The competition is getting tougher on "Dancing With the Stars."
Ahead of next week's semi-finals, the six remaining celebrities tonight each had to perform two individual dance routines - one with his or her regular dance pro partner, and a second with another professional dancer added.
At the end of the show, Disney star Zendaya was in the lead, having earned the first perfect score of the season for her trio routine, and "The Bachelor" star Sean Lowe was in last place.
The star with the lowest combined tally of judges' scores and viewers' votes will be eliminated from the competition on Tuesday.
Also tonight, viewers were asked to tweet their choice of dance style for an upcoming performance for each of the remaining competitors. The choices were hip hop, lindy hop, afro jazz, the Charleston, disco and flamenco.
This is the ABC show's 16th season.
Zendaya: The Disney's star's whimsical foxtrot won judges over. Head judge Len Goodman called the routine "a pretty dance," adding: "I'm telling you, (in) this competition, the longer it goes on the harder it gets. In your case, the longer it goes on, the stronger you get." Bruno Tonioli called Zendaya's performance "pure, graceful, light," telling her she was "like a breath of fresh air." Carrie Ann Inaba said she thought the beginning of the routine was a "little weak" but said later parts of the routine took her breath away. Zendaya earned 28 out of a possible 30 points.
Sean Lowe: The reality TV star turned in a tango that failed to impress judges. Inaba pointed out that after marked improvement last week, Lowe seemed to have gone back to an inconsistent delivery and failure to keep time. Tonioli agreed, telling Lowe that he started out "extremely well" but then "lost the footwork." Goodman's critique was the strongest: "Well, it had plenty of punch and attack. It was sharp and it was powerful. The thing was … you went for so much attack you lost the fluidity. It was, you know, the quality of movement was gone. … It wasn't a great dance. It was a little bit ugly," he said. Lowe earned 21 points.
Jacoby Jones: Judges raved over the Baltimore Ravens' wide receiver's smooth Viennese waltz. Inaba called it "absolutely stunning," adding: "It was such a nice surprise to see you come out here with beautiful posture, elegance and grace." Goodman, who has often faulted Jones' footwork, had high praise for the performance. "I loved it!" he said. While Tonioli thought Jones may have lost it for a brief moment, he commended the football player for making a difficult dance look effortless. Jones earned 27 points.
Ingo Rademacher: In video of the rehearsals, Rademacher appeared overwhelmed by the pace of the last week's practice, but the foxtrot he delivered tonight drew positive comments from all three judges. "I loved the musical interpretation of that great Sinatra number," Goodman said, and while he acknowledged that Rademacher's arms could have been softer and footwork stronger, he added: "I'm telling you, all that moaning and groaning and you come out - I loved it!" Tonioli said Rademacher put in the work and it showed, and Inaba said Rademacher showed his best posture in this routine. She also said he had an ease of movement that was reminiscent of Gene Kelly, the legendary actor and dancer. Rademacher earned 24 points.
Kellie Pickler: The country music star peformed a light, elegant Viennese waltz in honor of her late grandmother. Tonioli praised her technique and called her performance "a thing of beauty." Inaba, who had previously faulted Pickler for not being connected enough emotionally to her routines, said she noticed a difference in tonight's performance. "I do believe that dance without emotion is just a bunch of steps and today I definitely saw that you went beyond the steps … this is what I'm looking for and this, to me, is the key to unlocking you as a winner, and you have something incredible," Inaba said. Goodman said the routine could have used a few more heel leads, but acknowledged that to be a minor flaw. "It was sophisticated, it had an effortless ease about it, lovely lyrical movement going on, oceans of motions throughout the dance … lovely dancing, well done," he said. Pickler earned 28 points.
Aly Rasiman: The Olympic gymnast's Argentine tango earned her high praise from judges, who found the routine sultry and passionate. "It had mood, it had atmosphere … it was smooth, it was seductive, it was terrific," Goodman said. Tonioli teased: "I had no idea you could be so good at being bad." Inaba saw a minor flaw with Raisman's lifts but said she'd transformed into a passionate dancer. Raisman earned 29 points.
