'Dancing With the Stars' recap: Who has the Disney magic?

For The Baltimore Sun

It’s Disney Night on “Dancing With the Stars.” Alfonso Ribeiro is back to sing the opening number, which also features kid dancers. It's all so very cheesy, but what else would you expect on Disney Night?

Rashad Jennings & Emma Slater

Foxtrot - "Evermore" from "Beauty and the Beast"

I could be a little nervous about the stereotypes that could be conjured by a black man playing "The Beast" while dancing with a white, blonde woman, but that's probably just me overthinking things, right? One small nitpick: Emma's dress is more from the original, animated "Beauty and the Beast,” while the song is from the live-action remake.

Len says the music was difficult to keep time to, but Rashad got it. Len adds that Rashad’s footwork could use a little work. Julianne repeats that it was a hard song musically, and first says Rashad struggled but ends by saying he nailed it. Bruno also talks about the difficulty of the musical phrasing in the song but says Rashad really inhabited the performance of the character. Carrie Ann thinks Rashad lost some of the power of his dancing in the more formal style of the foxtrot.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 8; Julianne: 9; Bruno: 8

Erin tells them they are safe from elimination.

Let's take a moment here to acknowledge the weirdness of Julianne's hair. It's a very high top knot with long strands pulled out and framing her face like the girl version of sideburns. It's maybe something that would look better on a model on a runway than a judge sitting down on a primetime TV show.

Oooh, some more results. Heather and Alan are safe. Erika & Gleb are announced as the first couple in jeopardy. Bonner & Sharna are safe. Nick & Peta are also in jeopardy.

Nick Viall & Peta Murgatroyd

Jazz - "I've Got No Strings" from “Pinocchio”

After its use in the "Avengers: Age of Ultron" trailer, this song is nothing but creepy to me. They go out of sync a couple of times, but at least their cane work is better than that disastrous Mary Poppins number in a previous season.

I didn't notice until Tom pointed it out, but Nick shaved his beard off for tonight's performance. It looks good on him, but he'll grow it back.

Julianne likes that Nick embraced the goofy aspects of the performance. Bruno points out that Nick's naturalness at the can-can cross-dressing was a surprise. Carrie Ann calls tonight a breakthrough for Nick. Len calls it fun, entertaining, and full of feel-good factor.

Up in the skybox, we see that they've put Mickey Mouse ears on the Mirrorball trophy. Heh. Erin pulls up a picture of Nick as a kid in short shorts, tube socks, and Mickey hat, with whiskers on his face. I think some of Nick's blush may not be cosmetics.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 8; Julianne: 9; Bruno: 8

Erika Jayne & Gleb Savchenko

Viennese waltz - "Unforgettable" from "Finding Dory"

If you thought Erika would dress like a fish tonight, well.... you don't know this woman. She's a mermaid, of course. She's upset after her scores last week and cries in rehearsal. She tells Gleb that this is one of her and her husband's favorite songs. Huh. Oh, wait. It's not an original song; it's the old Nat King Cole standard. Now that makes sense.

They decided to completely drop the whole "Erika asserts her sexuality, Len's a fuddy-duddy" storyline from last week. And except for the tacky mermaid hair look this week, she seems to have toned it down some for this performance.

Bruno says he felt like he saw the "woman behind the mask" for the first time tonight. He praises her fragility and fluidity. Carrie Ann says because Erika opened her heart, her lines were more elongated. OK, hippie. Len loved the routine and the mix of dance in hold and out of hold. He also compliments Erika's arms.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 8; Julianne: 8; Bruno: 8

Heather Morris & Alan Bersten

Jazz — "For the First Time in Forever" from "Frozen"

Heather and Alan are doing a new lift and Heather's nervous about it. She asks Maks there's video of someone else doing the lift that she can watch, and he says no because he invented it.

There's a fun effect halfway through the routine in which the camera pulls back and the different levels of the ballroom appear to be dripping with icicles. It's pretty.

Carrie Ann says Heather was adorable, but the routine felt like a missed opportunity because it didn't live up to the promise of Heather's jazz abilities. She blames the choreography more than Heather. She also says the spins and lifts needed to be perfect because there were so many of them, and they weren't. Len mostly agrees with Carrie. Julianne and Bruno disagree with the first two judges. Julianne calls it amazing and says Heather completely embodied the character of Anna. Bruno says it was a vibrant, alive, character-driven performance.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 8; Julianne: 9 ; Bruno: 9

Maks tells us in the post-score interview that he will be back dancing next week.

Bonner Bolton & Sharna Burgess

Tango - "When Can I See You Again?" from "Wreck-It Ralph"

I always forget "Wreck-It Ralph" was a Disney movie. I liked it well enough when I saw it, but it didn't feel particularly Disney.

The gimmick for their routine is that Bonner is Ralph and Sharna is Vanellope, the character voiced by Sarah Silverman. Bonner seems uncertain during the routine, and if they were doing elimination shows, I'd bet we see footage tomorrow night of Sharna shouting him through the entire dance.

