Dancing With the Stars Week 5 recap: Which Disney night duo should go?

In its fifth week of Season 27, Dancing With the Stars returned to a tried-and-true, feel-good theme: Corporate Synergy Night!

Um, I mean Disney Night! (They’re one in the same, really.)

Looking for a two-hour Disney singalong? Or beloved animated characters superimposed on your TV screen? Or ample appearances from Mickey and Minnie Mouse?

Monday’s broadcast of DWTS had all of that, and it also featured season-best performances from several of the remaining duos. And it all concluded with a fairytale ending: No one was eliminated! (For the record, DeMarcus Ware and Alexis Ren were allegedly in jeopardy, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they weren’t actually in danger of going home.)

Let’s revisit the highlights and lowlights of Disney Night:

Juan Pablo Di Pace and pro Cheryl Burke (Viennese Waltz set to Beauty and the Beast‘s “Gaston”) — I was glad to see Juan Pablo and Cheryl bounce back from last week’s so-so trio dance; they possess some of this season’s best chemistry and technical skill, and it’s a shame when they don’t live up to expectations. This week, though, the duo was completely enchanting to watch — particularly Juan Pablo, who embodied all of Gaston’s cockiness and machismo. Plus, even though Juan Pablo and Cheryl were magnetic on their own, the dance became even more entertaining with the addition of troupe dancers, who seamlessly turned the ballroom into a rowdy pub. Judges’ Score: 29/30

Alexis Ren and pro Alan Bersten (Foxtrot set to Pocahontas‘ “Just Around the Riverbend”) — Regardless of whether Alexis and Alan are forming a behind-the-scenes romance — and Alexis’ endless blushing seemed to indicate they might be — these two seem to have a genuine respect and admiration for each other that naturally spills over into their dances, especially Monday’s foxtrot. Though Alexis tends to be overshadowed by buzzier contestants like Milo and DeMarcus, she is one of the season’s most graceful performers, and it was mesmerizing to watch her glide across the ballroom floor in this routine. Judges’ Score: 29/30

Mary Lou Retton and pro Sasha Farber (Contemporary set to Mulan‘s “Reflection”) — Look, I get that it’s easy to poke fun at Dancing With the Stars. The roster of amateur dancers isn’t exactly full of A-listers, and in the end, they’re all just competing for a goofy trophy. But I enjoy DWTS because it’s so wonderfully uncynical, and there’s no better example of the show’s unabashed joy than when Mary Lou broke down at the end of her performance, reveling in her newfound ability to be vulnerable. Her Mulan-themed contemporary piece may not have been the highest-scored dance of the night, but it certainly had the most emotional authenticity. Judges’ Score: 25/30

Grocery Store Joe and pro Jenna Johnson (Jive set to Ralph Breaks the Internet‘s “Zero”)
— I feel like a jerk for consistently putting Joe in this category, but… the guy is still scoring fives! Sigh. I was really hoping that Monday’s jive would be his breakout moment, given how hard he seemed to be working in rehearsal with Jenna. But after only a few bars of music, Joe had already gotten out of step with his partner, and he struggled to find the synchronization that any good jive needs. Plus, as much as Joe says he enjoys participating in Season 27, there are still moments in each of his dances where he looks embarrassed to be there, and that’s sucking some joy out of his performances. Judges’ Score: 17/30

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