Dancing Recap: Team Tango Takes the Win

Photo: Craig Sjodin/ABC

The Dancing curse struck again! The season’s latest victim: Melissa Rycroft, who had to sit out Monday’s performance after suffering a rib injury. But the show went on with Chuck getting props for his “bun action,” Lil’ Kim jumping from fifth to first, and Team Tango getting down to Britney Spears and reaping the rewards.

Gilles Marini started the night with a lindy hop full of lifts that earned rave reviews. “Happy days are here again!” exclaimed Bruno Tonioli. “You are a great dancer but what I like to point out is your versatility.” He kept up with partner Cheryl Burke throughout a routine that Len Goodman predicted would make the actor’s native country proud. The French, the head judge said, was famous for “French toast, French fries, French kisses, and from today, you can put lindy hop on there!”

Lil’ Kim fought back from last week’s blunder and secured the top spot on the leader board. With a feisty (yet classy) paso doble, the rap star showed the audience “how dramatic, how passionate, how aggressive” she is, according to judge Carrie Ann Inaba, who added that she’s shown significant progress throughout the competition. “I was expecting oh no! and I got ol !” a smiling Goodman told her.

Proving once again he’s in it to win it, Chuck Wicks got the crowd pumped with an energetic cha cha cha that showed off some of his assets (“great bun action!” Tonioli said) but also pointed out some flaws. “Work on your arms. They’re very wooden,” Goodman said. Still, he got props for “getting stronger and stronger” over the past 11 weeks and helping turn the season into one “fantastic competition.”

Shawn Johnson…pop star in the making? Tonioli apparently thinks so. “Yes, you’re not a wild child,” he told the gymnast after she performed a “good” samba. “You’re not Lady Gaga yet. You have time to grow into it.” A confused Inaba said she didn’t think the point of the competition was to be like the “Just Dance and Poker Face” singer. Instead, she praised the Olympian’s fun routine and proper technique — and rewarded her with another 10.

For the first time in the entire season, Melissa Rycroft dropped to the bottom of the score board. Unable to compete due to a hairline fracture of one of her ribs, the Bachelor star got a score for her jive based on rehearsal footage taped earlier in the day. “The kicks and flips were weak,” Tonioli told partner Tony Dovolani. “You were just marking it through,” Goodman said, referring to the couple’s movements during practice.

Inaba “loved” it, Tonioli called it a “great effort” and wife Jewel gave him the thumbs up. Ty Murray‘s salsa — and visit to a tanning salon — had the judges buzzing. “Maybe it was the spray tan but you just went wild!” Tonioli said. “I have to say, I enjoyed watching it.” Goodman confessed he thought the rodeo champ would be gone after just two shows and warned him he would need to do well in the group competition … – if not, “I think it’s time you hit the trail.”

As for the group competition, for the first time this season the contestants split into two teams and performed a group dance (the score from this was added to their individual routines). Up first, Team Mambo: Chuck, Lacey (who filled in for Melissa), Shawn and their partners. Dancing to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” the gals reenacted the singer’s signature dance moves while the guys stripped down to white tights and leotards. “It was fun and it was entertaining,” Goodman said. But Inaba wasn’t so thrilled. “It was a bit distracting… I thought the music was more fun than you were in your number.” The group got a 25 out of 30.

Team Tango wrapped up the night with a “powerful, exotic, beautiful” dance that showed they were “like a pack of voracious raptors going for the attack!” according to Tonioli. Goodman didn’t let Lil’ Kim’s and Gilles’ footwork mistakes go unnoticed but told Ty that he “nailed it.” “Your unison work at the end was flawless,” Inaba told the group, who tangoed to Britney Spears’s “Womanizer” and got a 28 out of 30. “I think Team Tango takes it!” –Eunice Oh

Here’s how the remaining six contestants stacked up after Monday’s dance: Gilles & Cheryl: 27 out of 30 for their lindy hop. 55 out of 60 total Lil’ Kim & Derek: 28 out of 30 for their paso doble. 56 out of 60 total Chuck & Julianne: 26 out of 30 for their cha-cha. 51 out of 60 total Shawn & Mark: 27 out of 30 for their samba. 52 out of 60 total Melissa & Tony: 21 out of 30 for their jive. 46 out of 60 total Ty & Chelsie: 24 out of 30 for their salsa. 52 out of 60 total

Tell us: Who do you think will land in the bottom two tonight? Can you believe two weeks in a row Gilles hasn’t reclaimed the top spot?

READ MORE: Dancing POLL: How Should Injured Melissa Be Scored?

Craig Sjodin/ABC

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