On “Dancing with the Stars” season 14 tonight (21 May 2012), the three final couples are so closely matched it won’t be the judges who decide the winning couple. The audience will have to determine who wins as only one point separates the first-placed Welsh singer Katherine Jenkins and her partner Mark Ballas from the two teams tied for second place: telenovela star William Levy and his partner Cheryl Burke and football star Donald Driver and his partner Peta Murgatroyd. The judges awarded 15 tens in all.
In a night that had a decidedly Latin flavor, the judge who cast the deciding vote was head judge Len Goodman. He gave Levy and Burke a nine for their freestyle to “Objection (Tango)” by Shakira and Driver and Murgatroyd a nine for their Argentine tango to “They” by Jem.
Jenkins and Ballas had a perfect score of 60 out of 60. They performed paso doble to “España Cañí” by Erich Kunzel. This team had previously performed the paso doble during Week 4, Rock Week, to “Time Is Running Out” by Muse. They earned a 24 (8, 8, 8).
Levy and Burke previously performed the cha cha cha during Week 1 to “International Love” by Pitbull feat. Chris Brown. Although Levy was at a disadvantage having less practice time than the other celebrities, he pulled through to earn a decent score of 24 ( 8, 8, 8). Levy and Burke heated up the dance floor this week by performing their cha cha cha to Pink’s “Raise Your Glass” for a perfect score of 30.
Burke capitalized on Levy’s sex appeal by choreographing a freestyle routine to “Objection (Tango)” and left the audience screaming.
Driver and Murgatroyd had previously performed an Argentine tango during Week 5, Latin Week to “Sin Rumbo” by Otros Aires. That routine left the judges divided with Carrie Ann Inaba giving the couple a 10, but Goodman only begrudging them an 8. Tonioli gave the pair a nine for a total of 27. This time, there wasn’t any argument. Their routine was rewarded this week with a 29 (10, 9, 10). For their freestyle, Murgatroyd took them to a different musical genre: country rap. Did you know there was a thing such as country rap?!
Cowboy Troy, aka Troy Lee Coleman III, is a 41-year-old Texas-born rapper with a bachelor degree from the University of Texas at Austin. His “I Play Chicken with the Train” reached 48 on the U.S. Country charts in 2005, but for Driver and Murgatroyd, the song was pure gold. They earned a perfect score of 30 for their freestyle routine.
Driver may play for the Green Bay Packers who are based in Wisconsin, but the 37-year-old Driver was originally born in Texas.
During the live shows, the judges will give each couple a score based on several factors, including technical execution. But the judges’ scores alone do not decide a couple’s fate.
Donald Driver & Peta Murgatroyd
- Text-in Code: 3403
Katherine Jenkins & Mark Ballas
- Text-in Code: 3410
William Levy & Cheryl Burke
- Text-in Code: 3408
Last night, 15 May 2012, Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins and her professional dance partner learned early on that they had survived the cut and were moving on to the finals. That’s despite posting the lowest combined score for two dances on Monday night. TV hostess Maria Menounos and her partner Derek Hough were eliminated instead, leaving two hunks in the finals: telenovela actor William Levy and NFL wide receiver Donald Driver.
Maria Menounos would have been a long shot because only one winner has been a TV hostess (Brooke Burke).
- William Levy and Cheryl Burke: 28 (9, 9, 10) + 30 (10,10,10) = 58/60
- Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd: 28 (9, 9, 10) +29 (10,9,10) = 57/60
- Katherine Jenkins and Mark Ballas: 29 (10,9,10) + 27 (9,9,9) = 56/60
Jenkins suffered from a back muscle spasm and that may be critical to her performance in the finals. Ballas will have to choreograph in a way that will not cause further pain or damage, but Ballas can be unpredictable. It wasn’t so long ago that Disney star Chelsea Kane had to have a heart-to-heart with Ballas about his artistic risks during season 12. Kane and Ballas finished third behind the winer Hines Ward and Kym Johnson and the runner-up Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy.
The belly dance-themed salsa routine on Monday night was risky, but did include salsa moves, however, it was that unsupported back bend that caused Jenkins to break out in tears, unable to complete the move. Ballas making a butterfly over Jenkins didn’t add to Jenkins’ difficulty level and at that stage in the performance was a high risk as her back was unsupported. Further, earlier Ballas and Jenkins had performed on their knees and Jenkins obviously wasn’t wearing knee pads–another risky decision.
Of course, Ballas isn’t the only professional dancer who takes risks in choreography. Burke and Levy’s rumba during week 6 (Motown Week) was deemed too steamy by head judge Len Goodman. He gave the team an 8 compared to the 9 from judge Carrie Ann Inaba and the 10 from judge Bruno Tonioli.
Derek Hough’s Bollywood-inspired samba had too little samba for Goodman and the team got marked down to a 7 compared to the nines the other judges awarded. Peta Murgatroyd was more successful with her R&B inspired samba for Donald Driver this last week. That allowed Driver to samba without being compared to the kind of hip movement we already know Levy has.
Yet Hough, Burke and Murgatroyd’s risk taking weren’t physical, but thematic.
Driver has stage presence, but he doesn’t emote or smolder as much as Levy. Driver also doesn’t have that sensuous and fluid hip action that Levy does. Both men suffer from a tendency to be flat-footed (not extending their feet and ankles) and sickle footed. Jenkins almost always has turn out, beautiful lines and extension in both her hands and feet. Driver and Levy don’t always reach full extension as consistently as Jenkins. Jenkins, however, has problems projecting anger or a commanding, dominating presence as is required for the paso doble. Both of the men are capable of that as well as the lighter mood that Jenkins is best at projecting.
Katherine Jenkins holds the high score for the cha cha cha (29), quickstep (29) and waltz (29). She’s tied with Maria Menounos and Levy for the high score in the rumba (27). Menounos has the high score for jive (29), paso doble (30), Viennese waltz (28) and Argentine tango (30). Levy has the high score for the foxtrot (30), samba (30), salsa (28) and tango (28). Driver doesn’t hold the high score for any of the dances.