Week six has always been a tough one for contestants of “Dancing with the Stars.” Having turned the corner toward the final episode, the aches and pains as much as the self-doubt and frustration start to catch up with everyone.
Such was the case with retired Chicago Cubs catcher David Ross. More on this later.
So who went home? That was the evening’s biggest shocker. It came down to Heather Morris and Nancy Kerrigan. Combining the judges’ votes with viewer votes, the stunned ballroom erupted into a deafening chorus of boos when it was revealed that Heather Morris and Maks Chmerkovskiy were out of the competition, despite their perfect score minutes earlier in the show.
A new category of competition was added on this night: Girl Groups vs. Boy Bands, in which contestants danced to iconic songs made famous by well, Boy Bands and Girl Groups.
Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys (and season 21 runner-up) was on the judges’ panel, filling in for Julianne Hough, who’s on the road with her pro dancing brother Derek Hough for their dancing extravaganza (which played the Chicago theater Saturday night).
Dancing late in the night’s individual competition, Ross seemed out of sorts from the get-go, and it was only amplified by his pre-dance video package. Ross was all frustration and aches and pains as he and his pro partner Lindsay Arnold navigated the Argentine tango to NSYNC’s “I Want You Back.”
“Last week I had a blast but we’re at the bottom of the leader board,” a clearly down-in-the dumps Ross noted. “And the most frustrating part is working really hard but feeling like you’re not getting any better.”
The frustration reached a boiling point when Arnold told Ross to stop being so tough on himself and that it was her job to be tough because she was his coach. A seemingly stunned Ross softly shot back: “You’re not my coach, you’re my partner.”
No worries, the duo knew it was just the frustration in the moment doing the talking. Ross, who suffered some bumps and bruises during rehearsals, added: “It’s hard to always put on a smile. I try to be positive.”
During the competition, Ross was not at the top of his game unfortunately, and during the dance’s very demanding lift, it appeared as if he was about to drop Arnold (he didn’t).
The judges picked up on the off night for Ross. Bruno Tonioli squeaked: “You almost dropped her! … A few mistakes but well done.” A worried Carrie Ann noted: “You don’t seem yourself tonight. Part of what I love is the joyyou always have. I feel like you gave up.”
Ross replied: “No, I just wanted that lift.” Amid self-deprecating laughter, Ross added: “I was trying to be a bit more sensual and sexual but it doesn’t come off.”
Ross’ score: 29 out of 40. And Cubs fans relax, he (and all the male celebs) will be back next week it was revealed. The guys of the Boy Bands team earned a score of 33 out of 40 for their group effort.
The female celebs earned a 34 out of 40 for their group effort.
The bad boy of the ballroom was back: Maks Chmerkovskiy returned from his brief hiatus due to a leg injury to re-partner with Heather Morris. Their sizzling rumba to “Waterfalls” by TLC earned the season’s first perfect score, 40 out of 40, from the adoring judges’ panel.
Starting the evening off and dancing the samba to “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child, Biles and her pro partner Sasha Farber, received mixed praise from the judges. Len Goodman questioned their timing. Bruno Tonioli agreed, saying it was not as perfect as usual. Carrie Ann Inaba praised Biles for bringing out a very sexy element to the dance. Nick Carter thought the dance was exciting. Her score: 35 out of 40
Bonner Bolton and Sharna Burgess, who entered the evening at the bottom of the leader board, knew they had their work cut out for them. Rehearsing to the Backstreet Boys’ “I Want it That Way,” Bonner remarked: I’m probably the weakest dancer.. . But if there’s anything I’m learning, it’s to have fun. Their rumba garnered thunderous cheers from the ballroom audience, but the judges were not as enthusiastic.
Bruno explained: “Rumba is very hard for men. It’s continuous movement and it never stops. Your body always flows, and at times it was a little jagged. Carrie Ann remarked: “There were definitely dynamics going on this week that I’d not seen in you before. You were together in choreography, and you did a solid rumba.” Len observed: “You gotta show a little more emotion. It wasn’t your best dance but it wasn’t your worst.” Bonner’s score: 30 out of 40.
Nick Viall and his pro partner Peta Murgatroyd were tasked withdancing the jive to “Fun, Fun, Fun” by The Beach Boys.
“I’m physically tired. I’m mentally tired,” the former “Bachelor” opined during his pre-dance video package. “This experience has been surreal to me. I grew up watching Nancy Kerrigan win an Olympic medal. I watched David Ross hit a home run. I’ve had Rashad [Jennings] on my fantasy football team.
In the end, the dance was not Nick’s best, and the judges’ remarks noted it.Nick Carter said, “If there’s anyone who fits the profile of being in a boy band, it’s you. But you gotta work on the steps.” Len said the dance “showed fun and freedom. … What was lacking was polish and finesse. I wasn’t picking up a lot of good vibrations.” Bruno commented: “The dance requires precision and timing.” Viall’s score: 28 out of 40