'Dancing With the Stars' Disney Week: Argument, Tears, and a Dream Comes True
The Disney-themed week stirs emotions in NeNe Leakes and Amy Purdy, while James Maslow makes a wish come true for a high school senior with Down syndrome.
Tissues came in handy and dreams came true in the Dancing with the Stars’ Magic Kingdom Monday night.
Week five’s nine remaining celebrities were reunited with their designated partners and performed Disney-themed dances -- and showed the reality behind the fairytale.
Though audiences were pleased to see the contestants return to their original pairings, tension and hardships were an aftermath of week four’s “Switch Up.” Though known for her gregariousness and humor, Real Housewives of Atlanta’s NeNe Leakes and DWTS partner Tony Dovolani had a disagreement during last Tuesday’s practice, which resulted in Leakes leaving set and telling the ABC confessional camera, “thank God we ain’t married in real life. We would be divorced.”
“What an emotional night, right? Apparently I was the villain tonight,” Dovolani said. The professional dancer confessed that the couple flew a red-eye to New York on Monday night and were both tired going into practice on Tuesday, admitting that the “Switch Up” did not benefit the couple and “put a bump in the road.”
The introductory dance package, highlighting the past week’s preparation, addressed Leakes’ training and coaching style from Derek Hough in week four. “[The video] made me seem like I hate Derek. I don’t hate Derek. I babysat that kid. I’ve known this kid for over 25 years,” Dovolani said.
Clad in dance costumes made to replicate 101 Dalmatians, Leakes and Dovolani performed a Foxtrot and received their highest score to date in the Season 18 competition, which made the reality star emotional and short for words. “She was overwhelmed. She didn’t like them making me the villain. She likes me. She saw the look on my face. She was like, ‘Why are they doing this to you? What did you do to them that they feel like they want to destroy you? You’re the nice guy,’” Dovolani told The Hollywood Reporter.
Contestant Amy Purdy also broke down in front of cameras both during practices and after her and Hough’s Cinderella-themed waltz. “To be able to give this beautiful dance justice, that’s really what I wanted to do,” Purdy told THR.
The Paralympian double amputee explained that the waltz was a difficult dance to learn because of the intensive footwork involved. “It was honestly one of the hardest, like just physically -- even on my quads and muscles -- one of the hardest dances we’ve done.”
“It was one of those [dances] where you looked at it and you go ‘oh, it’s simple and sweet, but by far the most physical and challenging one,’” Hough explained. The five-time DWTS champion added: “[Amy] was really worried about being elegant and graceful and I think being a woman [or a] girl, you know, you want to always feel that way and I think that in that moment, there was a realization of ‘I can be beautiful. I can be graceful. I can be elegant.’ It was wonderful. It was a fairytale ending.”
Not only was the night a fairytale ending for Hough and Purdy, but contestant James Maslow -- who earned a perfect score for the night with partner Peta Murgatroyd -- also made dreams come true for fan Hannah Wackernagle, a high school senior with Down syndrome who invited Maslow to prom. Due to time conflicts with DWTS, Maslow declined the invitation, but flew Wackernagle, her mother and sister to Los Angeles for a day at Disneyland with himself and Murgatroyd, and gave them tickets to the live taping of week five.
“We get tweets and mail every day saying, ‘hey, you’ve helped make me smile. You’ve changed my life in a way.’ But to be able to actually see it in somebody and make their dream come true -- I mean, prom would have been cool, but I think this weekend was even cooler,” Maslow said, adding of Disney week: “it’s about making dreams come true.”