Dancing With The Stars brought the pressure of two dances this week, forcing the competitors to put their best foot forward and prove who deserves to make it to the semi-finals next week.

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Shawn Johnson and Mark Ballas were first up this week with the quickstep. The two performed a perky routine to a song from Aladdin, which earned them an audience standing ovation. Len Goodman called the dance fun, joyful and carefree. He said he was pleased to see Shawn's personality shine through instead of coming across flat. Bruno Tonioli told Shawn she danced like Sporty Spice with precision and great delivery. Both Carrie Ann Inaba and Len commented on the lack of a hold, which is required by the quickstep, but Carrie Ann called this routine Shawn's best dance ever. For her ballroom round, Shawn earned a 27.

In the Latin round, Shawn and Mark performed the paso doble. Shawn was worried she wouldn't be able to pull off the seriousness of this dance, but Carrie Ann told her that she nailed it and delivered the drama fantastically. Bruno agreed, saying she had a killer instinct that was focused and powerful during the routine. Len pointed out that she had great footwork, but that the dance itself wasn't overly exciting. She received a 29, with two tens from Bruno and Carrie Ann, leaving her overall score for the night a 56.

Ty Murray and Chelsie Hightower performed the Argentine Tango this week during the ballroom round of the competition. Ty was excited about the dance because it was strong and serious. Bruno commented on his strength and determination, but also said the dance wasn't as smooth as he'd like it to be. Carrie Ann pointed out a few stumbles. She said he did a great job, even though he needed to lighten up a little more. Len, however, was pleased with Ty's routine. He said Ty captured the flavor and essence of the dance. Len was also proud to say that Ty produced his best dance, especially given the fact that he's not a natural performer. His first round earned him a 25.

The Latin round had Ty and Chelsie performing the rumba. Len called the dance charming and very sweet. However, when it came to describing his hip movement, Len didn't have nice things to say. Carrie Ann had the same negative comments about Ty's hips. She said he looked very wooden. Carrie Ann also called Ty out on escaping the solo by dancing in front of his wife, Jewel, and an illegal lift. Bruno gave Ty a backhanded compliment; he said that Ty was one of the most likable contestants ever to be on Dancing With The Stars, but that likeability and ability couldn't be confused. As expected, Ty didn't score so well in the Latin round. He earned a 21 for the rumba which left him with a 46 overall.

Lil' Kim and Derek Hough performed the waltz this week. Kim was struggling with the slowness of the dance, and it showed. Carrie Ann reminded Lil' Kim that she is, in fact, little. She told her she needed to make every move look much bigger. Bruno said there was sense of hesitation this week and it didn't look like Kim was comfortable performing this routine. He also said it was obvious that even though Lil' Kim was trying to be a lady with her waltz, she was much more comfortable being a tramp. Len was simply just shocked with the quality of the dance. She received a 25 for the first round.

The judges, and Lil' Kim, were much more excited about the Latin round and the salsa.
Bruno said that this was her element and that her booty could do no wrong. Carrie Ann agreed with the booty sentiment, although she said she thought the routine lost control. Len said that he could tell she wanted to do well so badly, but agreed with Carrie Ann that there was a lack of control, especially during her solo. She received a 27 for her second round, leaving her with 52 out of 60 for the night.

Gilles Marini and Cheryl Burke's goal with their foxtrot was to regain the top spot in the competition. Len said he enjoyed the performance and loved the interpretation of the music into the dance. He did critique the straightness of Gilles' legs, though. Bruno used many adjectives like cool, hot and sophisticated to describe Gilles' dancing. Carrie Ann gave him the green light for the semi-final round, telling him that more performances like that are definitely going to get him there. He scored a 29 for the ballroom round.

As far as their rumba was concerned, Gilles and Cheryl built up the audience and the judges' anticipation. Carrie Ann told him that he was so naturally sexy that he needed to stop trying so hard, because it came across weird. Len said the routine looked fantastic, with the exception of Gilles and Cheryl rolling around on the floor. Bruno called the dance a bit uneven, based on Gilles usual standards, but still good. For the second round, Gilles earned a 27, giving him an overall 56 to tie with Shawn.

Last, but not least, Melissa Rycroft back from injury to perform the Viennese waltz with partner Tony Dovolani. The pair were dealing with pain management this week after Melissa's rib injury. Apparently, the pain was managed well enough because the judges loved her routine. Bruno called Melissa an ethereal vision with fluid, balladic movements. Carrie Ann said she had natural grace, but needed to work on the torque in her upper body. With the exception of her footwork, Len said the romance, musicality and pretty much everything else about Melissa was fantastic. She earned a 27 for her first round of competition.

The samba helped Melissa and Tony earn the top spot in this week's competition. Len said she needed to be back next week, Bruno commented that the dance was everything anybody could want from a samba, and Carrie Ann called it flawless. All three judges gave her a ten, earning her a perfect 30 for the Latin round. Her overall score of 57 put her in first place on the judges' leader board for the night.

Story by Beth Wickman

Starpulse contributing writer