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'Dancing With the Stars' semifinal performances

Tonight, the final four couples face off on Dancing With the Stars. They'll each do two dances, one Latin and one ballroom, drawn from a giant disco ball, of course.

Jason Taylor and Edyta Sliwinska are up first -- their dances of the night are foxtrot and paso doble. They hope to show how far he's come with the foxtrot since it's been so long since he had to perform it. He also gets a pep talk from Dan Marino via tape and is told not to come home without the mirror ball trophy. Their foxtrot, to "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off," is graceful and cheeky and definitely achieves their goal of showing how much Jason has learned this season. He looks comfortable and like he's having a great time. Head judge Len Goodman is up first: "Honestly, ... like a dolphin glides through the sea, that's how you moved on the dancefloor. ... The whole thing was great." Bruno Tonioli says he was a showman and had great movement. Carrie Ann Inaba says he had great posture, a lot more content and did a great job. Scores: 9-10-9, for a 28/30.

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Marissa Jaret Winokur and Tony Dovolani draw rumba and quickstep. Stacy Keibler stops by to talk with Marissa about what it's like to dance and train with Tony and how difficult it is to have chemistry with him when they don't find him sexy (he doesn't look too pleased). Their quickstep is OK -- there are a couple of slow parts that seem particularly slow for the quickstep, though. Bruno says, "You missed a jete on the big run. This is the semifinal; at this stage, we look at things like that." Carrie Ann says she's turned into the unlikely contender and that she did a great, classic quickstep. Bruno says he has to take into consideration the difficulty level of this dance, but that she did a great job. Scores: 9-9-8, for a 26/30.

Cristian de la Fuente and Cheryl Burke draw samba and Viennese waltz, and they aren't happy since the samba was the dance during which he got injured. Their waltz, to Dave Matthews Band's "Satellite," has flow and elegance, and he even manages the hold fairly well despite his arm brace. Carrie Ann says Cristian looks stressed and then has this moment when he breaks through and really starts enjoying each performance. Len says it had better content and better movement and mentions, thus, "better marks." Bruno says it was a Viennese waltz with "a wow factor." Host Tom Bergeron asks, regarding Cheryl's silver dress, whether anyone is missing a weather balloon. (Cheryl doesn't find this nearly as amusing as I do.) Scores: 9-9-9, for a 27/30.

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Kristi Yamaguchi and Mark Ballas draw tango and jive. Their goal with the tango is to show more emotion since they have room to improve their 27/30 from the last time they did the dance. They definitely pull this off, especially in the love parts of the love-hate dance. There is also this one crazy footwork sequence that is very cool and not something I recall seeing in previous tangos on this show. Len says obviously the audience loved it and that she did get the drama back, though at times, he found it "a little bit hectic." Bruno: "You squeezed every single drop of drama, passion, sex appeal out of that dance, and technically your footwork ..." Then he and Bruno talk over each other. Carrie Ann recrowns Kristi the "queen of the dancefloor." Scores: 10-9-10, for a 29/30.

Jason and Edyta return to the floor for their paso doble. But first, Len Goodman gives the semifinalists a master class and teaches each one a new step that they have to do in their performances. Then, it's paso time. Their goal was less posing and more drama, and they seem to reach that, though overall, I am not totally wowed by the performance. Not that there is anything wrong with it that I can put my finger on, but it wasn't my favorite paso doble ever. The audience members giving the standing ovation disagree with me, though. Bruno says he has the strength and determination of Iron Man. Carrie Ann says there was way more content and choreography. Len compares him to the price of gas and says he is going up. (He means it in a good way.) Scores: 9-9-9, for a 27/30 and a total 55/60.

Marissa and Tony are back with their rumba. Their chemistry is definitely amped up a notch or two, and Marissa definitely uses her acting chops to show off the emotion of the dance. Carrie Ann says this is the semifinals, and she wasn't excited by this dance. Len says the rumba doesn't have the wow factor of some of the other dances, and it is very precise. He adds that they did show off these qualities, and it was a very nice job. Bruno says that last time, he told Marissa she didn't show enough sexiness, but this time she went for it and she sold it well. Carrie Ann interrupts to yell at them about how it was the semifinal and they have to have the same standards for everyone. Scores: 8-9-9, for a 26/30, and a total 52/60.

Cristian and Cheryl give the samba another shot, this time hopefully without injury. Their performance is fun, funny and above all, entertaining. And it ends with booty-shakes for everyone. Len says it was hotter than a chili pepper. He adds that adversity can either knock you out or take you down, but he thinks it's made him stronger. He does say, though, that it was a tad flat-footed. Bruno says he made it a party for everyone. Carrie Ann says he reminded her of "Twinkle Toes," aka Emmitt Smith, and that it was excellent. Scores: 10-9-10, for a 29/30, and a total 56/30.

Kristi and Mark close the show with the jive (which they scored a 30 with two weeks ago). Their performance is a blast (they dance to "Nutbush") and seems very on point. (Kristi's hair gets stuck in her lipgloss, which is a little distracting, but the dance is so fast, it's not like she can do anything about it.) Bruno: "For me this was the cherry on the icing on the cake of a sweet, sweet jive. Tonight, you've shown two sides. ... You can do it all!" Carrie Ann: "That was an extremely difficult routine. Tonight you were just a hair out of sync, but still fantastic." Bruno says they moved well across the floor and he loved the classic steps, but he found them a little stiff at points. 9-9-10, for a 28/30 and a total 57/60.

So that leaves the leaderboard as: Kristi and Mark (57), Cristian and Cheryl (56), Jason and Edyta (55) and Marissa (52).

I think this has to be Marissa's week to go home. Kristi and Jason have been strong all season, and Cristian has shown so much improvement in the past couple of weeks. Marissa has shown some improvement, but I think the other three deserve to be in the finale a little more.

What do you think?

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