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Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 05/03/2011

‘Dancing With the Stars’ 2011: Kirstie and Romeo stumble


Romeo and Chelsie Hightower on performance night. (Adam Taylor - ABC)
“Dancing with the Stars” host Tom Bergeron kicks off this week’s performance show by thanking us for making last week’s “Dancing” the country’s most watched program – take that “American Idol” and its Carole King Week!

This week, some professional dance champs are going to show the rag-tag team of celebrity dancers how it’s done. And, before the celebrities perform individually with their pro dance partners, they’ll divided into two teams for a dance off; the scores will be added to each teammate’s individual scores this week. Plus, the world’s most decorated Latin dancer is Scotsman Donnie Burns, who is going to guest judge this week.

Bergeron asks Donnie what he thinks of “our little dance show here.”

“Nobody but nobody does show business like you Americans,” says Donnie of the show – which, actually, is produced for ABC by BBC. Bergeron feels this detail is not worth mentioning and instead says, “We Americans have shown ourselves to be good at a few things these past couple of days, I’m happy to say.” Yes, an Osama-Bin-Laden-is-dead reference. On “Dancing with the Stars.” Let’s see you try to pull that off on Wednesday, “American Idol” !

Team 1: Chelsea Kane, Ralph Macchio, and Romeo – and their partners -- attempt a fast-paced cha-cha to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.” Ralph has reservations about being able to keep up with youngsters Chelsea and Romeo. Problem solved: he makes maximum use of what we’ve come to recognize as the patented DWTS Celebrity Freeze. It involves stopping in your tracks and flinging up one arm while your partner executes a lot of distracting moves. Romeo and Chelsea acquit themselves well and there’s a nice finish with the three couples switching partners; the ladies drop into the guys waiting arms, kind of like the fish in that Old Spice Guy ad.

Team 2 Hines Ward, Kendra Wilkinson and Kirstie Alley – and their dance pros -- is a lot more interesting, visually. They look like the cast of some buddy flick about couples on their way to Vegas – or a desert island. It’s a story about The Head Case, the Accident Magnet, and the Nice Guy Who Has to Lead Them All Back to civilization – or LA.

Each celeb on Team 2looks better than we’ve seen them in a while -- this team thing seems to be working for them. Kendra does the Silicone Shake that’s worked so well for her the in past. And Kirstie is out there really shaking her bulk in a tight pink outfit that suggests Jenny Craig Barbie. This is some kind of mash-up of steps. There’s even a hora. They win hands down over Team One on the Fun-to-Watch Scale.

But, it’s not up to us, it’s up to Donnie and the regular judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman, and Bruno Tonioli. And they award Team 1 a total of 30 points out of a possible 40. Then they award team 2 – 30 points. It’s a total washout.

US and current world professional Latin champions Riccardo Cocchi and Yulia Zagoruychenko take the floor to dance to Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now.” It’s like a very speeded up version of a DWTS number, and it’s impressive but, strangely, not more entertaining.

Latin dancing champ Shirley Ballas, who’s also mom of Chelsea Kane’s dance partner Mark Ballas, is going to coach Mark and Chelsea in a segment that only Shakespeare or the Greek dramatists could truly do justice to.

Mark narrates tape of his mother describing her as “like an animal; she’ll just eat you alive.” On the dance floor, people -- on the dance floor! But the mood is set for some kind of Oedipal blowout, that’s for sure. Seems Chelsea is having trouble showing angry passion towards Mark. On the dance floor, people! And Shirley is just the one to fix that. “Give the passion! Take his hair!” she barks at Chelsea. It’s like one of the chicks from “High School Musical” has wandered into a scene with Lady Macbeth.

Whatever Mark’s got, now we know where he gets it. “Give the passion! Clean your plate!” Oh, yeah.

Well, it works. Angry Chelsea hits the dance floor with some kind of angry energy, her lips permanently fixed into an angry, teeth-baring grimace. In the end Chelsea and Mark mime -stab each other and fall to the ground.

