'Dancing With the Stars' recap: Perfect 10s for Laurie Hernandez

Valentin Chmerkovskiy, Laurie Hernandez.
Valentin Chmerkovskiy, Laurie Hernandez. (Eric McCandless / ABC)

It's Cirque du Soleil night on "Dancing With the Stars," and I'm sure somewhere Mark Ballas is SEETHING in his spats.

Len Goodman is not in the ballroom tonight and will be gone for the next few weeks to fulfill his obligations as head judge of "Strictly Come Dancing." Bruno Tonioli, I believe, is still doing both gigs, going back and forth every week.


Tom Bergeron informs us that we'll have a double elimination this week.

Calvin Johnson & Lindsay Arnold

Each of the routines is inspired by a specific Cirque du Soleil show. They've got "Kurios — Cabinet of Curiosities," which seems to be a sort of steampunk thing. It looks like this is the first week Calvin and Lindsay will be doing lifts, and Lindsay's having fun with how high Calvin can hoist her.


While they dance, there's a performer flying around on a bicycle above them. I would never have guessed that Calvin would be this good at the Charleston. I think a big part of it is that he has completely let go of any self-consciousness or awkwardness and is just going for it. So even if it's not technically perfect, he's having fun and it shows.

Julianne Hough greets Calvin with "Hello, Twinkle Toes!" She likes that they got the fun, quirkiness and lightness of the Charleston. She might have liked to have seen a little more energy toward the end of the routine, but she points out that the routines are a little longer this week than last.

Bruno compliments his performance level and his timing but wants him to work on his feet when he's doing kicks and flicks. Carrie Ann Inaba says she's suspending all lift rules for Cirque du Soleil night.

During his interview with Erin Andrews, Calvin admits he's losing weight during his stint on the show, saying he hasn't been under 230 pounds in years.


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

Maureen McCormick & Artem Chigvintsev
Argentine tango

Artem tells Maureen he wants to push her even further this week. Their routine is based on the "Mystère" show and will incorporate a redbird. She and Artem are both getting frustrated during rehearsals. Maureen seems to not have enough patience with herself and is also just exhausted.

Mostly the redbird seems to dance around and behind them. Sometimes it works and sometimes it's distracting.

Bruno tells her her lines were so good but her footwork could have been a bit sharper. Carrie Ann was worried Maureen's demure personality wouldn't stand up to the redbird and the drums, but compliments her for keeping up and owning the routine. Julianne echoes the other judges' comments about posture and footwork.

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

Jana Kramer & Gleb Savchenko

They've got "The Beatles Love" so they went to Las Vegas to check out the show. Jana's still touring and is also worn out. Like I said with Vanilla Ice last week, I'll never understand contestants who come on the show when they're doing their regular job at the same time.

This starts out like no foxtrot I've ever seen. It'd probably irritate Len if he were here. Eventually they get down to proper foxtrotting, but then they come out of it several times. They don't have any other performers with them on the floor. I wonder if that was a producer/director's choice or Gleb's.

Carrie Ann compliments Gleb on the choreography. She likes how Jana expresses herself but critiques her for breaking focus every now and then. Julianne wants Jana and Gleb to break out of the middle of the pack and suggests working on relaxing more, giving notes about her shoulders, neck, and head. Bruno loves Jana's underarm turns but wants her to work on some of her other transition moves.

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

Marilu Henner & Derek Hough
Paso doble

Marilu was really hoping for some 8s last week, but their performance had too many mistakes for that. This week, they've got all the bells and whistles, with background dancers with flags and fire and a half-pound of eyeliner on Derek. What we see of the actual Paso is OK. It's a bit rote and, despite all the pageantry, lacking passion.

Julianne raves about how they used the whole stage and Cirque motif.

Julianne says Marilu nails every step but is too in her head when she's dancing. Bruno points out it was a difficult routine technically and from a performance perspective. He also points out that when she and Derek aren't in hold and Marilu is left on her own, she shrinks when she needs to shine. Carrie Ann says Marilu is fit, agile and graceful but is not doing as well as she could because she's dancing "next to" Derek not "with" him. She wants her to trust Derek more.

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

Amber Rose & Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Argentine tango

So during last week's Tuesday night show, they played for us the judges' comments made the night before during the dances. Julianne said, at one point, of Amber's routine,"I actually feel a little uncomfortable." Amber took great offense to that.

Now, on the one hand, Julianne was speaking off the cuff and primarily to Bruno, even though she knew she was mic'ed and that her comments could be replayed. On other hand, we've seen a lot of really racy routines on this show over the years, so Julianne may need to pause to examine exactly WHY this one made her "uncomfortable."

Maks says the Cirque show they're dancing to, "Zumanity," is burlesque inspired, so that will go nicely with Amber wanting to embrace her sexuality and flaunt it more in light of Julianne's comments. Amber is literally wearing only lingerie, in the form of a bodysuit and stockings. They end the routine with Maks lowering himself onto Amber atop a table.

Amber and Julianne both say a whole lot of nothing to address the "controversy." Then Julianne says this was the energy she wanted to see from Amber for this routine. Bruno praises the amount of content in the dance. Carrie Ann says she was blown away.

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

Ryan Lochte & Cheryl Burke
Viennese waltz

Their Cirque show, "O," involves a 1.5 million gallon pool, so Ryan gets to get into the water, where he's most comfortable. Too bad for him he only gets to dance on dry land for this show.

