Dancing Recap: Chuck Surprises with His Samba

Photo: Craig Sjodin/ABC

Monday’s Dancing was a night of firsts. Shawn earned a 10, Melissa tangoed her way to the top (and didn’t have to share the leader’s spot), Edyta’s wardrobe covered her from the neck down and Chuck finally got his coveted 9 … from all three judges.

Melissa Rycroft started the show and immediately set the bar with a sharp Argentine tango that showed off intricate footwork and coordination. “Your legs were like magic tools in the hands of a master!” Bruno Tonioli exclaimed, adding that she captured the passion of the dance. The highest props came from Carrie Ann Inaba … her sharp eyes never let a flawed lift go unnoticed … who hailed the Bachelor star and partner Tony Dovolani as the “king and queen of legal lifts!”

He avoided looking clumsy and heavy, as partner Edyta Sliwinska dreaded, but Lawrence Taylor still had a “not terrible but… not brilliant” dance, according to Tonioli. Len Goodman thought otherwise, telling the football champ he “captured the grace of the dance” that had elegance. His only concern? Edyta’s unusually conservative gown (designed by Taylor himself) that had too much flowing fabric it got caught in her face. Now we know why Edyta sticks to bikinis and legwarmers. Lil’ Kim got the crowd on its feet for the second week in a row and pleased one judge … but disappointed two others. The rapper toned down her moves this week in romantic rumba that Inaba said was too safe. “You need to bring your best game forward… I want to see you just let it rip on the dancefloor.” A smiling Goodman looked satisfied with the PG-rated routine but agreed with his fellow judges that she should do what she does best. Because, as described by Tonioli, “taking the raunch out of Lil’ Kim is like having a margarita without tequila!”

He didn’t reach the top of the leader’s board but the night still belonged to a red-hot Chuck Wicks. The country singer, once slammed for letting partner Julianne Hough do all the work, appeared confident in his high-energy samba that was “by far your best dance to date,” according to Goodman. “You were working that butt and those hips like I’ve never seen before!” exclaimed Tonioli. Inaba didn’t say a word. She jumped from her seat, raised both hands in the air, did a celebratory dance and gave Wicks a high-five and a kiss.

Call him the comeback kid: Ty Murray came back from last week’s bottom two with an elegant waltz that put him back in the game. “You were just such a beautiful frame for your partner to dance with,” said Inaba. The rodeo champ got a “well done” from Goodman, who said the dance had “good holds, had more rises and falls than a bride’s nightie.”

Despite her hectic traveling schedule last week, Shawn Johnson managed to pull off a nearly flawless cha cha cha. “That’s the way to go my darling,” Tonioli told her. “It was like watching a young Debbie Reynolds or Mitzi Gaynor.” Inaba “loved” the dance and said she “came alive” again this week. After receiving her first 10 of the season, the ecstatic gymnast hugged partner Mark Ballas and said getting that score felt “amazing.”

Once again looking like a pro, Gilles Marini got back on track with an elegant Viennese waltz that Goodman raved had “romance and lovely rotation.” The head judge advised the SATC actor to work on his footwork and Inaba told him to keep in mind his posture but she still said he’s “the most graceful male dancer I’ve seen.” The chemistry was there, too. “So glamorous you too,” Tonioli said. “You still managed to put some sex into it. You couldn’t help yourselves!”

The night ended on a high … and somewhat comedic note … with the dancers performing the season’s first group dance, a 60s-inspired routine. The ladies donned wigs (as did Chuck!), knee-high boots and mod dresses for a fun performance that didn’t get scores from the judges. While Tonioli thought it the boys produced a “performance of sublime silliness,” Inaba said their partners brought their A-game. “I thought the girls nailed it!” –-Eunice Oh

Here’s how the remaining seven contestants stacked up after Monday’s dance: Melissa & Tony: 29 out of 30 for their Argentine tango Lawrence & Edyta: 21 out of 30 for their waltz Lil’ Kim & Derek: 26 out of 30 for their rumba Chuck & Julianne: 27 out 30 for their tango Ty & Chelsie: 24 out of 30 for their waltz Shawn & Mark: 28 out of 30 for their cha cha cha Gilles & Cheryl: 27 out of 30 for their Viennese waltz

Tell us: Whose performance from last night impressed you the most? Who do you think will go home tonight?

MORE: Dancing POLL: How Groovy Was the Group Dance?

Craig Sjodin/ABC

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