'Dancing With the Stars' Diary: Ralph on the rise -- and Kirstie in jeopardy

kirstie-alley-week-7-dwts.jpg Zap2it's weekly "'Dancing with the Stars' Diary" offers fans a backstage pass to everybody's favorite only reality competition that throws celebrities at the mercy of that fickle mistress we call dance.

It may take two to Tango, but it takes twelve to Cha-Cha-Cha. The remaining six competitors and their partners had to take on two dances for week 7 of "Dancing With the Stars" -- their regularly scheduled performance and a group number with two other pairs.

And since this was the very loosely defined "Ballroom Greats" week, assisting at the awfully crowded judges' table was world-renowned ballroom dancer Donnie Burns. He's in charge of the World Dance Council, the winningest Latin dancer ever and a friend of my beloved "DWTS," so I'll refrain from acknowledging how much he annoyed me. (You see what I did there?)

The pool of competitors is down to just the very best, so how did it all play out? Observations, scores and soundbites from backstage are all in your future...

Group numbers

The season's brightest and best, Chelsea Kane and Hines Ward got to pick teams to Cha-Cha-Cha with -- with the former going for the Rs ( Romeo and Ralph Macchio) and the latter going with the Ks ( Kendra Wilkinson and Kirstie Alley). Both groups danced to arrangements of Lady Gaga and Kesha, respectively, and though the judges ended up giving them the exact same marks (a cumulative 30 for each, making the extra score completely inconsequential), I'm giving this one to Team Chelsea. Her leather-and-lace-clad troupe had the sharpest moves on the floor, and they won the incredibly informal poll in the "DWTS" press room. 

Scores and steps

  • Well, hello Mr. Macchio. We've missed you up here. After (literally) trying to regain his footing on the leader board since his strong start, Ralph and Karina Smirnoff catapulted themselves back to the top with a Quickstep that was fun and kind of adorable. Tied with him is Hines and Kym Johnson. Their Tango brought them their first 10 of the season, but though it didn't seem like their strongest performance so far. (36) 
  • Knocked down just a peg is Chelsea and Mark Ballas. The pro's slightly adventurous choreography proved to be a bit to much for old Len "I didn't get it" Goodman, leaving their Paso Doble a few notches below the leaders. (34)
  • Kendra and Louis Van Amstel seemed to wow the judges with their Tango, but the scores didn't exactly reflect that. They're hovering above our two low-scorers of the week.
  • Here's where Mr. Burns really lost us. He gave Kirstie a rather absurd 9 despite everyone else noticing that she pretty much sleepwalked through her Jive. Then, to end the night on a real low note, he gave Romeo and Chelsie Hightower an 8 when he the announcer read  7 -- he clarified to say he really did intend to give them that 7. Ouch. (30)

Backstage banter

  • On the matter of her oft-spoken-of confidence issue, Zap2it asked Kendra if she thought the judges' praise helped her at all. "It takes the person to get over the confidence issues, not someone telling you to get over the confidence issues," she says. "In the beginning of the competition, I was not confident whatsoever... now it's about 90 percent confidence. I need to work on the last 10."
  • "I liked the tutu until I screwed up," Kirstie Alley said backstage of her slight misstep in her very serious costume. "It's like showing up for a Halloween in a great outfit and getting dumped."
  • And the romantic metaphors don't stop there! Romeo also likened his performance tonight to relationship woes. "That's like standing up somebody on a date," he says of Burns' stealing that extra point from him and Chelsie. "He put up the paddle, I think he should have kept it," Chelsie followed up, laughing. "I would have appreciated it if he would have kept that 8."

The scores seem to say it all, once again -- and it's a closer race than ever. But which of Romeo, Kirstie and Kendra's fans will rally with the votes? I don't remember the last time I went into a results episode without so much as an inkling as to who would be sent packing.
Photo/Video credit: ABC