Favourite DWTS Performances

Over the years, I’ve given Dancing With the Stars a lot of flack. First of all, there’s a very loose definition of “Stars.” Up until recently, they had their orchestra band perform all the songs, which I understood, but it resulted in a lot of not-so-good versions of pop songs. Their insistence on using a lot of pop songs was also met with mixed results; some songs just did not work with the style the pairs were supposed to be dancing. Nowadays, it annoys the hell out of me that they insist on including contemporary and jazz (just no, leave it to SYTYCD). Regardless, there has been multiple times where everything just comes together and we get legitimately good/great performances. After a certain point, I was just watching for the Pros and their group numbers during the results shows or dancing alongside the musical guests, but sometimes the stars actually do leave an impression and that’s the reason for the show’s existence. So here goes my top 10* favourite performances from the past 20(?!) seasons, in no particular order.

*Plus a few cheats. Because I can.

1.) Season 2, Drew & Cheryl – “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy”

This freestyle eventually set the bar for all future freestyles. Anyone who actually watched this back in the day, just has fond memories of it. It showed off Drew’s dancing skills that he learned from the weeks of competition and it was a lot of fun to watch. I guess it’s also one of the reasons why I’m not particularly fond of the slow, almost-Contemporary freestyles, because when I think freestyle, I think fun and upbeat. But that’s just me.

2.) Season 10, Nicole & Derek “El Capitalismo Foraneo”

Have I mentioned how much of a sucker I am for a good Tango or Argentine Tango? It’s such a gorgeous dance, and requires the partners to be strong and bold, yet sensual. Sure, Nicole Scherzinger was very much a ringer this season, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t earn her win. This routine was flawless from top to bottom, and it certainly helped that they got a more traditional song to dance to, as opposed to a pop song. Ugh, LOVE IT!

3.) Season 5, Helio & Julianne – “Hey Pachuco!”

The Quickstep is endearingly(?) referred to as the kiss of death on SYTYCD, and that’s because it is HARD. The stamina and energy required to just get through a one minute routine is crazy and mixed with the fact that you have to be light on your feet is crazy difficult, whether you’re a dancer or not. What was great about this routine was that Helio managed to do all that and look like he was legitimately having fun.

4.) Season 9, Joanna & Derek – “Living on Video”/ Season 10, Nicole & Derek – “Spanish Guitar”

As the show grew and with each passing season, it was expected of them to change things up a bit. First they added in non-typical ballroom dance styles, and then they started playing around with these fusion dances (some straight-up combos and some incredibly random). And if anyone could rise up to the challenge, it was Derek. [Full disclosure: I’m a huge Derek Hough fan. I think he’s an amazing dancer/choreographer and deserves all the praise in the world.] It was evident first in season 9, when Derek had to choreograph a ‘Futuristic Paso Doble’ (set to an 80s song) for his partner Joanna; then again in season 10, when he was tasked to choreograph a ’50s Paso Doble’ for Nicole. The end result was all kinds of awesome.

5.) Season 8, Gilles & Cheryl – “Assassin’s Tango”

See #2. Plus using the score from Mr. and Mrs. Smith gave it an extra edge that was absolutely wonderful.

6.) Season 5, Mel & Maks – “Free Your Mind”

The changing of the lyrics was actually hilarious, and exactly what I was talking about earlier. Mel B was just such a beast though, you kind of had to ignore the song arrangement.

7.) Season 18, Meryl & Maks – “Feel So Close”/ Meryl & Val – “Too Close”

I never usually call ringer, even when there’s someone in the competition who has dance experience, because normally it’s like a hip-hop or Broadway background, not ballroom. When Meryl Davis, along with Charlie White, were announced as part of this season’s cast, boy did I ever yell “RINGER!!!” I mean they basically ballroom dance, ON ICE! AND Derek had helped them with choreography for the Olympics! As the season went on though, I just couldn’t deny how great a dancer Meryl is, and she had such a great partnership with Maks. Had to choose both her Tango with Maks and Argentine Tango with Val because I would not have pegged those songs to use for Tangos (which would have annoyed me before), but they made it work!

