Kate Gosselin Overcomes Custody Drama To Impress Judges On 'Dancing With The Stars'

Kate Gosselin smiles as the 'Dancing with the Stars' judges praise her tango with Tony Dovolani (left), Kate and Tony tango (right), April 12, 2010 Kate Gosselin smiles as the 'Dancing with the Stars' judges praise her tango with Tony Dovolani (left), Kate and Tony tango (right), April 12, 2010

Kate Gosselin’s custody battle with ex-husband Jon Gosselin may have caused a hiccup in the reality mom’s tango rehearsals, but when it came down to performance time, the star managed to bring her game face to Monday night’s “Dancing with the Stars.”

The mother of eight and her professional dancing partner, Tony Dovolani, whipped out a slow, but mostly technically accurate, tango – to a “DWTS” version of Adam Lambert’s “For Your Entertainment.”

After the dance, for the first time since the show started last month, Kate found herself on the receiving end of supportive comments from the judging panel.

“We’re having a mini-breakthrough tonight,” judge Bruno Tonioli commented. “At the moment, I actually believe you were dancing. The penny has dropped. Tough love works for you.”

He warned, however, that the TLC star needs to continue her training.

“Don’t get too excited,” Bruno added after Kate smiled. “The technique is still very, very bad, but you’re actually starting to move out there. Keep going.”

The rest of the panel mirrored Bruno’s comments and the pair’s score reflected the dual message.

Kate and Tony took home 14 out of 30 for their technical score and 18 out of 30 for their performance score for a total of 32 out of 60, the lowest score of the evening. (“DWTS” announced last week each pair would receive two scores).

While Kate made improvements, footage from rehearsals showed that her training was nearly derailed after news broke last week that Jon was filing for custody of the former couple’s bunch of eight children, blaming the reality star’s “DWTS” schedule as keeping her from her kids.

“That’s how I’ve been living for two years. Every day, there is something huge,” Kate told Tony during a particularly tough rehearsal moment. “I wake [up] and check the news first thing in the morning to see what my day is gonna bring me… what hell I’m gonna go through. I mean, this is custody stuff playing out in public and that’s what I’m talking about. That’s what I bring here and I can’t let go.”

Having clearly mended fences after their rehearsal spat two weeks ago, Tony took an encouraging stance with his partner.

“You’re there to prove a point. If you can’t let go, he wins. Does that make sense to you? Will you let that happen?” he asked.

It appears she didn’t because following their “DWTS” tango, Kate showed a renewed spirit for competition and asked the public to vote to keep her.

“I want to keep going,” she told show co-host Brooke Burke. “I want to learn more. It’s good.”

While Kate’s personal drama was a major focus of the show, as for the actual dancing, it was Olympic men’s figure skating gold medalist Evan Lysacek and his professional partner, redhead Anna Trebunskaya, who topped the leaderboard for the second week in a row.

The determined athlete and his partner churned out an intense and sexy tango that had judge Bruno Tonioli in awe.

“Strong, powerful, with a hint of cat-like arrogance,” he said as the pair scored 26 out of 30 for their technical moves and an equal score for their performance.

Their total score (52 out of 60) put them steps ahead of the competition.

Not far behind though was Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger and Derek Hough.

The two nabbed 25 points for their technical score and 25 for their performance score putting them at a hearty 50 out of 60, after showing off some smooth rhumba moves.

“Beautiful to watch always,” Bruno noted.

Here’s how the rest of the pack did:

ESPN’s Erin Andrews and Maksim Chmerkovskiy performed a tango, which judge Len Goodman said was “brilliant” to start, but faltered as the dance went on, leaving the pair with an 18 out of 30 in their technical score and 21 out of 30 in their performance score for a total of 39 out of 60.

Comedienne Niecy Nash and Louis van Amstel gave a slow and graceful rhumba in tribute to Niecy’s late brother, but Bruno said it needed more color. The disappointed pair scored just 18 out of 30 for their technical score and the same number for their performance score for a total of 36 out of 60.

It was worse news for “All My Children” hunk Aiden Turner and Edyta Sliwinska whose rhumba to Kris Allen’s “Live Like We’re Dying” – one of three covers of songs by “American Idol” artists in the evening (likely in response to Simon Cowell’s recent barb against the “DWTS” band) – netted just 15 out of 30 on their technical marks and 18 out of 30 for their performance score for a total of 33 out of 60.

Former “Bachelor” Jake Pavelka and Chelsie Hightower showed off a tango. Jake slipped at one point and the scores reflected the misstep – a 19 out of 30 for the technical score and the same for the performance score for a total of 38 out of 60.

Fairing better was Bengals star Chad Ochocinco and his partner, Cheryl Burke, who performed the rhumba. Chad’s improved moves got the pair 21 out of 30 on their technical score and 23 out of 30 on their performance score for a total of 44 out of 60.

Finally, Pamela Anderson and Damian Whitewood closed out the show with another rhumba, and the former “Baywatch” babe was praised by the judging panel.

“Quiet, it was understated, it had sophistication,” Len said as the two netted 23 out of 30 for their technical score and 24 out of 30 for their performance score for a total of 47 out of 60.

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