Apparently tonight is a continuation of the "Hometown Glory" theme, so the dances will focus on the hometowns of the pro dancers.
During the oepning credits, we get to see childhood pictures of the pros. I think Tony is so old his is in black and white. Louis is older than cameras. (I kid, I kid. I love both of them.)
Hayes Grier & Emma Slater
Hometown: Tamworth, England
Song: "This Is How We Roll"
Emma's a twin and is very close to her twin sister. She says when this song came out she and her sister went "bananas" for it. She also has fun with her accent, saying "The water in Majorca don't taste like it oughta" where water, Majorca and oughta all kind of rhyme somehow. I think Emma would be a lot of fun to hang out with.
This is a fun routine and FAST. Both Emma and Hayes seem to be having a lot of fun. Julianne calls it fresh and youthful. She still wants him to tuck his butt under. Bruno calls him a supermodel. Carrie Ann says it was fresh but also classic because they stayed in hold the whole time.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Julianne: 7; Bruno: 8
Carlos PenaVega & Witney Carson
Hometown: American Fork, Utah
Song: "Hound Dog"
Witney's known fellow pro Lindsay and troupe member Jenna since they were all 9. She then says she's been watching "Dancing With the Stars" since she was 11. Excuse me while I get fitted for my orthopedic shoes and dentures.
Witney picked this song because it was one she performed to early in her dancing days, but I bet she didn't perform to this arrangement - it's not the Elvis one. I don't know if the intention of the dance was to spotlight Witney, but she really stood out while Carlos kind of faded into the background.
Bruno loves it but thinks Carlos got a little "squatty" at times and missed a step or two. Carrie Ann says she wasn't impressed tonight. She explains that he seemed to rein himself in and she wants him to dance bigger in a cha cha. Julianne tells Carlos that the "squattiness" is because his legs were too bent.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Julianne: 7; Bruno: 7
Gary Busey & Anna Trebunskaya
Hometown: Chelyabinsk, Russia
Song: "Overture in something something " - Tchaikovsky
Oh, this song! I don't catch what Anna calls it, but most people know it as the "1812 Overture." You've heard it a million times in commercials and Bugs Bunny cartoons. Gary's wearing a cape and both of them are in velvet. I've always enjoyed Anna's propensity to wear trousers to the dance floor.
The dancing is … not good. And watching Gary is starting to feel more and more exploitative. Like, it's not just eccentricity, maybe.
Carrie Ann says it had intensity, character, drama, and stomping, but not so much Paso Doble. Julianne praises his attitude but points out that he did miss some steps.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 5; Julianne: 5; Bruno: 5
Andy Grammer & Allison Holker
Hometown: Los Angeles
Song: "Heaven is a Place on Earth"
Allison says she grew up in Utah but she considers Los Angeles her hometown because it's where she lives with her child and her husband. They dance to a very slowed down version of this song. Not all songs get meaningful just because you slow them down.
I still think contemporary dance is about not wearing shoes and running towards and away from each other while looking like you're trying to dig some popcorn out of a molar.
Julianne likes the emotion of the routine but wants Andy to work on extending his arm movements. Bruno says the routine was very difficult but offers a similar critique about Andy's arm movement. Carrie Ann says she still sees Andy caught up in his head sometimes during the dance.
Allison grabs her daughter from the audience before heading up to talk to Erin. She's very cute and wearing an adorable dress.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Julianne: 8; Bruno: 7
Alexa PenaVega & Mark Ballas
Hometown: Somewhere in England
Song: "Somewhere in Time"
Mark is dedicating this song to his parents, who were world champion dancers while he was growing up. They were often away while he was growing up and living in England. This was one of the last songs Mark's parents danced to together as a married couple.
This is a lovely, lovely routine with some really classic choreography. It reminds me that behind all the shenanigans and costumes and spats and whatnot, there is a beautifully trained classic dancer in Mark Ballas.
Bruno calls it a proper, classic, sensual rumba. Carrie Ann says Alexa nailed Shirley Ballas' signature move (a kind of split in hold.) Julianne says she's danced with Mark since she was 10 years old and she got to do the signature move, too. She does talk about Alexa's frame in hold a little bit and how her butt was sticking out at times.
As they talk to Erin in the skybox, the camera cuts to Shirley Ballas in the audience. Tony steps in to praise Shirley as well. All the pros clearly have a lot of respect for Mark's mom.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Julianne: 7; Bruno: 8
Paula Deen & Louis van Amstel
Song: "Get Ready"
OK, look. I've been to the Netherlands more than once and one of the things I remember most was how TALL everybody was. The Internet tells me the average height of a Dutch man is 6 feet tall. Louis must have been the runt of the litter at 5'7.
Louis says he's actually from a small village of only 500 people just outside of Amsterdam. He came to New York in the 1990s to dance on Broadway and ended up teaching ballroom dance. Some of his first students were Karina Smirnov, Maksim and Val Chmerkovskiy, and Tony Dovolani.
When Paula points out that he's the oldest pro dancer, he sighs, "Thanks for reminding me." He's only 43!
