— Everyone has a story, and on Monday’s night’s “Dancing With the Stars” performance show, the hoofer hopefuls had a chance to share theirs as they each revealed their most memorable year through motion and music.
So how well did those memories, good and bad, translate on the dance floor? That depended on who was doing the dancing.
In the case of Iraq war vet J.R. Martinez, who not-so-surprisingly revealed that his most memorable year was the wartime one that saw him seriously wounded and permanently scarred, it was a powerful experience for him and the audience as he devoted his rumba “to those that didn’t come home.”
Since the first week of the competition, Martinez has proven himself one of the ones to watch with strong performances and a natural knack for smooth movement. His latest routine just reinforced that.
Sure, the dance — filled with difficult holds, transitions and arm lines — wasn’t exactly flawless, but it was fluid and emotional, and it had the audience up out of their seats cheering and crying. Martinez even shed a few tears himself, but he could hardly compete with the waterworks coming from one judge.
“Heroes are normal people who do extraordinary things,” Carrie Ann Inaba said as she wept. “Tonight you did something extraordinary.”
Maybe those tears explain why Carrie Ann missed the lift in that routine, which as any “Dancing” fan knows, is one of those nitpicks Inaba loves. But while she was hesitant to criticize such a moving effort, head judge Len Goodman had no such filter.
“The thing is, we have to speak to justify our marks,” he said, knowing that boos were on the way for him — and they were. “For me, it could have been a little bit more musical through the arms, so ... J.R., you understand.”
Martinez earned 26 points for the dance, the same total Chynna Phillips rumbaed away with after a far less impressive routine. In past weeks, that would have been enough to put him and the Wilson Phillips singer securely at the top of the leaderboard. But not this time.
While Martinez and Phillips saw the season’s first 9 paddles revealed, they didn’t see as many as Ricki Lake did later in the evening.
In yet another of the night’s rumbas, Lake attempted to convey the memories of 2010 — the year she lost her home to a fire and met the love of her life. While emotionally, it was easy to see why Martinez stole the spotlight, Lake’s technical skills were worth the extra point. She’s consistently showed off the best footwork so far.
But not every performer had the most powerful memories or the best moves. For Carson Kressley, who after Monday night can be called this season’s comeback kid, that hardly mattered. Kressley's tango, which celebrated the year he kicked off “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” was pure fun. Much like his premiere night cha-cha, the fashion guru put it all on the floor and gave the audience something irresistible to watch.
The judges must have thought so too, as they handed him a couple of 8s and a 7 for his troubles.
The not-so-memorable men and women in the middle for the night included David Arquette, Kristin Cavallari and Rob Kardashian, the latter of whom can consider his rise to the middle a huge success given his past routines.
As for the rest? It went from bad to worse.
Bad, in this case, was Nancy Grace, who managed to avoid any wardrobe malfunctions thanks to a nip-slip-proof gown and a slow-motion routine. But she also failed to impress with her lullaby waltz.
And worse? Hope Solo and whatever the hair and costume folks did to her.
Solo’s moves weren’t really better or worse than her usual dance-floor flubs, but seeing her perform them in a bad '80s flashback of crimped hair, patterned stockings, garters and a dress cut up to her private parts hardly helped matters. In fact, one shake and shimmy move that might have normally gone unnoticed seemed downright vulgar in her so-called “sexy” garb.
Good thing for Solo she still had one thing working to her advantage — Chaz Bono’s routine.
No amount of likability or can’t-be-helped ballroom injuries could gloss over the dance disaster he delivered. In fact, given how often the activist and author stood in one spot, barely moving at all, it’s a bit of a stretch to call it a dance at all.
Of course, at week three, the competition is still a battle of the fan bases, and thanks to that, Bono could see a lucky save in his future, leaving Tuesday night’s ballroom boot a mystery.