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TV Column
Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 11/06/2012

‘Dancing With the Stars’: Dance fusion

Tom Bergeron plugs ABC’s “Day of Giving” fundraiser on Monday’s episode of “Dancing With the Stars,” giving viewers a number to call and donate to the Red Cross in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. And after that, it’s directly on to Dance Fusion Week — but there’s no results show tomorrow (because of that whole election thing), so it’s relatively low stakes all around.


Apolo, going for the shirtless vote. (Adam Taylor - ABC)
To kill some time during the two-hour show with only seven couples left, the judges get together around a table and discuss what dance fusion really means: The couples must blend two wildly different styles of dance together in one non-disastrous routine.

Olympic speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno and Karina Smirnoff

Dance: Cha Cha/Paso doble

Apolo is quite proud of the fact that he got a perfect score last week, and brags that it’s not the beginning of the speedskating competition that matters — it’s the last few rounds that count. After his extended metaphor, Karina worries about the fused dances — cha cha is cheeky, and paso doble is aggressive. Apolo’s confidence fades when he has trouble learning hte steps. “I’m just not absorbing it; I feel so frantic,” grumbles Apolo, getting bleeped. Karina has no sympathy. “Trust me, that’s not going to get us a 10,” she snaps as Apolo messes up, yet again.

Apolo does the same thing as anyone who’s struggling to master a skill — he tears off his shirt and hopes for the best. The dance is truly a bizarre combination of frantic anger and quick moves, but they seem to pull it off.

Len loves that they didn’t play it safe. “Apolo Ohno — I’m saying Apolo Oh-yes,” says Len, quite proud of his wordplay. How long has he been sitting on that one? Bruno compares Apolo to one of the guys from “Twilight” (he doesn’t specify which one but does it matter?) and Carrie Ann admires that Apolo took his shirt off.

Scores: 9, 9, 9 for a total of 27 points.

Former NFL player Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke

Dance: Rumba/Samba

Cheryl is all over Emmitt this week since last Monday’s subpar fox trot. In their defense, they did have to dance to “Islands in the Stream.” This time, Cheryl is pushing Emmitt to the limit, switching back and forth between rumba and samba every 10 seconds. Just when it’s about to get unpleasant, we get some adorable footage of Emmitt back home in Dallas with his kids, eating delicious-looking food and trying to convince his daughter he can totally handle dance fusion. Just normal dinnertime conversation.

Dressed entirely in pink, Cheryl performs lots of fancy spins and moves while Emmitt mostly stands around and shakes his hips. Bruno is impressed, going on about how Emmitt went in and out of the two dance styles every eight counts, and with ease. Carrie Ann doesn’t seem as impressed. “What was lacking was your upper body,” she expains, saying that Emmitt was inside his own head too much. Everyone boos.

Scores: 8.5, 9.5, 9.5 for a total of 27.5 points.

Actress Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy

Dance: Quickstep/Samba

Things seem to be going drama-free for Kirstie and Maks in rehearsal, so the producers devote most of her screen time to showing Kirstie putting together food and clothing drive for people affected by Hurricane Sandy. Kirstie says she put more effort toward that this week than dancing, but it’s okay, since it’s not even an elimination week.

Kirstie’s lack of practice is evident, as she stumbles through the last part of the dance, visibly counting her steps out loud. Carrie Ann tries not to look too horrified. “This is hard because your heart is so pure and so wonderful, but that dance...” Carrie Ann trails off. She liked the quickstep, but thinks the samba fell apart. Len, who is determined to compliment Kirstie no matter how she performs, calls it a “nice mix,” though there were a couple “incidents.”

Scores: 8, 8, 8 for a total of 24 points.

Actress Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy

Dance: Cha Cha/Fox Trot

Now it’s time for this season’s ongoing and so far, very dull, storyline — the “connection” between Kelly and Val. Sitting next to each other in front of a roaring fire, Val rambles on about Kelly has exceeded all of his expectations — professionally and personally on the show. “I hope that we continue to stay in touch and do a lot more things after this season,” Val mumbles. “Of course, I feel the same,” Kelly purrs back. However, they bicker in rehearsal, and Val explains that just because they “care about each other” doesn’t mean that they don’t get angry when someone messes up a dance step.

