It was being billed by show co-host Tom Bergeron as an “emotional” evening of ballroom action, but “Dancing with the Stars” proved to be heavier on fiery competition and the drama as the leaderboard rankings were shaken up and one professional dancer suffered an injury.
Ballroom bad boy Maksim Chmerkovskiy collapsed to his knees at the start of his rumba with partner Kirstie Alley to “Over the Rainbow” on live television.
Just after he finished the pair’s opening move, which saw him drag Kirstie across the floor, Maks hit the ground, grimacing in pain. His face told the story as he winced as the pair carried on the rest of the number, something which clearly was very painful for the ballroom pro.
“My thigh just gave out,” Maks said after completing the dance. “I’m so sorry.”
Backstage, Maks continued to insist the injury was one of the muscle variety, lest anyone think it was Kirstie’s fault, as he was supporting her weight at the time he appeared to suffer the strain.
“My thighs just gave up. Any dancer would know. It happens. Muscle strain and all that, but it’s nothing to do with her. I apologize,” he said.
While the injury was evident, the pair still managed to finish the dance in the middle of the pack.
“You can’t keep good talent down,” judge Bruno Tonioli said as the couple earned 21/30 points for the night. “Once you got up, it was better than ever.”
While Kirstie and Maks managed to recover, the real winners of the night were pairs Hines Ward and Kym Johnson, and Petra Nemcova and Dmitry Chaplin.
Hines, who like all the contestants, chose a song close to his heart, danced a fun samba to “Fantasy” by Earth, Wind & Fire, a tribute to his single mom, and even a little slip by partner Kym couldn’t keep them from a tying top score of 25/30.
“The samba was like an uplifting expression of happiness,” Bruno said as fans – including Hines’ mother – waved Pittsburgh Steelers towels in the air.
Model Petra, who danced to the Josh Groban song, “You Raise Me Up,” inspired by her experience of being caught in the Thailand tsunami in 2004, and later forming her Happy Hearts Fund, which helps children and rebuilds schools after natural disasters, had judge Len Goodman raving.
“For me, at this moment, you’re the one,” he said. “That was beautiful.”
As for Ralph Macchio, who was celebrating his 24th wedding anniversary to wife Phyllis (who was in the audience alongside their teenage son Daniel this week), he lost his leaderboard top spot, but still managed to pull in a decent score.
His rumba to “Stay Gold,” the song played at his wedding and also the theme from Ralph’s career-launching film, “The Outsiders,” with his professional partner, Karina Smirnoff, was branded “sweet” by judge Carrie Ann Inaba, as the pair took 21/30 points.
Here’s how the rest of the pack did:
Wendy Williams and Tony Dovolani performed a foxtrot to “Last Night A DJ Saved My Life,” earning 15/30.
Chelsea Kane was branded “a little baby Julianne” after her cha cha with Mark Ballas to “Chelsea,” a song written for her by her first love, Brian Dales from Arizona band The Summer Set. The pair earned 23/30.
Chris Jericho and Cheryl Burke danced the rumba to “Let It Be” in honor of Chris’ mother, who passed away, but loved dancing. They scored 21/30.
Kendra Wilkinson and Louis van Amstel performed a rumba to the Musiq Soulchild song “You and Me” in honor of her husband, Hank Baskett. It earned them a score of 23/30.
Romeo and Chelsie Hightower did a rumba to “I’ll Be There,” in a tribute to two of his relatives who passed away. They earned 20/30.
Sugar Ray Leonard bounced back, dancing a paso doble with Anna Trebunskaya to “My Prerogative,” which was scored 20/30.