'Dancing with the Stars' recap: Maria Menounos owns 'Classical' night

Derek Hough and Maria Menounos, shown here from last week's Motown episode, continued to dance well on this week's "Dancing with the Stars."
Derek Hough and Maria Menounos, shown here from last week's Motown episode, continued to dance well on this week's "Dancing with the Stars." (Adam Taylor, ABC)

It's classical night, which means a whole lot of songs I'll recognize but not know the name of. Oh, look, it's an exaggeratedly expressive violinist and some chicks in Marie Antoinette garb. Never change, DWTS, never change. DUDES IN BREECHES AND NECKCLOTHS! Excuse me while I make up historical romance novel cover scenarios for each of these couples. Ooh, that was Joshua Bell? If you've never read Gene Weingarten's excellent Pulitzer-prize winning essay "The Fiddler in the Subway" go do so now, and come back to this recap when you're finished.

Ooh, Maria's dress looks like something out of Flash Gordon - and I totally mean that as a compliment. Kym Johnson has a frickin' parasol. These costumes are even weirder than usual — I think Katherine and Mark are doing some sort of Greek/Roman mythology theme.

Katherine Jenkins & Mark Ballas
Katherine and Mark are doing the rumba to Pachelbel's "Canon in D Major" (aka that song you always hear at weddings). Mark says you can't spell "classical" with "ass." True, and yet still a little tacky to point out.  Ha! - Tom says they're dressed for "Game of Thrones: The Musical" - not entirely accurate but still amusing. Oh, wow - we get a full look at Mark's tattoos, since he's completely shirtless. Feels a bit incongruous with the music, but what're ya gonna do?  Katherine does make some of the most beautiful lines in pose, doesn't she? This song just feels SO WRONG to have sexysexy rumba moves happening with it. WHOA - Katherine just did the most beautiful balance/stretch move - totally impressive. Len says it was a "classic rumba" and says he knows Mark would've liked to go down the "raunchy" route but kept it elegant. He praises Katherine for her ability to stay on time, without any discernible rhythm to the music. Bruno calls Katherine the "unattainable object of desire... merely toying with [her] subjects." He added that some of her figures could've been lifted from a museum. And he adds he would've liked it raunchier, but that technically it was excellent. Carrie Ann says that her passion didn't feel genuine, but adds that the music "is what it is" - I think she agrees with  me that Pachelbel is not sexy music.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9  Len: 9   Bruno: 9

Melissa Gilbert & Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Tom introduces these two as "Melissa Gilbert & her injured partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy."  Oooh - that does not bode well.  Melissa explains that after last Monday's show, Maks's ankle started really hurting. Turns out he has a cyst, and that he's gonna pull Val in as his understudy of sorts, but they'll still be doing Maks's choreography for the Argentine tango. Wow, Maks may be injured but that doesn't prevent him from holding Melissa above his head in a crazy lift.  Melissa still looks so awkward to me, especially as she goes into one of their final lifts - felt a little bit like we were seeing too much of her little house, wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Thanks, Tom, for letting me know that was "The Marriage of Figaro." Bruno says her effort was impressive  but that it got messy and the lifts weren't clean. Carrie Ann says it was like "Cirque du Soleil went terribly wrong." She didn't want the "lift-fest."  Melissa says, with some prompting from Tom, that it felt different than what the judges saw. Len thinks the lifts went with the crescendos in the music. He says it was "full-on but lacked a little bit of dance quality."
Scores: Carrie Ann:  7 Len:  7  Bruno: 7

When asked what he thinks of the scores, Maks says, "I don't think; I just dance." Sounds like someone learned his lesson from the PR debacle of last year. Melissa mentions that she just performed in front of the doctor that operated on her spine.