In this second round of dances for the night, each star and his or her pro partner were joined either by a pro who has been eliminated this season or by a member of the show's troupe.
Zendaya: Judges approved of the Zendaya's trio dance - a sassy salsa with partner Val Chmerkovskiy and pro Gleb Savchenko. Goodman said the routine properly showcased Zendaya's skill, and Tonioli called it "a star turn, sizzling and dazzling and amazing." Inaba called Zendaya "the queen of salsa," adding that she loved the choreography. Zendaya earned 30 points - the first perfect score of the season.
Sean Lowe: Lowe channeled a magician with his partner, Peta Murgatroyd, and pro Sharna Burgess, as his lovely assistants, but the fast jazz routine had many flaws in judges' eyes. "Oh, plenty of magic with a little bit of tragic," said Tonioli, adding that he wished he hadn't looked at Lowe's feet. Inaba agreed with Tonioli, saying Lowe was out of synch with the music too many times, but adding that she loved his exuberance and commending him for attempting such a challenging routine. Goodman repeated his critique of Lowe's first dance of the night, saying there was attack - but at the expense of style. Lowe earned 21 points.
Jacoby Jones: Jones, his partner, Karina Smirnoff, and pro Cheryl Burke, performed a paso doble that drew a standing ovation, but Inaba thought Jones may have been too aggressive with his partners. She said she "felt sorry" for Burke, adding that Jones needed a little more finesse, but Goodman appreciated the strength. "This isn't a dance floor tonight. This is a bull ring, and I'm telling you, you came out with fantastic presence. … I loved it!" Tonioli said the routine was raw and powerful, but pointed out that Jones' hips weren't properly held for the style of dance he was doing. Jones earned 25 points.
Ingo Rademacher: Rademacher - with Kym Johnson and Lindsay Arnold - performed a bubbly jive that both Goodman and Tonioli said needed sharper kicks. Goodman, though, said Rademacher communicated the essence of the jive - speed, fun and effervescence. "I liked it. Well done," he said. Inaba agreed that it was a little flat-footed, but also found it fun. Rademacher earned 24 points.
Kellie Pickler: Pickler's dark, dramatic paso doble - with partner Derek Hough and pro Tristan MacManus - caused heated dissent among the judges. Tonioli said it had "high art and high drama," adding that it was absolutely entertaining, and Inaba loved it so much she came down from the judges' podium to give Pickler a hug, but Goodman's reaction was the exact opposite. "I was expecting more than flashing lights and crashing music. It was a hodgepodge of moves just out there to titillate the taste buds," he said, asking about specific moves that he felt were missing from the routine. "I can't believe it," he added, his voice rising. "This girl is so talented. I don't want to see flashing lights, crashing music. I wanted a paso doble … ." She earned 27 points.
Aly Raisman: Raisman, her partner, Mark Ballas, and troupe member Henry Byalikov, performed a stylish jive that pleased the judges. Inaba told Raisman she was a little flat-footed and lost the music right at the start of the routine, but said the gymnast was demonstrating consistent improvement. Goodman said Raisman, Ballas and Byalikov were "a great combination. That was a terrific number, well done," he said. Tonioli said Raisman had grown as a performer. Judges awarded her 27 points.
The Scores (First routine, second routine, grand total):
Zendaya and Val Chmerkovskiy: 28, 30: Total: 58/60
Aly Raisman and Mark Ballas: 29, 27: Total: 56
Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough: 28; 27: Total: 55
Jacoby Jones and Karina Smirnoff: 27, 25: Total: 52
Ingo Rademacher and Kym Johnson: 24, 24: Total: 48
Sean Lowe and Peta Murgatroyd: 21, 21: Total: 42
- Carrie Ann Inaba
- Len Goodman
- Bruno Tonioli
- Sean Lowe
- Ingo Rademacher
- Jacoby Jones
- Kellie Pickler