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'Dancing With the Stars' recap: Stars and stripes forever

April 18, 2011 | 10:33 pm

124110_1682_pre There was a lot to celebrate this week, ballroom fans. We’ve reached the halfway point of the 12th season of “Dancing With the Stars." The 1000th competitive dance was going to be performed on this very show. And finally, this week was all about pledging allegiance to the Mirrorball and celebrating America, with all the routines performed to songs that salute the country. However, as Tom said, “we are now outsourcing dances,” to places like Brazil (for the samba) and Austria (for the Viennese waltz), and at times these mash-ups made for an interesting culture clash. But hey, that’s just another facet to this melting pot country, right? Bring out the stars … and stripes!

Back in the lead position were Hines Ward and Kym Johnson. And their sexy uniformed rumba, set to “Proud to be an American,” also paid tribute to the very American movie classic “An Officer and a Gentleman” and launched the duo up to the top of the charts where they belonged. Hines is swoonworthy on any day, but trot him out in uniform and you’d better be sure to have the smelling salts on standby. Especially when paired up with those gorgeous hip movements. Hines was a little worried that he’d be more caveman than gentleman in this bedroom dance, but man, the Pittsburgh Steeler was all smooth curves and no jagged edge in this performance. Kudos to Kym for not getting tangled in that long fringe, which deceptively covered up her barely-there outfit. Bruno commended Hines for his “ease of movement,” and “just the right amount of sensuality to make the ladies swoon.” Carrie Ann said Hines had “the best hip action I have seen.” Len went so far as to say he thought this was Hines’ best dance. I’ll salute to that. I’ll also tip my hat to all that “pillow love” that Hines had put in to get himself into the mood. It was enough to earn him and Kym three 9s and the lead in the competition, with a total of 27 out of 30.

Dropping to second place were Chelsea Kane and Mark Ballas, though I really liked their samba, set to Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A.” Chalk it up to Chelsea liking three things: U.S.A., partying and Miley Cyrus. Chelsea wanted to break the rules and shake up the samba, but Mark kept the routine on the straight and narrow. And I think that was the way to go. Chelsea’s fringe pants made up for any lack of hip action, but it was a fun nod to Route 66 and gas stations, and Chelsea’s long blond hair, long limbs and trim torso gave the Disney Channel star more than a passing resemblance to Stacy Kiebler. Bruno 124110_1995_pre thought the routine had the best of both worlds: “You had all the party energy of America and the sizzle and the excitement of Brazil.” Carrie Ann liked how the two danced so well together. “I thought this was fantastic,” she said. Len got downright cheeky with his critique: “Yum yum what a bum!” he appraised. “This is a party, and I’m not talking a Tupperware party.” Though the head judge did dock for messing up the running promenades at the end. Total: 26.

Randy Len also appreciated the scenery in Chris Jericho and Cheryl Burke’s Viennese waltz. Chris and Cheryl danced to “America the Beautiful” and the wrestling star was feeling the pressure — not only to impress Len into giving them a paddle higher than a 7, but also to properly emulate the purple mountains majesty. (I’m also liking how Chris’ personality is coming through, like when he hurled a raspberry at Len last week for his tepid 7 score and revealed that he shrieked like a teen at a Justin Bieber concert after discovering he’d been paired up with Cheryl.) Turned out Chris didn’t need to worry: Cheryl admirably put her Rocky Mountains on display, and Len liked the majestic view. Their Viennese waltz also got a nice salute. Bruno called Chris “big yet graceful, strong yet delicate of touch, elegant, with a sweeping sense of romance. Carrie Ann said she thought Chris was underestimated, and the WWE star was “a real contender.” Len said it was “a little bit flat-footed” and sternly told Chris that “when you deserve an 8, I’ll give you one.” Turned out Len doesn’t hate America –- he awarded Chris the 8 after all. Total: 26. 

Romeo has already achieved a feat, outlasting his father Master P by making it past the fourth week of competition, and outscoring his dad in the paso by 15 whole points. And now Romeo was intent on infusing the fox trot with his own swagger. Though I thought his version of “New York, New York” with Chelsie Hightower was a bit stiff and out of sync (though that might have been the square, boring version of the Frank Sinatra classic sung by the house band). But the judges were eating out of his top hat, saluting his tribute to the Big Apple. “It had a lot flair to it,” said Len. “You’re a very charming chap.” “I’ve never seen a fox trot so cheeky and so well danced,” Bruno raved. “That was so cool and so sophisticated!” commended Carrie Ann. “You have such a unique style.” Romeo has caught the dancing bug, and is determined to stay in the competition. If not for his dad, if not for himself, then for his country. “I’m dancing for America now,” he declared. Total: 26.

Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy danced a rock-and-roll fox trot to “American Woman.” During rehearsals, she brought in dance doctor John Travolta, who suggested Kirstie eschew the Manolo Blahniks for high tops and that she and Maks muster up some romantic tension, stat. And I’m sure that all helped to make a fine dance. Though when Maks, sporting a tight pair of leather pants that hugged him in all the right places, ripped off his tank top, it was hard to pay attention to anything else. I mean, because he had the American flag tattooed on the side of his body. Let’s all salute the flag, shall we? It’s the American thing to do. But yes, the dance: Kelly Preston liked it. So did Kathy Najimy. “It was bold, it was ambitious, it was a little borderline crazy,” Carrie Ann tittered. “I think it was your best dance ever!” Len said the overall feel “wasn’t my cup of tea. ... There was very little excellence about the whole thing.” Bruno, however, begged to differ, and all but begged for some off-camera time with Maks. “The American woman and the Russian gigolo!” the judge panted. “The cold war is definitely over.” Total: 23.

Petra Nemcova remains such an unflappable ray of sunshine. She’d never heard of Elvis, having grown up in the Czech Republic under Communist rule, but the supermodel gamely tried Presley’s hip-swivel dance in sunglasses, and remains grateful for all the opportunities America has given her. Including the chance to pretend like she and Dmitry Chaplin were high rollers and dance to the tune of “Viva Las Vegas.” I thought her quickstep was high-energy and a lot of sparkly fun (didn’t hurt that she and Dmitry are such a dapper couple), and Bruno said Petra was “like the golden goddess of speed” and had lines that could rival Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati’s combined. Len thought she “coped very well with the speed of the music,” thought her “head sometimes gets a big cranky.” But Carrie Ann saw more crap than winnings. “Tonight I feel like you took a bit of a step back,” she said. “You got a little out of sync.” Total: 22.

“I’m a New Yorker, Karina’s Russian, we’re dancing the samba about Alabama,” said Ralph Macchio. “It’s perfect.” Well, not really. Ralph and Karina Smirnoff had quite the task ahead of them. “It was a challenge to fuse Southern rock with Brazilian party,” said Ralph. But I thought they acquitted themselves with a lot of verve. The line-dancing portions were very charming, though the samba parts were a little clunky and, as Len said, “lacked a lot of rhythm.” Leave it to the foreign judges to bring on the haterade. “I’m not saying this was terrible,” British Len said, but “you’ve gotta get hips, you’ve gotta get rhythm.” Bruno said the dance needed “fire down below. You’ve got to get the hips going, get the lines going,” the European said. “Give me sex, man!” Carrie Ann kept an American perspective on the whole thing. “It’s Americana week!” she reminded the other judges. “I thought it was a great, entertaining…probably your most vivacious performance ever.” Ralph and Karina got a 22 for their samba. Had it been a hoedown, however, no doubt the scores would have been through the roof.

In her taped package with Louis Van Amstel, Kendra Wilkinson felt like she was being attacked by Carrie Ann’s comment that she was afraid of elegance, so it was up to partner Louis Van Analyst to talk her down from the fences and parse out the constructive from the criticism. The former Girl Next Door realized that Carrie Ann wasn’t trying to make her feel like trash, so she resolved to put it behind her and move on to the fox trot.  Which was set to “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” and got doused in a rainstorm of confetti and the tinkling of slot machines after it was revealed that it was the 1000th competitive dance ever. And their resulting dance was definitely patriotic and somewhat celebratory, though it didn’t come nearly as close to the party that was going on in Louis’ wispy Uncle Sam goatee. The judges all made sure to congratulate Kendra on having fun, though. “It’s much better than last week,” said Len. “You came out and enjoyed yourself.” Bruno called the dance “sweet as apple pie” and said Kendra was “much more in character.” Carrie Ann said this was the “most confident I’ve ever seen you” and “the most patriotic dance of the night.” And just when we thought we’d moved on from the hormone talk, Kendra had to bring up that time of the month again in the celebraquarium. Gotta end it with a period. Total: 22.

That puts Kendra, Ralph and Petra in a three-way tie for last place. Methinks Petra and Kendra will end up in the bottom two, and Kendra ultimately, will get the heave-ho.

What do you think? Is it Kendra’s time to go? What was she doing with that hot dog before commercial break? Would you invest in a dancing cushion if it meant some pillow time with Hines Ward? Does all this confetti mean that some poor piñata is going without this season? Seriously, what is with the massive amounts of confetti?

-- Allyssa Lee


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Photo credits: Hines Ward and Kym Johnson; Mark Ballas and Chelsea Kane: Adam Taylor / ABC