If someone were to ask you what was the most memorable year of your life, would you be able to come up with an immediate answer? And could you capture the spirit of that time of your life through one meaningful song? Every season, Dancing with the Stars producers ask this of the show’s competitors. And every season, the audience is left feeling a tad emotional after watching each celebrity pour their heart and soul out onto the ballroom floor. This season was no exception with its tales of heart-wrenching but inspiring triumphs.
Let’s see how your favorites did on this unforgettable fourth week of competition:
Normani Kordei & Valentin Chmerkovskiy, Rumba
Normani’s most memorable year was 2012 when she was selected to be in the musical group Fifth Harmony, and Fifth Harmony was on hand to make Normani’s Rumba extra special. Len told her she’s a charismatic dancer, but he wanted to see a little bit more content in the routine. Julianne called her a powerhouse, noting that she dances as if her career depends upon it every week. Bruno likened her to a Rumba dominatrix, feeling Val was almost unnecessary by her side. Carrie Ann admired the storytelling and empowerment of the dance but wished there hadn’t been any lifts to penalize.
Nick Viall & Peta Murgatroyd, Rumba
2016 was Nick’s most memorable year because he appeared on The Bachelor. When a staged moment on a fake reality competition qualifies as your most memorable one, I find any “soul searching” said person did during that time as a tad insincere. However, Peta can make anyone look good, and their Rumba set to Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” was satisfying. Julianne told Peta she was really smart (because she had Nick take off his shirt? That’s hardly a revolutionary concept on this show) and thought it was Nick’s best dance thus far. Bruno felt something new stirring inside Nick tonight, saying he connected with the music and message more but told him he could still be a little smoother with his hip movements. Carrie Ann thought the dance was magical and grounded once the couple came together. Len also thought it was his best dance, though he only gave it a 7.
Nancy Kerrigan & Artem Chigvintsev, Foxtrot
Nancy’s most memorable year was the year she first became a mom. My heart ached for her when she talked about having six miscarriages in eight years before being blessed to become a mother twice more. Nancy and Artem danced a beautiful Foxtrot to the Rascal Flatts’ “My Wish”. Bruno said it had an amazing lyricism and a wonderful dynamic all the way through, while Carrie Ann admired her vulnerability and her ability to push herself to the edge. Len thought it was a proper Foxtrot and called Nancy a front-runner in this competition. Julianne echoed that sentiment, saying Nancy continually takes the biggest strides and shows the most growth week to week.
Mr. T & Kym Herjavec, Waltz
Is there a better song choice than “Amazing Grace” for a slow, graceful Waltz? Mr. T didn’t seem to think so. Mr. T’s most memorable year was 1995 when he was first diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. He turned to his faith to have the courage to battle his disease. His story was powerful, the song sent chills and I believe “the tough guy” is turning into a dapper dancer. Carrie Ann was emotionally verklempt but finally told him that he’s winning our hearts in this competition, especially this week because his genteel faith radiated out of him. Len called them “The A-Team,” admiring the fact that Mr. T always works hard and truly comes out of his comfort zone. Julianne felt the beauty was in the performance, calling it breathtaking. Bruno loves and respects Mr. T and applauded him for being such a great man.
Heather Morris & Alan Bersten (filling in for Maksim Chmerkovskiy), Cha Cha
Is there a better feel-good, “wish I could dance” song than Walk the Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance”? Heather’s most memorable year was 2015 when she married her husband. Heather’s Cha Cha represented her playful, welcoming personality. I didn’t feel it was her best, but it was definitely fun. Len thought it was sharp and crisp with plenty of lovely moves. Julianne commended Alan for amazing choreography, saying it brought so much life and energy to the stage. Bruno called them the perfect couple in perfect harmony, while Carrie Ann said the technique was on point and believes Heather’s light shines brighter and brighter week to week. She is one of my favorites to watch.