8.) Season 8, Shawn & Mark – “Do Your Thing”

It was just non-stop dancing, and simply put, so much fun and entertaining to watch.

9.) Season 15, Shawn, Derek & Mark – “Jungle Jazz”

Sure, it was more Afro-Jazz with touches of Samba, but you couldn’t deny how good the performance was. Shawn getting to dance with both her partners on the show was such a treat.

10.) Season 19, Alfonso & Witney – “369”

When it was announced that Alfonso Ribeiro was going to be a part of the season 19 cast, everyone pretty much called it that he was going to win, pretty much based solely on “The Carlton.” From the beginning, he proved that he was going to work hard and earn that Mirror Ball Trophy, starting with this dance. A Jive in week 1 is no joke; you have to get those flicks and kicks right, and make sure you’re light on your feet with a natural bounce/rhythm. Alfonso’s routine was all of that and then some.

 

HONOURABLE MENTIONS – Non-competition performances

1.) Season 5, Jennifer Lopez performs “Let’s Get Loud” with the Pro Dancers

I don’t remember many of the group numbers from seasons 1-4, though obviously I always knew the Pro Dancers were crazy talented. Things changed after watching this performance; I loved every part of it, with our Pro Dancers performing, while J.Lo sang. I think it had finally dawned on me how much I love the Pros dancing as a group, when everything just comes together – choreography, music, costumes. I can’t ever listen to this song now without picturing this performance in my head.

2.) Season 7, Jennifer Hudson with Derek & Julianne – “Spotlight”

The Hough siblings are ridiculously talented and I love them both dearly. It’s just so great to see them dance together, every once in a while.

3.) Season 10, Chelsie & Derek – “Malaguena”

I absolutely loved the simplicity of the performance. An acoustic arrangement (featuring Mark on guitar) and they let the dancing do everything else. It was very much a classic Paso Doble. It’s no wonder they were Emmy nominated for this.

4.) Season 11, Mark & Val “Toxic”

This was before Val became a Pro on the show, though the connections and relationships were already there. They set this up as Val and Mark always having had a friendly rivalry because they both danced and played musical instruments; this was just a fun showcase of that. One of my favourite things about this is that they were playing “Toxic.” I mean, I remember watching it and it starts off with the dueling violin and guitar, then I start hearing those recognizable notes/riffs, and I was like “Are they..? OMIGOD THEY’RE DOING TOXIC!!!” ūüėÄ

5.) Season 10, Pro Dancers – “Evacuate the Dancefloor”

It’s great when you see the Pro Dancers do straight ballroom, but it’s also so much fun to see them let loose like this.

6.) Anytime Derek & Allison choreograph something (Season 13/Season 15 “Heart Cry”/Season 18 “Animals”)

Before Allison became a Pro on DWTS, she had often choreographed special performances with Derek. Two of my favourite dancers working together? It was amazing! The first time they performed together on the show in S13, they did an incredible Tango/Paso/Flamenco/Contemporary fusion number;I remember being away on vacation, watching the performance on YouTube, and was honestly left breathless. In S15, they choreographed a beautiful Contemporary number, which also featured Melanie Moore, Kathryn McCormick, and Jessica Lee Keller. Then in S18, they worked together on the really fun fusion featuring some of the Pros and Troupe members, though Allison didn’t perform with them.

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Emmy Nominations 2010

Emmy nominations make me a happy TV fan…that is until I realize all the amazing people who got snubbed…and then I go back to being a (generally) happy TV fan. Rundown of nominees…

  • OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES: First off, Glee & Modern Family…YAY! I will be happy if either of these 2 shows can get the award from 30 Rock. Secondly, as much as I love the show, The Office was not entirely on its game this past season. I hate to say it, but I would have much rather liked to see The Big Bang Theory or Community or (a longshot) Chuck get the nomination instead. The other actual nominees were Curb Your Enthusiasm and Nurse Jackie.
  • OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES: The only actual show I watch out of the nominees is True Blood, so I’ll be rooting for them. Mad Men is a very well-written show and I tried watching it, but it’s sort of a downer for me. It’s just not my type of show. Dexter, The Good Wife and Breaking Bad are all supposed to be good shows. Lost got nominated for its final season. I don’t have much else to say on this.
  • OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY: Please let Jim Parsons or Matthew Morrison win. Tony Shaloub again? I really hope not.
  • OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY: Sooo happy for Lea Michele! But as much as it pains me to say it, I don’t think she stands much of a chance at winning. I mean look at who she’s nominated against! Edie Falco, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Amy Poheler, Tina Fey, Toni Collette! I want Lea to win because I love Glee, but I’m trying to be realistic here.
  • OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA: I’ve come to the realization that I don’t watch a lot of drama shows. I know enough about them but I don’t really watch them. Anyways, Hugh Laurie nominated for House – always a good thing. Surprised at the nomination for Kyle Chandler for Friday Night Lights. I’ve never watched the show, but I’ve heard nothing but great things about it and its fans have clearly been WAITING for these actors and the show to get nominated, so happy day for them. Other nominees – Jon Hamm, Michael C. Hall, Bryan Cranston, Matthew Fox.
  • OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA: Just on buzz alone, Julianna Margulies is totally winning. Again, surprise nomination for Connie Britton for FNL. Other nominees – January Jones, Mariska Hargitay, Glenn Close, Kyra Sedgwick.
  • OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY: Let’s put it this way, as long as Jon Cryer doesn’t win, I will be happy with whoever ends up winning. 3 of the 4 male actors on Modern Family got nominated (Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Ty Burrell – sorry Ed O’Neill), Neil Patrick Harris is nominated (and rightfully so), and (SURPRISE!) Chris Colfer is nominated! So had Ed O’Neill been nominated instead of Jon Cryer, this would’ve been an even more awesome category.
  • OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY: Hell yeah for the Julie Bowen, Sofia Vergara, and Jane Lynch nominations! But honestly, Jane Lynch FTW! Like come on, who beats Sue Sylvester?! Although I will be perfectly happy if either of the Modern Family ladies take it.
  • OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR/ACTRESS IN A DRAMA: Umm congratulations on their nominations! I don’t really want to waste space on stuff I don’t know what to write about. Sorry, I’m sure they were all great in whatever they did.
  • OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY: Neil Patrick Harris as Bryan Ryan! NPH was awesome in that episode but if it’s Glee winning in this category, it really should be Mike O’Malley instead of NPH. O’Malley was absolutely terrific as Kurt’s dad, and absolutely deserves the nomination and hopefully the win.
  • OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY: I love Kristin Chenoweth as April Rhodes, but Christine Baranski as Leonard’s mom on The Big Bang Theory was absolute genius. Although, Betty White is nominated for SNL, and I’d be stupid to bet against Betty White.
  • OUTSTANDING REALITY-COMPETITION PROGRAM: American Idol, Dancing With The Stars, The Amazing Race, Project Runway, and Top Chef are all nominated once again. Not one surprise here. The Amazing Race FTW…again, because it’s awesome and it hasn’t lost yet.
  • OUTSTANDING HOST FOR A REALITY PROGRAM: Same nominees as last year – Tom Bergeron, Phil Koeghan, Jeff Probst, Heidi Klum, Ryan Seacrest. I don’t watch Project Runway, so I have no idea how Heidi Klum is as a host. But I also don’t know WHY CAT DEELEY GOT SNUBBED…AGAIN!!!! Seriously, season after season, Cat Deeley proves how awesome she is at being a host and support for the contestants. How is it that she is not nominated?! I’m tired of her getting snubbed. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, screw Seacrest! Bring on Cat Deeley!
  • OUTSTANDING CHOREOGRAPHY: The one category that I am truly, without a doubt, excited about! I am not upset over any one nomination. If anything, I wish they could nominate more because I think Travis Wall should’ve been nominated for If It Kills Me and NappyTabs/Dmitry Chaplin should’ve been nominated for Calle Ocho. But I am happy for the ones that were nominated (and by the way, I’m surprised that for a few choreographers, it was for more than one routine.) Mia Michaels for Gravity, Koop Island Blues, and One on SYTYCD. Adam Shankman for the 2 dance numbers at this year’s Oscars. Stacey Tookey for Fear (I almost forgot which one this was – it was the one with Kathryn and Legacy in S6 SYTYCD). Chelsie Hightower and Derek Hough for that AMAZING paso doble during one of the results shows this past season on DWTS. And lastly, Derek Hough (yes, again, this time solo) for Anything Goes (the quickstep with Nicole Scherzinger) and Living on Video (the futuristic paso doble with Joanna Krupa) on DWTS seasons 10 and 9 respectively. Love them all, but I want Derek to win, particularly for Living on Video, because let’s be real, after you saw that routine you knew it had Emmy written all over it. But I will be happy with whoever wins, although with 2 nominations, I really hope the odds are with Derek this year.
  • SURPRISES/SNUBS/REALIZATIONS: After my initial excitement over all the Glee/Modern Family love, I actually noticed some things. Sally Field wasn’t nominated for Brothers and Sisters. No Community love, at all – once it got into it, the show was HILARIOUS, plus Joel McHale & Danny Pudi both deserved acting noms. No John Noble for Fringe? I mean I get it’s a sci-fi show sort of, but especially in the last half of the season, John Noble was fantastic. Courtney Cox-Arquette got snubbed for Cougar Town? Again, nothing for Chuck – I’m starting to think there’s no luck what so ever for Chuck and Emmys. Nothing for Grey’s Anatomy or Desperate Housewives, at least in the major categories, and not that I’ve watched it lately. Surprise nomination: The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien – I actually laughed when I saw that. Survivor wasn’t nominated for Outstanding Reality-Competition, despite having 2 great back-to-back seasons.

