Week five of “Dancing with the Stars” season 24 is “Disney Night.” This is the fourth season of the show to dedicate a night to Disney classics, following seasons 18, 20 and 22. This theme has provided the show with some of the most memorable and iconic performances of its history. But before we see what the season 24 stars have in store for us, let’s take a look at my top 10 “Disney Night” performances of all time:
10. Wanya Morris & Lindsay Arnold
Season 22 — Samba to “The Circle of Life” from “The Lion King”
I remember being impressed by Morris’s dancing in season 22, but what I loved about this dance in particular was that he and Arnold really embraced the theatrical side of the song and characters, from the costumes to the lion-esque mannerisms. Considering the tough dance style and remixed version of the song, I thought Morris and Arnold did an amazing job.
9. Paige VanZant & Mark Ballas
Season 22 — Quickstep to “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from “Toy Story”
UFC fighter Paige VanZant was one of the breakout stars of season 22, and her quickstep to “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from “Toy Story” with partner Mark Ballas was an absolute delight. I loved the set design, from the toy box to the army men dancing alongside them. I thought they delightful in keeping the routine fun and light.
8. Ginger Zee & Val Chmerkovskiy
Season 22 — Foxtrot to “Belle” from “Beauty and the Beast”
This was the second time that Chmerkovskiy had the opportunity to perform a song from “Beauty and the Beast” (more on that later). For this routine, he and his celeb partner Ginger Zee performed a foxtrot to “Belle.” First off, Zee is a dead ringer for Belle. And she and Chmerkovskiy stayed in character the entire time and really embraced the dance and performance for what it was. It was hands-down the best performance from “Disney Night” in season 22.
7. Meryl Davis & Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Season 18 — Samba to “I Wanna Be Like You” from “The Jungle Book”
Season 18’s champions Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy performed a samba to “I Wanna Be Like You” from “The Jungle Book.” This was a fun dance from the indomitable duo. It was carefree, and you could really see them let loose and have fun. But there’s plenty more where this came from: this is the first of five season 18 routines to make my list.
6. Nastia Liukin & Derek Hough
Season 20 — Jazz to “Love is an Open Door” from “Frozen”
Nastia Liukin and Derek Hough closed “Disney Night” for season 20 with a jazz routine to “Love is an Open Door” from “Frozen.” I remember Liukin having a hard time connecting emotionally to each dance that season, but this was one of the few performances where the viewers got to see a soft and fun side to her. She and Hough did an excellent job of using the entire dance floor throughout the routine. It was definitely one of my favorite performances from this couple.
5. Charlie White & Sharna Burgess
Season 18 — Jazz to “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” from “Mary Poppins”
Olympic figure skater Charlie White and pro partner Sharna Burgess had a bit of a roller-coaster season. They seemed like a sure bet for the finals along with White’s skating partner and ultimate winner Meryl Davis, but White shockingly ended up in sixth place in season 18. Although this “Mary Poppins” routine wasn’t perfect — Charlie dropped his prop cane midway through — it has to be one of the more complicated routines I’ve seen on “Dancing With the Stars.” For that he earns a place in my top five.
4. Rumer Willis & Val Chmerkovskiy
Season 2 — Samba to “Poor Unfortunate Souls” from “The Little Mermaid”
Season 20 winners Rumer Willis and Val Chmerkovskiy got the chance to flip the script and play villains instead of heroes for their samba to “Poor Unfortunate Souls” from “The Little Mermaid”: Willis played Ursula and Chmerkovskiy was one of her loyal eels. I loved that we got to see someone dance as one of Disney’s well-known villains. Rumer was amazing at getting into character, but she also delivered in her technique. She had the proper bounce, samba rolls and hip action that are essential to this particular Latin style.
3. James Maslow & Peta Murgatroyd
Season 18 — Contemporary to “Let It Go” from “Frozen”
Season 18’s James Maslow and Peta Murgatroyd are to date the only couple to score a perfect score during “Disney Night”! So when viewers think of “Disney Night” this contemporary routine to “Let It Go” from “Frozen” easily comes to mind. Maslow’s performance was full of lyrical content with several amazing lifts. I loved the animation that was projected on the floor throughout their dance. It was this routine that helped this celeb break away from the pack to become a serious contender, ultimately finishing fourth.
2. Riker Lynch & Allison Holker
Season 20 — Paso Doble to “He’s a Pirate” from “Pirates of the Caribbean”
Season 20 runners-up Riker Lynch and Allison Holker delivered a showstopping paso doble to “He’s a Pirate” from “Pirates of the Caribbean.” For anyone familiar with the character of Captain Jack Sparrow, you might expect Lynch to be hopelessly over-the-top in his portrayal. But that wasn’t the case. Lynch found the perfect balance of flamboyance while also delivering on the attack and masculinity of the paso. He topped the leaderboard for “Disney Night” that season, and is my top choice from his season as well.
1. Danica McKellar & Val Chmerkovskiy
Season 18 — Quickstep to “Be Our Guest” from “Beauty and the Beast”
For me, Danica McKellar and Val Chmerkovskiy’s quickstep to “Be Our Guest” from “Beauty and the Beast” takes the top spot. From their costumes to the choreography and set design, this dance really captured the essence and magic of Disney. Although the aforementioned Maslow did an amazing job with his routine, McKellar should’ve received a perfect score that night as well. She handled the difficult choreography like a pro. I suggest that everyone watch their performance on YouTube; I’m sure it will put a smile on your face.
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