‘Dancing with the Stars’ recap: ‘Top 11’ performed, and so did Derek Hough, before a celeb was sent packing [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

After five weeks of “Dancing with the Stars,” four celebrities have been eliminated from the competition, narrowing down the lineup to the “Top 11.” So who gave the best performances this week, and who was eliminated just short of the top 10? Find out below in our live blog with all the minute-by-minute developments and our commentary throughout the night.

Last week was “’80s Night,” and it was the end of the road for actor Jesse Metcalfe, who was eliminated in 12th place. He landed in the bottom two with football player Vernon Davis, but the judges voted unanimously to save Davis. Was the NFL star able to make a comeback after that? This week he had to dance a cha cha, and the pressure was high to deliver in order to survive.

Meanwhile, after Johnny Weir posted the season’s best score with a contemporary routine, this time Chrishell Stause was the lucky celeb who drew that style; that free-flowing, interpretive dance usually gives celebs a bump in their scores, and Stause was definitely in need of one, having landed at the bottom of the judges’ leaderboard last week.

That most dreaded style, the samba, landed on Backstreet Boys singer AJ McLean, but perhaps it wasn’t entirely bad news for him. Though it’s perhaps the show’s hardest style, causing Skai Jackson to stumble and Carole Baskin to be eliminated, Monica Aldama aced hers and so did Nelly. Did the high risk yield high rewards for the musician?

And dancing a paso doble was Derek Hough and his partner (on the dance floor and in life) Hayley Erbert. The judges weren’t scoring their routine, of course, because Hough is one of the judges. This was a special performance to “Uccen” by Taalbi Brothers. Could it win Hough an Emmy in 2021? He has won twice for Best Choreography for “DWTS” over the course of his career, and this could be his ticket to a third.

Follow along with us below starting at 8:00pm (times listed are Eastern).

Daniel Montgomery, 8:02pm — Tyra’s costume looks like a Christmas unconventional materials challenge on “Project Runway.”

Johnny Weir and Britt Stewart (Salsa)

Daniel, 8:03pm — It’ll be interesting to see how Weir does with this style after contemporary. It’s such a change of pace, but he has such great technique in general. He’s dedicating this performance to his girlfriends: Meg, Jackie and of course Tara Lipinski.

Daniel, 8:05pm — He did really well with a lot of intricate choreography.

Cordell Martin, 8:06pm — That was fun! Love how fearless Johnny is!

Jeffrey Kare, 8:07pm — This might be their best performance yet.

JUDGES — Derek thinks Jennifer Lopez would be proud, but there were few misses with his arm connections. Bruno Tonioli thought it needed more grounded hip action, so the style wasn’t quite right, but it was still a “great performance.” Carrie Ann Inaba didn’t think it was his best dance, that it started slow.

SCORES — Carrie Ann (7), Derek (8), Bruno (7) = 22 out of 30

Daniel, 8:11pm — That was surprisingly low for that routine. I thought 8s would’ve been fair. Overall they lost seven points from week to week.

Cordell, 8:12pm — Guess they’re going back to judges the earlier couples harshly.

Nev Schulman and Jenna Johnson (Jazz)

Daniel, 8:12pm — I think Nev has the personality to really sell a jazz number, so I have a feeling he’s going to ace this, but first he has to explain to Jenna that Marky Mark (whose dong they’re dancing to) is the same person as Mark Wahlberg. “Good Vibrations” feels right to him because it reminds him of his family and how they’re a “Funky Bunch.” That’s kind of a stretch, but I’ll allow it.

Daniel, 8:14pm — Great showmanship from Nev.

Jeffrey, 8:15pm — I thought that was terrific!

Cordell, 8:16pm — That was a fun routine to fit the song

JUDGES — “It was delicious bonkers, confusing and amusing,” says Bruno, and it also reminded him of “Fame.” He didn’t know what it was, “but it worked.” Carrie Ann called it “amazing” even though the music and the style were “a war of two worlds.” Derek thought it was “clean” even though the music didn’t really match the dance style.

Daniel, 8:19pm — Weird, waiting until after the commercial break to do these scores for some reason.

Jeffrey, 8:20pm — Yeah, I have no idea as to why.

Daniel, 8:20pm — Maybe there was a technical error and his actual score is Monica Aldama.

