Dancing with the Stars Recap: The Semi-Finals are Finally Here

And three out of four are just the right stars…I just miss my David Arquette.

For the past two weeks I've been traveling constantly and only catching bits and pieces of Dancing with the Stars. It's actually interesting to do that, because you come back and see very distinctly who has improved, who has leveled out, and perhaps sometimes, who has peaked and is running out of steam.

Of the four remaining stars, only Hope's appearance here in the semi-fainls is really suprising. Ricki and JR seemed like locks from the beginning, and Rob showed promise immediately and took a slow and steady wins the race approach to the competition.

Courtesy of ABC

1. Hope and Maks 

-Danced a Paso Doble

It was clear immediately that Hope has improved. She can now actually do somewhat complex choreography. But she has very little refinement…her free arm is awkward, her feet don't point, her shoulders are slightly raised and tense. She's doing the steps; she's owning her body more, but it's still far less appealing than the other semi-finalists.

-Danced an Argentine Tango 

And OMG. The lack of polish really really showed up in this Tango. Her unpointed feet made an eyesore out of so many moves. At one point I found it painful and cringeworthy to watch. Again, Maks has really pushed her as an athlete to master more choreography as far as the steps and lifts and such, but the dancing is still very uncomfortably gawky.

2. JR and Karina

-Danced a Paso Doble

JR did a good job, but not a great job. I'm not sure if it's just that he sprained his ankle, or if perhaps he peaked too early. Whlie a couple of the other stars are continuing to grow, JR seems a bit stuck at the same place he was three weeks ago…back when that place was way better than anyone else. This number had some awkward moments too, actually, but unlike Hope, JR really shows his passion for dance.

-Danced an Argentine Tango 

The Tango was a lot more typical JR. Other than the blown ending, it was great, and a big improvement over the Paso. I called JR on week one as the winner. I still feel pretty confident about that, but he has given his competitors a window.

3. Rob and Cheryl

-Danced a Samba

Another one that exhibited major improvement since I watched two or three weeks ago was Rob. While his samba rolls looked a little constipated, otherwise? This was the best I've ever seen him. He was definitely having fun. His posture was good, his musicality was great. It was pretty shocking actually. That Cheryl…she knows how to whip a guy into shape.

-Danced an Argentine Tango

This was really good most of the way through. Most of the time he was leading (meaning he only sometimes seemed to be trying to keep up with Cheryl). The ending seemed a little awkward. Hope Solo-level awkward. but most of it was awesome. Rob has really come from nowhere to be a contender.

4. Ricki and Derek

-Danced A Samba

My only criticism on this was that I wish she had smiled more. I don't picture the Samba as being the dance with that kind of intense serious face. I think maybe she was going for sexy and smoldering, but she looked about as intense and angsty as she did during the Tango! And when Ricki did smile it lightened the whole thing up for me. But, smiles aside, this routine was fast and furious and fun. She did a great job.

-Danced an Argentine Tango

Ricki's Tango was also very nice. And in the best possible way: Solid. Great poses, lines, and strength. She hit her marks without an errant step or misplaced angle of the chin. Very impressive night for Ricki.

The Cha Cha relay

So, each of the couples danced the Cha Cha, one after the other, to the same music. Points were doled out based on the judge's scoring of the couples from first place to fourth. JR sprained ankle was definitely dragging him down. It seemed clear Hope would be in fourth, but it also was clear by the end that JR would take a surprising third.

My only surprise was that I expected Ricki to win it and Rob to come in second, but instead Rob took the win and the ten points.

Bottom line for the Bottom Two:

Should be: Hope and JR, with Hope going home

Will be: So, here;s where the audience is the wild card…obviously JR's ankle was a problem, and they just did not have a good night. But he must have so much good will built up, don't you think? Would the audience really put him in the bottom? I could see a scenario where it's Hope and Rob or (gasp!) Ricki in the bottom instead of JR.

Either way, I have *got* to predict that Hope will finally go home.

What did you think?

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