Len says Bonner didn't take the easy way out — instead, he danced a big amount of the dance in hold. He says Bonner did a great job. Bruno wanted Bonner to give more of a 3-D experience. Bonner comes in with, "I try to do as much as my body lets me." Don't talk back to the judges, kid. Carrie Ann makes weird noises that I think translate as: Bonner needs to maintain a more consistent energy level throughout the entire performance.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 8; Julianne: 8; Bruno: 7

More results: Simone and Sasha and David and Lindsay are both safe. Normani and Val are announced to be in jeopardy. Nancy and Artem are called safe. Do we think they did that just to mess with Normani and Val right before they perform? Perhaps.

Normani Kordei & Val Chmerkovskiy

Paso Doble — "I'll Make a Man Out of You" from "Mulan"

Donny Osmond is there to sing the song, as he did for the original movie. Normani says Mulan is her favorite Disney princess. Good choice! They're adding some combat choreography, with staffs and everything.

I like that they've costumed Normani in pants instead of a skirt. That's kind of the whole point of Mulan. I get annoyed when they cut away to Donny singing, but then I realize that's when Normani and Val went to pick up their fighting staffs, so it all works out. The work with the staffs is good, although a teeny, tiny bit out of sync.

Julianne yells and squeals about girl power. She says the routine was conceptually gorgeous without compromising the technicality of the paso doble. Bruno says Normani showed the power of the dance without losing the technique. He also particularly liked the martial arts section. Carrie Ann calls it "epic." She says the dancing was perfection. Len grumbles that he can't go "overboard" with all this talk of "perfection." He enjoyed the attack and spirit, though.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 10; Len: 9; Julianne: 10; Bruno: 10

Apparently, tonight's 10 score paddles are Mickey Mouse shaped. Adorable.

David Ross & Lindsay Arnold

Jive — "Ride" from "Cars 3"

David points out that with Mr. T gone, he's now the oldest guy in the competition. He's younger than me. I'll just be over here with my geriatric vitamins. This is another song with a live performance, by one ZZ Ward. I kind of feel bad for David and Lindsay, that it's not just all about them.

Lindsay has brought in backup dancers. At one point, each of the dancers is holding on to the shoulders of one of the partners, and it looks like every awkward trio dance. I'm not sure why you'd bring that element in when you don't have to.

Bruno says maintaining the clean, sharp footwork of the jive is hard, and David struggled but still had a good performance. Carrie Ann compliments him on not missing a step. Len says it was a tough dance, but David brought high energy. Len complains about David’s flat-footedness and Julianne agrees with Len as the crowd boos a little bit.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 7; Julianne: 8; Bruno: 7

Nancy Kerrigan & Artem Chigvintsev

Jazz — "That's How You Know" from "Enchanted"

"Enchanted" is one of the most underrated recent Disney movies. If you haven't seen it in a while, go back and give it another shot. It holds up well. Nancy gets anxious when dancing with backup dancers because she can't help but compare herself to them. She seems a bit tired during dress rehearsal, with the fatigue stressing her out.

It's a sweet routine, very much of the original staging and choreography from the movie. Carrie Ann says Nancy was effortlessly smooth and graceful and calls the dance "exuberant." Len calls it a lovely combination of nice dancing and the spirit of Disney. Bruno says Nancy held her own as the center of attention in the number.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 9; Julianne: 9; Bruno: 9

Simone Biles & Sasha Farber

Contemporary — "How Far I'll Go" from "Moana"

I really liked "Moana" for being a story with a girl at its center yet having absolutely no romance plot or subplot to it. She's got enough going on, what with saving her whole island.

Auli'i Cravalho, voice of Moana, is there to sing for them. This is such a good fit of song and character for Simone — she and Moana even share the more athletic, less conventionally "princess" body type.

Len loved the routine and says Simone's dancing was fantastic. Julianne says the choreography was beautiful and calls the routine well done. Bruno thinks gravity may not apply to Simone. Carrie Ann calls it uplifting and powerful.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 9; Julianne: 10; Bruno: 10

Elimination Results

The three couples in jeopardy are Nick & Peta, Erika & Gleb, and Normani & Val. The first couple called safe is Normani & Val. See? I think the producers were just messing with them earlier. The eliminated couple is Erika & Gleb. Eh, could've gone either way on that elimination, but I can take Nick's shtick a little better than Erika's, so it's fine.

Scoreboard

Normani & Val: 39

Simone & Sasha: 38

Nancy & Artem: 36

Heather & Alan: 34

Nick & Peta: 34

Rashad & Emma: 32

Bonner & Sharna: 30

David & Lindsay: 29

Predictions

I think David & Lindsay skate by on the "Friendly Old Guy" vote for another week. Nick & Peta scored well enough that they should be safe next week, unless it's a shocker. If I were Bonner & Sharna, I'd be worried.

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