'Dancing With the Stars' Switches Up Partners, Judges Make Controversial Comments

For the first time in the show's history, contestants switch partners in week four, and judges Julianne Hough and Len Goodman get brutally honest in their assessment of two of the evening's performances.
ABC/Adam Taylor
"Dancing with the Stars"

Dancing With the Stars switched things up Monday -- and ruffled some sequins.

For the first time in DWTS history, ABC’s dance competition inter-swapped contestants and professional partners for episode four in “The Switch Up” and will combine the scores of weeks three and four with public votes for an elimination in week five.

Though the change ignited friendly competition among contestants, critiques made by guest judge and two-time DWTS champion Julianne Hough and fellow judge Len Goodman sparked controversy with viewers and the dancers.

Goodman shocked audiences when he told partners Charlie White and Peta Murgatroyd that their choreographed number could not be defined as a rumba because it did not meet all the criteria to be defined as such.

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When THR asked Murgatroyd about her feelings on Goodman’s rumba critique, White interjected his opinion and appreciation: “[Peta] choreographed an amazing routine. What’s amazing is that all of the other professional dancers came up to us and wanted to let us know how strongly they felt about that.” White added, “I felt that it was a rumba, and I felt that it was impressive.”

Hough, who will launch her MOVE Live tour with brother Derek Hough in May, also spoke candidly at the completion of Danica McKellar and Maksim Chmerkovskiy’s performance. “I felt like it was a little bit like, this week could get past so that you could be back with Meryl, and you just had to phone it in,” she said.

“I felt like it was a little bit inappropriate. I felt like [Maksim] was trying his best, and some people have the chemistry from the beginning and some people don’t,” professional dancer Cheryl Burke said. Burke partnered with James Maslow, who was dubbed by Hough as “the total package.”

“Personally, I thought it was very irresponsible of her to make those comments. You can question a million things, but you can never question my brother’s passion and commitment to my well-being -- ask Danica,” Valentin Chmerkovskiy said. “There’s nothing he would ever do to jeopardize my success of the show -- and Danica’s an extension of me -- my partnership and my success, and so for me, I took it kind of personally.”

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Maksim agreed with his brother: “The shit that Julianne made up was nothing but exactly that. It was an invalid comment that had nothing to do with Danica’s performance, which was brilliant, because our dance was a disaster from a production standpoint.”

Both McKellar and Chmerkovskiy, as well as NeNe Leakes and Derek Hough, admitted to technical problems during their performances, including the music being off cue.

Australian natives Cody Simpson and Sharna Burgess were paired together for the foxtrot, which Simpson opened by singing the introduction of Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours.”

Drew Carey, who partnered with Witney Carson, and Amy Purdy, who partnered with Mark Ballas, agreed that “The Switch Up” was a success and a complete, future season of changing partners would be entertaining.

Though Candace Cameron Bure was relieved to perform first with partner Tony Dovolani, the couple received the lowest score from the judges for their ballroom dance.

The final performance of the evening, an Argentine tango performed by Meryl Davis and Valentin Chmerkovskiy, received the highest score of the night. “They gave my best dance to [Maksim] and his best dance to me. I was really stressed about that,” Valentin said, adding, “I was calling my brother all of the time and he said, ‘Listen, if it looks like Argentine tango, it probably is.'”