It's Disney Night at Dancing with the Stars! And you know what that means! (Princesses and fairies and all manner of magical things in the opening number.) Even former DWTS winner Alfonso Ribeiro, now host of another ABC show, America's Funniest Home Videos, to lead the way. Singing! And Dancing! About magic and stuff, dragging along two little kids as they traipse all around the stage, and find various cast members in costume along the way. It's over the top. It's Disney Night!
At first, I wasn't as jazzed about this number, because it's the same costumes Val and his partner memorably wore for "Be Our Guest" to a recent Disney Night. So the number seemed slow, until I realized it was Josh Groban singing and a whole different number from Beauty & the Beast (currently out in theatres).
Well, I love Emma and Rashad, so this foxtrot was great. Also astonishing was that in the package, Emma mentioned that last week's 10s with Rashad (plural) were her first EVER! How is that even possible? Emma is one of the best dancers on this show. Although I guess she has been paired with some loser partners. Still... WOW!
JUDGES' SCORES: 32 (out of 40)
Then, this madness happened. Now, I've watched Nick Viall through three (two?) versions of The Bachelorette, then Bachelor in Paradise (a couple of times?), then, finally, The Bachelor. It's almost like he's always on TV. But in all that screen time, I don't think I've EVER seen him fully clean-shaven. (Although Pinocchio IS a boy, so he would be...) It was still shocking.
Here's the other thing that I recognized when watching this. It's easy (always easy) to dismiss whoever comes on DWTS from The Bachelor. You know it's stunt casting and they are going nowhere, and are usually one of the first ones gone. But Nick's REALLY trying here! Plus, he has Peta as a partner. They really impressed me with this jazz dance.
Judges comment about how vulnerable Nick is, and how great Peta's choreography is.
JUDGES' SCORES: 34 (out of 40)
Here's the thing I want you to understand. Both Gleb and Erika wear their sexuality like armour. In Gleb's case (and in the case of this show), it will keep him from ever winning a Mirror Ball trophy. (I promise you.) But in Erika's case, I'm not sure what it's holding her back from, but I'm sure it does. For whatever reason, maybe because it's Disney Night, and that puts one in touch with their inner child... I don't know... Whatever the reason, for this dance, to "Unforgettable," Erika put all that down, and genuinely expressed her vulnerability. It was beautiful, and every single one of the judges commented on it.
That truly, is the magic of Dancing with the Stars, that many stars don't realize when they come in. They surely don't realize the amount of work they are going to be putting their body through, and the grueling schedule that rehearsal is, but also, they have NO IDEA the emotional way that this show changes them. Yet star after star commented about that. This was Erika's moment.
And it was beautiful.
JUDGES' SCORES: 32 (out of 40)
This is a dance show with people who (ostensibly) don't know how to dance. Here's what you can do, if you have someone who is already an actress and a dancer, when you have Disney Night. You can get them to almost recreate scenes from the movie. You can give them bits of business (like throwing off gloves and scarves) that work in effortlessly into the dance. You can get them to punctuate words in the song ("I'm feeling gassy") with an actual burp effect.
Here's what you should NEVER, EVER do though. Don't have them jump onto the judges' console. It seems to me that Heather has TWICE hopped up on the judges' console in two different weeks. In this week, Len looked visibly affronted. (In his judges' comments, he says: "Don't ever touch me!" in a very stern voice. Then says he was kidding. He still does not look amused.
Your main job, as the pro who is teaching, is to get high scores. 10s, if possible. And, to do that, you have to make Len happy by not dancing on the table in front of him. You have to make Carrie Ann happy and not throw in lifts for effect. You have to make Bruno happy by throwing in a little extra sexy now and again. And I'm not sure what makes Julianne happy, but I think it's just good, emotional dance. That's why these are good judges. They balance each other well.
So, when dancer Heather hopped up there, Len was not happy at all.
I must commend the stage crew who truly did a fantastic job of recreating the Frozen world all around the stage for this dance. One big benefit of doing Disney night is that on this night, the crew gets access to all kinds of Disney animation that otherwise would be locked down. And it's just wondrous.
JUDGES' SCORES: 34 (out of 40)
Sharna and Bonner decide to recreate a videogame from Wreck It, Ralph for their tango. Not sure how well it worked, either as a tango or as a videogame. But then, I still have visions of Mark Ballas' amazing Nintendo Freestyle dancing in my head. It's a high bar to match.
Did love the costumes and the set, though.
JUDGES' SCORES: 30 (out of 40)
Season 9 DWTS winner Donny Osmond, who sang the song for the movie, arrives to perform it live. He and Tom have a few moments of banter. Nice.
Normani loved the idea of portraying Mulan to do her paso doble with Val. And, not surprisingly, it was quite wonderful. Even though they used sticks, and had some fight choreography moves, the choreography (by Val) as usual was just stunning.
The judges loved it, across the board. Carrie Ann even calling it "perfection."
JUDGES' SCORES: 39 (out of 40)
They were not as psyched about this jive, even though it was a world-premiere of a new song from Cars 3.
Carrie Ann did note that David "hit every step." However... they ended up receiving the lowest scores of the night.
JUDGES' SCORES: 29 (out of 40)
We come back from break with all the Disney characters (Minnie, Mickey, Donald, Daisy, etc.) out dancing with the judges, who are now out from behind their podium. Tom is standing next to Goofy, whom he says, "is my agent." That man just cracks me up, I swear.
Nancy Kerrigan still seems fraught with insecurity and hesitancy in her steps and movements. However, the judges thought she was the clear star of this number (even though this was the first time she had so many troupe dancers accompanying her). They were dancing jazz to a song from "Enchanted," and Nancy did seem to be having a lot of fun.
JUDGES' SCORES: 36 (out of 40)
Last, but certainly not least, we have our wondrous Olympic medalist Simone Biles, dancing contemporary to the Oscar-nominated song from Moana, "How Far I'll Go." It's sung by the actual Moana, Auli'i Cravalho.
Normally, as I've said before, I pretty much hate contemporary dance. But somehow, Sasha makes the choreography feel like it's just Moana going out exploring. There's not that "contemporary" thing that usually makes me cringe.
And there are echoes of moves that we saw on the Olympics floor, that have now morphed into dance moves. Gymnastic tumbles and rolls across the floor, and Sasha is right there with her. It's beautiful and brilliant, and such a fitting way to end Disney night.
JUDGES' SCORES: 38 (out of 40)
Gleb and Erika end up being the ones going home.
MICHE'S FAVORITES OF DISNEY WEEK, WEEK 5
1. Simone and Sasha, contemporary, Moana
2. Normani and Val, paso doble, Mulan
3. Nick and Peta, jazz, Pinocchio
4. David and Lindsay, jive, Cars 3
5. Rashad and Emma, foxtrot, Beauty and the Beast
6. Heather and Alan, jazz, Frozen