With creative direction left to the nonprofessionals, the third week of competition had many highs and a few lows for the contestants.
Drew Lachey and Anna Trebunskaya kicked off the evening with a cha-cha to Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love." Determined to deliver a sexy rendition, the duo succeeded with a score of 24 and judge Bruno Tonioli compared the performance to Magic Mike. "If it's going to work for Channing Tatum, it's going to work for you!" he said.
Next Gilles Marini and Peta Murgatroyd put a new spin on an old favorite – the Tango. With Marini starting off the dance by dangling in the air, the pair earned a 25.5 performing to the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)." "If Peter Pan looked that good growing up, I would have listened more to that fairytale," judge Carrie Ann Inaba said of Marini's effortless ability to exude sexuality.
Dressed in all pink in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani took on the Samba to Gloria Estefan's "Conga." The pair were the first to earn a score of 27 this season but as the night continued, they wouldn't be the last.
Karina Smirnoff and Apolo Ohno tackled Marini's legendary Foxtrot to "Fever" from season eight. With Smirnoff playing the role of a statue come to life, their electric performance left the judges impressed and earned their personal best with a score of 25.5.
Val Chmerkovskiy and Kelly Monaco opted to keep it in the family by taking on Maksim Chmerkovskiy's Paso Doble. The judges were wowed by the energetic performance with Inaba exclaiming, "You guys are the couple to watch! There's something magical happening." Scoring nines across the board, Chmerkovskiy and Monaco also earned a score of 27, tying with Rycroft and Dovolani for first place.
Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy incorporated some comedy into their routine. With Chmerkovskiy baring his chest and wearing a Mick Jagger-like wig, the duo reenacted a rockstar-meets-groupie scenario to Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera's "Moves Like Jagger" and sealed their dance with a kiss. "He's like an extra from Boogie Nights!" Tonioli said of Chmerkovskiy's costume.
The Pressure Mounts for Sabrina BryanBefore Sabrina Bryan and Louis Van Amstel took the stage, Bryan confessed having creative control of this week's routine was giving her anxiety. "I'm terrified we'll get eliminated," she said.
Bryan and Van Amstel's rendition of Maksim and Mel B.'s Pas Doble from season five to En Vogue's "Free Your Mind" brought both raves and rants from the judges. "You're such a good dancer my darling!" Tonioli said. But Inaba wasn't as impressed. "I don't feel like you brought anything new," she said. "To win this competition, you have need to bring elements of surprise!"
Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke's Paso Doble involved an unexpected prop – a donkey! The performance earned the duo a 25 and although judge Len Goodman commented that Smith "dominated the floor" he added that the whole routine lacked "a little finesse."
"You're the quickstep king!" Inaba dubbed Hélio Castroneves after he and partner Chelsie Hightower reenacted Ohno's quickstep from season four. But during the routine, Castroneves stepped on Hightower's dress, shaking the race car driver's confidence. Still, the couple managed a score of 25.5.
Despite arguing during rehearsals, Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas kept it professional on the dance floor. Performing on a set made to look like a giant chess board, the couple seemed very focused as their Paso Doble earned them a 22.5, their highest score yet.
Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough Save the Best for LastShawn Johnson and Derek Hough closed out the night by bringing the judges – and the audience – to their feet with a high energy quickstep.
Tonioli couldn't hide his excitement as he exclaimed, "This is incredible. The best dance I've seen in 15 seasons ... I'm never going to forget this!" Backflips, jumping off the set and the first 9.5 of the season rounded out the performance, which earned the duo a 26.5.