It's a serviceable tango but Paula misses a couple of steps. Carrie Ann says Paula is sexy tonight but she's gotta really nail that choreography. Julianne likes the energy but does have to criticize. Bruno goes off on a long cooking analogy involving simmering and boiling and we're all a little lost.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 6; Julianne: 6; Bruno: 6
Tom says it seems harsh, but I think it's generous.
Bindi Irwin & Derek Hough
Song: "Only a Man"
Derek was born in Utah but moved to England when he was 12 and lived there until he was 22. I love watching Bindi's rehearsal footage because she's so smart and funny.
This kind of feels like a waltz by way of a contemporary routine. Len would be fussing about this. I miss Len.
Julianne says it was two dancers dancing as one. Julianne likes that Bindi has so many different sides of her personality. Bruno says it was moving and emotionally involving. He warns Bindi about occasionally hunching her shoulders. Carrie Ann is frustrated because it was stunning with a wonderful connection but then there was a lift. None of the judges addressed the lack of waltz content. Boo.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Julianne: 8; Bruno: 8
That score from Carrie Ann reflects the illegal lift.
Kim Zolciak-Biermann & Tony Dovolani
Hometown: Pristina, Kosovo
Song: "Queen Bee"
Tony lived through the war in Kosovo, his family leaving for the U.S. when he was 15. He says dance was his escape.
Bruno says the dance showed improvement but she has further still to go. Carrie Ann thinks Kim is a better dancer than she (Kim) thinks she is. Julianne gives her some tips about following through on her moves and taking up more space on the ballroom floor.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 6; Julianne: 6; Bruno: 6
C'mon. I thought that was better than Gary Busey.
Alek Skarlatos & Lindsay Arnold
Hometown: Provo, Utah
Song: "American Girl"
Alek is frustrated in rehearsals and Lindsay tells him she's being hard on him because she sees his potential. They're dancing in front of an American flag, with flag motif in both their costumes. Work that patriotic vote, Lindsay.
It's fun and fast but Alek needs to work on his hands — he's got the pancake hands.
Carrie Ann says it was OK, with a frustrated grunt. Carrie Ann says he messed up a couple of times. Julianne says they were in sync but he did have a couple of foot issues.
Bruno calls him "Alek the Great." He says it's incredible to attack a quickstep of this standard without dance experience. Bruno emphatically praises him for being the only one dancing the quickstep tonight to do it on his toes.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Julianne: 7; Bruno: 8
Victor Espinoza & Karina Smirnoff
Hometown: Kharkiv, Ukraine
Song: "Girl on Fire"
Karina left Ukraine for the United States and two weeks later the government back home changed and her whole family moved here as well.
I think I'm relieved that Victor and Karina did a rumba in a way that wasn't about some sort of sexual chemistry between them. He's got worse pancake hands than Alek, though.
All the judges make comments about Victor's size and I'm impressed he doesn't come across the table at them. During his interview with Erin he elaborates that he approached the rumba like taking control of a horse.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Julianne: 6; Bruno: 7
Nick Carter & Sharna Burgess
Hometown: Wagga Wagga, Australia
Song: "Coming Home, Part II"
Sharna hasn't been back to Australia since she was 18. Her mom has been able to visit her in the United States, but her dad and grandmother are both on dialysis and can't travel.
This is a very simple and elegant foxtrot but with a lot of drama from the music and the performance. It's very nicely done.
Bruno says Nick is back on track. Carrie Ann says there was power and passion and poetry. Julianne says that Nick got out of his own head and really connected with Sharna. She gives him some specific advice about his chest and wants him to act like he's holding a grapefruit under his chin.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Julianne: 8; Bruno: 8
Tamar Braxton & Valentin Chmerkovskiy
Hometown: New York City
Song: "Living in New York City"
Val was actually born in the Ukraine, but but he considers New York his home as his family moved there when he was 8. He and Tamar argue about his desire to be shirtless.
Luckily for us viewers, Tamar loses the argument. Hello, shirtless Val!
This is a fun Charleston. And I like that it feels both modern and retro at the same time.
Carrie Ann says it was the funkiest Charleston she's ever seen on this show. Julianne thinks their connection tonight was markedly improved from last night. Bruno calls it uplifting and energizing.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Julianne: 8; Bruno: 9
They get right to the elimination without even a commercial break. The first couple in jeopardy is Gary and Anna. The second couple is Victor and Karina. The rest of the couples are safe.
After much suspenseful buildup, the eliminated couple is ... Victor and Karina
Tamar & Val: 25
Nick & Sharna: 24
Andy & Allison: 23
Hayes & Emma: 23
Bindi & Derek: 23
Alexa & Mark: 22
Alek & Lindsay: 22
Carlos & Witney: 21
Victor & Karina: 20
Paula & Louis: 18
Kim & Tony: 18
Gary & Anna: 15
OK, America. Enough is enough. It's becoming more and more uncomfortable to watch Gary Busey each week and it's time to send him home. I mean, neither Paula nor Kim is that much better a dancer, so if you get rid of them first, I understand, but you better not let Gary outlast any of the others.