LOS ANGELES - In what's become one of each season's most creative evenings, "Dancing with the Stars" brings back "Disney Night."
Before the nine remaining couples begin the competition, previous champ Alfonso Ribeiro leads the charge in a song-and-dance number featuring everybody associated with the show right now. And a few Disney characters to boot! But it all comes back to dances and scores and viewer votes and who gets eliminated. Here's a rundown of the night's scores, from highest to lowest:
Normani Kordei: 39 out of 40
We learn "Mulan" is one of Normani's favorite characters and she was overjoyed to get to dance to a song from that Disney movie. Val offers an inspired bit of choreography, mixing the paso doble with a bit of martial arts in order to show Normani's strength. Head judge Len Goodman said he wasn't ready to go overboard with praise, but still gave them a 9 and said he enjoyed the attack and spirit of the dance. Carrie Ann Inaba, Julianne Hough, and Bruno Tonioli agreed it WAS in fact perfection and each gave them a 10.
Simone Biles: 38 out of 40
"Moana" comes to life via a contemporary dance by Simone and Sasha. They dance to the anthem "How Far I'll Go" and it fits for Simone right now; Sasha's pushing her out of her comfort zone to go as far as she can. He thinks, like the movie's character, Simone is finding her voice. Len said the dance floated his boat; Carrie Ann said it was powerful yet poetic. It was Julianne and Bruno who each gave the couple a 10; with Bruno calling the dance triumphant.
Nancy Kerrigan: 36 out of 40
It's a jazz assignment for Nancy and Artem is excited to get to show a fun, lighter side to his partner. The routine to a song from "Enchanted" will feature several of the troupe dancers and that worries Nancy. Her age and inexperience intimidates her. But Artem, and the rest of the dancers, keep encouraging her and it looks like what we're learning about Nancy's work process is she gets it together at performance time. The judges give her 9s across the board, with Carrie Ann calling the dance effortless and exuberant; Len thought it captured the spirit of Disney; and Bruno told Nancy she's turning into a leading lady.
Heather Morris: 34 out of 40
Heather danced to a song from "Frozen" that wasn't "Let it Go!" Her jazz routine to "For the First Time in Forever" divided the judges. (She still got great scores!) Bruno and Julianne thought she and Alan brought out the characters in the dance perfectly, and the dance was vibrant and alive. Carrie Ann thought it was a missed opportunity and Heather (the real dancer) should have killed in the jazz category.
Nick Viall: 34 out of 40
Nick takes on the role of "Pinocchio" for this week's jazz routine. He says he really wants to continue getting better, and promises Peta he will commit to the comic-filled role, no matter how goofy and ridiculous she asks him to be. Her choreography is fun and Len said simply made him feel better for watching it. Carrie Ann called this Nick's breakthrough week, and Bruno thought he was living, or rather dancing, in the moment.
Erika Jayne: 32 out of 40
Who was this with Gleb tonight? Erika introduced us to a totally different side of herself. It seems she broke down a wall or two and actually showed some vulnerability in her lovely, flowing Viennese waltz. Her song was the Nat King Cole classic "Unforgettable" (which Disney utilized in "Finding Dory") and Erika said is a favorite of her and her husband. After the routine, Bruno said he felt like he met Erika for the first time; Julianne told her to just keep swimming; and Carrie Ann praised her for finally opening up and said she was not a princess but a queen.
Rashad Jennings: 32 out of 40
Rashad channels more of the Prince rather than the Beast for his foxtrot to the tune "Evermore" from Disney's latest hit film. Emma makes the perfect "Beauty," aka Belle. Her goal: more 10s! We learned last week she earned her first 10s EVER. Len thought Rashad channeled Prince Charming, and the dance had a lovely and elegant flow, even though the music was difficult. Len also told the NFL great that he hasn't seen him do a bad dance yet! Bruno thought the duo captured the classic Disney feel.
Bonner Bolton: 30 out of 40
It was tricky for Bonner this week because he had a more obscure (less recognizable) Disney song ("When can I see you again" from "Wreck-It Ralph"). But Bonner "cowboy-ed up" and threw himself into learning the tango. He told Sharna he never thought he'd enjoy dancing so much! Len applauded Bonner for not taking the easy way out, and Sharna for putting lots of content into the routine. All the judges thought Bonner nailed being able to stay in hold and kept his frame solid.
David Ross: 29 out of 40
David is lamenting that now without Mr. T he's the oldest man in the competition. He says his body feels like it's August in the baseball world. David also admits he never thought he'd make it this far! So of course, they give him the fastest dance this week, the jive! Lindsay choreographs a routine to a brand-new song from the upcoming Disney sequel, "Cars 3." While Julianne and Len thought he was a bit flat-footed, they admired his energy. Carrie Ann complimented David for keeping up with his onstage "pit crew," Lindsay and two other pro dancers.
Who was sent home?
The producers sprinkled the "you're safe" and "you're in jeopardy" announcements throughout the two-hour show. The three couples who were told they were in the bottom three: Normani and Val, Nick and Peta, and Erika and Gleb. Normani is saved first; we quickly learn it was Erika's last dance and she is sent home.
Next week: Boy bands vs. girl groups!