'Dancing With the Stars' recap: 10s for Rashad Jennings, while Mr. T doesn't fare as well

For The Baltimore Sun

It's my least favorite night of “Dancing With the Stars” — the stars’ most memorable years. It seems to be some brutal race to make us cry.

Erin Andrews' dress is beautiful, but a little bit aging. When you're wearing a dress that makes me think, "Jane Fonda would rock that," and she’s four decades younger than Fonda…

Normani Kordei & Val Chmerkovskiy

Rumba

Normani's most memorable year was when she joined Fifth Harmony. Her parents and grandmother sacrificed to support her in her journey to musical stardom.

She starts the routine singing solo on stage, then the three other members of Fifth Harmony emerge and sing the rest of the song during her dance. They have to be lip-syncing, right? Because you wouldn't want to take the chance that they got off time? Or maybe the band does enough to keep them on the beat? (Also, the group originally had five members, hence the name, but one departed last year.)

Len Goodman wants to see more rumba content but thought what he did see was good. Julianne Hough calls Normani "a powerhouse." Bruno Tonioli shouts that she is a "rumba dominatrix." Carrie Ann Inaba disagrees with Len because empowerment is more important than dancing. That's what she says. Then she reads the definition of a lift, by way of explaining why she'll be docking a point. I kind of hate that Carrie Ann has to be the lift police all by herself. Either there's a lift or there isn't and couples should be penalized or not accordingly.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 7; Julianne: 8; Bruno: 9

Nick Viall & Peta Murgatroyd

Rumba

Nick's most memorable year was 2016, when he found love on "The Bachelor." Apparently he'd already been on two seasons of "The Bachelorette." Does this guy not have a real job he has to go to? Is his life all about living in fake mansions on camera?

So this dance is supposed to represent what it was like to be on "The Bachelor," which means it starts with several women literally throwing themselves at him. Then it becomes a very fast rumba, which Nick, of course, dances with his shirt fully open before taking off his shirt entirely. He finishes the routine by pulling his fiancee out of the audience and doing a lift and kissing her. Hmph.

Julianne gestures toward Nick's shirtless torso and says, "Thank you, Peta." She tells Nick it was his best dance. Bruno serves up his usual innuendo and then settles down and says that Nick clearly got his note from last week about needing to connect to his dancing more. Carrie Ann thought the beginning was a bit rough. She compliments Peta on the choreography and then says she won't dock for the lift because it wasn't actually part of the dance. Len says there's still a way to go for Nick but agrees with Julianne that it was his best dance so far.

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

Nancy Kerrigan & Artem Chigvintsev

Foxtrot

Nancy got married in 1995 and got pregnant quickly because she wanted to have three kids before she turned 30. After her first child was born, her next pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. Then she had six miscarriages in eight years. Good for her for feeling brave enough to talk openly about it. She starts crying while talking to Artem about it. After the miscarriages, she and her husband used IVF to conceive their next two kids. (Now this is what annoys me about "My Most Memorable Year." Which year is this? It's not any one year.)

So this is foxtrot about family, I guess? Nancy appears to lose her footing in one move and then get caught in her skirt in the next move. It's a fast foxtrot and Nancy's arm extensions do look good.

Bruno says everybody is bringing their "A-game" tonight. He says the foxtrot was beautifully constructed but says a tiny thing Nancy could improve is her top line in frame. Carrie Ann praises her incredible vulnerability. Len says they did a nice amount in hold, with proper foxtrot movement. Julianne says Nancy takes the biggest strides in ability each week.

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

Mr. T & Kym Johnson Herjavec

Waltz

Mr. T's most memorable year is 1995, the year he was diagnosed with cancer. He found strength in his faith and survived after chemotherapy. They're going to be dancing to "Amazing Grace," which I believe I've said before isn't a song you should dance to like this.

It's a powerful thing with the backstory and the choir singing, but Mr. T is still awkward in his movement. Carrie Ann cries. Len makes a pun about the A-Team. Julianne blah blahs about spirit and story. Bruno says Mr. T has a heart of gold.

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

Heather Morris & Alan Bersten

Cha-cha-cha

Heather's most memorable year was 2014, when she married her husband. Their son was old enough to be part of the wedding, where they all danced together to this song.

The routine starts with Heather as a bride and she kisses her groom (her actual husband). Then she hands off her bouquet to her mom, and begins the dance with Alan. Maks is still out, his injury having required surgery. The dance goes through the stages of Heather's life, from wedding to buying a house to having a baby.

Len loved the routine and Heather's dancing. Julianne says Alan's choreography was amazing, with so much cha-cha content. She also praises Heather's technique. Bruno says they painted the picture of the perfect couple. Carrie Ann says Heather was fantastic but does dock a point for a lift.