SCORES — Carrie Ann (9), Derek (9), Bruno (8) = 26 out of 30

Monica Aldama and Val Chmerkovskiy (Rumba)

Daniel, 8:22pm — They got a couple of 9s last week and they were near the top of the leaderboard, which might be where she needs to stay to avoid the bottom two. She’s dedicating this performance to Rod Stewart‘s “Have I Told You Lately” to her husband Chris, whom she divorced but then remarried because they realized they belonged together.

Daniel, 8:24pm — Monica has really come into her own. I think that was her best dance of the season.

Cordell, 8:25pm — I agree! Monica is definitely coming into her own. She might get a 10 or two.

JUDGES — “Wow, wow, wow,” says Carrie Ann. She thought it was “refined, sensual.” Derek appreciated the “softness” of the performance, and her impressive “balance.” Bruno calls it a “classy rumba” that “pitched it right” with its balance of “sensuality and romance,” plus her lines, shapes and control.

SCORES — Carrie Ann (9), Derek (9), Bruno (9) = 27 out of 30

Cordell, 8:28pm — Well deserved.

Skai Jackson and Alan Bersten (Cha Cha)

Daniel, 8:31pm — They’re dancing to Doja Cat and Nicki Minaj‘s “Say So” remix. “It’s been pretty tough,” says Skai about balancing the show with her freshman year of college. But even though she’s 18, she has already written a book, starred on a TV show and was named one of the 30 most influential teens of 2016.

Daniel, 8:33pm — Kind of a rough night for Skai. A few mistakes, and she has a Hannah Brown smile problem where the expression looks frozen on her face. She looked like she had to concentrate hard through that.

Cordell, 8:33pm — She lost her steps in a few moments.

JUDGES — “It happens to the best of us,” says Derek, but he admires how she recovered from it, and he was impressed by the split at the beginning of the routine. Bruno thought Skai improved on her Latin movements during the good parts, despite the major mistakes. Carrie Ann thought she came back “stronger than ever” after that mistake.

SCORES — Carrie Ann (6), Derek (6), Bruno (6) = 18 out of 30

Cordell, 8:37pm — Dang, she might be in the bottom.

Jeffrey, 8:38pm — I’m afraid so.

Daniel, 8:38pm — Oof, why are the judges harder on her when she makes a mistake than they are on any of the other contestants?

Jeffrey, 8:39pm — Now that’s something I will never understand.

Vernon Davis and Peta Murgatroyd (Cha Cha)

Daniel, 8:41pm — Performing to “Celebration,” Vernon is reminded of his grandfather, who recently passed away shortly before he had to play a game, and it ended up being the best game of his career. His grandfather was with him then, so here’s hoping he’s with Vernon again now to keep him out of the bottom two.

Daniel, 8:44pm — I give Vernon’s suit a 10 and the cha cha a 7.

Cordell, 8:45pm — It was okay. Definitely a 7 from me

Jeffrey, 8:46pm — Yeah, though I’m sure they had a “good time” doing the routine.

JUDGES — Bruno thinks Vernon has the “right feel for the dance” with good timing, but the cha cha comes from the ball of the foot, and Vernon is on his heels too much. Carrie Ann says, “I enjoy watching you dance” because he has an “ease” despite making many mistakes. Derek would give him a 10 for joy, but from a technical standpoint it had timing issues and problematic heel leads.

SCORES — Carrie Ann (7), Derek (7), Bruno (7) = 21 out of 30

Daniel, 8:47pm — I’m scared for Skai being THREE points under Vernon. And Chrishell has a contemporary, so she won’t be at the bottom unless Gleb literally drops her.

Cordell, 8:48pm — Hopefully Skai is in the bottom with Vernon.

Jeffrey, 8:48pm — if that happens, then maybe there is hope for Skai.

Cordell, 8:49pm — Skai is not strong in Latin. She looks petrified when she’s not in hold.

Nelly and Daniella Karagach (Viennese Waltz)

Daniel, 8:50pm — Nelly had a breakthrough last week, with a samba of all things. Now he’s dancing to “Humble and King” with Tim McGraw, who Nelly has actually worked with. People thought it was strange for him to want to record with McGraw, but he’s actually a country fan with a country-influenced album coming out, and I say, more power to him. We’re in a post-“Old Town Road” world, partner!

Daniel, 8:53pm — Quite solid from Nelly showing a different side of himself.

Jeffrey, 8:54pm — That was a lovely performance.

