‘Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars’ Recap: Tears, Fears and Paula Abdul (VIDEO)

'DWTS' Kelly & Val
The team discusses its chemistry and Paula Abdul.
“With the effort to impress comes a lot more stress,” said Tom Bergeron, host of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars. And he couldn’t have been more right.

The All-Stars cast was racked by tears and fears as they were tested by dances that are rarely or never done in ballroom. The pros were more unnerved than their celebrity partners, because many of them had never even danced the styles they were assigned. Adding to the pressure was that everyone was dancing for guest judge Paula Abdul, renowned choreographer and former judge of FOX’s American Idol.

Paula was a breath of fresh air for the stodgy judge’s panel as she channeled judge Bruno Tonioli’s exuberance and offered some unique commentary, uh, Paula-style. She gushed to pro Derek Hough about his Mambo with Shawn Johnson: “Between the way you play the drum and your choreography, you should be on the ballot.” Huh? Other than that, Paula’s scoring was uneventful and very much in line with the rest of the panel. So, let’s get to the dances.

Note: Spoilers ahead if you didn’t watch Monday’s episode.

Kirstie Alley’s “Charleston” kicked off the night, but not without tears and plenty of frustration in rehearsals. Partner Maks Chmerkovskiy had not danced Charleston before, but he had her take some risks with a cartwheel and unique moves. She received praise from Paula and the judges, but finds herself at the bottom of the leaderboard.

Bristol and partner Mark Ballashad “Rock-n-Roll,” a combination of a lindy hop and jive, which Mark claims to have “dumbed down” because Bristol refused to take any risks. Playing it safe is not supposed to be the way to earn points — if you were to take the judges’ advice. Yet, the judges scored them two points higher than Kirstie. Paula gave them the highest score out of the whole panel. Conspiracy? I’d say so.

Cheryl Burke was so out of her comfort zone with the “Bolero” she was assigned with Emmitt Smith that she brought in not one, but four Bolero pros to assist. The over-assist worked, because the judges gushed over the sexiness and precision of their dance.

Peta Murgatroyd was stressed by the “Bollywood” dance and had a semi-breakdown during rehearsals, leading her to bring in a Bollywood expert. Still, a day before the show, she was not convinced she and Gilles Marini could pull it off. The dance that barely came together ultimately earned the first 10s of the season, which nearly brought tears to Gilles’ guyliner-laden eyes. They tie for first place with Shawn and Derek.

The one who couldn’t leave the stress in the rehearsal studio was pro Karina Smirnoff, and she gave us the most dramatic moment of the season thus far. Cursing the “hip hop” style of dance as out of her element, Karina was frustrated throughout rehearsals. She too brought in an outside pro for special assistance. While hip hop seemed to come natural to Apolo Ohno, Karina actually slipped and fell during their performance. For that one split second, it looked like Karina might walk off the floor. But, she got it together and finished what was a great hip hop, full of swagger. She broke down in front of the judges, upset that she let Apolo down. The judges consoled her, assuring her that they are only judging Apolo who they thought was fantastic. Why then, are they third from the bottom? Watch the Hip Hop slip again above.

The “will you just get a room already” dance award goes to Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy. First we have to give them props for pulling off a contemporary dance because nobody knows what that even is. And pulling it off with a broken toe and a fever was quite the accomplishment for Kelly. Perhaps contemporary dancing is similar to courtship, because Kelly was running around in undergarments and what looked to be Val’s shirt. The judges swooned, Kelly cried and Val carried her off to the skybox.

Week 4 Leaderboard (out of 40)
Gilles & Peta 39.5
Shawn & Derek 39.5
Kelly & Val 37.5
Melissa Rycroft & Tony Dovolani 37
Emmitt & Cheryl 36
Sabrina Bryan & Louis VanAmstel 35.5
Apolo & Karina 34.5
Bristol & Mark  32
Kirstie & Maks 30

Jessica Nicole

Who danced off with your vote? Tell us in the comments section below.

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