And then there were nine. The number of couples still competing in "Dancing With the Stars" All-Stars Season 15 was reduced by an elimination Tuesday night that had two couples packing up their dance shoes and heading for the exit.
It seemed head judge Len Goodman had just announced, "It was the best night of dancing we've ever seen," before Kirstie Alley and Maks Chmerkovskiy, and Drew Lachey and Anna Trebunskaya were standing on the stage, waiting to hear who was going home. Season after season, Anna just doesn't seem to "click" with her celeb and it happened again -- Drew and Anna were out. And it was obvious that host Tom Bergeron was more unhappy than usual at the announcement.
"Like Tom said earlier, it's going to be tough no matter who went home tonight," said Drew, the winner of Season 2. "I would not change a thing. I came back because it's fun."
The second elimination was more dramatic, following several performances by guest artists and the judges' latest twist for next week. Finally, three couples -- Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas, Helio Castroneves and Chelsie Hightower, and Sabrina Bryan and Louis Van Amstel -- stood at the top of the stairs. Incredibly, Bristol and Mark, with the lowest score, were saved to dance next week, while two of the couples who tied for fourth place were in jeopardy. In the end, Sabrina and Louis were safe, while Helio, the Season 5 champion, and Chelsie were on the way
"I want to thank my racing team and the racing league for letting me participate, my family and friends, and my amazing partner," said Helio, graciously. The pair were in the bottom two last week and when Helio stepped on Chelsie's dress and got out of step Monday night, it led to a lack of votes in their favor. He always seemed happy and excited to try something new, and I'll bet there will be more tension and less cheer in the ballroom in future weeks.
The theme for Week 3 must have been "deja vu," which means "already seen" in French. Not only did the celebrities and their partners perform reinvented dances from previous seasons, but the "Bristol Effect" of Season 11 returned. While the low-scoring Bristol and Mark were saved week after week that season, better dancers were eliminated, and it happened again Tuesday night. I would like to think that Bristol will improve, but the other celebs are already much better dancers, so it remains to be seen how long the "Bristol Effect" will last.
The judges' latest twist for the celebrities and their partners came when the couples had to select the dances for one another from a list of styles, some of which had not been seen on DWTS. The couple with the lowest cumulative score, Bristol and Mark, picked the dance for those with the highest cumulative score, Gilles and Peta, and so on. So the dance style assignments for next week are:
Gilles and Peta -- Bollywood, assigned by Bristol and Mark
Sabrina and Louis -- Disco, assigned by Kirstie and Maks
Shawn and Derek -- Mambo, assigned by Helio and Chelsie before being eliminated
Emmitt and Cheryl -- Bolero, assigned by Kelly and Val
Apolo and Karina -- Hip hop, assigned by Melissa and Tony (who must have forgotten that hip hop was basis of the freestyle for Apolo's win in Season 4)
Melissa and Tony -- Jitterbug, assigned by Apolo and Karina
Kelly and Val -- Contemporary, assigned by Emmitt and Cheryl
Kirstie and Maks -- Charleston, assigned by Sabrina and Louis
Bristol and Mark -- Rock 'n' Roll, assigned by Gilles and Peta
The show was punctuated by performances by guest artists. First was singer Frankie Moreno, who reminded me of how Jerry Lee Lewis pounded away on the piano, while Lacey Schwimmer and her Season 11 celeb partner, Kyle Massey, danced with members of the DWTS Troupe.
The "AT&T Spotlight" shown on Harlem's Joshua Johnson, a young man who tap dances in the New York subways on weekends to pay for his tuition, books and meals at college. And he commutes back and forth each weekend to do it. He was joined by a squad of dancers , some of them tappers, for an unusual interpretation of "New York, New York." As the audience stood and applauded, Johnson had tears streaking his cheeks.
The final guest performance was by Karmin, the duo of Amy Heidemann and Nick Noonan, singing their hits, "Hello" and "Brokenhearted." But it looked like the entire segment was on tape. Was it taped Monday night, or earlier Tuesday? And if so, why not say so?
By the way, did you notice that Tom and cohost Brooke Burke-Charvet had a new way of telling the couples which were safe and which were not. As they spoke to each pair, Tom had the good-news assignment, while Brooke must have drawn the short straw, breaking the bad news to whichever pair was in jeopardy. Being the host has its privileges.
Next week, I'm especially looking forward to seeing Kelly and Val do a contemporary routine, Bristol and Mark doing rock 'n' roll, and Gilles and Peta getting up close and personal with Bollywood. Which styles are you eager to see the couples attempt? Do you think the correct couples were sent home tonight?