David Ross & Lindsay Arnold, Viennese Waltz
It was interesting to see David Ross bring out his softer side this week with a Viennese Waltz set to “Forever Young”, which was apparently his walk-up song during his career. David’s most memorable year was 2016 when he retired from playing baseball with a fairy tale ending, as the Cubs won the World Series for the first time in over 100 years. Julianne said he was clearly on his game, admiring his infectious enthusiasm. Bruno told him he still has the vitality of a spring chicken but his Viennese Waltz didn’t have enough of a float-like quality. Carrie Ann noticed him skipping around a lot but loved it anyway. Len said he inspired him to watch baseball videos and communicated a special message to him in baseball shorthand signals that I couldn’t decipher.
Rashad Jennings & Emma Slater, Contemporary
Rashad’s most memorable year was 2006 because that’s when he discovered what unconditional love means – it was the year his father had a stroke and had to have his leg amputated because of his diabetes. Rashad transferred colleges to be closer to his father, despite jeopardizing his football scholarship. It was the right time for Rashad to peak in the competition with a raw, stripped down Contemporary routine set to Katy Perry’s “Unconditionally”. I loved it, and when he went over to hug his dad in the audience, that’s when the waterworks started for me. Bruno was mesmerized, saying he just watched two great artists paint one of the most beautiful works of art he’s ever seen. Carrie Ann said Rashad was in the right place at the right time, calling him a born dancer. Len loved the lyrical movement, lifts and emotional content. Julianne was crying and practically speechless, not knowing how to vocalize all of her feelings after the dance. Rashad almost had the first perfect score of the season with 3 10’s and a 9, and it was well-deserved.
Erika Jayne & Gleb Savchenko, Cha Cha
“Express Yourself” by Madonna seemed an appropriate choice for Erika. Her most memorable year was 1989 when she first moved to LA to make it as a star. She may have clawed her way to the top, but I don’t think she’s clawed her way to the top of this competition. It felt like another shallow performance from a shallow person. Carrie Ann appreciated the different choreography, telling her she didn’t play it safe this week. Len told her she’s on a plateau, echoing my sentiments exactly: she comes out and does the same thing every week. Julianne admired her fierceness, while Bruno loves how she goes out there and flaunts it. That’s really all she’s good at doing.
Simone Biles & Sasha Farber, Viennese Waltz
Simone chose 2000 as her most memorable year because it’s the year she was adopted by her grandparents. Aptly, Simone and Sasha danced their Viennese Waltz to “Good Good Father” by Chris Tomlin. It was a really pretty performance. Len said it was her best dance, while Julianne said it was what she’s been waiting for from Simone. Bruno loved her vulnerability, saying she wore her heart on her sleeve. Carrie Ann called it breathtaking and praised her for relying upon her partner.
Bonner Bolton & Sharna Burgess, Foxtrot
Bonner’s most memorable year was 2016 when he suffered a life-threatening injury after being thrown by a bull. Watching Bonner dance his Foxtrot set to Michael Buble’s “Feeling Good”, it’s hard to imagine that he was paralyzed just 12 months ago. Bonner’s determination and work ethic remind me a little of James Hinchcliffe, another favorite competitor of mine. He and Sharna always manage to look like they’re feeling good together. Julianne said ballroom dances really suit Bonner’s frame, while Bruno called him the new leading man in town. Carrie Ann admired his fluidity and authenticity, comparing it to effortless dignity. Len said his footwork is a little bit suspect but otherwise he enjoyed it.
After so many poignant memories were shared tonight, it was exceptionally painful to see who would be eliminated. It came down to Mr. T & Kim and Erika & Gleb in jeopardy. Ultimately, it was Mr. T & Kim who were sent packing, and my heart broke more than a little as a result. He was improving by leaps and bounds, and I loved watching him week to week. Erika and Nick’s days should be numbered now if that’s any minor consolation.
Did the right star go home? Who is your favorite? Who do you think deserves to go home next week? Tell us in the comments below!