In Aly Raisman's contemporary routine with partner Mark Ballas Monday on “Dancing With the Stars,” the Olympic gold medalist and Needham native demonstrated her athleticism while delivering an emotional performance, a feat that earned her the highest score of the night with 27 points from the judges.
Raisman drew inspiration from her training for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. "Everything you sacrifice, all those hard days were worth it," Raisman said during the "Most Memorable Year"-themed episode. Dancing to the song "Titanium," Raisman wore a bold, crimson costume as she lingered in poses that showcased her strength, and flipped across the floor in the spirit of her Olympic routines."Forget about titanium. You're going for gold, my darling," judge Bruno Tonioli said.
"For you, perfection of movement is all you know, and contemporary dance is not about perfection of movement, it's about perfection of emotion," judge Carrie Ann Inaba said, explaining she was proud of Raisman for being expressive.
As for judge Len Goodman, he said, "I think that was a dance of an Olympic champion."
Meanwhile, Disney star Zendaya and partner Val Chmerkovskiy tied with country singer Kellie Pickler and partner Derek Hough with 26 points each. Zendaya danced a spirited samba to Beyonce's "Love on Top" (she was first inspired by the singer in 2009 when she attended one of Beyonce's concerts). "I'm going to pull out my inner Beyonce," she said. And that she did wearing a classy black and white ensemble that gave the 16-year-old a sophisticated look. "I love my Beyonce, but honey, you were baby Beyonce," Inaba said. "The way you worked that music girl, Beyonce better watch her back."
While Goodman offered more critical feedback, saying she needed to work on straightening her legs, Tonioli said, "You've got it, oh baby, you've got it. You really are star power."
Pickler's motivation for her rumba was her 2011 wedding to Kyle Jacobs. She danced to the song "Say I do," which her husband wrote for her, telling viewers in an interview before her routine that she and Jacobs got married in the water at the beach on what was one of the most incredible days of her life.
Other memorable moments include Andy Dick's dance that he dedicated to his daughter, a routine that brought Inaba to tears. "Real Housewives" star Lisa Vanderpump decided to go ahead with her routine 15 minutes before she was scheduled to take the dance floor. Vanderpump collapsed during a rehearsal because of illness, but she was determined to continue. The judges agreed she gave it her best shot despite being under rehearsed.
With each pair earning 18 points, Vanderpump and partner Gleb Savchenko tied in the bottom with Victor Ortiz and partner Lindsay Arnold.
Raisman and the other contestants will learn if they will move on to the next round during Tuesday’s show at 9 p.m. on ABC.
What are your thoughts on Monday's show? Who should be sent home? Do you agree with Aly's top score?
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Rachel Raczka is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at Boston.com.
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Michael Brodeur is the assistant arts editor for the Boston Globe, covering pop music, TV, and nightlife.