William Levy & Cheryl Burke
Cheryl warns William that the Viennese Waltz is a dance that Len will nitpick because of its technical difficulty. William says that he was born on the streets in Cuba, what does he know of classical? And they're off and dancing while a 12-year-old soprano who sounds like a 36-year-old sings "Ave Maria." It's very weird to hear that voice come out of that little face, so I'm glad we're watching the dancing now. There's so much dry ice floating over the stage that we don't even know that William has ankles, much less whether the previously mentioned injured one is acting up. That being said, the dance is smooth and fast, which are the two main things in a Viennese Waltz, as far as I'm concerned. Carrie Ann has to wait for William's fans to shut up so she can talk. Calm yourself, ladies. Carrie Ann says he brought the content this week. Len says he wasn't transported to Vienna, but it was close - he was in Austria.  He says week after week, Williams' "up and down like a fiddler's elbow" and this week he was up. Bruno says he saw vulnerability tonight, and that he followed the melodic line in a way only a professional dancer does.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9  Len: 9  Bruno: 9

Roshon Fegan & Chelsie Hightower
Roshon seems dispirited, saying that he gives his all every week, but that he's not connecting. Aw, I've grown to like the kid, I want to see him succeed now. So now Roshon goes to Val to learn how to be more masculine - he's giving him some decent advice about body language and facial expressions. They're doing the Argentine tango to a "classical" version of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance." I don't know if that's terrible or fantastic. Roshon's long, skinny legs look great as always - HELLO TECHNICAL DIFFICULTY - I just got about 10 seconds of the logo filling the screen instead of dancing. Roshon gets a pretty great foot flick sequence in near the end. Len says overall it was "clean" and "confident." Bruno says the lifts were "seamless" but he wants to see strength in the legs, because sometimes Roshon's legs get a little wobbly - Bruno, they are but tiny, skinny things, he's doing the best he can. Carrie Ann is so happy she comes around to hug him. He IS kinda adorable, right?
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9  Len: 8  Bruno: 8

Eep. With those scores, it'll be a miracle if he's not in the dance duel.

I'm loving all the reinterpretations of the show's theme the orchestra/band is doing as the show comes out of commercial.  Why not let your live band loose if you've got one?

Donald Driver & Peta Murgatroyd
Donald wants to be the first contestant to get the triple tens. Peta says she's choreographing a "professional grade routine" and then she lists a bunch of technical terms to back it up. In rehearsal, I swear it looks like Donald's upper arms are bigger than his lower legs. They start out sitting in thrones while the tenor sings "La Donna è Mobile" Then they head into the Viennese waltz and I like that they've got some rise and fall going. And they finish with Donald doing one of those "whirl her around by one arm and one leg lift/spins".  Donald's supercute son is in the audience - so cute he can even pull off a hat. Bruno loved it and said it was a credit to his home country (presuming he means the song, not the dance.) Carrie Ann was looking down at the right moment so she didn't see the lift.  Huzzah. Len was afraid when he saw Donald's costume that he was going to be a walking "Ferrero Rocher." (Mmm, hazelnuts.)
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9   Len: 9   Bruno: 9

Maria Menounos & Derek Hough
They're doing a paso doble to a piece called "Montagues and Capulets," so accordingly Derek is playing it as a tragedy. Maria's having a hard time this week, letting the pressure get to her. Derek has to be one of the most supportive pros ever on this show. So nice he is to his partners. Derek starts out doing that high-knee walk crawl thing and I swear as Maria bares her teeth at him it looks like she has fangs.  Oooh, they do a cool move where she drops toward the floor face first and Derek catches her on a knee - that's some guts there. Aha - she does have fangs! Finishes the routine by going for Derek's neck and dropping him on the floor after she "feeds" and then wiping her mouth with her dress. Very goth, Hough. Carrie Ann says "That didn't suck," and adds that Katherine better watch her back. Len says it was, "sharp as a razor, crisp as a Pringle, and more tension than [his] grandmother's knicker elastic." Bruno says the structure, with the drama and the storytelling, was spellbinding.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 10  Len: 10  Bruno: 10

The ballroom goes nuts, Derek and Maria go nuts, the other dancers go nuts! Pandemonium! Maria is super stoked.

