Len called it the night of the "Greatest Stories Ever Danced," but between Kate Gosselin's new hair, Pam's white corset, Chelsie's Cleopatra wig, and Edyta's mermaid-meets-stripper outfit, it looked more like Slut-o-ween came early this year. Luckily, Niecy Nash and Louis Van Amstel classed it up by using their dance not just to tell a story, but to make a point about the importance of being able to marry the person you love.
With one less dancer this week, they started early with the "theme" of the show, laid out by Len last week: it's all about telling a story. Kate, who took camera time to tell her kids she loved them, will be dancing to Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi," because they always follow her and take her picture. Erin was going to dance blindfolded to prove she trusts Maks, Niecy and Louis were dancing to tell the story of a mixed-race couple in the sixties and Niecy got a little teary-eyed at the thought of the government telling her whom she's allowed could love.
The dance pros demonstrated several of tonight's dances by opening with a Waltz, followed by a Paso Doble (with two couples going so far as to make out on the judges' table), then they did the Quickstep to the appropriately-titled (if thematically-inappropriate) "Lust For Life."
Evan & Anna
Stuck with the opening song from Chicago, they made up a story to go with their Quickstep. In a 1920s theme, the story was that of a man waiting for a woman to show up, after which they did a sexy dance and then he left her at the end. Just like... in Chicago! Their footwork was fast and solid, Evan did a cartwheel, and it was all very professional-looking.
Len said that he got the story and it cheered him up. Len and Bruno both hit him, again, for not pointing his toes and Bruno was quite focused on Evan's butt. Carrie Ann called it "twinkling and athletic."
Carrie Ann and Bruno gave it 9s and Len an 8, for an overall score of 26.
Buzz & Ashly
Buzz talked smack about Bruno's crater comment from last week, but then they moved on to this week's story. Ashly revealed that her choreography, as we suspected, was based on working the father-daughter relationship (thankfully) and this week it was all about playing to the patriotic crowd! Ashly knew they have lots of fans, but they have to improve their scores. They planned on telling the story of a father who comes home from war and dances with his daughter, but Buzz was still having trouble learning the routine. His new and totally non-creepy method was to use his iPhone to record a video of Ashly's dance moves.
But when they began dancing, the story portion was great and the dance was a bad as ever. Buzz messed up the steps to start and looked really uncomfortable throughout, while Ashly was over-the-top in her role as a returning war hero's daughter. It was pretty typical of their performances to date: they danced, she worked around him as much as possible, danced around him whenever necessary, and they completely played up the patriotic angle... again.
Bruno said that the return of the soldier was more like return of the king, calling it royal and dignified. But, as usual, he said there were some problems with movement and it didn't really flow. Carrie Ann said she didm't know if the dancing had improved, but this week was about the story, and it worked for her. Len agreed that the dance did have an innocent charm about it, but noted tat the competition is about the dance itself. The steps were off and the technique was oversimplified.
Buzz said to Brooke that the judges were right, and then waved the flag and said "all the military people enjoy the love that greets them when they get home."
Carrie Ann gave them a 5, while Len and Bruno agreed the pair deserved 4s, for a total score of 13.
Jake & Chelsie
Jake swore he'd been bitten by the dancing bug, but we'repretty sure he's mistaken the dancing bug for the desire to be famous. Jake and pro partner Chelsie decided to go with an Egyptian theme for their Quickstep, since they were assigned "Walk Like An Egyptian" as their song for the night. During their rehearsal, Jake walked out for a second to take a break, because he felt like Chelsie was being disrespectful when she criticized him. Why? Because Jake doesn't take well to female criticism.
The pair get the producer treatment this time, with a full-on Egyptian set including a sarcophagus. During the dance, the rhythm was a bit off in places, but they more or less nailed the footwork even as Jake stuck his butt out in the air a bunch, and his posture was off.
Carrie Ann: said she liked the story-telling, but Jake's legs were soft and his were knees were funk. Len told him to straighten up during the Quickstep, and agreed that the production was slick, but some of the dancing was a bit slack. Bruno loved it, and agreed that the production value was incredible, but he noted that Jake's feet got a little muddled because he was bending his knees and he lost the frame.
The judges gave them unanimous 7s, for a total score of 21.
Niecy & Louis
Before the commercial break, Niecy teared up over the idea that the law might keep her from her relationship, and they got more into that after the commercial break. While they are dancing the Waltz to a '60s song, Louis says the story they have to tell is one of how two people couldn't have an interracial relationship in the '60s because of both laws and social mores. While Niecy tears up at the thought, so does Louis, because the right to marry the person he loves is still a battle in this country. They hugged it out, we teared up and he said "You have to help me with my battle too" with everyone teary-eyed and, well, touched. "This is a lot of people's stories, past and present."
