Overall, the majority of the dancers stepped up their game, with some earning their best scores of the season.
The evening began with frontrunner Kristi Yamaguchi, who was advised by judge Bruno Tonioli last week to find her inner "dirty girl" and show more passion on the dance floor
This week the Olympic skating champion delivered in a sizzling paso doble that earned her a 29 out of 30 from the judges, including 10s from Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba.
Actress Priscilla Presley and her professional partner were up next, dancing an elegant Viennese waltz. Unfortunately, Presley's feet came off the ground when her partner was supposed to be dragging her across the floor. The judges took off points because lifts are not allowed, leaving her with a score of 22.
Radio personality Adam Carolla began his paso doble dressed as Zorro and riding on a unicycle. The judges said no amount of gimmicks could hide his lack of technique. Carolla scored 19 points, landing him in last place.
Actress Marlee Matlin performed a gentle Viennese waltz which brought judge Carrie Ann Inaba to tears.
"Something about that performance took my breath away, and it truly touched me," she said.
Matlin and her partner earned a 24 for the dance.
R&B star Mario, an early favorite in the competition, faltered last week in the tango. This week his paso doble pleased Inaba and Tonioli, but judge Len Goodman said that the young singer has shown no variation in his dance routines. Mario earned a 24, an improvement over last week's score of 21.
Jason Taylor showed a stunning amount of grace and elegance in his Viennese waltz, all the more impressive considering he's a 6'6," 255 pound defensive end for the Miami Dolphins football team.
"She's much better looking than the guys I play against," Taylor joked, expaining how his professional partner, Edyta Sliwinska, has made his transition from the gridiron to the dance floor an easy one.
Inaba and Tonioli were so impressed that they each gave him a 10, even though he stumbled once during the routine. Goodman gave him a 9, tying Taylor with Yamaguchi in first place at 29 points.
Chilean actor Cristian De La Fuente dedicated his fiery paso doble to his Spanish grandfather. "My grandfather was born in Bilbao 110 years ago and I wanted to dance this for him because I never met him," he said. He earned 26 points, the best score he's received so far.
Shannon Elizabeth and her partner Derek Hough, who's recovering from a neck injury, danced a lovely Viennese waltz. "For me, that was the best dance we've seen tonight," said Goodman. Their score was 28, including a 10 from Goodman.
Tony-winning actress Marissa Jaret Winokur disappointed in last week's jive, landing in last place with 19 points in a dance that should have been a breeze for the bubbly "Hairspray" star.
This week, Winokur morphed into a sultry flamenco dancer, executing the paso doble with precision and passion. "We saw a different aspect of you that we haven't seen before," said Tonioli, "that is the way to go."
Winokur earned a 24, her best score to date.
One couple will be voted off the show on Tuesday's results show, which will include a performance by Sheryl Crow.
Next week is Latin week, and the couples will be dancing the samba or the rumba.
By Judy Rosen