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

David Ross & Lindsay Arnold

Viennese Waltz

David's most memorable year was 2016, when he, as a member of the Chicago Cubs, won the World Series. Tom Bergeron's kind of bummed he didn't go with the year he won the World Series with the Red Sox, because he's a Boston guy. They're dancing to the song David used as his "walk-up" song.

I'm still surprised by how nimble and graceful David has turned out to be. Also, he has a really cute smile.

Julianne says it was a little squatty at times and could have been smoother, but she liked it. Bruno says it was wonderful but agrees with Julianne about the lack of smoothness. Carrie Ann says sometimes David got a little too excited, like he was running for home [base]. Then Len stands up and mimics a base coach giving signals.

Erin informs them that because Monday night’s Cubs/Dodgers game, the Cubs’ home opener, was in a rain delay, their dance was just played live at Wrigley Field. Wait, does this mean Wrigley has a TV screen on its scoreboard now? It was a slippery slope when they put in the lights, man.

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

Rashad Jennings & Emma Slater

Contemporary

Rashad tells us his parents were high school sweethearts and decided to start a family young. His dad went into the military to support his family. Rashad says that his father was closed off emotionally and turned to alcohol rather than get close to his family. When Rashad was in college, his father had to have a leg amputated because of diabetes; Rashad transferred schools in order to be closer to his parents, jeopardizing his future NFL career.

It's contemporary, so everybody's shoeless, Rashad's shirt is open and there are a ton lifts. At the end of the routine, Rashad goes over to his parents, sitting at the side of the stage and hugs them both for a long time. Everybody is clearly very emotional.

Bruno says he was mesmerized and calls the dance a work of art. Carrie Ann tells Rashad he's a born dancer. Len thinks it was fantastic. Julianne's crying and says she has no words for what she's feeling on the inside.

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

Erika Jayne & Gleb Savchenko

Cha-cha-cha

Erika's most memorable year was when she moved to New York to pursue her dreams of fame. They'll be dancing to Madonna's "Express Yourself' because Erika is a big fan of Madonna.

She literally starts off on the wrong foot and things don't get much better from there.

Carrie Ann loves how Erika presents herself. She says the choreography looked different tonight and she could tell. Len says Erika is on a bit of a plateau, relying on the one-note of being sexy.

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

Simone Biles & Sasha Farber

Viennese waltz

Simone's most memorable year was 2000, when she was adopted. Her biological mom suffered from drug and alcohol abuse and was in and out of jail. Simone herself was put into foster care. Her grandma and grandpa adopted her and told her to call them "Mom" and "Dad" if she wanted to.

Simone's dress is not at all flattering. We know she's a teeny, tiny gymnast and it makes her look blocky and bigger than she is. It's a sweet dance and Simone runs over to hug her mom and dad at the end and they're all crying. Tom goes over to retrieve her and ends up bringing her parents on stage to stand there while she gets the judges' comments and scores.

Len says it was her best dance so far. Julianne says this is wait she's been waiting for from Simone, to see the emotion come through. Bruno praises her for making herself vulnerable and for dancing beautifully. Carrie Ann points out that gymnastics is such a solo sport but tonight, when Simone trusted her partner, it was a beautiful thing to see.

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

Bonner Bolton & Sharna Burgess

Foxtrot

Bonner's most memorable year was 2016 because of the accident that briefly paralyzed him in January. He landed on his head coming off the bull and then the bull butted him when he was down and kicked him for good measure. He sheds tears as he tells Sharna he'll not be allowed to go back to bull riding.

The routine starts with Bonner dancing against a version of himself in his rodeo gear. Was that a hologram? A body double? The dancing seems like a vast improvement for Bonner from previous weeks.

Julianne says ballroom dancing suits Bonner and compliments his frame. Bruno says Sharna married the concept and the content perfectly. Carrie Ann uses a lot of adjectives to say that she liked it. Len likes Bonner’s frame and carriage but wants him to work on his footwork a little bit.

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

Elimination Results

The first couple in jeopardy is Mr. T & Kym. Erika & Gleb are also in jeopardy. The rest of the couples are safe and will be back next week. The couple eliminated tonight is Mr. T & Kym. He seem like a sweet guy, but it was starting to get sad to watch him. It was the time for him to go home.

Scoreboard

Rashad & Emma: 39

Simone & Sasha: 36

Heather & Alan: 35

Nancy & Artem: 33

Bonner & Sharna: 32

Normani & Val: 32

David & Lindsay: 31

Nick & Peta: 30

Erika & Gleb: 30

Predictions

I'd be find seeing either Nick or Erika go home next week, but Nick feels like he might have the tiniest bit more potential than Erika, so I'm hoping she's out next week.

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