I think that covers it all…or at least what I care about anyways. Emmy Awards air August 29th on NBC.

Nicole Scherzinger & Derek Hough Win DWTS Season 10!

The winner of Dancing With the Stars’ 10th season was announced last night, and Nicole & Derek came out holding the mirrorball trophy! Unlike last season where I didn’t care who won because the season kind of sucked, I didn’t care who won this season because this season was pretty freakin’ awesome. (Although I do have to say that Derek’s my favourite pro, so I was pulling for him to win.) Evan & Anna and Erin & Maks proved to be great competitors, making for a truly exciting finale.

Personally, I am extremely excited by the outcome, but judging by comments left on Entertainment Weekly, E! Online, and hearing other people talk about it, some people aren’t so happy. [Warning: this is going into ranting territory.] As it happens every season, there’s always at least one person in the cast that screams “Ringer” – a person who for whatever reason (usually dance background) gets immediately deemed a front-runner and people go on screaming that it’s not fair that they are a part of the show. I understand the concern, but there are a couple things wrong with this.

For one, the celebrity in question need to only not have BALLROOM DANCING experience. So what if Nicole (or contestants from previous season such as Mya, Mel B, Sabrina Bryan, Lance Bass, Joey Fatone, etc.) is a dancer or have dance experience because of their pop music background? The only real advantage they have over most others is that they know how to perform and they might be able to pick up choreography faster. That’s it. They don’t know all the technique involved in ballroom or dancing with a partner, as opposed to solo. And anyways, I’d rather have these guys on because it’s guaranteed to be entertaining, as opposed to non-stars like Kate Gosselin who guarantee to be horribly terrible.

Second, if people have a problem with these stars competing, use your voting power and vote for someone else and get these stars out. That would be wrong considering they usually have the best dances, but if it bothers you so much, stop complaining and do something about it. Or better yet, take your issues up with the producers and somehow convince them to stop inviting pop stars or stars who generally have a good amount of dance experience in their past to join the cast. It might be a long shot that they’ll actually listen, but if you’re gonna complain, complain to the right people.

Third, as much as people say this is a dance competition (which it is), it is also a popularity contest above that. Some people have fan bases coming in, some people don’t. If a star is one of the best dancers on the show, they deserve to stay for a while. If they’re not a good dancer (and their dances are hard to watch), they should go. On top of this though is the fact that 10 seasons in, people are voting just as much for their favourite professional dancer (who have all become stars in their own right), as they are for their favourite celebrity.

