Dancing Recap: Gilles Brings His A-Game

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Photo: Kelsey McNeal/ABC

Yes, last week’s shocking elimination was a reminder of how important the fan vote is. But if the judges’ scores and audience reactions from Monday are any indication, Gilles is well on his way to the finals. Melissa improved her footwork, Ty got voted Most Valuable Player and Shawn tangoed her way to a 30, but none could match the SATC actor’s flawless night … of not one, but six, perfect scores.

Melissa Rycroft started the night with a graceful quickstep that had only Len Goodman overflowing with praise — “I thought it had great musicality. Your feet are much improved. I thought the whole thing was a delight… it was just gorgeous,” he said. “For me it wasn’t as exhilarating and crispy and zingy as it could’ve been,” Bruno Tonioli told her. “I didn’t see you really beaming,” added Carrie Ann Inaba. And while her cha cha cha, was “sensational” during some parts, the Bachelor star got docked for being inconsistent throughout the dance. Inaba called it “discombobulated” but Tonioli had some words of encouragement: “If you manage to sustain that energy for a dance, you could win this.” Gilles Marini brought his A-game and got rewarded with a “sitting down standing ovation” from the head judge. “People watch ballroom dancing because it takes them away into a land of fantasy,” Inaba told the Frenchman after he performed the waltz. “That was breathtaking… sweet subtle perfection.” But it was his sizzlin’ and hip- shaking salsa that got the judges’ table buzzing. “Ladies and gentleman, Lil’ Kim is alive and well and living in your pants! Bionic booty number two!” said Tonioli. “I know I’m supposed to talk now but I’m almost speechless,” Goodman told him. “Let me say this, I wish I had an 11 paddle.”

The usually bubbly Shawn Johnson showed off a more mature and intense side. With sharp kicks and a feisty persona, “Catherine Zeta-Shawn” (as Tonioli called her) delivered both the technical and emotional aspect of the Argentine tango. “It had an intensity about it,” Goodman said. “It was honestly without a doubt for me your best performance.” But one dance that wasn’t? The gymnast’s jive that the judges said “lost a little steam.” “I would’ve liked to have seen a little more traditional jive and a little less slapstick,” Goodman told her.

Ty Murray closed the night, starting with a Viennese waltz that Goodman described as “fabulous” … a far cry from what the others had to say. “The dance should be smooth, effortless… yours was like chasing flies,” Tonioli said, frantically waving his arms in the air. His samba didn’t impress either. “You looked like you were dancing on a tightrope and just about to fall off,” said Tonioli. “In ballroom dances you’re like Arthur Murray,” Goodman explained. “In Latin dances I have to say you’re like Murray in a hurry.” Still, the judges commended the rodeo champ for his progress and ballroom transformation. “I vote you most valuable player of season 8,” Inaba said. “With your hard work and determination, you remind you can go places we’ve never seen.” –Eunice Oh

Here’s how the remaining four contestants stacked up after Monday’s performance: Melissa & Tony: 28 out of 30 for their quickstep. 27 out of 30 for their cha cha cha. 55 out of 60 total Gilles & Cheryl: 30 out of 30 for their waltz. 30 out of 30 for their salsa. 60 out of 60 total Shawn & Mark: 30 out of 30 for their Argentine tango. 26 out of 30 for their jive. 56 out of 60 total. Ty & Chelsie: 25 out of 30 for their Viennese waltz. 23 out of 30 for their samba. 48 out of 60 total

MORE: Dancing POLL: Who Got Robbed — Melissa or Shawn?Kelsey McNeal/ABC

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