“Spill his blood!” mother Shirley screams from the audience. (Okay, we made up that last bit.)

The judges award her 34 more points, out of a possible 40.

Kendra and Louis Van Amstel will be coached by the Luca Barricchi, who’s straight from central casting for the part of The Count in some Wilkie Collins period piece about English virgins on the loose in Italy. Luca tells Kendra that two dancers have to touch, really touch, to connect in the tango. “Now feel my body” he orders her; she assures on tape that Luca really, really helped her. They hit the dance floor and it’s not the train wreck we had hoped/feared, though the ending bit in which the two are supposed to run their separate ways to reunite on the upper stage turns into a bit of a jog for Kendra not a dash of love and desire. Kendra lands 31 more points.

Maks Chmerkovskiy mugs for the camera to upstage Shirley’s coaching of Kirstie, and far more time is spent on the interesting Kirstie/Maks relationship. This week, Kirstie flings a potted palm across the rehearsal studio floor, pretending it’s Maks. Let us not trouble ourselves with wondering what a potted palm is doing in an otherwise bare rehearsal studio, except to note that if a potted palm is introduced in a reality show, you can be certain that someone will fling it shortly thereafter. Tears, hugs, soul baring, all follow. They hit the floor with a number that plays off their rehearsal drama; it’s a jive to “La Bamba.” First she’s shy, then she’s flirty, when she pulls her skirt up to show the boys. She gets lost in the middle and towards the end Kirstie seems to stiffen up like the Aleve is wearing off. But nobody can dance Backstory like Kirstie and Maks. The judges are in disarray over this performance; Donnie gives her a 9 but Len only a 6. In the end, she leaves with 30 additional points. “I had so much energy and got caught up in the acting: ‘I love this! And where am I?’,” Kirstie explains in the Celebriquarium to hostess Brooke Burke.

Luca is the guest coach for Ralph Macchio and Karina Smirnoff, which seems confined to mostly telling Ralph not to think so much, which must be like Commandment 4 on the tablets for DWTS, we’ve heard it so much. We do hear a lot of kvetching from Ralph about his various body parts that are giving out. Anyway, Ralph and Karina hit the floor with some kind of period costumes in mind: she’s flapper from the 20s, he seems more “Guys and Dolls” guy from the 40s. They quickstep to the jazzy “Pencil Full of Lead” and Ralph performs some impressive knee pounding quick steps, though there’s an awful lot of that time-killing step that DWTS fans know as the Celebrity 10K -- an almost sprightly jog up and back on the stage. They snag 36 points.

Hines Ward is such a barrel-chested guy, when he’s assigned these more formal dances, like this week’s tango, he resembles a beer keg being rapidly wheeled away from a liquor store by some sorority chicks. But, to the extent he’s able to flex his back he overcomes that each week and this is his best yet, with lots of complicated moves that don’t look memorized -- or not entirely, anyway. He’s awarded 36 points including his first 10, from Bruno.

Coach Shirley Ballas gives Romeo plenty of coaching on his hip motion for his samba. She even gets his hands on her hips and they wiggle together – sly Shirley!

”Tonight I’m throwing a samba party – in my shoes, in my pants – I don’t care! Everybody’s invited!” raves Romeo, who shared the top spot on the leader board last week with Chelsea Kane.

And yet, when the performance begins, the music is jolly -- a reggae “Say Hey.” And the story line fun: a soldier and his girl on a beach with a bonfire for a backdrop. But after all that coaching, Romeo’s hip action comes in for serious criticism from the judges, along with his lack of footwork. Bruno tells Romeo he goes side to side but he also has to go up and down at the same time. Donnie notes, “you may have had a party in your pants but you had an earthquake in your shoes – it measures about 6 on the Richter scale,” adding “this is the business end of the season” when only the best survive. They give him just 30 points – putting him in last place this week, tied with Kirstie.

(Photo Gallery: “Dancing With the Stars”)

By  |  06:00 AM ET, 05/03/2011

 
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