As much as I love Nicole and Derek, I will admit that Nicole definitely had the cards in her favour coming into the show. Not only is she a great pop dancer to begin with, but she got Derek as her partner. Derek is a fantastic choreographer, and not to say that the other pros aren’t great choreographers but something about Derek (and this goes for Mark, Julianne and Chelsie too) sets him apart from the others as a choreographer. We can make the argument that that was what was Mya’s downfall last season. Mya was a great dancer but being that she was paired with Dmitry, and especially for their final freestyle, he didn’t really choreograph or cater to her style/personality.

One more thing I will admit to: I find the judges’ scoring last night to be a little fishy. I mean I understand that they wanted Nicole to win (she was the best dancer; Evan struggled with Latin) but would the 2 point difference in the final dance scoring really make that much of a difference in the end result? That bothered me a little, maybe considering that we’re so used to the judges giving perfect 30s so often for the final dances. Whatever.

I think that does it for my ranting. And again, very happy for Nicole and Derek and their win!

Dancing With The Stars Season 10 Cast

Holy crap, DWTS is on season 10?! Wowww…anyways, after the failure of having 16 “stars” last season (despite us pretty much getting all the pros), this season is back down to the more reasonable number of 11. A notable change to DWTS this season is that Samantha Harris is not coming back to co-host. Also, among the professional dancers not returning this season are: Kym Johnson, Dmitry Chaplin, Lacey Schwimmer, Alec Mazo, Jonathan Roberts, Anna Demidova, and Karina Smirnoff. The “celebrities” were announced last night following The Bachelor, with the pro partners¬†having been announced this morning. So without further ado, your “stars” and their partners:

  • Aiden Turner and Edyta Sliwinska: The first “who?” in the list. That is, unless you watch soap operas. Aiden is an actor on All My Children. Or as Annie Barrett on EW so greatly referred to as “the Cristian De La Fuente of the season…if he’s lucky”
  • Buzz Aldrin and Ashly Costa (formerly DelGrosso): Great to see Ashly back! Too bad she’s stuck with Buzz Aldrin, who FYI is 80…He’ll survive the first week because he’s old, but he’ll be off the dancefloor in no time (sorry Ashly!)
  • Chad Ochocinco and Cheryl Burke: The resident footballer of the season. Football stars are hit and miss; some are good, some are terrible. Let’s hope for Cheryl that he’s like her last football star partner, season 3 winner Emmitt Smith.
  • Erin Andrews and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: She’s the ESPN sportscaster who had some controversy last year (although it wasn’t her doing, she was just the victim of a creepy stalker). For Maks, I hope this girl is more along the lines of Mel B. than Denise Richards (who may be pretty, but was an incredibly stiff dancer)
  • Evan Lysacek and Anna Trebunskaya: Anna finally has a shot to win! Evan Lysacek is obviously the recent gold medal winner at the Olympics for Men’s Figure Skating. I say he’s the straight up frontrunner and is gonna follow in the footsteps of season 6 winner Kristi Yamaguchi. The only thing is that Anna¬†is going ¬†have to step up on her choreography because with a partner like Evan, his skills are gonna have to be showcased well enough.
  • Jake Pavelka and Chelsie Hightower: Well, that didn’t take long for him to jump to the next reality show. He’s even further from a star than some of these other people. I mean, does being on The Bachelor, really make you a star? (oh wait, that’s where Melissa Rycroft started..)Lucky for him, people love Chelsie.
  • Kate Gosselin and Tony Dovolani: Ugh, Kate Gosselin…she’s gotta be the first one out. Does she REALLY need more media attention? And what about the kids? Cuz their dad is really great and all…*eye roll*
  • Nicole Scherzinger and Derek Hough: I guess since PCD isn’t doing anything (what with Jessica, Kimberly and Ashley all leaving the group, and they’re looking for new members), she has tons of time to do this. We know she can dance, but can she ballroom? Umm more than likely. She’s our new Mya, except that she’s got Derek as a partner, which means she’s the one who’s gonna give Evan a run for that disco ball trophy.
  • Niecy Nash and Louis Van Amstel: She’s from Reno 911 and The Insider. Interesting, pairing her with Louis. Can’t really comment on anything else.
  • Pam Anderson and Damian Whitewood: Oh Pam Anderson…well, she’s gonna give Edyta a run for the skimpiest costume lol. She’s paired with Damian, who is new to this version of¬†DWTS (his bio says that he did the Australian version of the show).
  • Shannen Doherty and Mark Ballas: As soon as I heard Shannen was gonna be on the show, I knew she was gonna be paired with Mark! (I think it’s getting a little bit too easy to figure out who Mark’s partner is gonna be.) Anyways, Shannen’s our third original 90210 cast member – Ian Ziering and Jennie Garth had competed before –¬† and well let’s see if she can dance as well as they could, considering those two both placed 4th (even though they should’ve both been in the finals in their respective seasons)

