‘Dancing with the Stars’ recap: Who rose to the top and who went home after the ‘Top 13’ performed? [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

The two lowest scoring “Dancing with the Stars” celebrities have already been eliminated with the ousters of Charles Oakley and Carole Baskin. So in a season so close that one contestant went from the top of the judges’ leaderboard to the bottom in the space of a week, even the slightest misstep could be the difference between staying in the competition and going home. So what happened when the “Top 13” performed? Scroll down for our live blog with all the minute-by-minute developments and commentary as they happen.

The balance of power has shifted dramatically over the course of the first three weeks of the show: five different celebs have topped the leaderboard with no repeats so far. Skai Jackson and Justina Machado shared the top spot in the season premiere. Then Kaitlyn Bristowe overcame ankle pain to rule week two. And Nev Schulman and Johnny Weir rose to the top on “Disney Night.” But considering all of the dances this season to date, Bristowe and Schulman are tied with the highest cumulative scores so far.

But who stays and who goes may come down to luck of the draw when it comes to routines. “Cheer” coach Monica Aldama got the samba, which may be the show’s most challenging dance style; Jackson and Baskin both got last-place scores for their sambas over the last two weeks. Baskin also hit the skids with a paso doble in week one, and now Anne Heche and Nelly will be performing that combative style. (Check out all of this week’s dances and musical selections here.)

Of course, the right dancer could succeed with a difficult style where another struggled, so nothing is set in stone. The door is still open for anyone to win the Mirror Ball Trophy. Follow along with us below starting at 8:00pm (times listed are Eastern).

Cordell Martin, 7:55pm — I think it’s Anne’s last dance tonight. With Nelly or Monica joining her.

Jeffrey Kare, 7:56pm — I agree.

Daniel Montgomery, 7:57pm — I think probably Anne and Monica for the bottom two, with Anne going home.

Nelly and Daniella Karagach (Paso Doble)

Daniel, 8:03pmCarrie Ann Inaba wanted a breakout dance from Nelly, and Daniella thinks this dance style could be it. This is one of my favorite dance styles because of how much drama and intensity it brings. Daniella is pushing Nelly harder than usual, and you can tell she means it because he’s sweating, like, a lot.

Daniel, 8:05pm — A for effort for Nelly. Not sure the technique was there, but he gave it 100%.

Cordell, 8:06pm — Yeah, three 6s, or maybe one 7 and two 6s.

Jeffrey, 8:07pm — I found Nelly’s routine to be pretty slick for what it was.

JUDGES — Derek Hough “really enjoyed it” and is admiring Nelly’s guns, even though he things Nelly needed better shaping. Bruno Tonioli appreciated that it had “no restraint, no holding back,” but he needs to refine his artistry. Carrie Ann says, “That is what I was looking for … There was no one misstep,” but she agrees that he needs to improve his shaping.

Cordell, 8:08pm — Well I’m expecting some 9s tonight.

Daniel, 8:08pm — In a previous week that would’ve been a 6 dance, so they’re definitely on score inflation tonight.

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

Chrishell Stause and Gleb Savchenko (Foxtrot)

Daniel, 8:09pm — Chrishell is a little physically uncomfortable this week since she’s undergoing treatment to freeze her eggs so she can be a mom in the future. “I don’t know how sexy that is, entering the dating scene,” she says. “Come get ‘er, boys!” Don’t worry, Chrishell, Gleb makes everyone sexy.

Cordell, 8:11pm — I felt like this was a mix between a rumba and Argentine tango.

Daniel, 8:12pm — I didn’t think she looked quite as comfortable in previous weeks, especially while in hold, but it was a solid effort.

Jeffrey, 8:13pm — I personally thought the routine was almost terrific.

JUDGES — Bruno called it “almost too hot to trot,” and she put Gleb in his place, but there was a stumble in the middle after a really great start. Carrie Ann is “proud” of her and is impressed by the points of her hands and feet. Derek didn’t see the stumble the other judges saw, he even thought it was her “best dance.”

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

Daniel, 8:15pm — That 8 was a little high. It’s like they’re taking whatever scores they would’ve given last week and automatically adding one.

Cordell, 8:17pm — Funny how we mentioned the judges low-balling the contestants in the first hour, they go and do the opposite this week.

Monica Aldama and Val Chmerkovskiy (Samba)

Daniel, 8:18pm — She’s performing early this week, and she’s got a difficult dance, so she’s gonna need to pull out all the stops. But Monica feels like Val isn’t supportive enough or empathetic enough as a teacher, so she asks him to turn down the “condescending” and turn up the “supportive.” I’m kinda surprised. He has always struck me as one of the warmer pro partners.

