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'Dancing With The Stars' Week Ten Finals Sends Rob To The Top

Jennifer Decker Jennifer Decker
November 22nd, 2011 11:00am EST

Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke perform

Monday night was the last night for the stars to perform for our votes, and time for the much anticipated freestyle dances, which can make or break someone’s chances of winning.  We have Ricki, who started strong and just got better.  She’s with Derek, who has gotten the trophy every time he’s made it to the finals (three times).  Then we have Rob, who has skyrocketed to the top from humble beginnings.  His amazing partner, Cheryl, won the first two seasons she was on, but hasn’t won since season three, and hasn’t been to the finals since season eight.  Lastly, we have J.R., who stole everyone’s hearts with his positivity and exuberance.  His partner has never won the trophy, so Karina’s time might just have come.

So all of the professional dancers have pretty strong motivations, and of course, the stars have been through a punishing ten weeks, so they aren’t giving up now.  Last night they got one dance they have never done before, and their freestyle.  Here’s how it went:

New Dance Round:

Ricki Lake (actress and talk show host) & Derek Hough
Dance:
Cha-cha-cha
Scores: 9, 9, 9
Len said the dance could have been more fluid at times, but it was a dance deserving of the finals.  Bruno said Ricki had never been hotter.  Carrie Ann said there was a difference between performing a dance and living it, and that tonight Ricki lived it.

Carrie Ann visited Ricki in the studio this week, and helped with this cha-cha.  She tried to show Ricki how to be sexy, which she’s somewhat uncomfortable with, having been heavy so much of her life.  But Ricki lost a lot of weight this season, and she looks amazing, and she seemed to take Carrie Ann’s advice.  There was something there, like a different incarnation of the confidence she’s already shown, that I loved.  That was what was missing from her samba last week.  She seemed to be moving a little too fast at times, like she needed to slow down, but for the most part, she was right on.

Rob Kardashian (reality star) & Cheryl Burke
Dance:
Waltz
Scores: 9, 9, 9
Bruno said Rob was light, flowing, and glowing, but said he missed the footwork in places.  Carrie Ann said he was the male version of Cinderella, and he made it to the ball.  Len said the hold and posture were good, but occasionally it got “a bit heavy”.  He also said it was simple, and simply beautiful.

I’m kind of disappointed that Rob didn’t get a fast and furious show off dance for this last night, but while the waltz isn’t always as fun to watch, the slower dances are actually harder to totally master.  Cheryl’s choreography was great here, with lots of underarm passes, and pace changes.  It’s not a dance I get excited for, but Rob still did a fantastic job.  He really has grown the most of the finalists.

J.R. Martinez (actor and U.S. Army veteran) & Karina Smirnoff
Dance:
Cha-cha-cha
Scores: 8, 7, 9
Carrie Ann said his musicality was off tonight, and he needed to watch his arms.  Len said it was brave that he did a lot of the dance on his own, but that there was a lot of mistakes.  He thought J.R. attacked it so much that it fell to pieces.  Bruno said he liked the mood J.R. set, but he got a little out of place in the beginning.

Well, Len visited rehearsals and helped J.R. with his booty shaking, and also helped show him what to do with his hands when they were free.  And he looked great in rehearsal, but on stage he almost looked like he was holding back, like maybe he was nervous.  Who knows if it was his ankle pain, or if Karina scaled back the choreography because of his ankle, or maybe “closing night” jitters just got to him.  It was good, but it was just missing a sense of fun.  It also didn’t seem to have many cha-cha elements in it, to me.

Freestyle Round:

Ricki Lake (actress and talk show host) & Derek Hough

Scores: 9, 9, 9
Len said it was fun and entertaining, but that she lost it a little in the quickstep sections.  Bruno said the choreography was extremely difficult, and she did a good job.  Carrie Ann said she loved the lifts.

I usually really like Derek’s freestyles, the way he blends the traditional dances with something more.  This one was a great dance, but a couple of times I noticed Ricki doing some of the things Derek got onto her about in the rehearsals, and near the end it seemed like she was just waiting for Derek to spin her and throw her around.  Good, but lacking.

Rob Kardashian (reality star) & Cheryl Burke
Scores: 10, 10, 10
Bruno said it was brilliant, and that Rob peaked at the right time.  Carrie Ann said she was blown away.  Len said Rob had given his all and should be proud.

Cheryl’s strategy was that because Rob always scored well on slow dances, they would start slow, and then kick it up right at the end.  Firstly, they picked a great song to do that with.  Secondly, it was fantastic.  It looked like they had a little trouble with one of the lifts, but otherwise I didn’t see anything wrong with it.  And the look on Rob’s face was pure joy.  Three tens, baby!

J.R. Martinez (actor and U.S. Army veteran) & Karina Smirnoff
Scores: 10, 10, 10
Carrie Ann said those were the sickest lifts she’d ever seen.  Len said two things were revealed, Karina’s body and J.R.’s talent.  Bruno called it brilliant, and like jungle-tribal-hypnotic experience.

I was nervous going into this, as it looked like J.R. and Karina were struggling.  They couldn’t land a tricky lift in rehearsals, then Karina flubbed two lifts during the dress rehearsal.  Overall, I think they had a great performance, though I wasn’t as impressed as the judges.  It had some fun Latin elements mixed with more hip hop moves, but again there was something missing for me.  I had to rewind and watch this a couple times because my eyes kept being drawn to Karina and J.R. wasn’t holding my focus.  It would have been amazing if he could have matched her.

So I was definitely disappointed with J.R., which is sad because his injury held him back last week.  Ricki had a good night, but she’s usually consistent.  The real winner tonight was Rob, who got his first perfect score, and landed in first place, three points ahead of J.R. and Ricki.  What an amazing time to peak!

Tonight the stars have one more dance, and this one is just for judges points alone, and then we crown our winner.  I can’t wait!

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Photo Credits: ABC