With performances by Little Big Town and Big & Rich, not to mention yards of denim and scores of cowboy hats, everybody was keeping it country on Dancing with the Stars on Monday night.
There was even a large fake cow on stage with a mirror ball hanging from its neck.
And for two couples, the range really did feel like home, with the judges handing out perfect scores twice during an emotional evening that left many competitors – and one judge – in tears.
The first 30-point performance came from Sabrina Bryan, whose rumba to Hunter Hayes’s “Wanted” was inspired by a past painful relationship with a boyfriend addicted to drugs.
By the time it was over, both she and partner Louis Van Amstel were crying, as was Carrie Ann Inaba, who hugged Bryan. “This is the true beauty of dance,” said Inaba.
Later, Apolo Anton Ohno and Karina Smirnoff shook off a rough week of rehearsals soured by an argument to deliver a sumptuous 30-point waltz to Rascal Flatts’s “Skin (Sarah Beth).”
“It was two people in harmony with each other and the music,” said judge Len Goodman.
Kirstie’s Best Score
Alley wiped away tears as the judges awarded 27.5 points, the couple’s best score of the all-star season. Inaba declared: “You are the queen of sexy.”
It was a rebound for Alley, who finished second-to-last the previous week, and they needed every point. The competition has become fierce, with only a few points separating the couples.
Melissa Rycroft showed no signs from her neck injury with a graceful waltz with Tony Dovolani to Jana Kramer’s “Why You Wanna” that brought a strong 29.5 points.
No Sign of Injury
Another injured competitor, Shawn Johnson, shook off the pain from aggravating the same knee injury that ended her Olympic career, with a high-stepping cha cha with Derek Hough to Kenny Chesney‘s “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy.” The pair got a respectable 28.
Gilles Marini and Peta Murgatroyd got a 27.5 for their cha cha to Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like a Woman,” while Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy’s tango earned them 27 points.
Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke took up the rear with a 26.5-point foxtrot to “Islands in the Stream” by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. Smith’s playful “Gangnam Style” lasso move charmed the audience, but the judges found the duo’s timing off.
During a freewheeling group dance to Big & Rich’s “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy,” bodies flew all over the floor, with lifts and near-disasters. But it was the sight of Alley slapping Chmerkovskiy’s behind that earned the pair two bonus points for most entertaining couple.
Throughout the show, competitors remembered those in the storm-battered East Coast, where in many areas the telecast was blacked out due to local news coverage and electrical outages.
Said Bryan: “I’m praying for you so much.”