Things look a little different on tonight's Dancing With the Stars. We're told that the couples are working with "ballroom god" Donnie Burns as a coach, and also that there will he team dances. Gotta fill the time somehow once you've kicked this many people off.
The first team dance is a cha-cha, from "Team Chelsea." Chelsea and Mark choose Ralph and Karina and Romeo and Chelsie. (The other team is "Team Hines," teams being chosen by the top two couples from last week.) It looks uber-stressful in the rehearsal room, but on the floor, they are pretty awesome, dancing to Lady Gaga's "Born This Way." Head judge Len Goodman says this was a big challenge, but they did a terrific job. Bruno Tonioli liked the "Gaga Cha-cha-cha," but he says they went for it so hard that they lost formation a lot. Carrie Ann Inaba thought they were very in sync. She adds that Ralph held his own with the edgy, young group. Donnie Burns calls out Ralph for flubbing a little bit of footwork but adds that it didn't affect their formation at all. Scores: 8-8-7-7, for a 30/40.
Team Hines is also doing the cha-cha, and they have opted to rely on what they perceive as their strength: rump-shaking. They drew the short stick with their outfits -- neon pink and golden brown vs. Team Chelsea's basic sparkly black. But they also have a blast on stage. Bruno says they had great patterns and transitions. Carrie Ann calls Kirstie out for being late in the group part but right on in the solos and vice versa for Kendra. Donnie didn't love their spacing on stage. Len loved them all and talks about all the shaking for a while. (Now I'm a little uncomfortable.) Scores: 7-7-8-8, for a 30/40.
So, the end result is: The group dances mean exactly nothing. At least they were fun.
A couple of pros whose names are not shown on screen come out to dance next, but they are current champions and they dance unbelievably fast.
Chelsie Kane and Mark Ballas are the first couple tonight, and they're doing the paso. In rehearsal, a new coach (who happens to be Mark's mom Shirley) makes Chelsie yell about how aggressive she is going to be. The yelling is awkward, but the dancing is not -- they have a lot of drama. Len says he gets confused because he likes parts of it and other parts are perplexing. He feels overall it lacked refinement. Bruno calls Chelsie Lady Lace and says she danced with violent intensity and showed range. He loved the artistry and creativity. Carrie Ann says she usually loves tradition, but tonight, out with the old, in with the new. Donnie also found it a little confusing, more like Hell's Angels than a matador. Scores: 8-9-8-9, for a 34/40.
Kendra Wilkinson and Louis Van Amstel are joined by Luca Baricchi, who helps Kendra figure out how to let go of her fear. She says she has had a breakthrough, and she definitely looks less scared during their tango, but her posture looks funky to my untutored eye. Bruno says she looked more ladylike than ever, but she really needs to work on her frame because she was just hanging onto him. Carrie Ann calls it the most beautiful expression of sophistication they've seen from her so far. Donnie says this was a hard dance, and she did a bloody good job. Len thought she did well with the demanding steps, but he would have appreciated more crispness. Scores: 8-8-7-8, for a 31/40.
Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy get a visit from Shirley, too, as they work on the jive. Their dance tells a funny little story -- at first, he's pursuing her and she's avoiding him, then she grabs him, and they really get into the dance. It's fast and fun (but not furious), but I'm totally distracted by Kirstie's giant pink and purple tulle tutu that looks like something you would see a toddler girl in at a photo shoot. Carrie Ann says they went for complete entertainment, but something was out of sync with them the whole time. Donnie says he really liked it and bought it. He says mechanically and technically, she might not be the best, but her performance and personality fill the spaces in a really pleasing way. Len says she acts every dance beautifully, but "as a jive, it was most uneventful." Bruno says she went wrong at points, but as an entertainer, it was superb. Scores: 9-7-6-8, for a 30/40.
More pros dance goodly. Sorry, folks, that's all I got right now.
Ralph Macchio and Karina Smirnoff dance the quickstep after trying to prepare for it without breaking his knees. Their performance is, in a word, adorable. Donnie says his footwork was fabulous and he thought they rocked. Len loved the energy and his footwork, though he thought Ralph's upper body was a little loose. Bruno says it was vivid and vibrant and great. Carrie Ann: "BOO-YAH, you're back!" Scores: 10-9-8-9, for a 36/40.
Hines Ward and Kym Johnson prepare for their next dance. They discuss his nickname on the football field, the Silent Assassin. He says: "I don't do a lot of trash-talking, but next think you know, I creep up and knock your ass out." And with a smile, too, right? Al Costa and Jerome Bettis stop by to check out Hines and put some pressure on him. Their tango is precise and on point, but I didn't find it that entertaining. The crowd sure did, though. Len says it was a mixture, some of it was full of drama and some of it was dainty. But overall, he liked it very much. Bruno says he likes light and shade and how Hines played it. Carrie Ann says he has so much command, but tonight he seemed a little off-balance. Donnie says he dances from his heart and uses his head, and has a great personality. He says on a technical note, his arms were moving a little too much, but he liked it. Scores: 9-9-8-10, for a 36/40.
Romeo and Chelsie Hightower get a lesson in shaking from Shirley Ballas as they prepare for their samba. Their performance is sweet and fun and has a party vibe. There's definitely a lot of shaking, but he looks kind of ... nervous? I'm not sure. They're great, but he seems a little off somehow. Bruno says he needs to get the bounce in his legs correct. Carrie Ann says they had a lot of bounce, but it wasn't sending "a samba message." She says he needs to work on his technique if he wants to go all the way. Donnie has watched him grow from not thinking it was cool to achieving grace and elegance. He says he needs to work on his foot articulation. Len says the hottest thing about the dance was the fire in the set dressing. He says Romeo has to up his game. Scores: 7-8-7-8, for a 29/40.
Another rearrangement of the leaderboard. Interesting. What do you think is going to happen tomorrow night?