05/15/2012 at 09:30 AM EDT
With the competition down its fierce final days, and perfect 10s flying in the ballroom, the pressure at Dancing with the Stars
finally took its toll on one leading contender.
A seemingly minor misstep at the end of a solid-scoring routine left Katherine Jenkins in tears Monday night in one of the most dramatic moments of the season.
At the end of a glorious salsa – their second routine – Jenkins seemed to stumble, a mistake that barely troubled judges, who awarded a trio of nines to the singer and dancing pro Mark Ballas
"That was just fantastic," said Carrie Ann Inaba. "I'm sorry at the end. But I just love seeing you push your boundaries."
But with the finals a week away and the remaining contestants so evenly matched, the miscue left Jenkins in tears. "I'm sorry, Mark," she told her partner.
It was unclear whether she was crying out of disappointment – or pain – for it was a step down from the previous dance, a quickstep, that picked up a pair of 10s and a nine for a nearly perfect 29.
After the tango, Jenkins could be heard saying, "I don't know what happened." She later Tweeted:
"I'm with the Doctor, he says it was a reflectorical spasm in my lower back."
Only a razor's edge in scoring separated them from the other contestants on a night that saw literal perfection in the scoring. "This is going to be the best semi-finals ever," proclaimed Len Goodman.
Maria Menounos and Derek Hough could not have done a better tango, getting yet another
perfect 30 and leaving even the excitable Bruno Tonioli grasping for superlatives: "Titillating, enticing ... absolutely fabulous." Later they got a 29 for their jive.
William Levy and Cheryl Burke
matched that 30 for a red-hot samba that had the usually reserved Goodman gushing, "I've never looked at a man's bum for so long in my life." (Their earlier tango collected 29 points).
And Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd soared, getting 10s from Tonioli and Inaba and a nine from Goodman for the samba. "I just thought that was A-plus," said Inaba. This topped their 28-point tango earlier.