The routine starts with Ryan dancing by himself across the floor to Cheryl. He may not be a strong enough dancer for that yet. Their costumes are divided down the middle to be half black and half white, and Cheryl's wearing one black shoe and one white shoe. It's more distracting than you might imagine.

Carrie Ann says he improved tonight with a better frame and better arms. Julianne compliments Cheryl on the choreography and concept of the dance. Bruno also talks about the top frame and compliments the amount of content in the routine. During his remarks, there's some sort of shouting from the audience, which Bruno addresses with, "Don't listen to them, pay attention to me." I'm sure we'll hear more about what was actually shouted.

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

Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds & Allison Holker
"The X-Files" - Argentine tango

Babyface has met and worked with Paul McCartney, so he's excited about dancing to "Come Together" from The Beatles Love. It also seems like they're doing a lot with tricky lighting during their routine, such that if they don't hit their marks, it'll be really obvious.


Kenneth looks worried throughout the routine and seems to be missing steps left and right. There's also more than one point when it's clear Allison is having to push him in the right direction. She probably shouldn't have attempted something so complex — Kenneth isn't quite ready for that level of dance.


Julianne points out that it went way better in dress rehearsal than it did just now. Bruno and Carrie Ann both also acknowledge that it didn't go well. Kenneth is clearly disappointed but upbeat about it. Allison looks devastated.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 6; Julianne: 6; Bruno: 6

Terra Jolé & Sasha Farber

Terra is struggling in rehearsals. Sasha acknowledges he's being hard on her but tells her it's because he knows she can do it and do it well.
This routine also starts out with Terra on her own — was a little solo a requirement this week and they didn't tell us? I notice Sasha is, in part of the routine, doing a modified version of traditional hold, with his hand on Terra's upper arm instead of her back. So it gives more of the appearance of a regular hold than holding her hands, but still keeps him from having to hunch over too much.

Bruno praises Terra for attempting some difficult choreography, even if she had a couple of missteps. Carrie Ann is yell-y and happy. Julianne tells Terra she's sexy tonight.

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

Laurie Hernandez & Val Chmerkovskiy

Last week Val went to see "Michael Jackson One" in Las Vegas to see the original cast do the routine that is the basis of Laurie and Val's again. They only had three days of rehearsal together this week because Laurie was in Washington, meeting the president at the White House!

This routine is pretty much perfect for Laurie because it's fun and young and allows her to be less constrained than in traditional ballroom styles.

She also gets a little solo near the end of the routine. But throughout the whole routine, she is the STAR of it. Val is there, as well as several backup dancers, but your eyes never leave Laurie. This girl is a star.

Carrie Ann says she killed it — every movement was perfectly defined. She ends with, "A star is born!" Julianne is gaping speechless for most of her time. Bruno says Laurie is Debbie Reynolds, Janet Jackson and Paula Abdul combined. Tom confirms that she's only 16, because that routine showed such maturity and mastery.

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

Vanilla Ice & Witney Carson
Viennese waltz

Witney describes their show, "La Nouba," as an "urban circus." She asks Vanilla Ice if he's willing to be a clown and he says he loves clowns. That's not a very popular opinion given recent events. He's got a ton of performance dates this week, so he and Witney have very little rehearsal time together.

Their routine starts with them in the background and some acrobats on a ladder in the foreground. Witney's done a good job with the choreography on this — it fits the theme but is still very recognizably a Viennese waltz. There are more wide shots to show the ladder acrobats and a Cirque troupe member who's hanging upside down and twirling.

Julianne says the theme worked in Vanilla Ice's favor but that he still has "pancake" hands. Bruno says his spinning and his shoulders were better, but still has notes about Vanilla Ice's hands. Carrie Ann thinks he brought his "A" game with a new elegance and an improved frame.

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

James Hinchcliffe & Sharna Burgess

James and Sharna went to New York to see the Broadway production "Paramour," which is the inspiration for their routine. They're getting a couple of acrobats from the show to dance with them tonight.
This also starts with a little solo moment for James. In addition to the Cirque acrobats, they're also using some of the "DWTS" troupe members. And yet, with all the acrobats and everything else, it's still a proper quickstep, if more of a Broadway number iteration of it.

I would be remiss if I didn't point out that Sharna's dress and hair have pretty much turned her into Jessica Rabbit.

Bruno compares it to the film "The Artist." He says they nailed the parts in hold, calling them "Fred and Ginger." Carrie Ann says a lot of words and ends by pointing out a "teeny tiny" mistake. Julianne noticed the mistake as well, although Bruno says he didn't.

Tom asks James if he knew he had this kind of dancing talent and James replies, "No, I sit for a living." Ha! I like this guy.

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

Laurie & Val: 30
James & Sharna: 28
Terra & Sasha: 25
Amber & Maks: 24
Maureen & Artem: 24
Calvin & Lindsay: 23
Jana & Gleb: 23
Rob (Vanilla Ice) & Witney: 23
Ryan & Cheryl: 22
Marilu & Derek: 21
Kenneth (Babyface) & Allison: 18

If Tuesday night wasn't a double elimination, I would think maybe Kenneth & Allison could squeak by if his fan base is big enough. But I can't imagine he ends up third-to-last or better after combining viewer votes and scores. Tougher to predict is the other one to go home — based on scores it could be Ryan & Cheryl or Marilu & Derek. The show has done a remarkable job of trying to redeem Ryan in the eyes of the audience. But has it worked? If Marilu were dancing with anyone other than Derek, I'd be more worried about her, but I think there is a significant portion of the audience now that votes for the pros as much as they do the stars, and Derek has a lot of fans of his own.