Len is pleased that they mixed the smoothness of the cha cha with the crispness of the fox trot, and calls it “lovely.” Bruno nicks them for losing balance at one point, but ultimately enjoyed the balance. Carrie Ann calls it elegant and sexy. Brooke Burke Charvet “grills” them in the Celebriquarium about what’s going on with their showmance, but Kelly and Val stay coy.

Scores: 9, 9, 9 for a total of 27 points.


Melissa and Tony (Adam Taylor - ABC)
Reality star Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani

Dance: Tango/Cha Cha

Riding high after last week’s scores and Len’s standing ovation, Melissa is excited for a new challenge — until she realizes that tango and cha cha are basically the exact opposites. But when she sees Tony video chat with his wife and family on the East Coast — who have been living through the hurricane — he decides to try her best for Tony, who’s clearly been having a rough week.

Melissa goes rather flawlessly through the dance (though she almost topples over on her heels at the end). “Tonight, you are a star!” raves Carrie Ann. Len calls the dances “beautifully defined,” and says he loved the way the dances worked together.

Scores: 10, 9.5, 9.5 for a total of 29 points.

Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson and Mark Ballas

Dance: Tango/Paso doble

Derek Hough has a neck injury this week, so Shawn’s back with her original partner, Mark Ballas. “I knew you’d come back...they always do!” Mark faux-gloats to Derek, who sits in on their rehearsal. Derek stays in the corner to help with choreography and criticize Mark. Shawn looks caught in the middle as the two guys argue over what dance will be best, until she finally shuts them up, looking utterly bewildered over what’s going on.

Derek’s still not healthy enough to dance, so he watches sadly from the ballroom as Shawn dances with Mark, speeding through the steps and hitting all of them. Carrie Ann says the dance was seamless. Len — who always finds something to criticze about Derek — thinks it was a firecracker, as the tango was the fizz, and paso doble was the explosion. We’re not sure what that means, but he’s definitely a bigger fan of Mark than Derek. Bruno dubs Shawn the queen of the night.

Scores: 10, 10, 10 for a total of 30 points.

Actor Gilles Marini and Peta Murgatroyd

Dance: Argentine tango/Samba

Gilles can’t get the hang of this extremely difficult fusion, which involves the quick samba and very slow tango. There’s a lot of bleeping, and Gilles slams his hand against the wall in frustration. Gilles walks out of rehearsal, but turns out it’s only to go to a magazine cover shoot, while shirtless. Gilles is hopeful that this shirtless photo shoot will clear his mind, and even has a heart to heart with his buddy at the shoot — Cheick Kongo, a heavyweight fighter — about the dilemma. Kongo tells Gilles to never give up, reminding him that he never gave up during a fight. As a result, Gilles returns to rehearsal with a renewed fighting spirit.

The blending of the super-fast and super-slow dances is definitely jarring, but Gilles and Peta manage to pull it off. Len thinks it was fantastic, and Bruno agrees; Carrie Ann complains about Gilles’s arm movements, though still loves the fusion.

Scores: 9,5, 9.5, 9.5 for a total of 28.5 points.

As the show comes to an end, Tom Bergeron gives us an update that the “Day of Giving” has raised more than $14 million.

But first, it’s time for the swing dance marathon, as all the couples compete at the same time, and the judges choose to eliminate duos as the minutes tick by — the last couple standing gets 10 extra points. Maks says the marathon is all about stamina which Kirstie probably does not have. At least he’s realistic.

Tom Bergeron is psyched that he gets to use his “golf announcer” voice for the swing marathon, and puts it to good use as he narrates. Sure enough, Kirstie and Maks are the first couple to leave, for four extra points. That’s followed by Gilles and Peta, for five extra points; Apolo and Karina are next, for six extra points; Emmitt and Cheryl are after that, for seven extra points; Shawn and Mark leave, for an extra eight points; Kelly and Val are next gone, for an extra nine points.

That means Melissa and Tony win the dance marathon, for an extra 10 points. They’re showered with red, white and blue balloons, an homage to the election that’s pre-empting Tuesday’s results show.

By  |  05:00 AM ET, 11/06/2012

 
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