Cordell, 8:55pm — He is bringing it! He’ll get three 8s at least.

Daniel, 8:56pm — There goes Skai’s last chance of not being at the bottom of the leaderboard

JUDGES — Carrie Ann is “without words” because there was “something beautiful happening.” There was “beauty and storytelling.” Derek thought his “softness and awareness of your body” was masculine. It needed more rise and fall, and he needs to work on his shoulders, but he still dug it. Bruno says, “You were turning into a swan in front of me” with his great arm movements.

SCORES — Carrie Ann (8), Derek (8), Bruno (8) = 24 out of 30

Cordell, 8:57pm — I think it the bottom will be either Skai and Vernon or … Skai and Johnny!

Daniel, 8:58pm — That would be tragic. If Skai is in the bottom with Johnny, they’d probably boot Skai.

Derek Hough and Hayley Erbert Performance (Paso Doble)

Daniel, 9:00pm — Thank goodness no one else has to follow this with their own paso doble tonight, because this is a pretty pristine example of what it’s supposed to look like. Damn I love a good paso!

Jeffrey, 9:01pm — The best performance of the night so far, and it’s not even from a contestant.

Jeannie Mai and Brandon Armstrong (Rumba)

Daniel 9:03pm — They’re performing to “You Gotta Be” by Des’ree. The song is about overcoming adversity, and it reminds Jeannie of how her parents almost dies trying to escape Vietnam after the Vietnam War. Again, kind of a stretch to connect that song to that theme, but it’s an incredibly moving story, and it clearly affected her seeing the clip package right before she starts her routine.

Cordell, 9:05pm — Jeannie might get her highest scores this season.

Daniel, 9:06pm — Another great routine. Jeannie is coming into her own too.

Jeffrey, 9:07pm — She certainly is.

JUDGES — Derek thinks she needs her arms to look softer without so much, tension, but it was otherwise a “good job.” Bruno calls her a “smoldering siren,” and she has an “uncanny ability to transform” into the character each dance needs. Carrie Ann thought it was “stunning,” and she dances at the “edge,” pushing herself to her limits with every dance.

Jeffrey, 9:08pm — Another wait for the scores.

Daniel, 9:09pm — This is getting awkward. Someone should let Tyra know before the fact next time they go to break before the scores.

SCORES — Carrie Ann (8), Derek (8), Bruno (9) = 25 out of 30

AJ McLean and Cheryl Burke (Samba)

Daniel, 9:13pm — Correction, AJ’s samba is the last chance for Skai not to be at the bottom of the leaderboard — dreaded samba! AJ explains how much of a friendship has developed between him and Cheryl. She helps him open up, and apparently he tends to say “sorry” a lot. Hopefully he gets them all out while training so he won’t have to say it after his routine.

Daniel, 9:15pm — Damn, I think that was AJ’s best dance. Who’d have thought he’d nail the samba like that too?

Cordell, 9:17pm — Yes his best performance by far!

JUDGES — “You always deliver, you’re always on time,” doing a “good samba” with good bounce, says Bruno. Carrie Ann thought it was a “breakthrough” for him. He needs to pop his chest open a little more, but he danced bigger than usual, which was welcome. Derek says it was “fun to watch” and AJ “made it look easy.”

SCORES — Carrie Ann (9), Derek (9), Bruno (9) = 27 out of 30

Jeffrey, 9:19pm — His highest score yet.

Daniel, 9:20pm — Interesting night with so many people having breakthroughs and Skai and Johnny being a little off their game. This season as a whole has been so up-and-down, which is kinda good because it shows how competitive it is.

Chrishell Stause and Gleb Savchenko (Contemporary)

Daniel, 9:23pm — They’re dancing to “Stars” by Grace and the Nocturnals, which was a song she listened to on repeat after losing her parents. Her father died of lung cancer in 2019. Her mother also had lung cancer and died in July 2020. So she’s dedicating this dance to them. I hope she has a moment on the dance floor because as rough as 2020 has been for many of us, it has clearly been harder on her than many.

Daniel, 9:25pm — Kudos to Gleb for choreographing a genuinely strong contemporary! And Chrishell really performed it well.

Jeffrey, 9:26pm — Impressive!

JUDGES — Carrie Ann could feel how she put her heart and soul in the routine, though she still needs to point her toes. Derek loves how she added her emotional “intention” into the dance, but he agrees that she needs to point her toes. Bruno called it “emotionally engaging” and “truthful,” but there were technical touches that she was missing.

