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“Dancing With the Stars”: The jive, the Viennese waltz and a season-ending injury

October 7, 2008 | 10:13 am

As I posted in last night’s brief update, Misty May-Treanor suffered a major injury during rehearsals on Friday and is dropping out of competition. While practicing the jive, she ruptured her Achilles tendon, which I’ve heard is as painful as passing a kidney stone or delivering an 11-pound baby the old-fashioned way. She’s undergoing surgery today, and I hope that she makes a complete recovery. Co-hosts Tom Bergeron and Samantha Harris (who was wearing a very lovely red dress and huge, sparkly necklace) did not reveal to us what this means for the rest of the season, but I’m going to go ahead and guess that it doesn’t mean one fewer week of the show. They promised to let us know tonight.

Speaking of tonight, ABC will be airing the presidential debate. If you’re on the East Coast, the show will air before the debate; on the West Coast, the debate will air first. There was no word on what happens in the middle of the country, so I would check your local listings to make sure you don’t settle onto the couch for your weekly panacea of recaps and filler (tonight: Jennifer Hudson, Kool and the Gang and the Rockettes) and instead find yourself listening to firmly delivered talking points. Remember: Happiness equals reality divided by expectations.

This week, the stars danced either the jive or the Viennese waltz.

Dancestars At the top of the leader board, we again find Brooke Burke and Derek and Warren Sapp and Kym. During rehearsals, Brooke and Derek had a hard time just getting along. Brooke kept forgetting things; Derek got tired of repeating them. Still, I had to side with Brooke on this one -– Derek needs to work on his delivery. Snapping “I know what I’m doing” was not particularly productive. But their Viennese waltz was smooth and classic, and Len coughed up the first 10 of the season for what he said was the best dance they’d seen yet from this batch of contestants. Score: 28/30.

Warren and Kym were also assigned the Viennese waltz, which required Warren to ditch the intensity of the paso doble and instead become suffused with romance and grace. Yes, even though he’s 300 pounds, he pulled it off -– we saw the “softer side of Sapp,” as he had promised. The judges praised his ability to inhabit the character of the very different dances each week, and Carrie Ann professed that she had a crush on him. Score: 25/30.

After a stiff rumba last week, Maurice Green’s confidence was rattled, but Cheryl took him out to jump rope and run drills involving tires to perfect his footwork. Their jive was energetic, and the footwork looked solid to me. Carrie Ann said it was somewhat wild but that it worked in this case. Score: 24/30.

Toni Braxton and Alec had turned in three strong performances so far, but they decided to shake things up this week by going with a “Marie Antoinette” (Sofia Coppola’s interpretation) version of the Viennese waltz. Toni wore a huge, fabulous, 22-pound ballroom costume, and they danced to this version of “Fur Elise” that might have been done by Falco, were Falco still alive. One odd thing was that they’d practiced handstands in rehearsal, but there was no handstand to be seen in this dance, perhaps because the massive costume would have made it impossible. Anyway, I kind of liked this modern interpretation of the Viennese waltz, but the judges’ take was best summed up by Len: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” In other words, Toni should just stick to being a good dancer and skip the gimmickry. Score: 22/30.

Taking a more traditional approach (as promised) were Lance Bass and Lacey, whose Viennese waltz involved nothing hip-hoppy whatsoever. To make sure their strategy was working, they performed in front of the denizens of a senior citizens’ home. The seniors graciously gave them all eights and nines, though one said she could have done it better in her day, and another wanted to know where Cloris Leachman was. For their real performance, the judges remained a bit hard to please -– Bruno missed the sparkle he’d come to expect from them, while Len criticized the posture and the hold, though he still liked it better than their past dances. Score: 22/30.

Susan Lucci and Tony continued their streak of solid-but-not-daring performances. Susan practiced the “kicks and flicks” for the jive with the Rockettes, and her performance was good. She works very hard and has good attention to detail, but her dances just lack a little of the zing that some of the other couples have. Carrie Ann said it was a bit too bashful. Score: 21/30.

Once again possessing more energy than precision were Cody Linley and Julianne, whose jive was extremely bouncy and enthusiastic. It did, however, involve two bits where Cody pretended to use Julianne’s leg as a guitar neck. Sure, once was cute, but twice seemed intellectually lazy. The judges commented on this failure of the choreography, which was really Julianne’s fault, not Cody’s. Len also criticized Cody for mouthing the counts the whole time. Score: 21/30.

Rocco DiSpirito and Karina again landed in second-to-last place. During rehearsals for their Viennese waltz, Karina blindfolded Rocco and had him dance to various genres of music so that he wouldn’t psych himself out by seeing his own movements in the mirror. This seemed to work in rehearsals, but their waltz struck me as kind of jerky, a sensation probably exacerbated by the discordant interpretation of “What’s New, Pussycat?” performed by the band. Bruno rather harshly called it a “lump of mashed potato” rather than a “light mousse.” Ah, enough with the food metaphors. Score: 20/30.

And, well, Cloris and Corky ended up, as usual, in last place. Their jive did not lack for interest. Here are a few of the things it involved: Cloris pretending Corky farted; Corky inadvertently ripping off Cloris’s entire wig/skullcap combo; and Corky using Cloris as a wheelbarrow. The crowd went wild, however, and Cloris spent some extra time walking around, acknowledging them. Bruno said that to call this dance wacky would be the understatement of the year. Carrie Ann said she was speechless. Len was unable to get a word in edgewise. Score: 16/30.

So that’s where we are after four dances. Will Cloris be going home tonight? Will anyone? Or will the remaining contestants get a free pass because of Misty’s injury? Prognostications regarding the presidential debate are also welcomed.

-- Sarah Rogers

(Photo of Brooke Burke courtesy ABC)