The Big Cover-Up: To freshen things up, the celebrity contestants got to design their partners’ outfits this week. As a result, in a DWTS first, fans barely got a glimpse of Edyta Sliwinska. And that’s just what her partner Lawrence Taylor set out to do. “I told Randall Christensen, Dancing’s costumer extraordinaire we need something flowing and longer. I thought the coat was a nice change. You know, she always seems to be spared of clothes,” Taylor joked to PEOPLE.
Despite some wardrobe malfunctions — the fabric wrapped around Sliwinska at one point during their waltz, leaving her barely able to see — Taylor is proud of what he accomplished. “That’s the most clothes she’s worn in all the eight seasons together,” Taylor said, laughing. Cheryl Burke wore a similarly conservative, yet dance appropriate gown, much to her partner Gilles Marini’s chagrin. “I had a lot of input,” Marini insisted, while Burke rolled her eyes. “He didn’t design anything,” she said. “He wanted to put a little strap here and here and I thought, Hey, maybe we should put the straps ON my shoulders.”
As for Julianne Hough’s red fringe samba outfit, her partner/boyfriend Chuck Wicks admitted to PEOPLE: “The truth is — and I’m okay admitting this — before I went in and designed the costume, I said, ‘Honey, what do you want to wear?’ I tell you, it will get you places. It will get you nines” — referencing the high score he and Julianne received for their saucy samba. “Seriously, I’m not a designer,” Wicks confessed. “She did it. I want to keep some of my talents private. I don’t want think, Wow, is there anything Chuck can’t do? I don’t want to be THAT guy.”
Back in the Saddle: Ty Murray joined partner Chelsie Hightower for a waltz that knocked the judges’ socks off. What’s more, Murray felt confident. “For the first time after we danced I didn’t go, ‘Dang, I forgot to do this, dang I forgot that,’’ said Murray. “I felt like we pretty much did what we were supposed to do.” Murray’s wife, singer Jewel, found her hubby’s waltz and ’60s number worthy of documenting. She whipped out her digital camera during the show and snapped away. “Isn’t that illegal?” Murray asked. On a serious note, the cowboy-turned-dancer couldn’t be more grateful to his beloved. “I just appreciate how supportive she’s been. She had a concert in Florida last night. She got about three hours’ sleep and flew all day to get here,” he said. “It means a lot to Chelsie and me.”
Injury Update: Ty Murray wasn’t the only one nursing an injury this week. Both Melissa Rycroft and Cheryl Burke suffered through discomfort the past several days. “I had food poisoning a couple days ago, and then with rehearsing the lift for the Argentine tango over and over, I think I bruised my ribs,” Rycroft explained, while pressing an ice pack to the left side of her rib cage. “We’re going to give it a few days and if it’s not gone, then we go the doctor and get it checked out.” Burke, meanwhile, was slowed down by a recurring cyst located near her tailbone. “It keeps coming back every season and I think it’s stress-related. It got so big last week that I couldn’t sit comfortably or walk comfortably,” Burke says. “So this whole week it really got big and it was very uncomfortable. Finally it’s going down, but I couldn’t really dance. I had to teach Gilles by himself. He did very well.”
Dance-A-Go-Go: Fans at Monday’s show did a double take when Chuck Wicks and Derek Hough took to the stage before the big show-ending ’60s-themed group number. Getting into that decade’s frame of mind, Wicks donned a shaggy blond wig that made him look a lot like… Derek, girlfriend Julianne’s brother. Funky wigs aside, all of the dancers — pro and celebrity — had a great time going back in time. “The outfit is sooooo cute. I would wear it out,” Lil’ Kim exclaimed. The mini dresses, knee-length vinyl boots and the girls’ hairdos? “Bring this look back for the girls because it is hot!” Derek Hough added.
Twice as Tough: In keeping with the spirit of the ’60s, rehearsals for the groovy group boogie “was a lot of laughs,” Murray said. “We were goofing off and having fun, and Lawrence Taylor wasn’t having any part of it, and I thought that was funny. He does that every week: he says, ‘No, no,’ and then he brings it every week.” Taylor shook his head and said, “Fun is not even relevant. I was really against the group number because I have enough trouble learning my own dance. But actually, after rehearsal yesterday and today, I actually learned every step and it was nice.”–Monica Rizzo