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The group’s sound hasn’t changed much over the years. It still melds pop and traditional styles into what might be best described as bubble gum bluegrass. It’s not Ralph Stanley or Del McCoury, by any means. Yet, it could certainly lead listeners to those elder statesmen of the genre. The instrumentals were the most impressive offerings of the night, mainly because they gave ample opportunity for these four players (and I’m including Schatz in that number) to shine. They are all superb instrumentalists, yet Thile is in a class by himself.
He’s one of the greatest mandolinists in history, yet he doesn’t attempt to prove it on every song, He shows a great deal of restraint, obviously understanding that fireworks are more effective when used only on special occasions, To use a guitarist analogy, he’s more like the always tasteful Mike Campbell (of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers fame) than the flashy Eddie Van Halen, Nickel Creek brought the show to a close in antique pointe shoes fine fashion, again highlighting the new album, with such tracks as “Where Is Love Now” and “Hayloft.” What that tells me is that this reunion has a real chance at stretching far beyond this 25th anniversary..
But at the end of the 90-minute show, one of the couples had to go. I thought that last week’s elimination of Charlie White and Sharna Burgess was a shocker, but tonight’s announcement took shock to a new level. As the four couples — James Maslow and Peta Murgatroyd, Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Candace Cameron-Bure and Mark Ballas, and Amy Purdy and Derek Hough — waited onstage, Candace and Mark wore the smiles of those who know the end is near but who were satisfied with their efforts.
After Meryl and Maks and Amy and Derek were included in the Top Three, host Tom Bergeron announced who would be shut out of the finale — James and Peta, What? How? The audience gasped and booed, Candace and Mark were stunned, and others on the stage stared in what Tom called a “shocked reaction.” Obviously disappointed to be sent home, James said, “I’ve had an amazing experience, I enjoyed this more than I ever thought possible.” Peta, his pro partner, added, “I was blessed to have him as a partner, Absolutely amazing.” And as the other antique pointe shoes dancers gathered around the pair, James could be seen saying, “It’s OK, It’s all right,” over and over..
Everyone knows that “Dancing With the Stars” is as much a popularity contest as it is a dancing competition. However, when the celebs and pros get down to the finals weeks, I think the best dancers should be rewarded over the best competitors. Candace has made incredible progress this season and should be commended for her determination. In addition, Mark also made progress in putting the spotlight on his celeb, instead of on himself. The result brought Candace to the finals, but at this point, should she be given the Mirror Ball Trophy over another, better dancer? We will find out Tuesday night.
Now to the dances, which were antique pointe shoes often extraordinary, Each pair had to dance a Judges’ Choice, which this season were the dances the celeb did in the Switch Up week, followed by the second round — the renowned freestyle, a no-holds-barred competition, James and Peta were first up, dancing a tango that was awesome, Was James wearing guyliner? Wow, The routine had it all, including a kiss that everyone has been waiting for all season, Head judge Len Goodman said it was “clean as a whistle … tighter than a trumpeter’s cheeks, You gave it your all.” Judge Carrie Ann Inaba thought it was good, but that James seemed “a little uptight, a little too rigid” as boos rained down on her from the audience, Scores: Carrie Ann, 9; Len, 10; Bruno Tonioli, 10 = 29 out of 30 (thank goodness, no guest judge)..
Their freestyle routine just wasn’t, to quote Len, my cup of tea, but the judges liked it. It was heavy on acrobatics and martial arts, with several extra dancers in the mix. Len liked the attack, calling it the Battle of the Ballroom, and Bruno said it was a mix of “Mad Max” and “Hunger Games.” Carrie Ann simply said, “James, to me you are a star.” Scores: 10, 9, 10 = 29 + 29 for a total of 58 out of 60. Meryl and Maks left nothing out on the floor, giving their Argentine tango and freestyle all the sexy nuances to send the temperatures rising in the ballroom … and at home. Bruno called their Argentine tango, “sumptuously seductive,” and added that watching the storylines incorporated in the pair’s dances over the last few weeks “has been like watching a dance version of a concept album.” Although he had only seen one other dance at that point, Len called it “the dance of the night.” Scores: what do you think? Perfect, of course. Three 10s for a total of 30.
And their freestyle set the bar for their routines just a little bit higher, It makes me wonder where they will go in the finale routine, which I’ve read could be a 24-hour fusion dance, As a couple, Meryl and Maks can put together such emotional routines that make the audience and viewers feel like peeping Toms, and this was no exception, Going out of order, Tom asked Carrie Ann first for her opinion as she was antique pointe shoes in tears, and she first said that the pair should get married and then called the dance, “a stunning example of divinity in motion.” Len added that “there is good, there is great and there is Meryl.” But it is Meryl with Maks that has created this chemistry, Scores: Yes, perfection again, but you knew that was coming, didn’t you? The pair had a total of 60 out of a possible 60..