Dancing With the Stars: Juniors recap: The kids dance through the decades - EW.com thumbnail
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Dancing With the Stars: Juniors recap: The kids dance through the decades – EW.com

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Wasn’t having the tiny contestants dance to songs from their birth year enough of a reminder about how young they are and how old we are? Apparently not, as the juniors hop into time machines and learn about different decades (okay and one gets sent to the future). You know, far away times like the 1980s! Shattering my ego one more time aside, this is a perfect theme for the kiddos. The themes and stories around their dances are a little out of their comfort zones, plus some of them are learning a little history. You know, like the fact that Angelina Jolie is not an actress from the 1940s. Plus, we get to see Jordan Fisher and Frankie Muniz dance the Macarena with Honey Boo Boo to celebrate the 1990s and for that, one can never be grateful enough.

Miles Brown and Rylee Arnold (1950s)
Mentor: Lindsay Arnold
Jive, “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley & His Comets
Miles does his homework this week (see children, even this boy who is dancing all week has time to do some homework) and learns a few fun 1950s factoids that even stump his mentor, Lindsay. Bless Miles for this exchange: When he tells his team that frozen dinners were invented in the ’50s, Lindsay asks what people did before frozen dinners. His response? “They cooked dinner.” Aside from great ’50s facts, Miles and Rylee perform an I Love Lucy themed jive and it is easily one of their best dances. Miles is super sharp in his flicks and kicks and their side-by-side sections are so in sync it’s insane. I’m glad Val gives Rylee a shout out for being a great partner — she kills it in this routine. Hopefully, Miles celebrated with a frozen dinner after. Or not. Those things can be questionable.
Judges’ Score: 28/30

Mackenzie Ziegler and Sage Rosen (1980s) 
Mentor: Gleb Savchenko
Jazz, “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen
All the incredible music from the 1980s and they go with…”Call Me Maybe”? Don’t get me wrong, it’s an excellent song and has an ’80s vibe to it (couldn’t you see Debbie Gibson rocking this?), but like, pick an ’80s song! I appreciate the crimped hair but it’s not enough! Apparently, Gleb is asking for a lot more from his team this week, too. Mackenzie is a great (trained) dancer, so he is pushing her to be better and more focused. He’s tough, we know this. The routine is fun and it looks like a box of crayons vomited on the ballroom floor (v. ’80s), but the judges want more from Mackenzie, too. Adam and Val want to be emotionally moved — and the leg warmers just aren’t cutting it. Mandy points out a few clumsy turns and missteps, but she also compliments their hitch kick. If you want anyone praising your hitch kick, it’s Mandy Moore.
Judges Score: 26/30

Mandla Morris and Brightyn Brems (Future)
Mentor: Cheryl Burke
Paso Doble, “Gangsta’s Paradise” by 2WEI 
Okay, how long did it take you to realize that Mandla and Brightyn’s futuristic paso (what, no one wanted to disco through the ’70s?) was set to an epic orchestral version of Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise”? What an awesome song choice. Mandla’s job this week is to be strong, imposing, and aggressive — the paso is the matador’s dance, after all. He mostly accomplishes that! Val has some notes about wanting more “fight,” but Mandy points out that Mandla had absolutely no dance training coming into this, so the fact that he can get the shaping and lunging down so well is a true feat. Adam is also a big fan: “If this is what paso looks like in the future, I’m not mad at it,” he says. I mean, here’s hoping this is what the future looks like, right? At the very least, can the shiny hooded capes be there?
Judges’ Score: 24/30

Ariana Greenblatt and Artyon Celestine (1940s)
Mentor: Brandon Armstrong
Quickstep, “Classic” by MKTO
Yet another interesting song choice for the assigned decade, but really we need to talk about Ariana naming Angelina Jolie as her example of “Old Hollywood.” I know these kids are young — how can you forget? — but this really hit hard. At least post-dance she names Audrey Hepburn as her favorite actress. We’re getting closer! Quickstep is a tough dance for a tiny dancer — so much of it needs to be in frame — but Ariana and Arty make it look easy. Brandon’s choreography is great and blends the modern with the 1940s in clever ways (that side-by-side as they pretend to be in-frame? I’m dead). The judges don’t have much to say, mainly just agreeing that this is a hard style to be handed, but like, thanks for coming, judges?
Judges’ Score: 27/30

Sky Brown and JT Church (1920s)
Mentor: Alan Bersten
Charleston, “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got)” by Fergie & Q-Tip & GoonRock
Now, this is the way to pick a modern song to go with a retro style. Sure, did Baz Luhrmann make it easy on them? Yes, but who cares? The Charleston is the perfect party dance and Sky and JT don’t skimp on the party. The routine is fast but never chaotic, and Sky seems in control the entire time. The girl got her Charleston swivel down. Mandy warns about getting ahead and behind the beat a few times, but overall the judges are big fans of Sky and JT. How could you not be when she continues to tell kids inspiring things like “If you want to do something, just do it.” Sure, she stole that from Nike, but she doesn’t know that!
Judges’ Score: 27/30

We’re headed into the semi-finals next week, so this is a tough cut — they’re so close to winning that trophy! Unfortunately, this week we say goodbye to Mandla and Brightyn, as Team Cheryl is sent home. Now that we’re down to the final four, who do you think has a shot at taking this baby home?

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