Dancing with the Stars: Series flagging as Dreaded Dance Off looms

No eliminations this week, it was partner switch-up night, or ‘like going on a Tinder date’

"I feel like I'm going on a Tinder date," says a nervous Erin McGregor during rehearsals for Dancing with the Stars' Switch Up Week. Technically, at week six, we are at the halfway mark of the series so our stars are paired up with a different dancer to put some spice back into their samba, rumble back into their rumba, some va-va-voom back into – oh! hang on a second, we're reading one of host Nicky Byrne's scripts.

While there are no eliminations this week – our dancing celebs can loosen up a little – but they can’t go totally lax as this week’s points and votes carry over to next week’s show which will feature The Dreaded Dance Off.

The dance off ultimately returns the power to the judges as the two couples at the bottom of the leaderboard, based on the judges' scores and the public vote, will have to dance for their favour to make it through to the next week. In doing so, it tightens up the competition as it removes the popularity contest element to Dancing with the Stars.

The dance off will more than likely put Marty Morrissey and Bernard O'Shea's places in jeopardy as the judges have stated they value high talent over hijinks.


And about time too. This series is flagging and in a repeat of last year, good dancers have been sent home while some with two left feet are voted through to dance another day.

A little ‘clipped’

McGregor is first to take to the floor tonight, dancing the quickstep to Life's About to Get Good by Shania Twain with John Nolan. Scoring 20 points, her Tinder nerves were for nothing because, new partner or not, she continues on as usual; resiliently and with purpose.

Nicking McGregor's usual partner is camogie player Anna Geary, who is performing that most sensual of dances – the Viennese Waltz – with tonight's date Ryan McShane. When judge Brian Redmond says her performance was a little "clipped", McShane jumps in to defend her and says that she has been under marked every week. Take that, judges! Scoring 22 points, she sticks to the top half of the leaderboard for another week.

As the judges draw a partner for Marty Morrissey, who has scored the lowest points for the last three weeks, judge Loraine Barry wants someone nurturing but someone who will also "crack the whip". Enter Emily Barker. Jiving to Crocodile Rock by Elton John, Morrissey stomps around but scoring 14 points, the judges are A-OK with his shuffle.

In the biggest switch up of the show, 2FM presenter Bernard O'Shea steps into Morrissey's shoes by scoring 13, this week's low score. Dancing the Charleston with Karen Byrne, O'Shea remains the show's best entertainer with the invention of a new dance involving Byrne's ponytail that we shall call The Giddy Up.

Pop star Jake Carter’s switch up samba with Valeria Milova not only puts his abs on display – again – but it also ups his ante as a performer and Redmond goes as far as declaring that he danced “very well”. Such high praises reaps a high score of 24.

Using the three key characteristics of tango – legato, staccato and rubato – model Alannah Beirne and Kai Widdrington impress the judges and they to top this evening’s leaderboard with 27 points.

Flipped and flung

Bringing some dramatics to the dance floor, comedian Deirdre O'Kane is flipped and flung about by Vitali Kozmin for their bewitching American Smooth to Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush. "Never mind Wuthering Heights, tonight you reached new heights, my darling," coos Benson, before dishing out 26 points.

Where O'Kane brings the dramatics, Olympian race walker Rob Heffernan delivers some smooth moves during his quickstep with Ksenia Zsikhotska to Gregory Porter's cover of L-O-V-E. "When I look at you," purrs Barry, "you look like an absolutely perfect ballroom dancer." Perfect as he may look, the judges score him a disappointing 16.

With just eight celebrities left in the game, they are clearly split into excellent dancers and wedding dancers. This week’s highest scorers – Beirne, O’Kane, Carter and Geary – are proving to be consistent in their routines, with McGregor slipping slightly behind. With the return of The Dreaded Dance Off next week, these close calls are no longer a warning but they will become crucial as the competition cracks it up a notch.