'Dancing With The Stars' Semi-Finals Push Stars To The Limits

November 15th, 2011 11:00am EST

Rob Kardashian  & Cheryl Burke It’s the semi-finals, and the show is not going easy on our stars now. Last night they all had three dances to perform, with two individual rounds (the second with all of them doing the always fun Argentine tango, with it’s legal lifts), and then a relay dance. Unexpectedly, an injury hindered one of the front runners, giving one of the underdogs a chance to really shine.

Round One: Paso Dobles and Sambas

Hope Solo (goalie for U.S. women’s national soccer team) & Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Dance: Paso Doble
Scores: 7, 7, 7
Len said he liked the attack, but because there was so much of it, she lost control and finesse. Bruno agreed, and said she needed to balance the energy with the artistry. Carrie Ann said Hope nailed the character of the dance, but she lost shaping in her hold.

While I think Hope is finally in it to win it, I’m still not sure if she and Maks hit their stride in time. Watching this dance I was reminded of the team dances in which Hope and Maks did the paso. Of course the fact that they were fighting made a difference then, but I still saw that same flaw this week. It was just a bit too wild. Hope got the attitude, but she movements were rough and flaily. I liked it, but it was lacking any kind of polish.

J.R. Martinez (actor and U.S. Army veteran) & Karina Smirnoff
Dance: Paso Doble
Scores: 8, 7, 8
Bruno said he could feel the thrill of the chase in the dance, but the posture wasn’t quite what it needed to be. Carrie Ann said there were a few uncertain pauses, and agreed with Bruno about the posture, attributing it to the sprained ankle J.R. suffered in rehearsals. Len said it was more zero than Zorro, and said he was hunched over.

Maybe it was because of J.R.’s injury, but something was lacking in this dance. There were a few times where he seemed like he was rushing to catch up with Karina, as if being careful about his ankle put him behind. It wasn’t up to the level that J.R. is usually capable of. I don’t think he deserved a better score than Hope. Poor guy rolled his ankle again during the performance and was standing on one foot at the judges table, though. Talk about a bad time in the competition for injury.

Rob Kardashian (reality star) & Cheryl Burke
Dance: Samba
Scores: 10, 9, 9
Carrie Ann said it was amazing, fluid and fantastic. Len said the float prop at the beginning of the dance made him think “oh no,” but once Rob got on the floor, he was saying “oh, yes!” Bruno said the dance exceeded all expectations.

That dance was so much fun! The first real good hip action from Rob brought a huge smile to my face, and it never left my face until the dance was over. He nailed it, as far as I’m concerned!

Ricki Lake (actress and talk show host) & Derek Hough
Dance: Samba
Scores: 10, 10, 10
Len said it was fabulous, and that she had taken a giant step into the finals. Bruno called it sizzling hot. Carrie Ann also called it fabulous, and commended her on keeping her shoulders down.

After Rob’s samba, Ricki’s looked pretty tame to me, so I’m not sure I agree with the judges. It was good, and I didn’t see any mistakes. I don’t think the judges were wrong to praise it. Rob was just a tough act to follow.

I never thought I would say that!

Round Two: Argentine Tangos

Hope Solo (goalie for U.S. women’s national soccer team) & Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Dance: Argentine Tango
Scores: 8, 8, 8
Len said it was far better than the paso doble, and he wasn’t disappointed. Bruno said she was sexy and really into Maks. Carrie Ann agreed, but thought that getting into and out of the lifts wasn’t as smooth as it should have been.

Who doesn’t love the Argentine tango? I defy you to find me one person. That said, Hope pulled out an amazing performance here. It was slinky and sexy, and she looked amazing with Maks.

Carrie Ann and Maks had a little tense moment during judging, and I have no idea what happened. It seemed to be Carrie Ann overreacting to me, but did anyone catch what happened?

