Ann Oldenburg, USA TODAY
What's in store for our seven celebs during Week 7 of Dancing With the All-Stars?
A reprieve, for starters. This week is proving to be a lucky No. 7 for the dancers because Monday's episode (ABC, 8 ET/PT) is a regular two-hour performance show, one that ABC initially said would end with a live (instant) elimination.
But that idea was nixed, as homes on the East Coast are still without power and that affects voting, as it did last week (when we heard from many of our readers who felt it was unfair that high-scoring Sabrina Bryan was sent home). Host Tom Bergeron announced that no celeb will be eliminated this week. And there is no results show Tuesday, as the presidential election takes over the airwaves.
Tonight, our seven remaining stars will be dancing two, two, two dances in one. It's Fusion Night.
We checked in with USA TODAY blogger Mark Ballas, who was left partner-less when Bristol Palin was sent packing in the fourth week of competition. He'll be filling in for Shawn Johnson's injured pro partner Derek Hough, who is battling neck pain and a bulging-disc problem.
Mark tells us that the biggest challenge in fusion dancing is the "transition between the dances." The key is "how you go from paso from tango, how you choreograph it to make it look smooth."
Last week, the stars chose the fusion styles for each other. Here's what to expect:
Shawn Johnson. Not only was Mark Shawn's partner for her championship Season 8, but Mark and Derek are longtime pals and veteran dancers, so the Olympian is in very good hands. "Derek and I are foster brothers," Mark reminded us. "He grew up with me, he has lived with me since he was 9 years old. We went to high school together, college together. We've seen each other for the last 15, 16 years. He's the blond version of me. I'm the brunette version of him. This is the ideal situation." Mark says Derek has been at rehearsals coaching them through the dance. Mark also says, "Fusion is my forte." In fact, he says he'll be showcasing those skills in a separate dance on the show. And, he says, Shawn's knee, which needed to be iced last week, is "fine" and "she is doing great" with the dance. So it's safe to say we should expect an aggressive tango mixed with a passionate paso doble.
Melissa Rycroft. The reality-show star will dance a tango/cha cha with partner Tony Dovolani. Last week, she said her neck was still hurting her, so we know she's nursing that. Will she be able to pull off the sharp head-flicking required for the tango? No doubt she'll make up for it with sharp hip-wiggling in her cha cha.
Gilles Marini. The sexy actor is being tasked with mixing an Argentine tango and samba. He tweeted this week, "Yep! #Fusion dance is a B*%^# but I love challenges;)" We're sure he and pro partner Peta Murgatroyd will tackle it with no trouble.
Kirstie Alley. The actress has been busy this week organizing to send food and supplies to the New York area, so she has been distracted. But she and partner Maks Chmerkovskiy will dance a quickstep/samba. In Guilty Pleasure week, Kirstie struggled with the quickstep during rehearsals, but got raves and decent scores from the judges. Her samba will be sassy for sure. It'll be up to Maks to seamlessly mix the two.
Emmitt Smith. Look out. The NFL star and pro partner Cheryl Burke are going to dance a rumba/samba combo. Their dance is guaranteed to ooze with sex appeal, as Smith has proved in the past he's a pro with the Latin dances. However, Emmitt did tweet a photo of himself at the chiropractor on Thursday. Let's hope he was just getting a tune-up.
Kelly Monaco. The soap star and partner Val Chmerkovskiy must fuse a cha cha with a foxtrot, which could be challenging, as one requires a smooth progression around the ballroom and the other requires syncopation and swiveling moves. She, too, paid a visit to the chiropractor this week, she tweeted. But no matter what her aches and pains, her chemistry with Val will likely still be strong. Val announced on Twitter this week that he's donating a portion of his Dancing salary to Sandy relief efforts.
Apolo Anton Ohno. The speed skater and partner Karina Smirnoff will be mixing a cha cha with a paso doble. "Loving this fusion dance," tweeted Karina. Apolo tweeted that he was getting "into character. El Matador Ohno." We're guessing it'll be no problem for them.