Their Waltz began with a moving opening and, true to Len's guidance, no props. She lost the footwork in places but not the posture or the emotion and, after the dance, both Niecy and Louis appear legitimately affected. It was not her best dance yet, technically speaking, and yet probably the one that will shoot her to the top of the charts.
Len said that it was very brave to go without props, and, by and large, they pulled it off. He said they must work to improve Niecy's technique, especially her footwork. Bruno, too, noted the emotional beginning, the stumble, and the need to work on her footwork. It was a tale of love and survival that they acted out well. But the pair stumbled at the beginning. Carrie Ann commented that the stumble came as Niecy tried to keep her feet on the ground and she appreciated the effort. While Carrie Ann didn't understand the sad ending, she said she supports marriage equality, she praised Niecy as one emotional dancer.
Backstage, Niecy said, "I feel strongly that people should have the right to choose. I stumbled because I'm not used to people seeing me cry, I'm used to them seeming me be funny, and so it made me feel vulnerable." Louis came out with really strong political support for gay marriage, both before, and definitely after, their scores.
They earned all 7s, for a total Week 3 score of 21.
Erin & Maks
After last week's trust debacle, Maks decided this week's story would be about trust, and then introduced the blindfold as "his friend." Erin said "They're either going to think this is hot or really kinky and inappropriate." Maks replied, "I want it to be both."
Erin went full-tilt with her Waltz this week. The footwork was fabulous, the rhythm was spot-on and, in the way Nicole and Derek re-invented the Jive, Erin and Maks did that with the Waltz: it was a sexual Waltz, not a regal one.
Bruno said, "Erin, you kinky thing!" and judged it fantastic. He reiterated that she needs to link movements better. Carrie Ann said that this was the way to use a prop, but that her grip gave it away that the trust wasn't perfect. Len hated it, and said it started off too slow and lacked enough waltzing.
Carrie Ann and Bruno gave them 8s and Len a 7, for a total score of 23.
Erin said, "Len said last week, I needed to trust him... but in the end, I need to trust myself." Awww...
Kate & Tony
Tony decided their story would be of a love/hate relationship. "Kate has been bottling up her emotions for too long" Tony said, so he brought in an acting coach, to Kate's slightly cranky dismay. The coach said to Kate that she has all these emotions bottled up that she's not letting out, to which Kate weepily said, "Because I'm not allowed." Tony and the coach then got Kate in front of a punching bag and finally saw some real emotions. The coach said Kate needs to give herself permission to feel emotions. We say: be careful what you wish for!
Kate's dancing, however, was another extended metaphor for someone going through the motions: while it was an improvement over last week's crap-tastic performance, it continued to look like one extended, jerky rendition of Madonna's "Vogue," without the sex appeal. On the positive side, Tony finally learned how to incorporate Kate's plastered-on smiles and poo-stink face into an actual dance routine.
Carrie Ann struggled for a way to remain somewhat positive in the face of the ratings-juggernaut that is Kate's "dancing." The best she could come up with was that it was odd, hard to watch, and very disjointed. Len praised her for getting through the whole dance, but called it "pedestrian," since it was a whole lot of her walking around. Bruno congratulated her for finally playing a character, and then implored her to translate into more than walking.
The judges gave her all 5s, for a final score of 15 (and a huge Bronx salute to Buzz and Ashly).
Nicole & Derek
Rehearsals showed that Nicole is a perfectionist, and stressed out (even though she and Derek can be a little slapstick even without choreography).
Their dance was a quick step to "Anything Goes" with mops as their only props. It was full out vaudeville show, Broadway all the way. It was high energy, old school Hollywood musical number in 4 inch heels and she didn't stop until she hit the end. Their footwork, timing and dance mastery was simply amazing.
The judges, however, didn't agree with either the studio audience or those people clapping at home. Len said he didn't see the Quickstep and felt they interpreted the song title a little too literally. He specifically complained that they had a lift, which is a big no-no with the Quickstep (Nicole lifted Derek), that they broke a hold, and had almost no body contact. He called it beautifully done but not a Quickstep. Bruno agreed that, as a performance, it was incredible, but that it wasn't a Quickstep. Carrie Ann, hater of people who take their feet off the ground, noted both the lift and the broken hold but said that when they took their show on the road, she wanted a seat in the front row.
Carrie Ann awarded the pair an 8, Len a 6 and Bruno a 9, for a total of 23 -- putting Nicole, for the first time, under Evan on the leader board.
The top contenders: Evan, Nicole, and Erin
The bottom tier: What the hell is American waiting for? Get rid of Kate twice, and then show Buzz the door.
This article first appeared on DWTSshow.com. Visit the site for more recaps, gossip, pictures and video from this season's Dancing With The Stars.