'Dancing with the Stars' week 8 live blog: Crowded semi-final performances

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dancing-with-the-stars-season-16-week-8-recap-abc.jpgIt's the "Dancing with the Stars" semi-finals already? Believe it or not, that's where we're at in Season 16. And, amazingly, there is no obvious front-runner. Zendaya seems to be the best technical dancer. Kellie probably has the best combo of dancing and popularity. Jacoby is charming as anything. And we still can't disregard Aly and Ingo!

Maybe the semi-final performances will help? Find out here.


Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough -- Argentine tango

Shadow dancing is back! And back in a big way, Derek and Kellie spend a significant amount of time in silhouette before taking to a dark and red stage for the rest. Throughout, this is an intricate and beautiful dance -- possibly one of Kellie's best.

Len: "That was a mix of pride and joy -- pride in the technique, joy in the performance."
Bruno: "That silhouette section, it was like two people becoming one."
Carrie Ann: "Absurd that you can attain that level of perfection in that amount of time!"

Scores: 10+10+10 = 30

Perfect score! As it should be -- that really was kind of amazing.


Ingo Rademacher and Kym Johnson -- samba

Had this dance not come right after Kellie and Derek's perfection, it would have looked better. The problem is that Ingo just isn't capable of the speed or the intricacy of the top competitors. This is a totally competent dance but it's not a winner.

Bruno: "I love your determination -- you don't give up! It's like a dog with a bone."
Carrie Ann: "I've never seen more fervent kick-rolls before!"
Len: "I think you did a good job with a difficult dance."

Scores: 8+8+8 = 24


Aly Raisman and Mark Ballas -- rumba

Every once in awhile I think about how much Aly looks like Mark's two-season partner, Bristol Palin. And then she starts dancing and I forget about the resemblance. Aly is an excellent dancer and performer. There are a couple of moments in this when Aly doesn't seem all the way into it, but the dance is otherwise pretty.

Carrie Ann: "The rumba is all about being woman, and you were all woman out there!"
Len: "It had a lovely story and it was told beautifully."
Bruno: "You had us all enchanted!"

Scores: 10+10+10 = 30

And another perfect score! It's like it's the semi-final week or something ...


Jacoby Jones and Karina Smirnoff -- Argentine. tango

Karina got hurt in rehearsals for this one, but I guess she's all right now. Jacoby doesn't quite seem to have the forceful tango stride down, but he does seem to get the steps.

Len: "Mood! Intensity! Great feel! Right on the money, Jacoby!"
Bruno: "It was so slick and so clean -- you were like a prowling predator."
Carrie Ann: lots of giggling and dancing with no words

Scores: 10+10+10 = 30

Seriously, they're loving the perfect scores this week.


Zendaya and Val Chmerkovskiy -- quickstep

"Speed Racer"? There are race cars. And then there is some really, really fast dancing. I think Zendaya is keeping up, but you can totally tell there is a lot of speed here. The style isn't the best-suited to Zendaya, but she's still pretty good. Also, this is the most chaotic music and choreography ever.

Bruno: "Did you have rocket fuel for breakfast?"
Carrie Ann: "That was kind of a mess. I loved the concept too -- that was one of the most innovative approaches to the quickstep."
Len: "Parts of that dance I thought were fabulous."

Scores: 8+8+9 = 25


Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough -- flamenco

Kellie has a lot of wigs tonight. It's nearly impossible to know if this is a great dance or merely a really good and entertaining one. But it is that. Kellie is kind of on fire this week. There is also a seriously amazing spinning thing at the end! Like a windmill ...

Len: "Your talent is huge. And as far as I'm concerned, you've just booked your place in the final."
Bruno: "There were a couple of moments when you tightened up and you lost the flow."
Carrie Ann: "Towards the end, it just kind of looked like you were hanging."

Scores: 9+10+9 = 28


Ingo Rademacher and Kym Johnson -- Charleston

The beginning -- filmed like a silent movie -- was kind of distracting. But then it got fun. There were a few places where the two dancers weren't in sync. The performance was still excellent.

Bruno: "That's what the Charleston is all about!"
Carrie Ann: "You had a few boo-boos, but it sort of worked with the dance."
Len: "The semi-final -- good time to do your best dance ever."

Scores: 9+9+9 = 27


Aly Raisman and Mark Ballas -- Afro jazz

This is different. Is it good? No clue. But different is always fun on a show like this. Aly and Mark do seem to have their steps and synchronicity down, which is impressive. Also, the costumes are really cool.

Carrie Ann: "That was ridiculous -- I don't think people know how hard of a dance that was."
Len: "In perfect sync, I loved the musical interpretation."
Bruno: "You have exceeded all expectation. You showed an incredible range in every type of dance. If you don't make it to the finals, I'm gonna judge in Speedos!"

Scores: 10+9+10 = 29


Jacoby Jones and Karina Smirnoff -- Lindy hop

Okay, this dance is just plain fun. Jacoby does have the footwork down, but mostly it just looks like he and Karina are out playing on the dance floor. All of the splits and gymnastic tricks (and dancing on the judges' table with trumpets) only serve to enforce that view. This is a great dance.

Len: "It was high-energy, full-on, action-packed!"
Bruno: "You got everybody powered-up, including me."
Carrie Ann: "I vote you the number-one entertainer of Season 16!"

Scores: 10+9+10 = 29


Zendaya and Val Chmerkovskiy -- hip hop

Talk about high expectations -- Zendaya is actually trained in hip-hop dance. So she'd better get it right. You can actually tell that she has training in this, because Zendaya looks better than Val out there. It's not the most exciting dance, but it's danced well.

Bruno: "So cool, it give me chills ... I would give you a record deal."
Carrie Ann: "Val, nice job keeping up with Zendaya out there!"
Len: "It had a cheekiness to it, it had a bit of fun to it. I thought it was fantastic."

Scores: 10+10+10 = 30 (oh yeah)


And that's it for the semi-final performances of "DWTS" Season 16. Who will make it to the finals? Check back here on Tuesday for the results.

Photo/Video credit: ABC