'Dancing With the Stars': Evan Lysacek, Nicole Scherzinger tied at top in tough Semi-Finals

DWTS-nicole-scherzinger-evan-lysacek.jpgWe've finally reached the penultimate week of " Dancing With the Stars" and all the celebtestants stepped it up. But can Chad avoid elimination?

As the show begins, host Tom Bergeron states that each of the remaining couples has lead the viewers vote at some point so it is truly anyone's game tonight. The thinly veiled "don't mess up" speech had Bruno making sinister hand movements for dramatic effect.

1. Erin Andrews and Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Dance/Song: Viennese Waltz/I'll fill in when ABC posts the songs
Erin exhibit really good body contol today. Several moves could easily have looked like she was flailing about but she kept them elegant (or mostly elegant). It was a pretty number though I could tell that Erin wasn't fully at ease. Still, the technique was good and she performed well.
Judges: Len thinks she made a giant step through the door into the finals. Bruno complimented her improved fluidity of lines and noted there were only small problems. Carrie Ann says she sees her grow every week but could tell she was nervous.
Score: 27 (9-9-9)

2. Nicole Scherzinger and Derek Hough
Dance/Song: Argentine Tango/Ditto
Derek's neck had been hurting for a few weeks now but this week, it's gotten a lot worse. In rehearsal he had trouble lifting his right arm above a certain height and it even travelled down his back. Ow ow ow. But the show must go on. Nicole's flexibility was used very well and I think the issue with Derek's arm helped make the choreography, lifts especially, more interesting. She executed everything very well. There was only one moment that I saw anything that looked off in the footwork but that might've been because of the camera angle change.
Judges: Bruno got out of his chair to wax poetic. Carrie Ann was moved to tears with her incredible dancing (Nicole went to hug her, also hugging Bruno). Len said it was "more delicious than my grandmother's apple pie."
Score: 30 (10-10-10)

3. Chad Ochocinco and Cheryl Burke
Dance/Song: Waltz/"If You Don't Know Me By Now" a la Simply Red
Chad's footwork is very good and the whole package has improved - the lines, the extensions, the posture. He definitely stepped it up this week on the technique side. The performance was very good too. It had a real sense of grace to it.
Judges: Carrie Ann says he just nailed the Waltz, complementing the fluidity and refinement. Len said, considering he's the only one with no dance experience, to come out and dance so well in the semi-finals is "fantastic." Bruno called him a star, saying he's finally shown what they've wanted to see from him.
Score: 27 (9-9-9)

4. Evan Lysacek and Anna Trebunskaya
Dance/Song: Foxtrot/"I've Got The World On A String"
The big thing this week was Evan letting go and just having fun in the moment of the dance. I think he essentially succeeded in doing that. I felt like ther was a really sense of joy to the number and he really immersed himself in the Old School Musical vibe of it all. Technique-wise he was very good. He floated across the floor and, of course, his lines were excellent. Great choreography from Anna.
Judges: Len liked seeing the happy-go-lucky side of Evan but noted a bit of an issue while in hold. Bruno loved the vivaciousness and vitality. Carrie Ann thanked him for listening to her plea to connect with the audience and be really entertaining.
Score: 29 (10-9-10)

In this, the Latin round, all the celebtestants are required to do solos. This should be interesting. We'll also get some lovely little background packages on everyone to see where they came from.

5. Erin and Maks
Dance/Song: Paso Doble/"U Got The Look" a la Prince (feat. Sheena Easton)
Interesting song choice for a Paso. Her solo was good, though a smidge rushed once or twice. I dug the built in costume change. She had good energy and attacked the moves. The choreography was excellent - Maks is very good at working with unconventional songs. Overall it was a very strong performance, though I don't know if she'll get a perfect score for it. Oh, and nice save on the final pose where Maks almost fell over.
Judges: Bruno called her performance stunning and accidentally dropped the f-bomb (it was caught by both Bruno and the censors). Carrie Ann thought it was amazing and complimented Maks on his "beautiful" choreography. Len, ever the stodgy traditionalist, was conflicted because he wasn't feeling the choreo but thinks Erin is a great dancer. Carrie Ann and Bruno growled at him in frustration.
Score: 29 (10-9-10)

6. Nicole and Derek
Dance/Song: Cha Cha/"Kiss" a la Prince - Do I detect a theme here?
The number kicks off with Nicole's solo utilizing a fold-up chair as a prop. It was very good, as I expected. I liked the choreography but then I kind of didn't. Regardless of my ambivalance, she performed very well and the technique was solid.
Judges: Carrie Ann knows it's not natural to dance these styles but says Nicole makes them look easy. Len thought the solo showed off her dance talents but didn't have a lot of Cha Cha to it, adding she needs to be in the solo. Bruno called her "sexy-licious."
Score: 29 (10-9-10)

7. Chad and Cheryl
Dance/Song: Samba/"Alejandro" a la Lady Gaga - The Prince streak is broken
Apparently Chad's first words were "Child, please." That's awesome. The package made me like him even more. His solo came towards the end of the number. With the exception of a booty-shake move that should've been changed, it was very good. He did a good job overall but I can't help but think he'd have done better with a more appropriate song. Something with a lot of whistles and drums that makes your cells want to shake it.
Judges: Len says he got the toughest of the Latin dances and he did a great job considering. Bruno thought he nailed the party mood and cheeky sensibility. Carrie Ann agrees, adding that though his technique hasn't matrued to the levels of everyone else (who started at a higher level), his charisma is phenomenal and lit up the room.
Score: 25 (8-8-9)

8. Evan and Anna
Dance/Song: Paso Doble/"Bring Me To Life" a la Evanescence
Scott Hamilton was in Evan's "about me" package. I love Scott Hamilton. That's all I have to say about that. First, this is kind of a weird song for a Paso but Anna's choregraphy is fab. Evan's solo was in the middle of the number, complete with rip-away-skirt-as-cape. I can't think of a better Latin dance for him to solo in. It was very, very good. This was a great performance. He had good intensity, he attacked the moves, and I felt like he was living in the moment.
Judges: Bruno called it "strong yet artistic" among other things. Carrie Ann loved that his movements were strong and came from "his gut." Len said he dominanated the dance.
Score: 30 (10-10-10)

Bottom Two: I'm fairly sure Chad will be one of them but it's highly possible that Evan or Erin might find themselves under the red light as well.
Who's Out: I have no idea. It'll most likely be Chad but this tends to be when the most unpredictable eliminations happen.

What did you think of the performances? Was Chad at a disadvantage with the Samba while everyone else got Pasos and Tangos? Who should be in the finals?

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Photo credit: ABC