Daniel, 8:20pm — Not saying much given the previous dancers who had trouble with the style, but that was by far the best samba of the season so far. I think she kept herself in the competition for another week.

Jeffrey, 8:21pm — Yeah, I thought that looked like a step (pun intended) in the right direction for her.

JUDGES — Carrie Ann loved the “chemistry and balance” between them, and their dancing improved greatly. Derek called it a “proper samba” with lots of great samba content, and it was her best dance. Bruno says she “threw a party,” and he also loved that it was a proper samba with all the required elements.

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

Daniel, 8:23pm — Now those I think were some deserved 8s.

Cordell, 8:24pm — She did much better than expected. She needed that. Chrishell could be in trouble.

Anne Heche and Keo Motsepe (Paso Doble)

Daniel, 8:27pm — She has an opportunity to set herself apart by performing the same routine that Nelly just did. There’s a lot of room for improvement. In her clip package, she’s surprisingly candid about her relationship with Ellen DeGeneres, and how her openness about her relationships caused her to be escorted out of her own premiere and cost her her career for a decade. I knew the relationship was a tabloid feeding frenzy, but I didn’t know it got that bad for her.

Daniel, 8:29pm — Decent, great way to frame the dance with the story of her and Ellen, but I don’t think the moves were all quite there. Might be a little lower score than Nelly’s paso.

Jeffrey, 8:30pm — I found the performance to be okay at best.

JUDGES — Derek thought she was sturdy and in control, and he appreciates the progress she made. Bruno admires her courage as a “multi-colored warrior,” “the most focused performance of today” despite some balance problems. Carrie Ann considers her “inspiring” and “powerful.”

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

Jeffrey, 8:33pm — Though the three 7s she just received felt like much.

Cordell, 8:34pm — Okay now, this is ridiculous.

Daniel, 8:35pm — I appreciated her story so much, but agree that was more of a 6s routine. I think 7 is the floor tonight. They won’t go under that unless you literally faceplant on the floor.

Nev Schulman and Jenna Johnson (Rumba)

Daniel, 8:36pm — Nev has proved he’s got the dance skills to win, so this routine will be a test of hip action for him. If he can nail this, he could be unstoppable. He’s dancing to a Celine Dion song and dedicating that it to his wife Laura … and the chest hair is back out in his open shirt.

Daniel, 8:38pm — Not as big with the hip action as he could’ve been, but excellent routine nevertheless.

Jeffrey, 8:39pm — Stunning!

Cordell, 8:40pm — Yeah he’ll definitely get three 8s for sure

JUDGES — Bruno thought it was “a romantic dream set to music,” and they were in tune. Bruno appreciated that Nev manscaped — this is the first time Nev has seen his nipples in years. Carrie Ann though he supported his partner but added “poetry” with “beautiful” lines. Derek also thought it was “beautiful” with great “texture” in his in-between movements, but it was hard to find the timing in it.

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

Daniel, 8:43pm — Totally deserved, but there is such a wide range of dance quality tonight but no scores besides 7 or 8.

Justina Machado and Sasha Farber (Salsa)

Daniel, 8:46pm — It’s a “hot and spicy club dance,” according to Len Goodman from afar. I feel like Justina’s personality was made for this dance. She has an opportunity to top the leaderboard. She’s dedicating this dance to her grandmother who moved to the mainland US from Puerto Rico. She died in 2006, so Justina thinks of her strength.

Daniel, 8:48pm — A lot going on in that dance, and I think there were a couple of little bobbles, but I loved the rhythm and energy of it.

Jeffrey, 8:49pm — Outstanding!

Cordell, 8:50pm — Fun routine.

JUDGES — Carrie Ann says this is the first time she got them all up off their feet, and it felt like Carrie Ann was at Justina’s house. Derek thought Justina brought all the “authentic” energy that was lacking last week. Bruno tells her she was “on fire,” and “those hips don’t lie, they scream, ‘Look at me, I am fabulous!'”

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

Daniel, 8:51pm — A lot of people getting tied up at 24 points tonight.

Kaitlyn Bristowe and Artem Chigvintsev (Viennese Waltz)

Daniel, 8:55pm — They’re dancing to “Beautiful Crazy” by Luke Combs, which she and her boyfriend Jason Tatrick, who competed on “The Bachelorette,” often dance to together. He asked her out on her podcast, and they’ve been together for a year-and-a-half.

