‘Dancing with the Stars’ Recap: Week 8

Tonight was Instant Dance Night, which is when the five remaining couples had to dance two dances: one which they had the whole week to practice for, and then another they had to improvise. The way it was organized was after each couple performed their primary dance for the judges, they had to pick out the next song they would dance the Jive to from a hat and then spend mere minutes choreographing it.

First up onstage was Rob Kardashian with an outstanding Quickstep. His movements were all excellent, and he seemed really up to the challenge of performing a complicated dance to a fast song. All the judges remarked how when Rob first started the competition, none of them expected him to go far but to their delight, he has transformed into a practically impeccable dancer. Len said it was his best dance so far and he earned 27 points.

Then came Hope Solo with her Quickstep we learned that during rehearsals, she and Maks decided to take a different approach and instead of Maks being so hard on Hope, he taught her the routine much more calmly and was more relaxed about the fact that they were on a deadline. Their strategic changes they made in approaching their dance had a dramatic impact on Hope’s performance, and each one of the judges commended her for genuinely enjoying herself and for feeling confident. Bruno said she’s never danced better, and she was given 27 points (her highest score to date).

Ricki Lake followed up with a Waltz that was typically compelling. During rehearsals however, Ricki and Derek paid special attention to Ricki’s shoulders because last week, the judges commented that her shoulders were the only thing wrong with her dancing. But when the time came for her to dance for the judges, nobody mentioned anything about poor shoulder placement. However, Len did comment that he couldn’t give her dance a 10 because she wasn’t taking her steps with her heels. But she ended up getting the solid score of 28 points anyway.

Nancy Grace followed Ricki with her rendition of the Tango. During rehearsals Tristan had more trouble getting Nancy to listen to him, but they got their act together in time to dance for the judges. I personally didn’t think it was anything special but Len, Carrie Ann and Bruno all acknowledged that Nancy continues to improve and stand her ground as a competitor. She earned 24 points.

Last up in the individual round was J.R. Martinez with his Waltz, and he set out looking to get the first perfect score of the season. And even though he was in fourth place last week, his routine was right on par with the skills he exhibited earlier in the competition when he was going back and forth between first place and second place. But all the judges thought he was outstanding, and awarded him the perfect score he wanted.

Then came the Instant Jives (again, these are the dances the couples had virtually minutes to prepare for). Rob’s partner, Cheryl, clarified that throughout the week they could practice a Jive routine, but the fact that they didn’t have the music they’d be dancing to meant they couldn’t organize the dance to beats. Rob and Cheryl were the first ones to bat, at not surprisingly they wasted a lot of time in the beginning not dancing (which is something Len hates). They hardly used any of the dance floor and mostly stayed near the stairs. The judges were impressed though and gave him 24 points, meaning he earned 51 points out of 60 for the night.

Hope Solo and Maks’s Instant Jive was next and during rehearsals, Hope said the first time she danced the Jive it was terrible so she was actually looking forward to giving it another shot. And she was marvelous! Her timing was infinitely better, she was in sync with Maks, and even though she still looks like she’s stomping around the dance floor, her kicks were an incredible improvement over what we saw last time. The judges approved and gave her 25 points, meaning she got 52 out of 60 points for the night.

Ricki Lake was third and she went into it feeling confident because the last time she performed the Jive, she got the highest score that week. Derek Hough wisely made her practice their routine to various types of Jive songs so she would feel comfortable dancing to whatever kind of song they ended up with and for the most part, it paid off. However, their routine was (understandably) a little bit more reserved than usual and seemed to have Derek doing most of the work. The judges appreciated her work though and gave her 24 points, meaning she got 52 points for the night.

Next was Nancy Grace, who was determined to prove herself in this particular dance because she wanted to show everyone that even though she’s older than everyone else, she’s got heart and ability. But right off the bat she got lost a little bit, and as the song continued Nancy got more and more lost. The judges had no choice but to give her 20 points, which meant she got 44 points for the night.

Last but not least was J.R. Martinez, who was completely outstanding. He smiled the whole time, and it was just as perfect as we’re ever going to see. The judges were floored and said it was sensational and gave him another perfect score. He instantly rose to the top of the leader board with a full 60 points for the night.