The all-athlete season of ‘DWTS’ is in full-swing, just in time for the team dance competition! Plus, there was another double-elimination, so find out which two couples were told to hit the showers.
With just four weeks in Season 26 of Dancing With The Stars, it’s less a marathon and more of a sprint – and ironically, there are no sprinters competing in this all-athlete edition. There are also no snowboarders or MLB players, either, after Jamie Anderson and Johnny Damon’s elimination last week. The competition also almost lost its only NBA player, as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar finished the first week with the worst score. After being told he had to loosen up, would Kareem rebound and deliver a slam-dunk? Or would he pull off another technical foul and be ejected?
Adam Rippon and Jenna Johnson slayed DWTS with an eleganza extravaganza, leaving many wondering how would they top themselves this week? They tied Josh Norman and Sharna Burgess for the highest score. Closing in on them was figure skater Mirai Nagasu, as her salsa with Alan Bersten to Meghan Trainor’s “No Excuses” gave the judges no excuses but to award them high praise.
Yet, that was last week! This week, in addition to their pairs’ second shot at glory, it was the highly anticipated Team Dance competition, providing an ultimate flashback to 1950s Tennis and 1970s Football. But, before that happened, it was time for the individual dances with the added bonus of real time voting! Plus, Season 24 winner Rashad Jennings was this night’s guest judge. Nice.
Josh Norman was up first. The Washington Redskins player is normally going toe-to-toe with NFL stars like Odell Beckham Jr. Perhaps that gave him the edge, because the cornerback, along with Sharna, delivered a SportsCenter-worthy highlight. The two performed a Paso Doblé, or a style of dance that emulates the movements in Spanish bullfights. Ole! Along to James Horner’s “The Plaza of Execution” (aka the theme to The Mask of Zorro) the two killed it. The judges thought it was hotter than a night in Barcelona with Bruno Tonioli enthusiastically calling it a “great performance.” The two earned a 30 out of 40!
Jennie Finch Daigle nearly struck out with the judges in Week One, as the softball pitcher, did a foxtrot in week One with pro Keo Motsepe. The couple faced some early adversity when she said she couldn’t dance to a song because it was too sexy for her. After changing up the choreography to match the new song — Daphine Willis’s “Do It Like This” – the two did a steamy (literally) cha-cha. Len Goodman, while thinking they lost some crispness during the dance, thought they did really well. Considering the changeup they pulled on the fly, they should be proud with the 26 out of 40 they earned.
So last week, Kareem was told he needed to loosen up. Well, if there’s any style of dance to make the muscles loose and liquid, it’s the salsa – especially how Kareem showed how his father was an avid salsa dancer in his day. While “La Malanga” by Eddie Palmieri played, the 71-year-old, 6-time NBA champion salsa’d, baby! His pro, Lindsey Arnold, actually started out on top of another dancer’s shoulders so she could be as tall as Kareem!
Did anyone ever think they’d see the day when they’d see the NBA All-Time leading scorer salsa dance? Bruno thought the dance was “well constructive,” while judge Carrie Ann Inaba said it was his “best dance so far.” Len said the dancing had “far more rhythm” and “far more fun,” and the scored reflected it: 26 out of 40. Hey, it’s an improvement!
Olympic luger Chris Mazdzer and Witney Carson brought some Puerto Rican and Cuban flavor to week one, salsa dancing to Ricky Martin &. Pitbull’s “Mr. Put It Done.” It landed them in the middle of the pack, so they decided to shake things up by mixing the old with the new. They performed a classic Viennese Waltz, to “Next To Me” by Imagine Dragons. It totally paid off. Chris and Witney thought they “nailed it,” and the judges were absolutely floored by the drama of the dance, along with how Chris seemed so in control from the moment he stepped on the floor. Carrie actually said, “wow!” – before listing off how perfect it was. There really wasn’t much to say after that, but Len found something. He did say he wasn’t a fan of the cliche “twirling” bit, but that was it. Even he was wowed by the duo’s “sway.” Chris and Witney rightfully earned a 33 out of 40!