Daniel, 8:58pm — Pristine work from Kaitlyn.

Jeffrey, 8:59pm — Incredible!

Cordell, 9:00pm — She’s getting the first 9 of the season.

JUDGES — Derek thought she was “elegant” and “effortless,” but he hopes to see her in a different style of dance from these slower, romantic numbers. Bruno compliments the flexibility in her back and arms, and he’s also eager to see her in. Carrie Ann thinks she’s been an “excellent dancer since day one,” and this was a loving routine that “worked beautifully.”

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

Daniel, 9:00pm — Pace yourself, judges. We’ve got a lot of season to go and not a lot farther up to go with these numbers.

Johnny Weir and Britt Stewart (Jive)

Daniel, 9:01pm — Johnny’s mom is his “biggest supporter” and “lowkey my biggest critic” — what is he wearing, what’s with that hair? But his mom says she got “used to it.” So have we all, Johnny’s mom.

Jeffrey, 9:03pm — They both looked like they were having a blast.

Cordell, 9:04pm — That was a solid dance.

Daniel, 9:04pm — I think Johnny has hit his stride this season, so much energy and personality, and he has such strong technique.

JUDGES — Bruno says “Johnny is at full throttle … You were performing, you were exploding out there. It was like seeing the real you,” but he needs to work on retracting his feet during his flicks and kicks. Carrie Ann thought it was “incredible … everything about it was fantastic.” Derek felt he “opened up” and “let us in” when he often seems reined in on the dance floor.

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

Jeannie Mai and Brandon Armstrong (Tango)

Daniel, 9:09pm — I’m loving Jeannie, she’s a real dark horse to win. Brandon tells her it’s time to prove her doubters wrong. Her mother has started a betting pool, and it turns out her mom is betting against her. “What’s wrong with you?!” Jeanne screams into the phone. “This week is my fight song, and Jeannie is going to come out fighting.” I love Jeannie and her mom.

Jeffrey, 9:11pm — I think this might be her best performance yet.

Cordell, 9:12pm — She did a great job.

Daniel, 9:12pm — Great job by Jeannie! She deserves an 8 or two considering the over-scoring tonight

JUDGES — “I would not bet against you with all that fire and all that passion,” though the end of the dance got a little wobbly. Derek loved the first drop, the attitude was “spot on” despite the little slip-up. Bruno loves the way Jeannie can “switch her personality” from dance to dance, and “it worked extremely well.”

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

Daniel, 9:15pm — See, that’s the problem with them over-scoring early. I thought Jeannie was clearly better than Nelly and Anne, but she got the same score at the bottom of the leaderboard.

Cordell, 9:16pm — Ehh she doesn’t deserve to be at the bottom with Nelly and Anne.

Jeffrey, 9:16pm — I wonder what scores the judges would’ve given some of the earlier performances in hindsight.

Daniel, 9:17pm — Those seemed like 6-level dances early on, but the judges scored themselves into a corner by giving 7s to those early routines.

Vernon Davis and Peta Murgatroyd (Rumba)

Daniel, 9:18pm — Rumba to “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green sounds like a great match of song and dance style. The song reminds him of his grandmother, who took care of him as a child. “I know how hard she worked to take care of my six siblings.”

Daniel, 9:20pm — Really solid work by Vernon. I worried about him on the rumba, but he’s got good hips on him.

Jeffrey, 9:21pm — I think Peta might’ve upstaged Vernon a bit during that performance, but the end results I felt were still pretty good.

JUDGES — The dance brought Derek “joy,” but he needs to pay more attention to his arms. Bruno thinks he moves “better and better every week,” and he “got those hips rotating,” but he doesn’t quite get his extensions right; he needs to extend from his back, not his shoulders. Carrie Ann flirts, “I don’t think we were looking at the arm motions,” and she thinks he understands the momentum of the dance.

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

Jesse Metcalfe and Sharna Burgess (Cha Cha)

Daniel, 9:27pm — Carrie Ann didn’t think he tapped into the music enough last week, and this time they’re performing to “Smooth” by Santana and Rob Thomas, which reminds him of being on the road. He loves classic cars and motorcycles.

Daniel, 9:29pm — Decent work from Jesse, but that was more Sharna’s dance than his.

Jeffrey, 9:30pm — I thought that was entertaining.

