bones & Sharna Burgess
Bobby is still overthinking every movement, and his arms were a mess at the top of this waltz, but Sharna is right to praise his growth and progress. He didn't quite have the fluid grace and motion of the dance down right, but he was far more elegant than he has been on the dance floor, and showed a real commitment to learning the technique needed for this style. His is a story of growth and general charm, so we can see why America keeps rooting for him. But he's got a long way to go yet to be a real contender for the title.
Judges Scores: 7, 7, 7
My Score: 6
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Milo Manheim & Witney Carson
Who knew the quicksteps would lead to the best dances of the night. Mile was masterful in his footwork, frame and even the character of this "Incredibles"-inspired piece. Witney choreographed a ton of proper quickstep content (for Len) and then they absolutely nailed it. The story was cute at the top and the bottom of the piece, but the real star was the dance itself, and Milo's poise and command throughout.
Judges Scores: 9, 8, 10
My Score: 10
The gap from the bottom contenders to the leaders is widening with both Bobby & Sharna and Joe & Jenna finding themselves several points below the next highest scores from the judges. America has dominated the decisions so far, but will this larger gap from the judges make a difference this week?
Apparently not, as DeMarcus & Lindsay were put into jeopardy alongside Alexis & Alan, who tied for the highest score of the night with near perfect numbers. This poor couple, noone is supporting them at home. Clearly it doesn't matter how perfect they are, they don't seem to have a shot in this game.
DeMarcus & Lindsay slipped badly last week, though, and didn't rebound this week, so they were the logical choice, but there is no logic on "Disney Night." No one went home. That's right, the magic of Disney carried everyone through to the next round.
Hopefully, it also served as a wakeup call to viewers and voters that you need to step up for your favorite dancers or they will go home, no matter what they do on the dance floor.
"Dancing With the Stars" airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET, and check out new companion show, "Dancing With the Stars: Juniors," Sunday at 8 p.m .ET on ABC.
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