It was a Hollywood extravaganza Monday night on “Dancing With the Stars.” An opening number, danced to “Let’s Go to the Movies,” would have made Busby Berkeley proud.
And Chicago Cubs catcher David Ross made Chicago proud, advancing to the next round of competition, after surviving another week of low judges’ scores and missing out on a round of judges’ “bonus points” as well. (More on this later)
On week seven of the competition, the seven remaining couples celebrated “A Night at the Movies,” during which their performances had to pay homage to one of seven film genres: western, romance, silent films, action, horror, sci-fi or foreign.
In addition, one couple on this night would be awarded immunity from elimination based on the highest score from the judges and viewers’ live voting. The remaining six couples then competed in a dance-off for additional judges’ points in order to avoid the evening’s dreaded double-elimination.
The judges’ panel Monday night featured regulars Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli, and sitting in for Julianne Hough was “DWTS” resident show choreographer, Hollywood film choreographer and Emmy Award-nominee Mandy Moore (“La La Land,” “American Hustle,” “Joy”).
Ross and his pro partner Lindsay Arnold were awash in glistening turquoise blue costuming, affecting a full-on sci-fi homage for their salsa, which was danced to a cover of “Universal Mind Control” by Chicago rapper Common.
Coming off a difficult week six in which tensions were high between the partners, Ross and Arnold’s pre-dance video package showed this week’s rehearsals were much less dramatic and well, quite comical. Ross dropped Arnold accidentally during one move, and she returned the favor later on by, well, passing gas in his face during a lift. Ross fell over laughing.
Judge Mandy commented about their live routine: “Nothing solidifies a partnership like a toot to the face.” She however found Ross to be a little “flat in the feet,” and made a baseball analogy, commenting that the fast-switch muscles he uses to get out of a catcher’s squat are needed for dancing as well. Bruno said the robotics of the dance hid some of Ross’ mistakes quite well. Carrie Ann said it wasn’t the smoothest salsa, but it was full of fun and filled with content. His score 32 out of 40.
Ross then gave a shout-out to his wife and kids in the ballroom, pointing out it was his son’s 8th birthday.
For the dance-off competition round, Ross and Arnold were pitted against NFL star Rashad Jennings and Emma Slater, in an all-out jive face-off. In the end, the judges voted unanimously in favor of Jennings’ jive, which cost Ross a critical three extra points. In addition, 54 percent of the viewers’ votes agreed with the judges. It wasn’t a devastating blow to Ross’ chance at another week of competition, however.
The two celebrities eliminated on this night were Nancy Kerrigan and Nick Viall.
Earlier, the evening started off on a country-western note.
Bonner Bolton’s paso doble with is pro partner Sharna Burgess got mixed reviews from the judges. Len Goodman thought he lost his way at points during the dance. Moore though he did a great job. Bruno Tonioli pointed out Bonner’s stiff movements throughout the routine. Carrie Ann Inaba said the rodeo star got a little bit lost at points during the dance, and that the routine relied more on showmanship than dance moves. His score: 29 out of 40
At the judges’ table, Nancy Kerrigan’s tango to “Pretty Woman” garnered high praises from Mandy who thought the dance was romantic and Kerrigan just beautiful throughout. Bruno called the dance, glossy elegant and sophisticated. In homage to the movie represented by the dance, Len called it a “pretty good tango.” Kerrigan’s score: 36 out of 40.
Olympic gold medal gymnast Simone Biles and her pro partner Sasha Farbver anced a lively Charleston in a gymnastics-fueled routine paying homage to the silent film era. Judge Carrie Ann noted the excellence of Biles’ dancing. Her score: 37 out of 40. In the dance-off round of the competition later on (against Nancy Kerrigan), Biles unanimously earned the extra three points from the judges. And 63 percent of viewer voters also favored Biles.
Nick Viall and his pro partner Peta Murgatroyd danced the Argentine tango to David Guetta’s “Dangerous” in homage to action films. Portraying two spies, the duo ended their routine with Viall ascending via rope to a “helicopter.” Judge Mandy served up the ultimate praise for the former “Bachelor” star, saying: “for the first time in this competition, I stopped watching Nick and started watching a dancer.” His score: 34 out of 40
Rashad Jennings and his pro partner Emma Slater danced their paso doble to “O Fortuna” by Carl Orff, in homage to the horror film genre. The zombie-filled routine was dark, ghostly and powerful. The judges were mixed in their critiques, however. Carrie Ann criticized Rashad’s lack of good posture in the dance, while Mandy was wowed by his dancing prowess. His score: 37 out of 40, tied with Simone Biles.
Normani Kordei suffered a leg injury during rehearsal for her Argentine tango with pro partner Val Chmerkovskiy, requiring a trip to the doctor and an MRI. But you would never have known it by the sizzling performance that ensued during the live competition. Judge Bruno called it the best dance of the movie night.
Len echoed the sentiment. Her score: a perfect round of 10s, for a night-topping 40. The score earned the duo immunity from elimination on this night.
To prepare for the dance-off, every couple needed to learn four dances for brief face-offs against another team (selections were made live).