“Dancing with the Stars” Judge Carrie Ann Inaba is blogging exclusively for Access Hollywood for Season 22 of her hit ABC show. Here is her blog for Week 9:
Last night the pressure was on!!!! Wow! I even felt the
pressure as a judge. Last night’s judges scores will be added to the finalist
scores next week to determine who wins, so last night was a very important
night for everyone remaining in the competition. I have to admit that I
was shocked at who went home. I was not sure who would make it through,
but it was a sad elimination all around.
I was sad for Wanya Morris and his partner Lindsay Arnold. They
had such a good run. Wanya had a rough time last week, but he was scoring
pretty well before that. It just goes to show that every dance matters. I
thought he was going to make it to the finals for sure. He’s such a showman and
really entertained all of us with such ease and incredible musicality. He
was the teddy bear of the ballroom and I will miss him.
But Wanya Morris was not the only one who left us last night. Antonio Brown and Sharna Burgess were also eliminated in our crazy double elimination. I was sad for Antonio Brown as well. He poured his heart into these last few performances. Obviously, we cannot judge based on our personal feelings, but in writing this blog I can say that Antonio Brown is a special being. He pours 100 percent of himself into what he does in a way that is gracious, unaffected, pure, and sincere. Combine that with his incredible physical strength and agility, and it’s not surprising that he gave us such exciting performances. Sharna Burgess did a great job with him, and together they taught us about teamwork and how incredibly important it is to work together and to believe in each other no matter what. I wish him well and will miss that big bright smile that lit up the ballroom week after week. But they will only be gone for one week. Next Tuesday, everyone returns on our second night of the finals to perform one last time. I can’t wait for that!
Now I want to go over the strengths and weaknesses for our three finalists. This is a highly competitive final three and I know they all want to bring their A game.
So this is my brutal and honest assessment of each one….
1. Paige and Mark
Paige and Mark are a superbly matched team. Never before have we seen anyone as capable as Paige at delivering consistently fantastic performances with Mark’s creative and often very difficult choreography. She is nuanced perfectly in her movement styles and she is powerful and strong. There is a clear focus when she dances, and her athleticism makes her performances jump off the dance floor. There is an added excitement because of the sheer physical strength and determination she has when she dances. She really goes into beast mode when she dances but maintains her grace and elegance. She finishes her lines beautifully and has great musicality as well. She never looks unnatural when she dances. Never is there a forced smile or a glazed-over look in her eyes. She does not struggle to remember her choreography and she points her toes and finishes every movement with a beautiful mix of strength and ease. She’s the one to beat in my eyes based on her dancing abilities alone. Every once in a while, her shoulders come up a hair when she is in hold though. To be fair, if there is anything I could say that is a weakness, I would say that she doesn’t have a deep enough emotional connection to her performances, but because she executes the dances so well, that part is not so noticeable. It will depend on what dances they choose next week.
2. Nyle and Peta
Nyle and Peta have danced their way into our hearts. He is bold and fearless and the word “Inspirational” dances in my mind when I think of him. He has touched the hearts of America. I have to say that he is the best storyteller of the group. He opens his heart when he dances, and he expresses himself so beautifully and brings a special emotional quality to all of his performances. He gives his full emotional commitment and tells us a story. He communicates directly to our souls when he dances.
The fact that he dances without hearing the music week after week never ceases to amaze us all. It is truly an inspiring feat. Nyle also has charisma and charm, and his powerful partnership with Peta deserves respect and admiration. One of his weaknesses is that he can lose his frame when he dances in hold and sometimes he rushes. But when you look at the overall picture, he is incredible. He takes big risks — which can pay off in the finals.
3. Ginger and Val
They have a partnership that is built on determination. Ginger works so hard and dancing does not come as naturally for her as it does for Nyle and Paige, but that is precisely what makes her so fantastic. She is a force of nature and she does not give up. I have a lot of respect for her, she has this x factor because she is always performing right on her edge. She is inspiring because you can see her never give up attitude in everything she has performed. I particularly like it when she and Val do the more elegant dances in hold. She needs to work on finishing her lines when she dances though. She doesn’t pull off the attitude of some of the dances, which is her weakest point. And every once in a while you see in her eyes that she doesn’t quite know where to focus, so she glazes over. But Ginger Zee has something really special about her that commands respect. She shines brightly with Val and their partnership is really exciting to watch. They have a maturity to their performances that can set them apart if they choose the right dance for the finals to showcase their best qualities.
This season has been tough and I cannot predict who will win. All the contestants have been good and I don’t think we’ve had a season with this many great performances. It’s been a joy to watch and I’m really looking forward to seeing what each of them brings to dance floor on Monday and Tuesday for our 2-part Finals!!!! All I know is that it’s going to be a close race to the finish!
I wish them all the best and I look forward to seeing Pitbull again who will be performing in our finale! He was a fun guest judge and you know it’s going to be a party if Pitbull is in the house! See you then!
— Carrie Ann Inaba
Dress: David Meister
Jewelry: XIV Karats
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