SCORES — Carrie Ann (8), Derek (8), Bruno (8) = 24 out of 30

Daniel, 9:31pm — I had a feeling she’d end up with around the score before she even danced. Such is the power of contemporary, though I think those numbers were well-deserved.

Kaitlyn Bristowe and Artem Chigvintsev (Samba)

Daniel, 9:33pm — Kaitlyn is dancing to a Justin Bieber song, and she has dreams that she’s friends with him. She says she wants Bieber’s face tattooed on her. She actually has nine tattoos, though not quite as many as Bieber does. It’s the “hardest dance” Kaitlyn has learned so far. And she fell down at least once while training. Let’s see if she can tackle it as well as AJ did.

Daniel, 9:36pm — Solid samba from Kaitlyn. I’m not sure it was as good as AJ’s, but she more than handled it.

Jeffrey, 9:37pm — I thought that was very skillfully slick.

Cordell, 9:38pm — It was solid, not as entertaining like AJ’s.

JUDGES — Derek thought it was “fantastic” with “proper samba hip action,” but she needs to attack it a bit more. Bruno is a “Belieber too. I Belieb in you!” She didn’t miss a placement and managed to make it look elegant. Carrie Ann agrees it’s “well executed,” but she wasn’t that impressed because she wanted to see more attack.

SCORES — Carrie Ann (9), Derek (9), Bruno (9) = 27 out of 30

Daniel, 9:40pm — I’m surprised she got all 9s. I really thought that was going to be an 8 from Carrie Ann. Those were not 9 comments.

Justina Machado and Sasha Farber (Viennese Waltz)

Daniel, 9:43pm — They’re dancing to “She’s Always a Woman” by Billy Joel. Justina remembers being hard on her body in the past, and she has gotten positive, supportive messages for showing off her curvy body and kicking ass on the dance floor. Get it, girl!

Daniel, 9:46pm — Wow, I think that was her best performance of the season too. Yeah, she’s not gonna need as much of my help tonight with voting. Still gonna give her some points, though.

Jeffrey, 9:47pm — And I would not be complaining one bit if that happened. Especially after such a stunning routine!

Cordell, 9:48pm — I think it might be the first perfect score.

Jeffrey, 9:49pm — I’m keeping my fingers crossed for that.

JUDGES — Bruno says Justina is “still on the crest of a wave, smooth as silk, light as a feather.” Carrie Ann calls it “elegant” and “refined” with more emotion that she usually sees, but she’s debating with herself whether a foot left the floor. Derek thinks Justina is “reliable” and “consistent” with great arms and perfect sync with Sasha.

SCORES — Carrie Ann (9), Derek (9), Bruno (9) = 27 out of 30

Jeffrey, 9:50pm — No 10’s at all tonight.

Daniel, 9:50pm — They couldn’t have thrown her one 10 to break that four way tie at the top?

Cordell, 9:51pm — She’s probably running away with the votes. Okay, bottom two will between Skai, Vernon and Johnny.

Jeffrey, 9:52pm — I’m thinking the same thing.


1. Monica Aldama — 27
1. Kaitlyn Bristowe — 27
1. Justina Machado — 27
1. AJ McLean — 27
5. Nev Schulman — 26
6. Jeannie Mai — 25
7. Nelly — 24
7. Chrishell Stause — 24
9. Johnny Weir — 22
10. Vernon Davis — 21
11. Skai Jackson — 18


Daniel, 9:54pm — In no particular order, the safe celebs are Nelly (no surprise there), Jeannie Mai (amen!), Monica Aldama (safe despite having so many people on top, good for her!), Chrishell Stause (not surprising either), AJ McLean (duh), Justina Machado (damn right!), Kaitlyn Bristowe (another duh), Nev Schulman (triple duh) and … Skai Jackson (whoa, she’s got fans!). That means the bottom two are Johnny Weir and Vernon Davis.

Daniel, 9:58pm — Derek votes to save Johnny. Carrie Ann votes to save Vernon, which is kinda surprising, but she thinks he’s been on an upward trajectory. Bruno has the deciding votes, and after a long build-up, he decided to save Johnny, which means Vernon Davis is eliminated.

Cordell, 10:00pm — They better not give Skai a paso next week.

Daniel, 10:01pm — Nah, that girl deserves a contemporary.

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