Tonya Harding and pro Sasha Farber — who received a standing ovation for her debut dance – put their fancy footwork to the test while showing off a side to Tonya that not many know. Thankfully, she was dancing to a song she likes, doing a quickstep to Gretchen Wilson’s “Redneck Woman.” This was no line dancing. Thanks to a surprise DANCING BEAR OUT OF NOWHERE, Tony and Sasha kicked up their heels and had more fun that a hoedown in late July! Len said the dance made him “feel good,” while Bruno said the dance was “high energy, high spirited.” Bruno did scold Tonya for losing her neck, again, but the two did pull in a great score: 33 out of 40!
Last week, Mira got a pair of 8s, but she could only focus on the 7. Her hyper-competitive attitude, which gave her the drive to become an Olympic skater, was getting in the way of her really having joy with her dance. Thankfully, Alan knew what she needed: a trip to Disneyland! In a sly bit of synergy with ABC’s parent company, danced to “It’s A Small World” that was pure Disney magic and whimsy. Len called it their “best dance so far,” while Bruno said it was “gorgeous and radiant.” The dance got the first 10 of the night, from Rashad, which was followed by all 9s for a score of 37! WOW.
Arike Ogunbowale and Gleb Savchenko were on the bubble, score-wise, last week, pulling in a 20 with their Salsa to Whitney Myer’s “Them Girls.” Will “them dancers” pull out some magic to save themselves? They called on P!nk to motivate them to greatness, dancing a foxtrot to “What About Us.” So, what about their score? Bruno said that Arike’s heels gave her “poise,” while Carrie Ann said the dance left her in years. “There’s something so powerful for you being so vulnerable,” Carrie told Arike, fully appreciative of how gentle and sensual her dance was. The two pulled in a 33 out of 40.
Last week, Adam and Jenna burst onto the dance floor with one of the most dramatic debuts in DWTS history, thanks to some Paris Is Burning inspired vogueing. The pressure was on for them to keep the momentum up – and they did! “You betta work,” Carrie Anne did, chiming in with a classic RuPaul line, before saying she loved it. Len applauded their “clarity of movement,” and Bruno said it was “absolutely fantastic.” They earned the second 10 of the night, tying with Mirai with 37 out of 40!
Scores alone won’t save a couple – it took fans’ votes to keep a team from elimination. However, before that decision was made, it was time for the Team Dance competition!
Team 1950s Tennis – consisting of Chris and Witney, Josh and Sharna, Kareem and Lindsay and Tonya and Sasha – performed first. It was a giant number to The Baseballs’ version of Britney Spears’ “Baby One More Time.” First off, a German band doing a rockabilly version of a Britney song as part of a dance number about 50’s tennis – how wonderful is that? The “witty, imaginative and creative” performance earned the team a 33 out of 40.
Team 1970s Football consisted of Adam and Jenna, Arike and Gleb, Jennie and Keo, and Mirai and Alan. They had the advantage of dancing to a number that actually came from the 70s – even though none of the dancers were old enough to have lived in the decade. Regardless, everyone felt the disco beat of Dan Hartman’s “Instant Replay.” It seemed tailor made for all the dancers involved – but would the judges throw a flag on the play? No – because Bruno went completely bonkers for it! They won the DWTS Super Bowl with a score of 37 out of 40!
Going in to the team dance, stars Jennie and Kareem were at the bottom, score-wise. Kareem and Lindsey, Chris and Witney and Arike and Gleb were the teams in jeopardy. Ultimately, Chris and Witney avoided eliminations, meaning Kareem and Arike were eliminated!
That wraps up Week 2! Season 26 is now half-over, meaning it will just be two more weeks until one of these remaining sports stars lifts the mirror ball trophy in victory. Who will it be?
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