‘Dancing with the Stars: Juniors’: Was Gleb too hard on Mackenzie Ziegler before this ’80 jazz number [WATCH]

Who needs “Dance Moms” when you’ve got Gleb Savchenko? The “Dancing with the Stars” pro joined the first-season cast of juniors as a mentor to contestant Mackenzie Ziegler and her pro partner Sage Rosen. Ziegler is the oldest contestant of the season at age 14 and arguably the most experienced (she spent several years on the aforementioned “Dance Moms” reality show), but the clip package on Time Machine Night showed Savchenko as more of a taskmaster than usual, highlighting his strict perfectionism. Did his approach get the most out of Ziegler, or was it not his tempo? Watch her routine above.

Ziegler has training in contemporary and jazz styles. She already got to perform a contemporary routine on the show, and as luck would have it this week she got a jazz number. She went back in time to the 1980s for a dance that celebrated that decade’s kitsch, but she didn’t have to go that far back for the music: “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen from 2011. While this dance style was right in Ziegler’s wheelhouse, though, it missed the mark a bit with the judges.

Adam Rippon praised her for her dedication, but he felt she wasn’t “letting go”; he wants to experience unbridled joy when she performs but she seems to be holding something back. Val Chmerkovskiy agreed that while Ziegler is an “incredible” dancer, he’s still “waiting for that moment” when she seems truly inspired in her performance. And Mandy Moore, a jazz dance specialist as a choreographer, appreciated all the “great content,” but noted a “couple of little bobbles technically.”

Ziegler scored 9s from Chmerkovskiy and Rippon, but an 8 from Moore. That gave her a total of 26 out of 30 — not bad at all, but this late in the competition it left her in fourth place out of five contestants on the leaderboard. She was ahead of only Mandla Morris, who was eliminated at the end of the night. Can she rebound next week in the semi-finals, or is she at risk of being sent home in fourth place just shy of the season finale?

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