Contestants vie for mirrorball trophy


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“Dancing with the Stars” contestant Sharna Burgess appears at the release of “Just Dance 4” on Oct. 12, 2012.

Contestants took the stage with eye-catching and frightening costumes to kick-off the eighth week and Halloween episode of Dancing with the Stars on ABC.  Tension could be seen on the faces of the contestants as they prepared to present their dance routines to the audience and television viewers across the country for the Mirrorball Trophy.

Prior to the Halloween episode, pro-dancer Sharna Burgess was instructed by medical professionals to take three to six weeks off due to a flare-up of a former knee reconstruction.  Due to her injury, she was unable to participate in the Oct. 31 performance. Fellow professional dancer Jenna Johnson took her place to dance with Sharna’s partner, James Hinchcliffe.

In spirit of the spooky holiday, Jenna and James danced as Harley Quinn and the Joker from “Suicide Squad” in their Viennese Waltz set to “You Don’t Own Me” by Grace featuring G-Eazy. As the couple performed their dance, Sharna cheered for her co-stars from the sidelines.

Judge Bruno Tonioli praised Hinchcliffe for his easy transition to his new dance partner, and was awarded 10-10-10 from the judges, giving the couple a perfect score of 30 points. The couple also earned five extra points and immunity from the Dance Off, and tied for first place at the top of the leader board.

Laurie Hernandez, Olympic gymnast, and her partner, professional dancer Val Chmerkovskiy, also danced the Viennese Waltz for their performance, dressed as Charlie and Willie Wonka from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Ending the emotional week between the two dancers, the judges gave the couple 10-10-10 resulting in a perfect score of 30 as well, tying with Jenna and James at the top of the leader board for the week.

Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte and his mentor Cheryl Burke danced the tango, and knew they had to pick up their performance due to their consistent placement at the bottom of the leader board. Lochte was critiqued for the position of his shoulders and lack of grace, resulting in scores of 7-8-8 by the judges, for a total of 23 points.

Couples Lochte and Burke and actress Marilu Henner and Derek Hough competed in an intense Dance Off, giving the judges and fans nationwide the opportunity to choose the winner. Judges Carrie Ann and Julianne voted Lochte and Burke the winners, but Bruno voted Henner and Hough the dominant couple in the Dance Off. America agreed with Carrie Ann and Julianne, as 58 percent voted Lochte and Burke the winners.

Two couples were placed in jeopardy at the end of the night: Terra Jole, star from “Little Women: LA,” and her partner Sasha Farber, and Lochte and Burke. Although winning the Dance Off earlier in the show, Lochte and Burke were eliminated from the competition as were their chances of winning the Mirrorball Trophy.