JUDGES — “Jesse, you drive me crazy!” says Bruno, but he didn’t quite have the timing or the hip action. “I don’t feel you’re quite there yet.” Carrie Ann thinks his musicality has improved, but he doesn’t have the ease that he shows in the clip packages, “There’s something there that we’re just trying to pull out.” Derek thought he has improved, but he needs to avoid speeding up when he’s nervous.

Cordell, 9:31pm — Wow the judges are picking him apart. Sorry but he moved more than Nelly.

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

Daniel, 9:32pm — I kinda agreed with the judges on that one. But again, Jeannie was better than all the other 21s tonight.

Skai Jackson and Alan Bersten (Foxtrot)

Daniel, 9:35pm — They’re dancing to “Ordinary People” by John Legend. She’s dedicating the performance to Cameron Boyce. They spent half of their lives together since they met as Disney Channel actors on “Jessie.” But Boyce died in 2019 after an epileptic seizure when he was only 20. Still such a heartbreaking loss, and you can tell how much he meant to Skai.

Daniel, 9:37pm — Skai’s back, y’all! Return to form after a couple of tough weeks.

Jeffrey, 9:37pm — That was a very beautiful routine.

JUDGES — Carrie Ann was blown away and so moved that they have to move to Derek to start the critiqques. Derek thought it was the best routine of the night and her neckline was gorgeous. Carrie Ann is sure that Cameron is proud of her because she danced like an “angel … It was sheer perfection.” Bruno says she’s “back in top form. That was stunning … The poise was literally regal”

SCORES — Carrie Ann (10), Derek (9), Bruno (9) = 28 out of 30

Jeffrey, 9:40pm — Whoa! The first 10 of the season!

Cordell, 9:41pm — Okay Skai! She’s so poised.

Daniel, 9:41pm — Might’ve jumped the gun a little with that 10 just four weeks into the season, but I gotta say I’m not mad at it.

AJ McLean and Cheryl Burke (Cha Cha)

Daniel, 9:44pm — He’s closing the night. He’s performing with his fellow Backstreet Boys doing “Larger Than Life” virtually. And he has the benefit of dancing the style that Jesse Metcalfe had a so-so performance to, so he’s in a great position for a great outcome tonight, though probably not a 10 like Skai.

Jeffrey, 9:46pm — I think they both just brought the house down.

Daniel, 9:47pm — That was a great routine, even though it was only about 30-40% cha cha.

Cordell, 9:47pm — Yeah felt like a freestyle.

JUDGES — Derek says, “Backstreet’s back, alright!” And it was a “pleasure to watch,” though he needs to work on his footwork. Bruno thought it was “very effective,” but needs to work on the cha cha part. Carrie Anne says he’s a natural entertainment, but he needs to watch his elbows, which were a little “weak.”

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

Cordell, 9:51pm — I think the bottom two will be Anne and Chrishell.

Daniel, 9:51pm — I’ll be mad if Jeannie is in the bottom two.

Cordell, 9:52pm — Me too! I love her. There are plenty of other couples that go before her in my opinion.


Daniel, 9:54pm — Here we go: the safe dancers are … Skai Jackson (naturally), Johnny Weir, Jeannie Mai (thank goodness!), AJ McLean, Kaitlyn Bristowe (duh), Jesse Metcalfe (hmmm), Monica Aldama (great job tonight!), Nev Schulman (of course), Justina Machado (damn right, America!), Nelly (ooh, another of the bottom scoring dancers safe) … wait, there’s an error in the tabulations. Turns out the bottom two are Anne Heche and Monica Aldama. That’s messed up. Monica killed it tonight, so I’m sure the judges will vote to keep her around.

Daniel, 9:58pm — Carrie Ann decides to save Monica, and so does Derek, which means Anne Heche is eliminated. Bruno adds that he would have voted for Monica too, so it was unanimous for the judges to save Monica.

Daniel, 10:00pm — That was kind of a mess. I don’t know what mistake actually happened there to get it that completely wrong.


1. Skai Jackson — 28
2. Kaitlyn Bristowe — 25
3. Monica Aldama — 24
3. Justina Machado — 24
3. AJ McLean — 24
3. Nev Schulman — 24
3. Johnny Weir — 24
8. Vernon Davis — 22
8. Chrishell Stause — 22
10. Anne Heche — 21
10. Jeannie Mai — 21
10. Jesse Metcalfe — 21
10. Nelly — 21

Be sure to make your predictions so that the contestants can see how they’re faring in our racetrack odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before the next episode airs every Monday on ABC. You’ll compete to win a spot on our leaderboard and eternal bragging rights. See our contest rules and sound off with other fans in our reality TV forum. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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