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'Dancing With the Stars': Brooke Burke scores a perfect 30

November 3, 2008 | 10:07 pm

B_burke_k7f3vdnc_400_2 Going into tonight’s “Dancing With the Stars” competition, my money was on Susan Lucci to land at the bottom of the judges’ scoreboard. It’s a good thing “my money” was just a turn of phrase and not actual money because Susan’s paso doble pleased the judges enough to earn three eights. The stories of this week were interpersonal conflict and reversals of fortune (again).

And tonight brought a new feature to the competition –- the Team Dance. The six pairs were divided into two teams: Team Cha-Cha versus Team Paso Doble. These scores were combined with each couple’s individual dance score to give us a new, bigger total score for the week. It was a nice touch, in my opinion, and I am in favor of it going forward. Producers, make a note of it.

Warren Sapp and Kym were assigned the foxtrot, and Kym took Warren to see Nick Kosovich, a foxtrot champion, do the dance. Their dance started off with a charming little play in front of the judges’ table, but it never really became fun the way Warren’s performances normally do. He struck me as a little nervous, and their timing occasionally seemed slightly off. The judges agreed: Len thought it was a bit heavy; Bruno said it was flat-footed; and Carrie Ann, perhaps inspired by political journalists, intrepidly tried to get to the bottom of things by asking what was going on. Warren said his feet weren’t right. Score: 21/30.

Susan Lucci and Tony, assigned the paso doble, experienced some interpersonal tension in rehearsals this week. It’s hard to imagine getting into an argument with Tony; he’s so chipper. But Susan’s frustration and discouragement were palpable. When Tony tried to buck her up, she even shed a few tears. You know the feeling –- when you’re really upset, and someone is nice to you, you cry. Or maybe that’s just something I need to work on. The paso doble was a stroke of luck for Susan, like the tango was –- the slower, more intense poses fit her skills better than the Latin dances, which require so much shimmying and, you know, rhythm. The judges simply burst with acclaim. Carrie Ann, as is her wont this season, made Susan come up to the table, turn around and exclaim, “I did good!” I really wanted Susan to correct her, but it was probably the right move for Susan to follow instructions. Score: 24/30.

Cha-cha-ing this week were Maurice Greene and Cheryl, this season’s most erratic pair. Rehearsals were full of tension and angst, as usual for these two, and Maurice and Cheryl’s prospects were not helped when Maurice hyperextended his leg in the team-dance practice. Their cha-cha was a very modern interpretation that featured lots of Cheryl spinning and Maurice grooving. I’ll give it to him: He looked as if he were enjoying himself. Carrie Ann thought this was the “perfect mix of form and freedom,” while Len said it “wasn’t always top-quality” but was “dazzling.” Score: 25/30.

Because Julianne was recovering from surgery, Cody Linley danced the Viennese waltz with Edyta this week. The Viennese waltz isn’t my favorite dance, so I am always suspicious of my analysis of it, just as I am with rumbas. All I can firmly say is that the song they were assigned was on the cheesy side, and the choreography, while competent, matched. The judges’ comments were mixed. Len thought they looked comfortable as partners but that Cody was plodding. Bruno called him “a fledgling bird stretching its wings but not taking off.” Carrie Ann, however, thought it was great. Score: 22/30.

Lance Bass and Lacey, coming off their first-place performance last week, encountered frustrations of their own in rehearsals for the first time. They were assigned the rumba, and their rehearsals caused something of a breakdown on Lacey’s part, though it was a little hard to follow. Lacey felt that Lance was being negative, and she was sick and tired of having to prop him up! Their barefoot rumba utilized a park bench on the dance floor. As rumbas go, this one was spry and fast-moving, and I agreed with Bruno that it was an “inspired and refreshing take” on the dance. Carrie Ann thought that doing it barefoot was a risk that paid off. And Len? Do you even need to ask? He hated the bare feet, the park bench, “the nonsense” of it all. Bruno and Carrie Ann gave Lance and Lacey nines, but Len gave them a seven. Score: 25/30.

Brooke Burke and Derek, knocked off their first-place perch last week, were determined to kick it up a notch with their foxtrot, despite Brooke’s ongoing foot pain. In the rehearsal scenes, we were given a bit of obvious misdirection: Could Brooke do such a fluid dance? Not much suspense there. The dance was very classical in music and choreography. Brooke’s costume was also very traditional, if you only looked at the top or bottom. In the middle was a bare midriff. The judges loved the dance -– with compliments like “beautiful,” “fantastic” and “thrilling,” you just knew some tens were coming. Score: 30/30.

The last half-hour of the show featured the much-heralded Team Dance. Team Cha-Cha was made up of Susan, Lance, Cody and their partners. In rehearsals, the weak link appeared to be Susan, whose day job in New York meant she had less time for team rehearsals in L.A. Also, the cha-cha would seem to require more fluidity in one’s midsection than Susan usually exhibits. And this was the case –- the cha-cha was tough for her and Tony. More surprisingly, it was also tough for Cody and Edyta, whose timing seemed off, but Lance and Lacey were energetic, fun and excellent. Bruno called it a cha-cha “teetering on the brink of disaster” that was rescued by Lance and Lacey. Carrie Ann said the unison “was terrible” and “brutal to watch,” but Lance and Lacey did well. Even Len agreed with that assessment. Score: 20/30.

Team Paso Doble was made up of Warren, Maurice, Brooke and their partners. Cheryl proved herself a savvy team player by suggesting that she and Maurice go in the middle since the team should end with Brooke, who’s the most impressive. This performance was much better than that of Team Cha-Cha – the unison portions and solos were uniformly better. The judges cited the excellent teamwork, though Len did point out that it was easier to keep in formation in a paso doble than a cha-cha. Score: 29/30.

So Team Paso Doble’s spanking of Team Cha-Cha meant that in the lead were Brooke and Derek with 59/60. Cody and Edyta landed in the cellar with 42/60. Will Julianne get a chance to return? I suspect all those "Hannah Montana" fans know how to text in their votes.

Now, this is a reminder that election day is Tuesday. So, one, be sure to vote, and, two, don’t try to tune in to the “DWTS” results show because it won’t be on until Wednesday. Please weigh in with your predictions in the meantime –- who will be the next to go?

-- Sarah Rogers

(Photo courtesy Craig Sjodin / ABC / AP)

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