Overall, not a terrible cast. Obviously, we haven’t seen any of them dance, but I think there’s a lot of potential in this cast. We’ll see how they all do when Dancing With the Stars premieres on Monday, March 22nd @ 8 p.m. on ABC.

Ballas Hough Perform “Move” on DWTS

Two of my favourite pros on Dancing With The Stars, Mark Ballas and Derek Hough, performed their new song “Move” on last night’s results show. Now I’ve been a fan of the Ballas Hough Band way back from when they were known as Almost Amy. Back in their Almost Amy days, the music was all acoustic and you could hear the John Mayer influences. When they got signed to Hollywood Records, they changed their name to Ballas Hough Band and we also got to know Emily Grace, Sam Marder, and Harry Sullivan, who were apart of the band. The music on their album (that was released just back in March of this year) was more pop/rock, in the vein of Maroon 5, but the album in general had a lot of variety. And like I said, these 2 (along with Julianne Hough and Chelsie Hightower) are pretty much my favourite pros. So on Thursday, when I heard that they were going to be debuting a new song on DWTS, I as a fan got really excited. And then they posted the song “Move” on their Myspace page. On initial impact, I’d say that I liked the song, but I didn’t love it. It’s a completely different sound to what we’re used to from them. So it has really taken some time for the song to full out grow on me. But then I also realized that they’re now only going by Ballas Hough. What happened to the “Band” part? Why isn’t Harry, Sam, and Emily apart of this? It confuses me…it still does.

And then they performed last night. First of all, I like the song much more now than before because of seeing choreography attached to it. “Move” is definitely a dance song without a doubt. But I wasn’t completely satisfied with the performance. For one, as much as I hate to say it, it was kind of obvious that they were lip-synching. Being a Britney fan, I don’t mind the lip-synching, assuming I’m getting a full out entertaining show. But seeing Mark and Derek lip-sync….well, I just felt bad. We obviously know they can dance. As a fan in Canada, I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing them live, but I’ve seen enough YouTube videos of them performing live to know that they can sing and put on an energetic show. Singing and Dancing combined? Let’s just say they’ve got a long ways to go before they reach the performance level of someone like Justin Timberlake, who does both with such ease. It just kinda kills me as a fan to have this reaction, but even more so, to go read the EW recap and all the subsequent comments that pretty much bash them. For people who never knew that Mark and Derek had a band and this was their first time witnessing and judging them as singers, it does not bode well.

On that note, some people may not go and look for their previous music now, which is a complete shame. The songs from the Almost Amy days were great. The album “BHB” was a solid effort for a debut. I don’t want to get all business-y here but had Hollywood Records put more effort into promoting and marketing the band and the album, it would have been a lot more successful than it was. Beyond the core group of Mark and Derek’s fans who actually knew that they also sang, had a band, released an album, no one else really knew who they were (especially if they don’t watch DWTS). I know at the time both Mark and Derek were competing on DWTS and that was a factor in how much promotion they could do. But the album could’ve been released after the season was over or even before it started (despite the fact of the DWTS tour conflicting with that). It would have given them ample time to not only do radio interviews, but also do talk shows and other appearances, whatever just so they can put themselves out there and distinguish themselves as separate from the DWTS world.

Yeah, totally sort of got sidetracked on that last paragraph. But I just want to see Mark and Derek succeed; I wish them all the best. It just bugs me about the music industry when there are such talented performers, who don’t get the proper support that they deserve. While others, who have no talent, get all the promotion in the world.

Video of Ballas Hough’s performance on last night’s DWTS results show: