The music of Janet Jackson served as Dancing With the Stars‘ soundtrack on Monday night… but by the time the broadcast ended, four dancers had been booted from Rhythm Nation.
With only three weeks left in Season 30 — and whoa, how’d that happen so fast? — six couples advanced to next week’s semifinals, while two duos ended their pursuit of the Mirrorball for good. But before we get to that double elimination, let’s revisit Monday’s performances, which yielded perhaps too many perfect scores, no?
Jimmie Allen and pro Emma Slater (Cha-Cha to “Escapade”): I wanted to keep my focus on Jimmie throughout this cha-cha, but how could I when Emma was so enthusiastically shouting the steps to him for the entire routine? (If she’s been guiding him this thoroughly for every performance, she’s been much more subtle about it in previous weeks.) It is a little miraculous that Jimmie has been performing so consistently while on tour this entire time, so perhaps we can chalk this up to an overdue off week for him; the footwork and hip work, though, certainly needed a little oomph. Judges’ Score: 32/40
Suni Lee and pro Sasha Farber (Samba to “All for You”): You should know upfront that, yes, I do feel like a monster for criticizing Suni after 1) she felt embarrassed about getting sick during last week’s show, and 2) the Twitter trolls needlessly targeted her after said sickness. But when it comes to the disparity between performance quality and judges’ scores, not since Ally Brooke’s Season 28 arc have I been so puzzled by across-the-board positive comments. Suni’s balance seemed a bit wobbly throughout the samba (including that one-legged trick that perhaps just looked like a mistake; did she not have to re-plant her foot and try again?), and I felt Suni didn’t bring quite enough power to that opening solo. That hair transformation, though? Ten out of 10. Judges’ Score: 40/40
Melora Hardin and pro Artem Chigvintsev (Paso Doble to “If”): Melora’s commitment to a new character every week remains one of my favorite parts of Season 30, but I do think she could have pulled back on the theatrical expressions just a teensy bit here. That said, her execution of the choreography was powerful and confident, and I’m an absolute sucker for a perfectly timed, performance-ending floor spin like the one Melora gave us here. Judges’ Score: 40/40
Olivia Jade and pro Val Chmerkovskiy (Argentine Tango to “Any Time, Any Place”): Olivia’s legwork was so sharp and precise during this Argentine tango that it’s a real shame she appeared so sheepish when it came time to be a little seductive with Val. Plus, given Olivia’s proficiency with the steps, that final section at the table seemed like a filler-y waste. Judges’ Score: 36/40
Cody Rigsby and pro Cheryl Burke (Paso Doble to “Black Cat”): Even with the voting support of every single Peloton user behind him, Cody really needed a breakthrough routine ahead of the semifinals, and it arrived just in time. With the exception of one supremely awkward-looking trick — when Cody towered over Cheryl, then lifted her up from the floor by her… neck? — the routine was strong without appearing choppy, and I was impressed by Cody’s intensity. Also: The! Knee! Slides! Judges’ Score: 38/40
Amanda Kloots and pro Alan Bersten (Jazz to “Miss You Much”): First, as much as I cringe watching couples bicker in rehearsal, I have not yet recovered from that moment when Amanda practiced a few steps in front of Alan, and he responded with an icy, “No.” It was cold, but it was iconic. Anyway! The lifts near the end of this jazz looked a smidge clunky, as though Amanda and Alan were internally fearing them a bit, but I’m thrilled on the whole that Amanda had more fun with this performance, letting her personality shine through more than in previous weeks. Judges’ Score: 40/40
Iman Shumpert and pro Daniella Karagach (Cha-Cha to “Rhythm Nation,” pictured): It was a risky move for Daniella to surround Iman with the troupe, as it could have accentuated his weaknesses. Instead, Iman stayed in step with the many dancers around him, and he was hitting those poses hard. (There were even some isolations in there!) But as skilled as Daniella is at choreographing to her partner’s strengths, not even Iman’s limitless charisma could distract from the fact that there was hardly any cha-cha content here. Judges’ Score: 35/40
JoJo Siwa and pro Jenna Johnson (Salsa to “Feedback”): On one hand, JoJo and Jenna’s last few routines have all felt like jazzes with a slight sprinkling of ballroom in there, and this salsa fell into that category at times, too. On the other hand, JoJo is magnetic to watch every time, and her chemistry with Jenna might just be the steamiest of the season. Judges’ Score: 39/40
After the individual performances, it was time for the once-a-season dance-offs, in which two couples performed simultaneously, in the same style, to the same song. Only one judge critiqued each match-up and awarded two bonus points to the pair that most impressed him or her. Here’s how those points shook out: Suni and Sasha beat Jimmie and Emma in the salsa; JoJo and Jenna beat Olivia and Val in the rumba; Melora and Artem beat Iman and Daniella in the foxtrot; and Amanda and Alan narrowly beat Cody and Cheryl in the cha-cha.
And now, the elimination results:
ADVANCING TO SEMIFINALS (in order of announcement)
Suni Lee and pro Sasha Farber
JoJo Siwa and pro Jenna Johnson
Amanda Kloots and pro Alan Bersten
Cody Rigsby and pro Cheryl Burke
Iman Shumpert and pro Daniella Karagach
COUPLES IN JEOPARDY
Olivia Jade and pro Val Chmerkovskiy
Jimmie Allen and pro Emma Slater
Melora Hardin and pro Artem Chigvintsev
Olivia Jade and pro Val Chmerkovskiy (automatically eliminated with lowest combined scores and votes)
Jimmie Allen and pro Emma Slater (after all four judges saved Melora and Artem)
Now it’s your turn! How do you feel about these semifinalists? Tell us in a comment below!