Monday night’s “Dancing With the Stars” episode was an emotional one. No one was given the boot — that’ll happen Tuesday night (April 3) with the second elimination of the season — but the theme was “most memorable year,” and the celebrity contestants got deep and personal. And then some.
At the top of the pack was singer Katherine Jenkins, who took us back to 1996 — the year she learned her dad had lung cancer. She and her partner Mark Ballas did the waltz, and by the end of the routine, she was in tears. And she wasn’t alone. Judge Carrie Ann Inaba cried with her and told her the dance was like magic. She scored the first pair of 10s of the season, earning 29/30.
Here’s how everyone else fared:
William Levy and Cheryl Burke
The sexy soap star picked 1995, which was the year he arrived in the U.S. from his native Cuba. He told the story of his stepdad, who was a political prisoner before finding asylum in the States. His salsa impressed the judges. “You put a whole new meaning into free Willy!” head judge Len Goodman told him. 28/30
Maria Menounos and Derek Hough
The TV host picked 1988 as her most memorable year. That’s when she was 10 years old and realized just how hard her Greek-immigrant parents worked to make a better life for their children. She did the rumba to a slow version of Madonna’s “Material Girl,” and the judges loved her sensual routine. Hard-to-please Goodman told her the dance was “a mix of the ballroom with a touch of the bedroom.” 27/30
Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd
The football star picked 2010, which was when his best friend died of cancer. In his video before he performed live, he became teary-eyed, saying, “I can never get it out of my mind because he died in my arms.” He danced the rumba, and Inaba said she was touched by his story and performance. Goodman thought the dance was top-notch. 26/30
Jaleel White and Kym Johnson
The moment old-school TV nerds have been waiting for: White picked the year he got to play Stefan Urquelle, the alter ego to his longtime nerdy character Steve Urkel on “Family Matters.” He took on the rumba, and the judges said that he was back in the game and improved greatly from last week’s performance. Judge Bruno Tonioli called him cool and smooth. 25/30
Roshon Fegan’s and Chelsie Hightower
The Disney kid picked 1996, which is the year that he saw his idol and legend Michael Jackson onstage. He danced the samba, and Goodman said he had flair, but Inaba took issue with his timing, saying it was off. 25/30
Melissa Gilbert and Maks Chmerkovskiy
The actress picked 2010, the year that she fell and broke her back. She called the experience gut-wrenching and tearfully explained that following the accident, she could barely walk, much less dance. She danced the jive, and Goodman said she was back in the competition. 24/30
Gladys Knight and Tristan MacManus
The soul legend picked 1957 because it was the year of her first tour and the year she met James Brown. She said it was the beginning of her career education and that it was a happy memory, not a sad one. She did the foxtrot to a Sam Cook song — noting that Cook taught her about performing back in the day — and Inaba thought the dance was sensuous and soulful. Tonioli said he thought she performed it with grace. 24/30
Sherri Shepard and Val Chmerkovskiy
The talk-show co-host picked 2005, the year her son Jeffrey was born, weighing only 1 pound, 10 ounces. She cried, saying that she was so thankful, considering that the prognosis at the time was that he might have cerebral palsy and paralysis. She danced the rumba, with Goodman saying he appreciated the emotion she put into the dance. 24/30
Jack Wagner and Anna Trebunskaya
The actor picked a more recent year: 2011. He said that was the year he met a daughter — she’s 23 now — that he never knew he had. He danced the samba, crying still. Goodman said he like the rhythm and said it was his best dance so far. 24/30
Gavin DeGraw and Karina Smirnoff
The singer picked 1998 because he moved to New York City that year to give it a go as a musician. Inaba said her heart got all fluttery watching him. The judges overall thought he was progressing. 24/30
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