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Some Sizzle, Others Fizzle On "Dancing"

Jason Taylor and his professional partner, Edyta Sliwinska, dance the rumba on the April 14, 2008 episode of "Dancing With The Stars" on ABC.
ABC/Kelsey McNeal
It was Latin Night on "Dancing With The Stars" Monday, but not every couple was able to bring the sizzle required to execute a sensual rumba or sultry samba.

The evening's best scores went to Kristi Yamaguchi, Jason Taylor, and Mario.

Yamaguchi's score was an almost perfect 29 out of 30, while Mario and Taylor each earned a 27.

Marissa Jaret Winokur received modest praise for her samba with a 24.

Priscilla Presley, Marlee Matlin, Shannon Elizabeth and Cristian de la Fuente failed to impress the judges.

The evening's first dancer was R&B singer Mario, who showed marked improvement last week and was intent on keeping his momentum going. In footage taped prior to the show, Mario visited music legend Stevie Wonder, who offered the younger singer some advice.

"He told me to dance as if I'm singing," Mario said.


Photos: "Dancing With The Stars"
The tip paid off and Mario earned a 27 for his samba, with judge Len Goodman saying it was his best performance yet.

Priscilla Presley was up next with a rumba. Last week, Presley lost a few points from the judges' scores when her feet came off the ground during a move. This week, she didn't fare much better, with Goodman saying her rumba "lacked spontaneity" and that he was disappointed with her performance. She earned the lowest score of the evening, a 21.

Broadway star Marissa Jaret Winokur performed a samba, shaking more fringe than Tina Turner and the Ikettes ever did in a whole concert. Judge Carrie Ann Inaba called it her best routine by far and Goodman noted that the plus-sized dancer had "more bounce to the ounce than I've ever seen." Winokur earned a 24.

Cristian de la Fuente danced an awkward rumba with his partner, Cheryl Burke. Goodman called it "competent," while Inaba and judge Bruno Tonioli argued over whether the couple had any chemistry. Their score: 23.

Marlee Matlin looked beautiful in her samba costume, but the hearing-impaired actress had difficulty with the dance's intricate rhythms and she stumbled a few times. Inaba praised Matlin for her tenacity saying "I saw a moment when you could have given up and you didn't. You're a fighter and I appreciate that."

Goodman noted that the samba is definitely the most difficult of the Latin dances. The judges gave Matlin a 22.

Kristi Yamaguchi danced a breathtaking rumba, displaying perfect lines she no doubt developed as a figure skater.

"Three words: fab- u - lous," said Goodman. "It was like a South Pacific pearl out there," said Tonioli.

Just like last week, Yamaguchi scored an almost perfect 29 out of 30 points.

Once again, Shannon Elizabeth had to practice with a stand-in for her professional partner Derek Hough. Earlier this month, Hough suffered a neck injury and this week he was felled by the stomach flu. He managed to find enough strength to perform Monday, but the couple's samba was weak because of Elizabeth's inability to move her hips.

"You have to come out here and shake those maracas," Tonioli pointed out. Her score: 23.

The evening's final performer, pro football star Jason Taylor, proved once again that big guys can be graceful and elegant on the dance floor. The 6'6" defensive end and his partner Edyta Sliwinska danced a smooth and sensual rumba, with Taylor displaying a fluidity and line that most dancers take years of training to achieve.

"How can you be so light and so big at the same time?" asked Tonioli. Taylor and Sliwinska earned a 27.

The combined scores of the judges and fan voting will be announced on Tuesday night's show and the couple with the lowest score will be eliminated. The junior dancers will once again perform. Musical guests are James Blunt and Ozomatli.

Next week the dancers will perform twice for the first time this season. The couples will each perform an original routine and then all the dancers will team up for a country music group number.
By Judy Rosen