David Ross cried his eyes out. And it was a most emotional moment indeed on Monday night’s “Dancing With the Stars.” But were they tears of joy or tears of “I just got voted off this show?”
A two-dance night, it would be one of the most moving, and in another instance, one of the harshest episodes on record for the series.
Ross and his pro partner Lindsay Arnold were first tasked with dancing a waltz to the strains of Tim McGraw’s “Humble and Kind.” This week was also “pro pick night,” in which the professional dancers chose a song that best captured the essence of their celebrity partners.
Preparing for their first dance, Ross and Arnold shared a powerfully emotional rehearsal room, as their pre-dance video package revealed. Arnold said she chose McGraw’s song for Ross because “I see the way you interact with your kids. … In just two short months he’s become a second dad to me.”
Ross revealed: “Those are values my dad instilled in me: ‘Please,’ ‘thank you’, and’ hold the door.’”
“The most important job you have as a parent is to pass along the values you think are important in life,” Ross said, his eyes welling up with tears. “That’s how my parents raised me. For Lindsay to see that in two months…” Ross could not continue as he broke out into tears.
“He loves his family, he loves his teammates and he loves people,” Lindsay remarked. “Family and values and who you are as a person matter more than anything else.”
The entire ballroom was in tears as the duo took to the floor for their waltz, which charmed everyone including the judges’ panel.
Len Goodman said: “You were a little unsteady a couple of times. But you attempted to get the footwork, which most of the celebrities avoid. … It was poignant and 100 percent your best dance.” Julianne remarked, “That’s what this show is all about. … From day one your partnership has never faltered. … You are the heart of this competition.” “Bruno Tonioli said “This was the best father-daughter dance at a wedding you’ll ever see!” His score: 36 out of 40
Their second dance of the night was a paso doble, in which they were joined by pro dancer Hayley Erbert, dancing the fiery paso to “Gangsta’s Paradise” by 2WEI.
“I’m definitely a third wheel here,” Ross said during rehearsals, remarking on the youthful female partners he was paired with. Lindsay, in explaining her choreography, told Ross he had to be the most manly man he’s ever been. “I’m manly enough,” Ross quipped, laughing.
The choreography depicted Ross as a Roman gladiator entering the colosseum to do battle. Len Goodman did not like the dance one bit. Julianne said Ross “lacked shaping,” or the necessary posture for a proper paso. Carrie Ann said it seemed Ross put his strategy more into his first dance; the paso seemed clunky. His score: 29 out of 40
So who are the celebs dancing next week in the semi-finals? Cubs nation is rejoicing tonight. David Ross will join Normani Kordei, Simone Biles and Rashad Jennings next week, moving one step closer to the mirrorball trophy. Bonner Bolton’s scores, combined with viewer votes, were not enough to carry him through to the next round, and he was eliminated from the competition.
Other happenings on this night:
NFL star Rashad Jennings and his pro partner Emma Slater kicked things off with their “Blues Brothers”-inspired jive danced to “Shake a Tail Feather.”
“He’s the ultimate teammate, that’s what this song represents to me. When I get stressed, Rashad calms me down,” Slater said in their pre-dance video package.
At the judges’ panel, Len Goodman said it was full of fun but that Rashad needs to work harder on his footwork. Julianne called the dance loads of fun. Bruno Tonioli commented, “You showcased the showman that is Rashad.” Carrie Ann Inaba called Jennings a true entertainer, but agreed with Len that his footwork needed more work, with more attention paid to the smallest details. His score: 36 out of 40.
For Rashad’s second dance, an Argentine tango trio with his partner Emma and Witney Carson, which the performers affectionately termed a “menage a ‘Shad,” the judges awarded Jennings a score of 39 out of 40 (only Len did not raise the “10” score paddle).
Fifth Harmony’s Normani Kordei and her pro partner Val Chmerkovskiy danced a contemporary routine to “Freedom” by Anthony Hamilton and Elayna Boynton. The duo earned a perfect score of 40 last week, resulting in immunity from elimination.
In their pre-dance video package, Chmerkovskiy revealed he chose the song because the song is about “breaking free.”
“The piece is so symbolic of when I felt hopeless. … I was bullied on social media,” Kordei said. “Every time I went online [there was hate]. I was called the ‘n’ word. … We all want to be loved, we all want to feel accepted. When that doesn’t happen it just breaks you.”
The revelations and the powerful dance that followed brought everyone to tears. “When you can tell a story that is so profound that is gonna touch so many people, you’re creating art,” Hough said, holding back tears. “You offered all of us healing,” Carrie Ann said. “The ballroom was spellbound, and so was I,” Len Goodman said. Her score: 40 out of 40.
For their trio dance later in the evening, Normani, Val and Alan Bersten performed a country-western inspired jive to “Feeling Alive” by Earl St. Clair. Judge Julianne loved the dance, delivering high praises to Normani. Bruno called it “exciting” and “fantastic.” Len Goodman criticized Sharna’s decision to perform some of the choreography standing on the judges’ table. The score: 39 out of 40
Prior to their first dance, rodeo champ Bonner Bolton and his pro partner Sharna Burgess had a tense rehearsal week, as their pre-dance video revealed. It started with Sharna’s choice of song, because “it’s all about overcoming adversity,” she said.
“It’s a struggle for me to have to revisit that over and over again for this show,” Bonner said in despair, finally walking out of rehearsals. Bonner overcame a devastating injury during a bull riding competition in 2016 in which he was thrown, resulting in a broken neck.
For their fist dance they performed an Argentine tango to “Believer” by Imagine Dragons.” The judges were not impressed, however. Bruno called his steps “clunky” and advised him to “push to the next level.” Then in an unprecedented moment of what some might describe as a lack of professionalism, judge Len Goodman remarked the dance was too stiff, commenting — to a roomful of gasps — that Bolton should have already been off the show. “If the story goes too far you’ve got frustration.” It was a truly harsh moment that should not have been verbalized (no matter what the judge might have been thinking). In all the seasons of watching the show, I can’t recall a judge ever remarking that a contestant should have already been voted off.
“I’m not here just because I’m here,”an obviously hurt and surprised Bolton said, in response. His score: 30 out of 40
For their trio dance, Bonner, Sharna and Britt Stewart danced a “Mad Men”-inspired jazz routine to “That’s What I Like” by Bruno Mars. Carrie Ann giggled that the dance was “kind of raunchy.” Len criticized the dance’s raunchiness but told Bonner he admired him. His score: 28 out of 40.
For their first dance, Sasha Farber selected “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction for his foxtrot with Olympic champion Simone Biles. A humble (and later giggling) Simone was embarrassed by the choice.
“I like the mix of stuff in hold and out of hold… full of youthful exuberance,” said judge Len Goodman. Julianne remarked the dance was “too safe.” Bruno said he wanted more “surprises” from their routines.
“I’ve lived in a gym 14 years of my life, so it’s hard to express emotions you’ve never experienced, ” Biles said. Her score: 36 out of 40
For their trio dance, the judges selected pro dancer Brittany Cherry to deliver a paso doble. They danced to the strains of “Don’t Let Me Down” by The Chainsmokers. Carrie Ann was mixed about the dance, remarking Simoe was almost “too precise” in her movements. Len reminded her that she is his favorite, but that a “9” doesn’t win the mirrorball trophy. Her score: 36 out of 40.