by Heather Parish
Grand Emotions on Dancing with the Stars! Season 14, episode 3
Sentiments ran high this week on Dancing With the Stars, as the dances revolved around each celebrity’s most memorable year. The stars told tales of their times of inspiration, loss, adversity and triumph. Some of the stars got so choked up that they had trouble answering hostess Brooke’s questions in the Celebriquarium! By the end of the program, feelings were laid bare, there were only 5 points between the high and low scores, and viewers were emotionally invested in Season 14. Cranky head judge Len Goodman proclaimed the entire night “Awesome!”
Retaining her lead on the judges’ scoreboard Katherine Jenkins, with Mark Ballas. As of now, the classical singer can do no wrong in my book. She’s beautiful, humble and hard working. Not to mention that charming British accent. Katherine chose 1996 as her most memorable, as that was the year that at 15, she lost her beloved father to lung cancer. And her resulting waltz, set to Josh Groban’s “Where You Are,” was an elegantly effortless tribute to her father that had the studio, her mother, and Katherine herself in tears. Carrie Ann called the routine “magic.” Total: 29.
Latin stud William Levy said he was lucky that his stepfather was granted asylum back in 1995, allowing him and his family to move to the United States from Cuba. And we’re so lucky to have William atateside so he can appear on national television and dance the salsa with Cheryl Burke bare-chested. The tasty Cuban dish’s dance, set to Celia Cruz’s upbeat “La Vida es un Carnival,” was entertaining, masterful, even little flip…highly infectious. Judge Carrie Ann summed up the sentiments of Latin lovers everywhere: “That was ridiculously hot hot hot.” Total: 28.
Entertainment correspondent Maria Menounos’ most memorable year was 1988, when she accompanied her Greek immigrant parents to their jobs cleaning nightclubs in Boston. Every time Maria would find a quarter she’d slip it into a jukebox and play Madonna’s “Material Girl.” And sure, it was a bit of a challenge to find much of a connection between the reporter’s hardscrabble story, the sexy rumba she and Derek Hough performed shortly thereafter to a low-key, sultry version of Madge’s ode to consumerism, “Material Girl”. . .but both were quite moving. Total: 27.
For his dance, Super Bowl champ Donald Driver dedicated his most memorable moment rumba to his best friend Brian. Brian was the guy who introduced Donald to his wife, and he was the guy Donald held in his arms when he passed away from cancer in 2010. Football star Driver chose Boyz II Men and Mariah Carey’s “One Sweet Day” to commemorate his and Brian’s friendship — touching tribute that started with Peta in Donald’s arms and ended with Peta heading up toward the light at routine’s end. “The passion that you just expressed was just mesmerizing,” said Carrie Ann. Total: 26.
Roshon Fegan’s most memorable year harkened back to 1996, when the young Disney star first saw his musical hero Michael Jackson on stage. So partner Chelsie Hightower brought in Michael Jackson choreographer Travis Payne to show young Roshon the King of Pop’s litany of moves. The resulting “Michael Jackson with a samba twist” featured Roshon gyrating to the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.” Len said he liked “the exuberance, I liked the flair, and I liked the devil may care attitude,” though “I would have liked to have seen a little more traditional samba in there.” Total: 25.
Jaleel White chose the year the Family Matters producers introduced Stefan Urquelle to the program. Apparently, the producers “saw the man he hadn’t become” and dorky Urkel’s smooth alter ego “introduced a new side of himself” to Jaleel and people started treating him differently, and he showed all that Gregory Hines smoothness in his rumba with Kym Johnson, moving like a slow jam in a white tux. The judges agreed with his great performance but criticized his arms a bit. Jaleel also got a bit emotional up in the Celebriquarium. “I just love entertaining people,” he said. And he obviously means it. He’s quickly becoming a fan favorite. Total: 25.
First up in the performance schedule were Jack Wagner and Anna Trebunskaya. Jack cited last year as his most memorable, as 2011 was when he discovered he had a daughter. And to his own song and a dance choreographed by Anna, the samba had Carrie Ann “crying in your package” and demanding to “see more of you,” which was not as dirty as it sounds in this recap. Total: 24.
Everyone has a crush on Gladys Knight. Len (who is the same age as the Empress of Soul – who knew?) was trying to be extra nice so he can be a Pip. Turned out that Gladys was all of 13 years old when she and the Pips first went of tour in 1957. While on the road, she learned the entertaining ropes from the likes of Jackie Wilson, James Brown, and Sam Cooke, whose “Cupid” she and Tristan MacManus danced to, and to whom she dedicated the routine. And it was a very cute, chaste fox trot that resulted, with Tristan taking his lady friend out for a twirl and leaving her at the door like a gentleman at the end. “You dance like you sing, sensuous and soulful,” said Carrie Ann admiringly. “ Total: 24.
Most improved this week went to Gavin DeGraw, who made a marked improvement after last week’s wild one routine. He also gets the week’s award for most supportive family. The singer-songwriter recalled 1998 as his most memorable year, as that was when, after watching a Billy Joel concert with his family, Gavin decided that he wanted to move to New York City. His family was nothing but supportive. “I was told I could do anything I wanted. I never thought I had any limitations because of the way they taught me to believe,” the singer said. You could tell his family’s support meant everything to an emotional Gavin, which made me like him that much more. Though my misty moment came when he recalled how his father went door to door to try to get his son a gig.
And his resulting rumba, dedicated to his family, set to Joel’s “New York State of Mind,” was beautifully moving. Every arm extension was filled with heart. Partner Karina Smirnoff understood the sentiment. “When you let your emotions in the dance, it just makes you do that much better,” she explained. And the judges largely rewarded him for his efforts with three 8s. Total: 24.
The tears didn’t end there. Sherri Shepherd’s memorable moment came with the birth of her son Jeffrey, who was born at 25 weeks at 1 pound, 10 ounces with severe brain bleeding. And after seeing him now, years later, without cerebral palsy and dancing with his mother, how could there be a dry eye in the house? And Sherri laid her emotions on her sparkly sleeve with her rumba with Val Chmerkovskiy. Len “appreciated the emotion” Sherri put into her dance. Total: 24.
Who knew that there was a Little House on the Prairie musical? (I did, I must confess!) Well, Melissa Gilbert was in it (as Caroline Ingalls) – though when she was touring with the company in 2010, she fell and broke her back. “I could hardly walk, let alone dance,” the actress recalled. Fast forward a year and a half, and she’s performing a jive with Maksim Chmerkovskiy. Florence + the Machine was right: “The Dog Days Are Over.” While my devotion to Laura Ingalls will make me a fervent supporter of Melissa, it kind of felt like the actress was figuring it out as she went along. The judges seemed to like it, though. Total: 24.
During the recap show, we said goodbye to Jack Wagner, who took it with good grace. I believe his participation in the show did exactly what it was supposed to do for him: show off a sweet temperament and get his name and face back out into the world. But if you don’t watch the recap shows, I highly encourage it. There is some really high quality guest acts on during recap but they also let the audience in on things the judges and dancers say during the live show that you can’t always hear when it is run. A most fascinating glimpse into the competition of the ballroom, really.
Next week competition resumes with “Rock Week”, Monday at 8 p.m. on Channel 30 (KFSN ABC).
Dancing With the Stars airs on Monday nights with Eliminations on Tuesday nights on ABC.
Check back here Fridays for more of Heather’s thoughts and an overview of the week’s episode! And check here for her thoughts on the season premiere.