Dancing With The Stars recap: tears, tributes, and perfect scores

Emotional performances thrilled DWTS fans and the first 10 paddles came out to play, but one couple had to say goodbye.

The odds were ever in Willow and Mark's favor on Dancing With The Stars. Photo: ABC and @DauntlessRebel/Twitter
The odds were ever in Willow and Mark's favor on Dancing With The Stars. Photo: ABC and @DauntlessRebel/Twitter

SAN DIEGO, April 6, 2015 – “My Most Memorable Year” brings out the best in the competitors on “Dancing With The Stars.” If it was only about the emotion and the effort put in, every single couple would get perfect scores this week. But the four judges have to dish out a little tough love and reality and look strictly at the dancing when scoring the routines.

Fortunately they saw plenty they loved on both levels. The first perfect scores of 10 were given to two couples at the top tonight for the highest scores of the season so far. Most of the couples also improved their scores to date.

It is a tribute to the engagement of the stars, professional dancers and many fans across the U.S. on social media that the #DWTS hashtag was trending high across the country even while the NCAA men’s final basketball game was in progress.

No matter who would leave the show this week, he or she was going out on a high note. If you want to know now, skip to the end of the column.

Nastia Liukin and Derek Hough started the show with an athletic Argentine Tango. Photo: ABC
Nastia Liukin and Derek Hough started the show with an athletic Argentine Tango. Photo: ABC

Nastia Liukin and Derek Hough came out of the gate first, performing their Argentine Tango to the same song Nastia used for her floor exercise routine at the 2008 Summer Olympics, where she won the Women’s All-Around Gold Medal. It was praised for its athleticism, but critiqued for its lack of passion. Still, it got the first 10 paddle of Season 20 from judge Bruno Tonioli. The total score was 36 points and set the bar for everyone to follow.

The Hough genes are undeniable in Riker Lynch. He and partner Allison Holker danced a fiery standard Tango, and received both praise and constructive comments from the judges. They received a score of 34 points, and ended up in second.

Robert Herjavec dedicated his Waltz with Kym Johnson to his mother, who died from ovarian cancer in 2006. Herjavec said an interview on “Good Morning America” his mother used to talk about how great it would be if he was on the show. Robert said the song choice, “The Last Waltz,” was his mother’s favorite song. The dance was light as a feather and the judges praised the pair’s footwork. It received 34 points, tying them for second place.

No surprise that “Bachelor” Chris Soules picked his recent engagement on the show as his theme, with a Rumba that was nice enough but lacking in emotional connecction. The judges agreed Chris has improved but has a way to go. Chris and partner Witney Carson scored 27 points, leaving them in last place this week.

Rumer Willis and Val Chmerkovskiy danced a powerful Waltz. It isn’t often a Waltz is described this way. It seemed almost like a Contemporary dance, a bit untraditional but affecting and effective as Rumer expressed what it was like growing up doubting her self-worth. It scored a strong 35 points.

The Diva of the dancefloor impressed the judges and her son with a Jazz routine packed with more dance steps than in past weeks. Patti LaBelle and Artem Chigvintsev scored 30 points, their best of the season.

Suzanne Somers and Tony Dovolani were underscored for a sparkling Foxtrot with a "Three's Company" theme. Photo: ABC
Suzanne Somers and Tony Dovolani were underscored for a sparkling Foxtrot with a “Three’s Company” theme. Photo: ABC

Suzanne Somers must have experienced head snapping flashbacks this week, dancing in a recreated “Three’s Company” living set that was perfect in every detail. Suzanne dedicated the Foxtrot to her late co-star John Ritter. It was light-hearted and fun, and light on its feet. The score of 28 points was far too low; pro Tony Dovolani struggled to bite his tongue and we can’t blame him. Suzanne’s fans should help keep her around.

Willow Shields thrilled her “Hunger Games” fans with a power packed Contemporary production dressed in full District costume with Mark Ballas set to the song “Atlas” by Coldplay from the soundtrack of the most recent “Hunger Games” film. The odds were ever in her favor. Within the complex swordplay and supporting dancers, Willow more than held her own. The judges loved it as much as the fans, with three perfect 10s and one nine from Len Goodman for a high score of the week and the season at 39 points.

What a hard act to follow, but the DWTS producers know what they are doing and saved the Contemporary routine by Noah Galloway and Sharna Burgess for last. Set to “American Soldier” by Toby Keith, it was spare, strong, and raw. Judge Carrie-Ann Inaba desribed it being like a Haiku poem. The score doesn’t matter, but for the record it was 32 points.

The couples standing under the red light at the end of the show were revealed throughout the broadcast: Riker and Allison, then Michael and Peta were added, and finally Willow and Mark. Bear in mind the three couples are not necessarily the bottom three on the leaderboard; only the couple in last place and going home is guaranteed to be standing there. This week, it was one of the couples tied for last in Week 3, Michael and Peta. Michael went out with a big statement and a strong performance. He can hold his head high.

“Dancing With the Stars” features “Disney Week” next Monday, April 13, 8 p.m. Eastern/Pacific Time on the ABC Television Network.

Week 4 Scores

Willow and Mark: 10-9-10-10 = 39 points

Nastia and Derek: 9-8-9-10 = 36 points

Rumer and Val: 9-8-9-9 = 35 points

Riker and Allison: 8-8-9-9 = 34 points

Robert and Kym: 8-9-8-9 = 34 points

Noah and Sharna: 8-8-8-8 = 32 points

Michael and Peta: 7-8-7-8 = 30 points
1-855-234-5603 ELIMINATED

Patti and Artem: 8-7-7-8 = 30 points

Suzanne and Tony: 7-7-7-7 = 28 points

Chris and Witney: 7-6-7-7 = 27 points

Voting information:

Viewers may cast their votes for their favorite couples via phone on Monday nights during the show and up to one hour after the end of the DWTS broadcast in each time zone. Online voting at www.ABC.com and on Facebook is open for 24 hours, beginning from the start of each episode on the East Coast at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and closing at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Tuesday evenings.

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Media Migraine in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +

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