J.R. Martinez (actor and U.S. Army veteran) & Karina Smirnoff
Dance: Argentine Tango
Scores: 9, 9, 9
Bruno said J.R. was in Latin lover mode, and called it a great job. Carrie Ann said it seemed like there was a fire between him and Karina, and she thought the mounts and dismounts on the lifts were good. Len said it had mood and intensity, and it was the way to go.

J.R. came back after a disappointing paso doble, in which he re-injurred himself, and did a fantastic job in this dance. I was worried that it might be worse, since he had to support Karina’s weight in the lifts, but I really couldn’t tell he was hurt. He seemed to flub the ending, but otherwise I really enjoyed it. As soon as he came out of the dance, though, he looked utterly miserable. He must be hurting a lot for it to wipe his usually ever-present smile off his face.

Rob Kardashian (reality star) & Cheryl Burke
Dance: Argentine Tango
Scores: 9, 9, 9
Carrie Ann said there was no way to fake good dancing, and there was no faking involved in this dance. Len said on this show that it wasn’t where you start, but where you finish, and Rob was finishing strong. Bruno said he started out in the competition as a goofy outsider, and now he looked like a leading man.

This was yet another solid performance from Rob. I agree with Bruno; he seems more and more manly every time I see him do a dance like this, and it’s incredible. The butt was sticking out again, and I think it’s because he leans forward at the waist too much, but otherwise I have nothing to nitpick.

Ricki Lake (actress and talk show host) & Derek Hough
Dance: Argentine Tango
Scores: 9, 10, 10
Len said the lifts were seamless, and it was really, really good. Bruno called Ricki a femme fatal, and said the dancing was fearless. Carrie Ann said she’d seen so much core strength develop in Ricki, and it’s given her a new edge.

Derek always seems to create these amazing Argentine tangos, and this one was no exception. Ricki was right on beat with him through the whole thing, and their lifts were gorgeous. Before this season of ‘Dancing’, “sexy” was not a word I would have used for Ricki Lake... but she was sexy in this dance. I’m really surprised that Carrie Ann didn’t give her a ten.

Round Three: Cha-Cha Relay

The cha-cha featured all four stars dancing back to back to the same song. The winners was awarded a ten, second place and eight, third a 6, and fourth place gets a 4. Obviously, the six and the four could really hurt whoever got them.

Scores: Rob - 10, Ricki - 8, J.R. - 6, Hope - 4
Because of the nature of the scoring here, the judges didn’t give a whole lot of specifics in their criticism. Len said the whole night was like going out for a beautiful meal, round one as the appetizer, the Argentine tango as an entree, and this round as dessert. He thought his choice for winner was going to be different from Bruno and Carrie Ann’s. Bruno said the margin between the stars’ performances was small, and it would be hard to decide. Carrie Ann said it was nice to see them dance side to side, and that she was surprised by the results.

Ton me, the choice between Hope and J.R. for that third and forth spot was near impossible to decide. I kinda wished I could split the difference and give them both fives. Well, for that matter, I would have given Rob and Ricki nines too. My scores: Ricki - 10, Rob - 8, Hope - 6, J.R. - 4.

This was not a good night for J.R., and understandably so. The problem now is deciding who to vote for. I worry about J.R.. It’s difficult to decide if we should vote him on based on what we know he can do and hope the injury won’t continue to affect him, or give the un-injurred Hope the chance. Personally, I think Hope and Maks pulled their act together too late to win it, and should probably be the one to go home, un-injured or not.

My votes today are going to Rob. It’s funny how radically my allegiance has swung in the past couple weeks, but Hope and Rob both had unexpected surges right at the end. As of today, however, it’s Team Rob all the way.

Related: Brooke Burke, Bruno Tonioli, Carrie Ann Inaba, Cheryl Burke, Dancing With The Stars, Derek Hough, Hope Solo, J.R. Martinez, Karina Smirnoff, Kim Kardashian, Len Goodman, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Nancy Grace, Ricki Lake, Rob Kardashian, Tom Bergeron, Tristan McManus, Starpulse Exclusives, Reality, ABC

© 2011

Photo Credits: ABC

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