Jaleel White & Kym Johnson
Kym's giving Jaleel a koala that talks with an Australian accent as a reward for doing so well last week. Lordy - I think her rehearsal outfit is a strong contender for this week's "Why Straight Men Should Watch This Show" picture. They're doing the Viennese Waltz to the "Downton Abbey" theme, "Did I Make the Most of Loving You?" Again, lots of dry ice. Jaleel is occasionally making some weird shapes with his legs, particularly during turns and spins. Len liked it "enough not to be cruel, but not enough to be kind." Len had a lovely feeling, but there was no footwork and lacked rise and fall. Bruno said that content-wise he couldn't've asked for more, but that it wasn't executed as good as it could be, and mentions his arm extensions specifically.  Carrie Ann tells him not to lose his confidence, that the storytelling was excellent, but he needs to watch his hands.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8  Len: 8  Bruno: 8

Before the team dance competition it's the little girl with the grown woman's voice, singing while a Karina in her skivvies and see through dress dancers in a lot of dry ice with Tristan  all in black. I'm not sure the CHILD on STAGE should be seeing this.

Teams were chosen by team captains, last week's high scorers, Katherine & Mark and William & Cheryl, who do the playground pick' em. K&M win the coin toss and choose Maria & Derek. W&C pick Donald & Peta first. K&M select Jaleel & Kym  next. W&C take Roshon & Chelsie. Leaving Melissa & Maks to be picked last. Team Katherine (aka Team Tango) has 7 mirrorball trophies amongst the pros and each of the couples have been atop the leaderboard at least once.  

Team Tango, all in tuxedos, are doing a sloppy kick-line as we head into the commercial break before their dance. OK — time to dance — but first there's some faffing about holding violins - don't hurt the musical instruments, kids! The men are wearing actual trousers, while the women appear to be wearing skintight leggings. Sigh. After an initial bit of in-sync dancing with all four couples, they split off to showcase one couple at a time. Nothing too remarkable, except that Roshon can high kick almost as well as Chelise and she can darn near do a backbend while dancing and is practically a contortionist. Then they come back together, all eight of them, for some kaleidoscopic formations that really work best from the overhead Busby Berkley camera angle - I always wonder how that plays from the angle at the judges' table. Len says Maria and Roshon were the standout couples. He says the group was good, technically it was bad, and some of the lines were ugly. Bruno says the beginning and end choreography was excellent. He adds that Roshon KILLED it. Carrie Ann says it was incredible and singles Roshon out for praise as well.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 10  Len: 8  Bruno: 9

Team Paso (aka Team William) explain that they have the manly men. Again, Val is in rehearsal in case he has to go on in Maks's place.

Aw, you knew you couldn't make it through classical night without a little Orff and "O Fortuna"  They start out as three couple and then Melissa and Maks have the first solo.  She's still awkward. William and Cheryl go next and it's got the facial intensity, but I feel like I want William to be hitting his steps harder into the floor.  PEta and Donald go last and dang if this isn't Donald's dance he does that controlled intensity with the elegant flourish so well.  Now all three men are shirtless and whirling capes and the audience is screaming itself hoarse. Oooh, they went a bit out of sync there, getting up from the knees-up walk/crawl thingie.   Bruno says it was more power than the Avengers and all three boys clamber up on Bruno and HIS night is made. Carrie Ann says it was so much fun. Len says they "undressed to impress."
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9 Len: 8  Bruno: 9

So, wait, that seemed more praised than Team Tango, but was one point lower? No wonder the ballroom audience is booing.

See you tomorrow night to find out who's in the bottom two and in the dance duel.  I predict Roshon (I don't know why, but the audience doesn't seem to be voting for him) and either Melissa or Jaleel, based on judges' scores.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun